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A State Within a State June 17, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Politics.

There’s a blog somewhere here in the Internet that reacted quite curiously to my entry, “The Necessary Evil.” It’s a blog maintained by a Manileño armchair political analyst, with a cut-and-paste commentary on my explanations as to why Cebuanos tend to be pro-administration.

What I found curious was that, despite my explanation, some people just don’t get the point. That blog and its own set of readers attacked my opinion, and Cebuano voters in general. It’s as if it’s a sin to be pro-administration. It’s as if it’s a crime to be different from Manila. I wasn’t even trying to say that my opinion is right. I was just trying to explain why most Cebuanos are pro-administration.

Now I don’t mind people having an opposing viewpoint from mine, just as long as they respect my viewpoint and don’t try to assert the old “You’re wrong because I’m right” line of reasoning. I’m one of those who believe that I have my own opinion and you have yours, so let’s keep it that way. I will listen what you have to say, and I appreciate it if you would listen to mine. If someone does prove to me that I’m wrong, I’m usually quick to concede, “Yeah, you do have a point.” But please, if you have a point to make, say it nicely. A boorish line of argument does not impress anyone. The last time I checked, ad hominem attacks are only fair in debates held at children’s playgrounds and at fish markets. Ironically, these particular readers are reacting the same way that they’re accusing GMA of reacting to her criticisms. With a belligerent and condescending attitude.

What I also don’t appreciate is that the blog is insinuating that Cebuanos are pro-administration for the sake of being contrary to “Imperial Manila”. What I disliked the most was that one of the blogs readers even went so far as questioning the Cebuano voting populace’s intelligence because we support a mayor with a boorish attitude.

If anything, this kind of argument only serves to strengthen the bias we Cebuanos have against people from Manila who think their opinions are the only ones that matter, the same kind of people who think that the sun and moon sets only on the National Capital Region. I agree, this Cebuano stereotyping of Manileños is unfair, because not everyone in the NCR is that myopic. But every now and then, someone comes up to reinforce the stereotype.

What I hate the most is that some people even insist that there’s some sort of rivalry going on between Manila and Cebu. We’re compared to being the blue and red states, akin to the North and South of the United States.

Speaking as a Cebuano who has lived in Manila and who repeatedly travels to Manila, I speak against such rivalry. Please. We will NEVER be able to compete with the NCR in terms of political power, as well as, economic and financial activity. The rate of power plays and the fluidity of money in Manila is staggering. Cebu will never hope to even be within the level of activity that Manila enters into day by day.

And you know what? Thank God we never will! The way I see it, it’s this quick change of power and money which causes the heightened sense of paranoia and helplessness among Manileños, the feeling that they don’t have any control over the situation. You won’t find that here in Cebu, where the pace of life and business is quite slow, sedate, but sure. We like the way things are in our city and province. We like the fact that we are probinsyanos… a big city that will always be a small town. We will never be as rich nor as powerful as Manila and we’re okay with that.

If there’s one statement in that particular blog that I subscribe and agree to, it’s the fact that Manila sees Cebu as a State within a State. Frankly speaking, we wish we could be that ourselves, kind of like the way Hong Kong is to China. That’s why Cebuano politicians often lobby for a federal government or for more empowerment to non-NCR regions. Why? Because Cebu is self-sustaining. To a certain extent, we are insulated from whatever happens in Manila because we are not dependent on the national government for support. In fact, the rough estimate is that for every peso that the Cebu government remits to Manila, only 10 centavos go back to us as our share in the national budget. Rally all you want in Mendiola, or get scared about uprisings and coups. In Cebu, life goes on.

In fact, this is why most Cebuanos are tolerant of the President, notwithstanding all that’s been said and done about her. She’s been good to Cebu, and if you’ve seen how good our economy has become, you’d be supportive of her too. She’s the first President after a long time that has recognized that Cebu and Manila are partners in our country’s development. She supports a devolution of administrative and political powers in favor of the outlying provinces. She built a Malacañang in the South in our very own shores. She can speak our language fluently. Would you blame us then for being supportive of her? GMA is addressing the Cebuano’s need to be recognized and accepted as an independent economic power of the Philippines, and she identifies herself as a probinsyano just like us. She speaks Tagalog funny, just like us. She is throwing projects and development our way, and in a way that allows us to support our brothers and sisters in the Visayas. Bohol, Leyte, and the nearby provinces of Western Visayas are benefiting from the boom in Cebu, since we are eager to link up and share our tourists and resources with them.

We are well aware of all the protests and charges against her, and yes, we acknowledge that there are very valid and legal grounds for such protests. But you have to understand that in the Cebuano culture, we don’t like to rock the boat unless we must. We are a very community-oriented region and people who speak out and dissent are treated with skepticism and wariness. That’s just who we are, and that kind of group oriented mentality works for us. So please, respect the Cebuano opinion for what it is. We just do not see things the way you Manileños do.

