Bogo City, a “city” with an identity crisis. Is it a city or is it a town? Two years ago, Bogo Town became Bogo City. A special law had to be passed though as Bogo and several other municipalities were converted to cities even though they didn’t meet the income requirement of P100 million. Bogo City is at only P50 million. Once the exemption was granted for these cities, Bogo held a vote and the residents overwhelmingly voted to convert to a city and that was it, Bogo was now Bogo City. The vote was something like 97% in favor.
Bogo City Politics
In the Philippines, there is a pot of money that gets divided between all the cities in the country. So, the other cities were now getting a smaller cut. You can imagine how well that went over with the other cities. The cities that did meet the requirements filed suit. They held the law exempting the cities was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of the Philippines agreed.
The losing cities filed for reconsideration twice. Both times the cities lost but with a close 4-5 vote, I think that was the way the vote came out. There was only a difference of one. The cities were talking about filing again but I read an article that indicated the Philippine Supreme Court would not entertain another reconsideration request.
The biggest impact for me is that Bogo City was planning on using the extra funds to develop a diving location just outside the city. The mayor has said that is in jeopardy. I don’t dive now, but I plan on joining the San Remigio Beach Club and take lessons there. It will probably be another year before I can do that, if I can pass the physical. I’m sure I can find a doctor to make that happen but I don’t want to do that if it is really dangerous for me.
Bogo is Still a City?
Bogo is not accepting this very well. Last month, it came time to celebrate the city obtaining its charter. Last year there was a massive celebration on the first year anniversary. I wondered if they would have another celebration this year. It was scaled back a bit. The fireworks were nowhere the same level they were last year, but that might have been because of the decreased funding.
Still they did hold the celebration and there was a banner in the town plaza that proclaimed the “Bogo is Still A City.” Its hard to get hard news about the city. There is no local paper, at least not one that is in English. I don’t think there is one in Cebuano either. Bogo has a lot of papers here though and a lot in Cebuano. I would like to start one myself but I can’t do that without the help of local people and they don’t seem to be willing to risk that! Too easy to make someone angry and that could go badly.
Bogo still a city though? Jessie said that perhaps the mayor is having a hard time accepting that Bogo is no longer a city.
Since the mayor says its still a city, I will call it a city too. I’m sure they will eventually get it back. Cities are required to have income of P100 million but Bogo has only P50 million so it has a way to go. I wonder if everyone paid their taxes, they might reach that now.
Official Vigilante Group in Bogo?
We have a multi-cab (a small truck like a Ford Ranger in the USA) that is marked as the Bogo Anti Crime Task Force that makes itself well known. Seems like a great idea. It usually has quite a few men in the back of it. From time to time one can see it racing to some place in Bogo with the red lights flashing.
A few months back, I read an article where some authority, I think the Ombudsman for the Visayas but it might have been the PNP Chief, issued an order that demanded the Bogo City police chief provide closer supervision of the group. The article indicated it was a vigilante group but at the same time it was put together under multi-agency funding. The Philippine National Police was one of the funding agencies. Perhaps that was limited to buying the truck. It wasn’t very clear. Not enough details in the article.
The article stated that there were accusations of the planting of evidence and harassment of those opposing some of the in power officials in Bogo. It was also claimed that the group included wanted felons and convicted felons and the use of improper firearms or unregistered firearms. The police chief was ordered to arrest those individuals!
Since that article, we have a new police chief, I don’t know why we have a new one or if it was related to that. I don’t know what happened but there are fewer men associated with the task force now. They were always friendly to me. I always waved or spoke when I passed them on the street.
Since I’ve lived here, I’ve seen only a few instances of crime. One involved a jail break from the PNP jail here. One of those prisoners was killed on recapture in Daan Bantayan town just north of Bogo. The other one was someone broke into a home of an older woman while she was in her home. He was captured, the little old lady chased him down the street while yelling for help.
Someone did kill my first monkey which I reported to the police just in case there was more trouble. I know I sure had to fight the urge to cause trouble if I could have found out who did it. I think now though it was probably a kid.
Just last month, someone stole the brass fixtures from my front porch. They broke it right out of the masonry. Not a big deal but I was afraid they might come back and steal the cage that houses my monkey. The broke out only a small piece of it and our neighbors said they would be back to get the rest. Our land lady came by, took the rest out and had someone repair it the next morning. I was on alert for a few days but we had no more issues.
