It’s way past the New Year but a lot of people are still busy trying to come up with their resolutions for 2019. While I prefer to get inspired and motivated by affirmations, I do have some resolutions – but they’re all for my beloved hometown, Cagayan de Oro.
CDO in the 70s and 80s
I can go on and on talking about how beautiful CDO was back in the 70s and early 80s, but I’d like to focus on three important things only: how clean the surroundings were, flooding was not a regular thing, and traffic was not a horrendous adventure.
I grew up in my grandparents’ house in Corrales Avenue. Our white house was near the city center, so we were quite updated with all the goings on here in CDO. Divisoria was a place we frequented, especially on weekends when we would hear Mass at the XU Chapel and then buy a gallon of ice cream at Rosita’s.
Back then, the streets of CDO were clean – free of garbage of any kind and size. My sister, cousins, friends, and I could walk the streets of Divisoria (and even Cogon) without worrying about foul smells or stepping on banana peels and candy wrappers. As far as I can remember, people threw their trash properly and there were no problems like garbage piling up in homes or streets.
Cagayan de Oro, although already a growing city in the early 80s, was a small and close-knit community. Practically everyone knew each other. When we walked the streets of Divisoria or as we entered the XU Chapel, we would always be stopped by friends, relatives, and acquaintances who wanted to say hi. When there was a big event or activity, everyone knew about it. So when the Happy Emporium – a popular shopping center in Cogon – was on fire, we all followed the event like radio reporters. When the city was hit by an earthquake, we all felt it and shared stories about it.
What I don’t remember, as far as my memory can tell me, is experiencing massive flooding. When it rained, we wore our raincoats and brought out our umbrellas, but we didn’t have to worry about floodwaters getting into our house. And this was how it was even when the raining was non-stop!
Also, we didn’t have to worry about horrendous traffic when it rained. Come to think of it, traffic was not a problem those days. In high school, my friends and I would ride the jeepney during lunchtime for a “joy ride”. We’d take the Patag liner and go all the way to Ororama Cogon and then back to Liceo HS beside GSIS. Sometimes, we’d ride all the way to Apovel and then go back to the school. And it took the jeepney drivers less than 30-45 minutes to complete their routes (I know this because we timed our joy rides so we won’t be late for class). That was how peaceful the traffic situation was back in the 70s and early 80s.
And this was true even in the beginning of the 90s, when my mom and I used to take the “minica” (a small car that functions like a taxicab) as we went around the city.
But, of course, Cagayan de Oro continued to develop and grow. And with the developments came a lot of changes. So, yes, I understand why we no longer have zero garbage and clean surroundings, why the streets are now congested, and why we should always brace ourselves for flooding when the rainy season comes.
Hopes for CDO
Yes, I understand that the worsening traffic situation and the garbage that contributes to the flooding in the city are some of the prices we pay for embracing progress. But I also know and believe that with proper planning, all these problems could have efficient solutions. If plans were put into action before all the new developments came in, the problems CDO has now wouldn’t have exploded.
But I have high hopes for CDO. Kagay-anons are resilient, creative, and determined. I know that if we learn how to work together, we can come up with good solutions – those that we can actually apply and practice. This is better said than done, yes; but it’s also true. It’s all up to us, actually. Well, it’s also important that our local leaders, personalities, and even businesses share our dreams and goals for the city.
I remember back in December, last month, my blogger friends and I had a chance to sit down with Atty. Rufus Rodriguez. Over coffee and tea, we exchanged stories about a variety of things – family, Christmas, our favorite Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf drinks, blogging, and the traffic situation in CDO (especially since it was only a few days away from Christmas). We eventually talked about possible solutions not only for the traffic problem but also for the two other issues that have been hounding Kagay-anons the past few years: flooding and garbage control.
According to Atty. Rufus, the number one focus should be how to ease the city’s traffic situation. And for him, the best solution would be to open up circumferential roads, including those in the city proper. This will allow traffic in some of the most congested areas, such as Cogon Market, to loosen as a new route is now open and accessible. One of the streets that can be opened is 14th-21st in Nazareth, which can provide an alternative for those driving or traveling from the city proper all the way to JR Borja Extension.
Additionally, he believes that extending the coastal road from Gusa to Puerto can also help improve the traffic situation. If this happens, another flyover will be built, which will then connect the coastal road to Sangre Highway. Both Gusa and Puerto intersections are traffic bottleneck, so providing an alternative route will greatly help.
As for the city’s flooding problems, Atty. Rufus believes that the ideal solution is to replace the old sewage system with a new one. The one we have now was put into place by one of the former mayors of CDO, Nene Pimentel. The system built and used during his time helped prevent massive flooding in the city. “But the system is now obsolete and can be used in limited areas only,” he said. Complete upgrading of the drainage system is the first and most efficient solution for CDO’s flooding problems.
When asked about the city’s garbage disposal problems, Atty. Rufus was quick in saying that the solution lies in each one of us. While it’s true and he believes that proper waste segregation is the key, he reiterated that it will only work if each one of us does our share. Dispose of garbage properly and faithfully practice waste segregation. It would also help if each barangay will pitch in and strictly implement garbage disposal policies and fine those who violate them.
The good news is that we are now a plastic-free city (or at least we’re trying to be as the ordinance has just been implemented). Hopefully, this will lead to more garbage disposal solutions – and lesser waste production.
Yes, There is Hope
I love Cagayan de Oro and I am proud of what it has become. But like many others, I believe that the abovementioned problems should be addressed if we want our city to become even more beautiful, livable, and progressive. I know we can’t bring back the CDO of the 70s and 80s, but we can at least do something to turn it into an enchanting and relaxing Philippine paradise!
Go lang nang go, CDO! 🙂