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Himugso Heritage Feature: Cagayan de Oro's Oldest Store looks forward to the next century and beyond

June 10, 2019

(We are bringing back stories of the olden days of Cagayan de Oro in commemoration of the 69th Charter Day Anniversary of its founding)   In the center of Wadhu's Quality Store stands a 1931 NCR cash register, bought by the store's founder by mail order from Sears & Roebuck in the United States 83 years ago.  During the second world war, the owner wrapped it in grease and buried it in his backyard. After the war, he dug it up and it still serves the same store now run by his grandson Haresh. That cash register is the living testimony of the traditions that has made Wadhu's Quality Store Cagayan de Oro's oldest surviving retail store, a tradition established by the store's patriarch and carried on by the third generation which now runs it. Eighty three years ago, Wadhu Dharamdas Uttamchandani set up in Cagayan de Misamis (as Cagayan de Oro was then known) 'Wadhu's Home of Quality' near Plaza Divisoria, the town's social and commercial center. Mr. Wadhu arrived in the Philippines as a 12-year old boy from India in 1924. He was employed at the Indian Bazaar owned by his uncle Nebhraj Ramchand Buhdrani in Zamboanga City for 12  years where he gained his basic knowledge and business savvy in the retail trade.  In 1936, he felt he had enough seed money, contacts and experience to establish his own store in Iligan, but decided on Cagayan instead. His thatched roof store, which featured items bought by mail order from Sears & Roebuck, was set amidst stores run by Japanese nationals near the Heroes de Cagayan monument.  Divisoria was the Escolta of Cagayan in those days, and the nearby public market ensured the fledgling store flourished until World War II exploded. "My father survived the war by bartering his goods for food and clothing," said his son, Wadhu "Dodong" Jr. "He married my mom, Trinidad Babiera Valmores at Balingasag, Misamis Oriental in 1943 and had two children, myself and my sister Linda." In 1946, "Mr. Wadhu" (as he was fondly called by friends and customers) reopened at a new location in Plaza Divisoria just across the public market, but moved to the next block after two years, where its present name, "Wadhu's Quality Store" was first seen.  The store moved to its present site in the corner of J.R. Borja and Pabayo streets when Mayor Justiniano Borja moved the city public market to the Cogon area in 1958. "My dad didn't want to be too close to the Cogon market where competition would be stiff but he also didn't want to be too far from the former site in Divisoria and his regular customers," Dodong explained. In 1973, the elder Wadhu felt the younger generation was ready to take the reins of the business and turned over the store's management to Dodong. "The idea was to help infuse faster and newer approaches towards marketing and merchandising without changing the original concepts on which we made our reputation," Dodong recalls. "We introduced new products catering to the tastes of the younger generation and terminated others which were slow moving." And not too soon. By 1975, local retail heavyweights Ororama and Gaisano came into the picture, forcing other stores to fold up due to the intense competition. "We took this as an opportunity, a challenge to make our strategies competitive with the giants," Dodong said. "I have always welcomed competition because it is the only way to serve the public with better service and cheaper prices." For instance, when more people from Butuan, Surigao, Bukidnon and Iligan began coming to Cagayan de Oro, Wadhu's still multiplied its customers despite stiff competition from the bigger stores. "Our overhead is not as large as the big ones, so we were able to adjust our prices and compete," Dodong said. "Since we were also getting the same merchandise from the same suppliers, we were able to attract more customers with our lower prices without sacrificing service and quality." The 1990s brought even stiffer competition from malls like SM City and Limketkai Mall which featured a wide variety of stores and merchandise and attractive amenities like national food chains and cinemas all under one roof. "We kept our loyal customers and even added more through our personalized service," Dodong said. "Most of the sales girls in the big malls are hired on a casual basis and are no match for better paid and motivated sales staff of smaller stores who have better experience and training, not to mention knowing the customers on a first name basis.  "Everyone is equally served and each person is attended to no matter how small their needs are," he adds. "We train our sales people never to look down on anyone and treat them as regular adult customers regardless of age, gender or appearance." Some years ago, a shabbily dressed barefoot gentlemen wanted to buy an expensive watch. Sensing the sales clerk was at a loss on how to deal with him, Dodong stepped in to personally entertain him and he paid in cash. "It was only a week later that I found out he was the owner of a big building which housed many stores in Bukidnon," Dodong wryly recalls. "He told me ours was the third store he went to and the only one who gave him any attention." More recently, traders from Mainland China, Taiwan and Korea have swamped the city with low quality merchandise at very low prices. Together with the "ukay-ukay" vendors selling smuggled garments and shoes at rock bottom prices, they have crowded the city's sidewalks and even areas fronting regular stores. Instead of caving in under the assault, Wadhu's opened a new branch in the Carmen market area. It carries the same merchandise for which the main store has been known for such as watches, sporting goods, and related items. Eventually, that branch moved to the Robinson’s Big R Supermarket building at Limketkai Center where it is now managed by Dodong’s younger son John-John. The third generation of Wadhus takes all the competition and changes in stride, having been born and raised in Cagayan de Oro under the tutelage of their father and grandfather. They remain confident the "Open Door" policy of the original Wadhu's Home of Quality will see them through their next millennium and beyond. "We grew up in this store and we don't see any reason to change how it looks or operates," said Haresh.  "Since my grandfather first started this store, he insisted that my Dad leave the store's doors wide open so even people from the rural areas would not be shy to come in and window shop. They don't feel pressured to buy something and can window shop as much as they like." “We recentlycelebrating our 80th anniversary in 2016 and we gavemaway watches as a token of our appreciation,” said Dodong with a smile. In the center of the store, Haresh rings up another sale in the NCR cash register. If the sale totals more than the P99.00 the machine is capable of calculating, he uses a small calculator. It looks like the old machine could easily outlive a dozen or so of its modern counterparts, just like the store it serves in the corner of J.R. Borja and Pabayo streets in Cagayan de Oro has done to many of its larger competitors.  

