Cebu is known as the Queen City of the south and is already considered along with adjacent cities and municipalities like Mandaue, Lapu-lapu and Consolacion as a metropolitan area. In this case, Metro Cebu would be the second metropolis in the country after Metro Manila. Unfortunately, the term is also a misnomer as there is no formality to the grouping like Metro Manila, which is well-defined and governed in part by the MMDA. (Of course, the LGUs within the National Capital Region still often act independently with their own mayors and councils.)
The Mactan Cebu International Airport is located not in Cebu City but in the island of Mactan and in Lapu-lapu City. The airport is the second busiest in the Philippines after NAIA and serves cities in the Visayas and Mindanao that do not have direct flights with Manila. Mactan being an international airport, there are also direct flights to overseas destinations including those to Japan, Singapore, Korea and China. Mactan airport is currently headed by Nigel Paul C. Villarete, the former Cebu City Planning and Development Coordinator, who is also known to be a leading proponent of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that will soon be implemented in Cebu City. Such as system might eventually connect the airport with the rest of Metro Cebu in what promises to be a modern mass transit system that will address the needs of the cities.
The following few photos were taken at the airport during my second trip to Cebu sometime in the middle of 1996. The date on the prints I scanned is erroneous as I haven’t been to Cebu prior to 1995, when I went there as part of a study team evaluating the traffic signal control system in the city. At the time, Cebu had adopted the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS) and the system was being considered for Metro Manila as well. I was involved in the evaluation of SCATS in Cebu and the “before” assessment for Metro Manila. I remember that we worked with Cebu’s City Traffic Operations Management (CITOM) as well as the local supplier of SCATS.
It is interesting to note that there seemed to be no other airline aside from PAL at the time. This was not entirely true as there was one Grand International Airways or Grand Air (by the Panlilio family) operating between Manila and Cebu. Unfortunately, that airline’s operations were short-lived and they could not solve the cost and management problems related to airline operations despite the upstart being a precursor to today’s budget airlines. Cebu Pacific eventually was established and is now the country’s largest airline despite it being classified as budget.
I forget where I saved various photos of the Mactan airport that I had taken during subsequent visits to Cebu. The following photos are a few I got from a friend who is currently involved in the Cebu BRT project and happened to have a few snapshots of the passenger terminal. I have not been to Cebu for more than three years now so I really need to have another look at the airport to see the improvements in the terminal.
The waiting area is spacious enough for some passengers to take a nap while waiting for the boarding call. The terminal has had a few upgrades here and there including renovations to its toilets, which are perhaps among the things people talk about when traveling through air terminals.
Driving from the airport this morning, I already saw the buildup along Villamor due to some roadworks being undertaken along the overpass crossing the SLEX. As such, I decided to take an alternate albeit longer route via Tramo and EDSA on my way back to Antipolo. It would have been longer but I had assumed Tramo and EDSA would be free-flowing at 7 AM on a Saturday. I was wrong!
Tramo congestion – Tramo is usually congested due to a variety of reasons including provincial buses maneuvering to and from terminals and depots located along the EDSA-bound side of the road and the proliferation of tricycles and pedicabs operating along the road despite the clear ban against them on national roads. The latter serve the informal settlers who live along Tramo (and Pasay), even occupying parts of the waterways in the area. This morning, waterworks by concessionaire Maynilad added insult to the injury that is congestion along the road. Airport-bound traffic wasn’t so lucky, too, as they had to contend with what seems to be a flawed setting of the traffic signal at the intersection downstream.
More traffic – after passing the Maynilad work site, there was still much congestion and it turned out this was due to very slow turning (i.e., all vehicles must turn right upon reaching EDSA) as MMDA traffic enforcers were not doing their jobs to ensure the intersection was clear of buses, jeepneys, taxis, and tricycles and pedicabs loading and unloading after the intersection, along which provincial bus terminals were all lined up. That’s right. There are tricycles and pedicabs along EDSA. I would have taken photos of the situation but unfortunately, these have to be against the sun and my trusty cell phone could not manage to get good photos. Such congestion is supposed to be manageable if enforcers would just be strict/firm in doing their jobs.
EDSA traffic – after recovering from the congestion along Tramo and the stretch of EDSA from Tramo to Magallanes, I stumbled upon another buildup as I passed Guadalupe and crossed the bridge at the Pasig River.
