Cabaluna, Tomas Caparida, Sr. (1905–1996)

By Remwil R. Tornalejo, and Wilmaree M. Tornalejo

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Remwil R. Tornalejo is an associate professor in the Historical-Theological department of the International Institute of Advanced Studies Seminary (AIIAS). Tornalejo has a B.A. in theology from Mountain View College, Valencia, Philippines, and M.P.S., M.Div., and M.Th. degrees from AIIAS. He had served as a pastor, Literature Ministry Seminary dean and instructor at the South Philippine Union Conference. He had served as chair of the theology department of the South Philippine Adventist College. Tornalejo completed his D.Theol. from Theological Union (ATESEA). He is married to Marilou Manatad. They have four children.

Wilmaree M. Tornalejo has a B.A. in Medical Laboratory Science (BMLS) from the Adventist University of the Philippines in 2016. She obtained her Doctor of Medicine degree from the Adventist University of the Philippines, College of Medicine in 2020. She is currently doing her post-graduate internship (PGI) at the Adventist Medical Center Bacolod.

First Published: January 8, 2021

Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. was an Adventist colporteur, pioneer evangelist, church planter, administrator, and writer from the Philippines.

Early Life

Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. was born on February 3, 1905, in Talisay, Cebu, in the Philippines to a Roman Catholic family.1 His parents were Lucio Cabaluna (born in 1872), a farmer, and Gregoria Caparida (born in 1890), a housekeeper.2 Cabaluna was the youngest of seven children, the eldest of whom was Bidala.3 When Cabaluna was two years old, his father died. Soon after, his mother remarried and he was left under the care of his elder sister Bidala for his step-father did not want any of her children to live with them.

Education and Marriage

Cabaluna attended Talisay Primary School for three years, and spent another three years at Pardo Elementary School.4 Life was quite difficult for the young Cabaluna. Because there was no school within walking distance from his home, he moved to the next town and was fortunate to find work as a house boy for a Spanish family who also allowed him to attend school. The head of the family was a strict disciplinarian and Cabaluna was taught to strictly follow rules and do his work right or he would be punished for disobedience. He often attended school without extra money for food, but he persevered because of his love for education. Due to both his education and his residence with the Spanish family, he was able to speak Spanish fluently, the official language of the Philippines at that time.5

After finishing elementary school, Cabaluna attended high school at the Southern Institute,6 but soon quit due to financial problems. However, he did not spend his time in idleness, but rather engaged in business. He bought a horse and cart that he used to transport passengers from one destination to another. His business venture was successful enough that he was able to buy two more horses and carts. However, his financial success led him to indulge in some vices. He became a change smoker. He ventured into politics and became a campaign manager of the former president of the Philippines, the late Sergio Osmenia, Sr. of Cebu, City.7

For some reason, Cabaluna left Cebu City and went to Davao City, Mindanao, to work for a Japanese establishment.8 In 1923, after a few years of working in Mindanao, he decided to return to Cebu City and found work with the local government. It was in 1926 that he heard of the Adventist message and was converted. He gave up all his vices and was baptized on November 15, 1926, by Elder Chaney, in Mambaling, Cebu.9 After he was baptized, Cabaluna left his job in the government and joined the colporteur work. He was assigned to Cebu and, later, Davao City. He excelled in the colporteur ministry work in Davao City.10 In 1935, he was called back to Cebu City as a district pastor.

Cabaluna married Florencia Luna on July 29, 1937. Florencia Luna was born on October 16, 1916, in San Remegio, Cebu. She was baptized into the Adventist faith in 1926. She completed her second year of high school.11 After their marriage, Tomas and Florencia Luna become close partners in the ministry, although in the early years she spent time taking care of their growing family.

