Paseo de Coro

Make Cebu smoke free, clean and beautiful

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What is new in Cebu? First we have a new vice governor in the person of Agnes Magpale. She replaced former Vice Gov. Greg Sanchez who died of lung cancer.

I know that Greg was un happy in his last days at the Capitol. It is for this that I do not wish to say anything more about him. I guess many people already said much about his last days at the Capitol. I have nothing more to add. About the ultimate cause of his death, however, now that is something. It reminds us that smoking is bad for our health.

I commute and take a jeep regularly when I am not in a hurry. Most jeepney passengers are aware that smoking in public transport is not allowed. However, what if someone smokes? This sometimes happens in jeepneys plying my usual route. Even the drivers and conductors smoke especially after their meals or in the last leg of their trip. Who would dare to tell them to stop smoking?

As I observed, nobody among the passengers would venture to tell the smoker to stop smoking. Women most especially will just cover their nose and mouth while the men will just turn elsewhere. I just cannot do that. Oftentimes though, the smoker would immediately throw away their cigarettes after my request for them to stop smoking. Some, however, would look annoyed. I know that they were not pleased with being told to stop smoking. Quite dangerous, I should say.

At home, my telling of smokers to stop smoking also leads to little arguments. Every time we ride a jeep, my wife would always remind me not to care about the smokers. However, this is like telling me also not to care about my health or mind lung cancer and the smell. Isn’t secondhand smoke more dangerous? After taking a shower, isn’t the smell of the smoke in your clothes and body not irritating?

Well, it is up to City Hall really. It has this no-smoking ordinance; it should implement it and use its teeth to stop smoking inside jeepneys. It may not have enough law enforcers. At least it can require all jeepney operators to put a prominent “No Smoking” sign in the jeep. Some have this sign but many have none at all. Smokers know how to read and I know that some of them are persuaded not to smoke inside the jeep if they read the “No Smoking” sign.

What else is new in Cebu? Well, I just saw for myself the newly renovated Plaza Independencia. It is clean and beautiful now. I should say that it is something that Cebu City can be proud of finally.

Plaza Independencia is the first and most notable thing our tourists would see if they visit Fort San Pedro. Most local travel guides bring their guests to the fort when they tour them around the city. I went inside Fort San Pedro myself and was happy to see that it was also clean and highly presentable. Let me stop here. You should see the newly improved plaza and the fort yourself to know what I mean. You will enjoy it. Why should only the Koreans and other foreigners see it? My wife would always tell me when I talk of going on tour: “Wa ka gani kakita sa daghan nindot nga talan-awon dinhi sa ato, adto kana hinuon sa gawas nga gasto pa.” She has a point.

I went to Plaza Independencia last Friday because that was supposed to be the place to converge for those joining the launching of Cebu City’s private sector-led “Osmeña Boulevard Beautification Movement.” The launching started at 3 p.m. with a Mass in Fort San Pedro. It was followed by a parade or should I say a brisk walk from Plaza Independencia to the Capitol. That was a good 3 kilometers, I think, of exercise, following the whole length of Osmeña Boulevard after exiting Plaza Indepedencia, passing the Basilica del Santo Niño and crossing Colon and Sanciangko Streets. The launching was capped with a short program and cocktails at the Capitol Social. Hosted by the ever-gracious Gov. Gwen Garcia, it was a lively and filling one.

The Osmeña Boulevard Beatification Movement is led by businesswoman Mariquita Yeung who responded to the challenge and request of Mayor Mike Rama to help make Cebu City clean and beautiful. In her short talk, Yeung appealed for everyone’s help in making Osmeña Boulevard clean and beautiful. Contributions are welcome.

Days before the launching, I heard Yeung saying that when she had guests from abroad, she was ashamed of bringing them around the city because of the dirt and many ugly things around. She said that as a friend, whenever they met, she told Mike Rama when he was still vice mayor to clean up the city. His response, according to Yeung was always this: “Kit (as is called), I am only the vice mayor.” Days after the last election, they meet again and Mike this time said without being asked: “Kit, I am now the mayor. Will you help me clean up the city?”

The rest will be history if Yeung with the support of Gwen and Mike, the many beautiful women that offer to work closely with Kit in the movement and the rest of us in Cebu City will succeed in making Osmeña Boulevard clean and beautiful. I know that when this is done, the rest of Cebu will also be easy to clean up and turn to something beautiful again.

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