Cagayan de Oro: Gateway of Golden Friendship
By Apolinario Villalobos
Old legend tells us that the name “Cagayan” was derived from the word “kagayha-an” which connotes shame. The legend which dates back to the sixteenth century relates that a tribe living in Kalambagohan was attacked by another tribe from a nearby village, forcing them to flee to the mountains. The beaten villagers planned to retaliate. But before this could be done, their chieftain fell in love with the daughter of their enemy’s chieftain. This sudden twist of events was followed by their marriage. This made the people of the beaten tribe disgusted and started referring to the place which they vacated by force as “a place of shame” or “kagayha-an”.
With the arrival of Spaniards, the name was changed to Cagayan, to make it easy for them to pronounce. Later, as gold was discovered in the river traversing the village, they referred to it as “Cagayan de Oro”. Cagayan de Oro with its 45,000 hectares of sprawling area was declared a city in in June 15, 1950 during the time of President Elpidio Quirino.
The Marcos administration during the ‘70s was all out in encouraging the development of potential provinces and cities, by opening their doors to investors who were interested in putting up businesses in these areas. And, because tourism was the “hot” industry during the time, hotels and resorts mushroomed all over the country… Cagayan de Oro was not spared.
Three-star hotels and resorts were built to accommodate the influx of local and foreign tourists who spent leisure time in the city before finally embarking on an adventure trip to Camiguin island and the cool mountain top province of Bukidnon.
It is possible to have a leisurely tour of the city in one day starting with the MacArthur Park in the northern section of the city down to Gaston Park in the south. Another one is the Friendship Park that stretches from east to west, between Neri and Abejuela streets. From there, suggested is a trek to the 18th century Agustine Cathedral, the Xavier Museo de Oro, then to the souvenir shops, and orchid greenhouses. A short trip to Makahambus Adventure Park in the Balulang area is also recommended, as well as, to Catanico Falls, Punta Diwata and Sapong Spring of Lagonglong. The last leg of the tour could be spent along the western side of the city where beautiful beaches are found.
The city, practically rests on the eastern bank of the Cagayan River which is the outflow of the rapids that emanate from the mountains. The rapids gave birth to the white water rafting that has earned Cagayan de Oro an space in tour brochures and outdoor sports maps of the country.
Cagayan de Oro’s strategic location as gateway to two potential tourist destinations, Camiguin and Bukidnon, earned for itself the title, “gateway of golden friedship”. Today, however, its being such a gateway is not limited to those two mentioned provinces but, to the rest of northern Mindanao, as well. The city is accessible via its new airport located at Laguindingan.