Yell me a river in CDO

TGFed White Water Rafting

If you’ve lived life like how you’re supposed to do it, nothing scares you anymore. Yes, I finally leveled up from a beginner course to advance. I can’t stop laughing when the stories of Theredrafts river guide Jan Seriosa beckon in my mind. Rafting in Cagayan de Oro is my happiest adventure in years!

Would you believe the 19-year old CDO adventure started from department store-bought inflatable rafts and DIY wood paddles? I can relate. The river guides are now equipped with state of the art Sotar whitewater rafts.

The briefing was detailed. A first-timer will need basic skills like paddling forward and backward. And the most important of all is good focus. You will have to anticipate the guide’s commands and you can have fun all throughout the course.

One tip: If you are wearing dentures, leave them behind or plaster your mouth. The story of the biting teeth on the river floor was just too hilarious.

Cagayan de Oro White Water RaftingCDO White Water RaftingCagayan de Oro White Water RaftingIMGP4365IMGP2299Cagayan de OroIMGP4320Cagayan de OroIMGP4253

We were grouped into sevens. Only two men, plus the guide in our team. Someone from the other teams asked us our team name. Could you guess? Double P.

They let you rest a bit after the high fives. A characterless lull though.

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The best part, of course, is the rapids. There were just too many and you’d be imagining really wild! Carlo fell on me at one point, omg!

Thanks, Kagay Outdoors, for taking care of us!

A bit sad that I wasn’t doing it with family.  Maybe someday.

White Water Rafting
IMGP2167IMGP4284Kagay White Water RaftingIMGP2347SouvenirsKulas
Photos by Kagay Outdoors and Blauearth
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

Tripping over the best mango ever

Mango Mania Mango Ice with Pomelo

On a night out with fellow Ilocanos, we sifted the streets of Cagayan de Oro on a tricycad with a non-Tagalog speaking driver. Imagine a charades game inside the jeepney-like trike, several meters away from our trying-to-be-a-translator translator and tour guide Kulas. He found us on hyper Corrales St. and ushered us to the Lifestyle District, one of the trendier places to hit by sundown in Cagayan de Oro.

I sneaked into the first bar, a mango-centric dessert place named Mango Mania. Hembee and Ena followed and we bumped into the Cebu reps with their mango smoothies. After getting stuffed with humba, bam-i, sinuglaw and corn tamales, it was impossible to try all the provocative mango creations in the menu.  I settled on mango smoothie and mango ice with pomelo.

Mango Mania in CDOMango Mania SmoothieMango Mania

I actually prefer green mango to ripe mango smoothie. I’m not a mango ice cream lover either. I’ve only liked ripe mangoes, plain and with salt sprinkles or homemade bagoong. It’s complicated. Be that as it may, Mango Mania’s mango ice gave me newfound respect for ripe mango sweets. With some thick sauce and mango cubes, the frozen dessert was imaginably sweet. Oh, in a good way!  Imagine mango-flavored yema, with tarty pomelo giving some nice balance and additional texture. The best mango ever, scoop after scoop! I had a tough time rejecting the mango float and tres leches mango cup cake. I tried the mango smoothie for the boys back home. They would have loved it.

MangoPhoto by Carlo
Photographed by Carlo and Blauearth
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

Getting to know the gold in Cagayan de Oro

Downtown Cagayan de Oro City

“The best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask.”-Rich Ridgeway


My trip to Cagayan de Oro in the central coast of Northern Mindanao has opened my eyes to more realities about life in the Philippines. I only knew the Mindanao region through little journeys along General Santos, Davao, the Samal Island, and the news.

One person, Canadian globetrotter, Kyle Jennermann nicknamed Kulas, who has been lingering in the country for three months now and who I’ve met in Cagayan de Oro, has beautiful stories about us Filipinos. I realize, he says it best that it is indeed more fun in the Philippines.

Fun is in the eager eyes and unstudied smiles radiating from the hearts of the ordinary people.

Cagayan de Oro is predominantly a Christian city. Augustinian friars arrived in 1622, leaving a trail of Spanish influence. The massive St. Augustine Cathedral, one among the oldest cathedrals in Mindanao, destroyed in 1945 during the American liberation of Cagayan de Oro, was rebuilt in Gothic style.

Chronicling significant events during the American colonial period, the General MacArthur Marker in Macabalan and the Macahambus Cave “Battle of Macahambus Hill” marker reckon Cagayan de Oro’s past.

A visit to the vintage summer house of statesman and dedicated public servant Emmanuel Pelaez hints at the beginnings of the cityhood of Cagayan de Oro.

Pelaez GroundsPEGAOrientalDowntown Cagayan de Oroglass windowMermaidA view from Macabalan Wharf, Cagayan de OroThe Surviving Krispy KremeMacabalan Wharf

The Museum of Three Cultures inside the Capitol University, established by educator, heritage conservation advocate Laureana San Pedro Rosales, is an exposure to the Muslim, Christian and Lumad cultures of the Mindanaoan region. Representations of the past, artistry and finery from T’boli, Bagobo, Higaonon, Manobo and other indigenous peoples fascinate

KulintangHandomananVote Buying

Social and political messages turned into art let the Filipino rethink of the widespread everyday issues such as vote selling, poor governance and privation.

Pilipinas Street PlanUkay ArtBotelyaCagayan de Oro native sweets and sinuglaw

I had a fling with local sinuglaw, a kind of fish ceviche and grilled pork belly concoction, flavored with indigenous tabon-tabon (kaffir lime fruit). Bitter undertones tease while savoring the appetizing fresh ocean smell and sweetness of the intoxicated morsels.

Kakanin, especially the latik-filled suman and corn tamales, were very nice! Also the sweet native pineapples! I also had an awesome discovery — Cagayan de Oro is the home of the best mango dessert I’ve ever had! Will have to write about it soon.

PlateColor and GlowTricycadLokalLi'l cave guidesMacahambus CaveMixed PatternsRidgeCagayan de Oro Rafting AdventureCDO Water Rafting

Introduced in 1995 by a small group of hardcore adventurers, the banner adventure product of Cagayan de Oro is rafting the raging rapids of the Cagayan de Oro River (to be posted in a separate story).

We arrived at a most trying time for booming CDO’s main attraction, at the time when a tourist went missing in the tricky river. We got to meet the city mayor, Oscar Moreno, who incidentally is married to an Ilocana from Dingras. He gave a fair straightforward picture of the tourism status of CDO.

In those days in Cagayan de Oro, I saw the very strong character of the Kagay-anons. Confronting reality and bending like a bamboo through Sendong-like misadventures is deep-rooted.

CDO Mayor Oscar Moreno#beingcagayanon

We can be harsh to ourselves sometimes, but here’s Kulas trying to become a Filipino, sharing the Filipino smile to the whole world.

Photographed by Lis, Jan, Carlo and Blauearth
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014