CAGAYAN DE ORO—The holiday season in this capital city of Northern Mindanao kicked off when Eileen Canoy Escobar-San Juan unveiled the year’s edition of the miniature Christmas village at VIP Hotel in Divisoria, the city’s central business district.
Escobar-San Juan headed the team that won for the city the grand prize in the Liveable Cities Challenge organized by the National Competitiveness Council and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with World Wildlife Fund and Asia Society.
Together with Ninfa Along-Albania, Escobar-San Juan also played a key role in the city’s being named Second Most Competitive City, after Makati City.
Escobar-San Juan was also instrumental in the city’s being handpicked by the Department of Science and Technology for its leadership in “electronic readiness.” Her office, the Trade and Investment Promotions Center, together with Invest, a USAID project, crunched 18 steps that would take several days to only three steps done in 30 minutes—“ensuring ease and efficiency in business registration,” noted Ailel Asequia of the office.
Moreover, she was chair of the Higalaay, or friendship festival, which now marks the city’s celebration of the feast of its patron saint, St. Augustine (Aug. 28).
Toward the end of 2014, Mayor Oscar S. Moreno asked Escobar-San Juan to organize an investments and trade visit to Cagayan de Oro’s sister city in the United States, Norfolk, Virginia, which has resulted in a harvest of so many good news.
Upon her return, she promptly launched a new Christmas festival called “Pasko de Oro.”
Centrio, the Ayala mall here, hosted Pasko de Oro’s initial project, the “Bangga sa Daygon,” a caroling contest for grade school choirs.
“It’s like having angels in one party,” beamed the angelic Lauren Yasay, Centrio’s marketing manager.
Centrio hosted another Pasko de Oro event, the Christmas lantern competition.
Enthused Promote Cagayan de Oro Foundation’s Michelle May Oraiz: “What an apt opening salvo for Pasko de Oro!”
Pasko de Oro’s highlight, though, was the “Paskorela.”
Cagayan de Oro was wrapped in holiday cheer—even as paused on Dec. 16 to mark the third year of Tropical Storm “Sendong’s” devastation.
At the World Urban Forum in Colombia, UN-Habitat handpicked Cagayan de Oro as one of the emerging cities of tomorrow, the only Philippine city and one of only two Asean cities (the other one is Malaysia’s Johor Bahru) in the list.