OK, for my article yesterday, I wrote somewhat glowingly about Cebu City, to the point where I even said that maybe someday down the road I could even end up living in Cebu. While I won’t change that statement, I have seen more of the city now, and my opinion has shifted to some extent. You see, I wrote that article on Tuesday, after only a half day in the City. Now, I am writing this article on Thursday evening, and I’ve spent more time in Cebu, and seen a wider part of the City now, so it is natural that I am more informed about the place, and have changed my opinion to at least some degree.
Yesterday, I went to Bogo, in Northern Cebu Province. I met Rusty Ferguson there, and I will be writing more about that experience in a later article, most likely next week. But, traveling to Bogo first brought me through more of Cebu City, and then took me through the northern part of the Island. When I wrote my article for yesterday, I had basically only visited the area of Ayala, the Reclamation area of Cebu City, and the area of Fuente Osmena. Except for Fuenta, the areas I have been to were really kind of the showcase of Cebu City, particularly Ayala, and the surrounding area. There can be no doubt that places like Ayala and the Reclamation area are parts of town that are very clean, well kept, nice and new buildings and such, and thus, they greatly reminded me of living in the States. The other parts of the City that I’ve visited now, are nothing like that.One thing I noticed today, when riding the bus back to Cebu City is that there is a terrible problem with Graffiti in Cebu City. Based on the looks of it, it would appear to be gang related graffiti, and it is everywhere you look. It makes me wonder what kind of gang activity there is in Cebu. In Davao, we have some graffiti, but not too bad, and certainly not anywhere near the level of Cebu graffiti. I also saw a lot of places around the City with plenty of trash along the streets, generally dirty and unkept. There is some of this in Davao, but not too bad compared to what I saw today.There is no denying, though, that when it comes to availability of “stuff” – Cebu has Davao beat, hands down. Today, I visited the SM Mall here in Cebu. I have been to SM many times, but it has been at least 7 years since the last time I was at SM Cebu. My lord, it has grown! They have added on to the mall (maybe more than once in that number of years). I was absolutely shocked at the mall that I saw there. The older area of the mall, while having been refurbished somewhat, still looked like SM. It had the SM look and feel that all of the SM Malls tend to have around the Philippines. The new area, though, is super upscale. Very fancy. I mean, this was much nicer than any of the malls that I had ever been to in the States (I have not been to the States for 9+ years, so I am sure that malls there have upgraded too, though). This place was high tech, and also beautiful. I went into part of the mall that houses mostly computer stores, and it looked like you were walking through some kind of futuristic Star Trek set. There was one new area that was almost exclusively upscale restaurants. There were beautiful restaurants featuring Japanese, Chinese, Filipino foods and others. There was Starbucks. I looked at the menus there too, and the prices were reasonable. I was quite impressed. The size of the SM Mall here in Cebu is huge also. I eyed it, and estimated, I would guess that the SM Mall here is around 8 times the size of SM City Davao. Now, let me say, though, there are 4 new malls either under construction or in the planning stages for Davao, and we may see this kind of quality there in the next couple of years, I can’t say for certain. I don’t expect anything to reach this kind of size, though.
One thing that I expected to see in Cebu was huge traffic problems. Surprisingly to me, I have not seen that. My impression based on what I have experienced in the past 3 days is that traffic is worse in Davao than Cebu. Cebu is more metropolitan, with more people concentrated into the city. Davao is more spread out and open. So, why is traffic better in Cebu? I am not an expert, but I would attribute it to Cebu City’s extensive use of “flyovers” which raise traffic over the top of major intersections. Unless you are going to make a turn at that particular intersection, you get to avoid that traffic altogether by traveling over the top of the intersection. Davao has nothing like this. Cebu has had this since sometime in the mid-90’s, and I see a lot more flyovers now than back in 2001/2002 when I was here last. I believe that this system has made a huge impact on traffic problems, and kept congestion to the minumum here in Cebu.So, as you may expect, like any other place in the world, Cebu has pluses and minuses. There are upsides to Cebu, and there are downsides too.
Well, I am heading back to Davao today. By the time that most of you read this, I will be home already. I will be thinking more about Cebu, and how it compares to Davao, and may write more about this topic in the future. I certainly intend to make more visits to Cebu, and to bring Feyma along on future jaunts too. I have at least a couple more articles about this trip in mind, and after I am home and have better computer access, I’ll be posting some pictures from the trip.