Friday, December 8, 2006

City under renovation

You know that feeling you get when you're rushing a major project at the last minute to meet a deadline? As the due date approaches you're suddenly becoming a monster of productivity, in the last two days you find yourself accomplishing more than you've done in the past two months, and you think to yourself "If only I had another day or two, this thing could be more than adequate, it could be incredible".

I felt that all the time in college. And with the ASEAN Summit suddenly postponed due to bad weather, I'm sure Cebu is feeling it too.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Cebuanos are not competent enough to be hosting an international event like this. The government has been extremely diligent and thorough with it's preparations with the whole thing. All the bases seem to be covered and everything is set to impress.

Cebu is looking far cleaner and more beautiful than I've ever seen it. Practically all the major roads have been given a fresh layer of asphalt and lane markings, new lampposts and road signs have been installed, a lot of cracked up sidewalks have been cemented and had their curbs painted, and they've finally cleaned up the trash and rubble all around the place (most of it, at least). Most visibly, perhaps, the Cebu International Convention Center (built specifically with the ASEAN Summit in mind) is a beautiful and imposing structure. Even private businesses are sprucing themselves up to put out a good impression. I love the optimism in the air... Cebu's "We can do it!" attitude is so much healthier than Manila's "No you can't and we're all doomed!" pessimism.

We hear so much about how the government is so buried in red tape that it takes forever to get anything done, but the renovation of Cebu is a success story that makes me feel a lot more optimistic for the entire Philippines. The amazing thing about all this is that so much of it was completed just in the past few months or so. I've only been living here less than 3 months and that's been enough to feel Cebu's transformation.

Despite all the detractors, everyone seems to be putting in that extra burst of last-minute effort to make the event a success. Now with the summit postponed just a few days before it was scheduled they have that extra time that I have dreamed for with all those school projects that were a last-minute race to the finish. They can all breathe that sigh of relief knowing they have an extra month to polish Cebu to everything it can be.

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