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A Cebuano’s guide to getting a driver’s license April 29, 2009

Posted by drea in citizen matters.

I have been to the LTO – Cebu branch several times. I was already on my third student permit and have only recently been handed a freshly minted non-professional driver’s license. A lot of those trips to the LTO were unnecessary for me and I thought I’d save everyone’s time by giving everybody some tips on how to get the through the process as efficiently as possible.

First, the commute: It’s quite easy to get to the LTO. Just take a 13c jeep from Ayala and you’ll reach the gate, easy. Take the 13c back to bring you to the mall and figure your way back from there. It’s best to work on getting a license first thing in the morning, for you to get your NPL within a day. 

Have your requirements ready. For a non-professional driver’s license, you need to be at least 17 years old, a valid student permit at least a month + a day old, a medical certificate with official receipt (and this MUST be LTO accredited or a government physician) or, a valid AFP/PNP organic personnel ID, a negative drug test result (again, from a DOH accredited drug testing center & government hospital), your TIN number, and passing marks for the written and practical examinations.

Here’s the thing about the drug test and medical results, you submit the original copy. If you’re working on your medical results from an outside clinic, the drug testing center at best needs to have a biometric processing equipment. To make sure there’s no problem and to avoid ending up taking a drug test/physical exam twice, just get a drug test/physical exam right across the LTO, and do that before you start lining up for a driver’s license. 

People over 18 who are applying for a student permit already need to have a TIN number, and you will be asked to submit a copy of the form along with a copy of your birth certificate. Get the TIN number first. 

LTO – Cebu is ISO certified so they’re quite strict with the requirements. Nothing wrong with that, they’ve made the process as smooth as possible and this helps to keep the really bad drivers off the road, unless they get smart and decide to head out of town for a more lenient LTO branch. My advice is to show up first thing in the morning because the lecture only occurs twice in a day: 9:30 am & 1:30 pm. The written examinations occur one hour after the lecture. Do the written exam in the morning and proceed straight to the practical examination area to do some practice runs and eventually, the actual exam at 1:30 in the afternoon (they also have a morning session at 9:30). Last I checked the practical exam takes place in the North Reclamation area near Cebu Doctor’s Hospital. It’s best to bring your own car. If you bring an automatic transmission car, you will be restricted to driving automatic transmission cars in your license. After passing both written and practical exams, go back to the LTO to claim your license. 

Total application & license fees cost around 600Php. If you fail the written exam (passing mark is 30/40), you won’t be able to apply again until one month and a day has passed. If you decide to delay the practical exam, you have a span of one month after your written exam to do so, or else the application expires and you have to start the process all over again.

The NPL expires on your second birthday, or third, depending on which hits the three years mark first after your application.


Walk to Vote Cebu April 22, 2009

Posted by drea in announcement, civic involvement.
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invites you

May 2, 2009 (Saturday)
7:00 a.m. 
Assembly at Plaza Independencia

Walk towards COMELEC

If you’re still an unregistered voter and you’re from Cebu City, join us in the walk and have yourself registered.
Bring your valid ID. 

Those who are already registered can still join the walk. Support ta nila! 
Come one, Come all! =)

Let’s register to vote!!!

What’s your itinerary? March 11, 2009

Posted by drea in Uncategorized.
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Summertime has come quite early and so many of you might have relatives and friends from out of town raring to go to the beach and experience some of Cebuano culture. They might have been pestering you for weeks (which is simply a sign of their excitement).

This has happened to me many times and it took me a while to come up with an itinerary that’s not underwhelming. 

Any must-visit spots you tell your friends and relatives to go to — any hidden cultural treasure troves, any best-kept-secret eats? Share them here.

The Creative Class March 10, 2009

Posted by drea in urban planning.

In light of Cebu being chosen as the Philippines’ creative hub, I’ve started reading Richard Florida’s Cities and the Creative Class. He posits that it is the creative class — people who get paid for creative work — that drive economic development. This is not an elitist statement, but a recognition that since creativity is a trait found in every human, everyone has the potential to join the ranks of the creative class.

