Anyone who knows me here in the Philippines understands that I’m not a fan of Cebu City. In fact, I think it’s terrible, for several reasons I’ve griped about plenty. Yet I found myself living there for five months earlier this year. One of the only saving graces was that I lived in IT Park, a unique neighborhood, which I’ll tell you about here.
The IT Park Houses Many Call Centers
IT Park is essentially a business park where a good number of the city’s thriving call centers are located. From Convergys to Qualfon to JP Morgan Chase and many others, if you’re calling customer service in the U.S., Australia, England, or Singapore, there’s a reasonable chance that you’re talking to someone from the Philippines.
Due to the time change with the U.S., most of the of thousands of 20-somethings that work in the call center business have to work nights, which gives IT Park a unique look. Waking up at 6 am and walking out of my apartment there, people were just getting off of the night shift, drinking beers and getting “dinner” with friends like it was 6 pm anywhere else. Driving through IT Park at 3 am, the approximately six by six block community was brightly lit and swarming with workers taking their break.
The Filipino workers don’t generally live there because rents are way too expensive, but the foreign managers and supervisors do have several apartment buildings to choose from. There’s massive Avida Towers, where most people live, and the upscale Calyx Center, and finally, lesser known Asia Premier Residences where I lived. Rents aren’t cheap – starting at about 20,000 and up for a tiny studio apartment, but all of these places have a pool, which is great.
IT Park is also remarkably clean and safe, two things you won’t easily find in Cebu! They have their own police that monitor comings and goings, and every apartment building, store, and establishment has its own security guards. They also have landscapers and even a strip of koi ponds that are cool.
Living there, it felt like living in a small urban oasis, because everything you need is literally right outside your door. From 7-11 convenience stores to Starbucks, plenty of other local coffee shops, restaurants, a sports store, a medical clinic, travel agency, sports stores, etc. we’re all within reach.
Come to think of it, the only thing that wasn’t there – which was super inconvenient – was a grocery store to do food shopping.
There also aren’t a lot of real bars, since most Filipinos don’t linger too long after work. But they do have Moon Café, where the food is terrible but the people watching is good, and they just opened Park Social, which will be the main center of social activity. Likewise, my favorite resto/bar in IT Park is Shaka, a Hawaiian theme restaurant built around a giant Cicada tree. Right near there, they host the Mercado Sugado night markets every Thur-Sunday, which is a fun gathering of local food kiosks, vendors, cocktail stands, and live music. Worth checking out!
It’s also easy to get a taxi cab in IT Park, and habalhabals (unofficial motorcycle taxis) are on every corner.
Oh, the one other thing they don’t have in IT Park is a good gym (although Calyx has a decent one for residents), but right across the street from IT Park is a Waterfront Hotel, my favorite in Cebu, and you can sign up to use their modern, western-style health club for about $40 a month. That includes using their gorgeous swimming pool, and anyone can go sit in Waterfront’s lobby and enjoy a coffee or drink.
Enjoy IT Park, and I hope you like Cebu City more than I did!