Ozamiz City | More Than Just a Gateway
The story of Ozamiz City is just like those places that started as tiny settlements & grew into big cities. However, many people find it a sour bite in the lip when it made national headlines. But others like me see it as a beautiful space that history has all but forgotten.
Growing up in Iligan, Ozamiz played a big part of my early childhood. I remember frequenting it with my cousins from Baroy to visit our aunt’s family who lived in Blumentritt. We always looked forward to those weekends sailing on small wooden ships called “lantsa”.
Getting there was already half the fun. We had boiled eggs, marie biscuits & royal tru-orange for an hour of trip crossing Panguil Bay.
Back in the 80s, we would roller skate with “pedicabs” or Japanese-style rickshaws. At sunset, we hung around the boulevard in Cotta. And a trip to the department store like Geegee, Anas Trading or Ong Hok was always a delight.
Inside Ozamiz City: Through Time & Tide
Ozamiz City is the gateway to Misamis Occidental. It has one of the busiest ports in Northern Mindanao where bargeloads of passengers, vehicles & commercial cargoes crisscross Panguil Bay each day.
Its economy skyrocketed at some point in time. As it progressed, so does becoming just a highway of sorts pushed them aside. No one anymore remembers how great this town was. People come & go, forgetting that in their midst are traces of age-old heritage, art & culture.
Wonderfully, the recent year has seen how the city is slowly inching its way back up. And at the forefront of this change is heritage tourism.
Yes, unknown to many, Ozamiz City keeps a few cultural treasures. And the next time you take its highway to somewhere else, explore the town too because there’s more here than you thought it to be.
The Cotta Fort
Constructed in 1755, this fort served as a citadel against marauding pirates during the colonial period. It is formally known as Fuerte de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción del Triunfo. Its thick coral stones & bastions still stand to this day.
Ozamiz City Museum
Inside Cotta Fort is a small museum that keeps a treasure trove of antique pieces donated & loaned by local Ozamiznons. From paintings to jars & photographs to phonographs, memories of bygone eras are on exhibit here.
Birhen sa Cotta
Just right outside the wall of the fort facing Panguil Bay is the carved image of the Virgin Mary. Fondly adored as the Birhen sa Cotta, devotees gather here everyday to ask for intercession. This outdoor tabernacle is similar to Zamboanga City’s Pilar Shrine.
While its modern construction is far from its original 18thcentury look, the Ozamiz Cathedral is worth paying a visit. This is because it enshrines the original image of Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepción y del Triunfo de la Cruz de Migpangi.
The statue of the Virgin Mary was recently rehomed to Ozamiz after it was stolen in 1975. A Filipino antique collector found it in an auction & returned the image to its people who missed it for 40 years.
Rodriguez Ancestral House
Huge capiz windows, stark-grained furniture & memorabilia in pretty Victorian overcrowding fill the house that tell of 19thcentury opulence. This is the Bernad Ancestral House now under the care of its present heirs the Rodriguez’s.
While not readily open to public, tours may be arranged with the City Tourism Office.
This hill hides a secret of 4 heritage bells whose chimes were probably last heard in the 1940s. Surprisingly, it is still there today — in silence. Other than this, Bukagan Hill is a perfect day trek where a commanding view of Ozamiz City, Panguil Bay & Lanao del Norte awaits.
Ozamiz is a beautiful city if only you explore it. While it may not have the cosmopolitan finesse of other big cities, it’s never short of heritage allures. Life here is still simple, like how I remember it in the 80s. But it is its quaint town ambience that charms her every visitor.
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Betwixt and between the arthritic 40 and a horrendous body mass index of positive 30, escapism and yummyeology are my real-life double post-graduate degrees conferred with the highest honors. I lived nearly half of my life in fancy suitcases, jetsetting between reality and fantasy... read more