Friday, June 2, 2017

Cagayan River, CDO's Natural Identifying Landmark

Most of the major cities of the world are located at the banks of rivers and history has it that earliest civilizations evolved and developed in river valleys. Examples are the Nile River of Egypt, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers of the Fertile Crescent, the Ganges River of India and the Yangtze River of China. Ancient people converged to the river because of the water which is essential for life. The area around the river creates an ecosystem conducive for humans and animals to live dependently with each other. In addition, the overflow of river carries with it sediments along the banks which makes the soil in that area fertile for planting food crops. However, river can be destructive during events such as typhoons and heavy rains that cause its channel to overflow and flood the outlying areas near its banks.

In northern Mindanao, in ancient times, indigenous nomadic people followed the course of the river called Kalambaguasahan to search for games, fish and other foods. Finding caverns on a promontory, they made it as their shelter and over time made a settlement around that area which was 8 Kilometers south from the center of the present day Cagayan de Oro. That place was conducive for their survival since the river provided them source of food and water, and the promontory with its elevated location afforded them security from other hostile tribes. As the settlement called Himologan grew, interactions and trade with other places developed. Its outside contacts even reached as far as Butuan and Maguindanao. Sultan Kudarat, the Muslim chieftain of Maguindanao later imposed a tribute to the settlement of Himolugan.   

The payment of tribute should be overemphasized because it was a sort of jizya which is a tax levied by a Muslim ruler over his non-Muslim subjects in exchange of his protection to them. The tribute to the Muslim ruler also carried with it the implications that they recognized his authority, that his followers would not attack or harass them, and that they would not be obliged to convert to Islam. That practice is probably the reason why the early inhabitants of the city were polytheistic animists and not Muslims despite the fact that the sultan’s sphere of influence had reached that small settlement.

In 1622, the Spaniards arrived and came upon the old settlement which was also called “Cagayan” which is an Austronesian word for river. Fray Agustin de San Pedro then successfully convinced the inhabitants led by Datu Salangsang to move to a new settlement located in an area of what is now the Gaston Park and Saint Augustine Cathedral. In the new Cagayan the priest converted the natives to Christianity and told them to stop paying tributes to the Muslim Sultan. With a more powerful new protector, the Spaniards, the natives were able to avoid possible retribution from the Muslims for stopping the payment of tribute and embracing Christianity.. 

Myths and legends abound in relation to this great river. There is a story of a giant fish that supposedly devoured a priest from the Saint Augustine Cathedral. That tale was probably a misinterpretation of a tablet on a fence wall which was long removed from public view which depicted the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale. Superstitious people also believe that the river is inhabited by supernatural creatures such as aquatic monster that drowns their victim to death by grabbing his feet as he unsuspectingly swims in the river.

The river is one of the venue on which the city government promotes tourism. Upstream is a good place for whitewater rafting which is popular to tourists. Kayaking and river trekking are also tourist promoting activities. At present, there are 6 bridges that span the eastern and western banks of the river which also serves as a boundary between the 1st and the 2nd districts of the city.

Despite its scenic beauty and fantastic tales, Cagayan River at times can be a bearer of death and destruction. There were some incidents in the past on which the swelling of the river channel caused flooding that resulted to loss of lives and properties. On December 16-17, December 2011, Typhoon Sendong hit Northern Mindanao. The huge volume of rainwater falling on the mountain ranges of Bukidnon sent massive volume of waters, mud, sediments, logs and rocks downstream in an overwhelming force that swept away people, houses and animals along the way resulting to thousands of deaths. That tragedy which claimed the lives of 1,268 people was the biggest natural disaster that the city experienced in decades. 

The river is vulnerable to degradation due to people’s activities such as illegal mining, logging, quarrying and the irresponsible disposable of waste products by people living along the river banks. Those bad practices cause bank soil erosion, shallow river bed, pollution of the water and the overflow of river during heavy rains which flood the nearby areas. To preserve the river, the city government adopted measures to stop people from doing activities that will adversely affect the river and its nearby environment. City residents also voluntarily plant trees along the river banks and mangroves at the mouth of the river. 