Re-blocking – it turned out that the congestion was due to roadworks along a lane of EDSA, which practically occupied 2 lanes due to the equipment and temporary barriers set up in the area near Reliance and the Boni MRT-3 Station.
Hectic schedules – I forgot that the re-blocking works along EDSA and other major roads in Metro Manila are undertaken during the weekends when traffic was supposed to be relatively light compared to the weekdays. As such, the MMDA only allows DPWH and its contractors to conduct works during the weekends, targeting completion by Sunday night in order for the lanes to be usable by Monday.
Imelda Avenue again – as if the congestion along Tramo and EDSA were not enough for a Saturday morning, I encountered still another bottleneck along Imelda Avenue in Cainta. This was quite surprising to me as water works in the area were supposed to have been completed more than a month ago.
Surprise! surprise! – what I thought was a completed project turned out to be something that was stalled for some reason. I think this may also be related to a similar policy being applied to the contractors, restricting their work to weekends.
There must be a better way to manage traffic along work sites like the one above? Perhaps work should not be limited to the weekends but be allowed during the late nights to early mornings (11PM to 5AM). This would allow for more time to be available for contractors to complete projects especially during these months of April and May when school is out and weather (read: rains) is not necessarily a factor working against such road and water works. While it is really difficult to work under the scorching sun, it is still no excuse for enforcers to do their jobs right in managing traffic to ensure smooth flow. It is a wonder how we cannot impose discipline on erring drivers at the cost of valuable time and fuel to other travelers.
The University Belt in Manila is called such because of the proliferation of schools, particularly universities and colleges, in the area. Most recognizable are institutions such as the University of Sto. Tomas, University of the East, Far Eastern University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Centro Escolar University, Manuel L. Quezon University, San Beda College, San Sebastian College, La Consolacion College, National Teachers College and College of the Holy Spirit. The U-belt, as it is also known, stretches all the way to Intramuros and Padre Faura where many other institutions like UP Manila, Mapua, Letran, Lyceum, PNU and Sta. Isabel College are located.
The streets in the area are very familiar to many as they are usually indicated in the sign boards of jeepneys and buses plying routes in the area. These include Recto, Lerma, Espana, Legarda, Mendiola and Quezon Blvd. An ubiquitous street in the area is currently named Nicanor Reyes Sr., in honor of the founder of the Far Eastern University, the main gates of which are located along the street. Nicanor Reyes, of course, is more popularly known as Morayta for most people even the younger generation who picked up the old name of the street, which is more familiar with public transport drivers (jeepneys and taxis). Morayta connects Espana with Recto.
Morayta Street (Nicanor Reyes St.) – Recto bound traffic with the FEU on the right side. There is practically two lanes per direction but one lane is usually occupied by parked or waiting vehicles. Add to this the operations of public utility vehicles as the street is along jeepney routes.
Railings – street railings on the median island along Morayta help minimize jaywalking along the busy street. There are no median openings for vehicles along the street though there are junctions like the one with R. Papa Street shown in the photo.
Pedestrian traffic signal – there is a traffic signal along Morayta for pedestrians crossing the street in front of the FEU main gate. Such signals may be equipped with a button for on-demand green indications.
Pedestrian flow – because of the schools, there are many students (generally in uniform) in the area. Each school would usually have a distinct uniform for females though some are generally in white with their school logos or IDs the only distinguishing aspects. Meanwhile, male students usually wear white polos and black pants. The photo above shows students crossing in front of the FEU gate. The photo also shows the typical commercial establishments in the area that include fast food and book shops.
FEU main gate – the university has several access/egress points along Morayta including those for people only and this gate where vehicles may pass. Many universities (with only few exceptions) in the University Belt have very limited space with some having practically no campuses to speak of but only buildings where they conduct their activities.
Parking and standing – parked and standing (waiting) vehicles occupy significant road space. While standing vehicles have their drivers and could be made to move, the parked vehicles generally take up a lane that could otherwise be used by pedestrians. I am not aware of any pay parking regulations along Morayta. There are no signs indicating pay parking schedules and rates, and have not seen parking attendants like the ones in Makati.
Approach to Recto – the intersection with Recto Ave. is signalized and the median island is tapered to accommodate vehicles queuing to turn left towards Mendiola or Legarda. The LRT Line 2 superstructure is also visible in the photo above Recto. Pedestrians walk along the building arcades that are typical of most older buildings in Manila, which are similar to those in other old cities in the Philippines.
