Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 1): My Boat Ride Under the Bridges of Mactan Channel

I got the rare opportunity to ride a fishing boat during one of my visits to Cebu City.

I started my adventure in a small fishing village located in the northern coast of Mactan Island.

Fishing Village in Mactan Island

The houses in that village stand on stilts and are interconnected by rickety wooden bridges. It was low tide so my fisherman guides told me that I had to walk through mud before I could ride their banca.

Fisherman in Cebu

Mactan Channel is that narrow strip of sea between the main island of Cebu and Mactan Island. This strait once served as the only gateway to Cebu City. It was also the same strait crossed by Magellan for his ill-fated battle against Lapu-Lapu.

A Boat in Mactan Channel in Cebu

People need not copy Magellan’s way of crossing the strait since there are bridges connecting Cebu and Mactan Islands. The newest bridge, I think, is the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, which looks beautiful from afar.

Marcelo Fernan Bridge crossing the Mactan Channel in Cebu

I finally passed under the Marcelo Fernan Bridge! Now I can say that I not only passed on the bridge but also under it.

Marcelo Fernan Bridge crossing the Mactan Channel in Cebu

Marcelo Fernan Bridge was opened to motorists in August 1999. It was named after Marcelo Fernan, a Cebuano politician who was the only person to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Senate president.

Marcelo Fernan Bridge crossing the Mactan Channel in Cebu

Marcelo Fernan Bridge is considered to have the widest and longest bridge span in our country.

I took a video of my one my trip along this bridge and you can watch it in this YouTube video:

South of Marcelo Fernan Bridge is the old Mactan-Mandaue Bridge, which was opened to motorists in 1972.

Mandaue-Mactan Bridge crossing the Mactan Channel in Cebu

I read that this old bridge was built and design wholly by Filipino engineers. Ika nga nila, “gawang Pinoy”.

Mandaue-Mactan Bridge crossing the Mactan Channel in Cebu

The government is now planning to build the 3rd bridge connecting Cebu City and the south part of Mactan Island to the tune of 28 Billion Pesos. The 3rd bridge will be like NLEX and SLEX so motorists have to pay the toll fee.

Fishing in Mactan Channel, Cebu

Mactan Channel was once a rich fishing ground. There are still fishing activities in the channel but only subsistence fisherman spend their time there. In fact, the famous danggit of Cebu is not caught in Mactan Channel but in other areas of Philippines like the seas around Palawan.

Mactan Channel is no longer a fishing ground. It is more of an industrial/commercial area. The coasts surrounding the sea are occupied with malls and ports, like the International Port of Cebu.

International Port of Cebu located along the Cebu Island side of the Mactan Channel

I also saw large ships during our journey, like this one operated by 2Go:

MV St. Gregory the Great in Mactan Channel, Cebu

There’s the decaying ships of GoThong:

GoThong ships in Mactan Channel, Cebu

And the resourceful Resourceful:

MV Resourceful in Mactan Channel, Cebu

Then there is the Lady of the Gate standing beside the gate of the Port of Cebu.

The Lady of the Gate in Mactan Channel, Cebu

It’s a little bit scary to float on a flimsy banca beside these big ships.

The cityscape of Cebu is changing. The old, one to three-storey ancient houses are giving way to skyscrapers. The Cebu Cathedral, the once tallest structure in Metro Cebu, is now cover blocked from view by new developments.

This transformation of Cebu is evident as I viewed the city from the sea.

The cityscape of Cebu as seen from Mactan Channel

It’s a different story on the Mactan Island side of the channel. Communities and some factories occupy the shoreline.

Mactan Island of Cebu

We ended our sightseeing near the south entrance of Mactan Channel and then headed back to the fishing village.

My short boat ride along the Mactan Channel was interesting. I saw Cebu from a different perspective. I saw Cebu again as the Princess of the Visayan Sea.