New bridge

Cebu, like Manila, has an inner-city airport.

Okay, not exactly, but that's down to geography. Instead of building it close to the mountains, they decided to build it on a flatter island just ten kilometers away from smack middle in the city center. Considering how heavily industrialized Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu are now, for all intents and purposes, Cebu has an inner-city airport. But, unlike Manila, there's only really one direction to go if you're leaving the airport for downtown, or at least to your hotel, unless you're staying in Mactan.

I fly to Cebu at least twice a year, and it's become a familiar routine for me now. You stay thank you to the flight crew as you step out of the plane. You either take the escalator - shouldn't we call it a "deescalator" if it goes down? - or, if you're feeling haughty, the stairs. You claim your luggage, after waiting for fifteen minutes or so. You head out of the terminal, and proceed to the taxi queue.

Only this time, the renovations to the airport have reached the taxi terminals, and it looks just a smidge different from when you last were there. For me, it was just... five months. The transport terminal feels airier. Why can't they have this in Manila? Well, we didn't think of dedicating a big enough space for taxis and private vehicles. But then, you can't have it all. (Or anything at all.) The cab driver seemed bewildered about the new layout, and I assume he's experienced it for weeks, if not months. But he's got a smile in his face, and a Visayan radio drama on his speakers.

Traffic in Cebu is starting to get bad now, as you'd expect from a city as bursting as this. The ten kilometers between the airport and my hotel, in the middle of the city, takes an hour. You get used to it, but you get bored after a while, because you spend more time stopping for stop lights, their timers ticking down 180 seconds at a time.

At the moment there are two bridges connecting Mactan to Cebu proper. If traffic is extra terrible - like the last time I was here, apparently because a former president was visiting - you take the old bridge. My cab driver then was apologetic. "Old bridge tayo?" he asked me, mixing in a smidge of Visayan, like I actually understood it. But maybe I do. I've been here frequently enough, but not long enough. I say yes, because we're going to be stuck in traffic either way.

This time, my cab driver didn't ask. That means we're taking the new bridge, the second bridge, the one closer to the airport, the one with two lanes on either side. Surprisingly, it's smooth.

"Maluwag ngayon, ah," I remark to the driver, trying to make small talk. He answers me in a bit of Visayan, and I just laugh, because I think I agree with him, even if I barely caught most of what he said. And then, the 180-second timer, and the next thing I know, I'm paying him over three hundred bucks, and it's taken us an hour to get to the hotel.

"How was your flight?" a colleague asked me the next day.

"It's all right," I answered. "But the traffic, of course..."

"...it's normal," he replied. This conversation also always happen when I'm in Cebu.

And your responses...

Post a Comment