Cebu became a by word when a group of detainees mounted on You Tube their choreography  of one of Michael Jackson’s hit songs.  It became likewise a hit with thousands of hits.  There were foreign as well as local tourists who were lured by such novelty.  And why not.  Jail yard does not connote as a dance floor in the first place.  Anyway, it was a successful experiment.


Cebu is a smaller version of Palawan, a long strip of an island, encircled by several islands comprising the Visayan islands.  It was a historical find for the Spanish colonizers in the 18th century.  It was in this island where Portugal’s national hero, Ferdinand Magellan (in the Philippines, he is a villain), was slain by natives believed to be headed by one Lapu-Lapu.  From that time on, Cebu became a dreaded place for invaders.  The reputation served well politically because it reinforced tradition, strength and unity.


Cebu’s strength lay on the migration flow of its people.  As its population grew, it expanded as well.  Local migrants came to explore other islands and those who were enterprising went even as far as Mindanao.  That explains the fact that the local dialect in Mindanao, principally in Davao (the de facto capital of Mindanao) is Cebuanon.  There was even a poltical move to redirect the national language from Tagalog to Cebuanon because the latter are numerically superior than the latter.  It fizzled out because other provinces do want to be upstaged by its peer.  Besides, only the Tagalog speaking provinces mounted an aggressive and almost successful revolution against invaders.


Well, so much for history.  Cebu, when I saw it last time, was a bustling metropolis.  One can find the most alluring resort, the most planned hotel chain in the country.  But in between these great spots in the islands, one notices the stretch of dingy housing populated by a majority of poor, well, impoverished people.  Employment is limited and most are involved in marine products.




Moving from one plushy hotel to a paradise looking resort, one passes through slim streets interconnected with one another.  One notices the struggling population in between movement.  One gets even the impression that they were there as respite to opulence and excess by its visitors.  One does not need to see accidents or grave ailment to feel satisfaction.  One feels lucky once he traverses these streets and ogle deeply into smaller alleys where colonies of shanties are constructed one little space into another.  Filth may be too kind to describe these places.  It is not unusual though for the province because everywhere in the country there are areas like these and more.  What made the Cebu situation unfortunate and a bit emphasized is that, it is right there where luxurious conclaves are also situated.


I had an occasion to visit Cebu, also known as the Queen City of the Pacific a few days ago.  I attended a conference in one of its 5 star hotels.  It is sparklingly clean, spacious and grand.  Moving out however is like experiencing the travail  Dante Alligheri’s character in his novel Divine Comedy who was moving from heaven to purgatory and later to hell.  The political leadership cannot be faulted though.  It has done tremendous change.  There were no vendors hawking in every corner of the metropolis.  They were given a specific area where they can all vend their wares.  There is peace and public safety seems very pronounced notwithstanding some blind alleys where suspicious looking characters are about to spring forth.  On the whole, the Cebu that I saw was a veritable friendly location.


(Facts:  Cebu is located 365 miles south of Manila, the capital of Philippines. The province belongs to the country’s Central Visayas Region. It can be reached in an hour by air travel or 22 hours by cruising the sea.

Cebu is characterized by narrow coastlines, limestone plateaus, coastal plains but with predominant rolling hills and rugged mountain ranges traversing the northern and southern lengths of the island. Although Cebu’s steep mountains reach over 1,000 meters, the island lacks substantial forest cover. In the towns of Bogo, San Remigio, Medellin, and Daanbantayan at the northern tip of the province, considerable tracts of land are found. Of the three biggest islands, Mactan and Bantayan are relatively flat while Camotes is hilly.

Cebu Province has a total population of more than 3.85 million. Cebuano is the native tongue. While Filipino is commonly understood and spoken, the English language is widely used in business transactions and education.


About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on August 6, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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