Uptown Cagayan de Oro: A Lifestyle Haven in Northern Mindanao

This article originally appeared in BusinessWeek Mindanao February 4 issue in the column Out of the Biz Box.

uptown cdo primavera

I was first introduced to CdO in October 2011 when I was invited by a delegation of foreign entrepreneurs and Filipino business owners. I flew to the “Garden of the Philippines” without any expectations and as open minded as possible. Family, friends and neighbours were very dubious about me flying to Mindanao with all the stories we get to hear in national and international media but such things never had too much effect on me. After 5 years spent living in the Middle East I could tell the difference between common belief and reality. The fact that there was a renowned Italian Architect building a classy condominium was reason enough for me to be confident and start my travel with a healthy enthusiasm.

My travel companion was an American seasoned real estate professional with years of rewarding experience in California for one of the biggest international agencies like CBRE. He knew the ins- and outs of land and community development thanks to his 25 years of experience in real estate. Both actually had lots in common and shared our near to similar horror stories with our respective ex-wives so we got on very well and could relate to each other.

After landing at the old Lumbia airport we visited the city in downtown, the port facilities and then got back to Pueblo de Oro Business Park in Uptown, saw the golf course, SM and the then lonesome showroom of Primavera Residences which had just started construction back then. After driving around Uptown all afternoon I noticed a strange sparkle in my American companion’s eyes. He knew that this was the place to be, the place to invest and the place to focus on in town.

After 4 years and extensive travel in the region I realise that my American companion was absolutely right. Uptown is indeed the Makati of Northern Mindanao, still underrated though but well recognized by those who count and can afford to live in upper class communities like Xavier Estates. Be it the Filipino family or the retired foreigner, if lifestyle is to be identified with good air, flood-free, spacious communities, accessible shopping facilities, little or no traffic and lots of nature then Uptown is the place to be. I also realised that CdO enjoys the best weather of the Philippines and is at the same time served by the freshest fruits and vegetables from Bukidnon. Hospitals are equipped and competent so there is nothing missing in town. No wonder there are plenty of elderly foreigners populating the subdivisions there with their families and/or Filipino wives/husbands. Americans, Germans, Swiss, British, Italians, Koreans, Japanese and even Indians are clear proof of where the Western standard has set itself to be.

There are rumours that several lots in Uptown’s Pueblo de Oro are going to be developed with new office and residential buildings which will bring even more life into the already thriving community. Every morning and evening people are flocking to Pueblo near SM to run, cycle, play volleyball and gather among friends as it is literally the only place that offers ample spaces. On weekends there are even families gathering for picnics among other physical exercise and it’s all good signs of a breeding community. Events, shows and exhibitions are also being held at SM.

Beyond barangay rivalries you can now hear young people saying: “I am from Uptown” giving it a new sense of identity for the Uptown citizen. I would not be surprised to see an Uptown basketball or soccer team rising soon. This should bring new wind to the sails of the Uptown stakeholders and all those entrepreneurs thinking of setting up businesses in the area. With BPO’s thriving all over the Philippines and Savills even thinking of opening a CdO office, the time is right to take Uptown to the next level. The successful example of Primavera Residences bringing new condo lifestyle to the city and representing the very first condominium in town will drag more investors to the community. There is nowhere else to be identified as the place where superior lifestyle marries with modern design and accessible shopping facilities. I am aware that there is still some people who prefer the chaotic, polluted and flood prone downtown but for me Uptown is the place to be.


Halloween in Cagayan de Oro: A Look at the Best Costumes

Kagay-anons are not only known as some of the friendliest people you could ever come across (not sure about this? Just ask #BecomingFilipino’s Kulas), they’re definitely the most fun-loving, too.

In a recent post, we shared what Halloween in Cagayan de Oro is like: the Undas traditions mingling perfectly with Halloween fun. Talk about the best of both worlds!

For this article, we’ll round up some of the best Kagay-anon Halloween costumes we came across this year.

