The "giant fish" tale of Cagayan de Oro

If you’re a native Cagayanon, you have probably heard of the “giant fish” tale along the Cagayan de Oro River. Some say it’s just a myth, a legend, a tale from the old age carried over the years. Based on the story, the giant fish even ate a priest from nearby St. Augustine Church.

If we follow the legend, only few locals know of an old tablet carved from stone depicting that “incident involving the priest and the giant fish”. Many years before, this tablet was located somewhere on the southwest concrete fence of what is now St. Joseph’s Garden of St. Augustine Church. Interestingly, this tablet (shown above) was transferred right at the back of the Archbishop’s Palace, away from the public view. A closer view of the tablet shown below clearly shows a hapless priest being caught by a giant fish….The tablet is believed to be very old.

But if you’re not into myths and legends, the tablet would be that of Jonah who was swallowed by a whale as written in the Bible.

In modern times, there really exists a giant carp as shown below and is very common in Southeast Asia.

Still, this giant carp could be very much bigger in the older days which can easily gobble up anything the size of a man. Now, this giant fish is often depicted in the floats during the annual fiesta.

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  1. paolo says:

    Wow! I have heard of this story when I was still a kid. This could be true. This tablet should be shown to the public, this is a sure attraction.

    • Jason Tondares says:

      Tinuod jud ni oi…kay katong Pag jogging nako diha sa cathedral kay nag pakita ang isda sa ako…nag sunod sunod sya sa ako…nag jacket sya og gold apil iyang sapatos gold…iyang Mata gold…iyang ngipon gold….gi hepa man di.ay….hahahahahahahahahahahajajajajahahajajajajahahaha

  2. Migs says:

    Yes, that should be shown to the public! Legend is more interesting… 🙂

  3. Jorge says:

    Any one aware of Jonas who was swallowed by a big fish? Better review your bible if you have one.


    • Kil says:

      Jonas was swallowed by a whale and it was at sea

      • AndosCave says:

        Haha. Actually fish ang giingon sa bible (Jonah 1:17) but children’s story books would use whale. Makes it easier to understand for the kids because of their size.

        I think the carving is really a depiction of the story in the old testament. It would have been a very interesting story if the legend was true.

  4. John Mellow (San Francisco) says:

    I’ve heard about this tale when I was a kid in Cagayan de Oro and I believed it before—now, looking at the tablet (picture) it seems to me that it was a story of the prophet Jonah—if you’ve attended Ateneo de Cagayan you will remember what happened to him as told in the Book of Jonah—-he was gobbled by a giant fish! And that was it.

  5. gilbert t says:

    the tablet shown shows a man and a ‘big fish’ breathing via its blow-hole. i have yet to find out if giant carps have blow-holes too! until then (and even though), that tablet shown i believe, is about Jonah and not a priest swallowed by this mythical fish. seriously? in cdo river? a giant fish?

  6. Rob says:

    Yes, it could only be Jonah and the the big fish is obviously a whale, seriously. Read this excerpts below for your learning:

    Jonah is also the central character in the Book of Jonah. Ordered by God to go to the city of Nineveh to prophesy against it “for their great wickedness is come up before me” [1] Jonah seeks instead to flee from “the presence of the Lord” by going to Jaffa and sailing to Tarshish, which, geographically, is 180 degrees in the opposite direction. A huge storm arises and the sailors, realizing this is no ordinary storm, cast lots and learn that Jonah is to blame. Jonah admits this and states that if he is thrown overboard the storm will cease. The sailors try to get the ship to the shore but in failing feel forced to throw him overboard, at which point the sea calms. Jonah is miraculously saved by being swallowed by a large fish specially prepared by God where he spent three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17). In chapter two, while in the great fish, Jonah prays to God in his affliction and commits to thanksgiving and to paying what he has vowed. God commands the fish to vomit Jonah out.

  7. Otik says:

    Nice. Kung tinuod man gali ni, maayo ipaanhi si Jeremy Wade para kita ta sa River Monsters. Hehe.

