Renato Tibon .
“A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed, against the earth’s sweet flowing breast.” – from Joyce Kilmer’s poem ‘Trees’
CAGAYAN de Oro City is home to many amazing sites which, if properly and sustainably developed, would bring in tourists boosting its reputation as the Gateway to Mindanao, known as the Land of Promise due to its great biodiversity.
Among the many tourist attractions now gaining global attention through the initiatives of the Department of Tourism, a tree stands out for its sublime presence in a forest preserved through the far-seeing initiatives of its lot owners.
The iconic heritage tree known as Dao (dracontomelon dao tree), found at the Mapawa Nature Park in Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City, is the only one of its kind tropical canopy tree in Mindanao. It’s more than 200 years old and presently, has grown 49 meters high with a diameter of 222 centimeters making it one of the oldest and biggest trees in the country. A bill, filed by Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez and his Abamin counterpart, Congressman Maxie B. Rodriguez under HB No. 7652, was approved by the House Committee on Tourism declaring it a heritage tree for its long-term protection and as a major tourist destination.
One can’t help being amazed by the majestic tree making it a major tourist-draw among the many marvelous destinations in the city of Golden Friendship. Located atop the Malasag hills, home to the ecology park, it can be reached about 30 minutes from the City. The place has beautiful waterfalls and a variety of flora and fauna, hosting more than 200 tree species prominent among which are the White Lawaan tree and the imposing Dao Tree with huge root trunks where visitors can have photoshoot opportunities. In order to attract more tourists, the roads leading to the location and other potential sites were paved through the initiatives of Congressman Rufus who caused the release of a total of P180 million through the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). With improved road conditions, visitors can also reach Catanico Falls, another tourist attraction situated in Barangay F.S. Catanico, just 20 minutes from the City, which road was likewise cemented with a budget of P80 million. These are small, narrow, natural falls surrounded by mangima stone boulders which environment could use more sustainable development and preservation by locals and city leaders. For F.S. Catanico falls, Congressman Rufus secured P10 million from Tieza for the resort facilities. Other promising sites include the Guadalupe Shrine accessible by road from Barangay Balubal, already partially concreted at a cost of P30 million and the Manlumot Falls of Tablon and Bigaan Falls in Indahag which can be easily reached through improved roads, funding of which are already pending with DPWH and DOT. These are some of the infrastructure projects of Congressman Rufus who vows to source out substantial funds for the concreting of the roads leading to more tourist sites.
Cagayan de Oro has so many fascinating locales which if fully developed for its tourism potentials could contribute substantially to the city’s revenues and financial growth being a regional economic hub. It is an ideal travel destination due to its connectivity with other destinations in Visayas and Mindanao. Its White-Water Rafting is top-rated and is drawing tourists enthralled by the swift rapids at the upper part of the Cagayan River. Congressman Rufus with the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro and people’s organizations succeeded in preventing the construction of a bio-ethanol plant at Barangay Bayanga that would dump toxic effluents to the Cagayan River which will wipe out our white-water rafting industry.
With upgraded infrastructures, world-standard accommodations and enhanced peace and order situation, tourist arrivals are seen to improve with better leadership and corruption-free governance.
Like a stunted tree “whose hungry mouth is pressed” against a barren earth, the City of Cagayan de Oro is hungry for full development being hobbled by perennial urban problems such as traffic management, flooding during onset of typhoons or heavy rains, inefficient garbage collection and disposal and peace and order concerns. This can all be remedied with a change of public officials whose ineffectual leadership has made a laggard of Cagayan de Oro, considered a highly livable, dynamic and progressive city, which could rival Manila, Cebu and Davao economically and as a world-class tourist destination.
Under the incoming leadership of the CDP-Padayon Pilipino-Abamin-HNP Coalition, led by Congressman Rufus Bautista Rodriguez (District 2), Cagayan de Oro will be in safe hands.
(Renato Gica Tibon is a fellow of the Fellowship of the 300, an elite organization under Centrist Democracy Political Institute [CDPI] with focus on political technocracy. He holds both position as political action officer and program manager of the Institute. He is the former regional chairman for Region 10 and vice president for Mindanao of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines [CDP].)