That’s the kind of crime we mostly have in Bogo. I know of nothing serious here in the year and a couple of months that I’ve lived here. You can even walk down the street using your cell phone. Something you’d be crazy to do in Cebu City. This Bogo City anti-crime task force is a curious thing..
The Lighter Side Of Bogo
Careful Mr. American how you pronounce that. If you pronounce it like an American, you may be telling someone they are stupid. One pronunciation means dull. I had that happen at a bus terminal. They were about to get angry with me until he figured out what I was trying to say!
The Cleanest and The Greenest
Bogo City has earned the distinction of being the cleanest and greenest city or town in the Philippines. It has earned this distinction three years in a row!
Bogo is located in Northern Cebu along the Bay of Bogo. Much of the city runs along the waters edge. One of the nicest things I ever saw here was a guy sitting on the sea wall, playing his guitar with a group of banca (boats) in the background.
Last week I wrote about the Wharf on Bogo Bay and I can’t write about Bogo without talking about the wharf. This picture screams Bogo to me. Friendly happy Filipino.
I take a lot of pictures down in that area. I just can’t help it, its such a beautiful place. I didn’t think the picture above would come out well as they were quite close. It turned out to be one of the best. Just a quick snap shot.
The Catholic Church, Saint Vincent Ferrer Parish sits in the heart of Bogo City, I can see it from my bedroom window and I can hear its bells ringing at 3:30am. It doesn’t bother me, it rarely wakes me up. Sometimes I know I’ve stayed up to late when I hear the bells calling people to worship. To worship for Mass Of The Rooster.
Bogo has a diverse religious scene. I live next door to a baptist church. There are three more protestant churches very close to me. Down by Bogo City Hall there are several more churches. There are two Jehovah Witness Kingdom Halls in the area, one just around the corner from my home.
My favorite scene in Bogo is that of Jessie sitting on the dock of the bay with me. Trying to get her to smile for a camera is hard. So I just keep trying.
St. Vincent Ferrer Festival
The major festival in Bogo is the Saint Vincent Ferrer Festival. It runs the entire month of May but most of the activity is the 27th and the last day. Due to bad luck and timing, I’ve been unable to participate very much in that. It is a huge event though. A month before the event, my seamstress stopped taking new orders! She was too swamped with orders for costumes for the festival.
There are several other smaller festivals during the year. There seems to always be a barangay or barrio festival going on each week of the year. That’s probably not completely accurate but it does seem that way.
Bogo City Night Life
Most of the night life also happens down at the wharf.. There is a disco, several videoke bars and my favorite, the BBQ by the bay. On the other side of town, near the public market they have opened a second BBQ. It too is near the bay but at the beginning of the bay. There is also an area that some refer to as “The Sin Strip.” More videoke bars with lots of girls looking to entertain you.
We followed this gathering up with a trip to the disco. I have not gone there in quite sometime but I’m thinking about going tonight.
There is far more to say about Bogo than really fits into a single article. I had a hard time choosing pictures. There’s so many to choose from and so many words to write.
One thing I really like about Bogo is that it is so close to Bantayan Island and Malapascua Island. Outside of the smog and congestion and rush of Cebu City yet close enough to get to Cebu City via the buses and if you have your own private transportation, you can get there faster. As many of you know I’m a big fan of Bantayan Island, sometimes I think I should stop writing about it as it being a secret is a huge part of its attraction. I have not been to Malapascua as it is geared more to diving than beaches. It is however consider one of the best diving locations in the world. Many come just to see the shy Thresher Shark.
The only down side I can think about Bogo City is that shopping is limited. As a guy that pretty much despises walking around a mall looking at things I can’t buy, that isn’t an issue at all for me. Its not uncommon for me to avoid Cebu City for four months at a time.
Sometimes I think of moving to a mountain town as the temperatures are much cooler. Baguio has become expensive and is the rainiest city in the Philippines. Valencia has a lower cost of living but is a hot spot for dengue.
I could live here forever.
Bogo seems to offer the life style I enjoy. Laid back and I find it easy to entertain myself especially with a camera in hand. Jessie was against moving here until we visited Bogo and then she fell in love with the place. That love deepened on our first visit to the Bay of Bogo. As we were waiting at the BBQ she said “I could live here forever.”
I love to hear from you so please comment!
For More on Bogo City with Pictures try Living In Cebu
Rusty Ferguson is an American Expat living in Bogo, Cebu.