I’m currently in this tiny city in the southern island of the Philippines.
Being a blogger finally paid off with a free trip! A free trip to… Cagayan de Oro City, a small city in the south of the Philippines where I’ve already been to before. Spoiler alert, it’s not exactly a very nice city, but beggars can’t be choosers right? I have quite a few friends there, including one who I go way back with named Freja who is a yogi as well. She called me up and asked me whether I was willing to head there to teach a few yoga classes independently during the break (there’s no work from Monday to Wednesday). I was quite reluctant to go at first, but then when she said that the plane fair would be free, and that I could stay in her home, how could I possibly reject a free trip right? I’m currently here in Cagayan de Oro right now, at this very moment, blogging.
I was quite reluctant to go because like I said, Cagayan de Oro (CDO for short) isn’t exactly a very nice or interesting city. It’s really boring with not much to do, probably except some white water rafting (which I’ve already done before), and going to malls. Like Manila, CDO also suffers from terrible urban development and mall saturation. Malls are sprouting up everywhere just like Manila, and as usual, they are all selling the same usual brands of clothing and with the same cafe and restaurant chains (e.g. Starbucks and McDonalds). Even the Ayala mall here is ugly, a far cry from Greenbelt and The Fort in Manila which are both owned by Ayala as well.
Traffic is also crazy here because of the bad infrastructure (and a lack of discipline in the drivers’ parts, same issue with Manila), almost as bad as Manila’s traffic! There is also this huge ugly building jutting out of the city’s skyline that looks even worse than Montparnasse, no kidding. It’s an ugly shade of “booger-bronze” as coined Freja’s daughter; it’s supposed to be a “gold bar” but it ended up becoming the shade of booger. While the “gold bar” idea itself was already bad enough, the font on the hotel’s façade is makes it look even worse.
As for cultural sights, there’s also not much to see. There’s a tiny museum showcasing anthropological artefacts, but it’s really boring, you might as well go to the Ayala Museum in Makati instead. Don’t even get me started on their (tiny) park here, there’s absolutely no grass, it’s all cement! Crazy right? It can’t even be considered a park! There aren’t many good restaurants there either (not saying there are none). In fact Freja told me that the city is currently undergoing a millennial hipster phase (ugh, please, no), which means “Instagrammable” and “aesthetically pleasing” cafés and restaurants are popping up everywhere; and they don’t have very good food because they focus more on the “Instagrammable-ness” over the food quality. Oh and if you think about going to their beach, don’t! Right next to their beach is a canal, and it’s advised not to swim there due to coliform levels; in fact another friend of ours, Alicia, told us about seeing faeces in the beach a couple of times.
Based on that really long paragraph above, it’s obvious that I don’t have very fond opinions of CDO
and I will probably be bombarded by angry comments soon. Despite these negative aspects of the city, I don’t think CDO is all that bad. River rafting here is actually pretty fun, but that’s honestly pretty much all I can say about it. Regarding the restaurants, I’m not exactly saying that there aren’t any good restaurants here either. There is this restaurant on the outskirts near the seaside called Panagatan which serves really good Filipino food. There’s also this other Filipino restaurant near the “park” called Minindal, which has a chef from another province called Ilo-Ilo, and I really like the food there as well, especially their palabok and sisig. Surprisingly, CDO also has a pretty large community of Korean immigrants, and that means really good and authentic Korean food. There is this restaurant, which I forgot the name of, in the outskirts of CDO that’s owned by a Korean woman that serves one of the best Korean food I’ve ever tasted here in the Philippines. I’ve never been to Korea, so my opinion regarding Korean food might not exactly be the best, but my friends who have been to Korea tell me that the food there is really authentic and good.
Besides the trip being free, I also decided to come here because I just wanted something new to write about. This is a travel blog, and obviously I don’t exactly have the funds or the time to constantly travel, so I have to take every opportunity that I can. Other than that, it can get tiring living alone, especially the cooking and the cleaning part. Freja is, and always has been, extremely generous to allow me to live in her home for the whole duration of the break. Her cook is amazing, so they manage to eat good food everyday. I’ve also been staying in her home the past couple of times I’ve been to CDO (I think I’ve been here four times in my life?). We go way back, so we’re really very close. The previous times I’ve gone to CDO was to explore the other areas of Mindanao though, this is the first time I’m actually just gonna stay in the city for a pretty long time (because like I said, there’s nothing to do there). The first and third time I went there was to go to Camiguin, a very beautiful island nearby; the second time was to go explore Bukidnon; and the last time was to go to a small diving resort somewhere along the coast of northern Mindanao, very far from the city. I’m just glad that her house isn’t smack in the middle of the chaotic city, because at least it’s not very noisy and the air is cleaner here.
On a side note, her daughter is also planning to create a YouTube channel with her friends, and I decided to help her out while I’m here. They want to be YouTubers, although I’m not sure about what exactly. It seems like everybody wants to be a vlogger nowadays, is blogging not trendy anymore? That seems like an interesting topic for a new article. Just stay tuned for their new YouTube channel.
I had the last flight last night that was supposed to leave at around 7:00pm, but due to delays, we left at some time around 8:00pm instead. We arrived at her house quite late at night, which is why I wasn’t able to post any new articles since I had to sleep a bit earlier to prepare for yoga this morning. Today’s yoga session did go very well, but now I don’t exactly have any plans for the rest of the day. I’m probably just gonna stay here and relax, binge watch Sex and the City, or continue reading Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw.
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