I was in Cebu City the whole week last week. I facilitated a Coaching & Mentoring Workshop for the management staff of a client company. This fine-looking city does not stop to amaze me. Its face keeps changing every time I go there, but it has retained its charm and homey atmosphere. It is both urban and rural. While it has new tall buildings with modern architecture, many historical and heritage structures continue to assert their place amid this sweeping modernization and in the mind and heart of Cebuanos and guests. And there is abundant greenery all around. It is relatively clean and neat, too.
It is also one city where churches are wide open to many parishioners anytime of the day and early evenings. So it baffles me when practically everybody warns me to be on guard for pickpockets and snatchers and even the “riding in tandem” who do their thing for fun. Everybody, including strangers I meet at the hotel, book shop, drug store and supermarkets, told me to hang tight to my handbag or better yet, use a simpler (read: cheap-looking) purse. They also told me to walk only where there are many people walking and avoid areas that seem to be empty or better take a jeepney or taxi ride to go anywhere.
These make me sad because I love walking around and meeting people here in Manila and anywhere I go, here and abroad, during the day and even underneath the moon.My friend from Sibonga was aghast when I told her that I went around Colon and Carbon lugging my bag and my Aldo purse walking around, taking pictures and shopping. Why?
In Davao City (I was there early last month), nobody gave me such warning. They say Davao is a safe place to roam on foot. But it is dangerous because there are many streets with no sidewalks and no pedestrian lanes. So even if there is a driving speed limit of 30 and 40 kph, I was told that the incidence of street accidents remains high. And anyway, if you have been to Davao three or five years ago as I did, there is nothing new to see. The streets I walked on remain unpaved and/or dilapidated. Davao’s face is constant and static, trapped in the archaic ideas of its political leaders.
Forget Davao and let’s get more excited about Cebu. Cebu has a burgeoning economy. According to my friends Anne Arteche and Paulette Liu, that’s big thanks to their political leaders, particularly Governor Junjun Davide and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama. These two leaders are perceived to be honest, humble and have the wherewithal to get things done.
I remember when I facilitated the strategic planning of furniture makers and I was very impressed with the designs of Cebu and Negros—think of Milan!
Cebu City and Cebu Province are both fabulous places to do business and raise a family in. You enjoy the perks of modernity and, at the same time, you fill your heart and soul with respect and awe at the culture of native Cebu. You name a possible business or product and Cebu has the resources, creativity and the market for it. Many Cebuano businessmen I know are in the export, manufacturing, construction and other business, as well, while they dabble in agriculture. Very interesting.
Who could resist lechon, Cebu-style? I had my fill of this very tasty food and my favorite is Lechon Belly. In Argao, it is Guilang Tablea that is a must-buy. Lola Guilang’s dark chocolate is fantastic for any recipe that calls for chocolate. I could even eat it raw. Yummy!
Another Argao attraction is the newly reopened Riverstone Castle. It is akin to experiencing medieval times. The structures and decors seem authentic. Actually, the material used to build them are stones from the nearby river; ergo, the name. They serve very good and reasonably priced bar chow and my favorites are their barbecue and kalderetang kambing (stewed goat’s meat).
Circa 1900 in Lahug serves flavorsome fusion Filipino recipes with their kamias juice and malunggay ice cream. It is a restored antique house and so the name with vintage furniture and fixtures. When you go there, be sure to have your picture taken at the picturesque main stairway.
My visit to Cebu was completed with a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lindogan, the Santo Niño Shrine and other beautiful churches. Thanks to my friend Edna Ouano and her son Ced for always hosting me in Simala everytime I visit. I love the tinolang isda.
There are many other beautiful places to visit in Cebu! Let’s invest in Cebu!
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