There’s more to Cagayan de Oro, the City of Golden Friendship, than just being a premier whitewater rafting destination in the Philippines. I am proud that my home of many years is known for that but I also know that there is a lot to explore beyond the raging river rapids that has caught the hearts of many adventure-seekers, backpackers and tourists alike.
I would like then to share this walking tour guide to those who would be going to CDOC soon. This is not a comprehensive reference but my hope is that you could include this short sidetrip in your weekend itinerary. I did this for under 2-3 hours last January but it would probably take longer or shorter depending on your pace (museum stopovers, ‘picture-picture’ moments and mandatory food stops).
You start off at Gaston Park. This circular park is also the site of the Battle of Cagayan de Misamis. Aside from the water fountain in the middle, the St. Augustine Cathedral is perhaps the most visible structure that one could notice in the vicinity. The original structure was built in 1845 and rebuilt after World War II. Inside the church are exquisite stained glass windows that came from New York.
A few meters to the left of the church is the 1921 water tower that has been converted into a city museum. The Casa Real de Cagayan and the Club Popular, two important structures in the city’s history, stood respectively in what is now the Executive House (City Hall Complex) and the Cagayan de Oro Maternity Hospital and Puericulture Center. These can be found right across Gaerlan st.
Make your way next to Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, Mindanao’s first university. But make a brief stopover at the corner of Hayes-Velez streets where Casa del Chino Ygua, the oldest house in the city, is located. By this time too you would notice a lot of motorelas passing by. The motorcycle is smacked at the middle of the side car as compared to other trike versions elsewhere.
XU’s museum, the Museo de Oro showcases interesting paintings by Nonoy Estarte, relics from various Huluga excavations and a gallery devoted to Filipino mythical creatures and beings. I was once scared by the paintings when I visited this section when I was still in gradeschool.
The Golden Friendship Park is the heart of downtown Cagayan de Oro or ‘Divisoria’ as the locals would fondly call. During Friday to Saturday evenings, sections of RN Abejuela and Tirso Neri streets are closed to vehicular traffic for the Nite Cafe. There would be stalls selling grilled fares in one area while bargain hunts or ‘ukay-ukay’ on the other.
The monuments of Jose Rizal (one of the oldest in Mindanao), Justiniano R. Borja (the first elected mayor of the city) and President Ramon Magsaysay would be found here. The El Pueblo A sus Heroes monument is also where the remains of the heroes in the Battle of Agusan are interred.
You may take your lunch at ZC Eatery (near the Pabayo-Borja junction) for their sinuglaw andpochero or a quick afternoon snack at Butcher’s Best for anything in their menu and Cecil’sfor their moist chocolate cakes. The latter two are located near Xavier University.
Head next to City Central School at Velez-Yacapin sts. This is one of the first 51 Gabaldon buildings built during the American regime. The school also has a historic archway built in 1936 that still stands along Velez street to this day. A few blocks away from this public elementary school are the Gregorio A. Pelaez Sr. Memorial Sports Center and the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School. At the front portion of MOGCHS is a statue of Don Apolinar E. Velez riding a horse. He is one of one of Cagayan de Oro’s heroes. As you continue walking to the MacArthur Park which is now known as Gov. Vicente de Lara Park, you would also notice the murals of the MOCGHS depicting the various tourist spots of each municipality in Misamis Oriental.
People usually come to this park here to jog, to play chess or to unwind. You would find here the Misamis Oriental Provincial Capitol. At the middle is a Heritage of Misamis Oriental Monument and the Tribute to Slain Members of the Press.
You could stop your walking tour here and head back to your hotel or wherever your next stop might be. But if you have ample time, hail a jeepney for the MacArthur Memorial Marker in Macabalan. This is where you could see a very unique yet fitting homage to the five star general. General Douglas MacArthur stopped by the Macabalan port before he and his party went to Bukidnon to catch a plane for Australia.
And that folks is my humble DIY walking tour of Cagayan de Oro City. I may have missed some interesting stops in this version so your corrections and interactions are most welcome below.