Every Day Life In Cebu
On this page I am going to try to give a basic picture of life here in Cebu City and it's surrounding suburbs. As with any foreign country, it will take time to learn and adapt to its culture and the same is true for the Philippines and Cebu. Probably in the Philippines and especially Cebu you will find it much easier to fit in with the locals and get yourself comfortably situated. The reason for this is that the Filipino is much familiar with western culture and in so many ways they emulate it in their everyday life. As mentioned in other areas of this site, English is the official language of this country along with the other dialects such as Tagalog and Visaya. Mostly all official government documents and the major newspapers are all printed in English. The traffic signs, storefront signs are in English. When you shop in the various stores located in malls or on the street, the employees are mostly all fluent to at least a basic extent in English. The same holds true for personal employed in offices hospitals, restaurants etc. All government employees are usually quite fluent in English. Especially true in the Cebu City area, most people you will meet are able to speak some English and of course many of them speak it very well.
The basic nature of the Filipino is such that they are basically a very, very friendly people. Some of their characteristics that may seem as quarks to us and cause you some irritation at first. I will give you some examples. As they scurry around the mall or supermarket you will notice many of them constantly sending text messages from their cell phones, as this is the text capital of the world. They may seem completely oblivious to what is going on around them. They may stop in the middle of a supermarket isle or right in front of the escalator you are about to step on! Oh well, you will get use to it. If you may perhaps ask a Filipino a question that they do not know the answer to or are not sure of, he or she will may let their mouth drop open and say nothing. This is just one of their harmless characteristics. When you are in a store and the Filipino sales person is assisting you, they are very, very polite and accommodating as is true in general in most all situations with Filipinos. This is something that may be hard to find in our own countries. On the other side of the coin, Filipinos do move slow and usually not with a sense or urgency in their dealings some times. One very admirable trait of the Filipino, which I admire, is that no matter how poor one of them may be, they will always share their food with a neighbor or friend if they are hungry no matter how little food they have. Another cause of frustration especially for me is that its seems when they walk down a sidewalk or be it in a mall, the Filipino seems to be able to walk so slow it may seem as if they are in slow motion or in some kind of a time warp! I have tried to walk that slow when I am behind a slow walking Filipino and I find it impossible to walk as slow. Noise, noise does not seem to bother the Filipino and sometimes I think they could sleep through a nuclear exchange. This includes their playing of music at the loudest setting of the volume control. I strongly suggest that if you are going to rent an apartment here, please check out whom you have as neighbors. I am a type of person who is very sensitive to noise and when I first arrived here many years ago, I moved several times until I found a quite place. However, if you are going to live in a condo, town house or gated community, you most likely will not be exposed to loud noise. All in all, even with these minor irradiating characteristics of the Filipino, their positive traits do outweigh the former. I do not want to be all negative here.
This will no doubt really drive you nuts sometimes until you get use to it. There seems to be a real problem with items that should be easily obtainable in different stores, not being available even if made locally and not imported. For instance when I was in the supermarket one time, I could not find romaine lettuce, which is grown here by Dole and other small farmers. It was out of stock for a week and so was shaving cream. Another time, two local store near by were out of Sprite for two weeks and it is bottled in the next town of Mandaue. I am not sure as to the reason for this although I feel in the Philippines they have a real problem with their various personal in charge with ordering when items are in need. It seems that they wait until the last one of its kind are sold out and than they must notice the depletion of that product, than order and than wait for the delivery. This in turn can take more time because the supplier has the same problem. This again, is the no sense of urgency the Filipino suffers from along with complacency. In all fairness, the retail outlet is also at the mercy of the supplier. All these factors play into the "out of stock" syndrome here in the Philippines. This is not something that will plague you at every turn so do not fret too much.