From its sources in Kalatungan and Kitanglad mountain ranges in Bukidnon, the waters of Cagayan River run through a 90 kilometers course that traverses the municipalies of Libona, Talakag and Baungon in Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro where they finally empty into Macajalar Bay.

Cagayan River and the Malasag mountain range are two of the most prominent terrain features that can be seen at the heart of the city. The river is associated with the city’s name, history and cultural development. “Cagayan”, a name taken from an old settlement aptly describes CDO’s location which is a city by the river.

Friday, May 12, 2017

SM CDO Downtown Premier Grand Opening

Thousands of people came to shop or to see what the new mall has to offer for sale. Outside, the flow of vehicular traffic was slowed down because of the large number of people who wanted to drop by the mall to do their shopping activity. This was the sight on May 12, 2017, during the grand opening of the Henry Sy, Sr. owned SM CDO Downtown Premier which is the largest SM mall in Mindanao and the second in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao.

Constructed on the site of the former Coca Cola Plant, the SM CDO Downtown Premier is composed of a 5 story mall with 200 plus stores and a 12 story BPO with 8 floors of office space. The new business establishment is equipped with a parking space of 1,500 vehicle slots, and an underground water catchment basin to reduce the risk of flooding during heavy rains.

The new five story mall offers the public three level SM stores, SM hypermarket and seven cinemas consisting of the first ever large screen format theater in Mindanao, two director club theaters for intimate screening and four digital cinemas with 2D and 3D technologies, The new mall has also service center, specialty stores, restaurants, bowling centers, food hall, sky hall, sky garden and origami inspired wall.


SM CDO Downtown Premier is expected to boost the local economy with the added tax revenue that can be collected by the city. It will also give business and employment opportunities to the local populace. The SM BPO alone can already generate as many as 4,000 Information Technology jobs to qualified applicants. The opening of SM CDO Downtown Premier for business is expected to further enhance the image of Cagayan de Oro as a major business and tourist destination in Mindanao.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cagayan de Oro Philippine-American War Memorial

“Plaza de los Heroes” is a memorial dedicated to the heroic sons and daughters of Cagayan de Misamis (the former name of Cagayan de Oro) who made sacrifices or shed their blood during the Philippine-American War at the turn of the 20th century or the year 1900. It is situated beside the office of Pueblo de Oro near Shoemart along Masterson Ave., Upper Carmen, Cagayan de Oro.

The defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War forced it to sign with the United States the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898, ending the war and ceding to the latter Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. The United States annexed the Philippines after paying Spain the sum of $20,000,000 as compensation. Emilio Aguinaldo whose Filipino forces were instrumental in the defeat of the Spaniards took the opportunity to proclaim the First Philippine Republic and made himself the president. However, his authority was not recognized by the Americans who now considered the Philippines under their rule. With a fledgling government undermined with the presence of American forces who wanted absolute control of the country, Aguinaldo declared war against the Americans on June 2, 1899, and a full blown war followed.  

In the province of Misamis and the town of Cagayan de Misamis, the leaders of these places pledged their allegiance to the First Philippine Republic after the defeat of the Spaniards. And torn between the issues of their allegiance to Aguinaldo’s government and the American occupation, civil officials and prominent citizens of Cagayan de Misamis met on January 1, 1900 in Club Popular, the present day location of Saint Augustine Maternity and General Hospital, to take a common stand on the matter. In that meeting, they agreed to sign the Pact of Resistance to American colonial rule.  

American forces arrived in Cagayan de Misamis on March 30, 1900. Their presence created a tense situation where an armed confrontation between them and Filipino forces in Cagayan de Misamis under Gen. Nicolas Capistrano was inevitable. As expected, bloody battles happened between the two forces in an area at Saint Augustine Cathedral on April 3, 1900, in Agusan Hill on May 14, 1900 and in Makahambus Hill on June 4, 1900. In these battles many Kagay-anon fighters were either killed or wounded.

