Cagayan de Oro school receives backlash for demolishing historic concrete fence

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY –  A city councilor has criticized the City Central School here for demolishing its historic concrete perimeter fence.


THE controversial City Central School concrete perimeter fence on Mabini St., Cagayan de Oro City. (Photo courtesy of Raul Ilogon)


Days after the move was slammed by historians in this city, Councilor Malvern Esparcia stressed that the destruction of any historical property here needs prior consultation with the City Museum and Heritage Study Center and the City Historical Commission (CHC).

"In Cagayan de Oro City, there are a lot of residents who are not native Kagay-anons. But because of that, do we really need to forget the history of Cagayan de Oro? Do we really need to forget how wonderful the history of Cagayan de Oro is?" said Esparcia, who is a not native of this city, in the vernacular, during his special report in the city council session on Monday, July 10.

Rai Bollozos Sanchez, a historian here, posted a Facebook photo a few days ago showing the damage to a part of the City Central School’s fence.

He said that the fence should not be demolished due to its historical value.  "Well, unfortunately, the destruction of the fence denies future Kagay-anons to preserve a tangible link to our past, a connection to the values and aspirations of those who came before us," Sanchez said.

The historian said that fence  was donated by the Lions Club and the Boy Scouts in 1953. The contractor was Ilogon Enterprises through their Ilogon Cement and Marble Product.

On May 17, 1993, the city passed City Ordinance No. 3554-93 creating the Cagayan de Oro Historical Commission that shall serve as an advisory body to the city mayor and the city council concerning history and museums.

One of the duties of the commission is to collect, collate, and preserve cultural, political, and economic facts and artifacts, archaeological relics and mementos, historical records, customs, beliefs, folkloric tales, songs, legends, and traditions from the pre-Hispanic period up to the recent past of the Cagayan de Oro people.

Nicholas Aca Jr., CHC chairperson, said that the City Central School did not consult the commission as to the destruction of a certain part of its fence.

Aca acknowledged the good purpose of the school, serving the students with development, but he said that there is a law that needs to be followed, Republic Act No. 10066, the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.


THE City Museum of Cagayan de Oro beside the Bishop’s Palace at Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral, Barangay 1, Cagayan de Oro City. (Franck Dick Rosete)


"There are a lot of options to preserve (a historical property) that would not result in immediate destruction," he said, adding the importance of coordination, considering that the Department of Education has always been their partner.

CCS Principal Duque Caguindangan said they demolished the wall to create an exit gate on Mabini St., following an incident last year during face-to-face classes where heavy traffic congestion happened because of the school’s lone entrance on Yacapin St., which was also the exit area.

The school, he said, informed other city hall offices, school-based organizations, and the City Schools Division here on the project. However, they neither informed the City Museum nor the City Historical Commission because they thought that only the Gabaldon School Building in CCS had been proclaimed as historical property that needed to be preserved.

"That’s the only thing we’ve done in order to be organized and peaceful, especially now that the opening of classes is coming in August," Caguindangan said in in an interview over Brigada News FM Cagayan de Oro on Friday, July 7. He said he is  willing to join future dialogues and apologize if they made mistakes.

Other historians, Raul Ilogon and Nanette Roa, also shared their thoughts on the destruction of the fence.

Councilor James Judith II suggested to Sanchez that he list down historical sites and properties here and submit them to the City Historical Commission. He promised that the city council would follow up on the creation of the corresponding ordinance.


OLD photos of various places in Cagayan de Oro are displayed at the City Museum of Cagayan de Oro beside the Bishop’s Palace at Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral, Barangay 1, Cagayan de Oro City. (Franck Dick Rosete)

Some historians also questioned the construction of the Operation Kahapsay and Kalinaw building at Magsaysay Monument in Divisoria and the upcoming development of Ysalina Bridge, one of the historical sites here.

"The heritage-destruction target this time is Cagayan de Oro's iconic bridge. Again, our heritage structure with so much history is about to be destroyed and replaced with a modern one," Ilogon said in a Facebook post on Sunday, July 9.

Ramir Balquin, department manager of the City Planning and Development Office, had earlier said that Mayor Rolando Uy has already approved the replacement of the Ysalina Bridge with a four-lane bridge.

Balquin said that experts have noted that the bridge really has to go as they were also looking for the safety of the people using the almost 100-year-old bridge.

Roa clarified that she is not against the construction of the OKK, as it would help this city’s security efforts, but it should be placed in a different area, such as the area behind the Amphitheater, also in Divisoria.

"After (the late Mayor Justiniano R.) Borja transferred the public market to Cogon, he envisioned that the Plaza Divisoria, the heart of the city, would become a series of mini parks," Roa said in an interview over Bombo Radyo Cagayan de Oro on Monday.

Plaza Divisoria consists of six parks, Magsaysay Park, Bonifacio Park, Borja Park, Rizal Park, People’s Park, and the Amphitheater Area.

Sanchez said "historical preservation is crucial for maintaining a city's identity and fostering a sense of community."

Jesus Christopher Salon, officer-in-charge of the City Museum and the lead secretariat of CHC, said an incident report has been submitted to the city mayor and vice mayor. The next step, he said, is planning to restore the destroyed part of the fence.