Wednesday, September 9, 2009

'Oroquieta City', A Misnomer?

What comes to mind when you hear about a city and capital of a province at that? Traffic? Bustling business activities here and there? Hectic life? Noisy vehicles? Towering buildings and sprawling malls? Beggars? If you say yes to any or all of those, then Oroquiea is not a city! And mind you, it has been a city just 3 months short of 4 decades as of my visit!

Why did I go to Oroquieta anyway?
Well, for lack of anything more to do in Ozamiz, that is. But choosing to go and see Oroquieta was not a random thing. I did some little if quick thinking during breakfast hehe. I was in Misamis Occidental and its capital is the city of Oroquieta, so I would naturally want to at least peep, right? If I considered Ozamiz City a bustling hive of various activities, I would probably want to see how the capital is, right? Here’s one thing more I saw on the web… it has for once been declared the capital of this country by Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmena, Sr. – o alam nyo yan?!

So I had enough reason to go and see what is Oroquieta now, right? And here are my notes…

“Oh my…” that was all I could silently exclaim when I arrived at Oroquieta City. What a silent place. Its even desolate if compared to most cities in this country. Almost felt like I walked into the town of Alegria in Cebu hehe! Everywhere I go there was little indication of human or even animal activity. And most everywhere are trees, their leaves swaying to the getnle breeze of a hot and humid Sunday. I kept silently asking, "where is everyone?". I saw some stores big and small, there was even something that looked like a mall, but people were just too few. Well, one or two internet cafes had kids on video games, but even them were few compared to most cities. Aren’t all cities even more alive on Sundays where everyone has a chance to go out? Well, maybe the whole of Oroquieta went somewhere when I visited hehe!

The plaza. Yep, that’s where I headed immediately upon arrival. Only about 5 kids I saw playing in a tree house. Its nice big tree house in the breezy park. It’s a nice big park and I wondered why virtually no people liked it on a Sunday. There’s the famous bandstand and the kids told me it was called a “kiosko”. I asked them what it was for and they told me a word that would probably be “pahingahan” in Tagalog. Oh okay! And there’s an imitation of the Eiffel Tower that I really wondered what for. Well yes, Jose Rizal stands in idle at the center of the quiet park, and below him is the bust of Ramon B. Neri.

I walked to the church. Argh, it was closed. So I marveled at it from under the shades of the trees across in the park. I wondered who made that church and when. While it is big as is the usual size of many a church, its simplistic in design and almost nothing really to call your mom about. The fa├žade is even asymmetric and looks like it was made by inexperienced designers and builders hehe. BUT, that is exactly what makes the Holy Rosary Church of Oroquieta memorable to me. Maybe in the past it was something made of stone or coral blocks and succeeding priests in their efforts to maintain or “beautify” it, caused the church posterior to look like so hehe! Checked out both sides perchance there’d be an open door… none. All entrances were locked and on a Sunday! Oh my…

As I couldn’t see anything of the church insides, that big hand of a monument carrying a cross beside this church naturally caught my mesmerized attention. Actually its not just big, its enormous! The cross reaches to about half the height of their belfry. And looking at it, I get a creepy feeling that it is some giant priest buried underground with only his extended hands carrying the cross exposed. Ah, in such a silent and breezy place without people, that monument to me is eerily bizarre! Hahaha, honestly, my feeling as I moved about was that those hands would suddenly swat me like a fly with that cross! Oh my imaginations! The thing about that monument is that those hands are rather realistic in proportion and color, so there is something playing at the back of your mind that it is alive hehehe! Then what? As it tries to swat you and you run all over the place like Speedy Gonzalez, some omnipresent voice starts saying "you, you sinner you! *splat, splat, whack, shwoosh, splat* ah hehehe!

Next I walked to their city hall. Of course it was quiet too. If the church on a Sunday was quiet, how much more the city hall. Something I noticed with that city hall. It’s nameless hehe! While in other towns or cities the names of the localities are like screaming in size, well, in Oroquieta, there is none! Apallingly unique hehe! I even tried looking at the back lest I was facing the rear potion of the building. None, and no, I was really up front as it even faces the basketball court and park. There is just really no name there. I wonder! But the ABC Gym has big bold red letterings pronouncing it to be so! Is there a DEF Gym or GHIJKLMNOP Gym? Anyway, at a cramped corner beyond the ABC Gym looked like new developments where there’s an obviously new building that looked like a row-house compound. That might probably be their new city hall! Ay hihi, I like this place. But to the right of the city hall, after the post office is a new Land Registration Authority little building that is properly nomenclatured, and it sits by the water!

The water, yes the sea! Ah, this has so far been the best of Oroquieta for me! They made their breakwater some kind of a concrete boardwalk with a great view of the Panguil Bay and the vast blue sea. Very cozy and really refreshing to sit by the breezy park under the trees, just looking out into the open sea. Nice place! But I wondered where people were. Didn’t/don't they like this place? Its priceless!

I walked about to look for lunch. There are Sr. Pedro, Kamayan Sa Oro and Ogis Lechon Manok beside each other facing the park and the city hall. But none was open! A few more steps there was Chooks and newly opened, but then again, its chicken to go and I needed a place to sit and eat lunch. Onwards, and going back to the other end of the beautiful “boulevard” with a vew, there was a row of turo-truro stalls and I stumbled upon one that was open and with food. Hay salamat! Now I had more energy to continue roaming the capitol.

The capitol is a trike ride away. It sits far from city center. And as can be expected… if the city hall, church and city park were quiet, well, silence at the capitol was defeaning! It felt like I was in a memorial park hehe. But actually, I do like it and am happy to realize that there is still a city where you can truly have peace and quiet. The capitol’s building is almost like any other but this one is a bit on the slim type. Even the pillars are quite payat. But mind you, this one won as the best capitol in the country some years back hehe!

Ah nothing else to see in the city center for me, so I decided to head back to the bus terminal excited to see MOAP. Oops, but this quiet bus terminal sits beside some kind of wharf for smaller fishing vessels. And some boys were having fun swimming and diving from them boats. I stayed on watching them while waiting for my bus to depart.

Oroquieta … a city and capital of a province to many, but to me its one "rural place" to go when you want to get away from all the urban jungle that is the metropolis. Maybe this is why folks in Oroquieta call their place a "city of good life"!

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