A taste of CDO
Cagayan de Oro—On our second day of the “Yes for Peace” workshop, meant to help selected members of civil society organizations in Mindanao to develop a media plan for the coming referendum on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the body got down to brass tacks on what a media plan consists of and why it is necessary.
Beverly Orozco of Gaston Z. Ortigas (GZO) Peace Institute outlined the reasons for the need to develop a communications plan to promote and advocate a social
issue. First, she said, nongovernment organizations have limited resources and must rely on creative and innovative ways of reaching mass audiences to deliver their messages. Second, sticking to a plan “imposes discipline and clear thinking,” helping a cause-oriented organization in “clarifying objectives and target audiences, while sharpening messages.”
Beverly’s walk-through on the steps to formulating a plan and a message was reinforced by Karlon Rama, who helps NGOs plan their communications programs. With the participants, he conducted an exercise in which they explored a campaign plan and strategy for the BOL referendum. This included identifying the target audience, developing the key messages, planning for resources and implementation for delivering the messages, and refining the message as needed.
One thing that emerged from the discussions was the existence of parties bent on derailing passage of the BOL and returning Muslim Mindanao to the feudal status of old. Among the identified opposition were local, provincial and even regional political leaders who feel their positions of privilege threatened. Another were business interests who may wish to secure their operations (and continued exploitation of Mindanao’s resources) from an unknown autonomous government.
Would there be enough time to carry out the information/education project even in the face of powerful opposition? That is a question still up in the air.
While in this city, I also had the chance to try restaurants I hadn’t had the chance to visit previously. On our first night, we went out for dinner at the seaside restaurant Panagatan, which Cagayan de Oro native Beth Yang told us had started off as a mere hut in her childhood. Today, it has graduated into a sprawling restaurant that spills over into several pavilions, with whitewashed walls and nipa roofs. We ordered a “seafood basket” with tinola of lapu-lapu and a side salad of tomatoes, onions, green mangoes and red eggs.
The next day, with GZO Peace Institute’s Karen Tanada and Julie Alipala, a Zamboanga-based Inquirer correspondent, we dropped by Cucina Higala, which Inquirer desk person and lifetime friend Pennie dela Cruz had discovered while googling for places to see in this city.
Cucina Higala is a charming former residence in a busy district where many of CDO’s heritage houses can be found. Just to give you an idea of how quaint the interiors are, Pennie and I made a point to visit the restroom armed with our smartphone cameras, the better to take photos of the facilities which were done up in an eclectic mix of postcolonial decor and modern fixtures. “There’s no other bathroom in the city like this,” explained our server with pride.
The food was no less memorable, starting with the tinola of blue marlin. The tinola is supposed to be the Visayan version of the Tagalog sinigang or sour soup. But it is far less aggressive in its sourness, with only baby tomatoes as the souring agent.
Then we tried the beef rendang that came with a fiery condiment of crushed green peppers, humba of soft, “jiggly” pork belly, and callos which we deemed a disappointment.
But Pennie was most intrigued by the binaki, a dessert item that Beth explained was akin to a suman made from corn. What came to our table, though, were two slices of corn bread topped with vanilla ice cream and drenched with caramel sauce. Sure, it was a more “civilized” way of presenting a native dessert, and quite tasty, too. But we were looking forward to enjoying a taste of a childhood treat that Beth said had been a hallmark of her childhood. Maybe we’ll go for a taste of the authentic binaki on our next visit.
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