City on the Rise
CITY ON THE RISE
With his reforms for security, healthcare, education, and disaster responsiveness, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar “Oca” Moreno bridges the Northern Mindanao region for collective progress
BY MARCO NICANO
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BON ASERIOS OF ONE HAPPY STORY
ADDITIONAL PHOTOS COURTESY OF
CITY TOURISM OFFICE OF CAGAYAN DE ORO
Cagayan de Oro City is located right at the heart of Northern Mindanao, and is considered by many
as the gateway to the second largest island in the Philippines. Known as the “City of Golden
Friendship,” it is no wonder that the rising metropolis is a melting pot of religion, ethnicities, and culture in the region. With the city being easily accessible to its neighboring regions, Cagayan de Oro has become a
convergence point, which explains it being among the top 10 most populated cities in the country.
At the helm of this bustling and vibrant first-class, highly urbanized city is Mayor Oscar Moreno, or more fondly called as “Oca” by his constituents. When asked to describe his city and its people, he proudly
declares that Cagayan de Oro is a resilient and friendly city. Its citizens embody generally shared
traits of Filipinos, particularly openness and hospitality, even to strangers.
With Cagayan de Oro being the face and centerpiece of development in the region, Moreno saw that he can further impact on positive change in that part of the country at the city government level. He knows
that what orderly and good governance he can achieve in the city will reverberate and be felt across the region and throughout the whole of Mindanao and even the country. “There are many things that are without boundaries—peace, health, education, disaster. It would be wrong to assume that they have defined territorial basis,” says Moreno as he shares his insight about seeing the broader and bigger picture in serving Cagayan de Oro City.
Through this belief, he concludes that bringing Cagayan de Oro to greater heights and harnessing its full potential will also effect greater change in the region. As he notably impacts the city with his
reforms for security, healthcare, education, and disaster responsiveness, the region will symbiotically and immediately feel the results as well.
THE NOBILITY OF PUBLIC SERVICE
Cagayan de Oro since 2013 and now on his second term, Moreno was relatively late in joining the public sector. He enjoyed considerable success in the corporate world, having served as vice president for
prominent banking institutions such as Citibank and BPI, as well as being an associate director for the Ayala Group. He laughingly shares that even his wife could not understand why he left the private sector.
However, he shifts to a more serious demeanor as he recites from memory a quote by one of the most respected public servants from Cagayan de Oro, the late Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez, “Public
service is an apostleship of sacrifice and service. You must use it to give of yourself unsparingly in the service of your people, not to make something of yourself.” Adjacent to his office table is a framed picture hanging on the wall with these same words, perhaps to serve as a constant reminder to the good mayor. He then chronicles how he was fortunate enough to have assisted Senate President Nene Pimentel, another highly respected public servant from Cagayan de Oro, for a couple of years during the early ’90s
for a political and legal matter. During that time, he learned a lot from the brilliant legislator and that was when he saw the nobility in public service.