1. The CDO Rugby Club dressed up and tackled Halloween

rugby 7


Who would’ve thought that these tough, national champions would play rugby football as “Prom Queen Latifah” or as “Fairy God Tooth Father”? Headed by the CDO Rafters’ founder and coach Noel Villa who came as a Pharaoh (see photo below), the guys came in to train at Pelaez Sports Center last Halloween all decked up in spook-tacular costumes.

Coach Noel as The Pharaoh
The CDO RFC Juniors came as assorted zombies!
The CDO RFC Juniors came as assorted zombies!
Coach Noel as The Pharaoh strikes a pose with Peter Pan


Photos courtesy of the Cagayan de Oro Rugby Club official page

2. A Raging Halloween Party at Lifestyle District

Lifestyle District is one of the hippest place to be in Cagayan de Oro, and last October 31, it played host to an awesome Halloween party. Several party-goers partied the night away in their most magnificent costumes.

Photo from Sean Moreno’s Facebook page

3. Not just one but a series of Halloween make up transformations!

A local blogger, Shaun Pilapil of http://www.msshaunoftheday.com wowed not just her fellow Kagay-anons but netizens all over with her amazing make up skills. For the entire month of October, she completed a series of Halloween make up creations, transforming friends and family into characters like Zombie Michael Jackson, Achmed the Terrorist, Cruella deVille, and even the entire Addams Family line up.

Check out some of her amazing creations (all photos from http://www.msshaunoftheday.com)

It’s Freddy Krueger ready to haunt your dreams
The evil Darth Maul
Tim Burton’s the Corpse Bride
Hide your pets, it's Cruella!
Hide your pets, it’s Cruella!

4. Team Primavera goes vintage!

Last October 31, the entire Primavera Residences team went back in time to the roaring twenties with costumes largely inspired by the movie The Great Gatsby. Who says work and fun couldn’t come together? Let the folks at Primavera show you how to breeze through Halloween in style!

Photo by Diana Zamora
Photo by Diana Zamora

Halloween for Kagay-anons is a way of remembering and honoring friends and family who have passed away. It is also a time to get creative with costumes whether at work or at play.

So, how about you? How did you spend your Halloween? You can leave your message at the comments section below.


Primavera Residences is a proud kagay-anon development in uptown Cagayan de Oro, with units available for sale and for rent. Its world-class Italian design and eco-friendly features brought to CDO numerous international awards including the 2014-2015 Best Mixed-Use Development in the Philippines in the Asia Pacific Property Awards.

For more information about Primavera Residences, visit www.primaveraresidences.com or call 088-880-5002.

Primavera #HOWLoweenPAWty Costume Contest Winners


Before we bid adieu to this year’s Halloween season, let us cap it off first with an announcement of the October Social media contest winners.

Our social media promo for the month of October is called #HOWLoweenPAWty pet costume contest, in partnership with PetPerk Grooming Services, the premier pet grooming destination in Cagayan de Oro City.  Located at Velez St. in Cagayan de Oro, PetPerk offers pet grooming services and all kinds of items for your pets’ every need.

pet perk

#HOWLoweenPAWty costume contest winners will be receiving the following prizes courtesy of PetPerk:

1st prize: 6 months free grooming services

2nd prize: 3 months free grooming services

3rd prize: 1 month free grooming services

No participating pet will come home empty-handed because Primavera Residences will also be providing treats and goodies to all our furry little contestants.

And now, for the winners.

[drum roll]

On third place, we have a tie!

It’s Whoopi as Little Pug Riding Hood and Pepper the Mummy!



Both garnering a total of 74 votes, Whoopi and Pepper are tied at 3rd place!


On second place, it’s Dixie dressed up as a minion!


Just when you thought you’re already immune to the minions’ popularity, here comes Dixie as an adorable little minion. Dixie the minion originally hogged the top place with 178 Facebook votes, but was unfortunately bumped off in the remaining days of the competition.

And finally, on first place, Bradd the Witch!


Bradd the witch must’ve put a spell on everyone’s hearts because his votes poured in during the last days of voting. The contest ended with Bradd surging ahead with 230 votes as of cut-off period. Way to go, Bradd!

