Biggest Book Sale Ever Opens At SM Downtown February 2nd

Big Bad Wolf Books

Changing The World, One Book At A Time

By Tito Mike

The world’s biggest ever book sale is coming to Cagayan de Oro at the Event Hall of SM Downtown at the 5th Floor.

From February 2, 2024 to February 18, 2024, Cagayan de Oro residents and visitors from neighboring cities alike will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in an unparalleled book-shopping experience.

A sampling of the books in the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale to be held February 2-18, 2024 at the SM Downtown Event Hall, 5th Level, Cagayan de Oro City. (photo courtesy of Kentot Travels)

Big Bad Wolf Books (BBW Books) aims to cultivate reading habits, increase English literacy worldwide, and build a new generation of book lovers by making books more affordable and accessible to everyone.

“How many restaurants do you have in Mindanao,” asked BBW founder Andrew Yap during the 16 January 2024 media launch held at SM Downtown. “If you need food for your body, so do you also need food for your mind!”

(Left to Right) Centaur Marketing’s Will Hsu, Big Bad Wolf Founder Andrew Yap, and Big Bad Wolf Philippines Managing Partner Carolyn Chuaying.

One of the company’s best highlights is its Book Sales, which is popular among book lovers around the world. As a global reading advocacy initiative, it aims to encourage people of all ages to discover the joys of reading, inspire them to pursue their dreams, and, importantly, empower them with the knowledge to realize them.

The brainchild of BookXcess founders Andrew Yap and Jacqueline Ng, the first Big Bad Wolf Book Sale was held on 13–18 May 2009 at Dataran Hamodal, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia and proved to be a tremendous success. The books are mostly sourced from the stocks of BookXcess, a book store dealing in excess or remaindered books from international distributors.

Big Bad Wolf Founder Andrew Yap explains the advocacy behind their Book Sales. (RMB)

In 2016, Big Bad Wolf went global, holding its first overseas book sale in Indonesia, and has now visited more than 30 cities in 12 countries including Cambodia, Indonesia, Korea, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates. Millions of customers have attended these physical book sale events offering a huge range of great books at affordable prices. The company has also begun branching out to book readers outside the Asia Pacific, having held book tours in Tanzania, Kenya, and the United Arab Emirates.

“BBW is bringing more than 50,000 book titles and over 2,000,000 books to Cagayan de Oro,” said Carolyn Chuaying, managing partner of BBW Philippines.  “They don’t call us the biggest book sale in the world for nothing!”

Interviewing Carolyn Chuaying, managing partner of Big Bad Wolf Philippines.
(Photo courtesy of Papi of TJ the Explorer)

The arrival of Big Bad Wolf in Cagayan de Oro is not merely a celebration of the city’s vibrant culture and rich history but also a testament to the company’s never ending commitment to spreading the joy of reading to every corner of the globe.

“Of all the places we’ve gone to in the Philippines, Cagayan de Oro seems to have the greatest passion for reading books among its people,” Andrew noted.  (RMB)

As book enthusiasts in the region eagerly anticipate the event, BBW promises its Cagayan de Oro tour to be a momentous occasion, fostering a deeper appreciation for literature in the region, and embracing the ever-expanding community of avid readers.

Big Bad Wolf’s low prices encourage customers to take a chance on new authors and types of books they might never otherwise try. Readers will find an incredible range of titles across genres as diverse as science-fiction, thrillers and literature, business, cookbooks, art and design, and children’s activity and reference books. Many other sought-after books to suit all tastes can be found, so everyone can experience the joy of reading.

What’s more, the event will also have exclusive perks and unbelievable deals that add an extra layer of excitement to those stopping by.

“With so many titles up for grabs, attendees can enjoy price discounts of up to 95% off on different books, collections, and series, and books as low as P20 a copy,” said Will Hsu of the agency promoting the event. “Not only can residents of Cagayan de Oro find their next big read, but they can also enjoy them without breaking the bank.” (Kentot Travels)

More than just a sale, Big Bad Wolf Books is a global reading advocacy programme. Its mission is to cultivate the reading habit around the world and build a new generation of readers by making books affordable and accessible to everyone. In this way, the World’s Biggest Book Sale inspires people to chase their dreams and empowers them with knowledge.

…and They Read Happily Ever After.

For more information regarding Big Bad Wolf Books’ grand return to the Philippines, please visit:

Website: https://bigbadwolfbooks.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bbwbooksphilippines/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bbwbooksph/

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Quid pro quo, sudden death dramas electrify JGFP Mindanao Pueblo Junior Open

Junior Golf at Pueblo de Oro got off to a sizzling start as the matches went down to the wire for both the boys and girls marquee divisions during the second leg of the Mindanao Open held January 9-11, 2023 in Cagayan de Oro City.


In the girls marquee 15-18 division, it was a friendly rivalry renewed as Kiara Montebon shot 68 and 69 to capture the girls’ event with 137, to edge Ally Gaccion’s 142 (70-72). Ally beat Kiara in a sudden death playoff on this same event last year. Both are Kagay-anons and members of the Pueblo de Oro Golf and  Country Club.

FRIENDLY RIVALRY. Kiara Montebon (seated) and Ally Gaccion.

However, Ally captured the girls’ WAGR event with a 3-day total of 213, one stroke ahead of Kiara’s 214.

The tourney was both a WAGR® (The Official Men’s and Women’s Amateur Golf Rankings) and JGFP (Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines) event. Scores for the 3-days were counted for the WAGR ranking, while only the last two days were counted for the JGFP event.

Crista Mendoza, Kiara Montebon, Ally Gaccion & Pueblo Golf Manager Kits Pinga

“There has been a boom in golf worldwide ever since the pandemic started, since golf was one of the few sports allowed during the pandemic. So there was a boom all over the world in the number of golfers during the pandemic,” said Gil Blas M. Velez, JGFP Director for Northern Mindanao.

“Cagayan de Oro has been part of that boom, especially with our junior golfers. Four to five years ago we could only count with our hands the number of jungolfers playing, but today we have seen that number grow tenfold,” he noted.

“We are also blessed to have Pueblo golf course in such close proximity to the city that our kids have easy access to play and practice, which is such a rare opportunity and puts us in an ideal spot to develop our junior golfers. Last year was our first ever interschool tournament, we actually had enough junior golfers to form a school team, it was participated and supported by most of the schools in Mindanao and was a hugely successful event,” Velez added.

There was a similar drama in the Boys marquee 15-18 Division. While Aldrien Gialon of Davao City dominated both the tournament with a 142 (72-70) finish as well as topping the 54-hole WAGR ranking event with 211 (69-72-70), three players finished in a tie for second.

On top of that, the final round was marked by playoff matches in two divisions.

In the Boys 15-18 Division, John Canlas, an 18-year-old student from De la Salle Santiago Zobel, won the first extra hole, dropping a 10-foot eagle putt on the seventh. Cliff Nuneza made a birdie to take third spot at the expense of Iggy Fabiala.

Similarly, Clement Ordeneza of Del Monte and Geoffrey Tan of Xavier School forged a title showdown in the boys’ 13-14 after finishing 36 holes on identical 151s.The 14-year-olds missed birdie putts on the first two extra holes and Tan forced another extension by saving par off the bunker. In an anti-climactic finish, Tan topped his shot in his second trip on the bunker and Ordeneza punctuated his win with a birdie.

The Batican siblings, also from Cagayan de Oro and Pueblo Golf, shared the limelight by with impressive rounds.

Apollo Batican, the 11-year-old playing in boys’ 13-14, carded a 71 to climb to third place. His younger sister, Athena, was even more impressive, firing a tournament-best 66 to clinch the girls’ 9-10.

“JGFP led by President Oliver Gan has been instrumental in recognizing and supporting local talent here in Mindanao,” Velez said. “Our local junior leaders such as Frankie Minoza, Ronald Canlas, Alfred Gaccion, Gladys Opitz, the management and members of Pueblo, and all the regional junior golf leaders in Davao, Cotabato, Bukidnon have all been supportive and dedicated to our growth. We also would have to mention the proud parents’ dedication in being part of their children’s journey.”

“We have seen a huge amount of success in tournaments outside the Philippines as well, our local junior golfers such as Ally Gaccion and Apollo Batican have been an inspiration and proving to us that they have what it takes to compete in the international stage,” he added.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, we need our kids to gain more experience and learn at the international level- having the facilities, coaching, equipment, and technology to be at par with our Asian counterparts. We are taking it one step at a time, and hopefully with more support we will achieve that someday soon.”

Nicole Gaisano Gan bounced back with a 72 to win the girls’ 13-14 by one shot over Isabella Tabanas.

(Photo courtesy of Meggie May Casing Espina)

The other division winners were Ken Guillermo, boys’ 11-12; Iza Racines, girls’ 11-12; Franco Qui, boys’ 9-10; Jaime Barnes, boys’ 7-8; Abby Qui, girls’ 7-8; Iñigo Espina, boys’ 6-and-under; and Sistine Yu, girls’ 6-and-under.

