With “Cagaiang” now appearing on official Spanish maps as a Reduccion, it was only a matter of time before the Spaniards would eventually consolidate and then enlarge its areas of influence in and around Cagayan. For navigational purposes between the 1730’s to the late 1740’s, Cagaiang would often appear on navigational maps as “Fort San Jose” as a reminder that it was once the stronghold of Fray Agustin and this wooden fort held out against numerous Muslim attacks in the past. Officially, political administration of Cagayan still fell under the influence of the Alcalde of Cebu.
Because of some minor Muslim raids that began to escalate again in the 1730’s, the wooden fort in Cagayan was rebuilt as a stone fort. It had a square shape that occupied more than 80 square feet with two strategic embankments of 80 square feet and 50 square feet. The fort was provided with two cannons, 8 muskets, 15 harquebuses, and more than 900 lead bullets and cannon balls as well as variations of crossbows and other anti-siege weapons. This Cagayan fort was enough to dictate the political landscape of the mid to late 1700’s to the point that all other Reduccions and towns up to Surigao fell under the jurisdiction of Cebu. A small fleet in Iligan comprising 11 galleons completed the defense of Cagayan and nearby territories.
It is unfortunate that of all stone forts that existed around the Philippines, the Cagayan “San Jose Fort” was eventually destroyed in the late 1800’s for the further expansion of Cagayan town. Had this fort been allowed to exist, Cagayan de Oro would have had a central tourist attraction similar to the forts now preserved in Cebu, Zamboanga, and Ozamis.
In 1818 Cagayan ceased to be under Cebu jurisdiction. The Segundo Distrito de Misamis was established comprising today’s Misamis Oriental and parts of territories in Misamis Occidental, Lanao, Zamboanga del Norte, Camiguin, Bukidnon, and northern Cotabato. Cagaiang was also officially changed to Cagayan de Misamis to become the capital of the 2nd District of Misamis. In 1841, Jose Corrales became alcalde mayor of Misamis. Eventually his descendants would settle down in Cagayan and would marry into the local population, establishing the Corrales clan in Cagayan de Oro.
In an 1838 census, Misamis had over 113,625 Christian inhabitants. Of these, 12,000 were living in and around the territories in Cagayan town. However, more than half of this population were migrants from Luzon and Cebu who saw business opportunities in Cagayan and the surrounding territories. Among these migrants who came to settle permanently in Cagayan and eventually establish lineages were the Velez, Rivera, Roa, San Jose, Ramiro, dela Rosa, Baz, and Gaerlan clans. And because of their new Christianized names, the Neri and Samporna clans would also proliferate in Cagayan town.
Trade and Communications Opens Up the World to Kagay-anons
With the constant improvement of the road network from Misamis to other districts and territories, Kagay-anons could now travel to and fro in terms of trading and leisure travelling. In addition, riverine craft of all manner now went to and fro for trading as well, particularly to the inner parts of Bukidnon and other territories. The towns of Iligan and Jasaan became the main ports for mailboats and ships plying the regular weekly and monthly routes to and from Cebu, Manila, Mambajao, and Oroquieta. Business opportunities opened up for trading in sugar, corn, abaca, coffee, rice, textiles, and other goods, particularly those that came from Spain, Europe, and Mexico.
Cagayan de Misamis town began to grow as a small harbor was built along Burgos Street while markets, stores, and more houses began to proliferate along this street due to its proximity to the river and its port. The church was significantly enlarged. With the discovery of a special form of clay soil in parts of Carmen and Bulua, these areas became the center of the town’s new trade, the local pottery industry. Migrant families from Cebu, particularly the Tagapulot, Cartagena, and Glema clans, were the first to exploit the business opportunities of clay pottery. Using the Iponan River as a trading point, river craft then sailed to Burgos or to Jasaan to deliver pottery goods for trading to middlemen.