The main feature of the memorial is the three trapezoid shaped concrete vertical slabs which are installed at an angle with each other. The slabs are inlaid with granite tiles on which the names of the Kagay-anon heroes of the war are inscribed in color gold. Those vertical structures stand on a concrete circular base, several lampposts adorn the structures. The memorial was inaugurated on June 4, 2004.

List of people in the memorial include those with surnames that are common or prominent in the city, and there are other surnames that are rarely borne among the populace at present. The list and other data that are found in the monument are said to be taken from the manuscript of Filomeno M. Bautista in his “Philippine Revolution of Misamis Oriental Province”.

Following are names and other information that are inscribed in the memorial:

                                 The Heroes in the Battle of Cagayan de Misamis

Maj. Ramon Neri Liñan, Capt. Bernardino Cabañeros, Capt. Clemente Chacon, Capt. Apolinar Pabayo, Lt. Pablo Lago, Lt. Braulio Sacala, Lt. Florencio Zulueta, Doroteo Abalde, Eugenio Adubas, Fabian Atingas, Enecerio Baaclo, Celedonio Baang, Francisco Baguchay, Juan Baguchay, Doroteo Beja, Ciriaco Bongado, Doroteo Caingin, Emeterio Caingin, Juan Caingin, Segundo Caingin, Juan Comendador, Cirilo Dacer, Potenciano Dakilog, Bartolome Disalan, Gregorio Ebari, Jacinto Ebari, Lorenzo Ebari, Mariano Ebari, Silverio Ebari, Pedro Echem, Fortunato Emano, Eulogio Esmadre, Benito Jabiniao, Benedicto Labnao, Feliciano Liñan, Victoriano Lumban, Francisco Nacnac, Francisco Natimdim, Casiano Neri, Casiano Oco, Cenon Pabayo, Eleno Pacapat, Doroteo Pacheco, Evaristo Pacheco, Eugenio Pacheco, Mariano Pacheco, Doroteo Pacturanan, Vicente Pacupat, Marcelino Paison, Miguil Pactain, Juan Salda, Ambrosio Sambaan, Eustaquio Talaquig, Celedonio Wabe
                                                Men of the Mindanao Battalion

Lt. Jose Racines Roa, Sgt. Antonio Antig, Sgt. Saturnino Neri, Blas Abas, Demetrio Almonia, Tomas Bajarla, Saturnino Bugahat, Pablo But-an, Enecerio Dakut, Dalmacio Echem, Santos Maandig, Inocencio Mabulay, Arcadio Mabalacad, Pedro Mongonoya, Crisanto Neri, Matias Neri, Regalado Oco, Francisco Paasa, Eleno Pislong, Alejandro Ramonal, Braulio Tabantaban, Pio Yare

                                                   Women of the Revolution

 Arcadia Valenzuela and her troops of women warriors from Lapasan, Cecilia Castañeda Capistrano, the “Inspiration of the Revolution”, and Bartola, Anastacia and Placida Eblacas of Kibawe, Libona, Bukidnon who treated and fed the revolutionaries.

     The civilians in the revolution who gave material and logistical support to the Kagay-anon warriors

Fabian Abellanosa, Fausto Bandialan, Juan Bautista, Ramon Chaves, Toribio Chavez, Manuel R. Corrales, Julian Eblacas, Paulino Eblacas, Quintino Eblacas, Isabelo Gonzales, Hilario Mandar, Nicasio Nagales, Anastasio San Jose Neri, Policarpio Neri, Vicente Neri, Mundo Reyes (Camiguin), Timoteo Baz, Placido Reyes (Camiguin), Vicente Rivera, Pedro R. Roa, Alejo Seriña (Opol), Guillermo Yacapin (Libona)

                                                    Financiers of the revolution

Tirso R. Neri, Jose C. Roa, Cipriano A. Vamenta, Pio A. Roa

                                                  Heroes of the Battle of Agusan Hill

1st Company, Mindanao Battalion:

