11 Ugly Things About Cebu

Note: This article first appeared on zerothreetwo.com. After it was published, it made rounds among Cebuano folk online--- a reaction I didn't quite expect. I braced myself for negative reactions, but instead, I got overwhelming positivity. It gave me a lot of hope about Cebu's future and what we can do foster our city's growth. 

So without further ado, here's 11 Ugly Things About Cebu.

Before anything else, let me just tell you: things are about to get ugly.

Cebu is our beloved home; it’s got the most beautiful beaches, the tastiest lechon and the crunchiest ngohiong. Our cultural foundation is rock-solid. We get that. There’s no denying that we’re an island of natural beauty and beautiful people. But like any other city in a developing country, Cebu has its flaws. Many flaws that we have to address if we want to improve as a city.

We’re here to point out those flaws in the hope that one day, we’ll be able to do something about it.

Ready for the ugly? Let’s go.

Where The Hell Is Our Drainage System?

Let’s dive right into the deep end. Ever been to downtown and it suddenly rains cats and dogs? I have, and it was ugly. Black, knee-deep flood ugly. With lots of swimming things in the flood. Ugh, it still gives me the shivers to this day. Flooding has been a big problem in this city for years and it really bugs me that it still hasn’t been resolved until now. How many times do they have to repair the roads in Banilad or Mabolo to install a legit drainage system? Should we equip ourselves with pump boats instead? Seriously though, wouldn’t it be nice if it didn’t flood everytime it rained?

Garbage. Garbage Everywhere.

I am one of those people who'd really call you out if you threw garbage around. Especially plastic. People who throw their trash anywhere? Please don’t try my patience; I’ll really make you pick it up.

My own mother even warned me against this practice kay basin makulatahan daw ko. But I can’t help it. The trash you’re throwing around is what’s causing our drainage systems to clog up. It really gets on my nerves.

Have you seen all that trash in the city’s waterways? It breaks my heart to think that not long ago those waterways were once clear rivers. And now they’re choked up with garbage.

When I was still working at IT Park, it really broke my heart to see cigarette butts littering the ground. Or worse, Starbucks plastic cups just strewn around anywhere. Please. If you can afford a venti macchiato, I assume you can also buy yourself some manners and common sense. Stop throwing garbage anywhere.

We also use too much plastic and don't recycle enough. If there were more recycling plants or if there is anyway to make recycling more available and accessible, it would do wonders for our city. As it is, trash from some barangays hardly even get collected properly. It’s just sad.

Sidewalks? What Sidewalks?

You know what they say, a walking city is a safe city. If the state of our sidewalks was to be believed, we are far from being safe.

There are still many places (*cough* Talamban *cough*) where sidewalks are virtually non-existent and we pedestrians have to fight for our life and safety against speeding vehicles.

I mean, is it so hard to ask for safe, well-lit walkable sidewalks? Sidewalks that are not used as parking spaces, or alternate habal-habal routes? If our sidewalks were safe, well-lit and not littered with trash, a lot of people would walk to places. We’d be a healthier city.

We Don’t Have Enough Parks and Open Spaces

One of the things that keep me up at night is what will happen to Cebu once all the lots in IT park and Ayala are gone and all we'll have are towering buildings and no open space. The idea just makes me so claustrophobic. I think every city needs a patch of open space; a place where cityfolk can take a breather, watch the sky and rest in some shade. I hate to say this, but I really don’t want Cebu to become like Manila--- all highways and buildings and no open space. We're lucky we have Plaza Independencia, but we're a growing city. We need more free open spaces where kids can run around and adults can just sit back, have a picnic and chill.

Our Motorists Are Just Plain Irresponsible

As a perpetual pedestrian and commuter, I’ve encountered my fair share of evil motorists.

Just plain, maldito motorists who follow no rules and who don’t have any regard for other people who share the road. These are the motorists who make their own lanes and don’t bother to signal when they switch. They never pause before a pedestrian lane to let others pass and most of the time, they’ll honk at you just because they can. They cut through lanes and beat red lights. They ride motorcycles with young kids without any helmets on.

I don’t know about you but I personally think people like this shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel.

Our Traffic Looks Like The 7th Circle of Hell

On that note, let’s take a moment to appreciate the state of our traffic. 45 minutes from IT Park to SM? 2 hours from Mactan to Metro Cebu? I’m not even kidding. It makes me miss all those years of chill traffic flow. Before, it was pretty easy to travel from Mactan to Cebu is 20 minutes or less. These days, that kind of easy-breezy traffic situation requires a novena to Sto. Nino.

Also, we don’t have bike lanes! I personally think that biking should be a thing in this city. It doesn't contribute to pollution, it takes less space, lessens traffic and it keeps the rider healthy. But bikers risk their lives every day because we don't have proper bike lanes. What a shame.

Why Are Our Roads So Small?

Sometimes I wonder why our forefathers didn’t prepare bigger roads for us. Did they not anticipate that we’ll grow from a small town to a metropolis of 2 million? Case in point: Pope John Paul Avenue, Valentine’s Day. You will be sitting on your ass for an hour in traffic, just to get from SM to IT Park. Another case: huge-ass trucks trying to fit into small, residential roads. Have you ever been to Davao? Now, that’s how roads are done. Our own highways look quaint compared to their wide multi-laners.

Public Transport *Sigh*

If public transport was better, people wouldn’t be tempted to buy a Picanto and clog ug our tiny streets all the more. What do you say, people? Isn’t it high time that we had efficient buses or trains? I personally love to take the MyBus. It’s always on schedule, it stops at the appropriate terminals, it’s got a lot of space and legroom and it’s mercifully cool. But the best part, really, is that there is no kundoktor saying tulo pa ang masud bisag wa na’y space.

Our Public Restrooms Are Horrifying

A couple of years ago, my friends and I went on this crazy 10 hr road trip from Manila to Ilocos. We had several bathroom stops and you know what I observed? All of the public restrooms that we went to were clean. Complete with bidets and rolls of tissue. I don't know if it’s a north thing, or maybe we just went to really good rest stops but that should be a thing here in the city. Our restrooms tend to be, well, unkempt and gross.

We Have So Many Homeless Children

No, it’s not the children who are ugly. It’s the fact that they, for some reason, are out there on the streets, day and night. Begging. Playing. Sleeping, eating on the curb. Doing their business on the curb. There’s so many of them hanging out around the city, sleeping in clusters with nothing but a cardboard between their backs and the concrete. I found some of them sleeping right on the traffic island itself, a few meters away from the Mabolo police station. I’m not sure why they’re on the streets, but they definitely shouldn’t be there.

We Like To Destroy Pretty Things

Another way of saying it: we’re not responsible tourists in our own soil. Take the trampled flowers of Sirao Peak. How about the trampled artificial flowers of 10,000 Roses Cafe in Cordova? Or, the trash situation in Osmena Peak and Bantayan Island? See, some of us just love to destroy the things and places that make us beautiful. We love to have fun but don’t want to take responsibility for our actions. And that’s an ugly truth right there.

Final Thoughts

I’m a Cebuana, born and raised. I've got cholesterol in my blood from the pungko-pungko I eat at Fuente. My parents made me wear those plastic hats with feathers for Sinulog. I was there when Recle was still a marshland. I was one of the last kids who made a wish at the Ayala fountain before they took it down.

So yes, I love Cebu.

And loving it means being honest. Cebu is beautiful, but we’ve got a lot to work on to make it a livable, sustainable city. We can’t rely solely on our government to resolve these ugly issues. Making a city better should be a collective effort. I hope we could all work together to keep Cebu beautiful, vibrant and thriving.

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