(Caveat… not all Cebuanos feel the same way that I do, although it’s pretty fair to say that most Cebuanos subscribe to my viewpoint, as proven by the recent results in the Senatorial votes. There are, in fact, a lot of pro-opposition sentiments among people my age, but as compared to Manila, these pro-opposition protesters are not as many.)

So, allow me to be so presumptuous as to speak in behalf of all Cebuanos everywhere. What do we really want from Manila? Respect us for who we are. We are different from you, and we like it that way. We don’t want to compete with you and we are not trying to be contrary to anything you hold, for the sake of being contrary. Cebu marches to its own drummer, and we won’t let Manila dictate our cadence for us. Sometimes, we agree on similar points, and sometimes we don’t. But nevertheless respect our point of view. Isn’t it a fact that variety is the spice of life?

In closing, I would like to stress that Cebuanos and Manileños are cut from very different fabrics, but not necessarily in a way that negates one from the other. I would like to cite the fact that having lived in Manila (with a close circle of all-Manileño friends) and as someone who frequently travels in and out of the NCR, I’ve observed very interesting cultural differences between Cebuanos and Manileños:

1) Cebuanos are laid-back while Manileños are always in a hurry. In Manila, money and power is quick to change hands. You can also notice this in most Manila malls. Most people are carrying shopping bags. They’re in a hurry to go from one place to another. In Cebu, people take their own sweet time in doing things. Well, that’s both a good and bad thing. Manileños often complain that Cebuanos are unprofessional because it takes us a long time to finish or decide on anything. But on the flip side of that, Cebuanos don’t like to be rushed in making decisions because we like to think things out before making a commitment. Haste makes waste, as the adage goes.

2) Cebuanos and Manileños have a very different sense of humor. Forgive me for saying so, but I find the average Manileño joke very bland. When hanging out with friends from Manila, I’m often surprised why they suddenly burst out laughing. Oftentimes, I just don’t get what the joke was. As pointed out by a Manileño friend, kaming mga Cebuano ay mahilig mang-asar. Our sense of humor has a touch of crassness and pang-masa appeal to it. If you watched the old Bubble Gang series, that sense of humor comes closest to Cebuano jokes.

3) Cebuanos have a more bohemian sense of fashion while Manileños are very sharp dressers. For the average Cebuano male, anything that requires wearing a collar is already formal attire. Long sleeved shirts are for people who really are serious about dressing up. You can wear t-shirts, jeans and rubber shoes to almost any Cebuano establishment and you’d fit right in with the crowd. We don’t like to dress up. Now compare that with the Makati/Ortigas crowd, where women who are just hanging out having a beer will come dressed to the nines, accompanied by metrosexual men with highlights on their hair, and the latest fashionable pair of jeans. A typical Cebuano would balk at wearing expensive Havaianas while in Manila people go in droves to buy designer tsinelas.

4) Cebuanos are spendthrifts while Manileños are very driven consumers. It’s a little known marketing fact that Cebu is the test ground for most new products and brands on the market. If it will sell in Cebu, it’s sure to be a hit anywhere else. Cebuanos must have value for their money. They do not like to spend money on something that’s not worth buying. But I’ve noticed that in Manila, you can set up just about any kind of food stall and any kind of specialty store and chances are it will sell like hotcakes. It’s hard to push products in Cebu. We are loathe to part with our hard earned money.

5) On average, Cebuano taxi drivers are more honest and respectful. Plus, they don’t ask for tips. If they have the money, they will give you exact change.

6) Manileños are better partygoers than Cebuanos. We don’t have anything that comes close to Embassy. We have some bars and clubs here and there, but we’ll never be able to compete with the Manila night life. Again, our nightlife is more laidback and sedate. We prefer to just drink beer, talk and listen to live music. Most of our bars don’t charge an entrance fee and our beer is cheaper. The Manila party scene is a lot more interesting and their partygoers there a lot more hardcore.

7) Our food and cost of living is cheaper. But our average salary rate is also lower. I would be making a lot more money as a lawyer if I were living in Manila.

8) The proportion of women smokers from non-smokers is much, much bigger in Manila than in Cebu. In Manila, it’s commonplace to find droves of women having a cigarette break both in work and in school. In Cebu, although women smokers are not rare, still, they are pretty uncommon.

9) Cebuanos find it easier to speak English than Tagalog. And at the risk of drawing ire from Manileño readers, I’d have to say that the average Cebuano speaks English better than the average Manileño. The Visayan language is guttural and hard, while the Tagalog language is softer and more nasal. We Cebuanos resent the fact that we are forced to learn “Filipino,” and I speak as someone who had dismal grades in Araling Panlipunan during my elementary years and yet for some reason, Social Studies in high school was one of my best subjects. Despite the fact that “Filipino” is slowly adding other regional words to its grammar, nothing will ever change the fact that its intonation and base language will always be Tagalog, which we Visayans find infernally hard to pronounce and understand. (Present company excluded… I am a fluent Tagalog speaker, after having lived in the US. But in my childhood, I cannot speak the damn language straight and had dismal grades in Filipino and Araling Panlipunan… just like all my other classmates.) That is why we Cebuanos are staunch advocates of a straight English curriculum… because the English language is easy for us to pronounce, for some linguistic reason.

