Gingoognon’s dream come true

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

Last Sunday was a red letter day for Gingoognons, as the top officials of the city opened the entrances to Da’Grove, an eco-park that, although still in its teenage stage, promises to be a garden of eden. About a thousand city residents and outsiders flocked to the site, sloshed through mud in unfinished roads, sat in an open-air auditorium to listen to a band playing danceable tunes on stage, watch young sexy dancers swirl and swing and finally breathe in city and barangay bigwigs, expressing their gratitude to the Almighty and the scores of attendees at the event. Gingoog City Mayor Eric Canosa, a slim 38-year-old eye catcher, with a cellphone peeping out from a side pocket, and so hep on promoting his city, said it all in Cebuano: “It’s good that we dream when we are awake, not dream when we are sleeping.” Da’Grove, he said, “is the realization of our dream for Gingoog.”

Work on the 75-hectare rolling property along  Highway 955 in Civoleg, a sitio of Barangay Lunotan, about 19 kilometers from Gingoog City Hall, began only last year. As the soft-opening program was going on yesterday, huge trucks were pouring sand and stones to finish concreting the roads.

It is predicted that in a couple of years, the park will be finished, and attracting sports and entertainment seekers for such activities as musical bands’ performances,  concerts, horseback riding, biking, ATVs  (all terrain vehicles), and a weekend market for food and agriculture products, among others.  Already the slopes are planted to an assortment of ornamentals, and signs of man-made lagoons are evident. There will be gardens of flowers and orchids.

Two factors easily make the dream park come true. First is the election to the vice mayoralty of Peter Unabia, who works in tandem with the  young mayor in development plans for the city, he being a former three-term congressman representing the first district of Misamis Oriental and a hugely successful businessman.

Then there’s Civoleg’s being 723 meters above sea level: the climate is colder than that of Tagaytay, urging people to wear sweaters in the daytime and envelop themselves in thick blankets at night. As the sun slowly goes down, fog quietly creeps in like smoke, blanketing the sky and obliterating the view of Balatukan, a splendid mountain of thick forests.

Gingoog is making its way to the tourists’ map, Region 10 tourism director Marie Elaine Unchuan told the merrymakers. Aside from the Civoleg eco-park she cited two developments – the resurrection of the city’s wharf as perfect for scuba diving and the city’s being the Philippines’ oolong tea capital. Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat is reported interested in visiting the oolong tea plantation and, of course, the eco-park. Indeed, Gingoog is going places – pun intended.

Congressman Christian Unabia, son of former congressman and now Gingoog vice-mayor, lauded the efforts at moving the city’s fast forward to progress.

The Lunotan barrio captain, Nelson Dimaluan, said his barangay used to have “a lot of problems,” but these were overcome with the help of the local government units. He added that Da’Grove will surely draw tourists to Civoleg and earn revenue for the city.

Mayor Eric attributes his city’s progress to the Gingoognons’ spirit of unity – which is why, he said, the eco-park florets colorfully spell out the letters GCU on the grounds, meaning Gingoog City in Unity.

He was all praises for the bikathon participants cycling from City Hall to the park; they are supposed to be the best bikers coming from Gingoog, Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, Magsaysay, Butuan and Buenavista. Trophies were given to the contestants, the eldest of whom was 64 years old. The two youngest winners were 11 years of age, and each received a cash gift from Congressman Unabia. The oldest should have been given cash, too, someone said.

Mayor Eric thanked the city kagawads, first Jerome Mercado, who chaired the soft-opening event, and the other kagawads present – his mother, No. One councilor  Evelyn Canosa, Anjun Gomez, Thad Lugod, Myrna Motoomull, Jun Militante, Judeline Bernaldes, Marlon Kho, April Rose Vosotros, Roy Aniscal, Fatima Guanzon (SK president) and Estoriano Mandahinog (mandatory IP representative).

He thanked Audie Ocampo, head of the city’s tourism department, and Jose Bollosos, chair of the city tourism council. The city tourism members present at the event were Joy  Villahermosa (who came with her whiz businessman husband Bibot), Erlinda  Unabia, Viancy Unabia, Ofelia Mandokita, Susan Mortiz Bacarro, Florisa Polo, Mark Sanico, Gemma de Lara, Lt. Col. Ariel Pontillas, Ivy Lugod and myself (who came with an invited guest, my husband Saeed, a Philippine Red Cross governor).

Jojo Bollosos told me Gingoog City is “gearing towards progress. The Canosa-Unabia administration envisions a livable, competitive, self-sustaining, resilient and inclusive city. One of its major platforms is opportunities in agriculture and tourism development. With the boom in the tourism industry, the current leadership tandem of Canosa and Unabia will make the city one of the major destinations in the region, an economic hub, thereby creating jobs and augmenting livelihood for the locals.”

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