WAGR results

Boys’ WAGR – Aldrien Gialon 211 (69-72-70), Clement Ordeneza 219 (68-75-76), Cliff Nuneza 221 (71-74-76), Simon Wahing 222 (71-75-76), Nino Villacencio 222 (71-77-74), Geoffrey Tan 226 (75-74-77), Xhylas Luzon 227 (72-78-77), Iggy Fabiala 227 (77-74-76), Apollo Batican 228 (76-81-71), Mark Parilla 230 (78-80-72), Alexis Nailga 232 (71-86-75), Adrian Bisera 236 (76-77-83), John Canlas 237 (87-77-73), Cody Langamin 238 (75-80-83), Kenly Wacan 242 (83-76-83), Keith Pagalan 243 (80-81-82), Martin Quinlog 248 (85-77-86), Martin Lu 249 (80-81-88), Harrold Tagud 250 (88-80-82), AJ Wacan 251 (83-87-81), Wendell Aparilla 253 (92-79-82), Vincenzo Tiu 267 (97-91-79), Marcus Huertas 286 (98-96-92)

Girls’ WAGR – Alethea Gaccion 213 (71-70-72), Kiara Montebon 214 (77-68-69), Nicole Gaisano Gan 223 (74-77-72), Isabella Tabanas 230 (80-75-75), Crista Minoza 233 (77-78-78), Asara Sawhney 239 (79-81-79), Zero Plete 250 (85-80-85), Merry Wacan 257 (89-82-86), Princess Babia 266 (97-88-81), Mikela Guillermo 303 (100-101-102), Jameeka Uy 373 (134-127-112), Kenly Yu 387 (132-134-121), Marley Yu 409 (137-140-132)

(Photo courtesy of Tonette Bacol-Guillermo)

Complete results of the JGFP Mindanao Pueblo Junior Open at Pueblo de Oro Golf and Country Club in Cagayan de Oro City

Boys’ 15-18 – Aldrien Gialon 142 (72-70), John Canlas 150 (77-73), Cliff Nuneza 150 (74-76), Iggy Fabiala 150 (74-76), Simon Wahing 151 (75-76), Nino Villacencio 151 (77-74), Mark Parilla 152 (80-72),

Xhylas Luzon 155 (78-77), Kenly Wacan 159 (76-83), Adrian Bisera 160 (77-83), Wendell Aparilla 161 (79-82), Harrold Tagud 162 (80-82), Cody Langamin 163 (80-83), Keith Pagalan 163 (81-82), Martin Quinlog 163 (77-86), Martin Lu 169 (81-88), Marcus Huertas 188 (96-92)

Girls’ 15-18 – Kiara Montebon 137 (68-69), Alethea Gaccion 142 (70-72), Crista Minoza 156 (78-78)

Boys’ 13-14 – Clement Ordeneza 151 (75-76), Geoff Tan 151 (74-77), Apollo Batican 152 (81-71), Alexis Nailga 161 (86-75), AJ Wacan 168 (87-81), Vincenzo Tiu 170 (91-79)

(Photo courtesy of Joy Tabs)

Girls’ 13-14 – Nicole Gaisano Gan 149 (77-72), Isabella Tabanas 150 (75-75), Asara Sawhney 160 (81-79), Zero Plete 165 (80-85), Merry Wacan 168 (82-86), Mikela Guillermo 203 (101-102), Jameeka Uy 239 (127-112), Kenly Yu 255 (134-121), Marley Yu 272 (140-132)

Boys’ 11-12 – Ken Guillermo 162 (80-82), Javier Bautista 168 (83-85), Blademher Estologa 178 (93-85), Felix Bula III 180 (87-93), Kiel Elvena 181 (95-86), Paul Badelic 197 (99-98), Louie Remolador 201 (105-96), Gabriel Huertas 219 (115-104), Santiago Sagarbarria 242 (121-121)

Girls’ 11-12 – Iza Racines 221 (115-106)

Boys’ 9-10 – Franco Qui 159 (80-79), Mico Woo 167 (82-85), Alonzo Retuerto 170 (87-83), Rafael Yap 226 (113-113), Almario Sia 233 (116-117)

Girls’ 9-10 – Athena Batican 145 (79-66), Eliana Dumalaog 154 (84-70), Isabella Espina 159 (81-78)

Boys 7-under Division: Jamie Barnes, Champion; Shaqeeq Tanog, 1st Runner Up, James Benedict Rolida, 2nd Runner up. (photo courtesy of Yvonne G. Rolida)

Boys’ 7-8 – Jaime Barnes 146 (68-78), Shaqeeq Tanog 180 (90-90), James Rolida 189 (95-94)

Girls’ 7-8 – Abby Qui 164 (84-80), Elyse Geroy 180 (92-88), Claren Quino 209 (99-110), Jannah Sanchez 224 (113-111)

Boys’ 6-and-under – Inigo Espina 137 (71-66)

Girls’ 6-and-under – Sistine Yu 183 (90-93)

(Compiled from wire reports, Pueblo Golf and a report from SPIN.PH)

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Kagay-anons Walk with Faith in CDO Traslación 2024

Kagay-anons turned out in droves to join the local celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9, 2024, but in drastically reduced numbers compared to previous years.

The Minor Basilica and National Shrine of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church) in Manila donated one of the Callejeros (replicas of the 17th century image) to the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro for the jubilee year of its Nazareno Parish in January 9, 2009 upon the instance of then Parish Priest Msgr. Rey Monsanto. 

The pilgrim image of the Black Nazarene was donated to the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro by the Quiapo Church in 2009. One of its hands reportedly came from the original image from Acapulo, Mexico. (CIO)

The image was brought to the Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral. On the same year, the first Black Nazarene procession was held in Northern Mindanao.

The original life-sized  icon was carved by a now forgotten sculptor in Acapulco, Mexico from dark colored wood and brought to Manila in a galleon by Augustinian Recollect missionaries on May 31, 1606. It is reputed to be miraculous had has been credited with healing many devotees of their infirmities.

Since then thousands of its devotees have been attending the Cagayan de Oro edition of the Traslación, a procession from the St Augustine Cathedral to the Nazareno Parish Church in Lapasan, inspired by the annual procession which reenacts the late 18th-century transfer of the religious icon from its original shrine in Intramuros to the Quiapo Church.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Jose A. Cabantan advised the devotees joining the procession to reflect on the essence of the intense devotion to the Poong Hesus Nazareno.

Let us with grateful hearts praise God for the bounteous blessings He has given us. The greatest blessing is of course His only begotten Son, our Lord and Savior who is born for us and journeys with us. He sustains, comforts and consoles us in all our undertakings amidst the various challenges we encounter in our lives,” Archbishop Cabantan said in his message aired over Radio Veritas.

He stressed how Jesus is a constant companion in all our journeys, particularly in challenging times and situations.

The 2024 Traslación in Cagayan de Oro walks past Gaston Park in the early hours of Jan. 9, 2024.
( Photo courtesy of Isabelle Czarina Soriano)

“His passion and carrying the cross inspires us despite the cross that that we bear in our life journeys. He calls us to participate by walking with Him in the Traslación,, deny ourselves by carrying our cross to follow Him, because He lightens our burdens!  We are never alone in facing all the trials we encounter in our lives. God is always with us, our Emmanuel! ”

The Feast of the Black Nazarene

The Feast of the Black Nazarene commemorates the anniversary of the translation or the transfer of the image from its original location at a church in modern-day Luneta Park to Quiapo. The image was brought to the Church of San Juan Bautista in Bagumbayan (now Luneta) until May 31, 1606, by Augustinian Recollect priests.

In 1608, the icon was enshrined at the Recollect church of San Nicolás de Tolentino in Intramuros. Thence, it was moved to the Saint John the Baptist Church (now commonly referred to as the Quiapo Church), on January 9, 1787. The “solemn transfer” eventually became the date of the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

The Hijos de Nazareno carry the image and secure it during the 2024 Traslaciónin Cagayan de Oro.
(photo courtesy of Trip ni Tonio)

The latest Traslación in Manila was deemed as one of the fastest ever, with the image of the Black Nazarene back in the Quiapo Church after only 15 hours.

Authorities estimated over 6.5 million people joinedthe procession, which started at around 5 a.m. from Quirino Grandstand, while the crowd at the Quiapo Church was estimated at 1,398,500 as of 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The Philippine National Police earlier said this year’s Traslación was “generally peaceful” and “better coordinated” than in previous years, according to ABS-CBN News.

It is the first time the traditional parade featuring the life-sized statue has been held since 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced officials to drastically downsize the event. 

The Kagay-an Traslación

Aside from the one in Manila, processions replicating the Traslación are also held on January 9 in other parts of the country, with the largest in Cagayan de Oro, which uses an official replica of the image given by the Minor Basilica in 2009.

However, the number of devotees who joined the Traslación in Cagayan de Oro City was greatly reduced in 2024 to only 18,000 compared to the 120,000 estimated in 2023, according to the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO).

