The twin bridges connecting Cebu and Mactan

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The Fernan Bridge is spectacular at night as it is bathed in beautiful light, a fitting backdrop for lovers taking in the citylights.
The Fernan Bridge is spectacular at night as it is bathed in beautiful light, a fitting backdrop for lovers taking in the citylights.

Speak of Cebu and images of the Sto. Nino, the province’s patron, comes to mind. And so does the valiant Lapu-Lapu, sweet mangoes, the famous lechon, guitars and beaches. But it is more than that. Cebu is a special and beautiful place. It is also my home.

To any visitor either of the two bridges connecting the small and flat Mactan Is. with the main island of Cebu, provides a breathtaking look of the metropolis from an elevated position and thus a bird’s eye view of this booming and beautiful city in the south. The structures might not be as extensive and as tall as in Metro Manila, but this province can well hold its own.

Beautiful soft light early in the morning at the old bridge.
Beautiful soft light early in the morning at the old bridge.
A fisherman showing scale as he is dwarfed by the massive Fernan Bridge.
A fisherman showing scale as he is dwarfed by the massive Fernan Bridge just a few minutes after sunrise as a passenger ship is coming from the distance.

Mactan is where the export processing zone, the international airport and many world class resorts are located, and is the main gateway to this island province. Cebu on the other hand is where the food bowl is, the seat of political power and commerce and where the bulk of current infrastructure developments are in full swing.

These two important hubs are connected by the Old Cebu-Mactan Bridge and the newer one, Marcelo Fernan Bridge, named after the late senator and son of the province, are the vital links that connects these important hubs together.

The old bridge has been there since 1972. Prior to its building, a ferry used to ply the short channel. During the Marcos years, vehicles crossing used to pay toll but was abolished, I think, during the Cory years. I remember as a child passing below it’s steel trusses at the center was the highlight of any crossing.

For any old timer of Cebu, two things come to mind on this old structure: a) it was where Filipino action star Dante Varona was said to have jumped in one of his movies, and b) during the 80s, at the height of a typhoon, the aptly named Korean sea vessel Sangko Elegance’s (sangko in Cebuano means to hit the upper part or roof because of an object’s or person’s height) tall mast hit the bridge.

View of the Waterfront Hotel from the old bridge. Early morning mist hasn't yet lifted as the sun just woke from it's slumber.
View of the Waterfront Hotel from the old bridge. Early morning mist hasn't yet fully lifted as the sun just woke from it's slumber.
Photo enthusiasts are often seen just before sunrise or evenings capturing that timeless moment.
Photo enthusiasts are often seen just before sunrise or evenings capturing those timeless moment.

The Fernan Bridge was built in 1999 and Cebuanos heaved a sigh of relief once it became operational as it greatly decongested the old structure. Just imagine the two hubs powering the provincial economy connected by an aging bridge that is no longer as relevant as before because of its narrow lanes.

The newer one is multilane and an architecturally beautiful suspension bridge. Its massive and imposing but at the same time, graceful and elegant and hasn’t been rivaled anywhere else in the country.

A rare view from the top offers spectacular scenes like this passenger ferry as it passes under the old bridge.
A rare view from the top offers scenes like this passenger ferry as it passes under the old bridge.

The bridges are not only for vehicles. The two are beautiful and accessible tourist spots that are only frequented by the locals. These are places that afford one to have a stunning and closer view of both sides of the channel, a perfect alternative to the often out of the way and inconvenient Tops at the hinterlands of Cebu. Here, you just hop on a taxi or jeepney to reach the bridges than taking a private car, 4×4 recommended, in order to reach the latter and pay a high entrance fee. Here, it’s free.

The rocks at the base of Fernan Bridge offers locals perfect seats to enjoy the citylights.
The rocks at the base of Fernan Bridge offers locals perfect seats to enjoy the citylights.

The best times to be in these areas are early in the morning, just before sunrise and during evenings. The old bridge provides a stunning sunrise scene as the sun awakens from it’s slumber and slowly climbing from the horizon with the Fernan Bridge providing a perfect backdrop with coming passenger ships from the different provinces. As the sun starts to shine more and more, turn 180 degrees and see the city’s mist and fog starting to lift. Alternatively, the viewing deck high at the Fernan Bridge unfurls visual surprises but you have to leave your vehicle below.

Love and romance find expressed in one of the massive pillars of the Fernan Bridge. During nights, it becomes a rendezvous point for lovers whispering sweet nothings and promises of eternal love.
Love and romance find expressed in one of the massive pillars of the Fernan Bridge where the viewing deck is. During nights, it becomes a rendezvous point for lovers whispering sweet nothings and promises of eternal love.

As evening comes, head on below the Fernan Bridge. The base at the Mactan Island side is more accessible and developed into a park that visitors come here to just enjoy the spectacular city lights. It’s clean and the sight of massive pillars is just breathtaking. It’s also a popular venue for many local photo enthusiasts who converge here as well as staging area for many nuptial portraits with the well lighted bridges and city as their backdrop.

Stan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London).

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. Open for work, collaborations and inquiries for site features.

24 thoughts on “The twin bridges connecting Cebu and Mactan

  1. galing estan! by far the best post to have featured these two bridges. when the marcelo fernan bridge was newly opened we had the chance to cross it walking from cebu to mactan.

    it indeed gives you a beautiful view of cebu’s skyline and the view even extends to the mountain range on the north. when i was there last may, i didnt had the chance to drop by those bridges.

    galing estan! kilala ko yung babae na photographer sa 5th photo.

  2. Grabe,estan! You always capture the sights of the Philippines at its finest moments,or hours as the case maybe. Even the simplest things become beautiful once you take your pixes. More of these to come!

  3. Ganda nito Estan. I still haven’t stepped on Cebu soil yet and hopefully will soon.

    These night shots are comparable to the San Francisco bridge in US.

  4. grabe ang WOW factor nung first image. Have seen under the bridge POVs like that pero iba ang tones nito. the view of the passing ferry is also beautiful. I once lived in Opon when I was working for a Japanese tech company sa MEPZ, beautiful place, an daming scenic spots…

  5. wow galing! the last time that i was in cebu was 2 years ago na.. am actually planning to pass by cebu to meet some old friends and a visit to the queen city of the of the south this dec before goin back here in manila from negros…

  6. hala nganong in-ani man kagwapo sa marcelo fernan bridge?
    ang ako lagi ang nagpicture, pangit lagi. hehehe

    nice shot. as usual, you give life and justice.

  7. i have seen both bridges at daylight and now it is a must to see it at night time. di ko nakayang idescribe ang work mo bai, ang galing-galing eh.

  8. LANGYAW, you’re awesome…You have an eye for detail. I admire your photos.Domo Arigato Gozainmasu…Mike from Tokyo.

  9. Great photos Estan! I grew up in Mandaue City and I remember earyu summer mornings jogging to the Fernan bridge. You’ve captured exactly what we would see upon arriving at the park under the bridge, exhausted and tired. Salamat bai for letting me relive those memories.

  10. Όλα αυτά είναι λάθη που κάνουν πολλοί στην προσπάθειά τους
    να ακολουθήσουν έναν υγιεινό τρόπο
    ζωής.

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