Giving Cebu a shot

By Engr. Christian Dianne D. Oro

I AM from Mindanao and spent almost all my life there, except when I reviewed and was hired here in Cebu. I have been here for almost a year and it only took me some time to get used to and eventually love the island.

Illustration by Geraldine Sypiecco
Illustration by Geraldine Sypiecco

I am away from the home that I know. Far from the comfort of living with my family and the ways of life that I was accustomed to. In my first months, there was a lot to learn like navigating through the city’s streets, getting to know the language, the food, the culture and the people, basic stuff. Cebu was such a foreign place for me.

And just like everything else in this world, Cebu is not perfect. Being a city that aims for progress, it also has its fair share of difficulties brought about by population growth and urbanization. The problem that probably most, if not all of us could relate to on a daily basis, is the traffic situation. Who in metro Cebu did not experience delays caused by too many vehicles congesting a small two-lane road? I was also amazed at the number of one-way streets here.

Now, how did I, the “probinsyana” reacted to this dilemma? I accepted the fact that every time I’d needed to get somewhere, I’d have to give an ample 30 minutes to an hour lead time before making the trip. Time must be allotted wisely and be made flexible, all these planned the night before my appointment, taking into consideration the location and the flow of transportation in the area in question.

And let’s not forget Cebu’s jeepney routes with its coding system in numbers and letters! That was really confusing and complicated for me at first, since the jeepney routes in most of Mindanao traveled to and fro, and not in a loop. The trick? There’s no trick. You just learn all this stuff by heart and memory in time. (For back up, I’ve always had my Google maps and GrabTaxi app with me ready, in case of trouble.) So that’s traffic in Cebu for me.

After spending a year here, Cebu impresses upon me a metropolitan city vibe meets cultural modesty eel. The people are sophisticated and progressive, but with the right dose of pride and humility. It is undeniable that from the moment you step out off the plane, exiting the Mactan International Airport and passing through Lapu-Lapu Bridge, one can already feel the culture and the Cebuano ambiance. For a visitor, this place feels like it offers a lot of potential and possibilities, a place where one’s dream could start, a place for growth and opportunities.

What made me appreciate the Cebuanos more was finding out how hardworking they are as a people, and yet they still haven’t lost that sense of participation when it comes to tradition and festivity. From my first Sinulog Festival, which by the way, was awesome with a capital A, it amazed me how this island succeeded in preserving that unity of gathering its people and enabling them to spend time with so much energy and money to take part with the celebration. Now that’s what we call a fiesta!

Another facet of Cebu that I admire were the opportunities that came with this place. Cebu caters to a lot of professionals coming from other parts of the country. I get to enjoy what this city could offer in terms of career growth without the high cost of living in other citified and urbane environments such as in Manila. A frugal lifestyle in Cebu is still possible.

But don’t get me wrong. If you’re into a cozier lifestyle and it fits your income, then Cebu is just as capable of providing that luxury. Point is, you get to have a choice. It’s all about your preference.

I do believe that a place is only as good as its people and I think, yes, Cebu is one I could actually consider a good place. Despite all the adjustments I had to do in order to get to know the city, I believe, it’s all worth it. The people, the traffic lights, the busy streets, the culture, I came to accept and embrace.

In the future, I intend to immerse more in the community, to be involved, and seek for more adventures. I came to experience canyoneering and swimming with the giant butandings here in Cebu, and I intend to add more explorations in the list. After all, life is about making memories. Filled and meaningful experiences that will shape you to be the person that our Father wants you to be.

I had reservations in making the decision after the board exam as to whether I should come back to Cebu to accept a job offer. I thought then, let’s just give it a try. Let’s give Cebu a chance.

Ask me now? No regrets.

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