Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Carefree in Cagayan de Oro City (Part 1)

Chada—that’s what Cagayan de Oro City or CDO, for short, will always be to me. The unique word, which could either mean “beautiful” or “good” among the locals, aptly describes the highly urbanized city which is also touted as the “Adventure Capital of the Philippines” given the wide range of extreme sports activities it boasts of having.

Tribute to the Slain Members of the Press

For this incorrigible photography buff and adventure junkie, CDO is definitely an excellent choice for indulging in photo expeditions. And what makes CDO so chada in my eyes? Well, there’s the rapids of its mighty river, those mysterious caves and enchanting waterfalls, the friendly folks, the thrilling whitewater rafting and of course, those charming girls, some of whom end up as national as well as international beauty titlists!

CDO, which is also billed as the “City of Golden Friendship” because of its warm and friendly people, has earned another ace up its sleeve, not to mention, for Mindanao and the whole country for that matter as far as being chada is concerned—it’s the second home of the country’s third Miss Universe, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach!

It is, however, the range of extreme sports happening in CDO that has lured many tourists to explore its many attractions. Home to whitewater rafting, one of the most exhilarating water sports introduced in recent years, it attracts thousands of adventure junkies in search for adrenaline rush.

Cagayan de Oro River on a gloomy day

Aside from river rafting, CDO is also known for other thrills—zip line riding, ATV driving, rappelling, dragon boat racing and much, much more. But so much for those extreme sports. Let me now go back to photography. As I’ve said, the city is one lovely destination for photo walks. I’ve done a lot there and I really enjoyed to the hilt the excitement of roaming around the city and capturing its many-faceted beauty.

St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral

Interior of the cathedral

Another thing about CDO that fascinates me is its unique name that’s said to have been derived from two languages: Malay and Spanish. Legend has it that there’s a mighty river that runs through a settlement where the early Spanish conquistadors discovered gold nuggets.

That settlement was then known as Kagay-an, a name which was allegedly derived from the ancient word kagay, meaning “river” in Malay. Kagay-an, therefore, means "place with a river."

Interior of the cathedral

When the law creating the city was passed more than 50 years ago, former Congressman (and later Vice-President) Emmanuel Pelaez, one of the city’s most eminent sons, appended “de Oro” to the city’s, which means “gold” in Spanish, in recognition of the gold mining activities in the area during the pre-Spanish times.

Limketkai Luxe Hotel

Hills and mountains surrounding CDO

Almost four years have passed since I’ve last explored CDO. I’ve been raring for a revisit so when the chance came to go there came unexpectedly this month, I readily drove into the highly urbanized city—my first time to do so! Mind you, getting behind the wheel for more than seven hours proved to be one of the most strenuous I’ve ever experienced.

Massive road widening/ rehabilitation projects in some parts of Bukidnon prolonged the trip as public and private transport were forced to go slow and/or stop every now and then. If I’m not mistaken, all the lulls along the way stretched the usual travel time from Davao to CDO by almost an hour longer!

A glimpse of Macalajar Bay and CDO's coastline

Part of the Butuan-CDO-Iligan Highway

Then there’s the traffic in the city itself. Almost all roads there are congested! This I have to say: CDO probably has one of the worst traffic situations in Mindanao! I’ve been to other regional cities in the island—Butuan, Davao, GenSan and Zamboanga—but I’ve never encountered traffic as horrible as the one in CDO!

Since my last visit, the traffic situation there has gone from bad to worst! Want proof? I witnessed at least three vehicular accidents taking place in half-day’s time—along the main highway-that is, the Butuan-Cagayan-de-Oro-Iligan Road! Well, so much for traffic. That’s probably the big price HICs like Cagayan de Oro have to pay.

Even so, the brief sojourn in CDO afforded me the chance to see anew some of its distinctive landmarks, including St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral, Gaston Park, Vicente Lara Park, and of course, Limketkai Center, which now boasts of having one of the tallest hotels in Mindanao, Limketkai Luxe Hotel!

As CDO continues to swish its way to progress, its cityscape is fast changing dramatically, too. More high-rise buildings, posh subdivisions, towering condos and huge shopping complexes are occupying its urban sprawl.

One of the two 60-year old acacia trees found inside Ayala Centrio Garden

So far, there are over a dozen or so shopping malls in the city, including Limketkai Mall, Ayala Centrio, Gaisano City, SM City CDO, among others. Mind you, four more are still under construction, including SM CDO2 Premier!

Oh, did I fail to mention that the streets are filled with throngs and there is hardly any place where you can neatly park your vehicle? Geez, I had to drive to so many one way streets before making it into my hotel! Despite these inconveniences, CDO will always be one of my favorite regional cities in Mindanao, mainly because of its interesting sights, smells and sounds.

Traffic or no traffic, the “City of Golden Friendship” made me feel so carefree, chipper and cool—and yes, chada—even for a few days. Must be those cheerful faces that greeted me wherever I went.

The warm, smiling and friendly locals are reason enough for travelers to pay a visit to what could be the “friendliest” city in that part of the world. If only for the cheerfulness that CDO brings into my heart and soul, I’ll go back again. Again and again.

(to be continued)

No comments:

Post a Comment