A Call to Change for a Better Cebu through Social Good
The growth of Cebu City is very evident from the increasing number of business establishments and job opportunities. Because of this, the population has also diversely and hugely prospered. Tourist destinations and historical landmarks might be the same. However, there are more people going here and there.
The Sinulog festivities on the streets are more crowded lately. The access to the parade route has become more challenging that sometimes I decided not to go and join the fun because it’s difficult to watch the street dancers anymore.
The Queen City of the South is slowly changing
I started my public life as a blogger in 2009. What I do is attend events and cover these social happenings and feature them on my website. I always travel from different places around Cebu so I can have stories to share with my readers and followers. Think about it as a story of a young man trying to embrace new places and faces.
What I have noticed, though, as time went on and on, Cebu City has rapidly changed and new challenges have emerged in this beautiful Queen City from what I’ve seen on the news, heard from people, and personally experienced on my daily routine.
As a member of the Cebuano community, and since I have an avenue to discuss these things on social media, I am grabbing this opportunity to express what I feel about these changes and their contribution to the lives of the people, including me, who has stayed here for more than 10 years now.
What I am going to speak is my own. My personal thoughts might be different to yours. But this is what I feel about the situation and I will do my best, to be honest about it. I will be glad to hear yours once you are done reading this post.
From what I have mentioned earlier, the population in Cebu City has grown tremendously. There are more people living here for different reasons. It is a good sign that the city has grown. These changes help in making Cebu City where it is today in the local and International scene. However, there are ups and downs on every change.
In this case, I will be talking about one specific challenge that I have observed and my own suggestion on how to help improve this city into a much better Cebu.
I will be using this tool, this blog that you are reading right now, as a way for me to give my share for the social good.
Traffic has gained more weight
No pun intended, but seriously, traffic is way heavier these days in Cebu City. When I’ve got my first-ever job in 2007, my early years as an employee who needs to commute every day from home to the office was quite an easy ride. It would take me most likely 30-45 minutes. I’ve even tried traveling 20 minutes before my work shift would start and I was not late. It depends on how many jeepney stops and how many red lights I’ve come across.
When I take a cab, it will take lesser travel time since the cab driver can take any route and go to any direction as long as traffic permits. I would end up paying ₱75 or ₱80 with the meter starting at ₱30.
Now, I will make my story short and let us just differentiate things from how much I am paying now and how long will a ride to work will take me: almost ₱150 under an hour or more in travel time.
There are a lot of factors why the traffic has become this challenging in Cebu City.
Increase in population
Cebu City is a highly urbanized city. It has 80 barangays and they are divided into two districts. There is 922,611 total population according to the 2015 census from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Compared to 866,171 in the 2010 census, it really shows that the population has grown over the last 5 years.
In 2012, a growth in the Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) in Cebu City reached 26.9 percent. This made the city ranked 8th at the Top 100 BPO Destinations in the world.
This will continually grow over the years since there are new business establishments and infrastructures are also increasing like a forest fire. These places house new and expanding businesses that offer job opportunities.
More jobs, more people
I work for a company located in Cebu IT Park. It is a business district in Lahug, Cebu City. There alone, you can see a rapid increment in the number of tall buildings and condominiums. With this said, it is expected that more jobs are generated and more people from the neighboring cities and regions, as well as those from Mindanao, will be transferring to Cebu City to look for jobs.
In the 2016 election, Cebu City has 631,003 registered voters, and that is 68% of the total population (aged 18 and over).
Two new shopping malls were opened recently: SM Seaside City Cebu and the Robinsons Galleria. Not only that, the existing Ayala Center Cebu did an expansion which let them cater more than 85,000 shoppers on weekdays and can reach as much as 135,000 on weekends.
Destination spots and tourist attractions are also growing, too.
Growth in recreational and tourist destinations
Aside from the fact that the Cebu province is one of the diving destinations in the Philippines, there are other activities that tourist, both local and foreign, will be coming over to Cebu City.
Cebu is famous for its white sand beaches, most specifically those located in Bantayan and Camotes Islands. I always tell myself that since I haven’t been to Boracay and Palawan, Cebu has Bantayan and Camotes Islands to spend summer vacation to relax or escape the hectic life in the city. Even though these islands are not located in the metro area, however, people tend to stay in the city for hotel accommodations.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City opened its gate to cater flights to other countries not being offered before. The availability of direct flights to other destinations makes its way to give travels an option to depart from Cebu to another location abroad, instead of having it at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.
A new tourist attraction called the “Temple of Leah” was opened to the public. An upcoming Ocean Park-like venue will soon open at the South Road Properties (SRP), where the newly opened SM Seaside City can be found.
What we can do
As I commute every day to and from work, I have noticed some challenges that I believe the local government and the community can help together to resolve. This can improve the traffic flow, as well as help, improve the public transport challenges:
Follow traffic lights and road signs
The installed traffic lights have their own purpose why they are there. Green light means vehicles are allowed to proceed. If the Amber (Yellow) light is on, be warned that the signal is about to change to red. The Red light means stop.
Road signs must be followed as well. In some cases, roads are set to allow or prohibit entries of public and private vehicles.
Utilize pedestrian lanes and foot bridges
When we cross the road, locate the nearest pedestrian lane. If there are foot bridges, or sometimes called “Overpass,” use them. Hailing a taxi or a jeepney must be done on stops and waiting for sheds.
Pedestrians must also cooperate in following the traffic signs and rules.
Mind the pavement markings
Road markings have different meanings and rules that motorists need to follow. I have seen an effective way to learn these markings and their different rules from an online blog.
Motorists should have the respect to each other to avoid heavy road traffic.
What went bad (aside from the already heavy traffic)
Discipline is the key. If both motorists and pedestrians do not possess the right discipline to follow these rules and regulations, it will be difficult for the city to improve traffic flow.
We always blame the local government for their lack of action to improve the city. Actually, we also need to do our part as members of the community of solving this growing problem. Road widening projects are on-going. Eventually, these projects will somehow help public transport in avoiding bumper-to-bumper traffic. However, if we still continue to violate traffic rules and road signs, traffic will be out of hand and our aim to fix this struggle will continue to exist.
The new implementation of the SM Malls “escalator etiquette” campaign is a good example. Escalators have traffic, too. The push to follow this is as the same as to follow road rules. The local government is even pushing to establish and offer schooling for traffic enforcers in Cebu City. Let us all bear in mind that the “road etiquette” is very important, and this crucial to helping us improve traffic flow and solve the problem.
If you can still remember Milo’s famous slogan, “Great things start from small beginnings,” the solution to fixing this challenge should begin with us.
My contribution as a blogger
I am not an expert on this matter. I did some research online before coming up with this blog post. But as a blogger, what I can give to the Cebuano community is the learning and the understanding of how important it is for us to have the proper etiquette in engaging to public transport and traffic flow.
This is not only applicable to Cebu City. Traffic is getting worst to any part of the country. I am hoping that through this article, you have learned things that are essential to help us solve the heavy traffic problems.
I have decided to write my sentiments about this existing challenge as both a member of the Cebuano society and as an online promoter of Cebu via this blog.
If there are some things that I have missed, I will be very glad if you share them with me in the comment section below.
*Note: This is our entry to the Article of Change for the Philippine Bloggers Awards 2016. Cebu Finest is a finalist. We’ve won 2nd Place Best Entertainment and Lifestyle Blog and Top 5 Best Blog of the Year last November 21, 2016. Thank you for your support.