When I was younger, my father would take us on joyrides. The where didn’t matter. We drove anywhere and everywhere. Back then, the new bridge was literally new and there wasn’t much of a skyline to look at. From the crest of the bridge you could see SM City Cebu (my parents called it Shoemart), and a floating green cross from the St Joseph Parish in Mandaue. There was even a building with a beer atop it. Nestled in the mountains were Cebu Plaza (now Marco Polo), Citylights and the wonderful castle I’d later know to be Waterfront. That was it. No high-rises or fancy structures. It was a small skyline for a small town.
Back then, we did our shopping at Prince Warehouse and Colon, and if we were feeling fancy, we would go to the McDonald’s in Jones where my sisters and I would play in our matching denim jumpers. I’d bet good money SRP was still mostly a body of water. North Reclamation wasn’t much better.
One night, we found ourselves driving through what would be Cebu IT Park. It was mostly just lots, a prison and this “hot spot” the grownups called The Village. My dad told me that it was the coolest place to be, but it wasn’t for kids. I laughed at my dad when he told us that those lots would soon be full of buildings, which were going to be full of computers. What would they compute? I thought. The computers at school only did Word and Super Mario. I wish I could tell my younger self that she’d be working there years later.
These days, Cebu is the poster child for a growing metropolis. Real estate and BPO industries are booming. More businesses and investors are pouring in. There’s more traffic, but definitely, more opportunities, too. All of a sudden, it’s not the small town I grew up in— it’s the city I’ve learned to love. I didn’t just grow up in Cebu, I grew up with it. And it’s strange to see the skyline change—because it feels like I’ve changed with it too.
Growing up with Cebu means watching it change. It meant concrete taking the place of soil, and smartphones taking the place of takyan and siatong. It means learning how to master all the jeep codes and trying not to sleep on the v-hire ride home. It meant seeing Mactan overrun by fancy resorts and subdivisions— so much so that they are all you see from your airplane window. It also means four years in college trying to keep my head above the water, because nursing felt like it wanted to drown me. Sometimes it means leaving the rock and roll gigs at Paseo and trading them for quiet coffee dates in a boutique cafe that just popped up because although the mosh pit looks fun, it’s also tiring. And mostly non-existent now.
Dad rarely takes me to joy rides now; I’ve learned how to drive a stick and try to muster the courage to drive through Recla, which is now full of speeding trucks, buses and vans. Cebu and I are different now. But we grew up together and changed together, and it’s been a fun ride so far.