Thursday, July 17, 2008

I miss My Cebu

Learning & Innovation – July 19, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


I miss my Cebu


I have mixed emotions about the revolutionary changes that Cebu has been continuously undergoing in the past ten years.  I miss the Cebu of ten years ago.


The Cebu I know is green, with lots of open spaces.  The houses were mostly vintage and regal.  There are not that many people and cars.  Cebuanos and guests move like they are "walking under the moon" even in busy streets like Mango, Gorordo and Carbon.  I remember that I would be chatting with my friends while we stroll around Fuente Osmena.  Soon, I continue walking and talking only to realize that my friends are now one block behind me.  They complain that I walk too fast for them.  They laugh that I seem to be always racing or running after something.  I remember the jokes and stories that surround Hongkera Street.  I remember going to Carbon Market to buy those pasalubongs at prices much lower that those in the grocery stores.  There were no malls then, definitely no SM.


I remember commuting to Talisay to buy danggit and other dry seafoods.  I have fond memories of having lunch in Tangke—those restaurants that stand on the stony shores of Talisay.  The children are waiting in the waters for the few coins that you throw and they dive for.  I remember driving to Minlanilia for whatever reason.  Of course, the ihaw-ihaw stalls around Fuente Osmena, the seafood restaurants in Maragondon, the Cebu lechon in Lapu-lapu City, the guitar stores in Mactan, the corn fields and cooked corn and fruit stands near Montebello Hotel.  There were also Carlo's Bachoy, the blue-and-white porcelain factory and 7D mango products factory in Mandaue.   The meaty chicharon and R&M dried mangoes in Guadalupe.


Most of all, I miss Magellan Hotel where room 326 was permanently reserved for me.  I used to be in Cebu two weeks in a month facilitating organization development interventions and training workshops for the employees of Philippine Airlines.  My team (Marivic Vergel-Roldan and Cecile Macatangay-Munoz) and I designed this program we dubbed Pal Professional Program, part 1, for all employees of PAL at all levels and functions consisting of six short courses on  professionalism and work attitude, personality development, teamwork and productivity, written business communication, presentation skills and interpersonal communication.  Plus the part 2 and other programs One of our internal clients was the Cebu Station, particularly Maintenance & Engineering and Communications Departments.  So the three of us alternately came to Cebu to handle the workshops.


When Magellan knew that I was coming, they would put lots of plants inside my room and one of the waiters in the coffee shop would prepare his own herbal tea for me.  The owners and the whole Magellan staff really took care of me.  The only thing I could not do is to bring fresh durian inside the hotel.  My participants from Davao used to bring me real sweet durians and I could only eat them in the guardhouse of the hotel.     


The Cebu now is fast modernizing with new high rise buildings sprouting here, there and everywhere.  There are many new hotels all around.  Restaurants offering different international cuisines—Korean, Japanese, Italian, German—you name it, they have it.  Where Magellan and the golf club used to be are now the Ayala Mall and other office buildings.   Cebu has definitely progressed in leaps and bounds.  With it comes monstrous traffic even in side streets and, I was warned, lots of street crimes.  I think, nobody anticipated this revolutionary changes and so are not prepared for it.  Except for a few flyovers, there is not much changes in the old road structures.


Savoring callos, steak and red wine with my friend Lito Pascual at the Casino Español is a wonderful treat.  Also, where I am staying now, there is internet connectivity.  But I hate the air freshener they so lavishly spray inside the rooms and all over the hotel.  On my first night here, my room really reeked and I couldn't sleep.  I had to open the windows and ordered an electric fan and charcoals to remove some of the offensive odor.  Now I understand how those who work in that luscious soap store must be enduring everyday they work there.  And the prices of their food in their not-so-impressive coffee shop are not proportionate to the taste.  Their hot choco is the consistency of tea where you have used the teabag for the 5th time.  I will not come back to this hotel.   But I will definitely come back again and again to Cebu., 




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