10) I love the cultural and cuisine diversity in Manila… it’s hard to find the different flavors and textures here in Cebu. It’s only recently that Cebu has had an explosion of different kinds of cuisine. For the longest time, we’ve only had barbecue stations, Ding Qua Qua dimsum, and Sunburst Fried Chicken. But then again, where in Manila can you find dimsum steam rice, puso, ngohiong and Cebuano lechon?


1. *janice - June 17, 2007

Cebu all the way! And as a blog writer, I know how upsetting it gets when you get comments that are way out of line. If you have a point to make, and you say it smartly, I’ll tend to hear you out more than if you make a strong comment and shove it down my throat. If you don’t agree with someone else’s point, at least have the decency to respect that person’s opinion.

2. nastypen - June 26, 2007

Manila has fantastic bookstores and great cinemas…. but all of these are nothing when you are CRAVING for a good cup of steamed rice.

3. northwolf - June 26, 2007

Ya know it!

A caveat though: A friend of mine from Manila just had his first two bowls of Cebu’s famed steam rice.

He nearly passed out from the MSG. ^_^

4. fathertime - July 4, 2007

oh man, i like the way you scribbled those words.. very well said… i’m now here in MM, makati in particular and everyday life here is a rat race…. while life in cebu is……………. perfectly balance.. well, that’s just my point of view…

5. northwolf - July 4, 2007

Just fight the good fight man. And reprezent! 8)

6. seiji - July 4, 2007

i totally agree with you and your viewpoints. while not a cebuano, i cringe with all the airs these manileños but on because they’re supposedly the “cooler” people in the country.

more often than not, they look like chickes running around with no heads.


7. northwolf - July 4, 2007

Hahaha… now now play nice. 🙂 The people from Manila are not all that bad. It’s just that a lot of them haven’t ever gone out of the NCR, or have ever tried living in Visayas and Mindanao. Maybe that’s why they find it hard to imagine that other people have radically different viewpoints from them, and are shocked when radically contrarian opinions like mine surface on the Internet.

8. fathertime - July 4, 2007

yeah… and they really need to explore the archipelago so that they don’t sound ignorant on our ethnicities and cultures.. but if they only have a wide-open mind, needless to hop from island to island just to discover the cultures of the other ethnic groups..

9. leylander - July 18, 2008

cebu represent! 🙂

10. bisdak - July 18, 2008

having worked in Manila for a couple of years, I did experience this differences; in one incident when I was with a client and my client has with her some suppliers too, while we are having our dinner, one supplier remarked about Cebuanos speaking Tagalog in an akward manner, then I butt in: “So, what’s the problem with that? we can always communicate in English” then they realized that I was a cebuano, I bet they felt embarassed, my client told me later on when we hang out….so, cheers Cebu . . .

11. Arnold Carl - July 18, 2008

Care to post the link of the writer so that we can comment there too?

12. northwolf - July 18, 2008

“Care to post the link of the writer so that we can comment there too?”

Thanks for asking, but I hate it when other bloggers link to me in order for their readers to make fun of my entries. I don’t want to sink to their level by doing the same.

13. Layla Dee - July 19, 2008

…i beg to disagree! …you should give more time to check out Cebu’s party scene…i think you’re left out! …hahahah!

“Manileños are better partygoers than Cebuanos. We don’t have anything that comes close to Embassy”

14. northwolf - July 20, 2008

Hehehe… you should check how old this post is… at the time of writing, there weren’t much party places to go to.

Still though, by sheer number of clubs alone, Cebu could never hope to compete with Manila in the party scene. Think about it. How many good clubs do we have? (And by good clubs, I mean the kind that has a nice crowd, plays good house music, and has a classy ambiance). We only have Vudu, Azziza, Formo, the Loft, and not much else.

Greenbelt 3 alone can outnumber Cebu’s good clubs.

15. northwolf - July 20, 2008

Caveat: While I do go clubbing every once in awhile, I do not really consider myself as a party person. If anybody knows any better place to go out clubbing, please enlighten me.

16. Eric - October 20, 2015

when you opt for business and money, technology i guess it’s Manila, but if you are a person who lives for relaxed life, a bit of modernity then it’s Cebu for you…
I am a Manileno and I have tons of friends in Manila who are Cebuanos and they love Manila life, but I am a Manileno who craves for the quiet life so I love Cebu life…
my point -> different folks for different strokes…

Eric - October 20, 2015

all of us are Filipinos, by the way

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