Monday, November 12, 2007

Mactan-Mandaue, Cebu

Mactan island

Mactan is a flat and small island, not a single hill to see. It's on the western side of Cebu island-province. It is surrounded by usually shallow and rocky beaches, especially on the eastern side, facing Cebu city. On its western side, there are a few white sand beaches, so some high-end hotels not far from the airport are found here, like Shangrila Mactan and Holiday Inn. Lots of new and cheaper hotels, various commercial establishments and residential areas have sprang up in Lapu-lapu city.

The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is located in Lapu-lapu city in this island. It is Cebu’s main gateway to and from many airports in the country and some cities in Asia. It's relatively modern and spacious enough for an international airport in the province. Since the second half of this year, more than 2,000 domestic aircrafts (from 5 domestic airlines), plus more than 600 international aircrafts (from around 12 international airlines), land and take-off from this airport monthly. In terms of number of passengers, since the second half of this year, more than 230,000 domestic passengers and more than 80,000 international passengers, arrive or depart from this airport monthly.

The island is connected to Cebu city by 2 long bridges. The old one is used by vehicles from Lapu-lapu to Cebu city proper and hence, traffic is usually bad here. Vehicles coming from the airport take the second and newer bridge, the “Marcelo B. Fernan bridge”, in honor of the previous Supreme Court chief justice, former senator, and pride of Cebuanos. Big ships from abroad, from Manila and from other islands and cities of the country pass under these 2 bridges.

From the airport to the Fernan bridge, traffic flow is normally light, and the roads are lined up with neatly-planted mahogany trees, which should be about 10 years old, I think. There is also an overpass from the bridge on the way to the airport above a busy intersection of Lapu-lapu city.

Mandaue City

Coming down from the Fernan bridge is Mandaue city, previously the industrial zone neighbor of Cebu City. In recent years, many commercial establishments as well as sprawling residential areas have sprung up here. The newly-constructed Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) is found here, not far from the Fernan bridge. The ASEAN summit was held in CICC early this year.

Traffic is light for a few kilometers after the bridge until about CICC, as there are just a few commercial establishments on both sides of the road. Traffic build-up is in Mandaue city proper, all the way up to Cebu city proper. Compared to Metro Manila’s traffic on a per kilometer basis, traffic on average is worse in Mandaue-Cebu than in Metro Manila. This is because the roads in Cebu are mostly narrow, no underpass road yet, and just a few overpass on top of the city’s many busy intersections.