Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Cagayan de Oro Day 1

Arrived at Cagayan de Oro at 7:30am. Given the choice, we would have gone straight to white water rafting. We had to wait for a couple of cousins coming in at a later flight. We therefore spent the rest of the morning (and afternoon) touring the city.

Gaston Park: This was the site of a Filipino defeat against the Americans in the Filipino-American War, where around 200 Filipinos perished in a "surprise" attack against around 80 Americans stationed in the American barracks beside the old church. The surprise was foiled when the Filipinos shouted their battlecries before heading into battle, enabling the Americans to gear up for the assault. Incidentally, Arthur MacArthur Jr., the father of Douglas MacArthur, was stationed here at that time.

Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral, the oldest church in Cagayan de Oro, rebuilt three times over the course of two centuries. The first one was destroyed by fire, while the second was bombed during World War III. The cathedral also houses the remains of the two archbihops of Cagayan de Oro.

This cross is all that remained of the second incarnation.

Of note are the stained glass windows depicting the Way of the Cross, made over a century ago and shipped from New York during the church's last reconstruction.

The Wandering Cross that toured the surrounding municipalities in 2000, hence its name.

Outside the church we came across this banana vendor. It was grilled bananas with margarine spread and sprinkled with sugar. Not quite like the typical caramelized bananas in Manila, it had a bit of a salty taste to it.

We then proceeded to Divisoria, more or less the city's center. They have a Bonifacio monument, which is also where the bones of the heroes of the only Filipino victory against the Americans are buried. During weekends the roads would be closed to give way to the weekend night market. At night there are a few entrepreneurs selling clothes and other ukay items. There are also massuers for hire.

After a 10-minute drive, we arrive at a fenced area in the port area. This is the monument that commemorates Douglas MacArthur's escape from Corregidor. After disembarking from the PT boats on this spot, he headed to an airstrip in Bukidnon to board the plane bound for Australia.

Lunch was at Thai Me Up. Of note are the spring rolls with cucumber wrap and the fruit juice with diced fruits. The rest of the food was decent but not spectacular.

The municipality of El Salavador was around 45 minutes from Cagayan de Oro. Oddly, there were three other times when El Salvador was a city but its cityhood was stripped because of revenue issues. Our destination was the Shrine of the Divine Mercy, the site of a 40-foot statue of Jesus with two rays (signifying blood and water) emanating from his chest. Its construction and the land it's on was funded by donations. Of note is that females are required to wear skirts. Men in shorts are also required to wear a skirt. For convenience's sake, guests are given skirts to wear over their clothes.

One can get to the top of the statue, the rays are actually steps leading up. However, one has to endure a 30-45 minute talk of doom and gloom from a member of the Divine Mercy before one is allowed to go up. They don't allow celphones and cameras at the top, and the only thing at the top is the holy euchrist.

Located below the garden is the stations of the cross. Howver, this is the only station that had real life statues. The path going down is a bit difficult to traverse.
It has been said that the water that comes from their deep well has healing properties, and is free for everyone. Colored candles may be lit as offerings. The different colors signify the different aspects of life: career, love, etc.

A 20-minute drive from the Divine Mercy had us at the Ostrich and Crocodile Farm.

The ostriches actually come up and watch you. They seem friendly but our guide told us that they could kill a man with one peck of their beaks.

Ostrich eggs are surprisingly durable. A grown man can step on it without it breaking.

Ostrich at 1 week old. We were allowed to pet and hold them.

After the full day, we were finally able to check in at our hotel, Maxandrea. After a bit of rest, it was time for dinner.

Penong's is a local grill house a block from the hotel. Their specialty was Chicken Inato (like Inasal). Be warned that the jumbo size doesn't look much different from the regular size. Do not order the pork belly, unless you like your food drowned in salt.
We had coffee and dessert at Coffeeworks beside Xavier University, a block away from Penong's. We wandered a bit around Divisoria, buying needed supplies, before heading back to the hotel.