Carrasco: A getaway with the Gateway


WHO would not long for some getaway these days? For three months now, we have witnessed the devastating effects brought about by this pandemic. It's in our's on TV..we are hearing it on's in our workplace...and even when you get to spend a real, nice time with the family you cannot get away from reality. Covid-19 is still here to stay.

Amidst the turmoil we are currently experiencing, who wouldn't have dreamed of a fantastic getaway? As I see throwbacks on Facebook walls, I realized we all have something in common despite our myriad of views in this situation...and that is to spend quality moments with family and friends. Everyone is dreaming of a perfect getaway even when summer is over.

I have my own share of getaway thoughts...places to be...must see events...people to meet. This has been a long dream but a bit unfulfilled. My work gave me the opportunity to see some of the best places in the country as we travel to attend trainings and conferences. I had the opportunity to see some of the grandiose views in almost every region...tasted food delicacies...catch a glimpse of their festivities...get to ride their public transport and all the exhilarating memorabilia embedded on my memory.

I may have met friends and acquaintances from other regions or other parts of our region but I was always tongue tied when somebody would ask questions like: Have you tried river kayaking and whitewater rafting? Have you hopped on a "donut" and performed river tubing? What about spelunking and paragliding? Or spending a lazy afternoon in a nature park? All these questions and a little bit answer was a candid NO. Where exactly do these people savored such moments? It all happened in my hometown, the City of Golden Friendship, Cagayan de Oro City.

Apparently, I got a knock on my head. Why think of other places to be when planning on an escapade after this pandemic? I would rather not be in other places but simply in a place to be -- get enthralled on perfect getaway right in Cagayan de Oro City. So much of me has not tasted and tested what our city has to offer. Born and raised in Cdeo, I practically lived here all my life...spent my formative years...attended school from elementary to post graduate...married another Kagay-anon, landed a noble career...I consider myself every inch a Kagay-anon although my parents did not originate from the city. They just found each other in CdeO in their search for greener pastures.

Every inch a Kagay-anon. I sure love the place. I know it's's business centers...and the influx of people from different parts of the region. The city started as a town named as Cagayan de Misamis. On December 17, 1949, Congressman Emmanuel Pelaez introduced House Bill No. 54, entitled "An Act Creating the City of Cagayan de Oro". Consequently, Republic Act No. 521 was signed by President Elpidio Quirino on June 15, 1950.

The city has its own share of the country's rich history. The Katipunan-led revolt...the American invasion in March 31, 1900 which the Macabalan wharf bear witness...the Japanese occupation in which some parts of the city were burned. These and more combined events in the past and present composed the sights and sounds of Cagayan de Oro.

With these pandemic which continues to haunt us, let me take you instead on a mental journey to Cagayan de Oro, our pride our beloved city...the last five words being the lyrics of the Cagayan de Oro March. I have decided and convinced myself that when quarantine rules are over, when everything is back to normal, it's no less than Cagayan de Oro's nooks I would traverse. For now, I am only up to reading and surfing the web on how I could elaborately explore my birthplace.

Let me share with you my game plan as I do mind mapping of my proposed getaway. I am not thinking of any other place to go after this pandemic but simply wander around CdeO. My perfect getaway would be right through the Gateway to the Land of Promise. It is Northern Mindanao's most progressive city. In fact, in 2014, Cagayan de Oro was hailed as one of the "emerging cities of tomorrow" by the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN Habitat).

What place could be more exciting than the regional center and business hub of Northern Mindanao? Before the pandemic, I often do mall hopping during weekends in the city's sprouting business centers. I love window shopping and it always gives me a sense of pride having seen displays which are almost comparable with show windows of megamalls in the country's metropolitan cities. Indeed, it can be aptly referred as the melting pot of Region 10. An incredible place to unwind and relax with its hotels and entertainment establishments...a cozy ambiance for gatherings and conferences with ease of transportation facilities.

As I see it, wherever and whenever my limits would allow me on my proposed getaway, I am including white water rafting on my "to do" and "must do" list. Before, I only watch friends doing it (might as well give it a try). I have performed rappelling during a short course on disaster preparedness but this time I wanted to experience the adrenaline-pumping 150 feet gorge which is only a ten minute ride from the old airport. Another adventure I've heard from local residents is a 40-meter spelunking on a cave. I was even informed that there are parts of the cave where the water level almost touches the ceiling. There were also accounts that one has to do a short dive wherein you could reach a small pond and the scene is so ecstatic since it is illuminated by the sun's rays. I might as well be a shouting passenger on a tandem flight in paragliding. I will just leave it all to the pilot to navigate the skies. That would be another incredible "must do." River tubing is also another priority on my bucket list. I learned that instead of rafts, you will hop into a donut-shaped inner tube. Accordingly, your kind of tubing experience depends on the river conditions. Hence, if the river is calm, it can be a soothing experience but you can also go wild with extreme conditions.

I could also go playful on my getaway. Cagayan de Oro is also the gateway to themed parks and outdoor adventures. The city has establishments which offer activities like maze adventures, bungee trampolines, ziplines, ball pits and more. The city's themed waterpark and beach resorts are also worth spending numerous visits. I could also spend a warm relaxing afternoon on a nature park or take a hike perhaps in the woods or a trek in the city's outskirts. A short drive on the mountain resort overlooking the city would seem a viable option. It's not that I haven't done it before. For some of these places it's a "been there" "done that" "enjoyed some" but definitely not "enjoyed much" It could have been a different tale if I frolicked and lingered. Definitely, that would come to reality on my planned getaway.

I am not certain when do I start with my getaway with the uncertainties we are facing. I am not sure what should be the best gears to wear with the day to day complexities. I do not have a valid explanation for the complicated situation we are all in. Yet, I am confident that the destination to my planned getaway is the gateway not only to Region 10 in particular but Mindanao in general.

So much to think much to do with so many stopovers in my dream getaway to Mindanao's gateway. As the city celebrates its 70th Charter Day celebration on June 15, let me acclaim the resiliency and resolute character of the Kagay-anons. It's about time that I need to understand the local culture better and catch the fads and fancy among all walks of life. Time to tour it's local museums...or a commune with the Almighty in the city's places of worship...or a chat with friends in the cozy ambiance of coffee shops and snackbars...or rejuvenate in some of the most relaxing spas or just a serene afternoon in the parks nestled at the heart of the city.

I could go on all day elaborating and elucidating about this getaway...I could not stop thinking how I'm going to start with my long list. When this pandemic is over, I hope I could but I'm sure I would find a way to begin "A Getaway with the Gateway."


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