When in Cebu, the full page advertisement in the Cebu Trade Directory of 1962 said, always take the “Autobus” for safe and comfortable travel. The company, the ad said, was operating buses throughout mainland Cebu.

The Cebu Autobus Company was started on April 22, 1926 by W.C. Ogan along with Abdon Capobres, who already had his own transportation fleet, C. K. Bradbury, Ralph S. Frush, and W. R. Giberson on a paid up capital of P50,400, a huge sum at that time.

Cebu Autobus Company
RIDING THE AUTOBUS. The Cebu Autobus Company was a pioneer transportation company in Cebu. (Photo from the Cebu Trade Directory, through Ben Chua)

The company started with 8 buses. Frank Howard served as its general manager. A year later, I V. Binamira came on as general manager. By 1930, the company had a total of 100 buses, according to the Cebu Trade Directory.

At the outbreak of World War II, the Cebu Autobus Company offices, shops and most of its 142 buses were commandeered by the United States Armed Forces in the Far East or USAFFE. When Japanese forces landed in Cebu, however, the buses “were ‘scuttled’ in pursuance with the ‘scorched earth’ tactics of the USAFFE.

Cebu Autobus Company Ad
ALWAYS TAKE THE AUTOBUS. An advertisement placed by the Cebu Autobus Company with the Cebu Trade Directory published in 1962. (From the collection of Ben Chua)

The company was devastated, left with nothing to resume its business. They managed to buy 5 US Army trucks which they used to ply bus routes. By the end of 1946, it already had 51 vehicles for cargo and passengers.

On October 19, 1957, the controlling stock of the company was bought by the De La Rama Steamship Co. Inc. The new management was headed by Sergio Osmeña, Jr. as president and Mariano S. Ilano Jr. as general manager.

Max Limpag is a journalist, blogger, and developer based in Cebu. He started as a reporter covering Cebu City Hall in 1996. He has written on technology for various print and digital publications since...

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