Cagayan De Oro City

Cagayan de Oro brings its version of Plaza Miranda back to life

Bobby Lagsa
Cagayan de Oro brings its version of Plaza Miranda back to life

RESTORED. The fully restored Cagayan de Oro Amphitheater at the historic Plaza Divisoria.

Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

The Cagayan de Oro Amphitheater is where the late Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr., a former mayor, led anti-Marcos protests

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The city government unveiled on Monday afternoon, February 28, the city’s fully restored amphitheater, a historical landmark that was the site of many political discourses and anti-Marcos protests.

The Cagayan de Oro Amphitheater – the city’s version of Manila’s Plaza Miranda – was built in 1958 by the late mayor Justiniano R. Borja. It was demolished in 2010 during the mayorship of lawyer Constantino Jaraula to pave the way for a development project that was never completed.

City hall started the amphitheater restoration work in 2019 as part of a much bigger project to modernize the plaza and complement a nearby Cagayan River promenade being constructed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under Project Lunhaw.

“Lunhaw,” which means green, vibrant, and lush, is a multi-agency undertaking to provide a recreational area and urban green spaces on a multi-billion-peso flood control project along the Cagayan River with the help of the United Nations-Habitat Philippines.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who helped fund the undertaking, said the Cagayan de Oro Ampitheater and Plaza Divisoria have been part of the city’s history, culture, and heritage.

It was at the amphitheater where former leaders of Cagayan de Oro and presidents staged campaign rallies. His late father and namesake Aquilino Jr., a former mayor and senator, also led anti-Marcos protests and rallies at what is simply called until today as the “Ampi.”

Pimentel also noted that his fellow senator, Filipino boxing icon and now presidential bet Manny Pacquiao, once fought at the then weekly Boxing at the Park near the amphitheater years before the former boxer rose to international fame.

“This is a very historic place. This is our democratic space. All can use this space,” Pimentel said.

The ongoing project cuts across several villages from Barangay Consolacion to Barangay Macasandig, with the Amphitheater and Plaza Divisoria as the center.

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

“It is going to be a walkable, cyclable, continuous, seamless pedestrian-centered riverside park, much like in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig,” Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno said. 

He said of the P1.13 billion set aside for Project Lunhaw, much will be spent for the historic Plaza Divisoria and the riverside park.

Department of Tourism (DOT) director for Northern Mindanao Marie Elaine Salvaña-Unchuan said the project is a welcome tourism development for the city.

“The whole plan is something that is for world-class tourism. If we have a sustainable space where we can also showcase our arts and culture, that is going to be a big plus for Cagayan de Oro,” Unchuan said. – Rappler.com