First-time in Cagayan de Oro City
All of my trips to this southern Philippine city had always been for business. My first visit to Cagayan de Oro City, or CDO, as most Filipinos refer to it, was a decade ago when I was there to hold a training workshop with the local affiliates of the organization where I used to work with. Despite the fact that I had never been to this place during that time, I traveled alone as the advance party; an irony, now that I think about it.
As I got to the airport, I tried to exude confidence as I haggled with the taxi driver, to avoid being scammed. Finally, he gave in and he took me to my hotel. Little did I know that the airport was too far from the city center. In fact, it was situated at the elevated area way off the city proper. I think I bargained a lot for that long taxi ride.
When I arrived at my hotel, I immediately called some local contacts, including a college friend who lived in the next city. As soon as I finished with all the preparations, my friend met up with me and brought me to the local mall, LimKetKai. While walking and chatting at the mall, we bumped into another college acquaintance and she was surprised to see us at CDO since my friend and I were not from that place.
I instantly liked the mall. Some of the stores were located outdoors and not everything was housed in a giant air-conditioned building. It was modern with a provincial touch that made the ambiance friendlier than the ones we have in the capital. There was an al fresco area, but I think the mall has developed over the years since the first time I was there.
I was glad I had that extra time with my friend because the day after, the workshop participants, including colleagues from our national office, started arriving. One of our hosts brought us for dinner at a steak house. The restaurant was dimly lit and cozy with a Western feel, which, for a moment, made me forget that I was in the Philippines. The dinner was sumptuous and we all had our fill.
What I liked about CDO were the unique and interesting eateries in the city. Every time I go to this city, I would always eat in a fascinating restaurant. Another time, I had dinner in an Italian-inspired jaunt. One of my favorite coffee shop was Gazebo Café, because apart from the mouthwatering desserts and snacks, I also liked the ambiance and the home products they were selling at their cute tiny store, adjoining the café.
The last time I visited CDO, again on a business trip and alone, I took my breakfast in this homey eating place where I also did a little shopping of beautiful household accessories and fashion trinkets. While waiting for my food to be served, I picked out a large native bag and a mat, among other things, paid for it and went back to the adjoining room where my order was invitingly sitting on the table. The Shrimp Linguine was simply delectable while I sipped the Carrot Citrus shake. How I loved it!
Another interesting thing about my CDO trips, I never stayed there for more than three days. But I would always come home with a handmade clay pot or a household item could adorn my apartment.
I hope someday I’d be able to come back to CDO, for the nth time, and try the white water rafting adventure.
Nevertheless, my first time was always memorable. It made me feel at home in CDO. That time I was there on my first trip, I didn’t worry that I wasn’t able to tour the whole city. I knew in my heart that I would keep coming back to this place after that initial visit. And I would surely visit LimKetKai again…and explore more restaurants…and do the white water rafting…and shop more. The list is endless.