As with most developing countries driving habits of the locals may seem a little intimidating to a westerner at first. It really is no cause for you to worry. True, Filipinos may not pay as much attention to traffic laws as they should, but do not let this scare you from driving or owning a car here. When I first started to drive here many years also, I adapted in a few days and it was a breeze. There are also surprisingly a small amount of traffic accidents here. One of the reason for this is the Filipino even thought he may not follow the traffic laws as much as he should, they are surprisingly good drivers as in controlling their vehicles. Another crazy thing drivers do here is drive with their light off when it is a lit night or a street that is lit up well. The reason for this is that many Filipino drivers think by doing this they are saving their car battery! No matter how many times I have tried to explain to them that the lights are working off the alternator not the battery, they just do not get it! The Jeepneys that are the main form of transportation for the locals are I think driven by people who are in serious need of mental therapy. The drivers of these vehicles I think should take the award for "worlds most stupid drivers". They have traffic police here, but not nearly enough. Getting a driving summons here is very rare. These guys will stop anywhere and everywhere to pick up or drop off a passenger. As for motorcycles I do recommend that you refrain from using them. Most of the accidents here do involve motorcycles. I think the motorcyclist is mostly to blame because of their atrocious driving habits. They seem to feel as if they can practice any insane kind of driving habits they wish like driving on sidewalks, passing on the right , darting out from side streets with no warning and just being plane stupid. This is not limited to the Philippines, but all over Asia. Motorcycles are also not respected on the road as all over the world. I consider them death traps that offer no protection. There is no doubt that Cebu City has its share of traffic congestion especially during rush hour, but what city doesn't! I myself try to avoid when ever possible driving during rush hour.
You can find most items you want in the stores in Cebu city, but as mentioned before, there is from time to time, items that are out of stock. You just have to be a little patient for these items to show up on the shelf. As for the supermarkets, you have the Ayala Supermarket located in Ayala Mall which is one of the largest, Rustans Supermarket also located in Ayala Mall, S.M. Supermarket located in SM Mall, Robinsons Supermarket located in Robinson's Mall, Fooda Supermarket located on Mango Ave and also one in the Guadalupe section of Cebu City.
Ayala supermarket probably has the best selection of goods especially imported foods From the U S along with other countries. However Ayala really gets me exasperated at some of their purchasing practices. You will see that some of the American products have expiration dates that are only months away or less. You should check the expiration date when purchasing the item. Although just because an item has an expiration date coming due does not men the product is no good as I have purchased items with coming due expiration dates and had no problem. I just think you should sort through the lot and find the one with a longer off expiration date. It seems that Ayala supermarket purposely purchases these products that may be soon to expire because they get it much cheaper from the U S distributor allowing them to mostly very low grade.
They also seem to sell it at the regular price, which does not make me happy. Their produce section of fruits and vegetables is poor in quality and selection. All in all, Ayala supermarket has probably the best selection of products if for no other reason because of the large size of the store. Their meat department as for imported meats from the U S and Australia has outrageous prices and you never see anyone buying. They have a liquor and wine section, but no housewares what so ever which I think is stupid as they want to to carry your packages up to the department store levels and purchase there. Not to long ago you could not even buy a disposable safety razor or shaving cream in the supermarket.
Rustans Supermarket a short walk away in the same mall, has high quality meats, both domestic and imported, usually from Australia. The meats seem to be of very good quality. At Rustans you have American or western style cuts of meats like pork loin, rack of lam etc. Most of the other Supermarkets do not have many of the familiar cuts as we may be used to. They also have a good deli section which includes imported cold cuts and cheeses like Italian salami, provolone cheese etc along with imports from other European countries. The produce section of Rustans has very, very good quality fruits and vegetables. Huge onions and potatoes as big as in the U S for instance.
The other supermarkets as far as I am concerned do not come close to Rustans produce section. Rustans is where I go for good quality fruits and veggies. This supermarket can be a little pricey. They also have a bakery and liquor departments in the store along with household and dry good items. The Fooda Supermarket on Mango Ave is a decent supermarket of good size and a produce section of good quality fruits and vegetables. The meats are of standard decent quality. Fooda has a large house wares section and many, many different items such as pots, pans, glass ware, cooking utensils, dishtowels, appliances etc. They even have a mini hardware section upstairs. In addition they have a snack bar, tobacco section, hot foods such as chicken and lechon etc to go. Fooda has a liquor and wine section also. This is almost one stop shopping. The prices at Fooda are very competitive.