Capt. Vicente R. Roa, Lt. Nemesio Yamomo, Sgt. Uldarico Akut, Sgt. Zosimo Roa, Cpl. Maximo Roa, Domingo Abanador, Dionesio Abas, Edmidio Abejuela, Clemente Achas, Filomeno Achas, Gimeno Achas, Pablo Achas, Filomeno Buzon, Fausto Cabacungan, Emeterio Cuares, Vicente Dacubar, Juan Daumar, Sotero Daumar, Leoncio Echem, Pedro Echem, Juan German, Inocencio Mabulay, Agapito Mabulay, Felix Mabulay, Silverio Mabulay, Pio Nana, Canuto Quina, Santiago Raagas, Valeriano Raagas, Casiano Rabadan, Feliciano Rabadan, Domingo Raloso, Andres Roa, Severino Sabalo, Felix Sabanal, Herminigildo Sabanal, Benito Salcedo, Tomas Saco, Anastasio Santua, Guillermo de la Serna, Pastor Soilon, Mateo Tabalon, Rafael Tabalon, Inocentes Ualo, Enrique Ubaldo, Francisco Velez, Sixto  Velez, Alberto Villases, Marciano Yaminyamin

The Macheteros:

Doroteo Abejo, Zoilo Alar, Fructuoso Emano, Lucas Emano, Francisco Ergina, Canuto Galles, Basilio Jamil, Frutuoso Lagarit, Leon Lucaban, Alejandro Mologan, Juan Pijo, Castor Soilon

                         The Heroes in the Battle of Macahambus Hill June 4, 1900

Capt. Cruz Taal, Lt. Miguel Puano, Juan Janola, Lucio Labitad, Gabino Lumindas, Apolinar Nacalaban

The officers during the Philippine-American War in Cagayan de Misamis

Commander in Chief                                     Gen. Nicolas Capistrano
Aide de Camp                                                 1st Lt. Bernardino Neri
On Special Detail                                            2nd Lt. Juanito Valmores
Secretary to the General                               Santiago del Castillo
Asst. Commander in Chief                             Maj. Justo Gaerlan
Aide de Camp                                                  2nd Lt. Juan Roa Valdeconcha

Mindanao Battalion (All Infantry)

Battalion Commander                                      Maj. Apolinar Velez
Aide de Camp                                                    2nd Lt. Clemente Chavez

1st Company Commander                                Capt. Vicente R. Roa
Senior Officer                                                    1st Lt. Jose R. Roa
Junior Officer                                                     2nd Lt. Cruz Taal

2nd Company Commander                                 Capt. Gregorio Chacon
Senior Officer                                                     1st Lt. Bernardino Neri

Quarter Master
Chief Quarter Master                                         Maj. Cayetano Pacana
Asst. Quarter Master                                          Capt Fausto del Prado
Admin Officer                                                       1st Lt. Filomeno Bacarrisas

Medical Corps
Chief Surgeon                                                        Capt. Sancho Baviera
Asst. Surgeon                                                         1st Lt. Vicente Espedido

 Cavalry Division

Commander                                                              1st Lt. Agripino Bautista
Asst. Commander                                                    2nd Lt. Jose Corrales
Non Commissioned Officer                                    Sgt. Uldarico Akut


Battalion Commander                                               Maj. Ramon N. Liñan
Asst. Commander                                                      Capt. Gil S. Pacana

 1st Company Commander                                        Capt. Apolinario Pabayo
Asst. Commander                                                      Lt. Clemente Pabayo

2nd Company Commander                                         Capt. Zoilo Mercado
Asst. Commander                                                       Lt. Florencio Zulueta

3rd Company Commander                                          Capt. Anastasio Pimentel
Asst. Commander                                                        Lt. Juan Waga

4th Company Commander                                           Capt. Bernardino Cabañeros
Asst. Commander                                                         Lt. Pablo Lago

5th Company Commander                                            Capt. Tomas Olango
Asst. Commander                                                          Lt. Bernardo Sacala

6th Company Commander                                             Capt. Pedro V. Valdehueza
Asst. Commander                                                           Lt. Pedro Agapay

7th Company Commander                                              Capt. Clemente Chacon
Asst. Commander                                                            Lt. Eustaquio Caballero

The memorial was constructed through the effort of the following persons and entities: National Historical Institute, Mayor Vicente Emano and the members of the City Council, Atty. Pureza N. Ramos, Agnes P.R. Roa, Sandy Bass Sr., Thaddeus Bautista, Ramon Chaves and the Kagay-anon Heritage Foundation.