Entry from Recto – the photo shows Morayta as our vehicle turned right from Recto. Taken during an April afternoon, there is very light traffic between Recto and R. Papa, and not so many students as those shown in the previous photos, which were incidentally taken during the morning of the same day. Note the vehicles parked on the curbside.
Build-up – approaching the signalized pedestrian crossing, we noticed some congestion due to the stopped vehicles and the presence of pedestrians. The section between R. Papa and Espana is usually congested due to several reasons including the presence of an informal jeepney terminal at the corner of Espana and Morayta.
Junction with Paredes – a peek at Paredes St. shows more parked vehicles and tricycles lined up and waiting for passengers. Public transport demand along Manila’s side streets are served by tricycles and pedicabs, and until a few months ago by what were called “kuligligs.” The latter were also paratransit modes that were the motorized versions of pedicabs fitted with motors or generators much like the ones used in farm equipment or motorized bancas in seaside towns. These are called tricyboats in Davao. Meanwhile, the term “kuliglig” is used in many parts of Luzon for farm tractors used as public transport in the rural areas. Paredes St. is quite busy as the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) is located along the street.
Informal terminal – the approach to Espana is usually congested in part due to the informal jeepney terminal from the corner of the junction. Some jeepneys even tend to bypass the line and pick-up passengers right at the corner and often blocking turning traffic.
There are many streets like Morayta in Manila that can actually be evaluated and considered for pedestrianization if not for road diets. Careful studies and perhaps an experiment here and there should show the feasibility and practicality of generally closing some streets to motor vehicles including tricycles and jeepneys. For some streets, public transport access may be maintained but there should be genuine effort to improve pedestrian facilities to enhance the experience of walking in what are supposed to be historic streets in Manila. Considering the volume of foot traffic in the area, one would assume that the City of Manila should be thinking about how to bring down motor vehicle traffic while providing for public transport and walking needs in the city. Perhaps some radical plans need to be formulated including out of the box ideas to revive Manila streets such as Morayta? I would like to see the schools come up with these plans and perhaps be instrumental in implementing the same and not just for the sake of their students and staff who are exposed to pollution, congestion and safety risks on a daily basis. It can be done if people and institutions will collaborate to make it happen.
I had the opportunity to do a project in San Fernando, Pampanga and went around the poblacion taking photos showing transport and traffic conditions in the old city center. To many travelers, perhaps the San Fernando they know is associated with what they see along the Gapan-San Fernando-Olongapo Road (also known as Jose Abad Santos Ave along this stretch in the city) after exiting the NLEX. There is much commercial development along the stretch of the highway between NLEX and McArthur Highway and of course, around the exit itself as mall giants SM and Robinsons have branches there. The “real” San Fernando is located only a few kilometers south from GSO via McArthur and the poblacion reveals a lot about the heritage or old character of the city and perhaps its potential for restoration as an example of urban development during the Spanish times.
Following are a collection of photographs from field work that we did in the city. We took a walk around the principal roads including McArthur, Tiomico, Consunji, Gen. Hizon., Abad Santos and Limjoco. Tiomico eventually becomes the Capitol Blvd. as it leads to the provincial capitol complex while Consunji becomes Sto. Nino Viejo when traversed westbound. The latter becomes Lazatin Blvd, which crosses GSO towards the north. Gen. Hizon appears to be the original alignment of the Manila North Road (McArthur), which passed through the heart of the city. Sometime in the not so distant past, a bypass road was constructed as traffic became constricted in the poblacion and many travelers not bound for San Fernando were inconvenienced by the congestion. This is clear from the maps of the area.
Poblacion preview – The San Fernando cathedral as seen from the approach of the bridge along Gen. Hizon Ave. The bridge itself appears to be an old one. It is a two-lane structure and its lamp posts reminded me of a similar bridge in Melaka, Malaysia I saw only this year.
The cathedral as seen from the bridge – the junction immediately after the bridge is Gen. Hizon’s intersection with Consunji Ave. The latter is one way eastbound so left turns are prohibited at the junction. Vehicles may go through towards Tiomico (the next junction right after the cathedral) or right where travelers will immediately see city hall on the right side of the road and just across from the cathedral; the typical set-up of most old towns in the Philippines.