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HIMUGSO Heritage Feature: The Forgotten Fruit Trees of Cagayan de Misamis

June 10, 2019

Along with the old houses, street names and landmarks which have become a part of the heritage of Cagayan de Oro, are some trees and their fruits which seem to have inexplicably disappeared over time. Two trees which have figured prominently in the culture and heritage of Cagayan de Oro are the Lambago and Kayam. "Our place was once known as Kalambagohan because of the abundance of lambago," Roy Gaane, the late president and founder of Kagayanon International, recalls.   The Lambago tree (Hibiscus tiliaceus) is a member of the Malvaceae tree family that thrives in low altitude areas like seashores, riverbanks and other areas reached by tidal streams. Long-time resident Titus Velez reminisces how the lambago produced a yellow flower with some red stripes. As the day came and went, the flowers deepened to orange and then to red before falling off.  The branches of the tree would bend over time and the wood has been used for boats, firewood, wood carvings and many other uses. It has also been used by Hawaiian Polynesians to make rope. "They serve as anti-erosion sa mga riverbanks, trapping silt during the seasonal floods of the Cagayan River,” Velez said. “We use to climb this tree from on tree to another. Kasi almost interlocking ang mga branches. The branches are also very flexible and strong even the small ones. We also use the branches as an improvised diving board. During summer we would enjoy its shade.” “Under the tree we would cook banana with ginamos and a bottle of coke. We could sleep in the branches while bringing the old transistor radio (the ones with Nora Aunor's face on the dial), while listening to dramas from dyHP. We also fly out kites there, well actually on a small clearing besides the trees,” he added. "Those were the days. The last lambago I saw was along Iponan river but it's not there anymore. I'm not sure if there are still lambago if we go upstream. I think it is a victim of rapid urbanization."  To rectify this situation, the Cagayan de Oro city government, led by fotmer City Local Environment and Natural Resources Officer Edwin Dael, planted 65lambago seedlings provided by City Tourism Council Chairperson  Dorothy Jean B. Pabayo, at Duaw Park directly across Cagayan River on June 13, 2015, to commemorate the 65th Charter Day anniversary of the city.  The Kayam was better known to elder Kagay-anons for its nut which was a popular delicacy during their childhood days in the city. "I remember that my mother had a suki who would deliver cooked or boiled kayam to the house," wrote Gwendloyn  Ramos-Garcia in her reminisces entitledMemories of the Old Hometown. "I haven't seen kayam for a long, long time now."2 "It tastes like castañas (chestnuts) except it is bigger,” Gaane said. “ You can look it up in Google under the name of Tahitian Chestnut or Polynesian Chestnut." The tree was even linked in popular culture to one of the city's barangays. "When I was still in grade school, there were kayam trees in Consolacion, then known as the red light district of Cagayan," Gaane said. "When men who patronized the district were asked where they had been, they would say, Nang kayam 'mi . It became notorious and that was probably why the trees were cut."   