Saturday, November 11, 2017

The New Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Uniform

left: a color corps member with full regalia. right: a knight wearing the new fourth degree uniform. Photos from Columbia Magazine

In this fraternal year, the Board of Directors of the Supreme Council in the United States has decided to replace the uniform of the fourth degree knights consisting of tuxedo, black trousers and bow tie with blue blazer, dark gray slacks, tie and beret. It has also done away with the regalia that has usually been long associated with the Knights of Columbus such as the chapeau and cape that are worn by the color corps, the faithful navigator, the district marshal and some officers of the Supreme Council. The baldric is kept as part of the uniform. With the beret, the new uniform looks militaristic which to my view is in line with the fourth degree principle of patriotism.

In the Philippines, due to the hot climate, the fourth degree knights have been adopting the long-sleeved white shirt in lieu of the tuxedo as their uniform. A coat is most often a formal indoor attire inside an air conditioned room or building. The new Supreme Council directive will mostly affect members of the color corps since it is this group that wear the uniform and the regalia that are prescribed by the US based Supreme Council.

The color corps is the most visible arm of the order. Its members participate in activities such as independence day, charter day and other civic occasions. They also do duty during necrological services to the departed fourth degree knights, in the installation of new fourth degree members and officers and in church activities such as liturgical processions.

Some fourth degree knights especially those in the US express opposition to the introduction of the new uniform for one reason or another. And they have valid views for their complaints such as the discarding of the traditional and well liked regalia and the cost of having the new uniform. The new uniform can be ordered online at But buying it from a US based online store will be very expensive for a Filipino fourth degree knight considering the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Philippine peso. If they could have the blazer, the slacks and the patches source or made locally instead of ordering them from the US, then they could have those items at a fraction of the cost of the imported ones.

The policy of the new uniform is somewhat a divisive and contentious issue to the Fourth degree Knight of Columbus members. And I agree with some of the issues raised by those who do not like the new uniform. It is my opinion though that fourth degree knights should adhere to the decision of the Supreme Council for the sake of unity and good of the order irrespective of their individual and personal preference with regard to the matter.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Higalaay Festival 2017

Cagayan de Oro celebrates its annual fiesta on August 28, 2017, which is the feast day of Saint Augustine. The fiesta which is also called Higalaay Festival is a month-long celebration which features core events such as garden show, fashion summit, cowboy festival, Kahimunan Fair, marathon, street dance, fireworks display, street procession and fluvial parade. The activities culminate on August 28 on which families serve sumptuous foods, drinks to relatives, friends and other people who may visit their homes.

Although celebrating a fiesta is a Roman Catholic practice, it has become an accepted holiday for most of Kagay-anons so that it is embedded in their culture and traditions. For most of them, a year is not complete without celebrating the fiesta.

A means of merry making, the fiesta is also an instrument to showcase the city as a prime tourist and investment destination not only in Mindanao but also in the Philippines. Despite the armed conflict in the neighboring city of Marawi and the President's declaration of martial law, the Kagay-anons' enthusiasm to celebrate the fiesta in 2017 still remains unaffected. Happy Fiesta! Viva Senor San Agustin!

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.