After World War II ended in 1945 while working as a district pastor, Cabaluna continued his high school education at East Visayan Academy (now Adventist Academy, Cebu) for three years before he was granted a diploma on April 19, 1948.12

The Cabalunas raised five children—Reuben Cabaluna; Tomas Cabaluna, Jr.; Loreto Cabaluna; their only daughter, Lolita Cabaluna; and Herbert Cabaluna.13

Ministry

From 1923 until 1926, Cabaluna worked for the local government as a road worker, clerk, and agent.14 He began his denominational service as a colporteur in 1926 in the East Visayan Mission and earned his credentials on January 15, 1927. He served as a colporteur until December 1934. The following year he was appointed a district leader in the same mission and served in that capacity until December 1948.15 He was granted his missionary credentials in 1935, his missionary license in 1937, and his ministerial license in 1939.16

In his early years of ministry, Cabaluna was assigned to the islands of the Visayas (Cebu, Bohol, and Leyte). During World War II, he was assigned to Masbate. Immediately after his high school graduation in 1948, he was appointed an evangelist in the Visayas, particularly in Bohol. After a year, he was called by the Northern Mindanao Mission to be an evangelist in Butuan City and other parts of Mindanao.17

Cabaluna was ordained along with fifteen other workers from other Adventist institutions of the Philippines on August 20, 1949, during the last day of the Philippine Union Mission biennial session.18 Prior to his ordination in July 1949, he was a mission evangelist in the Northern Mindanao Mission, serving in that capacity and until May 1957 and conducting series of evangelistic meetings in the different provinces of Mindanao—at that time a single Adventist mission.19 After his ordination, Cabaluna was assigned to Misamis Occidental and the following year, Ozamis City (1950-1951). He conducted evangelistic efforts in Osamis City, Tangub City, Oroqueta City, and the town of Clarin. In 1952, Cabaluna moved to Surigao City to hold an evangelistic effort in the nearby town of Bad-as. In 1953-1955 he was transferred to Molave Zamboanga del Sur.20 

In 1957 during a five-day convention held in Rizal, Zamboanga, in the area of Northern Mindanao, Cabaluna impressively spoke of the signs of the times and the soon return of Jesus Christ. His message was reported to have inspired the delegates who attended.21

Cabaluna was a passionate, driven evangelist. On May 8, 1957, he began a series of evangelistic meetings in the town of Plaridel. The meetings lasted for more than one hundred days despite many trials experienced each night—threats to safety, arguments, and complaints from a man who was against their work. Because of these hurdles, two policemen were sent by the chief of police in that area to help keep the peace. These two policemen not only kept the peace, but they were also moved and converted by the preaching as they attended night after night. They too shared the good news with their families. During this evangelistic meeting, forty-seven people accepted Jesus as their personal savior, twenty-two of whom were converted through the nightly meetings and baptized on September 28, 1957.22

Between 1957 and 1958, the Northern Mindanao Mission transferred Cabaluna to the newly created Western Mindanao Mission as an evangelist. He was based in Zamboanga City, but his work covered the islands of Basilan, Jolo, and the Zulu Archipelago. During that period, he conducted several evangelistic efforts and many more people were won to Jesus Christ. He served as mission evangelist and district pastor until 1963.23

In January 1964,24 Cabaluna was called to serve as the president of the Western Mindanao Mission25 until January 1966. In February 1966, he was elected president of the newly created Northeastern Mindanao Mission (NEMM) which was based in Butuan City. During his term as president, he assisted R. G. Garcia and L. A. Yutac of the South Philippine Union Mission (SPUM) in leading a six-day program training laymen in the first pilot school of the local mission. 26 He served as president of NEMM until February 1970.27

Florencia Luna served alongside her husband as a departmental secretary of parent-home education for the Northeastern Mindanao Mission in 1968.28 From 1969 until 1970, she was given additional responsibilities including Home and School Fellowship, and child evangelism department secretary.29

