New Battle of Mactan dividing Cebuanos | Inquirer Opinion
As I See It

New Battle of Mactan dividing Cebuanos

/ 04:35 AM April 28, 2014

Remember the Battle of Mactan? Lapu-Lapu and his warriors defeated Ferdinand Magellan and his men on the beach of the little island.

There is now a new battle going on in and for Mactan. The nine congressmen of Cebu have filed a bill in the House of Representatives to rename one of the two bridges spanning the sea between Cebu and Mactan after Serging Osmeña. The other bridge is named after the late former Senate president and chief justice Marcelo Fernan.


Most Cebuanos, especially those living and working in Mactan island, are against renaming the bridge. Mactan is a historical place. All Filipinos, especially schoolchildren, know Mactan as the place where Filipinos first defeated the Spanish conquerors. Lapu-Lapu, leader of the Filipinos, is one of our heroes. Why remove the name Mactan and replace that with the name of Serging Osmeña?

Rep. Benhur Salimbangon of the fourth district said the bridge, one of the major landmarks of Cebu, brought immense economic development to the province. It was Serging who proposed the building of the bridge, he said, when he was governor of Cebu. Renaming the Mactan Bridge after him is therefore a way of “honoring the proponent of the bridge.”


Wrong. If the first proponent of the bridge should be so honored, the bridge should be named the Pascual Racuyal Bridge. Yes, Pascual Racuyal, the perennial presidential candidate since the time of Quezon.

Racuyal, a Cebuano politician from barrio Tinago, Cebu, promised to build a bridge to link Mactan and Cebu if he was elected president. Because Racuyal continued to run for president although he had no chance of winning, his fellow Cebuanos thought he was crazy.

It was President Ferdinand Marcos who started building the bridge during the last year of his first term. Former senator Rene Espina, a native of Cebu and Marcos’ secretary of public works and communications then, broached the idea of building the bridge to Marcos. It became part of Marcos’ campaign promises. He promised to build bridges, roads and other infrastructure all over Cebu. The bridge was finished during martial law.

The second bridge, the one named after Fernan, was built near the end of Marcos’ second term. The political leaders of Samar and Leyte also wanted a bridge across San Juanico Strait between the two islands. It was then

first lady Imelda who inspired Marcos to build that bridge, which was officially named “The Bridge of Love.” It was Secretary Espina, together with public works engineers, who supervised its construction.

During the design and construction of the San Juanico Bridge, there was talk that the political leadership of Samar-Leyte would not concede that Mactan Bridge would be built longer than the San Juanico Bridge. This is why San Juanico Bridge was made longer by a few meters. Instead of a straight bridge from shore to shore, which is normal in bridge construction, the San Juanico Bridge’s design became that of a big letter “S.”

Salimbangon’s bill was filed after the Cebu provincial board approved last year a resolution endorsing the proposal to rename the bridge after Serging. The bill was filed by Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy. Sitoy, who cited Osmeña’s “huge contribution” to Cebu, said that a similar resolution was submitted in the 1970s, but it was to name the bridge the


Mandaue-Opon Bridge. But with Opon already renamed Lapu-Lapu City, it is time to give credit to the person who first proposed the construction of the bridge linking the cities of Cebu to Mactan Island, he said.

Who is Serging? He is the son of President Sergio Osmeña Sr. and the father of incumbent Sen. Serge Osmeña. He ran for president against Marcos but was defeated by 40,000 votes in his home province of Cebu. Cebuanos believe it was because of the headline stories in the newspapers of Serging being convicted of selling scrap iron to the Japanese during the war. The Japanese used the scrap to manufacture bullets.

Cebuanos ask: Should we rename the Mactan Bridge after a convicted Japanese collaborator? Mactan is remembered in history for the battle there—where Filipinos, armed only with bolos and spears, defeated Spanish troops led by no less than the discoverer of the Philippines, Ferdinand Magellan. It would be an irony if Mactan, which is known in history as the island where Filipinos defeated invading foreigners, would be remembered after somebody who collaborated with the enemy.

But why are the Cebu congressmen insistent on renaming the Mactan Bridge after Serging Osmeña? Cebuanos say it is because Sen. Serge Osmeña is planning to run for president and having a bridge named after his father would add to his chances of winning.

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The pork barrel scam is also breaking apart the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP). The party list’s congressman, Raymund Mendoza, is one of those linked to the P10-billion scam masterminded by Janet Lim Napoles.

Former senator Ernesto Herrera, TUCP president, called on Mendoza to “resign and spare TUCP from charges of corruption and plunder.”

Herrera said that, sooner or later, TUCP would be dragged into the mess created by the pork barrel scandal. The so-called “Napoles list” includes 100 members of the House.

“We need not wait for somebody to name names,” Herrera said. “Prudence dictates that if the TUCP is on that list, we must be honest enough and admit the truth.”

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SCHEDULES: For fans of Aliw awardee Margaux Salcedo. She will sing at the Tap Room of the Manila Hotel starting 9 o’clock tonight.

There is still no Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel this morning. The next Kapihan will be next Monday, May 5.

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TAGS: Bill, cebu, Congress, Philippines, politics, Serging Osmeña
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