Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Truth Doesn't Hurt if You Pretend It Isn't True

An American posted an op-ed in one of the Cebu papers the other day, detailing why he hates the place (apparently his wife is from here, which I presume is why he stays). A few excerpts:
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.
It really is amazing that a city of this size can have no public transit system of any kind. None. Nada. Zip.
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.
I have been here for almost a year and I have never seen any form of traffic law enforcement. The total lack of enforcement means, of course, that each driver does exactly as he pleases, with predictable results.
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.
It rather surprises me that this has turned out to be the thing I miss most about the States. I want to be able to go to a park and look at trees and walk on grass. There’s nothing like that here. I think the biggest public space in Cebu City is probably Fuente Osmena, which is just a largeish traffic circle, covering maybe a half acre or so.

Even in Manila, I think there is only the Luneta downtown. The rest of that city has no parks, as far as I know.

The guy goes overboard and engages in a lot of hyperbole. And why he thinks the lack of bike paths and white lines in the middle of roads are the biggest problems here is beyond me.

But with that aside, everything he says is true: No parks, garbage everywhere, no public transportation, noise, chaos, no traffic laws, crime, corruption -- yep, all true.

And then read the comments, and you’ll know why these things will never get fixed. Almost every comment is denial and excuses, including the old standby – racism. Filipinos honestly don’t realize that their country is dysfunctional.

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