Later Life

On February 28, 1970, at the age of 65, Cabaluna retired from denominational work after forty-four years and two months of continuous service. He was honored for his ministry, along with other workers who had retired from active service, during a ceremony at the SPUM’s third biennial session.30 After retirement, Cabaluna stayed in his home near the mission compound which he had built a few years before. Although officially retired, his dedication to God’s work was still evident. He continued to be active in the pastoral work and in giving Bible studies. He worked with the mission and local board of management to develop an administration building for permanent use at the new boarding academy in the Northeastern Mindanao Mission, Butuan City Mission Academy located in Magkiangkang, Bayugan City, fifty kilometers from the main city. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 15, 1972.31

During the latter part of their retirement years, the Cabalunas moved from place to place to spent time with their children and grandchildren. They moved to Cagayan de Oro to live with their child who was a practicing medical doctor. When their daughter answered the call to serve as missionary doctor to Africa, the Cabalunas again moved to Iligan City to live with their son, Loreto, who was a medical technologist in Iligan Sanitarium and Hospital (now Adventist Medical Center, Iligan).32

On Sabbath morning June 15, 1996, Tomas Caparida Cabaluna, Sr. breathed his last in the intensive care unit of the Adventist Medical Center, Iligan. The main cause of his death was pneumonia. He was 91 years old. His wife, Florencia, died on June 10, 2010, at the age of 94.33

Contribution

T. C. Cabaluna, Sr. was a man who valued experiences in the mission field. He wrote several articles that told thrilling stories of soulful dedication to winning lives for Christ, the Harvest Ingathering program, and canvassing work.34 He was the first president of the Northeastern Mindanao Mission, comprised of Agusan, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur provinces, including the Dinagat, Siargao, and other smaller islands of the northeastern coast. He was listed among the “Men of the Century” in 1968 for winning 104 souls.35 In all of his evangelistic campaigns, he never failed to establish a church.36

Among his contributions in the ministry was the establishment and support of Butuan City Mission Academy. Cabaluna, then retired, assumed responsibility for operating and financing the school, although it was more of a missionary endeavor because the school’s income could not finance its operations. The tuition was very minimal for it was established to help the poor and needy. The school was later renamed Forest Hills Academy. When Cabaluna died, his son Reuben assumed responsibility for the school, which as of 2020 was fully recognized by the Philippine Department of Education and had twenty-eight teachers with an average yearly enrollment of 600 students.37

Perhaps one of Cabaluna’s greatest contributions to the Church was his ministry to his family. All five of his children graduated from Mountain View College and became involved in various ministries of the church. Rueben was a teacher who taught in various academies in the South Philippines. Tomas, Jr. was a pastor who served the church in the Davao Mission. Loreto became a medical technologist who served the Adventist Medical Center, Iligan. Lolita, a medical doctor, served the Manila Adventist Medical Center before going to Africa as a missionary. Herbert, the youngest also became a medical doctor who served the Adventist Medical Center, Bacolod.38

Sources

Baliton, Rubin da. “Northern Mindanao Mission Meeting.” ARH, April 18, 1957.

Cabaluna, T. C. “Mrs. Parent-Home and Child Evangelism Activities in the Northeastern Mindanao Mission.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, May 1970.

Cabaluna, T. C. “A Boy Preacher.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1965.

Cabaluna, T. C. “New Philippine Mission Reports on First Year.” ARH, June 1, 1967.

Cabaluna, T. C. “Soul Winning in Western Mindanao.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1965.

Calahat, B. C. “Plaridel Evangelistic Effort.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, January 1958.

“Ground-breaking Ceremonies Held for New Academy.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, September 1972.

“Men of the Century.” The Ministry, June 1968.

Montalban, V. M. “Introducing a New Union.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1964.

Ranario, C. P. “Pilot School Inspires Laymen in Mindanao.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1966.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1964-1970.

Sorensen, C. P. “Ordination Service.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, December 1949.

Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. Personal Employee Service Record. Northeastern Mindanao Mission Archives.