Gaane also recalls other fruits of his childhood in Cagayan de Oro but which are now hard-to-find. "There was the alubijid tree once found by the side of the Provincial Capitol," he said. "Its fruit is evergreen and its seed is hairy like that of the siniguelas except that the alubijid is round and big as a tennis ball." "It probably can still be found in the town of Alubijid. It's crunchy like an apple, green, with hairy kernel. Just like the pangi fruit which was once found in Barangay Tagpangi.  It must still be there,” he added. Gaane also recalled a fruit better known as the cherry which was brownish and about the size of lanzones. “There used to be a tree at the Kempski compound that later became Rizal Theatre.  Being a family friend, I used to get my cherries there.” When he was a grade schooler in Ateneo de Cagayan (now better known as Xavier University), Gaane said he was a patron of the cherries which used to be sold by the Neri’s who had a property right next to the old gymnasium.    “I remember that cherry tree which belonged to the family of Luisito Neri,” Ramos-Garcia said. “It was delicious but the tree was full of thorns.” Jazmin Ramos-Sumalinog, eldest daughter of former Pilgrim Institute High School Principal Severino Ramos recalls they used to have a cherry tree in their front yard. “Didto mi sa taas sa cherry pirmi magsaka to get the dark plum-colored ones.  Daghan gusto mopalit when the fruits look so tempting to passersby,” she said.  “Dante, Bobom, Totic and myself 'owned' our respective branches, so that we get fruits only from our assigned branch. Nakaka miss !” “The cherry is known as cereales in Davao and serali in the Visayas,” said Sylvia Aguhob, a food tech faculty from Xavier University’s College of Agriculture.  She said many of the trees still line the pathway in the car park of  the now cloistered Southeast Asian Rural Social Leadership Institute (Searsolin) at the Manresa campus of XU. Another fruit which was once abundant in Carmen in what is now the Golden Village was the songsong kabaw . "When ripe it is red and hairy like the mabolo but you only eat its flesh like the mangosteen,” Gaane recalls. Like the cherry, he said he hasn’t seen one since his high school days.  The late journalist Ben Emata also had fond memories of the songsong kabaw.  "This is a sweet fruit that looks like  the nipple of a carabao,” he muses. “When I went hunting during my childhood days, Songsong Kabaw were abundant side by side with bayabas or guavas. I have not seen this fruit for a very long time. It was not sold in the market since it was a wild fruit." Philippine Heritage gives Songsong Kabaw’s scientific name as Annonaceae Uvaria rufe and its found from Northern Luzon to Palawan and Mindanao where it is known as the susong-kalabaw, susog kaba, and a host of other regional variants.  According to MarketMan of the wonderful blog Market Manila, Songsong Kabaw is a  member ot the Annonaceae family, which counts among its cousins, guyabano (soursop), atis (custard apple) and ylang-ylang. ( see http://www.marketmanila.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/akalabaw3.JPG)  (compiled with the help of Roy Gaane, Gwendolyn Ramos-Garcia, Ben Emata, Titus Velez and Sylvia Aguhob. Special thanks to Market Man and Market Manila for the pictures of Songsong Kabaw and Cherries).

