The Difference between Manila and Cebu

on Sunday, February 22, 2015
What did I say the last time? Ok, that was sooo long time ago so just forget about it. Ok, so what happened recently… it’s not really recent since that was I think two weeks ago but I got back to Cebu in an instant. I don’t know how it happened but my stay in Manila for some reason was really short and to my surprise I feel like not going back to Cebu at that time. Anyways, I know I have to come back and so I asked mom to buy me a plane ticket home and the next day I was home. Which I obviously thought was a good thing. Manila is still the same, LOL, I’m already used to the stark differences with Manila and Cebu that I can’t differentiate both of them already. I mean not totally but almost. Flying between Cebu and Manila feels a bit old and all the excitement is gone. I almost hate it, but then again it’s just an hour of sitting in a cozy airbus and it’s not that inconvenient. The language difference is already fading away. Tagalog almost sounds like my mother tongue already.

So, I’m trying to come up with an interesting topic to compensate my boring life, so now I’ll be telling you the difference between Manila and Cebu. These are based on my observations only and I’m not trying to say Cebu is the best and Manila is ugly just because I live in Cebu. I’m going to say facts and some unbiased opinion regarding both cities.

First of all, Manila is obviously huge… to be honest I think huge is an understatement because Manila is so huge and no simple adjective can describe it. To the residents of Manila area, the term ‘Manila’ means Manila City but to the residents outside Mega Manila (Metro Manila and bordering provinces) the term Manila simply describes Metro Manila or any contiguous place under the influence of it. For people from Manila it’s probably hard to understand but if you’re in the province and you say to other people you’re going to Cainta or Bacoor people will automatically assume you’re going to Manila. LOL. Ok, I think that’s understandable enough.

Manila or Metro Manila or Mega Manila, whatever term that fits you or simply the Manila area almost has no urban planning and as a result the traffic is chaotic. You may describe it as Los Angeles and Bangkok combined, whatever, but for me the traffic is just bad. Metro Manila’s road network is expansive and some of the roads are really wide but it’s just filled with cars from all sides and people are obviously pissed off with that view especially when you’re in a hurry but the car you’re riding on is not moving. It’s really frustrating but I don’t think being frustrated can help, most of the time people just keep a cool head and wait of the traffic to move on. As for me, since I’m new to the city I feel like a tourist observing everything that is happening around me and I always say to myself... “Well, that’s just how they do it here in Manila”.

Cebu’s traffic problem is different. It’s still there just like any big city but it’s not that bad as the one in Manila. The number of cars at any given time on the road is also smaller. I think it’s because Cebu is an island so you can’t just simply visit Cebu and bring your car with you in case you live outside the province. Most people who drive cars in Cebu are residents themselves. The effect of this is significant, at least 3 million tourists visited Cebu province in 2014 yet Cebu doesn’t suffer the traffic experienced by Baguio City (another tourist city) during the tourist season. Unfortunately, while the numbers of cars using the roads are smaller in number, the roads themselves are also smaller. The roads in Cebu are very narrow compared to cities of its size. Much of it has something to do with geography. Cebu has limited land area, so you have to fit everything in a much smaller area than it would be possible. I also noticed Cebu’s drivers are also less disciplined. Metro Manila’s drivers are also undisciplined but I noticed there are fewer adherences to traffic rules in Manila than in Cebu. Drivers in Cebu swerve lanes more often and people make random stops everywhere. Again people do this in Manila too but in Cebu I can see more of them.

Another obvious difference is the language. Obviously people in Manila speak Tagalog and I can understand them and have a conversation with them very easily. However, not everyone in Manila speaks Tagalog. Manila is like a melting pot of all Filipinos from all parts of the Philippines. You can occasionally hear people speak Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Ilocano, and the list goes on. I don’t think people from Manila really cares, they are probably so used to people from everywhere they no longer bother to ask where you came from or what your mother tongue is. Every time I tell them I’m from Cebu they have this expression in their face that tells me they’re not interested about that information or perhaps ask me a different question regarding myself other than the fact that I’m from Cebu. But if they happen to know something about Cebu they make some follow up questions like how’s this or how’s that, something like that.

In Cebu, language is more of an issue. Cebuanos are good Cebuano speakers(LOL, obviously) and they’re so good at it they don’t bother using any other language other than Cebuano. Tagalog in Cebu is almost unheard of and I probably hear more Cebuano in Manila than Tagalog in Cebu. People just refuse to speak Tagalog that every time you hear someone speak the Tagalog language it is always assumed he/she is a tourist or a visitor from the north. Most Cebuanos are actually good in the language(Tagalog) and they can speak the language very fluently, however they have confidence issues when trying to speak Tagalog or most of the time they just don’t like to use it. Also, if you’re a local in Cebu and you try to speak Tagalog to your friend who knows you’re a local then they’ll try to tease you or ask you what the hell is wrong with you and why are you talking in another language. English, like in Manila, is also the language of preference for business and education and most Cebuanos are really good at it.

One last difference I will describe is the difference in way of life. Manila is a very busy city, it is bustling with economic activity in all corners and people just move around very fast. The whole day is like rush hour and trains and all forms of public transport are full to the brim and in rush hour the situation is much worse. I’m already used to it, but the first time I had that kind of day I feel tired just looking at my schedule. In Manila we have this kind of thing called the MRT, but it’s not the usual MRT where people just ride on it and wait to arrive to the next station. The MRT in Manila is one of the most inefficient mass transit systems I’ve set my foot on. Trains are usually delayed so the line of people can get very long or sometimes there’s just to service at all. When there’s a service interruption people are obviously angry and I can feel their pain because I’ve experienced it myself. During the rush hour the train is so full(which is normal I think), but the waiting time between the trains are really long, sometimes up to 10 minutes, and it obviously doesn’t make the life easier for the commuters.

The way of life in Cebu is the same. Cebu is also a very busy metropolitan city, however unlike in Manila; Cebuanos are relatively more laid back and live simpler lives. There are also fewer commuters but like I said, while there are fewer commuters the number of commuting options are also significantly less. Let me tell you this, unlike in Manila, Cebu doesn’t have a mass transit system. There is one BRT line under construction but it’s not operational at least until 2018. The number of PUVs also plying the roads is also significantly less to handle the rush hour commuter traffic so waiting for a PUV can take a lot of time during rush hours. The traffic is really bad as well; the good thing though is the distance travelled by most commuters is also significantly less since Metro Cebu has a smaller urban footprint than Metro Manila.


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