Our Cebu experience

(My screen capture of Metro Cebu skyline from Harolds Hotel’s 12th floor.)

We spent a total of six days in Cebu from May 4-9, and I must say with no second thoughts, Cebu is way better than Manila. The ambiance in Metro Cebu is very much like Metro Manila (where I was born, raised, and where I study), but more orderly, no usok, no kaskaseros. The streets are clean. There’s also traffic, but absolutely no unahan or overtaking typical of a Manila gridlock.

At the same time, I have seen for myself how unequal development is with respect to areas outside of Luzon. For example, it takes four hours from Cebu City to Bogo City in the north (when you can build an expressway when it’s roughly the same distance as Manila and Clark Freeport Zone) and another hour to Bantayan Island by ferry (when you can build a bridge). No matter why people down south always refer to Metro Manila as Imperial Manila.

I have spotted no tricycles unlike in Metro Manila though the use of Grab is prominent, despite relatively near distances (we stayed in Harolds Hotel in Gorordo and Grabbed through La Vie Parisienne, Vibo Place, the Iglesia ni Cristo chapel in Gen. Maxilom), though in some cases distances could be very far like going to SM Seaside Cebu, SM City Cebu, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Which explains why Metro Cebu also needs an LRT system. (I’d prefer a tranvia-like system or subway so as not to destroy the city landscape. And by the way, MCIA is better than NAIA.)

I was not able to see most of the sights in Metro Cebu and going south to Oslob after spending an overnight in Bantayan Island though I was able to see the following:

  • The Taoist Temple in Lahug
  • Fort San Pedro
  • Plaza Independencia
  • Magellan’s Cross

Also some sights which captured my attention:

  • Marcelo Fernan Bridge
  • Maayo Medical in Mandaue City
  • A parked DOST bus in Mandaue City
  • The abandoned Cebu International Convention Center
  • Colon Street
  • SM Seaside Cebu
  • Cebu IT Park
  • and much more

The food selection is also wide. I tried a teriyaki burger over at Patty Pie in SM Seaside Cebu, Jonie’s and Zubuchon in SM City Cebu, and of course Lantaw and 10,000 Roses over at Cordova where you could see a good view of the skyline of Metro Cebu.

While eating at Lantaw, I saw a beautiful girl (there are many in Cebu). I initially wanted to initiate small talk with her but she was with her whole family, so I held back. She was soft spoken but heard her curse loud when what she was eating fell on the ground. I could have practiced Cebuano but I held back. I may not have been able to talk to her but at least I knew my limits. But I’m certain, if I’ll ever marry in the future I’d prefer a Cebuana (the other ethnicities in my list are Kapampangan, Ilocano, Ilonggo, and Bikol).

And oh, I’m already starting to learn Bisaya, after a friend told me that I once I return back to Manila, which I am now doing, hehe. I even bought myself a Visayan dictionary to help me and started practicing my Cebuano, though I’m stil having difficulties and I have to ask some friends what to say and what the person I’m talking to meant. I remember having to ask the hotel staff and salesladies what to respond. I also remember having to ask “naa ba’y wifi diri” (Is there WiFi here?) or “unsa man og password” (What’s the password?) whenever in a public space. Despite having some difficulty I do hope I get fluent in Cebuano (also other Philippine languages as well. It’s not a dialect, okay? Let’s get rid of that Imperial Manila thinking.)

That said, my convictions for federalism and multiculturalism, as well as equal development in this country were strengthened by this experience. I also came to think to myself how Cebu is faring in comparison to Metro Manila, which has become in such a sorry and cancerous state. And now I knew where the Cebuanos are coming from whenever they refer to Imperial Manila. All development is brought to Metro Manila at the expense of the regions and then wondering why overcrowding is such a problem.

I look forward to repeating this experience, returning to Cebu to travel and probably live a life there. I also look forward to visiting more places in this country, study their languages, and to further widen my view. That I can safely say I’m truly for federalism, because if you want it for the country, start with yourself. Learn their languages, explore their places, acquaint with people.

And in my opinion, maybe the Spaniards shouldn’t have moved the capital to Manila and perhaps stayed in Cebu. It’s much more livelier than Manila.

Next stop, Batanes, Davao, Zamboanga, Ilocos, etc.

Daghang salamat kaayo!


Playing Democracy 3 helps me in further developing my political views

(Interface of the game’s homepage. Screengrabbed from my iPad Mini 2. No coyright infringement intended.)

I’ve been playing this game for 2 years since I asked my mom to buy me this (expensive considering the Philippines’ status as a developing country, costing around $4.99 I think, costing around 249 in Philippine pesos), nonetheless the game helped me shape further my politics and as a guide for future policy, either for future politicians out there or dream about being president, which will always be fantasy.