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Himugso Heritage Feature: 118 Years of History – The Legacy of PLAZA DIVISORIA

June 10, 2019

If the old trees of Plaza Divisoria could talk, they would be busy regaling the crowds with tales of its storied past, and how it often played a major role in the city’s local history. Plaza Divisoria was constructed in 1901 by Tirso Neri y Roa, a rich merchant who was then municipal mayor of Cagayan de Misamis, the old name of the city. Much of the site used for the plaza was donated by Neri to the town. “The purpose of this plaza was to serve as a divider for the town. Divisoria is a Spanish word which means divider," said local historian Dr. Antonio J. Montalvan II. “At that time, Cagayan de Misamis, as the town was then called, was continuously razed by big fires. So, in order to contain such kinds of conflagrations, Tirso Neri built this fire break known as Plaza Divisoria." However, due to its central location, Plaza Divisoria soon became the socio-political and cultural center of Cagayan de Misamis. On September 10, 1916 it was the scene of a big parade celebrating the passage of the Jones Law, which granted a bicameral congress to the Philippine Commonwealth. On June 19, 1917, the patriot Porfirio Chaves and his wife Fausta Vamenta turned over one of the earliest monuments in the country of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal which still graces the center of the plaza. To the east is the old monument to Andres Bonifacio, where the bones of local revolutionaries who died in the Battle of Agusan Hill on May 14, 1900 were once interred. At the center of the old plaza used to be a structure known to all Kagay-anons as the Kiosko (and earlier, the Tribuna).  2In the 1950s, people gathered here for important social and cultural occasions, such as the annual celebration of National Heroes Day.  By the 1960s, people were regularly gathering in the area which is now occupied by the Cagayan de Oro Tourist Assistance Center to discuss the burning issues of the day. This group of residents became what is now known to old-timers as "The Plazans" and included many of Cagayan de Oro's finest like Councilor Pio Roa, Yo Amon Fuentes, Dr. Jose Montalvan, Jesus Roa, Anastacio Gabor, Ramon Echem, former Governor Paciencio Ysalina, Aquilino Pimentel, Sr., Tawag ng Tanghalan National Champions Tata Neri and Rizal “Boy” Ortega, the late police chief Melo Esguerra, Carlos Yamut, and former RP Ambassador to the US Raul Ch. Rabe, to mention a few. The “Kiosko” was for a time replaced by the  “Bandstand” built by City Mayor Justiniano “Tiñing” Borja in the 60s, who also restored the central significance of Plaza Divisoria by building another structure, known to Kagay-anons as the “Ampi” (for amphitheater). “All Philippine presidents who came to town, addressed the people of  Cagayan de Oro in Plaza Divisoria,” Montalvan recalls. “So in a sense, this is the Plaza Miranda of Cagayan de Oro.” Borja’s Bandstand has in turn been replaced by the “Kiosko Kagawasan”, built by the past administration of Mayor Vicente Y. Emano. It recalls the architecture of the original Kiosko sans the skylight and the two lions which remain missing to this day. During the last term of the past administration, the Plaza underwent a major facelift. Besides the band stand’s replacement with the new Kiosko Kagawasan, the “ampi” also underwent a similar renovation, becoming the home of Police Station 1 or the OKK (Operation Kahusay ug Kalinaw).  The old OKK has been demolished to give way to the better looking Cagayan de Oro Tourist Assistance Center” and two public toilets were erected in an effort to stop the Plaza from degenerating into a public toilet. Unfortunately, the old Amphi was demolished but construction has begun on a new one at its old site.    There’s also been mixed reactions to other “improvements” such as the controversial lights which will lighting up what used to be a dimly lit plaza, and the controversial Masonic monument crowding a section of the fire break. “Perhaps a better way of regarding Divisoria and its future is in order now,” Montalvan said. “We now have a national law in place, RA 10066, the National Cultural Heritage Law. Government is now capable of declaring sites and landmarks so that these can be protected. There is one classification there called the Heritage Zone that I think is the most appropriate way of ensuring the future of Divisoria. Soon we shall pass from this world. But what assurance do we leave behind?” Residents and visitors remain hopeful that, in time, these transient problems are resolved and that Plaza Divisoria with its fruit stands, monuments, benches and trees would be there for the next hundred years or so for their afternoon paseos, paradas and procesiones to mark important and historic occasions in this city’s history.

