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The Charms of Ozamiz

When I was still in the legislature, one of the advantages of being a public servant (and this was especially true during the electoral campaigns) was the opportunity to visit the beautiful towns and cities of the Philippines. 


When I was a child I only saw the Philippines through pictures I saw and stories I heard. When I started my real estate business and when we expanded I got to visit our development sites in different parts of the country. But when I ran for the Senate, which required me to go around the country, I was able to really experience the beauty and diversity of this place we call home. 


One of the most memorable cities for me was Ozamiz. It is one of the most charming places in the country. Just like most of the old towns in the country, Ozamiz grew out of the old Spanish town of Misamis, which was established in the 18th century. Its purpose was to protect the settlement from pirates, and it blossomed into an old Spanish community. After the Second World War, a hero by the name of Jose Ozamiz renamed Misamis to Ozamiz, which was believed to have been derived from the Subanen word “Kuyamis” which means “a variety of coconut.”


Ozamiz is a beautiful city steeped in tradition and history. I remember when I first visited the city, the first thing that impressed me was the Immaculate Conception Pipe Organ. It is considered as the only existing pipe organ in Mindanao, and one of only a few in the country. The most famous, of course, is the Bamboo organ in my hometown of Las Piñas City which is the oldest, largest, and most unique pipe organ in the country. But the Immaculate Conception Pipe Organ, located in the choir loft of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral was also very impressive.


I love history and I love a good story about the places I visit. So, I also enjoyed Cotta Fort, which was built in 1755 as a fortress, with a portion of it also acting as a religious shrine for the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception. Aside from these historical attractions, Ozamiz boasts of many parks and waterfalls for local and foreign travelers alike. 


Do not forget the famous halo-halo of Mon’s Grill in Ozamiz. Our campaigns were held during the height of summer so it sometimes got very, very hot. So their halo-halo of sweetened banana, leche flan, ube, macapuno, langka, sago, garbanzos, and gulaman topped with a scoop of ice cream, shredded cheese, and cereals was like a drop of water in the desert.


I returned to Ozamiz again very recently not only to rediscover its beauty but also to add to the magnificent development happening in the city. Together with my daughter Camille, we opened the newest branch of The Coffee Project. This is our fifth coffee shop in Mindanao following previous openings in Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City, Butuan City and General Santos City. Camille and I were very proud and happy to offer the people of Ozamiz City world class coffee experience and the most Instagrammable coffee shop in the country. I know I am biased but as I was looking at our Ozamiz branch, I was thinking to myself, “this is such a beautiful and cozy coffee shop!” If I lived in Ozamiz I would probably be here everyday. It is almost as beautiful as Ozamiz itself. Almost.


I feel blessed because despite leaving politics and not engaging in electoral campaigns anymore, I can still go around and visit the many cities and towns in the country. But more importantly, as we expand our retail developments, we get to contribute and add to the beauty and charm of our town and cities; we get to share topnotch retail experiences to our people outside Metro Manila. 


So, where are we going next?




Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar