I COUNT the days now. From years to months to weeks, the plan has finally come to shortening the gap by days or 24-hour cycles.
Soon, hours and minutes will measure how close I’ll be to Cebu.
This game helps to pass the time while I am a nomad by occupation, settling for now in Manila while work and the bulk of family are in Cebu.
I wonder if other migrants also keep track of time in increments or take recourse to phrases, such as “for now,” as if these were reassurances for the return journey. Plans can be charted; tickets, purchased.
The return, though, is mutable. While waiting to disembark at Mactan, I overheard a flight crew discussing plans for dinner. Any place, said someone, that does not require “crossing the bridge”.
We reside in Mactan, in the shadow of the bridges. Two bridges connect the cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue. More often than not, these disconnect, being often locked down in traffic, with one bridge alternately serving as the “lesser evil” to the other, depending on the day of the week or the time of the day.
The stewardess must have been a frequent flyer to Cebu to speak like a native. Before Waze, Cebuanos referred to the “first bridge” or the “second bridge”.
“The bridge” is the generic term associated with hours of deadlock resulting in tentacles of snarled traffic trailing for kilometres on both sides of the islands. If you are rushing to catch your flight out of Cebu and encounter “the bridge,” there is no more memorable send-off.
To cushion my displacement, I read online about home. (A Google search of “traffic” and “Cebu" pulls out 9.7 million results in 0.64 seconds, still viewed as an odd pairing by someone who took lunch at home during the hour-and-a-half break in grade school during the 1970s.)
According to SunStar Cebu’s June 30 report by Razel V. Cuizon, the Regional Development Council-Visayas recently endorsed “priority projects” to “ease traffic in Metro Cebu”.
Urban experts identified a Mandaue-Lapu-Lapu Link Bridge, making this the fourth bridge as construction of the third, the Cebu-Cordova toll bridge, is underway.
An Urban Mass Rapid Transit (UMRT) system was also endorsed as part of the road and rail transport modes for 2050, when Cebu becomes a mega-city with a populace of over 5 million.
Nights when I cannot sleep, I pore over the Roadmap Study for Sustainable Urban Development in Metro Cebu. As a Cebuana, I don’t need the maps. I know my Cebu by heart.
Still, the order and clarity of computer-generated maps and plans comfort. Displacements—sons starting on their own; my coming home only to leave again—are “for now”. Cebu is “kanunay ania dinhi (always here)”.
*First published in SunStar Cebu’s July 1, 2018 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”