Robinson's supermarket is OK, but it is smaller than the other supermarkets and they seem to use every square inch of floor space to stack items, which makes it difficult to traverse through the store especially with a shopping cart. Next, I am waiting for them to start hanging items from the ceiling. Long lines also at the register most of the time also. The express lane should be renamed to; slow boat to China! Robinson's also has a descent selection of household items and kitchen ware and gadgets along with liquor. There are also other supermarkets that have a large and reasonably good selection of foods, they are located at Elizabeth Mall, Country Mall and Park Mall. The Save More Supermarket at Elizabeth mall has a great produce and fruit department
For western men and women you may find it somewhat difficult to find clothes and shoes that fit you easily. This is mostly depending on your size. For those of us men over 6 feet tall it can take some time shopping around at the different malls to find sizes that fit us. Usually, you will find at least something that fits you as far as pants and shirts go, but more effort is needed.
Filipino men are just not very big and Filipino women average about 5 feet 2 inches more or less. I myself recently went on a new clothes shopping crusade at the mall department stores and the selection of my size being over 6 feet was very, very poor. I do not remember it being this bad at other times. It seems years back the selection of larger sizes was very good.
I do not understand now with the larger influx of taller western men the selection has gone down. Perhaps it is just the timing when I was looking. I think also, the buyers for these stores are not very good and do not know how to do their jobs well as they are missing out on sales. There are however many custom tailors that do superb tailoring and can make you jeans, shirts pants etc with great quality and workmanship. You can have these items made for far less than buying them ready made back home and also with a large choice of materials. For instance above the Sun Gold store not far from S. M. Mall there is a tailor who does incredible very affordable customs making of all types of clothes and an amazing selection of materials.
There are also shoe makers that will make you custom made shoes. I want to warn you about Ayala department store as for buying clothe. The selections of large sizes is horrible and it was much better 12 years ago. The prices are insane in general terms. For instance all the Levi and Lee jeans are "defects" from the U S and are selling for 1800 Pesos - 2800 Pesos! Manhattan shirts from the U s are priced at 3000 Peso almost $70.00. You can not find larger size shirts in the cheaper brands. DO NOT BUY YOUR CLOTHES THERE!
Other items like hardware, paints, electrical supplies, appliances, furniture, bathroom fixtures and building materials are abundant and sold at stores all over the greater Cebu City area. There is a very large warehouse type building supply company on the order of Home Depot in the U S. It is called Cebu Home Builders and located on A.F. Fortuna Street In Cebu City that has virtually everything you need with imports from the U.S. and Europe to locally produced. There are other building supply stores also.
As pointed out in other areas of this site, there are so many things you will find to entertain yourself here like golfing and water sports. There are uncountable restaurants, clubs, bars and of course the famous bikini bars. If you a single male than Cebu is heaven for you as it must be the # 1 girl watching capital in the world. An endless stream of pretty women never ceases no matter where you are. Cebu is noted has having the most beautiful women of any city in the Philippines!
I can not say this loud enough, Sky Cable in Cebu SUCKS! Do not use them and if you have them get rid of them. They until not long ago monopolized the cable TV in Cebu City. Their service sucks big time. HBO and Cinemax have not worked right in weeks and weeks along with National Geographic, channel BBC and others. It is always the same with them, they refuse to fix the problem and make excuses.
They continually delete channels and the service gets worse. Now they want to charge you extra for the channels they delete on top of their regular fee. Destiny Cable on the contrary is great with a great selection of channels with my all time favorites, The History Channel and Fox news which Sky Cable will never give you. So do not even think Sky Cable, it is a dirty word in my book!
There is an abundance of hospitals in Cebu City with state of the arts equipment such as Chong Hua Hospital and others. Dentists are also readily available and abundant with dental work at a fraction of what you pay back home and with good quality work. Most of the dentists in the Philippines are women by the way and I have no clue as to why!
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