Gen. Hizon Ave. towards Tiomico – the commercial establishments around the cathedral are very similar to those you would in many other old cities and towns around the country. Pedestrians are supposed to take the arcade sidewalks just in front of the ground floors of the buildings on the left and underneath their second floors. These seem to be blocked by merchandise or stalls so some pedestrians take the street instead. The photo also shows typical on-street parking in the poblacion.
Pedestrian flow – the photo shows pedestrians crossing Gen. Hizon from the commercial establishments on the left towards the cathedral. The photo also shows people using the walkways integrated with the buildings (arcade), providing shelters against the elements, in this case the scorching sun.
Rotonda? – at what seems to be the end of Gen. Hizon is a curious set-up which functions as a rotonda. Tiomico is also a one way street (westbound) and there is another intersection just ahead in the photo after turning right from Gen. Hizon.
Off-set intersection – Gen. Hizon actually continues as B. Mendoza Ave. (which eventually leads to a junction with McArthur to the north) from the junction that is identified by the 7-Eleven on one of its corners that is visible in the photo. The public market is just across from the building housing the convenience store.
City hall – the building is just across from the cathedral and the parking problems in the city are clear from this photo alone. City halls generate a lot of traffic due to the transactions, meetings and other activities associated with the institution. On weekdays, most parking in front of the building and across at the cathedral are probably by people with business at city hall. During Sundays, parking would be for church-goers.
Walkways – the arcade/pedestrian walkways I were referring to earlier are much like the one shown in the left of the photo in front of a shoe store. The set-up allows for pedestrians to be shielded from the elements as they should be able to walk comfortably without getting wet during the rainy season or exposed directly to the sun during the summer. The street on the right is Consunji and leads to the public market, part of which is just behind the yellow building.
Jose Abad Santos Street – the stretch was closed to motor vehicles at the time we walked around the poblacion. There was a sports event at the time and the street was being used for races – note the writing along the zebra crossing indicating the starting line for the race.
Prohibition? – this is Tiomico Street in the public market area. The sign on the lower left says 3-wheelers are not allowed along this stretch of the street and yet we found most of the vehicles to be exactly what is supposed to be prohibited – tricycles and pedicabs. The stretch could have been nice if it were developed into a pedestrian street instead with limited access to motor vehicles (perhaps for deliveries only?) much like those market streets in Japan.
Typical mayhem – further down the street is a mix of people, bicycles, pedicabs, tricycles, and other motor vehicles. There’s potential here for re-development or transformation that would enable the revival of this commercial district that includes the public market.
Blast from the past – aside from the typical tricycles and pedicabs providing for local public transport, we were a bit surprised that there were still calesas, or two-wheelers pulled by horses. At the time (2010), the kutseros or drivers charged PhP 10 to 20 (about 20 to 50 US cents) per passenger depending on the destination. These calesas are all registered with the local government, and they have license plates indicating their registration.
Queue – most of the horses pulling the calesas looked healthy enough and well-cared for. The kutseros were kind enough to answer our inquiries about their operations. I think the city should carefully consider how to take advantage of its heritage/character to promote sustainable transport including walking, NMT and the calesas for moving around the poblacion and its immediate environs.
Two-seaters – the passenger capacity for the calesas is two. To address the poop issue, there is a contraption just behind the horse and hanging under the carriage that catches dung and prevents it from being spilled unto the roads. I assume these are disposed of properly.
Alternative design – the pedicabs in San Fernando are different from the conventional ones we see in other cities or towns. Noticeable from the photo is that this is not your regular bicycle with a sidecar set-up. These are fabricated 3-wheelers that seem to be sleeker if not more stable than the usual pedicabs we’ve seen.
Tiomico Street – just after Gen. Hizon, one gets an idea of the challenges for transport and traffic in San Fernando. The one-way street has no pavement markings, obstructed signs (if any at all), no pedestrian sidewalks and vehicles each doing their own thing along the road (e.g., motorcycle zigzagging through traffic, jeepneys stopping anywhere, etc.).
Walkability – people generally walk along the carriageway, as shown in the photo, due to a lack of proper facilities like sidewalks. Though there are remnants of zebra crossings, people also generally cross anywhere and so contribute to the mayhem along the streets. There was a proposal for a pedestrian overpass but such is so inappropriate given the narrow streets. No one will use such an overpass as it would be more an inconvenience to pedestrians. A more appropriate treatment would probably be traffic calming or other approaches that would prioritize pedestrians over motor vehicles in the poblacion area. The lot where jeepney terminal mentioned on the left side of the photo is now an SM mall.
