Conquering Cagayan de Oro

I know that it’s really been a while since I’ve written here. I’ve been planning to write this since April but I was occupied with a lot of stuff. Yes, really, even unemployed, fresh graduates CAN BE occupied and busy. It’s literally the last LONG VACATION before we start working in the real world. We’re obliged to enjoy and take advantage of it while it still lasts. (haha) So, even if it’s really late, here’s what I did at Cagayan de Oro.

1. I attended the International Leaders’ Conference. 

Session 1 Worship by Jerome Capistrano of YFC Austraila. I met him and the Sarmiento sisters on the plane going to CDO. Credits: YFC Tumblog

I wasn’t given a chance to go to Europe with the UP Manila Chorale this year but that’s okay. I got to go to Cagayan de Oro for the annual Youth for Christ International Leaders’ Conference. The conference was held last April 15-17, 2011.

“Wait… April 15? Isn’t that graduation day?”, my friends reminded me. I know right? April 15 was indeed my graduation day but that didn’t stop me from going. It was so important for me that I just had to go there. It felt like it was my last chance to have attend the ILC in Mindanao since I am getting old and I have to crossover to SFC at some point. And since I already missed the Davao ILC, I’m not going to let this pass. I WAS NOT GONNA MISS ANOTHER ILC IN MINDANAO!

So, after graduation and lunch, I went straight off to NAIA Terminal 3 for my 4PM flight. It was already 6PM by the time I got there and I didn’t get to see much because it was really dark. I also didn’t know where to go and I was just following the YFC delegates that I met on the plane. Thankfully, there was transportation arranged for the foreign delegates. And since I was part of the production team, they let me hitch a ride. Hahaha 🙂

In a nutshell, the conference was awesome. I felt light inside. I’ve never felt like that in the past conferences I’ve been to. Maybe it was because I didn’t really have much problems to go home to. School was over and I no homework that was waiting for me when I get back. It was really nice to just enjoy the conference and the whole trip itself. I can’t wait to go to Aklan next year ’cause my cousins will be there with me. YFC just got better with them being there. 🙂

2. I went White Water River Rafting and Zip Lining in CDO. (oja oja)

River Rafting with YFC Metro Manila (YCOM, East A, Central B, Central C, North A)

Let me just mention why this became possible. I went to CDO with a substantial amount of cash at hand BUT most of it was wasted paying for excess baggage in the airport. Why? Simple, I didn’t know you were allowed to check-in baggage online. Great right? That was so dumb, I know. I had to learn the hard way, by paying.

I was a literally a poor person when I arrived at CDO. I was living out of the meals from the conference (thank you for that) to save my pocket money, but thing is, we also need to pay for the lodging. I know that there was free lodging near the site but we wanted to have a good place to rest and a clean bathroom for ourselves. I could always stay with the production team, it’s what I’ve always done in the past, but I promised YFC UP Manila I would be with them this time. Plus, there was wi-fi and air-conditioning in our dorm so it was worth it.

I was convinced to save my money for the dorm. Yes, just the dorm. Not too much side trips, pasalubongs and all because I couldn’t afford it. After all, just being in CDO was already a blessing. I was already thankful for the trip and it was enough for me. But once again, God proved me wrong. I just love surprises!

Sunday Food Trip (YFC Central C Campus Based: UP Manila, DLSU, MaDocs, St. Scho)

The 2nd night of the conference ended very late. It was almost midnight when the session ended. If there’s there’s one thing you should know about CDO, it’s that it’s not Manila. No, you can’t find that many jeepneys roaming around in looking for passengers in the middle of the night. It was hard to get home because about 7000 people were out looking for a ride.

Then, a pick-up truck stopped in front of us. The driver opened the window and introduced himself. His name is tito Larry Cabading, a CDO local and a CFC Chapter Head. He noticed us having trouble with transpo and offered to give us a ride home. He gave us his cellphone number and told us to call him if ever we needed anything. Everything went smooth sailing from that.

The next evening, we were desperate for transpo and we didn’t really want to disturb tito Larry but we gathered all our courage up and finally called him to help us again. He dropped us off the dorm and offered us to stay at his house for the rest of our vacation in CDO. We left the dorm the next day and transferred to tito Larry’s home.

Larry and Beng Cabading and Family

Larry and Beng Cabading and Family

If you seriously doubt CDO’s tagline, “The City of Golden Friendship”, let me tell you this, DON’T. Our story is cold, hard proof. Giving strangers a place to stay? You don’t just see this anywhere. We’re really thankful for everything they did for us in this trip. Because of them, we were able to save a lot and we got to enjoy the stuff that CDO had to offer.