The tight police-military cordon around the image reportedly discouraged many devotees from joining the 2024 Traslación in Cagayan de Oro since it prevented them from showing their devotion rituals.(Metro CDO Photos)

Authorities attributed the reduced attendance to possible apprehensions arising from the recent bombing of a Catholic mass at the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City, as well as January 9 being a regular working day in Cagayan de Oro, compared to the special non-working day in Manila declared by President Ferdinand Marcos  Jr. in Manila.

Traslación in other areas

On March 4, 2014, a replica of the Black Nazarene from Quiapo Church arrived at the Old Chapel of St. Rock the Healer Mission Center, Bishop’s Compound, Brgy. Cawayan, Catarman, Northern Samar. The first Traslación was held on January 9, 2015, when the sacred image was transferred from the old church to the new church building.  

Davao City received the tenth official replica distributed by Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo in 2015. The image is now kept in the Our Lady of Peñafrancia GKK Chapel at DECA Homes Esperanza Tigatto, Buhangin, Davao City, which is part of the San Alfonso Maria de Ligouri Parish. Some 200-300 devotees joined the Traslación in 2023.

In Tagum City, Davao del Norte, some 6,000 devotees were estimated to join the two hour religious motorcade that would take the replica of the Black Nazarene from the Parish of the Christ Eucharistic King church in downtown Tagum to the Sagrada Corazon de Jesus Nazareno Parish in Barangay Apokon, passing along city streets along a 12.7-kilometer route. This was only the third time for Tagum to join the Traslación .

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World Famous Tabernacle Choir to perform in the Philippines this February

Two Kagay-anons to represent  PH in choir
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s “Hope” world tour will make its next stop in the Philippines.

This will be the Choir’s first trip to the Philippines — an area often called “Asia’s pearl” because of its rich culture and scenic landscapes.

Elder Steven R. Bangerter, the Philippines Area President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has invited all Filipinos to watch the upcoming live concert of the internationally acclaimed Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square on February 27 and 28, 2024, at SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.

However, due to limited concert seats, Elder Steven advised the concert on February 28 will be live-streamed online to ensure everyone can watch it with their friends and family at local stake centers nationwide or at watch parties at their homes.

The concerts will feature special guest artists from Philippines performing a repertoire that reflects, in part, the musicality of the country. Filipinos are a nation of singing people whose choral tradition started in its indigenous origins and has continued until today. Internationally, the Philippines has one of the highest viewership of Music & the Spoken Word.

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform at the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City, Mexico, on Sunday, June 18, 2023. (Cody Bell, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Choir president Michael O. Leavitt says: “Our goal is to magnify the Choir’s impact throughout the world by helping people feel God’s love for His children. Our performances will be free. Many will be live streamed so local congregations in the regions we visit can invite their friends and communities to participate.”

Guest Artist

Acclaimed Broadway singer and actress Lea Salonga will be the featured guest artist on the Choir’s tour to the Philippines.

Lea Salonga will be the Tabernacle Choir’s Guest Artist for their Philippine performance this coming February.

Lea Salonga is a multiple award-winning actor and singer renowned across the world for her powerful voice and perfect pitch. She is acclaimed for her Tony Award-winning role in Miss Saigon. In addition to the Tony, she has won the Olivier, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Theatre World Awards in the field of musical theatre.

Many fans of all ages recognize Lea as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin and Mulan I and Mulan II. Lea served as a judge on the Philippines hit version of “The Voice,” including the ratings juggernaut “The Voice Kids.” An avid techie and gamer, Lea divides her time between Manila, Philippines, with her family and the United States.

Lea first performed with the Tabernacle Choir in December 2022 during the Season of Light: Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.

One of the songs she sang was Wilberg’s arrangement of Payapang Daigdid (Peaceful World )— a Filipino song that can be considered a counterpart to “Silent Night.” It was the first time Wilberg had arranged a Filipino song.

After Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked during World War II, so was Manila in the Philippines. It was several years later, in 1946, when Felipe Padilla de Leon climbed some the ruins and was inspired by what he saw to write “Payapang Daigdid.”

“It has brought hope and peace to the Filipino people ever since,” Salonga said, wishing those in the audience hope and peace.

Mack Wilberg, music director of the Choir, said he is looking forward to working with her again.

 Tabernacle Choir director Mack Wilberg leads the orchestra and choir during the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square World Tour with the theme of “Hope” at the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City, Mexico on Sunday, June 18, 2023.  (Cody Bell, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

“It was a delight to have Lea Salonga share her extraordinary talents at our Christmas concert last year in Salt Lake City. It is an honor for the Choir to go to Lea’s home country to perform with her and experience the kindness of the Filipino people,” he said.

“Music is a universal language and can transcend cultural and language boundaries,” said Mack Wilberg, the choir’s music director. “We hope our musical message of hope will be felt in the hearts of the Filipino people.”

Both choirs and instrumental musical performances have a long history among the people of the nearly 2,000 inhabited islands of the Philippines. The islands’ indigenous cultures had their own musical styles, and many of those were influenced by Asian and European explorers in the 15th to 18th centuries.

The Church has more than 800,000 members in nearly 1,300 congregations in the country. Those members comprise one of the largest audiences of the choir’s “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast each week, according to the release.

Choir president Leavitt, said, “We are pleased to join with the people of the Philippines. We are confident the choir’s concerts will provide a sense of hope by reflecting God’s love for all His children.” 

Representation in the choir

Two Filipinos who already have a close relationship with the choir in a unique way are Ronald B. Baa and Sundae Mae Indino, both from Cagayan de Oro, were selected after a rigorous screening process to join the prestigious choir, under the Tabernacle Choir’s Global Participants Pilot Program, as announced on December 22, 2022.

Ronald B. Baa and Sundae Mae Indino

The Tabernacle Choir has recently broadened its mission to reach a global audience. Previously, members of the choir were made up of Church members residing in and around Salt Lake City. This new direction of finding international participants provides an opportunity for the choir to be more diverse and have global representation.

Along with their top-notch vocal ability, the international participants were required to demonstrate proficiency in music theory and English during a rigorous Four-Phase Audition Process.

Sundae Mae Indino and Ronald Baa, performed along with eight other talented singers from Brazil, Ghana, Malaysia, Mexico and Taiwan with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during the 193rd Annual General Conference at Salt Lake City on April 2023.

Ronald and Sundae Mae performed with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during the 193rd Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City in April 2023, alongside other members selected from different countries. Their inclusion in the choir has added another layer of diversity, adding to the already rich tapestry of the choir’s membership.

As Sundae Mae said, “God qualifies us for our callings because He knows we have the ability and that He will add to it if we commit to our part. Music knows no boundaries. I know that we will be part of a choir that will touch the hearts of people during the conferences.”

In April, Baa said in a Church News podcast that his participation in the choir rekindled the desire of some friends to participate in general conference.

Ronald Baa of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, sings with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square on Sunday, April 2, 2023, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. He is one of 10 vocalists chosen to sing with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during the 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square)

“When they found out that I’ll be singing with the Tabernacle Choir, they are excited and they said that, ‘I think it’s about time to watch the general conference,’” he said. “… So they’re very excited. I also have friends who are not members of the Church who are also excited to watch the April general conference. So this program would really make a great impact.”

The choir’s visit to the Philippines will likely expose many individuals who are unfamiliar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to its teachings, just like it will its music.

Sundae Mae Indino of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, sings with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during the Saturday morning session of general conference on Saturday, April 1, 2023, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. She is one of 10 vocalists chosen to sing with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during the 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

In the same podcast, Indino said, “The Church is really a church for everyone. And the gospel is for everyone, just like what Jesus Christ wants.”

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CDOBloggers elect new officers during Year End Elections & Thanksgiving

Growth. Support. Collaboration. Teamwork. Camaraderie.

by Tito Mike

Cagayan de Oro’s first and pre-eminent group of bloggers elected their new set of officers for 2024 during their annual elections and thanksgiving held at the new Ribs & Bibs function room at the 5th Floor of SM CDO Downtown on December 29, 2023.

CDO Bloggers Network Officers for 2024.

The 2024 CDO Bloggers Officers are the following Karen Chayne Sanchez (CDO Lifestyle), Presdent; Ruby Caberte (Mommy Ruby) Vice President-Internal; Maia Nery Fortich  Poblete (mimaiscribbles) VP External; Emem Aban (LadySoda) VP Social Media; Judy Teves (Bogie’s Wonderland), Secretary; Irene Dayo (ItsIreneDayo), Treasurer; Angel Estera (Wanderfully Angel) Auditor; and Shari Lapiz (Shai Talks), Asst. Auditor.

Four of the newly elected officers who are former presidents of the organization are expected to be crucial in revitalizing the group which languished in the doldrums the past year.

Growth. Support. Collaboration. Teamwork. Camaraderie.

In her acceptance talk, Ms. Karen expressed here gratitude and appreciation in accepting her new role, stressing it is a a shared success that reflects the strength and unity within our blogging community.

