March 4, 2024

Words by Leylander: Ode to a Queen

Ode to a Queen. I’ve seen the best and worst of Cebu. And I have learned to open my arms wide for them. Because if you love something, you’ll accept everything – the pretty and the bad. And beauty is not just about a nicely-maintained fountain or a mouth-watering inasal or a graceful maiden taking two steps forward and one step back. Beauty is about the men who sweat it out in pier uno to take your luggage to that waiting cab. Beauty is about the prisoners who dance their hearts out to show the world that they can.

Cebu isn’t a queen on a golden throne with a silk robe and a sparkling tiara. No. She is far from perfect. In fact, she reeks of dried dung from the horses of Duljo. Also, she’s muddy like the meat section of Carbon. Her busiest downtown joints are not posh and sleek. In fact, they are stuffed with cheap merchandise and herbal medicine. Young kids play in the streets and they splash flood water at each other when it rains.

She isn’t perfect.

But I love her.

I love how her manong taho greets me every morning with a genuine smile on his face. Or how everyone waves at her Niño with total honesty and surrender. I even love how her tambays scurry to help the old lady carry her baskets of kinumpra from Taboan.

No doubt Cebu will soon change. She’ll have the tallest skyscrapers. Then, she will be Asia’s next biggest IT hub. Eventually, she’ll have trains, yacht clubs, subways, and mega domes.

She IS, after all, the queen.

But to me, she’ll remain the same. Unassuming. Quiet. Simple. She’ll forever be the timid provinciana tilling her father’s fields with utmost dedication. Her hands would be dirty and her skin burnt.

She isn’t perfect.

But I LOVE her.

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