I have loved Cagayan de Oro all my life, and I suppose, shall love her until the end of my day. Here I was born and here I hope to die. Here I spent the happy years of my childhood and the joyous and often exciting years of my girlhood except for the years spent in Manila when I went to the University of the Philippines.

My Ancestors have been here for hundreds of years and my family and the most of my friends live here. I have been to faraway places and seen other lands but not one of them can quite compare with this city of my birth: for those countries are just to visit while this is home.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

My love for Cagayan de Oro did not just happen like an accident or an afterthought. It had been there from the time I was born. It had coursed through my veins as we build castles of sand at Umalag beach or bathed in the limpid waters of Catanico Falls or tramped the hills behind our rice fields.

This love has been deeply ingrained in my heart after listening to my father recount the hardships and the dangers he encountered as a revolucionario in the bedraggled Filipino army. My love grew and my pride knew no bounds when he told us of how his father and his Father’s father before him had driven back into the sea or into the hills predators from other islands who had come to our shores to pillage and to plunder. Do you wonder then why I love Cagayan de Oro and why I am her devoted partisan?

Some of you must have experienced as I have, the rush of joy upon returning to Cagayan after a long absence. When you drive from the airport to the city and reach the part of Carmen Hill where you can see Macajalar Bay in the distance and look upon the verdant fields below, your heart can almost burst with the beauty of it.

I remember when I was a student returning home from vacation, riding on an inter-island steamer, I was so impatient to be home, the hours could not fly fast enough. And I would wonder would the old wooden bridge that spanned Cagayan River when I left? Then I would or had it been washed away? And would the pergola at the entrance of Gaston Park be smothered with the blooms of the golden yellow bell like it was when I left? Then I would call to mind the huge acacia trees that lined the whole length of Del Mar, the narrow, cobbled streets that crisscrossed the town, the centuries-old San Agustin Church, the Bombay and Chinese stores that would soon be filled with people shopping for their Easter clothes.

What I have just described were the external trappings of my own town, the outward, physical characteristics that were discernible to the human eye. But what of the nature and the character of the people who lived therein?

The Cagayanons of yore were of a different breed. They were simple, unpretentious, God fearing, honest and gentle folk. From earliest childhood they were taught good manners and to respect women and their elders. It was unthinkable for a young man to go a visiting without prior permission and once he is inside the house, to sit down without being invited to do so. And when a young man meets a young lady or his elders on the street, he was expected to doff his hat or to bow and say *Good Morning* or *Good Evening*. This may seem archaic- “corny’ the young Cagayanons of today may say but that was the way it was in those days.

At the time there were three classes of people in Cagayan- the upper class, the middle class, and the lower class- unlike some provinces in Luzon and the Visayas where there were only the caciques or the landlords, and the tenants or peasants. So in a way, Cagayan was more liberal and democratic even then.

The present-day Cagayanons are more aggressive, more ambitious, very assertive and independent. Since we have become a complex society with so many classes of people as to stagger the imagination, like “old family”, the nouveau riche, the professionals, the businessmen, the government workers, the tradesmen, the laborers ad infinitum, social stratification has become necessary.

Those who have almost the same income, age, profession, occupation, and education have organized themselves into clubs and once they are identified with a certain group, they tend to stick to his group contending that they feel more comfortable with their “own kind” Too often, it is robbery, the compulsive desire “to belong’ or lack of imagination that drive people to seek or accept membership in these clubs.

How much more interesting it would be if instead of being with dull, ordinary people, they would seek more meaningful relationships and associate with persons who are perhaps more fascinating and more intelligent!

My two children keep telling me that times have changed and that I should not yearn for the old Cagayan that is gone forever. Of course, I know that change is an inevitable as the changing of the tides and the turning of the seasons. But, What is wrong with looking back once in a while to a way of life that you have known for as long as you know how to extricate yourself from the bondage of the past?

Maybe because I have known both worlds. I can better appreciate the Cagayan de Oro of today, Sure, I bewail some of the changes that have come over my town but I think I can adjust myself to them. What is needed is flexibility, a sense of adventure and an awareness that nothing is permanent and that it takes all kinds to make a world.

***

Postscript: Pureza Neri Ramos is the first lady lawyer of Cagayan de Oro City. She is a former City Councilor, a journalist, a teacher and was a chair of the city’s Historical commission for many years.

She is the wife of the late Honorio Ramos Sr. and the mother of the late former city councilor, Honorio Ramos Jr. and Gwendolyn Ramos-Garcia.

This article was first published in the Mindanao Star on August 22, 1961. Atty. Pureza Neri- Ramos has lived all her life in Cagayan de Oro and has never thought of living anywhere else. She is still hale and hearty in her 90s. Special thanks to her daughter, Gwendolyn, for allowing us to reprint this article. (Pureza Neri Ramos with a postscript by A. Paulita Roa)