Davao City, Philippines – God has indeed proven himself faithful and gracious for sustaining the International Churches of Christ (ICOC) Davao, formerly known as Metro Davao Christian Church, who celebrated its silver anniversary with some 500 attendees during the service at CAP Mini Auditorium here.

Since the inaugural 1994 service, there was an all-missionary line-up of speakers featured except for the testimony given by CJ Maramara, the eldest son of first Davao church leaders Jay and Che Maramara, and the main message courtesy of evangelist Ariel Lastrado, also Mindanao’s region leader.

Ariel and Amor Ladores, who are currently leading ICOC Davao with the Core Group, welcomed disciples including delegates of the Asia Pacific Leadership Academy (APLA) Biblical Prophecy course from as far as Cambodia to different key cities and provinces of the Philippines as well as guests and families.

The Ladores couple, who was also part of the original 17-member Davao mission team from the Metro Manila Christian Church, thanked God’s unfailing love and faithfulness to the Davao church over the past 25 years.

Jay Maramara shared a heartfelt communion message about how God gave him a second life after succumbing to a mild stroke recently, thanking God’s graciousness for allowing him to come to Davao and celebrate the church’s 25th anniversary. His 22-year-old son CJ also shared God’s love, compassion of the brothers and the patience of his leaders and mentors in helping him overcome a relationship struggle and dealing with his deceit. His family’s support also boosted his confidence to repent and make Jesus Lord in everything.

Then, Sammy Guzman, brought back disciples down memory lane during his mission giving message. He reminisced how missionary brothers made do with one pack of noodles for a meal as they no longer had money to buy food enough for everybody. “Di ko rin alam paano namin napagkasya sa isang noodles ang isang kainan namin, maraming tubig lang nilagay namin (I didn’t know how it was made possible that a pack of noodles could feed all of us, I remember how we put a lot of water for the noodles soup),” Guzman laughingly said. However, his honest-to-goodness reminiscing of their missionary days in Davao brought tears to some at the audience.

Lastrado’s sermon on Daniel’s life further inspired those who listened, challenging disciples to be faithful to God no matter what and fulfill God’s purposes in their lives.

Another Davao missionary Eric Caparas, who is currently based in Battambang, Cambodia, gave his response to the message.

Evangelist Ronald Mendres then led the send-off rites for the ICOC Digos mission team led by Niño and Lowie Mercado. The rest of the Digos disciples were also presented. ICOC Cebu -based elder Viano Faburada led the prayer for the Digos missionaries and disciples.

The APLA graduation of 24 Filipino disciples was spearheaded by ICOC Philippines teacher Rolan Monje and his wife the women’s ministry leader, Weng.


Jay and Che Maramara, Ariel and Amor Ladores, Eric Caparas and Sammy Guzman, who were the only Davao missionaries present, were given a special tribute.

ICOC Davao’s special audio-visual presentation first showed the recent photos of baptisms and restorations, 25th anniversary party photos, ministry activities and missionary journeys in Digos City and Kidapawan City.

“Memories of those past 25 years are still etched in our hearts. God was, still is and will still be in control of this growing family. ICOC Davao would not be where it is now without God’s grace, patience, loving kindness and faithfulness. He brought us visionaries to shape and mold our faith,” the AVP said then showing the photos of the past and current leaders.

It continued, “Thus, we take this special time to praise God and thank you, Metro Manila Christian Church for sending us the 17 Davao missionaries 25 years ago, having laid Jesus’ foundations in our lives and in this church.”

The AVP also cited ICOC Davao’s heroes and heroines of faith, the 17 missionaries: Jay Maramara, Che Navia, Bebot de Guzman, Vincent Literal, Cecille Digamon, Eric Caparas, Manny Perez, Sammy Guzman, Grace Ascion, Anne Antonio, Amor Quilacio, Susie Martinez, Jhun Bautista, Joel Tahimik, Aleth Rebucas, Jerson Lontoc and Ariel Ladores.

“Because of your faith, love and sacrifices… more persons and marriages are being restored and families getting united in the Lord. Thank you once again. We love you! Happy 25th anniversary to us,” ICOC Davao, in its AVP added.

Tinalak-framed certificates were handed to the missionaries by remaining first Davao converts Edgar Roque and Marianne S. Abalayan, after they also received Mindanao-inspired fabric lays.

The special anniversary program ended with the Asia Pacific Leadership Academy (APLA) graduation after Davao church also hosted the Biblical Prophesy course on August 23 to August 25 noon, which attracted about 250 enrollees.


That evening of August 25, a thanksgiving feast was set up for about 100 ICOC Philippines’ church leaders and other invited guests. Davao’s own version of Dance For God (D4G) jumpstarted the celebration as other Davao disciples Jeffrey Dado and trio of Carlos Gabucan, Jr., Joseph Ocon and Dr. Ferdie Oreta rendered songs.

During the buffet dinner, disciples from different churches were no pushovers as they also shared their singing prowess during the karaoke night.

ICOC Philippines teacher Rolan Monje and wife Weng, chief administrator Che Maramara, ICOC Manila’s Ariel and Susan Lastrado, ICOC Cavite’s Bong Aquino and ICOC Cebu’s Girlie Cabadsan also sang, with the latter’s husband Danny brought the house down with his interpretative dance of his wife’s song rendition.

“What Davao did, bringing all leaders together to have fun with karaoke, getting the full time staff to sing kahit at first ayaw, was good. It showed disciples the lighter side of the full time staff. The zumba was also fun,” Che Maramara said.

Disciples also enjoyed the fruit buffet of Davao’s finest durian, rambutan, pomelo, lanzones and mangosteen during the first night of the APLA weekend, August 23 while an inter-region basketball fellowship game among disciple brothers took place the following evening, August 24.


Former MDCC was planted barely eight months after unknown attackers threw three grenades at San Pedro Cathedral, killing seven people and injuring 151. Only seven hours later, two motorcycle-riding men hurled a grenade at a mosque in retaliation of what happened at the cathedral, but this time there was no reported casualty.

This, among many other instances, had made Davao City a dangerous place being called “the killing fields’ of the southern Philippines. Amid the threat to their lives, the 17 missionaries from MMCC, most of them at the peak of their professional careers and others have yet to finish college, gave up their personal dreams and instead grabbed the dream of God to evangelize this part of the Philippines.

With its current membership of 157 faithful disciples, God continues to make Himself known not just to people of Davao City, but also to those in Digos City and Kidapawan City where the church currently has satellite ministries. It also plans to start a bible talk in Tagum City, a 90-minute ride from Davao City early next year.