27 Oct The Oldest Stories in Cagayan de Oro That Are Still Making the Rounds in Each Passing Generation
Young or old, rich or poor, baby boomers, new wave generation, generation X, or millennials, each and every Cagayanon has heard some old stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Some of these stories may border on the fantastic, but some have endured simply because they are the stuff of truths, real events, and existing myths.
These stories will always start from a certain generation and makes its way through many years. While a variety of versions may eventually emerge, the basic premise of these stories will always remain at hand, and will always be talked about by every generation. You might even have heard these stories during family gatherings, from your circle of close friends at school, or from the people gathered while drinking at the neighborhood sari-sari stores.
Those Old School Ghost Stories
Anyone going through college in the city’s universities and colleges would have heard those old ghost stories involving the school’s oldest buildings (It’s always the old buildings with ghost stories, isn’t it?). Some people would even insist that their school had the spookiest ghost stories of all. They can speak for themselves because the spookiest ghost sightings in the city actually caused the closing of a school annex.
In the mid 1980’s, Southern Philippines College (SPC) – at that time called Southern de Oro Philippines College – had a school annex at an old building in Cogon Market facing what is now the new cogon market complex for late afternoon and evening secondary and tertiary classes.
After a few years however, the annex was closed. The reason? Class attendance was falling almost to near zero because of continuous ghost sightings inside the annex. Everything from doors opening and closing by themselves, water faucets turning on by themselves, flying books, sudden screams, actual ghost sightings, and even whole classes hearing crying and sobbing sounds were being experienced on a regular basis by students, teachers, and employees alike. At one point, almost a whole class was possessed by spirits and had to be exorcised. Remarkably, a few years after the SPC annex was closed, the old building was torn down and replaced. Whether the ghosts had anything to do with that remains a mystery, and so do those sightings.
The Mindanao Independence Movement
In 1987, frustrated by the continuous practice of the Manila leadership ignoring the plight of the economy in Mindanao, then former mayor Reuben R. Canoy formed the Mindanao Independence Movement that advocated complete secession from the Philippines. The movement called for the formation of the “Republic of Mindanao” with a coalition government that would hold all Christians, Muslims, and indigenous tribes on equal footing. The armed forces would be a mixture of all the cultural races. Mr. Canoy even created samples of a new monetary currency for the new republic. Unfortunately, though many Cagayanons did find the idea tasteful, the timing for such an idea was a bit off since the Marcoses were just toppled from power and a new government was in power. Eventually the movement lost momentum and died a natural death. One wonders if this same idea would flourish now with better technology and social media.
The Giant Fish Tale
Probably every Cagayanon has heard of the old tale of the giant fish that is supposed to inhabit the Cagayan River and underneath the city’s water trenches. Up until the 1990’s, an old stone tablet could be found at the concrete fence of the St. Joseph’s Garden at the St. Augustine Cathedral. It depicts a giant fish swallowing a hapless American priest. Interestingly, this tablet has since been transferred at the back of the Archbishop’s Palace and away from public view. Some say there is a legend that the city is sitting on the back of a giant fish and that every time this fish moves is the cause of earthquakes in the area. Of course, every paleontologist and geologist knows of the existence of CDO’s underground water trenches and that this city’s foundation is actually quite weak due to this. Perhaps that fish is still swimming down there.
RMN and the Movie Industry
Henry Canoy and Radio Mindanao Network almost gave Cagayan de Oro and Mindanao its successful venture into the movie industry. When RMN and DXCC was founded in 1961, the network expanded so fast to other parts of Mindanao that soon it became the only Mindanao network to set up shop in Manila. Reuben R. Canoy then partnered with Henry to establish a local film company in 1970 under Canoy Productions. Their first film was in Tagalog, Sa Dulo ng Kris, starring Joseph Estrada and Vic Vargas. The supporting cast were all native Cagayanons. Their second film was in Visayan, Sa Imong Lawas ug Dugo, the screenplay was written and the film directed by Lorrie de la Serna. Unfortunately, after this second film, the company folded up.
Stories from the Oldest Store in the City
Every Cagayanon knows about Wadhu’s Quality Store, and so many stories have emanated about this store from each generation. That story of the oldest cash register in the city is true. It’s a 1931 NCR cash register bought from the Sears and Roebuck mail order from the U.S. During World War II the owner wrapped it grease and buried it in his backyard. After the war he dug it up and to this day it still works even as the new store is being run by the owner’s grandson, Haresh. In 1936, Wadhu Dharamdas Uttamchandani set up the first “Wadhu’s Home of Quality” in Plaza Divisoria, his products coming from the mail order Sears and Roebuck. The store survived World War II and Wadhu even married Trinidad Babiera Valmores from Balingasag in 1943.
They had two children, Wadhu “Dodong” Jr. and Linda. In 1946 Wadhu’s reopened in a new location near the public market also in Divisoria and moved to the next block after two years, finally settling in its present location in 1958 at the corner of Pabayo and J.R. Borja Streets when the public market was moved by then Mayor Justiniano Borja to the Cogon area. Dodong took over in 1973. Dodong’s son, Haresh, is now at the helm, although when he uses the old NCR cash register and it rings up a sale of P99.00, it can go no further, so he needs to use a calculator. That this store and its stories can live for almost 80 years is a testament not only of the store’s founder’s spirit but of the spirit and persistence of the Cagayanon as well.
These are some of the popular stories that every Kagay-anons have heard about from family and friends. While they may bear truth or not, who knows they might have happened before and eventually become a part of our history? Stories have become a part of our lives, sometimes we share them for laughs, for ‘trips’ and sometimes just because we feel we belong to a group if we know these stories. We belong to the Kagay-anon story!