    • Queench tajeros says:

      Oo motor Jud ko ana Kay ana ang akoang Lola ug akoang lolo kung muhawa daw ng giant fish Kay mawala ng cagayan de pro Kay ang cagayan de oro sa una Kay dagat na kung mahitabu man na ang giant fish mawala sa mapa ang C.D.O basta para sa akoa na tinood Jud na kung dili mo motoo naarana sainyo kung motoo mo

  8. Djane says:

    I thought thought that this article is about the fish that carried CDO on its back. This myth is new to me.. hehe

  9. mr nice guy says:

    I heard this story before. Ang mysterious fish is called the “uro” , or oro.

    Ang mama nako nag ingon, during the old days daw, iyang mom or my lola nag agi daw sa underground tunnel from cathedral church to macabalan , now its underwater. I cannot verify this, but if this is true, only the old kagayanons know about it. I’m sure diha sa garden in Cathedral naay manga secrets diha.

    @djane although mao pud na ingon nila ,mag linog cdo if mag move ang gold fish, i think murag sturya2x rana hehe.

    When I was like 5 – 7 years old, I remember something that happened in the cdo river, naa daw nakita nila dako na fish etc. So what i saw was probably a monster fish / river monster. Maybe like that giant carp na picture sa taas.

    Actually this is very interesting, regarding sa fish. Kai murag maybe naa tai ma discover sa cdo river, maybe monster catfish or maybe a new fish species, who knows ? Naa naba nag study sa animal life sa cdo river?

  10. mr nice guy says:

    I almost forgot, kana diay na picture kai kang Jonas , why? Kai ang picture aside sa whale, ang tao naay bangas , ehhe. Pero why ang tablet naa diha?

  11. This legend inspired me so I made an illustration depicting the legend
    click on this link to view my illustration

    Facebook: (please like)!/photo.php?fbid=1324381968951&set=a.1324381008927.42121.1812940275


  12. regalado a. ayudar, jr. says:

    to add more info about this giant fish on the tablet. it was called KOGTONG who guarded this gold treasure of the church according to the old folks of Cagayan de Oro. my grandfather told me about this when i was 5 years old. I am now 53 years old and i could still remember the story. according to him there was a natural under ground tunnel before beneath the St. Augustine Church connecting to macajalar bay and became an underground river due to the the geographic changes of the earth. this american priest was swallowed when he accident tally step on on the head of the fish during his morning session taking a bath in the river. he thought it was a big bulk of a stone along the river side. it was hide tide when the event happened. that’s all folks.

  13. HardHeaded says:

    estoryaheE ! !

  14. tariki says:

    This is true but its not a giant carp……
    The giant fish is called ” Gurami” who started eating shit and the person who is sheeting on the river…

  15. …very interesting legend!!!_BUT why the ‘unkept’ tablet site—hard for me to understand!?!

  16. Interesting article and photos. First time for me to see the tablet. I suggest that the name of the photographers be written. Otherwise, there might be complaints about copyrights.

  17. I have strong suspicion that the human male species portrayed in the tablet is not Caucasian. Neither is he a priest. He is most likely Oriental because his gestures indicate he is a Tai Chi practitioner. It is quite clear also that the whale is engaged in white-water rafting, judging from the color of the waves. But the presence of two holes on its head, where streams of water rise like the fountain of Gaston Park, suggests that the animal might be unknown to science.

  18. levine says:

    they say if mglinog daw sa cdo thats the time pud daw nga galihok ang fish.,imagine how big the fish is nga malihok jd nya ang cdo,.some say nga the giant fish have golden scales.,.somebody tried to take 1 of its scales but unfortunately his eaten.,but i guess its not true,.gossips lng cguro.,

  19. paul says:

    This legend was so interesting!:)

  20. I really like your site !! It captivates the real story of our City. I’m an avid fan of myth and I would like to share this with my colleagues and to my future sons and daughter. Legend is very interesting. Hope that your website will be known !!

  21. joe says:

    is it true that CDO is floating in an oro fish??

  22. sopaing says:

    ye taray kay ka day!!!!!

