The Ad Hoc Committee that studied
the sale and transfer of city hall chaired by Councilor Juan Sia has
recommended with finality the sale of the present Cagayan de Oro city
hall complex, the city health office at the old cemetery and the city
engineering office compound at Kauswagan.
The sale of this properties is ostensibly meant to finance
the transfer of all these offices to a new city hall complex at a 15-hectare
lot owned by the ciy government in Upper Dagong, Carmen now being used
as the city's dump site.
I've had my reservations before about the construction
of the Hall of Justice and the City Health Office over the old city cemetary
but the transfer of city hall to a garbage site is bad feng shui, Johnnie!
My good friend Jeffrey at Ventura store will tell you the bad chi emanating
from all that garbage below will simply overwhelm our city officials and
city hall employees! Not that they need any help for that, the way we've
been going these past few years.
And what about the explosive methane gas building up undeground
in the former dump site? Councilor Zaldy Ocon will not even have to prove
his conspiracy theory about planted bombs in the city archives. The methane
gas seeking release from its confines below will inevitably surface to
make its own explosive statement, so to speak.
I'm not a Kagayanon by birth but by affiliation, my wife
Gardenia being born in these city where her parents moved to from Cebu
during the early fifties. But like most long-time residents who came from
all over the country, I now consider Cagayan de Oro my home.
It's unfortunate that my good friend Johnnie, who is a
native Kagayanon, can reduce the sale of city hall to a business transaction.
I don't care much about the City Health Office at the old cemetary and
the city engineering office compound at Kauswagan. They don't give me
a twinge in my heart when their sale for commercial purposes is announced.
City hall is another matter.
On February 27, 1872, the Spanish Governor General Carlos
Maria de la Torre issued a decree declaring Cagayan the permanent capital
of Segundo Distrito de Misamis. All Spanish politico-military governors
of Misamis (all lieutenant colonels), lived at the Casa Real de Cagayan,
built in 1831, the site of today's Executive House in the Cagayan de Oro
city hall complex. During this era, Cagayan de Oro was known as "Cagayan
The Segundo Distrito was the largest of Mindanao's three
socio-political districts which included present day Zamboanga del Norte,
the Lanao and Misamis provinces, Camiguin, Bukidnon, and the northern
portions of Cotabato and Maguindanao.
Casa Real was the seat of the Spanish provincial government.
It had become a symbol of Spanish repression in Cagayan. It is said that
a cruel Spanish governor at one time whipped "Indios" right
at the stairs of the mansion.
Here, on January 10, 1899, Philippine independence was
proclaimed with much funfare in Cagayan de Misamis, which also elected
the first set of local officials and officially raised the Filipino flag
for only the second time ever in the island (the first was in Surigao).
On December 10, 1898, the United States and Spain signed
the Treaty of Peace. Immediately, the Spanish governor relinquished his
authority to two Filipinos appointed by Aguinaldo: Jose Roa y Casas, who
was appointed first governor of Misamis; and Toribio Chavez, appointed
the first Filipino mayor of Cagayan de Misamis. Again, these officials
held court in the Casa Real.
Several American governor generals visited the place:
William Howard Taft (who became the 27th US president), William Cameron
Forbessy, James F. Smith and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Manuel L. Quezon
and Sergio Osmeña, Sr. also graced Cagayan de Misamis. During all
these trips, the Casa Real was a requisite stop.
Casa Real was later demolished -- sometime between 1910
and 1930. When Cagayan built a new town hall on the same site, there was
another jubilant celebration, attended no less by President Manuel L.
Citizen Cory Aquino added history to the same building
by gracing with her presence the ceremonies formally renaming it as the
Ninoy Aquino Hall of Justice, just after his assassination in 1983.
It is thus understandable that the people of Cagayan de
Oro would hold the site sacred. To ensure that future generations will
forever remember and cherish the Cagayan people's love for freedom, a
historical marker was installed on the site in 1999, the year Mindanao
marked the centennial of the proclamation.
I hate to even consider the possibility that the present
administration's imminent insolvency is the reason why the city hall sale
has been put on the fast-track. Whether true or not, there are options
aplenty where city hall can source funds to finance its planned transfer
to a dump site. I just hope they don't take the old Casa Real along with
them as they descend into the morass and decay of the city's garbage.