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Cebu Living Guides - Getting About

<<Back to Living Guides>>
"V" Hire | Passenger Jeepney | Tricycle | Pedicab | Taxi
Buy your own Vehicle | Driving Here- My Perspective

Getting About:

Exploring Cebu is just one aspect of an enjoyable trip, good hotel accommodation is also important, "If you are looking for a great selection of places to stay with discount prices, visit Hotel in Cebu for more information."


Traveling around Cebu can be quite an experience to the non seasoned visitor. Vehicles of differing states of disrepair ply their trade along most streets in Cebu City and Mactan Island. Sometimes you think that if the seemingly possessed driver is not going to kill you the plumes of carbon monoxide emanating from poorly maintained engines and broken mufflers will probably do the trick.

The locals just take it all in their stride, to them it matters not if they are riding in a scrap heap on wheels or a veritable limousine of a jeepney, as long as it gets them where they are going that's what matters. (Often it doesn't, the incline of the Mactan - Cebu bridge can really sort the men from the boys. I know, I've sat in the resulting traffic jam on many occasions).

The three most popular modes of transport are the Jeepney, Tricycle & 'V' Hire. I have given a little background information on each of these below:

"V" Hire:

The 'V' hire is basically a minibus carrying in excess of 15 people during the rush hour period. They run on designated routes and should only pick up passengers at the start and end points of the routes. It is wise not to get in the way of these guys as they have little or no respect for any other road users or indeed the passengers they carry.

The urrent rate is for a"V" Hire journey is around 15-20 pesos for the scheduled route. The main downside is that they are often very packed and often will not begin the jpurney until they are. If this is not a problem then the "V"Hire could be for you.

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Passenger Jeepney:

Jeepney ImageJeepneys come in many shapes and sizes and like the 'V' hire ply pre-determined routes. Jeepney's however differ from the 'V'hire in as far as you can hop on and off where you like. In most instances this means the driver has to quickly analyze where he can stop without any warning so as to cause the greatest obstacle and inconvenience to other road users. It must be said that the majority of jeepney drivers have this down to a fine art. Typically powered by a 550-650cc three cylinder Suzuki engine speed is not one of their strong points.

Jeepney's will cost you around 8 pesos flat fare (normally for the entire route), however some routes are very long or involve crossing from Cebu City to Lapu Lapu City Mactan using one of the two road bridges. Once again these things can get extremely packed and most jeepney's are relatively small here in Cebu. Still they are plentiful and offer a cheap way to get about. The routes are written on the side so it's not to hard working out which one you need to jump aboard.

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Tricycles are yet another popular form of transport and probably out Tricycle Imagenumber all other types of vehicular traffic, or that's the way it seems here on Mactan. As with the jeepney, tricycles offer the same hop on and off convenience and like the jeepney drivers, these guys have honed the art of being a mobile chicane and the cause of many a heart stopping moment (these things can turn on a sixpence and often demonstrate this ability as you approach them from any direction).

I am not sure why so many tricycles have no form of lighting at the rear and often only an intermittent headlamp at the front, but this often gives rise to many near collisions as a result. I have heard that the idea behind the stealth bomber was originated as a result of studying the tricycle and it's ability to become totally invisible during the hours of darkness.

Tricycles are basically a motorbike and sidecar powered by engines from 50cc up to 125cc, carry up to 8 passengers perhaps more (native passengers that is, you are probably looking at 4 typical Europeans and then it's a squeeze!).

Tricycles as already mentioned are extremely numerous and can be convenient for short journeys. It will cost you from 7 for short journeys. You can elect to have the whole thing to yourself but can end up paying into double digits 25 pesos or so. Personally I find that for my 15+ stone bulk they are uncomfortable. That said they certainly beat walking and offer a valuable service. A nuisance yes but almost vital to the running of the Island.

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Pedicab ImageWhat could be any slower and more of a nuisance than the jeepney or tricycle, yes you guessed it, the pedicab. These little beauties carry typically between 2 & 4 passengers but as only to be expected are slower moving than about anything else on the road, with the possible exception of a local dog with a death wish or many of the other species of live stock than are often found roaming the streets (cows, goats, chickens & the occasional duck).

I guess that in a country where the ordinary person on the street has so little money, these forms of transport offer the only viable options to travel around. However that said I do think that a little more common sense and self preservation could be exercised. Pedicabs are like a tricycle with the engine being substituted by leg power.

The good old Pedicab fare will start at 5 pesos and once again depends on the length of journey. I myself would avoid this method as it's slow and you are very exposed to the elements and other road users.

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The Taxi:

There are of course Taxis and these offer a good alternative to the other transport options already mentioned, if only that you have the thing to yourself.

A large preportion of taxis fall short of what could be described as well maintained and confidence inspiring. The same can be said for many of the drivers. It is not unusual to work the imaginary brake peddle for most of the journey and to utter a sigh of relief when you have reached your destination. I must be fair and say that I have ridden in many a fine modern taxi with a good knowledgeable driver, it is just the luck of the draw.

I would advise that if the taxi looks in good order then take it, if however it looks like it wouldn't make it around the block let someone else have it. I must qualify this with, if it's raining and late then take what you can however rickety it might appear, it might be your only chance to get home.