What’s an attractive city to such members of the creative class? It’s not one that fosters strong ties, which leaves little room for diversity and individual expression. It’s not shopping malls, tourist spots, or freeways. An attractive city is one that allows creativity to take root and flourish — “high-quality experiences, an openness to diversity of all kinds, and above all else the opportunity to validate such members as creative people. (p. 36)”

Tubodfest March 8, 2009

Posted by drea in Culture.
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I love that the British Council has chosen Cebu as a creative hub for the rest of the country to follow in example. I was able to catch the Tubodfest (Springfest in English) and I love it! It’s definitely a sign that creativity in the city is alive and flourishing. I can’t wait to personally get involved and contribute in my own little way to the city’s sociocultural development. Richard Florida has written about how a creative city is an economically productive city, and it’s one aspect that’s been regularly overlooked in other places. Hopefully Cebu will continue to grow into a vibrant city rich in culture.

In other news, expect the blog postings to pick up! As a fresh graduate I’ve relocated to Cebu and am looking for my first job. It’s daunting and exciting all at the same time, looking for where I can fit in this city full of potential. Also, I’m looking to widen the scope of this here blog. More than chronicling the city’s urban lifestyle, this blog will also highlight Cebu’s sociocultural, economic, and creative development. Will also catch up on comments as I renew my commitment to this blog.

T.G.I. Friday’s Cebu November 9, 2008

Posted by drea in food, restaurants.
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So it’s been a while since I’ve been to Cebu as I’ve been at school, but when I came back, the Terraces was one of the major changes that told me Cebu was growing. That, and the new flyover spanning a section of the road from Banilad to Talamban, which didn’t really help eliminate heavy traffic.

The terraces is a great place to hang out on Sunday Mornings. Great for brunch and not crowded at all. There are actual surroundings to appreciate, with tall buildings towering around the area like watchtowers. It was like a mini-Greenbelt, with great food to boot.

We scored an invite to T.G.I. Fridays to participate in their dry run and evaluate. The place was packed with managers from Manila, enthusiastic waiters, curious guests, and really loud (but good) music. It was a while to get used to, the place was buzzing with energy. But, on to the food. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The service was great — staff was helpful, enthusiastic, and unabashedly flamboyant when the occasion called for it. T.G.I. Fridays is certainly an all-American establishment with the exception of the liempo dish. However, there were some flukes — like the ordered dishes going to another table instead — so they made up for it with a pina colada. Perhaps alcoholic to help calm down frazzled, and hungry guests. As for the food — while I enjoyed my salmon dish very much, my corn side dish was sour and I’m guessing rancid. The Baby Back Ribs did not absorb the marinade (Apple Barbecue Sauce) so it ended up bland. The Buffalo Wings appetizer was not as hot as I expected, but at that point we didn’t care. We were just happy to have a free dinner — besides, we were mere test bunnies while the restaurant was still ironing out its kinks. Filled us up fast.

Quality of service was definitely something T.G.I. Fridays works hard at, but I hope it fares well in a market that just wants its food fast and cheap. Nice touch with the addition of a Filipino dish but it doesn’t fail to remind us of all things good about America — superheroes and superstars, with all its pop culture memorabilia strewn around the place.

They had their first dry run today, but be sure to check them out on their grand opening on November 15th.

Into the sea…volume 2 on Flickr – Photo Sharing! October 24, 2008

Posted by drea in Uncategorized.
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lovely sunset taken by rpeg at flickr.

Into the sea…volume 2 by rpeg. (taken @ san remigio beach club)

via Into the sea…volume 2 on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Usability Fail (Cebu Pacific Air) October 24, 2008

Posted by drea in Uncategorized.

I think a lot of websites in the Philippines desperately need something that’s actually functional. It took me two days to book my  Christmas flight via Cebu Pacific Air. Their famous tagline is “It’s time everyone flies.” While they have certainly made this possible with more accessible fares, booking an actual flight is time-consuming and tedious. I know they’re a major airline in this country, but just because it’s successful doesn’t mean it has to act like a monopoly.
My main complaints are that the fares posted on their website are inaccurate, and reserving a flight on the website is largely a hit-or-miss thing (does it depend on the day, the season, or the availability of tech support?).
The directory doesn’t list the numbers for the actual call centers. I called their cargo office by mistake and they gave me a wrong number. The other numbers on the directory are connected to either phones that ring off the hook, or are unmanned entirely, or even disconnected. I found the call center number on the website, which I called yesterday. When I called again today I was greeted with a lot of static and a dysfunctional touchtone connection. I ended up booking my ticket through the Manila call center instead.

