In many areas of Cebu City, finding a place to get your clothes washed is not difficult. There are people willing to do it by hand all over the place. And often you can also find laundries. I’m currently living in a hotel, the CebuView Tourist Inn in an older area of Cebu City on Sanciangko Street. The area is called “Downtown” and it’s a very old area. In this area, it is difficult to find a Cebu City laundry.

Colon Street is the oldest street in the Philippines and is just a block away from Sanciangko Street where my hotel is. Colon Street is known for other things too, mostly that you shouldn’t wear jewelry on that street and pick pockets just might come to visit. My advice is to keep your money and cell phone out of your pocket or you’re asking for trouble.

Usually they’ll take your jewelry by cutting it off you without you ever knowing it. A friend of mine that had been walking down the street found that his watch band has been sliced. He got lucky that it was so humid that it stuck to him. Their plan appeared to be to cut it and let it fall off. He was not feeling lucky because the band was made of lizard skin.

Getting to the Laundry in Cebu City to get My Clothes Washed

What I’m leading up to is that this area of Cebu City is poor and that explains why there are not a lot of for hire laundries in the area. Most of these little hotels or pension homes do not provide laundry service. You see business in the Philippines miss so many potential income streams and this is just another example.

I’ve been staying at this hotel off and on for the last four years. I came here in 2013 after Typhoon Haiyan struck Bogo City where I lived at the time. I stayed for about six weeks with my partner at the time. It took Jessie a couple of weeks to find it but finally she did.

I’m surprised she ever went down there. It’s not far. Only about three blocks but there isn’t much reason to go there. ShePhilippines Jeepney probably noticed it as she passed by in a jeepney or taxi. Jessie hates to ride a jeepney but she was taking more of them lately as my money isn’t going as far as it used to. A jeepney is a mall mini bus, that were first built using old WWII army jeeps left after the war. There are still many of those that power jeepneys in use today but they are becoming fewer and replaced with modern day boring versions. The picture on the right is of a old style jeepney.  They are also called PUV or public utility vehicle and sometimes public utility jeepney or PUJ.  Cebu City is in the process of building a much needed rail system in hopes of relieving the overly congested streets which is becoming a major problem.

Anyway, we finally found a place. Near Osmena circle we saw many places that do that but in this area there can’t be much demand because most of the Filipinos living here are generally poor. So they are going to do their own laundry.

The cost is low. Prices should be between 25 to 30 pesos per kilogram. My washing for the week came to a grand total of 90 pesos are a little more than $2. Services here a cheap.

It’s a pretty scary area. The first time I walked down there, I had been sick for almost a month. So my stamina was completely gone. The walk was hard for me. I stopped to rest at one point but I didn’t stay long as the smell there was horrific. I don’t know if it was human west or something dead but I saw some kind of nasty sludge in a plastic bag. I’ll just stay on the other side of the street from now on. Two weeks later, it still stinks there and there is a drug addict that makes that area his main hangout.

There are adult huffers in the area. They remind of the walking dead as they are completely spaced out and their clothes look like skin that is peeling off their bodies. They would make a great picture but I’m afraid he’ll bite me.

While At the Laundry

Cebu City LaundryWhen I got there the door was locked. I was gasping for air, wringing wet with sweat and it appeared that they had closed early. A kid started knocking on the door (pictureed below) and told me with gestures that I was in the correct place. I should have given that kid a few pesos but I forgot (I did when I went back for pictures). He certainly did help me. The owner keeps the door locked. That’s not a good sign when a business locks their doors because they don’t feel safe!

I’m always concerned about going into small shops in fear that I can’t communicate. The first time I went into a shop like that it was because Jessie told me to go myself. I went in and asked for something and they just stared at me. Then I realized they didn’t understand a work I said. Eventually I realized that’s why Jessie sent me in. She didn’t speak a word of Visaya and it would be twice as awakward for her. We had both only lived in Cebu City for a few weeks at that point.

