By FROILAN GALLARDO, Special Correspondent
and JOEY NACALABAN, Correspondent .
THOUSANDS participated in the Higalaay civic-military parade and many more watched along the streets yesterday morning despite stringent security measures implemented by the local police.
Maj. Ivan Viñas, spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro Police Office, said more than 10,000 students, government employees, soldiers and priests joined the civic-military parade, a traditional event before the celebration of the city fiesta of St. Augustine today.
Viñas said even dogs and clowns in colorful costumes participated in the parade, making it one of the biggest, if not the biggest so far, in the city’s 69-year-old history.
“This is the biggest, and the crowd really behaved well following the orders of the police,” he said.
Viñas said an estimated 30,000 lined up along the parade route from Rodelsa rotunda to Limketkai center via the city’s main thoroughfares.
A huge delegation of soldiers from the Army’s 4th Infantry Division spearheaded the 120 contingents that participated in the parade.
The pre-fiesta activities were very lively and relatively peaceful, especially the Higalaay civic-military parade, said Mayor Oscar Moreno.
Moreno lauded the police and its “force multipliers” for the job well done.
He noted that yesterday’s parade was the earliest to finish — it only last for about three and a half hours.
“Karon nga parade walay mga bata nga gipa-apil busa siguro nahuman og dali ang maong kalihokan,” he said.
Police implemented stringent security measures aimed to deter possible terrorist attacks.
The two major phone companies –Globe and Smart — cut off their mobile phone signals from 8 am to 12 pm as soon as the parade started.
Viñas said they also imposed a “no wearing of hats and no backpacks” rule on the crowd.
“We did not hear a whimper of complaint. The people just followed our orders,” Viñas said.
The tradition of holding civic-military parades a day before the Cagayan de Oro fiesta celebrating the Feast of St. Agustine dates back after World War II ended.
Historian Antonio Montalvan II said by tradition, Cagayan de Oro celebrates its fiesta on Aug. 27 while the city celebrates its religious fiesta on Aug. 28.
“After the war, political and religious structures were more defined,” Montalvan said.
He said there are old photographs of Cagayan de Oro residents riding World War II type vehicles participating in the parade.
Montalvan said there are some suggestions that the tradition of holding civic-military parades started before the war.
President Elpidio signed Republic Act No. 521, which granted the status of a chartered city to the Municipality of Cagayan de Misamis (the former name of Cagayan de Oro) on June 15, 1950.