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Heroes de Kagay-an: Maj. Jose Manuel Corrales Montalvan 1st Camp Commander of the ‘Kampo’

June 10, 2019

Few Kagay-anons today are aware that the first camp commander of the Philippine Army’s biggest military camp in Mindanao was a Lumad (native Kagay-anon). Major Jose Manuel Corrales Montalvan was initially assigned as Cadre Commander of the 2nd Misamis Oriental (Machine Gun) Cadre at Camp Bulua (present day Camp Edilberto Evangelista, home base of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division) in Cagayan de Oro, a post he served in from January 1-Dec. 31, 1939. When the camp was renamed Camp Evangelista, Mr. Montalvan was appointed its Camp Commander and Mobilization Center Officer on January 1, 1940, a post he served up to the outbreak of World War II.   Dr. Montalvan, who was also known as Ñor Peping, was born in present day Cagayan de Oro (then known as Cagayan de Misamis, capital town of the Segundo Distrito de Misamis) on March 17, 1903 to Jose Gabriel Montalvan, a retired Spanish soldier from Belmonte, Cuenca, Spain who was assigned by the Spanish government to the Philippines and Concepcion Corrales y Roa of Cagayan de Misamis.   In 1927, he was graduated with honors (3rd highest) from the Philippine Dental College, Manila with a degree of Doctor in Dental Surgery (DDS).  Upon his return to his hometown in 1928, he practiced dentistry and became one of the first teachers of the Ateneo de Cagayan (present day Xavier University) and was its Commandant of the Corps of Cadets. Dr. Montalvan was commissioned a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1928 and was trained and successfully completed the U.S. Army Extension Courses.  From 1933 to 1937 he was the instructor for Military Science and Tactics at the Ateneo de Cagayan. However, the lure of a full-time career in the newly formed Philippine Army proved irresistible and he resigned from the U.S. Army Reserve and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant, Infantry Reserve, of the Philippine Army on July 16, 1936.    He was called to active duty training at Camp Murphy Training School for Reserve Officers (Infantry), assigned as Company Commander of the training officers company, and graduated No. 5 with a general average of 90.7% in 1938. While assigned as the first camp commander of Camp Evangelista, he graduated from the School of Military Law and Courts-Martial Procedure, Camp Keithley, Lanao in 1940.  Upon his induction into the U.S. Army Forces – Far East (USAFFE) on September 6, 1941, he was appointed Division Finance Officer and Division Quartermaster of the USAFEE’s 102nd Division.  Later, he was appointed Division Inspector General, 102nd Division, USAFFE, with Headquarters at Tankulan, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon then promoted to Captain, Infantry, in April, 1942. Following the surrender of the USAFFE forces in Mindanao under Gen. William Sharp to the Japanese Imperial Army on May 10, 1942, Dr. Montalvan was taken as a prisoner-of-war (POW) by the Japanese and detained at the Ateneo de Cagayan campus which had been converted into a POW Camp. “During his captivity he developed polyneuritis, which caused his leg to become shorter, as a result of the hard labor he underwent in prison when he and others would carry sacks of potatoes and coffee under the rain, soaking their only clothing in their bodies,” recalls his daughter Annabel Montalvan Corrales.  “One night after such experience his whole body became numb and his leg started to give him extreme pain. The doctors at that time did not know what it was but was later diagnosed as polyneuritis.” However, he successfully escaped and joined his family in Talakag, Bukidnon. He walked for days to Talakag, away from the road, because the Japanese were looking for him. Again, the rains came and soaked his clothes.  When he got to Talakag he had very high fever and the polyneuritis he contracted became worse. He then proceeded to Misamis Occidental to join the guerrillas of Col. Wendell Fertig, commander of the Mindanao segment of the United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP), which was made up of escaped prisoners-of-war and Filipino and American soldiers and civilians who refused to surrender to the Japanese. Between 1942 and 1944, USFIP forces raided Japanese occupation forces in Mindanao and provided valuable intelligence to the Allied forces.  For his military service before and during World War II, Dr. Montalvan received the following awards and decorations: Philippine Defense Medal; American Defense Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal; Philippine Republic Unit Citation Badge and the U.S. Distinguished Unit Badge. Following his polyneuritis, Dr. Montalvan reverted to inactive status on July 11, 1946 and was promoted to the rank of Major, Infantry Reserve in January 20, 1950. “He suffered so much under the hands of the Japanese and often got slapped for no reason,” Ms. Montalvan said. “Many years later, that Japanese that put him under hard labor came back to Cagayan de Oro to apologize to him and to others he tortured. And my dad readily accepted his apology!” He resumed his duties as a professor of Spanish at the Ateneo in 1949 and took up law at the Cagayan Law School of the Ateneo, graduating with a degree of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) in 1953, passed the Bar exams and was admitted to the Bar in June 1954 and established a law practice.  He married the former Mercedes Acero Roa of Cagayan de Oro City and with whom he had six children: Marrieta, Daisy, Annabel, Eduardo, Consuelo and Antonio. Mr. Montalvan passed away on September 21, 1978, his patriotism and service to the country and military apparently forgotten by the new generation of Kagay-anons.  To rectify this situation, Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro) and Rep. Maximo B. Rodriguez, Jr. (Abante Mindanao- Party List) filed House Bill 4735 with the 15th Congress during its first regular session seeking to rename Camp Edilberto Evangelista to “Camp Jose Montalvan “in honor of a Kagay-anon and Mindanaoan war hero who fought against the Japanese to protect the freedom of the Philippines. Camp Edilberto Evangelista in Barangay Patag, Cagayan de Oro City, is the largest military camp in Mindanao with an area of 129 hectares. It is the home base to the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division and covers the Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions. The explanatory note to the HB 4735 reads in part: “It is readily apparent that Major Montalvan is a war hero who has fought against the Japanese in order to ensure that the Philippines retain its independence. He gave up his best years in his life to fight for our country. It is therefore appropriate that he be honored by renaming Camp Evangelista into Camp Jose Montalvan, in honor of a Kagay-anon who risked his life for his country."  

