Why is your city in chaos?


MY wife just dropped me off at the international airport here in Cebu.  I thought of sharing my thoughts about my experiences in your fair city.

I am an American, living in Guangzhou, China and have worked at the elite level of the Olympics, both as a on-air radio announcer and senior adviser for both organizing committees of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and 16th Asian Games. As such, I have been able to travel most of this beautiful Earth and until I landed here in Cebu thought I had seen everything.

I am a guest in your country and as such have no agenda, not seeking money, fame nor advantage, therefore I will take a moment to tell you the truth of what I have seen here.

I’ve been walking around the Mactan airport and taking notes.  The international terminal is falling apart; the security belt where  you place your luggage is being held together by black masking tape.  The ceiling tiles are black from soot and age,  ready to fall apart.  There is no free WiFi high speed Internet connection and almost all of the power plugs available in the dilapidated waiting areas to run laptops like mine have been yanked out.

The taxi drive on the way to the airport itself was something akin to a thrill ride at Hong Kong Disneyland.

There is no modern transportation system in your city of Cebu. None. You have no bus system and no Metro. It is a frightening experience to get from one end of this city to another. Nighttime travel is even worse. Try getting in a taxi at 9 p.m. with Cebu city streets filled with roving bands of young men and prostitutes who stare at you while hovering over open fire pits.

Cebu at night is a medieval nightmare.

Every building in the downtown area is manned with white-shirted, armed security police who  shoulder shotguns or automatic machine guns. They are not there for decoration.

Your city is filled with noise and confusion. Your city has no bicycle lanes. Almost no city streets have white lines down the middle and yellow freshly painted on either side.

Cebu is a city in chaos.

Traffic police – if they do exist – must all be sleeping on the job. If there are any traffic laws being enforced, they are done so by officers wearing uniforms coated with invisible ink.

Your city of more than one million people has no central park, hence no quiet place for residents to leave the noise behind and take a few moments to commune with nature.

Your city is ugly.

Not just ugly with a Capital U … but dirt ugly. Something truly horrifying. Cebu is a city of the dead with the majority of its people slouching and moaning like zombies from the Walking Dead, moving from place to place always begging for “the man” to give them a handout, not a hand.

Your city is dirty in a way I’ve never seen with trash littered everywhere.  The poor are manifest in the faces of little children, some as young as 4 years old, wearing little more than tattered rags, coming up to unmoving cars in the downtown streets – zombified children who have vacant eyes that pierce through your soul and with hands outstretched, reaching out, seeking something, anything from a stranger to relieve the daily torture their lives have become.

Your city of Cebu has collapsed around you and yet the politicians who are responsible for all of this  – you the residents and thus the owners of this city have put in places of civic responsibility – seemingly do nothing but show up every few years, beg for your votes while telling you how your life will be better.  Then they all disappear.

Your city of Cebu has collapsed around you and yet all I have seen are endless posters of smiling politicians.

Shame on all of them. SHAME.  How dare they call themselves representatives of the people!

You politicians are all cowards, faceless and nameless. You act in prideful self righteousness but can’t wait to join your other elites at fancy dinners, get big money payoffs and live a life the rest of your fellow citizens could not even dream of.

How dare you call for spending billions of pesos to even consider building a new airport. You truly have taken a stupid pill to consider such a boondoggle.

You do not need a new airport in Cebu.  Cebu is not and never will be Singapore.  Yours is a regional destination and does not need a hub airport. Giant Boeing 777 aircraft from Cathay Pacific already land here. You do not need a third runway. Instead you should focus on providing the people of Cebu and its visitors with convenient, reliable transportation services.

Do not tear down your airport but start now– TODAY – and spend what is appropriate to make this the most beautiful and functional airport – the “diamond in the rough” – and a key part of the most user-friendly transportation system in your country.


Most of your roads in Cebu have fallen apart. Do not wait for an election for something to change, for some plastic political person who wants your vote so he/she can suck up more precious public money, buy  a big house in the hills so they can look down on everyone else.  Gather yourselves together and start painting all of Cebu’s roads today – tonight – while city residents of Cebu sleep.  Start painting lines down the middle of every street in bright white.

You can go to any True Value store. They sell white paint.  I am sure they will give you a bulk discount.

Put bicycle lanes on the city streets and ENFORCE TRAFFIC LAWS of Cebu.

Start cleaning up your city by yourself.  Have civic pride in being a Cebuano. You don’t need approval.  You already voted in the cowards who sit idly by and do nothing.

City is a city and a pig is a pig.

Cebu is a pig residing in a filthy pigsty.

You can put a rose on pig, but it is still a pig.

Vote for none of these politicians.  They all lie to you.  They will say whatever it takes to get your vote.

All Cebuanos should rally to the cause, grab a bucket of paint, a broom and a mop and start getting  to work and make Cebu a place to be proud of.

Faith without works is dead.

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  • erikbrionesblog

    Relax and ride a trisikad! but yeah I agree with most of what you said.

  • radj

    Chill lang gud. Cebu bitaw ni.

  • Ben S.

    Here’s the problem with what he’s saying most of us live for less than $1.50 a day, most of us can barely afford to feed our families. Telling us to clean up the streets, paint it and etc. is like telling somebody who barely has a decent home to buy paint and pretty it up for his sensitive eyes. Quite honestly its in bad taste, its callous and insensitive especially for someone who has never lived in poverty. Its like kicking somebody when they’re already down in the gutter. What a douche!

    • Sunshine Rayes

      i agree

  • Sid Marcel

    Does this guy knows about Cebu history in the last 100 years? He sounded like he expected to be somewhere in Switzerland. What a dumb-dumb. I am also an American and you are full of s%#t.

  • Carlo Borromeo

    Why am I seeing so many angry reactions to this man’s letter? I worked in two hotels and if there’s one thing I learned from working in the hospitality industry, it’s that we should be grateful when a guest writes down his complaints. A complaint for me means that we have been given the opportunity to do something about it. Most of the time, an angry guest will just decide to never to come back.

    He mentions dirty streets, bad roads, bad traffic, “endless posters of smiling politicians.” Are the issues he pointed out wrong and inaccurate? Can’t we take a moment and consider if maybe he’s right? Shouldn’t we see this as a wake-up call, that we should take action and do something?

    • Cris


  • Glen Dale G. Rosal

    As a Cebuano, I don’t describe Cebu as chaotic as what is happening in the US right now where shooting rampage and bombings happen all of a sudden, Cebu may not look like as pleasant as where this man came from but Cebu for me is home sweet home,I’m used to traffic,I grew up in poverty, it’s just that this man who wrote this article wanted to give some suggestions with a little touch of humiliation to Cebuanos. Well, that’s racism, what can we expect more? Let’s just consider this article some kind of a wake up call for us Cebuanos to rise-up and let the whole world know that this article written by some average joe that he is wrong….hilas niya…

    • Sunshine Rayes


  • Sunshine Rayes

    Hey “I-am-an-American-living-in-Guangzhou-China-and-have-worked-at-the-elite-level-of-the-Olympics” scarecrow, why won’t you try to change yourself first. Maybe you should peel off that dirt in your eyes.

  • J-Noy Daily

    Hey, Joe! I wish more politicians could read your commentary than us ordinary citizens! You put us on a big shame but at least we learned from that gayly slap. You’re an American living in China but I bet you haven’t seen much of China and America. Please don’t compare us to any place in the world because your eyes is not that very very big to see all sides of the earth and immediately say “your city is ugly”! Don’t worry, Cebu is not your place. It’s forever ours!!! Go hail America and China! We won’t care!

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