I am here in Cebu City and I am amazed at the transformation of Cebu and Mandaue cities.
There used to be pockets of development in Cebu City. First, the Ayala Center was erected
right where the Cebu Country Club and Magellan Hotel used to be. Then the IT Center and the numerous eating places around it that brought people, especially the young ones, for dining and evening entertainment.
And now, it seems like both cities are being reinvented here, there and everywhere all at the same time and not just in one place at a time. I could barely recognize these places and I would not know now how to go around them. Somehow, though, they have lost their rustic charm which used to be the magnet that made me go back again and again to escape the hustle and bustle of Manila. They are now like any other small city in the world. I think I will try Dumaguete and Capiz next time.
Speaking of getting away and letting go, many Manilenos are appreciating the countryside and going places around the country. Local tourism is alive and robust. Here are some tips to remember to help preserve the beauty of our destinations:
• Whatever you do and wherever you are, clean up when you go and dispose of your trash properly. Leave no trace behind that you have been there so the next people to visit will enjoy.
• Take only pictures, not plastic. We love souvenirs (and they are now mostly made from
plastic) and we buy them whenever we see them. Then, as soon as we arrive home, we lose our interest in them and they end up on some table top to gather dust or in our closets or, eventually, in the trash bin and into the junkyard to decompose in hundreds of years, thus adding to the pollution of our environment. Take souvenir pictures instead. Capture those Kodak moments that will continue to bring smiles to your heart for the rest of your life.
• Reuse your hotel towels. Help your hotel conserve energy, water cleaning materials and towels and even linen. Just because you have the option does not mean that you need a new towel every five hours. Try to use your towels and linen for as long as you would if you were at home.
• Choose green hotels. Environment-friendly hotels have programs that save water, energy and reduce waste. Some even serve foods made from organic produce. I am staying here in Dragon Home Inn and my room looks like a giant office cubicle, no frills, with just the requisite bed, an open closet, a small drawing table, a flat TV, a nice frame picture, a .5 hp aircon, wifi (yes!) and a clean bathroom. You buy any extra like drinking water or rent an extra pillow. I don’t really need a big room because I just sleep and take baths in it. I am away most of the time. And it is costing me much less. However, Ms. Kim Henares will be disgusted at this news: They did not issue me a receipt despite my asking them twice. They just gave me the credit card receipt. Hmmmmmmm
• When it is time to clean your car, look for professional car washers that recycle the water and use biodegradable cleaning materials.
• Remember, the more weight you carry in your car, especially the trunk, the harder your car works. This means it burns more gas and adds more CO2 into the atmosphere. Travel light. Just bring the essentials and leave out the junk in your trunk that have been there for the longest time. Leave behind most of your homey things. Be adventurous and try new things. Remember that you are on vacation away from home so don’t bring your home with you.
• Stick to the posted speed limit for your safety and the safety of others around you. Drive safe and sound and save gas. The faster your speed, the more gas your car guzzles.
• Keep your tires inflated properly to improve your gas mileage. Every liter of gas saved keeps more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Next time you gas up, have your tires checked as well. The gas station attendant will be able to help determine the right amount of air in your tires.
• Otherwise, take public transportation. On the long drive to Naga City, for example, buses have fully reclining seats that make the ride relaxing and comfortable. You can sleep throughout the 10-hour road trip and wake up after disembarking ready and happy to explore the natural fun places of the Philippines.
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