Just arrived at Jatico Adventures. (Credits: Andrei Nuesca)

Jump shot at Jatico Adventures (Credits: Andrei Nuesca)

So, back to zip lining. After lunch and an hour rest at the Cabading residence, we went Jatico Adventures, a new tourist spot that opened just last January. It offers a 4-course zip line and other attractions for people looking for extreme adrenaline rush.

Zip lining wasn’t actually new to me. I’ve tried it once at  Camp Uno at Rizal Park during an NSTP session. However, a 4-course zip line ON THE MOUNTAINS was a notch higher. When I stood at the edge of the first jumping area, I gulped. This was high and different from the one at Rizal Park. Eventually, I got the hang if it and everything else was a breeze.

After zip lining, we visited the Starbucks branch and had a nice dinner at the town proper. We roamed the town a bit and went home to prepare for our big adventure the next day.

Free water for everyone! (Jatico Adventures) (Credits: Andrei Nuesca)

Jam Lami (YFC St. Scho) at the first station. (Credits: Andrei Nuesca)

Monday was a blast! I started it off as a sleepy and grumpy morning because we had to get up early for the call time. After taking a bath and breakfast, I was back to my hyper self, which was good. We wanted to stretch and exercise a bit so we decided to walk all the way to Xavier High, the meeting place.

We thought that it was just near because there was always no traffic whenever we commute going to the conference site but it took us about 30 minutes to get there by foot. Yes, it was far. We were deceived by our own judgement, but none the less, it was a good morning exercise so no harm done.

When we arrived at Xavier High, the service  from Bugsay River Rafting Company was already there, waiting for us. We had to wait for a few minutes to round everyone up before we leave. Some people have flights in the early afternoon and were packing their luggage because they will go straight to the airport after river rafting. In about 30 minutes or so, we were all set to go and we finally headed to the river.

Bugsay Rafting Service

There were more or less 80-90 people who went river rafting that day, most of them YFCs. We had about 20 people in the group so we were divided into 2 rafts. I had Jam, Andrei, Izzy, Ejae, Kuya Eric, Ate Jacqui, Ate Kat, Kuya James, and of course, our guide, Bon-Bon, on the raft with me.

That being said, it was obvious that we were the noisiest group in the bunch of rafters. We were singing worship songs while rowing and shouting “ONE MANILA LUPET” after every river rapid instead of “Bugsay”, which was the instruction. I feel that we were like those soldiers from Sparta shouting “ahoo ahoo” and an Indian tribe merged in to one extremely noisy and eccentric group.

River Rafting with YFC Metro Manila

But being noisy and hyper among the bunch was not the best part of this experience. This is: WE WERE THE ONLY GROUP THAT GOT THE CHANCE TO RESCUE ANOTHER PERSON!!! I know, I know, I shouldn’t be too happy about this. After all, this kind of experience requires another person to accidentally fall off a raft and get his life in danger. But I can’t help it! It was so *ahem ahem* LEGEN… wait for it… DARY! (I’m so sorry, insert friend’s name here, for sharing this online. Your name remains confidantial. haha) Especially for me, because I was the one who pulled him the last second before he almost hit a rock cliff or whatever its called.

Central C Campus Based Raft

We finally reached the end of the river rafting course after approximately 2 hours. We had a short stop at the mall to buy Pastel, a delicacy from Camiguin, and other pasalubongs. Finally, we went back to the Cabading’s so that my friends could say their thanks and goodbyes.

3. I experienced Alay Lakad and Stations of the Cross – Cagayan de Oro style.

Tuesday was my fifth and last day at CDO. I was the only YFC left staying at tito Larry’s place because everyone already left the night before. Holy week already started and the Cabadings let me tag along their annual pilgrimage to Guadalupe Shrine.

You may be wondering what’s so unique about this pilgrimage. Let’s start with where the shrine is and how to get there.

The shrine located at Igbalalay Hills in Barangay Balubal, Cagayan de Oro City, on top of a hill, at the foot of a mountain. To finish the 14 Stations and get to the shrine, you have to trek 4 kilometers around the foot of the mountain. Wait, there’s more… Along the 4 kilometer trek, you need to cross parts of the Agusan River 9 times. Oja oja!

It took us 5 hours to finish the trek. The mini rafts near the shrine were too expensive so we also walked our way going back. This was a refreshing Holy Week experience for me. It’s not just the usual traditions that I practice. It felt like it was a higher level of devotion and I was happy I finished the trek because I had a sense of accomplishment. Yes, it was hard, but I will definitely was a great experience.

Overall, I really enjoyed every bit of this Cagayan de Oro trip. God just never ceases to amaze and surprise me. I wasn’t supposed to come but He made a way for me. I came there without a plan but He worked it out for me. I came there broke but He let me experience all that CDO had to offer. I’m truly thankful for everything.

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