The City of Ozamiz is as an important gateway not only to the province of Misamis Occidental but for Northwestern Mindanao as a whole. It has a renovated airport runway and a busy port that welcomes RORO (Roll-on, Roll-off) ferries crossing the Panguil Bay and various shipping vessels from Luzon and Visayas. Its highways serve vehicles coming from Oroquieta in the north and Tangub from the southwest.
It was originally named ‘Misamis,’ a corruption of the Subanen term for ‘Kuyamis,’ a variety of sweet coconut. By virtue of Republic Act 321, it was renamed after José Fortich Ozámiz, a relatively uncelebrated local hero. He was among the many Filipinos who resisted the Japanese occupation during World War II.
There is little reminder of that period in history in Ozamiz today. But there is however, one enduring structure that tells of its Spanish roots. The Nuestra Senora dela Concepcion del Triunfo is a fortress built by the Spaniards in 1756. This served as a formidable bastion against invaders and pirates. The fort, which is just a few minutes away from the Ozamiz port, still stands there to this day.
A few meters from the fort and smacked at the busiest intersection in the city, is the North Pole. This is an old snack joint that was opened in 1966 and was said to be the first air-conditioned store in Ozamiz. It is amazing to note that this small store thrived through the years, when right across it are very popular fastfood franchises. This is just among the surviving old businesses in the crowded city proper, whose existence is continually challenged by the entry of big malls and other similar establishments.
One should not also miss the pipe organ at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. This is the only one of its kind in the Mindanao and one of the largest in the Philippines. It was through the efforts of Fr. Sean Lavery and Fr. Herman Schablitzki that the church’s need for this musical instrument was realized. It was inaugurated on 1967.
There are other interesting places in Ozamiz aside from the ones I already mentioned. Someday, I’d like to visit Bukagan Hill which houses the four heavy bells originally intended for the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. If not for travel blogging, I would not have known of its existence.
I would not have also realized too that Ozamiz City, a city that we always pass by in most of our family vacations, indeed plays a very important role in the economic growth and tourism development in this part of the Philippines. It has perfectly grown into the role of being a gateway the province and will continue to do so in the many years to come.