The owner of the Sunny and Rainy Day Laundry is a rather stout woman and on my first visit she’s wasn’t all that friendly at first. She looked at me and said “Friday”. Jessie often did this. One word to communicate a sentence. I think this is an example of what is known as a high context vs a low context culture. I didn’t know what she meant. I was thought she was telling me to come back on Friday. I looked around the store for a sign that said Friday on it. I was hoping that would provide me with a bit more information. Pointless, no signs in English there. Haha Then I asked her “What about Friday” and she understand. She said something like “Ready on Friday”. I was relieved as I had someone to meet and had no clean clothes. I think she was just afraid of talking to me as I was to her. She acted very kind when I went to pick up my laundry.

I had talked to another cleaner back in February and at that time they offered a pickup service. I had planned on using them. I had trouble finding their phone number but I finally did find it on FaceBook. I called and asked about delivery and that option was gone so I was back to the one Jessie found down the street.  I did get a reply to one of me postings on FaceBook and was told they do offer it. I’ll try to make another post about them once I find out more. You can them on FaceBook by clicking here. Jessie had always told me that Sunny and Rainy Day Laundry was too far to walk for me. It’s not as long as I’m not carrying six or seven pounds of clothes.

Anyway, I got my receipt wrote my name on it for her and filed it away in my drawer so I could pick up my laundry onStreet Kids on Sanciangko Street. Friday. The walk there was easy but the walk back was chest burning madness for me.

A Better Way of Getting my Clothes Cleaned in Cebu City

Instead of walking down the other side of the street, I won’t be going down the street any more. Even though I’m a little stronger that’s a very hard walk for me when I carry clothes down there. After John Miele s suggested it on FaceBook, I decided to ask the “room boy” at the hotel if he’d go for me.

I took the receipt to him and asked if he knew where it was. He did, so I asked if he would take my clothes back to laundry for me. He said yes, I gave him 40 pesos for his efforts. The only problem is, I don’t know when the clothes will be ready now. I forgot to ask the room boy what she told him. I hope he will remember when I see him again. I need to find out his name too.

In the picture above are the boys that helped me get in the first time. I don’t know if they are street kids or they are the children of the laundry owner. They are better dressed than your average street kids and they are very well behaved, She strikes me a no nonsense kind of woman and that would explain their exceptional respectful manner. I suspect they are her kids. I don’t recall them asking for coins either but I did give them some when I went back to take pictures of it.

The term “room boy” I don’t like to use but it’s kind of an official job title here. In my more politically correct culture it would be seen as condescending. Here I have seen many signs announcing they were seeking workers and one position might be “boy”. Another position might be “helper”. A helper is generally a female and a boy is generally a full grown man that might be called a gopher on a movie set. Someone that does all the other jobs. He’s part repair man, part maid and part janitor. Just whatever needs to be done they call on him. I often get my room cleaned later in the day than most people and I see him headed upstairs with my key as most of the official maid staff has left. He’s an ultra-friendly Pinoy.

Worder in Downtown Cebu CityIf I was the owner of this hotel, I would have already made contact with the owner of that laundry, got a discount and sent her the business then add my cut to the price. I see things like this in the Philippines quite often. I finally did ask the room boy his name and it is Digs. I stopped him in the hall today after I finished this article. I told him I didn’t like calling him “Room boy”.

I was amused when I got my receipt for my clothes back. He wrote my name down as “Rusty Kano”.  See the photo in the gallery for a laugh.

Kano is a word that many Filipinos call any white man. Some non-Americans, most often Brits get upset when they are called Kano. For me, that’s absurd. Get over yourself. The word comes from Americano and they usually say they are not American. Again, get over yourself. The word doesn’t mean American any more. It means white. Many Filipinos look up to you because you are white. Do not destroy it with your rude behavior. We are honored by many here. The same thing goes for “Hey Joe” as they use it with respect. Filipinos will almost always show you respect. I wish you could do the same.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of what pictures I will include with this article. It would seem that I need to walk downSanciangko Street there and take some pictures for this story.

Sometimes we need to learn about the drudgery of life while living in the Philippines and this story will certainly provide us with some of that. I’ve written about going to the bathroom here and now getting your laundry cleaned. I wonder what I will come up with next. Sometimes life is just life, no matter where you are. I did try to pack it with enough details to make it useful for nearly anyone.

If you have any questions or comments please use the comment system below and if you find this unusual story worthwhile, please share it with on all of your social networks so that others may find it.

Below, you’ll find a gallery of some of the shots I took on my way to this Cebu City laundry.

By Rusty Ferguson

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