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  Cagayan de Oro Local Culture
Local Customs | Local Language | Local Laws
Higaonon dance Cagayan de Oro is a small developing city. It still has a provincial atmosphere where most people are laid back, casual and a bit conservative.

Religion affects all aspects of Filipino life. Festivities, gatherings and beliefs are centered on it. This is one reason why Filipinos (especially in rural areas) are superstitious.

Most Kagayanons are from the conservative Roman Catholic faith. There is a growing number of Protestants and Muslims coming mostly from Lanao migrating to the city. Unknown to many, there is a Buddhist community thriving in the city but is quite reclusive.

The city has a young population with a median age of 22 years old. One would not be surprised to see many children and teenagers around, most of which are influenced by American or Western culture. The mixture of Asian and Western influence has created a unique culture among Kagayanons and Filipinos in general.

Kagayanons are fond of drinking beer or liquor. This is usually accompanied by a "pulutan" (finger food) and "sinugba" (grilled food). There are some food stalls in the Night Cafe that encourage diners to eat with their hands. If you are uncomfortable with it, you can always ask for a fork and spoon. Knives are rarely used in Filipino dining.

As a developing city, Cagayan de Oro has its share of beggars, most of which are children. If possible avoid giving alms or money as you might be swarmed with beggars. Refuse politely, do not intimidate the beggar as it will only worsen the situation. Should you give something, give food items instead of money. If you are that generous, give around 1 or at most 5 Peso coin. Use a separate coin purse to avoid showing off your entire money.

Every Sunday afternoon, religious fanatics from the Catholic, Protestant and even the Muslim faith converge in Rizal Park, Plaza Divisoria to engage in a loud but friendly debate about religious doctrines. If you don't want to be part of any debate, avoid making comments on political and religious issues. Some people are passionate about these issues. If you are caught in such a conversation, just nod politely and try to change the topic immediately. Talk instead about sports, like basketball and boxing or your home town.

Kagayanons are family oriented. Sometimes one can find the entire family clan (from Grandparents to Grandchildren) in one house or in one neighborhood. This is also evident during festive holidays in which families gather together. During All Souls Day and All Saints Day (November 1 & 2), families camp out for two days in cemeteries to be with dead relatives.

Filipinos in general use certain type of body language to communicate. Some use their lips to point at something. Occasionally, a raised eyebrow would mean a "yes" to a question or a silent "hello". In a business or formal environment, it is expected for people to shake hands. In a more casual setting most Kagayanons do not shake hands but instead nod to each other, smile and say "hello" or "kumusta". However if you extend your hand, most reply with a handshake.

Kagayanons dress casually in almost all occasions. However in formal affairs such as weddings (if you are part of the entourage), executive meetings, inductions or high government affairs, a "Barong Tagalog" is appropriate. You can also use a Polo Barong which is basically a more casual, less expensive than the Jusi and Piña type Barong. You can buy ready-to-wear Barong at most shopping centers.

Unless you are an actress with bodyguards, women should not wear clothing that reveals too much skin or cleavage. This is to avoid unnecessary attention and sexual advancement from local men. Also dress appropriately in Churches and Muslim areas of the city.

Filipinos in general are usually late in any event or meeting. This is known as "Filipino Time". This annoying habit can be traced back to the Spanish times where important guests (Spanish Officials) are always late. People have this mindset of assuming that all the other guests are going to be late and that there is no rush to be on time. Filipino Time is being discouraged in schools, businesses and other institutions.

The phrase "Bahala na" is derived from "Bathala na" which literally means, "Let God's will be done". This simply means "come what may" or as the song goes "Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be, will be". Putting one's destiny to faith is quite common among Filipinos.

Basketball, boxing and cockfighting are the national sports of the country. In fact every barangay or village in the Philippines has a basketball court. Cockfighting arenas are also found in every Philippine town or if not are played in neighborhood backyards.

Locally known as "Ulaw" ("Hiya" in Tagalog) or a sense of shame is part of the Filipino culture. Intimidating or scolding someone in public or in front of peers is not taken well especially among the poor and uneducated folks. Though you will not probably expect an aggressive response but some of these people can harbor a grudge on you. Among Muslims this usually ends up in vengeance that sometimes extends to your friends and family members. In shopping centers and other professional establishments this practice does not hold true anymore. If faced with a situation, a smile and a calm stern will go a long way.

"Pasalubong" comes the Tagalog term "Salubong" (to meet and welcome someone). It is basically a gift given to people or a person who welcomes you. This gift giving is common specially Filipinos living abroad or someone coming back from a trip. Gifts are given to family members and could even extend to friends and officemates. A "Pasalubong" need not be expensive unless you plan to bribe someone in authority. Any item related to your home or country is an advised gift. Be creative, these gifts need not be expensive or heavy on the luggage.

Filipino Wedding. For foreigners who wants to marry in the Philippines, make sure the bride or groom is at least 18 years of age. Philippine laws prohibit marriage below the legal age, with or without parental consent.

Depending on the region, there are different marriage traditions in the Philippines. Among Cebuanos and Kagayanons, the groom with his family goes to the bride's house and asks the bride's parents for their daughter's hand in marriage. Usually the groom brings something like food for the brides parents. After the announcement, parents of both sides will discuss plans for the wedding.

Groom shows respect for mother of the bride. Photo placed with permission from Mr. and Mrs. Joey Blanco.Unlike western traditions, in the Philippines it is the groom that spends for the entire wedding. However, due to difficult times both bride and groom share wedding expenses. A Philippine wedding has a coin bearer. The groom is supposed to give 13 gold or silver coins (currently people use gold or silver plated coins) to the bride.

These coins are called Wedding Coins or Arras. This symbolizes the groom's commitment to the welfare of his wife and children. There are no divorce laws in the Philippines. Annulment is an alternative process but is long and meticulous.

Check Weddings at WorkExternal sitefor more information about Philippine weddings including local laws and traditions.

Copyright © 2007-2012 CDO Guide. Update starts October 1, 2011.