A tourist visiting Cebu City for the first time may well be turned off by some of the city sites. The city has several world class resorts, hotels, beaches and dive sites. It also has some areas of the world’s most devastating poverty. Cebu City is the capital city of the Cebu Province and it is the second largest city in the Philippines following Manila. I always feel at home in the city and lived in the city before building my home in the rural Cebu Province of Camotes Islands. Cebu City is a mix of the old and new, rich and poor, good and bad and pretty and ugly. There is also the mix of clean and really dirty or filthy. The rule for anyone going to Cebu for the first time is to not make a snap judgment.
My first trip to Cebu City was in February 2004. I went to the Philippines to meet a girl (Judith) now my wife. I flew into the Cebu-Mactan Airport and was met by Judith and one of here sisters. My flight started in Florida and the last leg of the flight was from Hong Kong. The Cebu International airport is just a little outdated, but very functional. Once outside of the airport doors I saw waves of people waiting to meet people coming off of the flight from Hong Kong. The airport was not all that busy when I arrived and I think my plane was the only arriving flight at the time. As people from my flight walk outside of the airport door they were bombarded with shuttle, taxi and V-hire greeters, all trying to get a fare. I met Judith just outside the airport doors. She, her sister and I all jumped into an old Kia Taxi and we were off to my hotel.
The taxi was old and not very well maintained. The Air conditioner didn’t work and the window wouldn’t go down. Of course that didn’t matter as I couldn’t close the door because the door latch was broken. So, I got lots of air. The hotel was about a 30 minute drive from the airport. As we traveled the city streets I saw crowded sidewalks made even more crowded by the many sidewalk vendors and street vendors. Some of the roads we traveled were moderately maintained while others were in very poor condition. The roads were crowded with many types of cars, but mostly Kia’s and Hyundais. There were also a lot of Jeepneys, a Philippine traditional method of travel. A jeepney looks like a stretched army jeep with a hardtop and a large cargo area used for two benches for passenger seating. Jeepneys are normally painted with several different colors and lots of chrome. Many of the jeepneys are poorly maintained and most have bald tires and the braking systems may be questionable. Also, there were lots of small motorcycles.
After traveling just a few minutes I decided that the most dangerous vehicle in …