When you can’t even trust the government to do it’s job in the simplest most basic sense, it’s quite disappointing to see that a company belonging to a reknowned business tycoon is so ill-operated in terms of customer service.

Sumilon Island Resort, Oslob November 8, 2007

Posted by drea in resorts & hotels.
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The dock Bangka in front of Sumilon Island

The picture on the upper left is a dock. Through it you get on the boat that takes you on a 30-minute ride to Sumilon island, Oslob — a slice of near-heaven with its sand bar and intimate, middle-of-nowhere ambience. While it’s better to go to this island via Dumaguete, it’s always nice to take that roadtrip from the city to the countryside. Observe your anxieties melt away as you drive, and you’ll believe me.

While there are many options available on the island — for one, romantic picnics for two, scuba diving another, a boat tour one more — the reason I’d come here the most is for good old-fashioned peace and quiet. Believe me, with Cebu developing at a rapid pace, we need it now more than ever. Rooms are, well, roomy and they all come with a view. Life is quiet, and you might want to try sleeping on the beach under a blanket of stars. On my last stay, I saw three shooting stars in one unbelievable night.

The beach is okay — you’ll be lying on naked white sand with barely a cabana to shade you from the sun. Some irresponsible beach-babies have left shards of broken glass on the beach. Sumilon island is open for daytrips and given the popularity of the resort, you’re bound to run across apathetic beachgoers. The water is an unbelievable blue but the bed is rarely anything other than coral and rock formations. Proper footwear is a must. It takes a while before you get to the deep in the normally low tide.

You’ll need to order food eventually but let me tell you that it’s nothing great for the price.


Cebu Restaurant Trifecta November 8, 2007

Posted by drea in food, restaurants.
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I am a college student studying in Manila, and I find that when I head back home to Cebu I always ask my parents to take the family to one of three places:

1. Marco Polo

2. Cafe Laguna

3. Port Seafood Restaurant

Thus, what I’d like to call my Cebu Restaurant Trifecta. There is a close runner-up which I will mention later but these restaurants are always where I head to for comfort food and where I like to go to for good eats, and bang-for-your-buck meals. Allow me to expound on the three restaurants which have won my stomach over.

Marco Polo Cebu is a hotel which sits atop a hill in Lahug and offers a view of the city which is as good as it gets. The view is simply one of the things that makes the place a winner. The clincher is their buffet, which for around 700Php is the best deal you can get in the city, given the wide selection their restaurant proffers. Myself, I stick to the salads and dessert. I really just come here for the salmon sashimi (for which I have frequent cravings) and their heavenly brownies for which there is no contender. Come on Sundays if you want a more quiet surrounding as the restaurant experiences heavy traffic usually. Reservations will save you some hassle. Use your HSBC credit card for a 10% discount.

Cafe Laguna is practically a city landmark for being a restaurant which has been around for so long. It’s hard to find another restaurant which has been as successful, and is the favorite stop for family dinners. Filipino cuisine is at its best here, and the busy atmosphere takes away the formality of dining out. I just come here for the food, which is great. Maybe your lola can make the sinigang better but if you’ve got relatives from out of town and you don’t want to cook for such a big crowd, this is perfect. This restaurant satiates my cravings for a variety of dishes Filipino cuisine has got to offer.

Port Seafood Restaurant, aside from its homey and intimate atmosphere, offers another great buffet for about 300Php. I say this is great because they offer on the menu succulent lechon and refreshing halo-halo, but only during dinnertime. A more intimate place for family gatherings, and always well-decorated (nice to look at when your date’s not going so well). Head over to Waterfront Lahug for a nice meal at this restaurant.

I like using the word trifecta. Doesn’t it sound nice? Trifecta. Trifecta. But there’s another restaurant that I like for the authentic Japanese cuisine that it offers. It’s Nonki at AS Fortuna, Banilad. You can tell the authenticity of the cuisine that a Japanese restaurant offers by the number of Japanese diners it has on any given day. Nonki is one of those restaurants, and I must say, this is the restaurant that started me on my love for zaru soba, chilled buckwheat noodles. I haven’t eaten soba at many Japanese restaurants but Nonki gets it right with the sweetness — not too sweet, and every bit as refreshing. A Teisyoku box should be more than enough for yourself so be prepared to share. It’s not a cheap restaurant but the times that we stumbled into it to satisfy a craving for good sushi, we’ve managed to score discounts. So it just might be your lucky day.