Getting to a place and staying in that place is never enough to know that certain place. Cagayan de Oro City is like the 3rd home of Ozamiznons, next to Cebu which is always Ozamiznons’ 2nd home (as I could see and tell). I think almost all Ozamiznons grew up going to CDO on weekends just to shop and dine. You know, the usual leaving Ozamiz at the break of dawn, arrive CDO around 9AM, go straight to the malls, and leave the city by mid-afternoon to make habol the ferry trip via Tamula in those days and barge nowadays. If being left behind by the ferries, go ’round Lanao-Zamboanga route which is way too hassle and tiring. Though CDO is 4 hours away from Ozamiz, we still love going there for something new and different. For the quickest escape, just hop in the barge and bus to CDO. But, do we really know CDO aside from its malls, restos, and hotels?
For me, CDO is again 3rd. Third from Manila (1) and Cebu (2). Well, that’s in terms of malls and street traffic. So there I go again, malls! That’s what I always picture out when CDO comes in mind. So I was glad that the LSU MatSci Department squeezed in something different during our trip last week. We visited Museo de Orowhich is nestled inside Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan. The museum showcases the history of not only the said university but also the entire Cagayan de Oro as well. So, I got a glimpse of CDO’s past (that needs to be discussed).
In the first chamber of the museum, an archaeological display of prehistoric CDO is being exhibited. This includes the fossil remains of Stegodon mindanensis, an elephant of the Pleistocene era.
Then a display of paleolithic CDO follows consisting of pottery of Kalanay tradition, nephrite stone adzes, iron blades, human remains, and coffins which were recovered at Huluga Cave, Brgy. Taguanao, Cagayan de Oro City. The cave was said to have been used as a cemetery in the ancient period.
Next was an exhibit of how the early inhabitants of CDO survived thousands of years ago before the arrival of the Spaniards in our country. There are spears, harpoons, and other weaponry used for hunting and in warfare, cooking ware, and other household materials.
After the prehistoric era, there’s a showcase of Catholic relics and other religious artifacts brought in by the Spaniards to CDO. In 1622, two Augustinian recollect missionaries first came to the place and later in 1626, another Augustinian priest, Fray Agustin de San Pedro convinced the natives to transfer their settlement down the river (as the city is being bounded by a river). In their new settlement, the priest built a church where he baptized the leader of the tribe, Datu Salangsang and his wife. (Source: Heritage Conservation Advocates)
But even before the coming of the Spaniards, the natives already opened doors for barter trade with the Chinese. This was evident by the recovery of intricately crafted Chinaware from Song to Ming dynasty period according to the museum’s guide.
Then there’s also a corner dedicated to the Japanese occupation in the Philippines during World War II. There’s a kimono, a samurai, a ceramic set for drinking sake, a pair of geta, and the Japanese flag.
At the other side of the room is the second chamber exhibiting the rich culture of Mindanao. In my History V class in MSU-IIT way back college days, I learned that there are 18 indigenous ethnic groups in Mindanao so far as I can recall. Most of them are Moros or Muslims but the first inhabitants of CDO were not Muslims but another tribe of men with big tattoos and women with gold ornaments. I guess that’s where the name Cagayan de Oro came from. Oro from gold and kagay means river by the way, from where the first settlements were located.
No matter how invaders conquered our land, no matter how the world changed, there are still indigenous tribes in Mindanao that remain uninfluenced, untouched, and had preserve their culture and tradition. They still believe in their own faith, create their own art, sing and dance in their own music, and write their own story.
Museo de Oro is not just of prehistory, the ancient, and the culture. It also features the evolution of technology so we got to see the old machines our not-so-ancient ancestors used before. FYI, I had come to use the typewriter when I was still in grade school and high school so these are not that ancient after all.
Finally, we are now at the upper chamber of the museum where memorabilia of Fr. Francisco Demetrio, SJ, founder of Museo de Oro are being displayed. Fr. Demetrio had written books on Philippine myths and even a dictionary and encyclopedia of Philippine folk beliefs. Graduate school students often visit the gallery as the museum was given the name to be Philippines’ first folkloric museum.
Isn’t it great pride for us, Mindanaons that right here in our very own land, a national treasure lies before our very eyes which plays a big role to our country’s history? And what I consider as the gem Museo de Oro has is the dinner invitation and menu of Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo, Philippines’ first president of the republic right on the very first day of our independence in 1898 at Cavite.
After the tour, I realized that I don’t really know CDO at all. Because the more you know, the more you did not know. Hehe…. So I felt fulfilled with our trip ‘coz we inserted an educational tour for lifelong learning.
So take time to know our heritage! Visit Museo de Oro inside Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan! Entrance fee is only P70 for adults, P60 for graduate students, and P30 for undergrads. Sorry I haven’t checked for the kids. Maybe it’s lower. No flash photography is allowed and just like in all museums, touching of everything inside is prohibited. Observe silence too!