Things to Do in Ozamiz City—Cotta Fort and Bukagan Hill

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Ozamiz in Misamis Occidental, Philippines is a small city of just over a hundred thousand residents. It was previously known as “Misamis,” which had been an old Spanish town in the early 1800s. It was established because of the Spanish garrison, the Nuestra Senora dela Concepcion del Triunfo stone fort, which had been constructed to protect the land from the pirates of Lanao.

This is a two-part guest post from my colleague Ace Diloy, an opportunity travel photographer, who went around Ozamiz in one day.

Cotta Park

Cotta Park in Ozamiz City.

My name is Ace, and I’m a guest blogger (the first one!) here in Solitary Wanderer. I’m actually not a blogger, but more of an opportunity travel photographer. That means someone who gets to travel to different places because of work, education, or business, and makes it a point to photograph people and places of interest. It’s not to be confused with tourist photography or hardcore travel photography.

I would imagine that one travels to Ozamiz not as a tourist, since the tourism industry here isn’t really developed. If you happen to have a scheduled flight to this place, and would like to explore the city in a limited amount of time, then read on.

If you’re staying at the city center, then your main mode of transportation would be tricycles or pedicabs. Fare would be Php8 pesos within the city proper regardless if you are the only passenger. You have quite a few choices for accommodation. There are pension houses scattered in the city, ranging from Php300 for a fan room, to in excess of around Php500 for an airconditioned room.

One of the places you can visit in Ozamiz is the Cotta Fort. It was built in 1755 as a Spanish outpost. Think of it as a much smaller Fort Santiago in Manila.

Cotta Fort

Entrance to the Cotta Fort.

Cotta Fort

Cannon at Cotta Fort.

There is a Php10 entrance fee that you would have to fork out to the guard on duty, not to be confused with the stone guard below, who also stands at the entrance of the fort. When you enter, you will see a huge tree which is believed to be as old as the fort itself. There’s really nothing to see inside, as it is a fort – an enclosed space. So if you’re fond of grass, then you’ll be happy to explore Cotta Fort.

Cotta Fort

Stone statue in Cotta Fort.

There is a small “museum” inside the fort, but, as expected, it was virtually empty. The only redeeming piece inside was the box containing old bones. The bones were supposed to be discovered when the local government excavated the arsenal structure inside the fort. I would have forked out an additional 10 pesos just to hold those bones, but I decided it would be better spent on sago and gulaman (local sweetened drink) instead.

Cotta Fort

Ancient bones in Cotta Fort.

Cotta Fort

The old arsenal.

It does get interesting when you climb the fort wall. There is a mini lighthouse overlooking the cotta park. Unfortunately, you can’t climb it. From the cotta fort wall, you can also see Lanao Del Norte, which is around 20 minutes away by ferry.

Cotta Fort

Mini lighthouse in Cotta Fort.

After Cotta Fort, I decided to go to Bukagan Hill. The hill houses a tower which has four huge bells weighing 7 tons each. It was too heavy for the Cathedral’s belfry, so it was decided that a special tower in Bukagan Hill would be constructed to house the enormous bells.

Bukagan Hill

One of the bells in Bukagan Hill.

Bukagan Hill

Another one of the bells in Bukagan Hill.

Doing prior research, web info indicated that the road going uphill to Bukagan would be well paved. In order to go there, one would have to hire a habal-habal (single motorcycle). The driver wanted Php300 for a round trip, but I managed to haggle it down to Php100. Local contacts advice against going solo to the place, as there have been reported muggings in the area.

The road initially was as described, well paved. But after reaching the foot of the hill, the terrain suddenly changed. It became rough, and after about less than a kilometer, it was near impossible to take photos while riding in a habal-habal. The expected well paved road was gone and was replaced with one littered with rocks the size of small coconuts.

After reaching the top, though, you would be greeted by the Bukagan Hill bell tower, and it’s a beautiful view indeed.

Bukagan Hill

The Bukagan Hill bell tower.

It was just too bad that the tower had been defaced by vandals. The place had so much potential for tourism.

My next post would be about Naomi’s Garden and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

How to go to Ozamiz: Ozamiz is accessible by direct flight from Manila via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. The Ozamiz City airport is about 15 minutes via tricycle from the city center. Fare would be around Php60 per person.


 Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer and editor. She likes running (completed one marathon, training for the next!), diving (PADI open water diver), and traveling with her Kindle. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. You can also email her; she would love to hear from you!


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