I did a stopover in Cagayan de Oro so this post is limited to the sights within the city. If one has the time, one week will not be enough to explore and enjoy the adventure tours available from Cagayan de Oro (CDO), not to mention a separate visit to nearby Camiguin, which I am going to in a while.
My last visit to CDO was ages ago, so I naturally went straight to the old reliable VIP Hotel along Velez Street. Then I walked to the Golden Friendship Park in Divisoria which looked exactly the same as it was 15 years ago – - cigarette butts everywhere, “istambays” here and there. I held on to my belt bag tight.
I went to the northern end of the park and found Park Cafe, with tables and chairs al fresco, with a canopy to protect customers from sun or rain. This is a good spot to sit and rest, while sipping on an avocado shake.
I spotted a new structure, the Tourism Showcase, and gathered tourism info from the lady on the desk. Picked up brochures, and inquired about arrangements for Macahambus where I wanted to do the zip line and walk on hanging bridges. Only to be told that the park is now closed, and asked if I would consider an alternative zip line venue. No, thanks.
The Andres Bonifacio statue was, in a way, desecrated, and no one seems to mind. A tricycle tire was apparently thrown into the statue, and it looks like the hero is carrying that rubbish on his shoulders.
Took a tricycle to Limketkai Mall. This place looks like the NEW Cagayan de Oro. The place is like what uptown is to Cebu, or maybe what the Ayala Center is. By the same token, Velez and Divisoria have become the old, unfashionable downtown, pretty much like how Colon in Cebu has become.
On a return visit after doing Ozamis and Dipolog, I checked into Mallberry Suites, a new and modern hotel at the back of Robinson’s in Limketkai. Checking into the hotel dramatizes the two faces of Cagayan de Oro – - the old versus the new.
Eating out is something else. An old cake shop – fastfood in Divisoria is my current favorite, better than eating in the many beautiful restaurants in Limketkai.
Hanabel is in front of MetroBank in Divisoria. I went in and ordered humba, rice, a vegetable side dish, mango float, and softdrinks. My bill was only P160. The restaurant was small, with only a few tables at the ground floor, so I went up the spiral staircase to the second floor, where there are another few tables. I liked the place. It is charming, and my table by the glass window overlooked the park. The decor is simple, but tastefully done. The food was great.
VIP Hotel is a sentimental favorite, and is centrally located. When I went to the front desk, I was told that their rooms were on a 40% off promo. I took a suite for P2,100. Not bad. The room looks brand new, and it became apparent that the hotel is serious about competing with the new hotels. At this rate, the room is a steal. On the downside, breakfast does not come with the room rate. And the hotel lobby smelled of durian when I entered. Except for the nice suite, the hotel has looked like a budget hotel, a far cry from its glory days when it was THE hotel in CDO.
To enjoy this suite at only P2,100, you may call the hotel at (+6388) 8562505.
I checked into a de luxe room (P2,400) and felt relaxed. The room is new, and very clean. I called the front desk for a copy of the hotel tariff, and a bellman was knocking on my door as soon as the call ended.
Downside: I went to the ground floor for the complimentary breakfast, and was told that breakfast is served at the seventh floor. Hmmmm, I thought it would be the top of the hotel, with a view of the city. I was grossly mistaken. The breakfast venue is apparently the far end of the ballroom where dividers create different sections. No view, and the windows were even closed with Roman blinds. I felt claustrophobic, and had my breakfast quickly. The venue contrasted sharply with my idea of hotel breakfasts where guests have a view of the garden, etc.
All things considered, Mallberry is, to me, the best CDO hotel at the moment. Contact them at (+6388) 8549999. Or visit their website http://www.mallberrysuites.com
Other useful info:
Whitewater rafting can be arranged thru Kagay at Corrales Avenue, fronting Bombo Radyo. Beginners Course is P700 with 3 hours of actual river run. Call 088 310 4402, 088 856 3972, 0917 712 2323. Look for Dan Kaamino.
There is also CDO Bugsay River Rafting. Beginners Course (P700) is on a 12 km river stretch with 14 rapids and scenic view, ideal even for family trips. Contact 0917 3284729
Gotta go. The driver who will take me to the port of Balingoan, for Camiguin, will be downstairs in 15 minutes.