  23. Shaira Vennel gerolao says:

    mao man.. akong mama told me that this tale is true,,, even though when she was residing there… and im happy that  i heard that wonderful. story

  24. joyce mae says:


  25. jonard says:

    the giant fish is real!!.. and it died or alive !!

  26. mark says:

    even though im not kagay anon… i heat that myth too.. they say it has a golden scale 

    is it TRUE

  27. alice kathleen abas says:

    hala! naa jud d i gi carve na tablet sa story na ako na dunggan before..dugay nku puyo cagayan but krn pku kabalo …hhhmmm..mka nga if mkabakasyon puhon..

  28. OneTeamCDO says:

    interesting dah.. HAHAHAHA

  29. Gene Eric says:

    Must be the story of Jonas. Somebody from the church may have made this to decorate church grounds along with other stories from the bible.

  30. ANONYMOUS says:

    i heard this story before when I was a kid..

  31. Jj says:

    my parents also told me abouth this ORO story thing. hehe
    mag LINOG basta mag lihok ang giant fish.

    very interesting story, unta buhatan ni ug libro then ipublish.
    I think i would be a hit. haha 🙂

  32. so interesting, i hope there are more further explanation with the oro fish in cagayan. I need to brain storm with this topic caus we will make a story about this

  33. i guess no one had already published this story….. I’m really interested to know more about this…..

  34. tilapia says:

    kugtong ba ang pangalan ng isda na yan ?

  35. daryl says:

    I think I need to imbestagate I wonder if this is true my lolo told me that its true
    But we Ned to prove our theory 🙂

  36. daryl says:

    Cno gusto mag imbistega about giant fish on cagayan de pro pls contac me ahheh I wona make some report of this !
    09356814473 thnx guys 🙂

  37. Bensoy says:

    akong papa sigi pamana dha sa suba gurami rman mapanaan wla may oro nilagum nman lang tong nawong sa ako papa sigi inupok waman daw sya kitag oro

    • Rodel says:

      Kung gusto mo makabalo unsa katinuod salomon ninyo ang tonnel kung aha ang isda nagpundo.kay naa pud ng ing ngon na ang isda daw gitukob daw ang ulo sa pari while naglawog sa pagkaon.ang pari na walay ulo nagmulto daw naa daw ang ulo sa isda sa cathedral ang lawas sa dvsoria daun ang ikog too sa pier sa pantalan.

  38. carlo says:

    LOL .! HAHA

  39. Nase says:

    Ipa carbon dating ang tablet kaw haha, heard of this story but mainly abouy the oro big fish, nga naa sa ubos sa cathedral, maglinog is maglihok sha.. Well as they they myths and legends are based on facts,… People are always facinated by legends, maybe this could become one of the tourist attraction sa cdo, the gaint golden fish of cdo. Hahaha

  40. Jed Crack says:

    akong nahinumduman, mo kaon ug tao ang isda, unya ang lubot sa isda tua sa macabalan dapit. mahimo ug gold ang tao nga nakaon sa isda.

  41. Ayjayar says:

    It’s easier to see this depicts the biblical story of Jonah and the giant fish (Jonah 1:17). Jonah is also mentioned in the Judaism, in the context of divine forgiveness (same as Christianity), and in Islam (as a savior of 100,000 people – see Sirah 39, Section 8, 139-148).
    So, Jonah is CLAIMED as a prophet by 3 great religions….and do you now see the wisdom why the mural was transferred away from the public eye? Hope you do!….

  42. joseas says:

    First time I heard ’bout the story of Giant ORO fish was when I was still Grade 4. 2004 to be exact. This was the time nga nagsige’g linog sa Northern Mindanao tungod sa paglihuk sa Cabanglasan fault. Daghan miingon nga galinog daw kay naglihok ang giant fish! hahaha nituo pud bia ko ato nga panahona. LOL.

    I do love reading stories, folklores, legends ’bout CDO. I do hope CDODev would feature other stories aside from the famous giant oro. May iba pa ba? 🙂

  43. Queench tajeros says:

    I really believe have a giant fish in C.D.O

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