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Welcoming 2015: The Ruckus That Is Not Home

“We love you too, yaya. Asa lagi ka karon? (Where are you now?),” replied Mama after receiving my New Year’s greeting.

I just finished witnessing the city burst into orgasmic colors at the view deck somewhere Transcentral Highway. I was supposed to leave Cebu to pursue something entirely new, but Seniang delayed my plans for two days. It was good in a way. In the past eleven years of residing in the city, I never had had the chance to stroll around days before the year ends. I would be on my way home, or my idea of home: Tuburan, via the silent, foggy Transcentral Highway.

This time around, I stayed in the city and witnessed how it worked its way in 2015.


The horn pipes sold downtown. 

DSC_6325I accompanied Ian, a Canadian working in Thailand, in exploring downtown area. I share my love for this misunderstood place to those who have the same passion for walking and openmindedness.

DSC_6341The candles sold at Magellan’s Cross.

DSC_6355Vandalism found on SRP’s bay walk.

DSC_6358Sneaked a photo shoot of Bo’s Travel Journal: The Origins for my column at Plaza Independencia.

DSC_6367I found these windows at Fort San Pedro beautiful.

DSC_6393Some people decided to celebrate New Year’s Eve at Tops, the vantage point to see the whole city. But Tops was completely hugged by fog. It looked very surreal.

DSC_6394 DSC_6395 DSC_6396

DSC_6400I thought all people would be at home waiting for 2015’s arrival. The city, unlike the province, is the temporary home of different nationals. These are Koreans waiting for their ride down. 

DSC_6503The city bursting.

DSC_6546Once the festivities were over, the city learned to speak the language of silence.

DSC_6568The scene along JY Mall past midnight.


The scene along JY Mall past midnight.

DSC_6568The scene along JY Mall past midnight.
The pungko-pungko vendor suggested he would take my picture while I man the store. It was fun!

DSC_6592The only lit place somewhere JY Square.

DSC_6596The kids at my place playing.

DSC_6607At my small place at the wee hours in the morning before packing and leaving Cebu. I missed my bed.


Cebu has been experiencing torrential rain these days. At Simala, Sibonga, Typhoon Seniang caused massive floods and landslides. The bridge collapsed.

DSC_6622I though nobody would be traveling on New Year’s Eve. I was wrong. Some locals could not make it for the New Year’s Eve celebration, but it was never too late to celebrate it with their loved ones.


Dipping on my favorite beach before heading to Dauin, Negros Oriental.


Let me start the year with something new, without the comforts and happy ruckus of home celebrating New Year’s Eve with Inday Janeth’s much-craved fruit salad, Manang Jean’s mango float, Mama’s bestseller pansit-bihon, and my ala Jona recipes that nobody really wants to try but never fail to lighten up everyone’s mood. The feast on our table sums up the way my family lives: go for the achingly familiar.

While my sisters kept texting me to go home for New Year’s Eve, I wandered downtown instead and witnessed how the city prepared the coming of yet another year that held promises and illusions of renewals and starting overs.  Our preparation at home would start early evening or even an hour later, so seeing my thinking place that is downtown in the last throes of 2014 was surprising. The noise was too much for the ears to handle with those vendors honking their colorful and massive torotots to catch a possible customer’s attention. Everyone was busy buying. It was the kind of scene found at supermarkets once PAGASA issues a warning that a super typhoon is on its way to the Philippines. The city is in a state of panic and emergency.

The city, unlike the province, waits for New Year with warring volumes. In my own little neighborhood, the speakers were all out on the street playing Air Supply or Britney Spears for hours. From a view deck somewhere on Transcentral Highway, colorful lights burst in Cebu’s skyline during the last gasps of 2014. Fireworks mushroomed in the air and left the crowd by the cliff with their oohs and aahs. The show lasted for more than thirty minutes with the biggest burst of fireworks trying to synch with midnight but failed.

Let me start the year with a question: why do beginnings and celebrations take the form of extravagance? “Kon maka-fireworks ang Cebu, murag wa nagkrisis ang mga tao,” a guy behind me commented in the middle of the crowd’s ecstatic exclamations.

While most stayed in the comforts of familial joy, I feasted on the quietude that settled in the city after the bursts of greetings and pyrotechnic displays. Streets were crowded with trash from fireworks, establishments were closed and dark. I shared the roads along JY with a woman holding a cake who was obviously running late for the midnight gluttony; two call center agents having their very definition of pigging out: a pungko-pungko on wheels, a moveable feast; the pungko-pungko vendor who fell in love with my unpinnable beauty; two dogs waiting for the bones; the guards who tried to strike a conversation, a cigarette vendor, and a man I asked to cross the street for a photograph.

Once the festivities were over, the city learned to speak the language of silence.

I left the city lulling to find a form for profundity. Dive. Explore the many lives and worlds underwater as if my own demons have not provided me enough madness to explore and navigate.

An excerpt from my travel column Down South | |January 5, 2015

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona! I’m in my early 30s and is currently based in Ha Noi, Vietnam.I primarily write poetry and short stories in Cebuano and lengthy travel essays in English. Blogging has become an outlet to think out loud. I live the life I set for myself. I try to live an unapologetic life. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at Find me somewhere else!

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  1. Claire says:

    Tops indeed looked surreal, and your photos are beautiful.

    Happy 2015 of adventures!

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