The City of Cagayan de Oro

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Friday, June 15, 2012


AT EXACTLY 11:30 in the morning of June 15, 1950, President Elpidio Quirino signed into law Republic Act 521 creating the chartered City of Cagayan de Oro in Malacañang Palace in Manila.

Among those who witnessed this historic signing were Misamis Oriental Rep. Emmanuel N. Pelaez, author of the bill that created the new city; House Speaker Eugenio Perez; Misamis Oriental Gov. Paciencio Ysalina; Cagayan Municipal Mayor Maximo Y. Suniel and his family; and other prominent Kagay-anons.

After the signing of R.A. 521, the President handed his pen to Municipal Mayor Suniel so the latter can sign the papers appointing him as the first City Mayor of Cagayan de Oro.

Whereupon, he was sworn to office by the President himself right in Malacañang.

Below is the list of officials of the new city when the charter was approved on June 15, 1950:

Maximo Y. Suniel - City Mayor
Pedro E. Pimentel - City Vice Mayor

City Councilors

Donato Esling
Waldo McVickers
Juan G. Regalado
Pio I. Roa
Gerardo C. Sabal
Cesareo Sambaan
Jesus V. Seriña
Alfredo Shapit

However, the new city had a different and smaller composition of barrios (now barangays) that completely changed its political landscape. The old territory of Cagayan that dates back during the Spanish colonial period was from Tagnipa (now El Salvador City) to Agusan.

During the American colonial period, the political boundary of Cagayan was extended to Puerto when the Sayre Highway was constructed from that barrio to the Bukidnon Province.

When the cityhood movement begun in 1947, the people of Tagnipa, Molugan, Opol and Barra openly expressed their desire to separate from Cagayan. Their wish was granted when several laws were passed that subsequently created the municipalities of El Salvador, Opol and for a time, Molugan.
Barra then, became a part of the Opol Municipality.

So on June 15, 1950, the boundaries of Cagayan de Oro completely changed. This time, Iponan, which is right next to Opol, became the city's boundary to the west. The city's boundary in the east is Bugo, which formerly belonged to the Municipality of Tagoloan. It is located after Puerto.

Rep. Pelaez said that it was necessary to annex Bugo to the new city since this is where the factories of the Philippine Packing Corporation (now known as the Del Monte Corporation) are located and this will bring in big income to Cagayan de Oro in the form of taxes and other business opportunities.

Pelaez was right. For many decades, Del Monte Corporation is the numero uno taxpayer of the city.

Finally, why was "de Oro" added to Cagayan?

According to Rep. Pelaez, he added "de Oro" (of gold) to the ancient pre-Hispanic name "Cagayan" because since time immemorial, gold or oro was found in the hills and rivers of the city. From then on, Cagayan de Oro has been given many titles associated with gold -- the City of Golden Friendship, The City of Gold and the Golden Gateway to Mindanao.

Almighty God, thank You for our City of Cagayan de Oro and for raising her up like a phoenix after the most devastating flood hit her a few months ago. May You continue to bless the city and the Kagay-anons ever more!

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 15, 2012.

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