A tour of Misamis Oriental

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Saturday, October 13, 2012


IT’S not all the time that we get to feel being a tourist in your own place. We may have lived long enough in our comfort zones we call our hometown and are already familiar with the beautiful sites, rich cultures and palatable history of different delicacies we offer to other tourists. But have we explored nature’s beauty and amazing wonders that we can just see within our vicinity?

How does it take to become a tourist in your own province? That question came to my mind after returning home from a three-day trip to the west and eastern part of Misamis Oriental. It was a rare opportune for me to have an unfathomable exploration of the lovely architectures of nature that span for centuries, tourists attractions and sumptuous native products of every town in the province.

At first I was very hesitant to accept the invitation of the Misamis Oriental Provincial Tourism Office to join the first “Pasiyo Ta (leisure trip) sa MisOr” it organized as it was already instilled in my mind that I already know the places based on what I have heard from other tourists. I thought then I don’t need to be a tourist in my own place.

Aside from that reasoning, I have so many articles left undone, assigned by our editor-in-chief (EIC).

But since I could not say no to our EIC’s request, I conditioned myself for the three-day trip, setting aside my beat assignments. I slept early for our first day trip.

Our first adventure was in the west part of the province, from the boundary of Opol to Lugait town, riding in a coaster with my son along with other local media practitioners and bloggers.

Guiding us is the ever energetic Milo who had the wits and great sense of humor in explaining to us the histories, nature spots and native food in every town that we passed through, and Catherine Miego, Misamis Oriental tourism officer who spearhead the tour, making our three-day adventure a success.

Our first stop was in Laguindingan town where the soon-to-open international airport is located.

The town’s mayor toured us around to see the development of the airport and its beautiful landscape. The airport is tentatively scheduled to open next year.

Later, the mayor treated us with their famous “Biko-Dukot” delicacy, one of their one-town, one-product.

It was the first time I tasted such delicious native delicacy, which was prepared rather uniquely. It was placed in thin layers with the bottom overly cooked but not burned to make it chewy. This made the difference in terms of presentation from among the delicacies of other towns we visited.

As we are getting warmed up, we headed to our next stop, which is Initao’s forest on the sea-side. We enjoyed the landscape of the white sand beach that lies within nature’s park where we got to see caves ideal for spelunking and centuries-old trees.

During the trip, our tummies were filled with varieties of bibingka, a kind of rice cake also cooked with coconut milk and sugar that is offered mostly in every town at the west side. However, Manticao town claimed its kind of bibingka is what frequent travelers craved for.

Our group was then treated to a bibingka-cooking demonstration, done at the lawn of the residence of Mayor Roberto Lagrosas where we had our sumptuous lunch. His wife Jennifer is the town’s tourism council chair.

Our group went as far as the last municipality of Lugait on the west, which is bordered by Iligan City.

The local government unit of Lugait boasts of its industrial tourism destination, the Holcim Cement Plant, which is noted for its environment-friendly operation that even the most delicate butterflies thrive around the plant’s surroundings.

We also went for a quick tour to Naawan town that takes pride of the many springs which the local government developed into swimming pools.

I also learned that Naawan also produces goat’s milk soap and virgin coconut oil.

Our last stop for the day was the mountain side of Initao where I got to bond well with my son as we tried on the canopy walk and the zipline at Lasang (forest) Hidden Adventure Park.

Our first day of tour ran out of time as we were supposed to pass by El Salvador town to visit the Divine Mercy Shrine. But thanks to Milo, he ably explained the shrine, a popular site for the faithful.

On the second and third days of our trip, we toured the east part of the province.

We visited the coal-fired power plant of Steag State Power Inc. and learned about the plant’s operation and its contribution to the Mindanao grid. Its operation has helped ease the shortage of power in the island.

We then visited Claveria town, the corn capital of the province where many of Misamis Oriental’s agricultural produce such as tomatoes, cabbage and pineapples are planted and shipped to Visayas and Luzon.

We then went to Jasaan town and visited the old church of the Immaculate Conception Parish that was built in the 17th century.

It was in Balingasag town where we came up close with the fish cages at the mariculture park where bangus is grown and harvested right at sea, about a kilometer from the shoreline. The park’s small cages could harvest eight tons while the bigger cages could harvest 25 tons of fish a month.

In Salay, a tour inside the facility producing handmade paper products awed some of the first-timers who witnessed how the paper is made.

In the town of Sugbongcogon, a mini zoo is a delight for local tourists who could see up close a tiger and a number of bird species.

In Lagonglong, we visited the Tinabu-an Arts and Crafts where novelties made from sinamay (abaca) fabric are fashioned in varied colors and shapes.

Then we went to Medina town where we were welcomed by Andy Pelaez, the grandson of Gregorio Pelaez, Misamis Oriental’s first provincial governor. Andy manages the famous Duka Bay Resort. We were brought to see the ancestral home of the Pelaezes whose upkeep he supervises.

When our tour ended, we were somewhat exhausted. But it was all worthwhile. I had a great time joining the “Pasiyo ta sa Misor tour” as I enjoyed the sites and the taste test of different food in every town, which left me wanting for more of this kind of adventure.

The “Pasiyo ta sa MisOr” was designed by the provincial tourism office to package destinations in the province for local and foreign tourists.

I think many people, including me, would tend to discount tourist attractions in our own place, thinking that they are only for visitors. But they aren’t just for visitors; they’re for everyone to enjoy.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 14, 2012.

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