A Year Like No Other: Stories that Define Cebu’s 2022
CEBU CITY, Philippines – A few hours from now, Cebu will welcome a new year. After facing and surviving the twin crises – the COVID-19 pandemic and Typhoon Odette – Cebuanos look forward to greeting the new year with renewed hopes and optimism.
As we set to enter 2023, let’s look back at some of the biggest stories that define Cebu’s 2022.
Aftermath of Typhoon Odette
The extensive damage Typhoon Odette, internationally known as Rai, in December 2021 left Cebuanos reeling to the extent that repairs and other rehabilitation efforts continued in the new year. Some Cebuanos even greeted 2022 with no electricity, no stable supply of water, and no telecommunication services. Billions of critical infrastructures like electrical lines, water pipes, and telecommunication towers were destroyed by the Category 5 typhoon and it took authorities to restore their operations to normal in March.
READ MORE: Lineman recalls Odette: We worked long hours to bring back power to south Cebu
READ MORE: A year after being downed by Odette, Fuente Christmas tree is up and stronger
Liberation of Face Mask Rule
This year, Cebu made headlines on the national scene for becoming the first local government to liberate the use of face masks, a primary anti-COVID measure, in outdoor areas. Last June, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia decided to make wearing face masks an option, and no longer a requirement. The move, however, received mixed reactions from government officials, members of the private sector, and health experts. The then-national government strongly opposed the provincial government’s measure and even threatened to pursue legal action. Garcia, for her part, stuck with her decision. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama followed suit approximately three months later, and eventually the national government.
READ MORE: In Cebu province: Face masks no longer required outdoors
READ MORE: Cebu biz leaders welcome optional face mask use but…
May 2022 Elections
Not even a pandemic can stop Cebuanos from exercising their right to vote. As the country’s most vote-rich province, with over 3 million voters, Cebu played host and witnessed a colorful election period – from the filing of Certificate of Candidacy (COC) to the proclamation of winners. This year’s Presidential Election was a historic one as it became the first election that took place amid a pandemic.
According to the Commission on Elections here (Comelec-Cebu), voter turnout for the entire Cebu was approximately 89 percent.
The island province, once regarded as a hallmark of anti-Marcos movements, elected now President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator. Cebu delivered over 2 million votes for President Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte.
READ MORE: Cebu province delivers over 2 million votes for BBM-Sara tandem
READ MORE: President-elect BBM thanks One Cebu party: ‘It has never fallen to a Marcos to win big in Cebu’
Singapore-like Cebu City
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama clinched another term to lead the Queen City of the South. This time, he has a vision of transforming a city of 900,000 people like Lion City, Singapore. In doing so, Rama led and launched several reforms not only in the city but also within the ranks of Cebu City Hall. These included his administration’s intensified campaign against scallywags.
To put his vision into action, the mayor wanted a P50-billion working budget for 2023 which the council recently approved. The P50-billion budget will include funds for Rama’s socialized housing plans that involve putting up medium-rise buildings (MRBs).
The budget is also the largest passed in Cebu City’s history, a giant leap from the P9 billion allocated for 2022. To raise funds, the city government seeks to revise its existing tax rates.
READ MORE: Rama envisions a Singapore-like Cebu City
REA MORE: Cebu City Council OKs P51.4B 2023 annual budget
Reopening to Foreign Tourists
Last February, the Philippines reopened its borders to fully vaccinated tourists, giving the tourism industry nationwide a much-needed boost in its recovery efforts. Based on the latest data from the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7), Cebu, as of October, recorded a total of 2.3 million tourists. Of this figure, more than 300,000 happened to be foreign tourists.
South Korea remains Cebu’s top market for foreign arrivals as DOT-7 recorded over 85,000 South Korean visitors here.
READ MORE: South Korea remains Cebu’s top market for foreign arrivals
READ MORE: PH welcomed 1.7 million foreign tourists
Between mid-September and October, Cebu was plagued with reports of children and students allegedly abducted but most of these, if not all, turned out to be false alerts and hoaxes. Despite the stream of so-called kidnapping reports and stories on the internet, the police here had not received any complaints related to any of these incidents. In turn, they had to summon several individuals, particularly those who published such claims on social media and instructed them to issue public apologies for starting unnecessary panic in the community.
READ MORE: Gullas asks police to validate ‘kidnapping incidents’ in Talisay City
READ MORE: AKG-7, CCPO investigating use of ‘recycled’ photos of kidnapping on social media
Korean Air Incident
One, rainy October, Cebuanos woke up to a piece of startling news – a widebody jet overshot the runway of Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) during its landing attempt. Fortunately, no casualties were reported. Korean Air flight KE631 carried 173 crew and passengers from Incheon, South Korea. Authorities initially suspected that bad weather may have to do with the incident.
According to earlier reports, the widebody A330 jet did two roundabout turns within the vicinity of MCIA before making its third, nearly fatal landing. The jet’s nose and landing gear were severely damaged, as well as vital airport infrastructures such as approaching lights on the runway. It also paralyzed all operations of MCIA, the country’s second busiest airport, for approximately 48 hours (about 2 days).
News outlets from Korea reported that the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, in their preliminary findings issued on October 24, pointed to hydraulic failure as the culprit.
READ MORE: After Korean Air incident, Mactan Cebu airport resumes 24/7 operations
READ MORE: Korean Air overshoots Mactan Cebu airport runway, no casualties reported
Dancing Priest in Danao City
A 15-seconder video showing a priest from Danao City, Cebu dancing to the popular TikTok remix of Vietnamese pop hit ‘See Tình’ after a Misa De Gallo sparked the debate about whether church leaders can participate in such trends inside the church and dressed in their vestments.
Facebook user Yeng Abinales’ video of Fr. Dennis Boltron and his acolytes dancing to the catchy tune of ‘Ting Ting Tang Ting’ spread like wildfire on social media. The video elicited mixed reactions from netizens. Some slammed the priest and the Roman Catholic church here, claiming it was offensive.
Others, however, do not find any issue at it all. A longer and full version of the video showing the dancing priest surfaced, with devotees defending Fr. Boltron’s decision to get creative with their caroling performance to fund the church’s restroom renovations and Christmas presents for underprivileged church workers.
READ MORE: ‘Dancing’ Danao priest: Nonissue or sacrilege?
Comeback of Huge Events
This year, Cebu also saw the comeback of some of its much-awaited events such as the Pasigarbo sa Sugbo which became the Cebu Provincial Government’s highlight during its 453rd Founding Anniversary last August. Aside from the Pasigarbo, the Fiesta Señor and its secular equivalent, the Sinulog Festival, are set to return.
READ MORE: PBBM, VP Sara likely to attend Sinulog 2023 at SRP
READ MORE: Basilica friars announce resumption of all physical, religious activities for Fiesta Señor 2023
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