CEBU

 

In alphabetic order, Cebu is hard to beat. That's about the only way it's a winner.

Obviously, Cebu was not planned – not initially, or as it grew. Cebu personifies the major problem throughout the Philippines, which is insufficient infrastructure. Situated on an exceedingly narrow strip of land between mountain and sea, with no room to expand in any direction, Cebu exhibits the problems that result from lack of forethought like no other place I have been.

Cebu's dreaded South Cebu Road (highway eight) defines the word misery, in no uncertain terms, for millions of people each day as it is the only east-west thoroughfare to span the city.

Lapu Lapu Island (named for a fish we call a grouper) is a world-famous tourist destination but woe to the person that tries to get from there to the city proper, at any reasonable time of day, as the bridges are few, and far too small to handle the traffic demanding to use them. Lapu Lapu offers great, high-dollar tourist accommodations but Cebu, in general, is not a fun place, in fact the reverse.

There is no escaping the grinding misery of the traffic, except well after dark. I have never seen so many drivers that NEED the living fuck beaten out of them, in my sixty-seven years on this planet. The three months I spent there were all about road rage.

People in the U. S. would never act like the ass holes in Cebu because, if they did, somebody would blow them away, first day. Then you have the people that think they ride motorcycles and are suicidal… to the nth degree. They drive right out in front of you, daring you to kill them! And yes, I am quite serious. And the icing, on the cake? Here in the Philippines they think it's cool to run without lights, at night!

As indicated in my title photo, Cebu is skyscrapers and tin shacks, with little in between. In a place where (proportionally) few can afford a car there is no mass transit system. Instead there are a god-zillion privateers, running some of the sorriest junk you couldn't even imagine up and down the streets, completely plugging the right lane while engaging in a never-ending game of chicken by forcing their crap-mobiles into the traffic from the right. I laid on my horn… man! None of them ever touched my truck. That's why they're still alive…

Cebu, for the most part, is an ugly, gritty place filled with people that are OK… until they get behind the wheel. I felt safe there. I was never threatened. Many people were nice to me – wanted to meet me and talk to me. But the thing with driving had me so wound up that several weeks were required to return to my usual, easy-going ways after I escaped Cebu. Look, if you have heart trouble, stay away, ok? Seriously.

The “entertainment district” in Cebu is all of three blocks long, containing bars, dance and night clubs. Prostitution is far less obvious than in Manila, but still available. Many of the young females that hang around are below the legal age, so be careful. Stories of a girl's father and police walking in on amorous couples and demanding payoffs abound, but they may only be stories.

Cebu contains several nice malls and not a single auto parts store that a Joe would recognize as same. Things even slightly out of the ordinary are all but impossible to obtain. I passed three months actively trying to find a pan gasket for an automatic transmission. I still don't have it. Cebu is not an easy or fun place to be, by any stretch of the imagination.

Cebu is right on the water so the air pollution is not nearly as bad as it would be in an inland city with the same amount of traffic. The “classic” style of jeepney is almost entirely absent in Cebu, as well. Still, the diesel smoke is thick, some days.

In summation, my feelings after leaving (or is that escaping) Cebu seem to say it all. Seldom, if ever have I been so glad to see a place in my rear view mirror, for the last time.

 

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