My Oroquieta City tour
It is usually quiet, clean and trouble-free in Oroquieta City, the provincial capital of Misamis Occidental. The city, however was not named because of its placid nature. Two theories prevail as to why it was named as such: that it was named after a place in Spain and in a more literal sense, that the early inhabitants found gold along its rivers.
But it was unusually more quiet in Oroquieta one week after Typhoon Sendong hit Northern Mindanao last December. Even if the city was not ravaged by the typhoon, there was still a somber atmosphere that hung over the place. My aunt told me that a few bodies were washed ashore by the city’s beautiful boulevard during that week. The bodies were already retrieved when I paid the city a quick visit that day.
I also noticed that the 1912 city kiosk and the famous halang-halang stalls beside the city park were deserted except for a few customers and some playing children. But it may very well have been that most of the residents were busy preparing for their Christmas eve dinner that time.
I then took a trike and headed for the Misamis Occidental Provincial Capitol located at the western portion of the city. It was designed by Architect Juan Arellano and was built in 1935. Its striking facade depicts scenes that showcase the province’s various agro-industrial activities. This magnificent prewar capitol building was also adjudged as among the most beautiful in the Philippines during the 70s.
The Sendong tragedy, however, did not stir the resolve of the few residents that I met that afternoon. They did not mind not eating any catch from the sea for a few weeks and forgoing lavish Christmas celebrations that time. They were also helpful in providing me directions in getting to the Ciriaco H. Pastrano Hanging Bridge that connects two barangays in the city. This bridge also provides a wonderful view of the Layawan river, which to my memory has always been clean and green.
Oroquieta’s laidback appeal may have been one reason why other component cities in the province have overtaken it in terms of economic growth and tourism arrivals. But on a more hopeful note, this would also mean that Oroquieta can learn a lot from the mistakes such as overcrowding and environmental neglect, of the other highly urbanized Philippine cities.
Having said that, Oroquieta indeed has a quite huge room for sustainable growth and development. By then it may not be that quiet anymore in this part of the Philippines.