2024 CDO Bloggers Network President Karen Chayne Sanchez.

“I am excited about the opportunity to lead this incredible group of passionate individuals who use their words to inspire, inform, and make a difference. Together, we will continue to create meaningful collaborations and amplify our and voices,” she stressed.

“This presidency is not mine alone—it is a shared responsibility that I undertake with all of you by my side. Here’s to a year of growth, teamwork, support, camaraderie, collaborations and opportunities. Thank you for this incredible opportunity. Let’s write the next chapter of CDO Bloggers together!”

SM Expresses Support

Speaking on behalf of SM Supermalls Cagayan de Oro which co-hosted the event with Ribs & Bibs, Public Relations Manager Carlston B. Maglangit disclosed how SM had reached out to the group to express their support.

SM Supermalls Cagayan de Oro Public Relations Officer Carlston B. Maglangit.

“Even earlier this year, we already created plans for CDO Bloggers. However, due to unforeseen circumstances they did not push through. But we reached out to you several times actually.”

Nevertheless, he remained confident plans could now proceed under the new leadership to create and promote content about Cagayan de Oro.

“Hopefully with your new leadership, we can create partnerships, and for those who are starting, we can also help to grow your following and engagement, and help create more content for our community and Cagayan de Oro. There’s so many things in Cagayan de Oro we can create content about.”

The 2023 CDO Blogger Network welcomes the New Year with their Year End Thanksgiving and Elections held at Ribs’n’Bibs, 5th Floor Function Room, SM CDO Downtown on December 29, 2023.

The CDOBloggers Network expresses their sincerest thanks and appreciation for the following sponsors who generously shared with us our food, venue and raffle prizes for this event:🌟Ribs & Bibs, SM CDO Downtown, Cebu Pacific Air, Limketkai Luxe Hotel , 2GO Travel, Seda Centrio, Cagayan de Oro, Smart Communications, Inc., Seven Seas Waterpark & Resort,Dahilayan Adventure Park, Dahilayan Alpine Village,Cagayan Electric Power & Light Co., Inc. (CEPALCO), Dunkin’ PH – Cagayan de Oro,Candy’s Café,Thai Me Up, NMPSTA Shooting Range CdO, Italpinas Development Corporation,Metro Cagayan de Oro,Mommy Ruby, Mommy Dharlz &  Ladysoda.

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Gourmand Capital of Metro Cagayan de Oro

By Tito Mike

The Segundo Distrito de Misamis was the largest of the five politico-military districts in Mindanao that was created in 1818, composed of what is now Misamis Oriental,  Misamis Occidental, Camiguin, Bukidnon, Lanao, Zamboange del Norte. and the northern part of Cotabato.

From its humble beginnings as the capital town of the Segundo Distrito de Misamis in 1872, Cagayan de Oro has gradually progressed as a chartered city in 1950, and is expected to come full circle when it becomes the Philippines fourth metropolitan area by 2025.

Although not quite as large as the original Segundo Distrito in terms of land area, Metro Cagayan  de Oro will have a larger population and of course, much greater productivity since it covers the chartered cities of Cagayan de Oro and El Salvador; fourteen municipalities of  Misamis Oriental (AlubijidBalingasagClaveriaGitagumInitaoJasaanLaguindinganLibertadLugaitManticaoNaawanOpolTagoloan, and Villanueva);  and six municipalities of Bukidnon (Manolo FortichBaungonLibonaMalitbogSumilao and Talakag). 

The growing population of this booming metropolitan area already has a massive appetite that’s  been further whetted by the proliferation of food and beverage establishments, exemplified by the ever increasing number of coffee shops in Cagayan de Oro alone, which already stood at 250 in the last count and continues to grow by the day.

The response of the industry to the challenge has been nothing short of magnificent, and following is just a sampling of those which this writer had the honor and privilege to cover.

Foremost among this is the KUMBIRA, a culinary show and live inter-school competition organized by the Cagayan de Oro Hotel and Restaurant Association (COHARA) which celebrated its 27th year in 2023. Rising from the ruins of the global pandemic, this year’s festival had two parts, Hala Kumbira! on August 19 which featured the 1st Inter-Barangay Culinary Competition and the main festival and competitions on October 11–13 which featured the 1st Mindanao Coffee Festival.

2023 Inter-Barangay Culinary Competition (image courtesy of Viajero Series)

Barangay Bonbon emerged as the champion and People’s Choice Awardee for the 2023 1st Inter-Barangay Culinary Competition which sought to establish Chicken Humba as one of Cagayan de Oro’s signature dishes.

SM North Wing (Image courtesy of Project Lupad)

The SM North Wing perhaps best exemplifies the ongoing boom in new restaurants with its eclectic mix of  upscale bistros and restaurants (Niku-yata Ramen, Fat Chef, Vamoose a Comer, Out of Nowhere, Mindanao Basket, L’Buono by Resto Freeno) and luxury leisure (Virtue Luxury Lounge, 80 Degrees  KTV, La Ilumina, Adventureland, HUGO Restaurant + Lounge), among others.

Pioneers Expand

Another of Cagayan de Oro’s venerable establishments celebrated their 25th year when they re-opened their expanded third branch at SM CDO City Uptown on September 8th. This originally opened in 2003, just a year after the SM Uptown itself opened to the public.

The baby of couple Henrik Kelly and Joanna Cris Lim-Yu, and their BFF Catherine Genabe-Gudito, Bigby’s Café and Restaurant (better known as plain Bigby’s) now has 20 branches in the Mindanao-Visayas area including Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, Iloilo, Zamboanga, General Santos, Butuan, Ormoc, Bohol, and will soon be opening their 21st branch in Tacloban.

The original Big Four of Bigby’s celebrate the reopening of the 3rd of what is now 20 branches at SM City Uptown in Cagayan de Oro. (RMB)

With their travel concept and slogan More Flavors to Your World, Bigby’s expanded the local restaurant market to families, young urban professionals and businessmen with its “fun dining” ambience with wittingly named dishes and trademark “global” mementos and introduced the first truly intercontinental menu to Cagayan de Oro along Archbishop Hayes street, in an area known as Havelano Square.

Ricardo’s by Cucina Higala.

Another of CDO’s venerables expanded outside the city but still within the Metro CDO area when it opened Ricardo’s at Mampayag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

Cucina Higala, rated 5 of 5 on Tripadvisor (where it has been cited as Traveler’s Choice for the past 10 years) and ranked #1 of 252 restaurants in Cagayan de Oro with 1,284 reviews, has consistently been voted by satisfied diners as the Travelers’ Choice for the last several years, it was recently recognized as Maxim Clients’ Choice 2023, a prestige they aspire to carry over to Ricardo’s with its tagline, “A Food Destination, like no other.”

From the peripheries

In contrast, two establishments from outside the city have opened branches in Cagayan de Oro, anticipating the growing need for the metro’s population.

Bong Quiblat, Kag. Suzette Magtajas Daba, Edward Asok and his mom, and Lovelle See, SM CDO Downtown Premier Mall Manager cut the ribbon during Bud’z Cafe’s blessing February 18 at the 5th Floor.
(photo courtesy of Kag. Suzette Magtajas Daba Office)

Bud’z Café, originally from Barangay Damilag in Manolo Fortich Bukidnon, opened its first branch at the 5th floor of SM CDO Downtown. It champions the Typica variety generically branded as Bukidnon Coffee that’s grown in the foothills of Mt. Kitanglad and usually processed by hand and sun-dried on raised beds.

Further afield from Tagum City in Davao del Norte, Denise Gregonia, accounting manager and physician Maoi Soriano opened another of their Out of Nowhere Kitchen branches at the third floor  of SM CDO Downtown .

Maoi & Denise with OON SM CDO Downtown Crew. (photo courtesy of 33 Food Group)

The partners are gourmands who are wont to travel to different places out of town to savor the local fare, especially the local recipes like those found in small hole-in-the-wall establishments.  Their other branches are at OON Tagum (Robinson’s Tagum), and at SM City CDO Uptown’s North Wing. The partners decided to open an OON SM CDO Downtown branch because they wanted to reach out to a different market and break into other niches with their function rooms for social and business functions.

Support Local

Even as brands from out of the city continue to come in, local brands are flourishing.

Among them are the indefatigable Dynamic Duo of Jeigs Pakino and Ed Tangcay Quimpano Jr. of J2J Co. who continue to spread their wings and will soon have their 3rd branch in Uptown Cagayan de Oro. They already  have J2J Street Cafe’ & Restaurant , EDsy’s Diner and EduardoDiego Ristorante  at A. Velez corner Hayes streets, and at The Marketplace, Ayala Centrio Mall.

EduardoDiego by J2J is recognized as the Top Choice Authentic Pizza & Pasta Italian Restaurant by Asian Top Choice Awards 2023 at the Okada, Metro Manila.

EduardoDiego has been cited as the Most Outstanding Italian Cuisine Specialty Restaurant in Cagayan de Oro by the  2nd Asian Sterling Awards, is a National Awardee for Best Authentic Italian Pizzeria by the Elite Business Excellence Award 2019, and garnered the Seal of Quality Excellence by Q Asia’s Quality Excellence Awards.