Related Posts:
Cagayan de Oro during the Philippine-American War (Part 1- The Battle of Cagayan de Misamis)
Cagayan de Oro during the Philippine-American War (Part 2- The Battle of Agusan Hill)
Cagayan de Oro during the Philippine-American War (Part 3- The Battle of Makahambus Hill)
Cagayan de Oro during the Philippine-American War (Part 4- American Victory)
Macahambus Cave and Gorge

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Mangrove Planting: the Making of a Mangrove Forest on the Shore of Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro

The rise in human population and human activities create problems that have a far reaching effect on the environment. The need for material resources resulted to the destruction of forests and erosion of mountains and coastal areas. These problems are aggravated by the phenomenon called climate change where weather pattern is disrupted and people experience natural calamities such as flash floods, typhoons and drought. People have tried to mitigate the affect of these events by reforesting mountains, planting trees in urban and rural communities, regulating the extraction of mineral resources and implementing proper waste and garbage disposal among other activities. In this article I will focus my discussion on the activities that people or groups are doing specifically the planting of mangroves to develop a forest of trees in the coastal village of Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City.

A shrub or a small tree, mangrove grows on the swampy part of the sea shore that is inundated with the runoff of salt and fresh water from the river or creeks during high tide. It has oval leaf and roots that project from the sand or mud. Mangrove can survive in a highly saline environment because of its ability to filter out salt water. It propagates itself through its fruit called propagules which when mature fall into the sand or mud to grow into a new plant.

Dense mangrove vegetation makes a forest that sustains an ecosystem where different animals can live interdependently with one another for their survival. On the forest floor, the rising water at high tide and the residual water at low tide serve as sanctuaries and breeding, spawning and hatching ground for small species of fish, a situation which can also provide humans with foods. The sandy and muddy ground under the trees is a habitat for crabs, oysters, shells, algae and other aquatic or amphibious creatures. The forest also hosts different insects that are attracted to the tree flowers for their food and reproduction. The availability of foods such as fish, insects, crabs and worms make the forest an abode or hunting ground for some species of migratory or resident birds.

Coastal erosion can be prevented with a forest of mangrove on the shore because tree roots keep the sand and the mud from being washed away into the sea. Over time, without the trees, the sea will gradually eat up portions of the edges of the shore thus pushing coastal residents farther inland. Mangrove forest can serve as the buffer between marine and terrestrial communities thereby giving protection to people living in coastal areas during catastrophic events such as typhoons, storm surges and tsunamis.                                                              
In Cagayan de Oro, a tract of the swampy shore in the village of Bonbon is devoted to the growing and propagation of mangrove to turn the area into a mangrove forest. The shore is located at the estuary of Cagayan de Oro River where the salt water of Macajalar Bay meets the fresh water of the river. A mangrove forest there can help stave off the destructive effects of natural calamities such as typhoons. On 2011, the city experienced its worst natural disaster in history when thousands of its residents who lived along the river banks were killed when they were swept away by the heavy volume of water and sediments that overflowed from the river during the onslaught of Typhoon Sendong.  

With coordination from the City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (CLENRO) people from different walks of life, in their own small way, have been coming to the place to contribute their fair share of effort in greening the shore with mangroves. If a large percentage of what they planted will survive, then the shore will turn into a large mangrove forest in the future. The people or groups include members of the Armed Forces and the police, business establishments, students from different schools and civic organizations such as the Lion’s Club.