Just a few steps away from the Cagayan de Oro river bank is a curious white, cylindrical figure, hemmed in on two sides by the San Agustin Church and Gaston Park.
Although it is by no means imposing by modern architectural standards, its unique appearance, visible nowhere else in the city, commands attention.
It is now considered the city’s oldest known surviving public structure.
This, and its obvious ties to the city’s physical representation of its spirit, the river, makes it a fitting repository of the city’s museum and in effect, its history.
The photos of the interior used here were taken with permission five years ago on my first visit. With each visit, there had been noticeable changes in internal arrangements and displays.
One thing is certain though, the museum has always echoed the Kagay-anon pride in local heritage.
They resided in a fortress known as Himologan and paid tribute to Maguindanao’s Sultan Kudarat.
With the threat of attack from Sultan Kudarat due to the presence of the two Spaniards, Fray Agustin de San Pedro, later dubbed El Padre Capitan, convinced Datu Salangsang to relocate nearer to the river delta, the site of the present day city.
The newly occupied site, then called Cagalang, became the location of a fort built under the instruction of Fray Agustin.
It was here where Sultan Kudarat was eventually repelled.
This was most evident during my last visit when it was made apparent that steps were being painstakingly taken to detail the history of Cagayan de Oro in the hopes of correcting erroneous stories that had been circulating online and elsewhere.
An account of the history of Cagayan de Oro endorsed by the city’s Heritage Council was handed over to me by museum staff.
This account, supposedly culled in part from the writings of Filomeno Bautista is supplemented by archaeological studies printed and displayed at the museum’s third floor.