Most taxi drivers will be fair and automatically start the meter, some however will try and barter a price for the journey. If the driver will not start the meter then get out, there's always another that will. Once again if it's dark and wet it might be worth agreeing a price, at least you get home. I'm afraid you will have to review your options when and where this happens. Taxi

At present Taxis have a 30peso flag down rate and a journey of a few miles will cost around 100 - 200Php. Traveling from my home on Mactan Island to the SM shopping mall in Cebu City, it will cost me approx 125Php, this journey will take around 30mins and is no more than 3-4 miles.You can see from this that taxis are a relatively cheap way to get about. However if you are planning to live here for a while and travel around a lot then this initial good value soon becomes quite an expense.

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Buy your own Vehicle:

Another option if your here for a long stay is to purchase your own Multicab Imagevehicle. The Philippines offer brands from most of the worlds motor manufactures particularly those in Japan. Prices seem to be somewhat less than the equivalent car in the UK (no surprise there!). I am not going to go into car prices other than to say that a a family saloon would probably start around 700,000Php.

I bought what they call here a surplus multi cab, Basically it's a small service type vehicle that has had a good life in Japan or Korea before being totally stripped down, shipped to the Philippines and then reassembled. There are a number of poorly reassembled multi cabs here and it certainly pays to be careful before handing over your cash. I have found that a company called Norkis offers probably the best multi cabs in terms of build quality and after sales service. If your in the market for this type of vehicle then I certainly would look them up. They are not the cheapest but believe me it shows.

The model shown above is called a twin cab multi cab and offers seating for 4 adults inside and a pickup area at the rear. I have had both extra passengers and many bags of garden soil in the pickup area. For my purposes this vehicle does what I need, it's fairly cheap to run & maintain, it's small so manoeuvers through the traffic quite well. There is a downside to these type of vehicles and that is that they are very, very basic. I had air conditioning fitted, this was done as a necessity rather that a luxury. The weather here is Hot and Hotter!. You would expect to pay around 140-180,000Php for a vehicle like this excluding the air conditioning.

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Driving Here - My Perspective

I have found driving here a real eye opener and can now appreciate that were it not for the fairly strict laws in the UK with respect to the written test paper and the 30-40min physical driving test (conducted by department of transport approved personnel), we would have the utter chaos on the roads that is all too often visible here. Road positioning leaves so much to be desired particularly when turning left off the main road. There is no thought that turning left having reached the center of the road your turning in to, is safer than just cutting across the corner. I have had to take avoiding action on so many occasions as a result.(the same scenario in the UK would be cars turning right in to a side road).

Another gem up the sleeve of the Filipino motorist is evident when they get a puncture. It would be reasonable to assume that in the event of a puncture one would slowdown and move the car to the side of the road. Not Here!, a puncture necessitates stopping the car at the very point the puncture was noticed. Now if this means in the middle of a busy junction then so be it. If it wasn't bad enough that a traffic jam is being caused, the driver of said stricken vehicle then proceeds to place his spare wheel and anything else he/she can find around the perimeter of the car, thus further limiting the room for the other motorist to manoeuver around the blockage, it's just plain crazy!.

The same trick happens when two vehicles have a minor accident. I am not sure if it's the law or just the the way of things here, but once again nothing is moved until the incident has been sorted out. Normally the police have to attend.

Traffic speed is quite slow in general and on the main roads I guess you would be lucky to reach more than 30-40mph, with 15-20mph being more normal. The hazards one faces here beggar belief, with mad dog, anorexic cows and the occasional chicken to name but a few. Ok the cows and chickens are found in the more rural areas. Whilst these animals pose a threat they are insignificant when you consider the aforementioned tricycles and jeepney's. When you drive here you have to take into account that if you are driving behind a tricycle or jeepney, it will almost certainly come to a complete stop in front of you, no warning and often with know reason they just stop.

You may have been following a jeepney for a while, planning with military precision your overtaking manouever, the jeepney signals right and begins to slow down, now you put your plan into action, downshifting to facilitate a rapid burst of speed (650cc & 38 pumping horse power) you go for it, now as if the jeepney driver has some sort of telepathic link, he reads your mind, pulling slightly to the right as if to let you pass, and then he counter attacks, his little move to the right was just a dummy, waiting for the moment that will put you most at risk. With his right signal light still flashing his perceived intention, he moves to the left, pushing you into the oncoming traffic.If this happens once it happens a thousand times.

Driving here is an experience not to be missed but you do get used to it honestly! Just remember we are only talking about the day time hours. At night the glare of poorly adjusted headlights or just ignorant folk who think it is their right to drive with lights on full beam and to hell with everyone else, add another dimension. You have to drive here to understand.

Just remember things move more slowly over here, just take your time go with the flow and you will reach your destination in one piece (lots of profanities shouted inside your car seem to release a little of the pressure). I must at this point state that there are a lot of very competent and courteous drivers here in Cebu but as is always the case you normally only remember the bad ones.

Keep your eyes on the mirrors and have a safe journey.

Last Updated: November 26, 2010 11:18


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