About Cagayan de Oro City
Mindanao’s Golden City
Cagayan De Oro City is Northern Mindanao’s catalyst for regional development
If one is to go by travel advisories, then Mindanao is by no means an attractive destination. But to one who has actually been there, it will be nothing short of naivete to make such a sweeping generalization of the state of this vast area which comprises, alongside Luzon and Visayas, the Philippine archipelago.
Cagayan de Oro city-at-a-glance
Though Mindanao has made the news headlines here and abroad for the Abu Sayyaf kidnappings and other local insurgencies, most of its provinces are actually sites of tranquility and progress, where local inhabitants and foreign visitors peacefully go about their daily business.
Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) is one outstanding example of a peaceful and progressive place in Northern Mindanao – top that with a year-round typhoon free climate. It is actually known as the “City of Golden Friendship.” And the whole of Northern Mindanao (Region 10) is counting on it to be the region’s catalyst for development, as it is fast evolving into the most promising economic center, tourist destination, and convention center in Southern Philippines.
CDO is the provincial capital of Misamis Oriental. An hour-and-a-half plane ride from Metro Manila, and a 35-minute plane trip from Davao City, it serves as the main entry point to Northern Mindanao, and the jump-off point for excursions in Camiguin Island, Bukidnon, and Marawi City.
Cagayan De Oro’s name was derived from the word cagaiang, the name given by the Spanish colonizers to the settlement’s river because of its close similarity to the Cagayan River in Cagayan Valley in Luzon. When the Spanish colonizers found gold in the riverbeds of Cagayan in the mid-16th century, the words “de Oro,” meaning ‘golden’ were attached to its name.
With its low-cost and reliable energy source, ample air and sea ports, modern road networks, and rich reservoir of quality human resources conversant in both English and Tagalog – a factor of the city’s large middle income group and high literacy rate – it is no surprise that Cagayan De Oro is host to a robust manufacturing sector comprised of multinationals, as well as major local companies.
Known old-timers in the city are Nestle Philippines, which manufactures milk and chocolate products; Del Monte Philippines (pineapple, ketchup, and tomato products), Republic Biscuits Company/ REBISCO (food processing), Swift Foods, Inc. (food processing), and Zuellig Pharma (product distribution).
CDO’s neighboring town of Tagoloan, meantime, is host to the 3,000-hectare PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate in Misamis Oriental (PIE-MO), one of the biggest in the country. It has 71 investors with 24 manufacturing firms engaged in diverse industries like steel manufacturing, food processing, and other industries. Some of the industrial estate’s locators are LimKetKai Manufacturing (food processing), TLC Beatrice Foods (food processing), SMC Beverage Packaging Specialist, Inc. (PET containers), and Philippine Sinter Corp. (steel and ore).
CDO has been home to Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT), the most modern container port outside Metro Manila. In 2002, the port registered a total shipping cargo tonnage of 14.3 million metric tons, twice Davao’s shipping volume of 7.2 million metric tons.
The establishment of the P3.24 billion, 85 percent-JBIC (Japan Bank of International Cooperation) funded Mindanao Container Terminal Port (MCTP) at PHIVIDEC will further improve Region 10’s access to international markets. With the MCTP project set for commercial operations within the first half of this year, transport costs in Bukidnon and the rest of Mindanao will be reduced, as its strategic location offers traders and producers the most cost-efficient transit between Mindanao and the Visayas and Luzon, as well as major foreign markets like USA, Japan, and Europe.
To cite one more example of the city’s progress, there is Pueblo De Oro – a 360-hectare property for mixed use development located between the airport and city proper. Its development started in 1995. Pueblo is a township project masterplanned by Louis Berger International, where no less than SM mall and Xavier Secondary and Elementary Schools are priced tenants. It is also the future site for Church and Residence of the Archbishop of Mindanao.
More importantly, it also features joint-venture subdivision projects covering basically all the economic classes from A to E. And, of course, it is also, first and foremost, a golf estate – starring an 18-hole, all-weather championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II, and ranked as the country’s fourth best course by Golfing Philippines.
A consummation of Pueblo de Oro’s progressive development into a compleat township would be the creation of an IT hub within the business and commercial area of the property. The IT hub – planned to be an eight-hectare development – is being positioned right next to the mall. Its registration with Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is ongoing, as well as the Office of the City Council’s request to make CDO an IT Hub. Once declared an IT Hub, enterprises within the area would enjoy investor incentives including income tax holiday for four years for non-pioneer and six years for pioneer IT enterprises, additional tax deduction equivalent to 50 percent of training expenses, and permanent resident status to foreign investors with initial investments of US$150,000 or more.
According to Mr. Guillermo Luchangco, Chairman & CEO of the ICCP Group, the main proponent of Pueblo de Oro, the estate is an ideal site for IT-related businesses as it has, in the past years, completed the key necessary factors – water, electric power, telecommunications, amenities, and services – that make such businesses flourish. Add to that the pool of about 4,300 graduates being churned out per year by CDO’s 18 universities, colleges, computer, and vocational schools.
By Maricar T. Manuzon
Philippine Business Magazine: Volume 11 No. 2 – Geographics
photo source: Oliver Bautista