Chloe & Candy Lu at Chloe’s Bakery & Cafe.

Another dynamic duo is the mother-daughter tandem of  Chloe Monique Lu who recently  opened Chloe Bakery & Café, along Fr. William Masterson SJ Avenue in the Pueblo de Oro Township in Uptown Cagayan de Oro, and her mom Candy Lu (originally from Cotabato City), whose Candy’s Café & Restaurant has been a favorite hang-out of habitués of the posh Ayala Centrio Mall (and Limketkai Center previously) for the past decade and half. Both are holders of Le Grand Diplôme Le Cordon Bleu in both Cuisine and Pâtisserie (Pastry & Confectionery), recognized worldwide by culinary professionals.

Making it in America

Not the least, and to prove home-grown talents can hold their own even abroad, Kagay-anon Nicole “Nikki” Cabrera-Mills of the Pêche Seafood Grill in New Orleans, USA was featured in Sublime Seafood by John T. Edge in The Entertainment Special August/September 2023 issue of Garden and Gun magazine, a national magazine based in Charleston, South Carolina that reports on the South’s culture, food, music, art, literature, and its people and their ideas. 

Chef Nikki Cabrera Mills with the August/September 2023 issue of Garden & Gun Magazine.

She was also featured in the 19 April 2023 issue of The New York Times Magazine, where cooking writer and columnist Eric Kim raved how Chef Nikki’s Citrus-Glazed Turnips has elevated the humble singkamas to a sleeper hit in a city renowned worldwide for its Creole cuisine. More recently, she was one of the panel of speakers in the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium “Where is the South?” held October 21-22, 2023 at Oxford, Mississippi.

Chef Nikki also served as an ambassador of Philippine cuisine when she was featured on the pilot episode of Take Out with Lisa Ling which started streaming on HBO Max on January 27, 2022 as Filipino food blogger Andrew Marin and  host Lisa Ling discussed the importance of keeping Asian cuisine and culture alive in America during its first episode Mix Mix .

That isn’t all that’s happened in the Metro in 2023, but it sure gives you a fairly good idea we got what it takes to make Cagayan de Oro the Gourmand Capital of the emerging metro.

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Finding El Dorado : The Year that was in Arts & Culture

The year in the Arts and Culture shone bright for the City of Golden Friendship. It wasn’t only lumad or natural born Kagay-anons who brought honor and prestige to the city, but many too were those who came from near and far seeking greener pastures and have made the city their home.

Chris Gomez is the Grand Prize Winner for Habi Kadayawan 2023 Fashion Accessories Commercial Category.

Among the latter were Designer Chris  Gomez, originally from Davao City, who was adjudged the Grand Prize winner in the Commercial Fashion Accessories Category of Habi Kadayawan 2023 with his “Panolong Clutch Bag”, while Shine J. Casiño’s (from Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental) “Higalaay Splendor” finished Second Runner up in the Luxe Apparel category. Oscar Esteban Floirendo (a lumad Kagay-anon) was one of the five finalists in the Accessories Category (Commercial Category) with his “Pusô” bag.

Shine Casiño with her Higalaay Splendor Creations.

In the literary world, Arlene J. Yandug (from Maramag, Bukidnon) won the 41st Philippine Literary Arts Council Prize for Best Book of Poetry in English with her first book, “Coming Home to the Island: Poems”. Yandug is the current manager of  XU Press, and concurrently Chief Editor of Xavier University’s Journal “Kinaadman”.

Dr Arlene J. Yandug (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elio Garcia)

The book was also one of five finalists for the 23rd Madrigal González Best First Book Award, an annual award established in 2001 by the U.P. Institute of Creative Writing through the initiative of the Madrigal-Gonzalez family. Most recently, her poem “February in Many Voices” (which is also found in Coming Home to the Island: Poems) was the Third Prize winner in the inaugural Rhonda Gail Williford Award for Poetry, among a strong collection of work with174 submissions from 39 countries. The Award is administered by the International Human Rights Art Movement.

In the world of music, two expat professors from the Liceo de Cagayan University’s Conservatory of Music, Theatre and Dance made waves in the  international scene.

Horst Hans Bäcker was adjudged one of the world’s top 3 Classical Music Composers by the much delayed 2022 WorldVision Composers Contest, after the organizers decided to declare a tie for second place among the three finalists.

Bäcker, wife Josefe & daughter Sophie with Liceo President Dr. Alain Marc Golez & family, son Raffa, mother Liceo Chair Dr. Rafaelita P. Pelaez & wife Tanya.

Bäcker is the associate dean and professor for Composition, Orchestral/Choral Conducting, and Music History at the Liceo Conservatory of Music, Theatre & Dance. He moved to Cagayan de Oro in 2016, and was tasked to create a music curriculum of European standard.

Since 2017 he has been a Permanent Guest Conductor of the Classic Youth Orchestra in Cebu, then was designated as Principal Conductor of the newly established Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra in 2018. The Maestro was born in Romania but got his music education in Germany. He has also resided in Brazil before coming to the Philippines.

‘The Filipino Baritone’ Maestro Cipriano de Guzman Jr. (left) in a scene from Teatro Savioia’s
The Barber of Seville. (Photo by Rosella de Rosa)

His colleague Professor Cipriano M. de Guzman Jr.  became the first Filipino opera singer in the last 16 years to perform in a fully produced Italian Opera on September 23 &  24, 2023 in the Operastudio Molise’s production of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) at Teatro Savoia in Campobasso, Italy. He teaches voice and theater at the Liceo de Cagayan University Conservatory of Music, Theatre & Dance. He is originally from Pasig City but now resides most of the time in Luxembourg in deference to his numerous stints abroad.

Meantime, in the world of cinema, Joe Bacus, a lumad Kagay-anon, won multiple awards in the 30th edition of  The Filipino Arts & Cinema International (FACINE 30) in San Francisco, Ca., USA with Markado: The Moon Devourer,   the first full-length film to be written, directed and produced in Cagayan de Oro after Lorenzo M. de la Serna’s Sa Imong Lawas ug Dugo decades ago.

Joe Bacus directs camera movement and blocking of actors for the opening sequence of Markado (photo courtesy of Imoortal Productions)

Markado was cited in the following tiered awards: Outstanding Film (Silver); Outstanding Achievement in Direction (Gold, Joe Bacus); Outstanding Achievement in Writing For Film (Silver, Joe Bacus); Outstanding Achievement in Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role (Silver, Jean Stefani Obsiana); Outstanding Achievement in Performance by a Female Actor in a Secondary Role (Silver, Roxan Lood); Outstanding Achievement in Editing (Gold, Joe Bacus); Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design (Gold, Production design: Orpheus Nery; Art direction: Clark Cabantan, Michelle Hollanes Lua, & Jake Vamenta); Outstanding Achievement in Aural Design (Silver, Music: Rotsanjani MojicaNuncyspungen, Switch, & Ace P.; Sound design: RodielI Veloso).

Unveiling of the Cine de Oro Film Festival IV poster.

The same crew behind Markado followed up its stellar achievement by successfully holding Cine de Oro Film Festival IV from December 15-17, 2023 at Karumata, Macasandig and Limketkai Cinemas, Lapasan.

Toni Cañete receives the Golden Giant Fish Award for Best Film in the Main Competition for her film ‘desilya’.

Toni Cañete’s desilya won the  Golden Giant Fish Award for Best Film in the Main Competition (for Kagay-anon filmmakers) besting One Late Evening by Ryan Lao; Ang Pagputol directed by Ela Figura; On My 18th directed by Joseph Marc Salas;  P’Do directed by Fernando Omboy; and  OKRA, IT’S LIFE, directed by Geniny Galo.

 The Golden Giant Fish Award for Best Film – Open Category was won by “Diak Kayat Magna Maisa (I Don’t Want to Walk Alone)” by Mikael Joaquin over nine other entries from all over the country: Ang Pamilyang Maguol (Jermaine Tulbo, a filmmaker and graphics designer from Mindanao); End Times ( Conrad Dela Cruz); Gatas (James Damasin, a Monkayeño writer and filmmaker); Kiang (Mariya Lim, a Cebu-based filmmaker and graduate of the University of San Carlos Cinema Program);  Nalumos Akong Papa sa Sabaw (JP Corton, Ormoc City); Ikaw at Aking Daigdig (Aki Red, Pasay City) HITO (Stephen Lopez, BS Nursing graduate of UST); Congratulations, DX! (Mark Felix Ebreo, an Assistant Director in the MMFF Best Film “Deleter” (2023), and as a Script Continuity Supervisor in “Drag You & Me” and “Her Locket; and, the river that never ends (JT Trinidad, Pandacan, Manila).

The Reuben Canoy Lifetime Achievement Award was posthumously awarded to Philippine film historian, curator and archivist Teddy Co, who passed away recently.

Earlier, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan hosted the Cultural Center of the Philippines hosted Lakbay Cine on October 11-14, 2023 at the Xavier Ateneo Divisoria Campus.

Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts partnered with the CCP Film, Broadcast, and New Media Division featuring the best of Cinemalaya Films, intensive workshops and masterclasses by award-winning filmmakers and actors, and Cine Icons featuring the works of the National Artist Ricky Lee at the XU Little Theater.

The City of Cagayan de Oro was also active in the History and Heritage scene, hosting the National Historical Commission of the Philippines’ (NHCP) 2023 National Conference on Local History and Heritage (NCLHH) in 8-9 August 2023 at the Capitol University Mini-Theater, Cagayan de Oro City, and the Local Historical Committees Network (LHCN) General Assembly at New Dawn Plus Hotel on 10 August 2023.

Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez presents his new book, Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental-Camiguin Historical Trails, to Dr Emmanuel Calairo, Chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, during the closing plenary of the National Conference on Local History and Heritage in Cagayan de Oro City, August 9, 2023. (DCC/PIA-10)

A highlight of the closing plenary of the two day NCLHH was the launching of Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus B. Rodriguez’s new book, Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental-Camiguin History Trail, which lists 37 historical sites in the three locations, at the Ayala Centrio Mall.

Although self-published overseas in California, USA, Gwendolyn Ramos Garcia’s The Amazing Men and Women of Cagayan de Oro City provided snippets of the city’s famous men and women who contributed to its heritage and legacy as “The City of Golden Friendship.”

Ramon Icayan Cabello with the statue of Misamis Gov Apolinar Velez y Ramos outside his house in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental.
(Photo courtesy of Eusebia C. Mendoza)

Not the least, on another historical note, the surviving kin of Don Apolinar Velez honored the late Ramon Icayan Cabello, the forgotten sculptor from Jasaan, Misamis Oriental on August 22, 2023, who sculpted the statue of their ancestor as founder of the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (formerly Misamis High School) and leader of the Kagay-anon revolutionaries of El Mindanao Batallon who vanquished the American invaders in the  Battle of Makahambus Hill. He was also the sculptor for the statue of President Ramon Magsaysay in Plaza Divisoria, and the bust of Girl Scouts of the Philippines Founder Josefa Llanes Escoda in the former provincial office of GSP-Misamis Oriental Council.

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Rising Stars of Oro Sports 2023

Lest this short brief be mistaken as a comprehensive take on Kagay-anons who made us proud in the national and international arena of sports, let me clarify this is just a very short list of those whom I had the honor and privilege to write about.

Furthermore, I chose to write about our young rising stars who are making a name for themselves and our city on the national sports arena, and the much tougher world of international sports.

Foremost among them is  Alethea Paige O. Gaccion, 16, who rose to the top of the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines (JGFP) 15-18 Girls Division, emerging as Champion for the 14th Faldo Series Asian Grand Finals Girls16-and Under Division in Vietnam on April 19-21, 2023, which qualified her to play in the European Grand Finals at the Al Ain Equestrian ang Golf Club, Dubai, UAE on November 21-23, 2023 where she finished as strong second. 

Ally Gaccion, Ladies Junior Division 14-18 yrs champion in the NGAP Mommy Maling Montecillo Junior Open held Dec. 15-17 at the Luisita Golf & Country Club, Inc.

Ally topped the three junior amateur tournaments she competed in: topped the 2023 Ping An Bank Junior Open qualifier July 23, Morongo Golf Club, Beaumont, CA, USA; JPGT Vis-Min (Sept 1), JGFP Mimosa Junior Open at Clark (Sept 8) and NGAP Singha Junior & Amateur Qualifiers at Hacienda Luisita (Sept 15-17). She again topped the Ladies Division of the 3rd National Ranking Game held Sept. 20-23, 2023 at the Changi Golf Club in Singapore, shared a team championship and finished third individually at the  2023 Singha Junior World Championship 15-18 girls October 26-29, Royal Hua hin, Thailand. In her latest tournament, Ally emerged as champion in the Ladies Junior Division 14-18 yrs. age group at the NGAP Mommy Maling Montecillo Junior Open held Dec. 15-17 at the Luisita Golf & Country Club, Inc.

Moises Lois Ilogon won a bronze medal in the 32nd SEA Games held in Cambodia.

Another is Moises Lois Ilogon, a.k.a. The Lion King, won his third straight professional MMA bout on November 3, 2023, in his debut MMA fight with a third round technical knockout on the undercard of ONE Friday Fights 39 at the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand to keep his record spotless at 3-0. He has won the national title for Muay Thai three times, and last competed during the 32nd Southeast Asian Games held 5 to 17 May 2023 in Phnom PenhCambodia where he won a bronze medal. He holds a 37-3 record in Muay Thai.

Francine Madeleine MAGGIE Du Wong with Coach Noel NOWENG Sanchez.

In tennis, Francine Madeleine Wong, a grade 5 student from Kong Hua School rose to become the country’s top ranked tennister in this age group with 860 total points as of June 30, 2023 according to the Philippine Tennis Association (PHILTA) ranking for girls 12-years-and-under. PHILTA rankings are based on the points scored by the player from the 10 best PHILTA she played in plus International Tennis Federation (ITF) points less penalties.
Maggie won 3 championships in the 10-under cateogory in the United States Tennis Assoc tournaments held in Southern California, Consolation Finalist in the 10-under category of the Little Mo Tournament in New Jersey, and finalist in the doubles division 12-under in the Senko Cup in Saitama, Japan. She currently ranks no. 2 in the 12-under age group in the Philippines.

The Cagayan de Oro delegation to the 40th Philippine Columbian Association Open Age Group Championships led by the Philippine Tennis Academy kids.

Maggie was part of the Cagayan de Oro delegation to the 40th Philippine Columbian Association Open Age Group Championships led by the Philippine Tennis Academy (PTA) kids that put up a good showing in the tournament held recently at PCA Sports Club Complex at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila. They came home with a team championship, three singles finalists, eight semi-finalists (5 singles, 3 doubles) and six quarterfinalists (3 singles, 3 doubles). PTA is a grassroots program based in Nazareth Tennis Courts, Bgy. Nazareth, Cagayan de Oro City. 

The Cagayan de Oro Taekwondo Main Gym team with Head Coach & Instructor Engr. Vincent Cecil Orcales and Korean Taekwondo Master Mr. Moon.

In the international martial arts arena, the Cagayan de Oro Taekwondo Main Gym (A Tradition Of Excellence) team garnered 33 medals in the 8th Daejon MDC Cup International Open Taekwondo Championships held at the Taean General Indoor Gymnasium in Taean City, Republic of  Korea from August 11-16, 2023. The Oro Jins medal haul included 12 gold medals, 11 silvers and 10 bronze, punctuated by the feat of Andrew Rynier C. Cinco who emerged as the King of Kings Champion, in the Forms/ Poomsae competition pitting all gold medalists against each other. Some 2,000 jins from 151 teams and 22 countries at home and abroad joined the tournament, including teams from Tahiti, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

The Cagayan de Oro Basketball Federation has been promoting grassroots basketball all over Mindanao for the past 15 years.

Not to forget the Philippines ‘national sport’, Corpus Christi School swept the 16 yrs and under, 13 yrs and under, and 18 yrs and under crowns in dominant form during the finals of the Mayor  Rolando Klarex A. Uy Cup held on May 27, 2023 at the Xavier Estates Court 1, a domination broken only by Liceo de Cagayan University in the Collegiate Finals where Corpus Christi did not field an entry.

CDOBF Federation Sec Gen Pong Dacoco (2nd from left) and President Boy Dacoco (right) during the annual CDOBF Development Interschool Basketball League held last April 24, 2023 at the Nazareth Gymnasium.

The competition was organized by the Cagayan de Oro Basketball Federation which has been promoting basketball in the grassroots for the past 15 years. Headed by the Father-and Son tandem of Multi-Titled Coaches Edgardo E. “Coach Boy” Dacoco as president, and Stephen D. “Coach Pong” Dacoco as secretary general, it has been conducting this inter-school development league, outreach basketball programs, coaches clinics, and other basketball-related activities not only in Cagayan de Oro but in other areas of Mindanao as well, and has a seat in the Board of Directors of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), the national sport association for basketball in the Philippines.

Rudge Sollano, a protege of Coach Boy Dacoco from Sacred Heart of Jesus Montessori School, who now plays for San Beda in the NCAA.

Among the many mentored by Coach Boy over his 30 years as coach (including his stint with ASSET under the late Mayor Pablo “Ambing” Magtajas) are Jio Jalalon, Rey Nambatac, Papot Paredes, Sam Paniamogan, JK Casiño, Dan Sara, Ralph Salcedo, and Rudge Sollano, and many more who made it to the NCAA/UAAP varsity teams in Manila, and went on to shine in the PBA/MPBL pro leagues.

Not the least, and in what may be the grassroots of all grassroots sports in Cagayan de Oro, the Monte Carlo Football Club along Pabayo street which nurtured kids in the ‘hood who made it to the national and international arenas, is revered by local hard-core futbol (or soccer, it you must) aficionados as the cradle which brought forth so many outstanding Kagay-anon futbol players in the past fifty years or so.