Congratulations Whoopi, Pepper, Dixie, and Bradd!

We would also like to thank and congratulate the runners-up who will be taking home goodies and treats from Primavera Residences.

3Maxxiz as Minnie Mouse!


Mr. Patches as the cuddly little devil

 1Not one but TWO ballerina pugs!


Thank you so much and congratulations to all! Watch out for our next social media contest by tuning in to our official Facebook page and Instagram account (@primaveraresidences).

For the winners (top 3 and runners-up), please send a message via Facebook.com/CondoPrimavera for instructions on how to claim your prizes.

To know more about Primavera Residences, visit www.primaveraresidences.com or call 088-880-5002.


Cagayan de Oro Rugby Football Club (CdO RFC): A Kagay-Anon Journey to The Sport of Rugby

BY NOEL VILLA (founder and coach of the Cagayan de Oro Rugby Football Club)


Each one of us has a role to play in this world: a good father, a great leader, and a lot more. As for me, I choose to be a simple teacher who loves to teach and share my passion for Rugby.

I admit, I am no Jonah Lomu (the first global superstar in Rugby Union) and I will never be like him inside the pitch. But that’s not the only way one can spread love for the sport, especially in a place where almost nobody has ever seen a real rugby ball.

Back in the United Kingdom where I stayed for 27 years, I grew up playing rugby for my school. I love how the sport teaches discipline, strategy and team work and of course, the show of strength and agility which every sportsman can relate.

When I came home to the Philippines for a vacation in September 2011, I was lucky to find a rugby team to train with. My first team, The Raging Bisons, won 2nd Place in the Plate Division during the first ever Rugby 7’s in the 2012 Philippine National Games. I later joined the Globe Immortals Team and have contributed to Rugby 101 program to teach the sport at the Ultra grounds, which I find quite fulfilling.


noel vila cdo rugby
Winning a Silver Medal in the Plate Division during the 2012 Philippine Games

Love brought me to Cagayan de Oro City in June of 2013 and I have settled in this lovely City ever since. But there was one problem: nobody that I talked to knew anything about Rugby when I first came here. So, I started jogging at Pueblo de Oro carrying my only Rugby Ball, tossing the ball up in the air from 5:30am to 7:00am, with the sole mission of getting a curious jogger to ask what the egg-shaped ball was for. That proved to be a challenge and yes, I got some odd looks from the people who saw me then. For the next few days I did this religiously and though not having much luck, I didn’t think of giving up on the sport that has helped me a lot growing up.
After a few days of no luck, I realized I have to change my strategy. Since there was no Rugby club in the local scene, I decided to create one.

So in August 2013, I formed a Facebook Page which I named Cagayan de Oro Rugby Football Club (CDO RFC) hoping to catch the attention of those who are curious about the sport and possibly get them to play Rugby. I made sure to advertise the Club in different FB Groups, subtly recruiting boys and girls to try playing the sport and practically promoting its history and growth into the mainstream sports scene.

Three guys showed up during the first training session, then became ten and soon enough, we got girls into the Team. Now there are over thirty members in the Club and counting.

Above all, I am proud that CDO RFC Team has developed a heart for the community through our social advocacy, “Help Change the Life of a Child” providing sports therapy and feeding program to the children of Boys Town in Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro City.

help save the life of a child
“Help Change the Life of a Child” – Sports Therapy and Feeding Program of CDO RFC for the children of Boys Town Lumbia.

We also advocate the value of charity and goodwill to the community through our “Give Blood, Play Rugby” Program where we donate blood through the Northern Mindanao Medical Center.

Creating and maintaining the CDO RFC was no walk in the park and there is still so much work to be done.

I started the Club with no funds and had to rely on friends to share some of their precious savings so I can run the Club with integrity. There were paper works to accomplish, fees to pay and plenty of unanswered questions such as, “Where shall we train the kids?”, “Where do we get the balls, crash pads and cones for training?”, “How do we produce the kits?”, “How do we recruit players?” or “Where do we get the budget for rugby development?” and so on. Most of the answers to these questions actually cost me my own savings and precious time.

Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle.” True, there were challenging obstacles along the way but I chose to do this because I love what I do and I believe that there are talents waiting to be discovered. Now I can proudly say that after five months of training under the sun or rain, CDO RFC is ready to take on another milestone: compete in a real game against more experienced teams.


UPDATE: On February 22, 2014, the Cagayan de Oro Rugby Football Club competed with the Cebu Dragons and Davao Durians at the Pelaez Sports Complex in Cagayan de Oro City. The day began with a free Get Into Rugby (GIR) Clinic which was open for boys and girls aged 11 to 16 from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. followed by the kick-off games of the VisMin Rugby Football League from 12 noon onwards.


See below for photos taken during the event.


cagayan de oro rugby club game

cdo rugby club feb 22 game



Do you know which multi-awarded green condominium building in CDO is proudly supporting the Cagayan de Oro Rugby Football Club? Click here. 



Movie: Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto) at Cine Europa 16

It was Cine Europa season once again, and this year marks the sixth time that the film fest graced Cagayan de Oro City. High quality European movies were shown to the public (for free!) from October 10 to 13 at the Rodelsa Hall in Liceo de Cagayan University, drawing cinema enthusiasts from all over the city.

I happen to be one of those movie fans who mark my calendar each year to head to Rodelsa Hall and catch European films galore. So last Saturday, I met up with a couple of friends for a quick brunch before catching an Italian comedy called Pranzo di Ferragosto or Mid-August Lunch. Here are some of my thoughts about this simple and light-hearted movie.

Movie Review - Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto) | Cine Europa 16

1. Food, food, food!

Good thing we had a hearty brunch before the movie, otherwise my stomach would’ve been rumbling in protest. There were so much food featured in the movie! Almost each scene had some form of delicious food lurking somewhere, and an ever-present glass or bottle of wine. Ahhh. The Italians sure know how to tease not only the taste buds, but the imagination as well.

Food played a great part in the storyline too. There was a funny scene with the old lady who raided the fridge for some pasta casserole, and a huge chunk of the scenes were of the main character Gianni going around town looking for ingredients for the meals he’s cooking. And of course, the title itself says ‘lunch’.

I left the theater feeling hungry and craving for some pasta al forno and some good old Filetti Di Persico Con Patate. So when I got home, I immediately scoured the net for some recipes. So here, I’m sharing them with you too.

Movie Review - Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto) | Cine Europa 16 | Pasta Al Forno Recipe

Pasta al forno was the dish cooked by the character Maria. It was so delicious that Grazia (the one who’s forbidden from eating pasta, cheeses and tomatoes) raided the fridge and ate all of it!

This is the recipe prepared by Gianni for their Ferragosto lunch. They had to find the ingredients from all over town, but it was totally worth it!

Fileti di Persico Con Patate Recipe | Movie Review - Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto) | Cine Europa 16

2. Family Always Comes First

It is known the world over that the Italians place very high importance on their family (just like us Filipinos!) The family is always considered as the center of the social structure and everyone looks after the interest of another.

In the movie, we meet Gianni, the 60-ish man who lives with his 90-year old mom to take care of her. The movie opens up with him reading The Three Musketeers to his mother, with the quite spry and opinionated mom voicing out her funny comments every now and then.

The story doesn’t fail to tug at your heartstrings. It’s a no-frills cinematic fare – utterly delightful in its simplicity. The focus: selflessness and love for family. It’s something Filipinos could very much relate to.

3. Promoting Relationships through Good Food

A big part of the movie is all about preparing meals together and bonding while making casserole, chopping potatoes, or what-have-you. And of course, the actual meals itself. This simply reiterates the importance of eating together and talking in meals, and how it truly does wonders to human relationships.

All in all, the movie is fantastic. If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you look for a copy of the movie, grab some family and friends, and watch it with some good food and wine.

So.. bon appetit! Arrivederci!

In the mood for some more Italian culture? Check out this link for a slice of Italy in Cagayan de Oro!

Photo source: Central Coast Foodie blog