Goodbye Divisoria Night Cafe!

We have said goodbye to a lot of places that we Kagayanons are accustomed with. Few weeks ago, it was Lumbia Airport. And just last Saturday, we bid farewell to “Divisoria Night Cafe.” Is it really final and official?

Mayor Oscar Moreno had already pronounced through his interview with ABS-CBN TV Patrol-Northern Mindanao last week, that he would put an end to the “Night Café” in Divisoria. For the past ten years, families and friends would look forward to the night bazaar, live bands, and food trips  in Divisoria every Friday and Saturday night. It even became a tourist attraction for it was something uniquely Kagayanon before the rest followed. It was a good venue for expats and local tourists to experience Kagayanon Cuisines and converse with the local folks. Though not exactly the same, but it was our own version of night cafes and markets found in Hong Kong and Singapore. Even in travel blogs, tourists coming to Cagayan de Oro have made Divisoria Night Cafe a part of their itinerary.  Some even said, Pag Cagayan? Night Cafe na!

I would say, the night cafe brought back Divisoria’s glory as the Central Business District of Cagayan de Oro. I remember in the 90s, we just visited Divisoria to eat at KFC, now Mang Inasal. The place was quite sleepy especially on weekends. What was lively then was Limketkai Center. At night, Divisoria was in the pit of darkness. Halogen lamps were not working well. Only few chose to stay at the park, some of them were in the likes of Mary Magdalene. What a gloomy picture.

When Divisoria Night Cafe came, everything else followed. Banks, spas, salons, food establishments, party scenes, street vendors sprouted everywhere, and the lollipop lights. People from neighboring towns and provinces would choose to come and visit CDO’s night cafe to unwind and bond with their families and friends. With the wide array of cheap retail items and local cuisines, barbecues paired with beer while live bands entertained the crowd with party music,  it was the typical Filipino hang-out. No doubt it captured the heart of the “masa.” That manic scene would surely be missed by many. If that was the case, why do we have to end it?

Well, some of you may have not seen the scenario and have breathed in that peculiar smell of Divisoria right after night cafe. That lively picture became a perfect epitome of how undisciplined we are Filipinos. There was a build up of trash and urea was floating in the air especially along Xavier University. I got annoyed every time I inhaled that disgusting smell of urine that I was about to suggest to Guinness to make Cagayan de Oro the largest toilet in the world. Of course, who would forget the inconvenience that it brought to our traffic condition. Because CDO has grown  rapidly, motor vehicles passing through our roads have also been increasing tremendously. And because Divisoria was blocked to give way to the night market and cafe, it made Cagayan de Oro’s roads and even small streets a major bottle neck of traffic. I even experienced coming from Banco de Oro Lapasan to Xavier University with a travel time of 1 hour and 45 minutes on a Friday night and missed to attend my class.

Those were the days of Divisoria Night Cafe. Yes, a lot of us would surely miss it. What will happen to Divisoria? Will it go back to its former sleepy and melancholic state? All these questions are in my thoughts. Despite the separation anxiety that I feel, I just think of the bad memories that I experienced with Divisoria Night Cafe. Yes, there are plans that it would be transferred somewhere else like Gusa. But, I would say that for as long as we remain undisciplined then we are not ready for this kind of development. No matter how sincere our government is of creating a vibrant Cagayan de Oro that gives entertainment and at the same time livelihood to a lot of people, if we continue to behave in a disorganized way then we would just be bringing a huge ball of traffic, trash, and urea to new sites of night cafe. Hey, discipline starts at home, right? As my statement shirt says… “Never Mind! Never Mind! Never Mind!”

Photo by Gibby Lapinid