This game, Democracy 3, is a government simulation game developed by Positech. You could play 6 countries (United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, I hope the developers add more countries including the Philippines, though for the desktop model modding is possible though I have no knowledge of which), be the president or prime minister and be in charge of policy, staying popular, and not end up assassinated (I was always ending up being assassinated so I turned it off in my settings). 

I have played all countries, but this time I played the United States. My usual formula in my games are as follows:

  • Significant budget increases in the health, education, welfare systems, initializing public housing and pension systems
  • Prioritizing infrastructure development, like railways and road, also setting up monorail systems, telecommuting, bus subsidies
  • Imposing a 75% tax on alcohol and tobacco (which is already punitive by most standards) 
  • Strict pollution controls, with major fines and occasionally imposing tax on carbon emissions
  • Instituting childcare provision and subsidies in raising children, disability and unemployment benefits
  • High spending on renewable energy, ensuring low pollution levels
  • Labor laws favoring workers, with full maternity pay, shorter working hours, safety laws, wage increases
  • Flexible tax policy, increasing and decreasing taxes whenever possible
  • Ensuring the debt is entirely paid off and there’s significant budget surplus to accumulate reserves
  • Law enforcement focusing on rehabilitation, increasing legal aid, preventing race discrimination, reliance on community policing
  • Medium foreign aid, a moderate immigration policy
  • High spending on the arts (presumably includes public broadcasting of which I’m a strong advocate, it is not specified in the game)
  • Strong intelligence, police, military
  • Encouraging agriculture and organic farming
  • Encouraging small businesses and rural development
  • A space program
  • Rehabilitation of prisoners
  • Public libraries, adult education, college grants
  • So on and so forth (drugs remain illegal, abortion is for limited circumstances, strict alcohol and gun laws, etc.)

I would normally introduce these in packages, thus resulting in huge increases in popularity (and disapproval in some sectors) and might put a strain on the budget, though on most occasions I ensure there’s a balance. Whenever I run into a budget crisis (that is accumulating budget deficits) that puts me in huge amounts of debt, I don’t roll back on the social programs and infrastructure programs I have put in place (conventional austerity measures), and instead increase taxes on property, inheritance, on vehicles, carbon, airlines, sales taxes, CGT, corporate taxes, income tax, and institute a flat income tax until the budget gets back on track. Thankfully I’m able to pull this one off which would be hard in the real setting.

I will show you my budget as President of the United States:

And where do I get the money? 

How does that affect my performance? 

Where exactly am I in the political spectrum? I personally consider myself as a socialist but, in this one I’m more of a left-libertarian. You can see me slowly do away from the previous neoliberal/neoconservative policies when I started by term? 

Where do I get my support? 

How popular am I? 

How are my policies faring? 

And how that that effect my country? 

I hope that impresses you, but in the real world this could be difficult to achieve. At least I have you an idea how this game has helped me shape my political views.

On Turkey and Mongolia’s ASEAN bid

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s attendance at the China-initiated One Belt, One Road Forum held in Beijing, he set bilateral meetings with Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenbat and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and something absurd came out: their intention to join the 10-member ASEAN bloc.

We have to put the following into consideration:

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was formed to promote regional unity among the countries of Southeast Asia on the basis of consensus and mutual respect, peace, and common cultural links
  • The bloc has struggled to find a common ground vis-a-vis Chinese activity in the South China Sea, with much of the countries in ASEAN (Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia) among the claimants
  • The Philippines has the chairmanship of ASEAN for the year 2017, and with attention over the country increasing due to Duterte’s brand of populism, intentions to break away from the traditional US alliance, and the publicity coming from the drug war, earning the ire of human rights groups, international organizations, and some Western countries
  • Due to this, at the height of the North Korean crisis, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump seeking advice from us as head of ASEAN over what to do.

With the Philippines’ increasing role in the international sphere, it is imperative that we begin seeking new friends in the region which we can have good economic, cultural, and political relations. To be fair, Turkey and Mongolia can be dialogue partners, as we have with China, Japan, South Korea, the European Union, Russia, India, the United States, among others,  but membership is already out, considering geography (as Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi pointed out) and geopolitics, despite Duterte’s openness to such.  Mongolia can be a good dialogue partner or even an observer, as it is sandwiched between two heavyweights, Russia and China, and has sought to counterbalance relations with both.

As for Turkey, it is dangerous in my opinion. Considering that Turkey has somehow alienated much of its neighbors and allies in their region (the European Union’s bid suspended due to tense relations with countries within the bloc) and Erdogan’s increasing authoritarian tendencies following the failed coup in July 2016 and the April referendum giving him more powers and concerns that Turkey’s founding secular values are at danger. Add to that Turkey’s rumored links with moderate jihadist groups in Syria, this could complicate matters with our efforts at defeating terrorism.

Back at our own neighborhood, another thing raising eyebrows is that it could potentially be put forward even as East Timor’s bid is still pending.

In light of these, we hope sensible heads prevail and Duterte must think before giving this any serious consideration. In the end, this will remain my opinion and it’s up to them to decide.