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.

Kagay OutdoorsCagayan de Oro RiverIMGP2203Cagayan de OroIMGP4308

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

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

Reasons to visit Cagayan de Oro

Forever and A Day, the not-so-recent KC Concepcion-Sam Milby starrer, is still vivid in my memory. Thanks to Northern Mindanao’s atmospheric locales. In fact, I watched the movie mainly because I was expecting a lot of adventure scenes. Yay, I recognized my fellow Philippine EcoGuides Association (PEGA) member, Chisum Factura, who also happens to be a pioneer in the Cagayan de Oro white water rafting scene. He played himself in the movie (with speaking parts, ha). Two months ago, another fellow PEGA member, Tsunami Valenzuela, broached the idea of a sidetrip to CDO after we undergo an ecotourism development, planning and management training in Davao. Too stoked, without checking the details of the thing sent to me, I got my mind set on CDO. When I called up Tsunami for the flight details, it was only then that I realized I already underwent the same training from the same trainors of the Developmental Academy of the Philippines at the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) in Manila in 2007. To sum things up, the kagay (river) adventure in the “Adventure Capital” of the Philippines didn’t push through and it keeps haunting me. Yesterday, we went to the dunes to meet up with guests from Bukidnon and the rapids were talked about. Promise, I’m going to CDO one of these days. Being an advocate of staycations, I suggest you visit Cagayan de Oro and experience  the thrills of white water rafting. An insider tip: Kagay is the premier white water rafting outfitter in Cagayan de Oro. Their International Rafting Federation and Red Cross-trained guides put safety first and foremost. They use only 13’ and 14’ SOTAR (State Of The Art Rafts) equipment and offer year-round rafting trips ranging from the beginner’s course, which covers class 1-2 rapids, to advance courses, which cover the more difficult class 3-4 rapids. They also have packages that include Macahambus Adventure Park  and/or Dahilayan Zip Zone.  Omg, this is adrenaline rush to the max! What about crossing the 135-meter Sky Bridge and rappelling down into the stunning 150-foot Macahambus gorge?

Kagay 21 Pres. Aguinaldo St., Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines Tel No: 0917 712 2323 / 0917 712 2442
Macahambus Adventure Park Sinkhole, Inc. 0917 712 1990 / 0933 423 7647

Images courtesy of Kagay and Macahambus Adventure Park

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2011