Hazards – the relocation of electric poles seem to have been an afterthought when they re-paved Tiomico. These are not easily seen at night and could lead to crashes should vehicles miscalculate their locations. The road drainage may be found beneath concrete covers on either side of the road such as those along which the people in the photo are walking over. These are supposed to be easier to maintain as crews can just lift the covers to remove blocks such as garbage.
Traffic mix – I like this photo because it shows almost all modes of transport operating in the poblacion: calesas, pedicabs, bicycles, motorcycles, and jeepneys. Its a good thing trucks are banned from using these roads. Otherwise, traffic would be worse.
Junction – approach to the junction of Tiomico, Lazatin Street (left) and Capitol Boulevard (right). There were no signs to indicate the approach to the intersection as well as for traffic control (e.g., stop or yield signs). There are also no pavement markings.
Capitol – the photo shows vehicles approaching from Capitol Boulevard, which comprise generous (wide) two lanes. Sidewalks were on either side of the boulevard except where there were driveways and parking spaces.
Old bridge – there is a short, old bridge just after the junction. The bridge is over a creek connecting to the main river and has 4 lamp posts that are similar to the main bridge along Gen. Hizon, and perhaps the inspiration for the lamp posts along Consunji Street.
Consunji Street – is also a two-lane, one way street. Some sections have pedestrian facilities like the sidewalk on the left. The pavement markings were already weathered but still visible during the daytime. There are also less electric poles along this street and the lamp posts are appropriate in design.
Heritage House – the structure on the left is an ancestral house, of which there are many in the province of Pampanga and especially around San Fernando, which is one of the oldest towns in the province.
Recognition – the marker by the National Historical Institute recognizes the structure as a Heritage House. The smaller plaque provides a description of the house and those who lived or used it, highlighting its significance. There are other heritage houses as well as old houses that have not been given such a distinction (family not prominent enough?) but which deserve preservation.
Future and present site – this lot was being used by jeepneys as their terminal at the time of our field work. The lot is bounded by Tiomico St. in the northwest and Consunji St. in the southeast, and is where the recently opened SM City San Fernando is situated.
I was meaning to upload these two photos taken during the same day but one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The photos were supposed to show the quality of the air we breathe based on the smog. The band of brown that is the smog over Metro Manila is clear in the first photo while the second photo seems to be clearer. The operative word there is “seems” because although the band does not appear in the photo, it does not mean the pollution is gone.
One shouldn’t be fooled by the second photo where it appears as if the smog has been dispersed or that the pollution is gone. On a real clear day, one should be able to see the Manila Bay in the horizon and not the bright white seen in the second photo. If my science is correct, this bright white is actually the dispersal of light due to the same smog or haze that is above us but which we cannot discern with our eyes. I think the term is “photo chemical smog” that I remember picking up from health advisories broadcast on radio while I was living in Japan in the 1990s. The reality is that there is much pollution and while this is not visible from the ground, it is clear when one is in the air. I refer the reader to an earlier post I made about this condition.
Quezon Avenue is part of Radial Road 7 (R-7) and stretches from the Elliptical Road (also technically part of R-7) in Quezon City to the Welcome Rotonda in Manila, where it connects with Espana Avenue. It has intersections with several major roads including EDSA (C-4) and Araneta Avenue (C-3). The following photos show the sections from Elliptical Road to EDSA. The following photos were taken along the Manila-bound side of the highway showing features along the sections including pedestrian footbridges and the underpass along Quezon Avenue that bypasses junctions with Agham Road and EDSA.
The section approaching Agham was widened by taking land from the Children’s Hospital (right). The trees on the island that defines the service road generally used by vehicles turning right to Agham is visible downstream in the photo. Chevron markings and the orange poles delineate the path to the underpass.
Approach to EDSA where all vehicles must turn right. Vehicle proceeding along Quezon Ave. must take the U-turn slot under the EDSA overpass just a few meters after turning right at the junction. Obscuring the view of the vehicular overpass along EDSA is the pedestrian footbridge just ahead. Note the barriers to prevent jaywalking in the area.
Heading to Tutuban for our technical visit of the Philippine National Railways, we passed along the north segment of EDSA from its junction with North Avenue in Quezon City to 8th Street in Caloocan City. Following are photos showing the overhead LRT 1, the motorcycle lane, U-turn slots and various buildings adjacent to EDSA.