SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Refusing to grow

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/23 September) – From being a metropolis, the national capital region is slowly getting used to a new name – megalopolis. Here in Mindanao, at least an hour away by plane from Manila, cities like Davao and Cagayan de Oro are trying to cope with the demands of rapid urbanization and congestion. But some outdated habits, things that contradict the push to keep pace with the changing times, have remained.

Take the case of Cagayan de Oro City, the place where I stayed and worked for twelve years before moving to this place which lies 600 meters above sea level. Up to the mid-80s, the only crowded place in Cagayan de Oro was the area around Cogon Market. Street lights would only come to life during the annual feast of its patron saint, Saint Augustine.

That was light years ago. The place has since evolved into a microcosm of the NCR except that it’s smaller and traffic is nowhere near the proportions of the jams in Metro Manila. Anticipating, however, the likelihood of increased traffic volume in the next few years, CDO has started erecting flyovers in Puerto (at the intersection of the roads leading to Butuan City and Bukidnon), in Licoan, and along the road in Carmen leading to the airport and plush subdivisions.

Sights like these may give the impression that indeed Northern Mindanao’s major port city has reached sort of a tipping point where it has to choose between moving forward and clinging to the present, that is, refusing to acknowledge the need for change. Or, if only to suit our words to the rise of flyovers, it would be apt to say moving up instead of moving forward. For the helpless romantics like me, flyovers are a malediction. They shut our eyes out from the panorama of the city’s old charm the way the flyovers in Edsa have literally erased from our view the memory of the metropolis of yore.

Yet no matter how our old-fashioned mindset and nostalgic heart may take these developments, we are forced at times to concede a part of our self and some things we hold dear. Cagayan de Oro has to yield a part of its old self in the inevitable process called growing up. But has it, really?

Like Manila, or Davao, or Cebu, or any other city in this country, Cagayan de Oro likes to grow. But it still loves to drag its feet. The city’s streets are still strewn with trash called jeepneys, those smoke-belching, World War II-vintage passenger vehicles that rightly belong to the museum. It perplexes me no end why these are still being allowed on the streets. What can convince our officials that it’s much better to replace the jeepneys — and multicabs too — with buses? Such measure will reduce traffic and is fuel-efficient.

Worse, in Cagayan de Oro, the number of motorelas and trisikad has shown no signs of decreasing. As early as 1984, I learned that the number of motorelas was already 1000 more than what was allowed. These vehicles also contribute much to the city’s traffic woes and certainly need to be regulated if it’s not possible at the moment to ban them.

Growing up requires sacrifice. But as I see it, Cagayan de Oro is reluctant to let go of things that hinder its unfettered growth. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected])

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