As Cebu Pacific flight 5J 774 slowly descends to Cebu-Mactan International Airport, I couldn’t resist but to compare the province beneath me now, Cebu, with Manila which I left just an hour ago. Their night lights were significantly distinguishable. Manila’s were far brighter and concentrated than Cebu’s which are dimmer and farther from one another. With this observation, I wanted to further explore the whole province of Cebu especially Cebu City. Intrigued and excited at the same time, I have been dreaming of this moment for some time now.
12:35 AM, we have landed at Cebu-Mactan International Airport, Lalu-Lapu City. The aiport is nice, beautiful in fact. It is the second busiest airport in the Philippines and one of the top 20 airports in the ASEAN region in 2011 which I have seen for myself. The people of Cebu were really nice but I can’t understand Cebuano. I do recognize some of the words because of my ‘bisaya‘ mom. I would always see her with our other relatives laughing in a corner about something that I don’t totally understand. I have always wanted to learn the Visayan language because of its simplicity and complexity at the same time. It fascinated me because it comes in many varieties, starting with Ilonggo, Waray, Boholanon, Cebuano, and the list goes on and on.
We continued our little excursion in Cebu City. I was really amazed. The streets were clean, high rising building are everywhere, the traffic system is very smart, the architectures are just plain beautiful, and everything looked very sophisticated. It is the center of a metropolitan area called Metro Cebu, which includes the cities of Carcar, Danao, Lapu-lapu, Mandaue, Naga, Talisay and the municipalities of Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Minglanilla and San Fernando. With the modernity that I have observed it is still hard to believe that Cebu City is the oldest city in the Philippines. A fast rising and beautiful city in its own terms.
“Ang ganda.”, “Sobrang ganda.” and “Dito na lang tayo tumira,” these kept escaping my mouth especially when we went to Ayala Center Cebu. This was the first Ayala Shopping Center located outside of Metro Manila which was opened in 1994. It is chic and modern and is surrounded by big buildings which I think are condominiums. It recently had a major renovation which unveiled “The Terraces”, a 600-million project. It housed high end boutique and stores that is collected in a lagoon like surrounding. I was totally blown away! It exceeded my expectations, big time!
I thought that Cebu City is the perfect city but I was obviously wrong. Where there is a beautiful side there must be a not-so-beautiful side. Everything needs balance and Cebu City is a part of everything. I saw Cebu City’s other side later that day. And it somewhat shocked me because I really thought that I have seen something perfect. Bustling streets with speeding cars, tons of crossing pedestrians without a proper pedestrian lane and slum like areas, these are what I have seen while crossing the poorly lighted road running for my own life. It was smoky but bearable. I should be used to it by now because Metro Manila is a little bit worse.
I have been to Cebu, smelled the air, felt the vibe, walked the sidewalks, met the people, and loved it totally! It took me just a day to fully appreciate its beauty. And I know this wouldn’t be my last visit because I want to see its development through the years and maybe, just maybe Cebu City will be my own little paradise in the future.