Welcome to Cebu

Trip Start Jun 03, 2006
Trip End Jun 03, 2009

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Thursday, July 26, 2007

I can't say that Cebu is a particularly attractive place, or flush with interesting sights and sounds in the way that some big cities are, but it is my introduction to the Philippines. It is my introduction to the jeepney too - they are great, but seeing the psychedelic taxi-buses is believing, and figuring out which one you want and going in the right direction is a bit of a challenge.  Cebu is almost my introduction to Philippine food, which seems to come fried, or er..fried, or er...baked in oil - or is that fried too. Actually, the Lechon pig skin crackling which crunched in my mouth in my first meal was great and the bakeshops selling mouthful-sized breads of all sorts of flavourings smell wonderful.  The food is ok, but it's just short on variety I suppose, and maybe I'm spoiled in China.
If Cebu is a gateway to the Philippines, then whilst you may not be inspired, I cannot fail to feel welcome. Almost everyone we meet has a smile and time to talk.  Sometimes it feels as if there is music everywhere and it's not just in the private world of the ipod, but in stores, buses and on street corners that the bouncing Tagalog and English songs blare out. 
The outside world's image of the Philippines is not a kind one. After all, Filipinos are often found doing jobs that other people don't want to do in other countries, and pick up a guide book anywhere in Asia and there will be references to Filipina girls and the sex industry.  Granted, I'm not looking for the less salubrious side of life and the girly bars are not exactly hidden, but as a whole, I'm surprised by how conservative the society is as a whole. Religion - whatever you think of it - is very much in evidence, and people's dress is very much on the practical, conservative side, and despite the huge piles of clothes to be found in the local markets the Japanese/Chinese penchant for glam & kitsch is nowhere to be found.
Above all, the people are charmingly polite, whether it be in welcoming you to a restaurant or helping you onto a jeepney.  Even when people try and make a bit of extra money out of us like the motorbike taxi guy who suddenly invented a waiting fee at "The Top" (which by the way, is a viewing point well worth visiting), they are impeccably polite and friendly about it. Likewise, when we arrived at the airport, the taxi driver quoted us US dollar prices which bore no resemblance to the Peso price we got from him later.  He was just trying his luck, but I didn't mind that we paid a few pesos over the odds because he was so nice about it and conducted price negotiations through the middle of other conversations about family and his country.
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maiax on

cebu trip
hi. i am happy with this particular entry that you have writing about my country and cebu in particular. it was very observant of you and i think it was fair that you've made some possitive observations despite of what you hear previous to your coming. i saw that you'ved traveled to camotes too, which is my home island. i wonder if you'd written anything about your experiences here in my island.

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