A guided tour of the Federal Republic of the Philippines in the year 2030

Note: This is a work of fiction.

Hey, you made it! Thank you so much for coming! 

Yes, yes, that’s me. I’m the one who’s been emailing you. Yes, about the tour. I’m very glad you could join us. I hope that by the end of this trip, you’ll love Cebu Super City just as much as we do. 

So yes, to everyone on Bus #58, good morning! Maayong buntag sa tanan! My name is Regina and I will be your guide for the next few days as we explore the wonderful Cebu Super City! We’ll do a full round of introductions later at the hotel, but for now, just know that all of you have been chosen because you represent amazing corporations from all over ASEAN who we believe can benefit greatly by investing in the Philippines. 

Okay, now that our bus has started moving, kindly ensure that your seatbelts are fastened! Officers from the Metro Cebu Development Authority may stop us for a random check any time during this trip.  

So while we make our way into the city proper, you’re probably wondering: Why Cebu Super City? Why not Metro Manila? Am I right? Am I right, everybody? And that’s okay; most people still remember the Philippines from before it started its transition into a Federal Republic in 2019. But yes, over the past decade we have successfully shifted into a federal system divided into 11 states plus the Federal Administrative Region of Metro Manila. 

I would like to point out that our new system would be a boon to your business, since each state now has a better and more direct handle on funding and regulations, and setting up shop here won’t be as big of a bureaucratic headache as before. No more waiting on Metro Manila to green-light projects! Doesn’t that sound nice, everybody? Doesn’t it? Yes. 

Now, the Philippines currently has a population of 125 million, and we expect it to grow to about 142 million by 2045. The State of Central Visayas has actually taken over Metro Manila in terms of population now, mostly due to the Great Manila Exodus of 2021. 

You may be surprised to learn that even Manila natives have overhauled their lives to stay in other states, but it only makes sense, especially since housing in the capital has become a little difficult. Sure, we’ve already bulldozed the gated communities and replaced them with all manner of vertical housing, but we can only build up to 72 stories, you know what I mean? And the “Maximum Occupancy Act of 2019” also kept rooms from being rented by more than 8 tenants. Oh, and I don’t need to mention the widely, violently protested Sports Utility Vehicle Purge of that same year, no? That one made international press! Yes! Oh yes, so sad!

Now, the State of Central Visayas was a particularly popular choice for inter-state migrants because we have some of the best infrastructure in the country. In fact, we are enjoying the fruits of DPWH-Cebu’s labor right now, here on the Metro Cebu expressway, which was completed in 2022! You will also see our beloved Cebu Super City Bus Rapid Transit, which is now our most popular mode of transportation and has drastically cut down car use in the state. Fully solar-powered too, just like the other Bus Rapid Transits in Metro Manila, Metro Davao, Metro Iloilo, and Clark Super City! At least there’s one good thing about the world getting hotter, am I right? Am I right? Haha! 

Yes, ma'am? You have a question? Oh yes, yes, we were also thinking of replicating the Mega Manila subway here, but I’m not sure if you heard of what happened during Super Typhoon Martina in 2020? I’m afraid the subway was flooded while the trains were in operation. There were about a few hundred casualties, yes. Yes, ma'am, it was certainly terrible, and that is why we here in Cebu Super City have reservations about such a project. Oh, no, sir. The Mega Manila subway is still in use. I’m not sure if they’ve added more safety measures; our state government and their state government do not really communicate. 

Coincidentally, the government of the State of Central Visayas was very instrumental in assisting Negros Island State when Super Typhoon Martina made landfall there. It was quite difficult at the time to get help from the federal government, because it remained unclear in our new system how disaster recovery funds were allocated. But yes, protocol has been fixed now, don’t worry. 

Ah! We are now approaching downtown Cebu Super City! I’d like to point out our very attractive tarp walls lining our main streets, designed by local digital artist Benjamin Miñoza, depicting an abstract rendition of Cebu’s local sweets: mangoes, rosquillos, otap, masareal, and torta!  

You have a question, sir? Oh, yes, well, we have these tarps up to protect our indigent communities who stay along these roads. We protect them from pollution and vehicular incidents, yes. Oh yes, sir, it is true that our country’s indigents have multiplied in direct proportion to our population, but speaking for the State of Central Visayas, rest assured that we have many projects to deal with this problem in due – oh, you also have a question, ma’am? Yes, ma’am. There will be time at the end of the trip to buy souvenirs, or as we call it here, pasalubong! Can all of you say it with me? Pa-sa-LU-bong!

But yes, I’m sure that the main reason you were convinced to come on this tour was the recent Forbes issue about us, no? It’s true what they said on the cover: The Philippines is so, so close now to becoming a one-trillion-dollar economy! Can you believe that? I remember, the Philippines was so scared by that sudden wave of populism in the 2010s, because we could feel western countries no longer looking at us as outsourcing hubs, but that didn’t last too long, now did it?

Since Donald Trump was acquitted in his impeachment trial, there was this sudden flood of jobs coming in! The US-wide Corporate Strike of 2018, which was a reaction to the acquittal, if you remember, yes, did exactly what it set out to: it wrecked the operations of many big American corporations! So many American workers just left their corporate jobs, isn't that crazy? So, yes, of course, who else could they turn to, hmm? The Philippines! Yes, yes, also India, but more importantly, the Philippines! 

Oh! Yes! Here we are! We're here now at the first stop of our tour: the newly-inaugurated Datu Lapu-Lapu Convention Center! You are all very, very lucky; so far only two events have been held here apart from the opening: the annual thanksgiving celebration of the Federal Bureau of GMO Farming, and the traveling expo of the State of Bangsamoro's Department of Arts and Culture.

So! Yes! Shall we head in? Kindly file out of the bus in an orderly fashion. Before we head to the entrance, I will be distributing electronic tags so I can keep track of everyone, okay? Yes, okay! This is exciting! Yes, yes, please take care while going down the steps. And don't worry; our bus will just be in the parking lot the whole time! No worries, no worries. We won't take too long; there is just so much more I have to show you. – Rappler.com

Marguerite de Leon

Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon heads Rappler’s Opinion section, and is (happily) wrangled into voice over and hosting work. She has been with Rappler since 2013, and also served as its social media producer for 6 years. She is also a fictionist.