Villarin, A. A. “S.P.U.M. Holds Third Biennial Session.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, March 1970.

Notes

  1. Reuben Cabaluna, Jr. email to the author, December 29, 2020.

  2. Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. Personal Employee Service Record, Northeastern Mindanao Mission Archives.

  3. The names of the other siblings could not be recalled by Tomas Cabaluna’s children.

  4. Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. Personal Employee Service Record, Northeastern Mindanao Mission Archives.

  5. Reuben Cabaluna, Jr. email to the author, December 29, 2020.

  6. Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. Personal Employee Service Record, Northeastern Mindanao Mission Archives.

  7. Reuben Cabaluna, Jr. email to the author, December 29, 2020.

  8. Ibid.

  9. Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. Personal Employee Service Record, Northeastern Mindanao Mission Archives.

  10. Reuben Cabaluna, Jr. email to the author, December 29, 2020.

  11. Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. Personal Employee Service Record, Northeastern Mindanao Mission Archives; Reuben Cabaluna, Jr. email to the author, December 29, 2020.

  12. Ibid.

  13. Ibid.

  14. Ibid.

  15. Ibid.

  16. Ibid.

  17. Reuben Cabaluna, Jr. email to the author, December 29, 2020.

  18. C. P. Sorensen, “Ordination Service,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, December 1949, 8; Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. Personal Employee Service Record, Northeastern Mindanao Mission Archives.

  19. Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. Personal Employee Service Record, Northeastern Mindanao Mission Archives

  20. Reuben Cabaluna, Jr. email to the author, December 29, 2020.

  21. Rubin da Baliton, “Northern Mindanao Mission Meeting,” ARH, April 18, 1957, 22.

  22. B. C. Calahat, “Plaridel Evangelistic Effort,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, January 1958, 18.

  23. Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. Personal Employee Service Record, Northeastern Mindanao Mission Archives; Reuben Cabaluna, Jr. email to the author, December 29, 2020.

  24. V. M. Montalban, “Introducing a New Union,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 1964, 14.

  25. “Western Mindanao Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association,1964), 129.

  26. C. P. Ranario, “Pilot School Inspires Laymen in Mindanao,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1966, 9.

  27. Tomas C. Cabaluna, Sr. Personal Employee Service Record, Northeastern Mindanao Mission Archives.

  28. “Northeastern Mindanao Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1968), 136.

  29. “Northeastern Mindanao Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1969), 142; “Northeastern Mindanao Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1970), 144; Mrs. T. C. Cabaluna, “Parent-Home and Child Evangelism Activities in the Northeastern Mindanao Mission,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, May 1970, 7.

  30. A. A. Villarin, “S.P.U.M. Holds Third Biennial Session,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, March 1970, 15.

  31. “Ground-breaking Ceremonies Held for New Academy,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, September 1972, 13.

  32. Reuben Cabaluna, Jr. email to the author, December 29, 2020.

  33. Ibid.

  34. T. C. Cabaluna, “Soul Winning in Western Mindanao,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1965, 17; T. C. Cabaluna, “A Boy Preacher,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1965, 18; T. C. Cabaluna, “New Philippine Mission Reports on First Year,” ARH, June 1, 1967, 18.

  35. “Men of the Century,” The Ministry, June 1968, 27.

  36. Reuben Cabaluna, Jr., email to the author, December 29, 2020.

  37. Ibid.

  38. Ibid.

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Tornalejo, Remwil R., Wilmaree M. Tornalejo. "Cabaluna, Tomas Caparida, Sr. (1905–1996)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 08, 2021. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=ECI0.

Tornalejo, Remwil R., Wilmaree M. Tornalejo. "Cabaluna, Tomas Caparida, Sr. (1905–1996)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 08, 2021. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=ECI0.

Tornalejo, Remwil R., Wilmaree M. Tornalejo (2021, January 08). Cabaluna, Tomas Caparida, Sr. (1905–1996). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=ECI0.