Wanted: A facelift for Metro Cebu!


I was at the 888 Forum hosted by Marco Polo Plaza Hotel yesterday and the hot topic was the up and coming Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibits (MICE) event on Aug. 7-14. On the Presidential table were 888 hosts Mr. Bobby Joseph, Ricky Poca, Mr. Hans Hauri President of the Hotel, Resorts, Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC), Mrs. Jessica Avila, Events Chairman for MICE, former DoT Regional Director Patria “Dawnee” Roa and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.

MICE is an offshoot of the International Convention and Incentives event held in 1992, which gave us an idea that tourism isn’t just fixing up a nice beach and putting up a resort or hotel. It is far more sophisticated than that because the hotels and resorts must offer more than just a nice beach or nice location for tourists to enjoy. This is why I’m a strong believer in the Suroy-Suroy program of the Province of Cebu as it helped develop the tourism potential of all the towns and municipalities in Cebu.

MICE is the best thing that has happened in Cebu since we lost the Ad Congress to CamSur because it brings all the stakeholders in the tourism industry to our shores. More importantly, whenever MICE are held, it attracts international buyers who want the Philippines as part of their tourism package. Hence in a way, MICE are an international event.

Of course, to prepare for the coming of MICE, Cebu must prepare itself to make us attractive again. I will not forget what my good friend, Mr. Joel Yu of the Cebu Promotions Center always told me that Cebu is like a pretty girl, untidy, dirty, unkempt, but if you clean her up and put a pretty dress, she will truly attract many foreign visitors.

Well, I told Mayor Mike Rama in no uncertain terms that the last time Metro Cebu (not just Cebu City alone) was truly beautiful was when we played host to the 14th ASEAN Summit, where our streets were clean, well lighted and attractive. Alas years later, Cebu needs a facelift. I asked the Mayor that perhaps it is the right time to remove those offensive icon to corruption, those confounded lamppost that don’t even look nice as decorations. But he told me that the courts refuse as they are using it for evidence. Evidence my foot! Those judges ought to see that eyesore. If they want evidence, let them take pictures of these unsightly devices.

I also asked Mayor Mike about the up and coming “Asphalt Storm” that is due to commence anytime soon. I told him that summer is officially over, despite the fact that we’re still on the last week of May because of Typhoon “Chedeng” which already arrived ahead of Cebu City’s asphalt storm.

Obviously we never learn our lessons well. Fixing our roads with asphalt during the rain is the best way to ensure the poor quality of our roads. We have written here so many times before that the biggest enemy of asphalt is water. I have seen so many times a lot of contractors working during the rain because they have to satisfy their contracts with the city. In the end, the asphalt pavement that they lay on the road doesn’t last… we might as well throw good money!

Once more I made a pitch for having our roads cemented; after all, cement is indigenous to the island of Cebu as it is not imported, vis-à-vis asphalt or bitumen which we have to purchase with US Dollars from the Middle East. While I already wrote this piece, allow me to repeat it for emphasis.

For many years, the road in Peace Valley from Beverly Glen down was once an asphalted road. Since it sits at the bottom of the valley, whenever it rains, the asphalted road doubles as a river as water from both sides of the hills cascade down towards the Lahug creek along Escario St. For years, I saw the City of Cebu fixing the broken asphalt at least twice a year. So I though that someone ought to do something different.

I asked then Councilor Gabriel “Gabby” Leyson who headed the Cebu City Council’s infrastructure committee to prepare funds to cement that road starting from Beverly Hills. After more than six months of work, the concrete road was completed. That was the year 2004 and today, despite the record rainfall that we’ve been getting in Cebu City, the concrete road has remained strong. What more proof do we need that concrete beats asphalt every time? It’s really a no brainer!

If all the roads in Cebu City are cemented, then a huge number of funds for infrastructure can be diverted for other uses. Unfortunately, Mayor Mike Rama “inherited” this program from his predecessor. But I’d like to believe that Mayor Mike Rama has political will and I certainly hope that this is the last asphalt storm that the City of Cebu would embark and that henceforth, we shall see that the roads in Cebu City will be concreted. Mayor Mike agreed and will seriously consider this for the future.

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