Kyrylo Silin

Full-stack developer at Airbrake.io. Core team Pry. Passionate about open source, debuggers and food.

Cebu. My longest journey abroad so far

Cebu City is the 2nd largest city of the Philippines. It is located on Cebu island and it’s the oldest city of the country. It’s similar to Metro Manila in a way that Cebu City is just a piece of the puzzle in the bigger picture. Many smaller cities comprise Metro Cebu and Cebu City is just one of them.

During the day, just like in Manila, the city is full of people. Most of them are concentrated at the roads. The traffic is not as bad as in Manila, but it’s getting worse every year. I’ve been told that 10-15 years ago Cebu had no traffic problems. Overall, the lack of public transportation is a major problem of the Philippines.

During the night the city is empty. If you see a group of people on the street at night, they’re probably call center workers. Other people go to bed early and wake up really early. Some people sleep on the sidewalk. It’s really peaceful.

Those who don’t sleep and have no work prefer to go to karaoke bars or restaurants. There are almost no parks or pedestrian areas in Cebu, so hanging out outside is a bit complicated and not so enjoyable.

A patch of burnt by the sun grass vaguely resembles a park. People have to sit on the ground because there are only 3-4 benches for that area. When it’s raining, you can no longer hang out there.

I have to say that my perception of Cebu is affected by what I saw in Manila. That’s why I cannot stop myself from comparing them. In many ways Cebu is like Manila but with fewer people, fewer business districts. It’s also more clean and spacious.

People here speak Cebuano (unlike Tagalog in Manila). Locals don’t show as much interest in foreigners like me as they do it in Manila. This can probably be explained by the fact that the city receives more tourists than Manila.

IT Park, a developing business district, hosts a lot of foreign companies. In a way, it’s similar to BGC in Manila, however it’s tiny compared to BGC (which itself isn’t huge).

Unlike BGC, IT Park has problems with flooding during the rainy season. On a rainy day the weather forced me to remember autumn in Ukraine, where you need to jump from an island to an island inside a big pond that the street turns into.

When you walk outside IT Park, regular life hits you. No sidewalks is a trademark of many Asian countries. You always have to watch your back to make sure a crazy jeepney driver doesn’t roll over you.

In Cebu I finally got used to huge roaches. I still can’t stand them, though. Especially, when they fly. These critters can crawl anywhere, no matter what floor you live on. Once upon a time I woke up with one in my bed. Yuck!

Here, like in the rest of the Philippines people build big fences and protect them with broken glass. I wonder, if Filipinos are so friendly, why are they afraid of each other?

No problem if you didn’t manage to obtain a license for your motorcycle. You can draw it by yourself! “Regested” it says.

On Catholic Christmas people go to the church. Not just any church but Basilica del Santo Niño. In 2019 I was lucky enough to follow this tradition. Thankfully, we knew nothing about COVID-19 back then.

It can get really crowded there. The street turns into a can of sardines where our sweat is the oil that we all swim in. It’s also really hot, so you might pass out. Yet, it doesn’t stop anyone.

Cebu has a lot of beaches and mountains. That’s why it’s perfect for nature lovers (I am one!). What can be better than hiking in the mountains on a Saturday morning? As result, there can be landslides blocking the roads. They do happen from time to time.

This way to the toilet will make you feel dizzy as you walk through it. Is the idea to reject visitors, so that the toilets will remain cleaner?

On the way to the toilet you can purchase wet wipes or tissue. Quite nifty!

Cebu’s specialty is lechon, a roasted pig. Typically, Cebuanos order a pig and roast it over an open fire when they have a holiday. The pork would be eaten with rice. This piece of bread is not real lechon, so don’t be confused.

90% of the country has never seen snow. Yet, Christmas here is pictured with snow. TV goes a long way and forms an alternate reality for a lot of people on our planet.

Something that I struggle to understand is the love of Filipinos for winter clothing. Once in a while I see people wearing winter hats when it’s 30°C outside. Sometimes it’s a spring coat. This guy won all style points. A pair of Timberlands! Let alone his costume. I would be a boiled sausage inside that apparel.

COVID-19 cannot stop construction here. Many high-rise buildings are being constructed 24/7.

When you have an active construction in front of your windows, it can get a little noisy.

Let me share with you a fun fact. Because of Sinulog it also can get a little noisy on the streets in September… or October, or… well, these young musicians start practicing really well before the event. In fact, Sinulog is held on the third Sunday of January.

This is probably the only “Jeepney stop” sign in the country. You see, with jeepnees, there are no “stops”. They stop wherever the heck they want. There are “waiting areas”, though but you can discover them only if you’re local. Good luck finding such an area if you’re a tourist. You’ll probably have to smell that stop with your guts because those jeepneys leave a trail of soot.

Speaking of which, pollution is a serious problem in the Philippines. Not only Filipinos litter everywhere, but other foreign countries also send trash there (and Philippines receives money).

It was a rather surprising encounter. A telephone call box is something that dinosaurs used to use. It was so inconvenient to use that technology that they couldn’t figure out how to call each other and warn about the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. That’s why they died.

No matter where you live, in a shabby boarding house, or in an expensive condo, most likely you’ll have to use laundry services. Something that is a bit hard to stumble upon in my city is almost on every corner here in Cebu.

Cebu is open for everyone. Koreans and Japanese come here to study English. Chinese have a temple. Europeans and Americans come for resorts and beaches. Magellan died here. Kyrylo went home.