The Recollect and Jesuit missionaries established missions in what is presently the province of Misamis Oriental as early as 1622. During that time, the region was part of the sphere of influence of Kudarat, Sultan of Maguindanao. The Moros tried to dislodge the missionaries from the region of what is presently the city of Cagayan de Oro but failed. Continuous Moro raids in the 17th and 18th century, however, drove the Manobo-speaking inhabitants of the coast inland. The jurisdiction under the control of the Spaniards remained sparsely populated until the mid-19th century when migrants from Bohol and Cebu settled the uncultivated land of Misamis. During the Revolutionary period, leaders like Nicolas Capistrano and Apolinar Velez, held sway over Misamis until December 1900 when Americans dislodged the revolutionaries and drove them inland. Civil government was established under the Americans in 1901.
The entire northern Mindanao coast from Dapitan to Gingoog constituted what once was territory dependent on the province of Cebu. It was created into the corregimiento of Misamis or Iligan in the late 18th century. By 1818, what currently is Misamis Oriental was a division of the province of Misamis called the partido de Cagayan. Towards the end of the Spanish regime, the province of Misamis was one of seven districts of the island of Mindanao. In 1929, the province of Misamis Oriental was established by virtue of Act No. 3537.
People, Culture and the Arts
Misamis Oriental, being the gateway to Northern Mindanao is the springboard for people visiting the coastal cities and provinces of Mindanao. Like its sister province, Misamis Occidental, Visayan settlers have densely populated this booming province. Cagayan de Oro is its center of trade, commerce, and education in the region. The pincipal dialect is Cebuano but there are words that are distinctly Kagay-anon.
Life is simple in Misamis Oriental. A majority of the inhabitants are either farmers or fishermen. The chief crops of the province are banana and coconut as well as rice and abaca. In Clavería, which is known as the salad bowl of northern Mindanao, there is a smaller version of the rice terraces.
Cagayan de Oro City is the commercial center of Northern Mindanao and many ethnic products are sold in the city. In the Cogon Market are stalls upon stalls of Muslim crafts such as earrings, bracelets rings, vases, jars and an assortment of brassware. Gift items and ceramics are produced in the city and sold as souvenirs or functional household items. To move about the city, one takes the unique transportation of this province called the motorela. It functions like the tricycles of Manila but with the design of a small jeepney.
Charming, watery nooks abound in this province. Springs, caves, and beaches strung along the coast of Macajalar Bay are attractions to the adventurers. Huluga and Makahambus Caves yield evidence of the oldest known settlers in the area. One can also battle the rapids in a white water raft in trip down the Cagayan de Oro River. The canopy walk in Clavería is also becoming a popular tourist attraction. Clavería, also known as the salad bowl of Northern Mindanao, boasts of its own version of the rice terraces.
The feast of the patron saint of Cagayan de Oro, San Agustin, is a time of great merriment. The Kagayhaan Festival is a carnival-like parade of colorful costumes, beautiful floats and an explosion of sounds and colors. The occasion is a time to celebrate for all the people of Misamis Oriental.
Trade and Investments
In line with the vision of Northern Mindanao to be the "leading agro-industrial area and trade center of the Philippines within the context of sustainable development and equitable utilization of its resources", Misamis Oriental takes lead as the investment hub of the region. The province not only boasts of an abundance in resources but prides itself with an extensive range of infrastructure, facilities and support services essential for business’ growth and development. With these two complementing traits, Misamis Oriental offers the "perfect place to add value to the region’s resources".
Situated 785 kilometers south of Manila, Misamis Oriental sits in a vast area that has a long sheltered coastline filled with natural harbors, and a unique landscape that offers 173,944 hectares of fertile croplands and 168,846 hectares of forests. The area enjoys a tropical climate with even rainfall throughout the year. Misamis Oriental is very accessible as its capital city of Cagayan de Oro has an airport with daily flights to Manila and regular flights to Cotabato, General Santos, Davao and Cebu. The capital also has an international seaport, which is considered to be one of the most modern in the country. Its extensive road network links the province to other areas of Mindanao. Modern communication facilities offer local and international connections and the local banking industry hosts 92 branches of the major banks making business transactions smooth and efficient. The province offers a splendid array of amenities that guarantees to make business transactions pleasurable. There are 30 hotels to choose from and many restaurants offer a variety of local and international cuisines. Recreational activities range from shopping for local and imported products to scuba diving on rich coral reefs in the province.
As the investment hub of Northern Mindanao, Misamis Oriental has long tapped into the market potentials inside and outside the region. Small to heavy industries have been operating in the province for many years now. There are currently two industrial estates in operation while another one is being constructed and a fourth is being planned. The Phividec Industrial Estate is not only the largest but also offers the cheapest land lease rates in the country. Companies within the estate produce and export a wide range of products that includes sintered ore, ferrous alloys, oleo-chemicals, wood and paper products, concrete and food products. Other firms in the province manufacture metal products, builders’ woodwork and housing components, and processed fruits.
Tourism offers another promising business opportunity. Misamis Oriental has unspoiled beaches and a varied natural scenery and also serves as the gateway to the different tourist areas in the region. The province hosts an average of 300,000 visitors per year, 22,000 of which are foreign tourists. The volume is expected to increase as tourism facilities and infrastructure are developed.
To boost further the province’s capacity to handle the influx of investments, major infrastructure programs will be implemented in the next five years. Among these are the construction of an international airport, the improvement of port facilities in Cagayan de Oro and the construction of a new cargo port within the Phividec Industrial Estate. A world-class 18-hole golf course and sports and recreational club is also now nearing completion.
"Kauakuhan Ug Katungkod: A Shared Responsibility in Forest Management" is a partnership between NGOs, the DENR and the LGUs in Clavería to work together to stop, conserve and rehabilitate the forest areas of the province. Claveria, dubbed as the Baguio of the South, is 60% timberland. It is the main source of vegetables that allows Misamis Oriental to supply most of the vegetable needs of the region. Calveria also holds three major and three minor watersheds. While Claveria’s forest areas have not been reduced to barren hills and mountains, it is under increasing assault from overexploitation.
Faced with the possibility of losing a very vital resource, the DENR started a novel approach of tapping communities in conserving and protecting the forests. The program called the Community Based Forest Management enables the community, DENR and the LGU to harness their resources and actively participate in managing their forests. This innovative strategy has shown signs of promise even at an early stage. The illegal cutting of trees is virtually non-existent within the project sites, viable non-wood based enterprises are being set-up, and ‘intelligent’ farming methods are being adapted. To date, the CBFM involves 15 barangays and covers an area of 30,467 hectares.
Furthermore, the CBFM program prepared both the LGU, national government and the community to assess the potential impact of heavy infrastructure on the forests of Clavería. As part of the Cagayan-Iligan Corridor Masterplan, a secondary national highway will cut through the forest area. While the arguments are endless, the partnership between the major stakeholders has been instrumental in spawning a more intimate community awareness of its relationship with the environment.
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