Carlo Dorin (3rd from left, front row) with the PH U-23 Football Squad to the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia.

Aldo Cruz Obenza was the first player from Monte Carlo to play in the Philippines National Team in 1982. Carlo Dorin became the latest when he played with the U-23 Azkals in the 32nd South East Asian Games in Cambodia earlier this year.

Other prominent alumni include Jonard G. Fuentes, a former University of Southern Philippines Foundation Athletic Scholar; Wilford Sabella Gayramara, another USPF Scholar, now a Certified International Football Referee in Vietnam; Nicho S. Palarca, former player of PASARGAD FC  National Football Club, qualified for UFL and  won many MVP awards in various tournaments; Globert Patayon, a USTP graduate and now a Math Professor in Thailand; Emiliano Mabalos, known for his skills as one of the best strikers of MCFC; and Julie Ann Gerona-Popovic, who qualified for the university’s Team A during her Sophomore year.

The next generation steps up in the Montecarlo Kids Intercolor Futsal Game held 23 Dec 2023 at Montecarlo, Bgy 12, Pabayo St, Cagayan de Oro. (photo courtesy of Wadhu John Dharamdas)

Although their makeshift pitch has now been fenced by the new owner, and the shanties of the Monte Carlo community behind it have been demolished, the place continues its legacy of raising new talents from the grass roots.

Carlo Dorin (center) with his Montecarlo Proteges Jefferson Sombero (left) and Janjan Galarrita. (photo courtesy of Wadhu John Dharamdas)

The latest talents to go North are Jefferson Sombero, 17, and John Robert Dorin Galarrita,15, who have been accepted int the Great Oak Manor (GOM) Football Academy through the mentorship of Carlo Dorin. 

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Skyscrapers herald coming Gilded Age of Metro Cagayan de Oro

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) projects Cagayan de Oro City to become the Philippines next metropolitan center by 2025 after Manila, Cebu and Davao in its Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.

Based on its projected population growth, strategic location as gateway and logistics hub for Northern Mindanao, and role as a key education center in the south, it is expected to join Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao in serving as the economic and administrative cores of the three main island groups of the country, the NEDA said.

As the regional center and business hub of Northern Mindanao, the emerging Metropolitan Cagayan de Oro area includes the city of El Salvador; fourteen municipalities of Misamis Oriental (AlubijidBalingasagClaveriaGitagumInitaoJasaanLaguindinganLibertadLugaitManticaoNaawanOpolTagoloan, and Villanueva);  and six municipalities of Bukidnon (Manolo FortichBaungonLibonaMalitbogSumilao and Talakag). 

During the latest Philippines Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index, Cagayan de Oro City ranked as the 7th Overall Most Competitive Highly Urbanized City in 2023, up one rank higher than the previous year. The city was 2nd in Resiliency, 5th in Innovation, 7th in Government Efficiency, 7th Most Improved Highly Urbanized City and 8th in Infrastructure.

Long famous for its tagline as the “City of Golden Friendship”, the city could need a new moniker as it attains increasing metropolization, with ever taller skyscrapers as harbingers of a Gilded Age referencing the original suffix of “de Oro.” “The New El Dorado” perhaps?

Rising to new heights

Time was when the VIP Hotel (“The Heart of the City”) was its tallest structure and diners at its Casa Real (earlier known as the Comedor Real) reveled at the panoramic view of the city from its seventh floor, then the highest point in the city.

VIP Hotel

Just a few decades down the road, balik Kagay-anons could hardly believe their eyes at the changes that have risen in the skyline of their beloved city.

Today, the highest existing building in the city and Northern Mindanao is the Avida Towers Aspira Tower 2 of AyalaLand on Ramon Chaves street. Soaring 33 floors high to 115 meters (377 feet), it will surpass its adjacent Avida Towers Aspira Tower 1 (29 floors/105 meters/344 feet) when it is completed this year.

Ranked third is the  Loop North Tower at Limketkai Center whose 26 floors rise to 92 meters (302 feet). It is Vista Residences‘ first high-rise development outside Metro Manila.

Rounding out the top five tallest buildings is the 24-floor Avida Centrio Tower (83 meters/272 feet) which became the city’s first high-rise condominium when it was completed in 2016, and Limketkai Luxe Hotel with 19 stories (78 meters/256 feet), still the tallest and biggest hotel in Cagayan de Oro.

SM CDO Downtown Tower

Special mention must be made of the SM CDO Downtown Tower whose 12 stories (75 meters/246 feet) makes it the tallest existing office building in Cagayan de Oro, and New Dawn Plus Hotel which is approximately the same height although with 20 stories as the second tallest hotel in the city.

Skyscrapers in the Metro

Now while these structures may look awesome to those who have not previously seen buildings this tall, it still doesn’t quite cut it as skyscrapers are currently defined.

Buildings that range between 10 and 20 floors are traditionally the measure for a building to qualify as a skyscraper, but as advances were made in construction, the metrics to be considered a skyscraper has risen to 150-meters (492-foot) minimum, though there is no universally defined minimum height. In the past, the word ‘skyscraper’ was also applied to buildings with just 10 stories.

Thus, the upcoming projects still to come should merit the name better, none perhaps more than Limketkai Luxe Hotel Tower 2 with its 36 floors topping off at 160 meters (520 feet).

As of this time, Limketkai Center in Barangay Lapasan and Pueblo de Oro Township in Uptown Cagayan de Oro seem to be the choice locations of these behemoths, like The Loop South Tower (26 stories/92 meters/302 feet) for the former, and Primavera City Città Alta (32 stories/95 meters/312 feet) in the latter.

Unique even among these upcoming projects is Pueblo de Oro’s Masterson Mile North Towers. Designed by renowned international architects Gensler and Associates from Singapore and Casas+Architects, it is composed of five buildings spanning 22 to 27 floors, calling to mind the iconic  Rockefeller Center of New York City.

A large complex consisting of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres (89,000 m2) between 48th Street and 51st Street in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City, Rockefeller Center initially consisted of  14 Art Deco buildings, commissioned by the Rockefeller family, that span the area between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, split by a large sunken square and a private street called Rockefeller Plaza.

Bird’s Eye view of the Rockefeller Center. (image from https://roamandthrive.com/)

Later additions include 75 Rockefeller Plaza across 51st Street at the north end of Rockefeller Plaza, and four International Style buildings on the west side of Sixth Avenue.

Spreading the Love

But as the metropolitan area grows, high rise projects are already spawning outside the two aforementioned enclaves.

At the junction of C.M. Recto Avenue and R.N. Pelaez Boulevard, Cebu Landmasters, Inc. (CLI) is putting up Casa Mira Tower 2 (27 floors/87 meters/285 feet) and Casa Mira Tower 1 (23 floors/74 meters/243 feet), two  high rise residential condominiums.

Further west along the national highway, Ayala Land is constructing Habini Bay, a P15-billion, 526-hectare new growth center within the municipalities of Alubijid and Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental anchored by an industrial park to be managed by Laguna Technopark Inc. (LTI), one of the country’s foremost industrial estate developers which brought in leading manufacturers of electronics, automotive, pharmaceuticals, and consumer products. Affordable residential developments will also be built in the estate, together with mixed-use commercial lots.

On the opposite direction of the same national highway, the 14-hectare Valley View Township and 7-hectare Nirvana Village projects in Sta. Ana, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental are set to begin soon.

Architect’s Perspective of Valley View Township

Valley View Township is a shelter initiative of the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) under President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino (4PH) Housing Program, which seeks to address the 6.5 million housing backlog in the country. To be constructed by RGJ Realty Corporation, the multi-billion peso township project to be financed by SHFC is expected to benefit workers in Tagoloan and nearby areas, including employees in the municipality’s 3,000-hectare PHIVIDEC Industrial Park.

Each of the 25 residential condominium towers in the township will consist of 13 floors with 32 units at each level. To give future residents adequate options tailored to their needs, each building offers a mix of 25 and 27 square meter-units. Valley View Townships is expected to be completed within the next three years.

Nirvana Village architect’s perspective courtesy of RGJ Realty Corporation

Adjacent to this will be Nirvana Village, an upscale multi-tower high-end residential condominium project by RGJ Realty Corporation within a 7-hectare area with 39 12-story towers.

Looking forward

In a recent media forum, the National Economic Development Authority’s Region X office reported that Northern Mindanao’s (Region X) economy grew by 7.2 percent in 2022, with total Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) valued at P935-billion (at constant 2018 prices).

The National Economic and Development Authority-10 held the Northern Mindanao Socioeconomic Media Forum in Cagayan de Oro City, on December 13, 2023 with the participation of members of the media.
(Photo: SAYU/PIA-10)

In nominal terms, the region joined the ranks of trillion-peso regional economies registering P1.07 trillion in total output at current prices last year.

Cagayan de Oro City recorded the highest growth rate among its provinces and highly urbanized cities, with a Provincial Product Account valued at P935,299, 921 (in constant 2018 prices), and expanding at 9.4 percent in 2022.