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Himugso Festival Heritage Feature, Birthing A City: CAGAYAN DE ORO'S SQUARE GARDEN

June 10, 2019

Did you know our pre-Spanish Kagay-anon ancestors once had their own version of the famous Madison Square Garden?  Present-day Kagay-anons will be proud of the fact that they share a common bond with their 15th century forefathers-they all have, at one time or another, taken a stroll along our local square. Our square was once one of these things: an arena similar to Blasco Ibañez's Blood and Sand epic, a baseball park, a military camp, a place of Catholic worship, a battlefield, and a dreaded execution site.  It is now a lovers lane, a place for evening meditation, a jogger's delight, and a place where a royal prince fell in love with a Moro princess-thus giving the town its name, Cagayan. If a tape recorder were available during these different eras, we would be able to hear the different events that transpired at the Square.     The "hisses", the "boos", the thunderous ovations, the sobs, the laughter, the "vivas!", the groans of deep pain, the religious hymns. What a delight it would have been to be able to "hear" history in the making! During the pre-Spanish era, the Square was a fortified place where the royal family of Cagayan lived. It was here where the Higaonon chieftain, Bagani, and the Maranaw princess, Bai Lawanen, met and fell in love at first sight. The legend dwells on the shame the loving pair brought on their tribes-a shame, locally translated as Kagayha-an. Voila! The settlement finally had a name! Then the Spaniards came. As usual, the fair-skinned colonizers started bastardizing the local names of places. Finding "Kagayha-an" a tongue-twister, the kastilaloys chose the sexy-sounding "Cagayan." The name has stuck to this day. Now when you think Spanish, you usually think matador. The Spaniards, naturally, influenced our fashion, manners, our religious beliefs, our culture, and our hobbies.  The most popular sport during that era was the Juego de Toro. Not the toro-toro some present Pinoys enjoy but the real thing! A bullfight during those days drew in the crowds from far and wide. The Square was the arena. A local, Bernardino Daang, was acclaimed the best Pinoy matador. He was said to be agile in his movements, swift in his passes. What a glorious sight the Square was then! Oles! and Bravos! literally filled the air. During our first encounter with the American forces, the fight for freedom saw Filipino bolos and spears matching the American rifles. The Pinoys lost the fight but the gallant defenders won the respect of the enemy. The Square witnessed the clash of weapons and the cries of the dying There were no gas chambers or "hot seat" during the early American occupation. Criminals, mostly bandits, were executed by public hanging. The Square saw hundreds die. The crowd-drawer was the execution of the notorious Balodong, the outlaw. His life and exploits were as savage as America's infamous Dillinger. Just before World War I (i.e., 1914-1918), the Square became the local afficionados' diamond - much like the World Series playing field.  Winning teams included: Smith Bell, Constabulary, Government Employees, Central and High School. They played real baseball then, not kid stuff. A familiar sight during such games was the famous "Cracker Jack", a junk food similar to the present-day popcorn. Kagay-anon volunteers for overseas duty -the National Guard- trained at the Square during World War I, prior to their assignment to the Middle East. The 1918 Epidemic of influenza claimed a heavy toll among the volunteers. Nevertheless, the survivors were able to embark on the USS Liscom with their American officers for Camp Claudio at Baclaran. During the pre-war years, on the evening of the Feast of Corpus Christi, altars were built around the Square. Believers visited each altar with deep reverence. Hymn-singing devotees were a common sight during these festivities. Before the Second World War, the Square was transformed into an aesthetically landscaped park. It served as the town's playground. The estate belonged to the provincial government, but after the war, it was deeded to the municipal government. Now, the Square- locally known as Gaston Park- stands proudly as a mute witness to Cagayan de Oro's colorful past and glorious heritage. Lover's lane, jogger's delight, snatcher's paradise, or haven for the homeless... Gaston Park may be all these today but what park isn't? Gaston Park may have lost its past glamour just as the once-famous Luneta has, but both landmarks have HISTORY written all over them. Well can other parks beat that? (A modern adaptation of an article by Dr. Blas Ch. Velez published in the 32 nd Charter Day anniversary souvenir program of Cagayan de Oro City. Dr. Velez, a doctor of medicine (UST 1937) and a WWII veteran, was a man of many talents. He was the past president of the Misamis Oriental Medical Society,   Misamis Oriental High School Alumni Association, UST Medical Association, Cagayan de Oro Cultural and Historical Society and Apovel Enterprise, Inc.   A barangay captain and member of the Cagayan de Oro Rotary Club, the late doctor was a former municipal and city councilor of Cagayan de Oro before and after WWII. A 4 th degree Knight of Columbus, he was a professor in legal medicine at the Xavier University College of Law).  

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COPC condemns Oro dad, calls him 'bastard,' 'uneducated'

June 10, 2019

THE Cagayan de Oro Press Club, Inc (COPC) has condemned in the highest order the display of arrogance of Zaldy Ocon, a member of the Cagayan de Oro City Council masquerading as a broadcaster. The COPC issued the statement after Ocon berated former Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Reuben R. Canoy, a lifetime member and one of the pillars of COPC. "Berating a 90-year-old icon of Cagayan de Oro in a wheel-chair in full view of the public inside the VIP Hotel was an act of a bastard and uneducated public official hence this statement of full condemnation against Ocon," the COPC statement, which was posted on COPC FaceBook page dated June 10, said.

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