By Vanette Colmenares
Vanette Colmenares comes home to Cebu, amazed by the changes she saw, and brought with her the healthful mindset that helped prop up local farmers. In two months, she organized a farmers market of healthy, organic produce. The weekly farmers market in New York city’s Union Square gave her the idea. In her absence, the good deed is sustained by the local communities of Cebu, now that she’s returned to New York.
Cebu City — It had been 12 years since I last set foot on my native soil, Cebu. But when I did so last July, it was a great revelation from when I left. What was once a vast land of greenery with few establishments, is now an array of tall buildings with tons of people like ants appearing and disappearing oblivious of its surroundings.
The traffic was bearable, although there were times that I felt like getting out of the car and just walk, having been accustomed to the NY life of a carless BMW (Baktas Mentras Wala). But Cebu drivers have their unspoken etiquette on the road of who they will allow to cut in front of them, or when they will ‘dot dot’/side swipe within a hairline’s distance from my passenger’s window. I often close my eyes fearing for a scratch or a bump, but it never happens. And what normally takes 10 minutes to a destination is now more than a half hour’s ride. Whew!
Houses are now overshadowed by tall buildings everywhere, and the sidewalks are no more as they have either been used as make shift houses for squatters who have nowhere else to go, or by vendors selling their wares from cigarettes, fruits or what have you. The only visible sidewalks you see are those that are manageable by big businesses within their areas or by the churches.
Cebu is surrounded by tall buildings that house many call centers. And most food establishments within the areas are open 24 hours, to cater to the needs of this growing population. As such, there is no limitation to when someone can drink beer or liquor, because even if it is breakfast time in the Philippines, somewhere around the globe is cocktail time, and these call agents are just conforming to the country of their responsibility, wherever it may be.
Oh, and before I go, the one thing I really noticed is the ATMs in the carenderia or in sari-sari stores. This is the poor man’s version of the water bottle and its acronym stands for Automatic Tubig Machine. For a peso that you put in a slot provided, you can get a glass of water–normally you have to have your own receptacle, either your own glass or a piece of plastic which you insert on the nozzle and then press a button to get your water.
In the two months I was there, I organized a festival called the “food and fun festival”. It was featured in the local daily, Sunstar magazine. What a feat!
It was the first of its kind and then continued as a healthy food market every Saturday in Handuraw, even as I am now back in New York.
I was really amazed by the changes I saw during my visit. I can’t wait to come back, contribute to its progress, and see more changes. After all, we are a dynamic world and as someone once said, “today is tomorrow’s yesterday.” So let’s live in the moment.