Saturday, September 09, 2006, 8:07 PM
Here is where Smallville started
Cagayan de Oro has two faces.
She is the memory.
She is the place.

Cagayan de Oro the memory begins usually in late afternoons, when a sturdy old man backs an old Ford out of the garage and interrupts a full-blown Olympics of kiddie games and asks a particular litter with soiled feet, scabbed knees and runny noses to hop in for a trip to the city bakery.
It flashes over to a port and a harbor, where Gramps, the sturdy old man, leaves the children for a while to check on the day’s log of ships that have come and gone, and those coming and going.
Those were the days when the pier was clean and muscled, dark-skinned port hands could still be trusted with the life of even an infant child.
There is something poetic about the coming and going of ships that draws the boy, hot pan de coco in hand, into sitting at the edge of the pier, his feet dangling over the lapping sea water below him. He inhales the scent. Exhaust from the ships are not enough to ruin the fragrance.
He watches little chugging pilot boats escort big ships out into the horizon and his young mind tries to grasp the meaning of it all, the coming and the going and how they seem to reflect the relentless cycle of sunrises and sunsets that make the summer stretch almost endlessly.
It continues to Sunday mornings with kids running and screaming from the church all the way back to the house, getting ready for a day at the beach.
Under the bright sun, it seems like the whole world converges weekly into this tiny patch of sandy beachfront, the whole universe playing patintero in the sand and holding its breath underwater. Daredevil boys seek out the hidden river that spills itself into the sea and crossing its width while retelling legends of river creatures guarding lost treasures and feasting on naughty, overeager kids.

But Cagayan de Oro the place is all dressed up and ready to go nowadays, like every other city overtaken by progress. There’s a fenced in golf course now on the plateau that used to be an open field guarded only by willowy cogon grass, where kids would fly kites and call each other names.
Malls have sprouted and brought with them the Big City indifference that make you yearn for those mom and pop grocery stores where you can purchase freshly-sharpened pencils even if you’re a couple of pesos short of the tag price and come back the next day to pay what you lacked.
Bars and video arcades have stolen teens and pre-teens from afternoon sessions of agawan-base, beach patintero and gang-biking.
The main river with chocolatish water that splits the city into two parts sewn together by a pair of quiet bridges is no longer alive with clandestine post-school splashes made by bronzed kids on a pre-home stopover.
And people now shrug off the legend that sleeps at its depths.
The bustling port no longer has its quiet moments, when a young kid can sit on the edge of the pier and watch big boats disappear into sunsets.

And in each return to Cagayan de Oro, the place and the memory, it seems, are tugged farther apart.

Sometimes, though, you get lucky.
And Cagayan de Oro the place, sheds off her clothes and allows you a peek at the naked simplicity of Cagayan de Oro, the memory.
And you sit by an open window, listening as the wind whispers her secrets into it. When all of a sudden, the moment just turns out perfect and it fuses both the memory and the place as one. Then you can close your eyes, feel the feathery tickle of the breeze against your face and catch the faint scent of sea water and freshly-baked pan de coco and hear echoes of distant yet endless summer laughters.


Because someone asked about Cagayan de Oro
 
posted by Kal-El
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