By A. Paulita Roa
Divisoria in the 50s
Divisoria in the 50s

 

ON OCTOBER 30, 1946, a joint resolution by the members the Provincial Board of Misamis Oriental and the Municipal Board of Cagayan was passed, expressing their desire to elevate the municipality of Cagayan into a city. This was later followed by Resolution 49 that was passed by the Cagayan Municipal Board on June 2, 1947 requesting the President of the Philippines to grant a City Charter to Cagayan. It also requested Rep. Pedro S. Baculio of Misamis Oriental to sponsor a bill in Congress to create the city of Cagayan. Baculio filed said bill, but Congress adjourned before the bill could be acted upon.

The Municipal Board also created what they called a Committee of Three on September 25, 1947, whose purpose was to study the possibility of elevating Cagayan to cityhood. On April 2, 1949, Municipal Mayor Maximo Y. Suniel headed a delegation to Manila to urge the congressmen to pass the measure creating Cagayan into a city as embodied in House Bill 2829. But the term of Rep. Baculio expired before the bill was passed.

On December, 1949, after the election of Emmanuel N. Pelaez as the new Representative of Misamis Oriental, Mayor Suniel and the municipal officials requested him to continue the work that was started by Baculio. Meanwhile, numerous public hearings were conducted regarding the impending cityhood of Cagayan. The people of Opol and Barra strongly expressed their desire not to be part of Cagayan when it becomes a city.

At the start of the first session of the second Congress, Rep. Pelaez sponsored House Bill No.54 creating the “City of Cagayan de Oro.” By April 12, 1950, the Pelaez Bill was approved by Congress, then it was sent to the Senate. However, it took two full months for Senate to refine the bill before it deemed fit to pass it.

Finally, on June 15, 1950 at around 11:30 A.M., Pres. Elpidio Quirino signed Republic Act 521 in Malacañang Palace, officially making the municipality of Cagayan to a city with a new name –- the City of Cagayan de Oro. This historic signing was witnessed by Rep. Pelaez, Gov. Paciencio Ysalina, Mayor Suniel, and other prominent Kagay-anons.

Minutes after the signing of RA 521, Maximo Y. Suniel was sworn in by President Quirino as the new city mayor. This gave him the distinction of being the last municipal mayor of Cagayan and the new mayor of Cagayan de Oro City. It was Rep. Emmanuel N. Pelaez who appended “de Oro” to Cagayan, and this was in recognition of the fact that gold was found in the city’s rivers and hills since time immemorial.

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