NATION’S BLOG: Cagayan de Oro’s smile, chada, kinilaw, bars, etc

Mindanawon’s Tea

By Cha Monforte

Cagayan de Oro is a city known as one wearing with a big smile. My Dabawenyo’s fling with the northern city in Mindanao started in the 1981 when I passed by and slept there for the first time en route to enrol as iskolar in Mindanao State University in Marawi City. There was that feeling of being differently at home with that warm, unassuming and unambitious aura that exuded in my first step to CDO.

At that time It was then the Capistrano Street that was the CBD- Central Business District. I recalled the then thriving cinemas located along the street. When you’re going west, the street crosses the still known Divisoria and ends at Saint Augustine Cathedral, near the Gaston Park.

It was twilight when I had the first sight of the city’s CBD. There was that mixed mood from the city’s then humdrum life and tranquil vivacity, as jeepneys were not yet so abundant and stopped infront at Nation Theater at Velez Street to pick up passengers. The city was awfully clean. What also captivated me was the plenty of pretty Cagayanon ladies. Chada gyud ang Cagayan de Oro!

Each time I had my summer, sem and Xmas break in MSU-Marawi, I wouldn’t pass without sleeping a night at CDO before going home to Davao. I could be more refreshed to withstand the long kilometers of travel via Butuan then as via Buda to Davao was not yet existing in the 80s. The stopover afforded me an R & R on student budget, though. A sight-seeing walk, girls-watching, a movie, and a taste of Cagayanon’s different kinilaw were hearty relish already.

The kinilaw in CDO is different or it’s the same in places I have already gone to in northern Mindanao like Iligan, Ozamiz and Oroquieta. It’s superb than the kinilaw we have in Davao. It is bathed still with vinegar but with the tabon-tabon and biasong, than with lemonsito in Davao. The tabon-tabon makes the kinilaw somehow aplod, and makes it sooo lami in your taste buds!

Anyway, in my later forays in the city as yet another yuppie (then and for the heck of the bygone days now) but enmeshed with a lot of PO, NGO engagements I learned more of its intricacies, politics, peace, expressions, Cruz Taal, Xavier U, Dongkoy Emano’s hoarse voice and other things why it is called as a City of Golden Friendship.

Maybe because it’s a city fronting Sugbu after a sea that its unfettered democracy thrives so well that there’s no sacred cow outta there. Politicians are by and large not onion-skinned and would trade barbs issues to issues over the media no matter what.

I must say that CDO’s fair and free culture is best felt in its finest bars where the sons and daughters of the richest and of the most slippered and sandoed mingle freely sans discrimination and condescendence. There was that classy Gonzi bar in my one night in CDO, I recall, that mixed smell of perfumes combined with the odor from sweat of the brawn. The night with the live band had no inhibition with pretty rich coeds swinging out on the floor elbow to elbow with the youngs from hoi pollois.


The rich tradition of friendship, non-discrimination and freedom of CDO’s humanity amidst a large peace is best expressed and felt in its bars. The friendship is blown up by its creative people and event organizers, while peace is much secured by each officialdom and anchored on the rule of law. More than ever, the city’s freedom, as epitomized by Nene Pimentel’s revolt against Marcos when he was still the CDO’s mayor, has been burning in the warm, friendly and brave hearts of the Cagayanons. (Cha Monforte/Rural Urban News)


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