It accounted for 28% of the region’s GRDP in 2022, closely followed by Bukidnon with 27% and a Provincial Product Account valued at P248,750,303 (at constant 2018 princes).

NEDA-X is targeting the regional economy to attain an annual economic growth of 6.5% -8.0% for 2025-2028.

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Default photo: CAG_Skyline_By Chicco111 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84020540

Pueblo de Oro, Del Monte host 75th Diamond Edition of PAL Interclub Golf Championships

Philippine Airlines has selected Cagayan de Oro and Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon as the twin venues for the Diamond Anniversary Edition of the Philippine Airlines Interclub golf team championships to be held on February 19-March 4, 2024.

Hosting the tournament are Northern Mindanao’s two premier golf course – Pueblo de Oro Golf & Country Club, situated on a 350-meter plateau in the plush Uptown Cagayan de Oro, and Del Monte Golf and Country Club, set within the famous Del Monte pineapple plantation in nearby Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

Acknowledged as the longest-running and biggest amateur team golf championship in the Philippines, the Philippine Airlines Interclub Golf Tournament (also known as the PAL Interclub) has previously been hosted four times in the past (2000, 2004, 2007  and 2011) by the two famous golf courses, a choice hailed by some of the country’s leading golf clubs.

Defending Champion Manila Southwoods, Cebu Country Club, and defending seniors’ champion Luisita, were among the previous champions who expressed their delight over the choice of the venue. During the 64th PAL Interclub held here in 2011, local favorite Del Monte garnered the championship.

MEMBERS of the Manila Southwoods team that won the 74th Philippine Airlines Men’s Interclub golf team championships in Cebu. From left: Gabriel Manotoc, Ryan Monsalve, Lanz Uy, Masaichi Otake, Santino Laurel, Coby Rolida, Josh Jorge, team captain Thirdy Escano, Southwoods golf director Jerome Delariarte, Kristoffer Arevalo and Shinichi Suzuki.(Photo by Alan Tangcawan via PAL Interclub PR)

It was participated by a record 167 teams: 89 in the seniors division including eight new entries from overseas :Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Vancouver, Guam, Saipan and Tokyo; and a further 78 teams in the regular Interclub event that included 31 international contenders including newcomers from Nevada, Los Angeles, Dubai, Tokyo and Nagoya; and reinstated teams from Sydney, San Francisco and Washington, D.C..

Host cities have welcomed the PAL Interclub for the huge boost to local tourism it brings as thousands of golfers and their families, friends, and media from around the country and overseas converge and enjoy local destinations, bringing welcome revenues to hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, resorts, transportation services, tour agents, to mention a few.

This was recently acknowledged by no less than Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco during the inaugural golf tourism summit held recently at Grand Hyatt Manila as the Department of Tourism (DOT) positions the Philippines as a global hub for sports tourism, including golf.

GOLF TOURISM. Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco grants a media interview on the sidelines of the inaugural Philippine Golf Tourism Summit in Taguig in Nov. 28, 2023. The summit aims to stir conversation and develop golf tourism as a new tourism product of the Philippines. 
(PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

“Today marks the Philippines’ long overdue foray into the multi-billion golf tourism industry that will no doubt have an enormous impact on the Philippine economy. And it’s about time that the government and the private sector come together to converge and to collaborate,” Frasco noted.

The Philippines has over 100 golf courses spread across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, with Santa Barbara Golf Course in Iloilo Province deemed as the oldest, which was built in 1907, thus, making the country a home to one of the oldest golf courses in Asia.

“Golf tourism represents a promising frontier for the Philippines and this summit highlights our proactive approach in understanding, nurturing, listening to the golf tourism industry and developing this niche as part of our tourism industry portfolio,” Secretary Frasco said.

The host courses

The Del Monte Golf Course, operated by Del Monte Philippines, Inc., is located within the vast Del Monte Plantation in the highlands of Bukidnon. It is composed of 18 holes set on an undulating land of well-kept verdant roughs and fairways.

Located approximately 600 meters above sea level, the weather is perpetually moderate to cool. Features of the golf course include challenging fairways lined with trees on both sides, sand traps and man-made lakes which call for accurate drives. Large and tricky greens likewise provide a good bite to green shots. The course calls for very accurate shots.

The par 3 12th often dubbed as the Waterloo Hole needs a carry of 210 yards over water. The 16th, the Warnes Hole, was aptly named when one of Del Monte’s executives Thomas Warne sent 36 balls into the lake in 1938.

A warm-up at the scenic countryside driving range sets the golfer ready for a sloping front nine. The relatively flatter back nine around the 5-hectare Cawayanon lake should keep one challenged until he finally gets through the 18th for a glass of cold pineapple juice drink and the juicy Del Monte steak at the Clubhouse.

Designed by Robert Trent Jones II, Pueblo Golf is the first world-class, all-weather championship golf course in Cagayan de Oro. Wide fairways fan out from the clubhouse, weaving their way along broad ridges lined by deep ravines. It is an all-weather, 18-hole golf course. The two nines are divided by a deep ravine which adds challenge and beauty.

Watch out for strategically placed yawning bunkers and the love grass. The course is a par 72, and is 6,974 yards from the championship tees. Soft spikes required.

The complex layout will challenge players of all skill levels. The 4th and 13th Holes are Pueblo’s signature holes, featuring daunting natural ravines. Pueblo Golf is ranked one of the Top Five courses in the country by Golfing Philippines, the only course to garner such ranking in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Being an all-weather golf course, it is playable the whole year round. It is also environmentally sound, featuring five inter-connected lakes from which recycled water is drawn to water the course – an effective means to conserve water.

Pueblo Golf has played host to a number of major tournaments such as the PAL Interclub, the Rotary International Foundation golf tournament, the Southern Ladies Club, and many others.

“It has been a long wait that we would be given the opportunity again to showcase our golf course, which was recognized as one of Inquirer Golf’s Top 25 golf courses in the Philippines for 2022, and of course, the host city – Cagayan de Oro, the warmth and hospitality of its people,” said Chrysler B. Acebu, Pueblo Golf Vice-Chairman. “When the confirmation came last September 14, we were overwhelmed with delight that finally, the PAL Interclub which is known as the country’s largest and most prominent golf team competition will have its “homecoming” next year.”

Preparations

Pueblo de Oro and Del Monte golf clubs are now deep in preparations for the seminal event

“The Club is still in the process of finalizing the preparations in coordination with the PAL committee and Pueblo Golf as our co-host for the tournament,” said Armin S. Narciso, Del Monte Golf President. “Team selection to represent Del Monte Golf Club is also part of the preparations.”  

“We are now putting the greens and fairways in tournament shape,” said Roberto Wapaño, Del Monte Golf Chairman. “A team from PAL was here earlier last week to do an ocular inspection and found everything to their satisfaction. We are currently doing classifications for our senior and regular teams. As one of the hosts, we are entitled to field two teams and we want to put on a strong showing since it is our home course.”

During the last time it hosted the event in February 2011 for the 64th PAL Interclub, the Del Monte team won the championship division by 18 points over Cebu Country Club and Canlubang, the second time it won after ruling the 2004 staging.

The Del Monte team whoops it up at the Pueblo de Oro Golf Clubhouse after bagging the 64th PAL Interclub championship in 2011.

With Noel Langamin’s five birdies accounting for 37 points, Del Monte unseated five-time champion Canlubang and zipped past Cebu Country Club in the final round with 141 points for a four day total of 535. Leonardo Lofranco and Vince Lusterio chipped in 36 and 35 points, respectively, with reigning national champion Clyde Mondilla rounding out Del Monte’s scoring with 33.

Meantime, participants and their families who wish to enjoy the sights and delights of  Manolo Fortich can now book their accommodations with the new and existing hotels in the vicinity such as the MF SuitesJejem’s Traveller’s Inn, and Golfitel (Dream Residences), according to Jixon Cloyd Abanes, Municipal Tourism Officer.

“Pueblo Golf is committed to bringing to the participants world-class golfing experience. And to put our money where our mouth is, we have allocated about P12-million for the major upgrading of our golf course and club facilities such as replacement of bunker sand with silica sand, renovation of locker rooms, tee houses and the driving range,” Acebu noted.

“Just recently, the club beefed up its maintenance equipment fleet which would allow us to achieve healthy turf conditions for our greens and fairways. I’m glad that everyone in the club including our Golf Council headed Mr Allan Sagrado, share the same enthusiasm and dedication to make our club a regular golfing destination. All told, we should be ready to take on hosting big tournaments such as the PAL Interclub,” he added.

Similarly, the Cagayan de Oro Hotel and Restaurant Association (COHARA) are already preparing for the much anticipated event.

“We already had a zoom meeting with PAL and sent them our hotel members accommodation rates last month,” said Nollie Arguelles, COHARA Executive Officer. “As per PAL, golf players will directly be booking with their preferred hotels and our hotels do have bookings already.”

Ready? Set? Fore!

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