Boracay-Panay-Negros-Cebu-Bohol: Can Infrastructure Superhero Mark Villar Link the Major Visayan Islands?

If America has Iron Man, the Philippines has a Concrete Superhero. “Audacious and overly ambitious” would be the common Pinoy’s reaction if the idea was floated decades ago. Filipinos today coming up with an idea to link the major Visayan islands would be likened to Americans dreaming of landing a man with their flag on the moon half a century ago… “Is that even possible?”

But thank goodness a new breeze of fresh air has arrived in the form of fresh blood: Mark Villar, the son of business-magnate-turned-politician Manny Villar. He is our driven, dynamic and ambitious DPWH Secretary. Though he’s not as celebrated by mainstream media as Rappler’s noisy Maria Ressa and Pia Ranada, a lot of ordinary people like his style (action rather than words) as he just quietly works in the background putting out his best to ensure gargantuan projects get done in time simply because Filipinos deserve better.

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Some may say calling the young Villar an infrastructure superhero would be an overstatement. But getting an accurate appreciation of the scale of these bridge projects will probably get a nod from those too accustomed to seeing the world through Cory and PNoy’s vision-devoid yellow lenses.

We’ve heard of the plans for railways by the Duterte administration for Luzon and Mindanao, but what’s in it for the Visayans? Below is a quick summary of what’s cooking in the Visayan pot. Enjoy the trip guys…

  • Boracay to Panay: Bridge from Boracay to Caticlan, Aklan in Panay (2 km)
  • Panay to Guimaras: Bridge from Iloilo in Panay to Guimaras (6 km)
  • Guimaras to Negros: Bridge from Guimaras to Negros Occidental (13 km)
  • Negros to Cebu: Bridge from Santander, Cebu to Amlan, Negros Oriental (5km)
  • Cebu to Cordova: Bridge from Cebu city to Cordova, Cebu; aka. Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) (8.5 km)
  • Cordova to Bohol: Bridge Cordova, Cebu to Jetafe, Bohol; aka. Cebu-Bohol Friendship Bridge (17.5 km)

These bridges link the Major Visayan Islands: Boracay-Panay-Guimaras-Negros-Cebu-Bohol. Effectively connecting tourist-favorite beach Boracay to fellow top-tourist-island Bohol, we can probably market it across the world as the Bo-Bo Bridge Belt (BBBB); don’t worry, tourists don’t know what bobo means anyway. In total length, how many San Juanico bridges is that? Try doing the math (clue below).

I’ve once passed through the San Juanico Bridge (completed in 1973 under the late F. Marcos) connecting major islands Samar and Leyte, and it was a grand experience. The postcard-worthy bridge had been our pride all these years – our equivalent of the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. San Juanico is a major feat of engineering by Pinoy standards.

I have also taken the 1-hour Ferry-boat ride from Cebu to Bohol. At that time, I felt it would just be too much to wish that a bridge be built to connect that distance.

But perspectives have changed since Duterte came to power. Things that we thought were impossible or too daunting to even think or imagine suddenly began unfolding before our very eyes. What’s funny is that these ambitious projects are actually going to be completed sooner than many people think. Many are even wondering why we suddenly have so much money to spend!!!

With so many infra projects being launched simultaneously, how many jobs for former drug-addicts and NPAs does that translate to? Countries in the Middle East might begin to complain why we can’t send as many OFWs as before!

It’s time for Filipinos to start highlighting the commendable and good that are happening all around us. Many tuition-free UP students and red-leaning activists only see the apparent “US-Duterte dicatorship” and stage a walkout from classes in defiant protest. But these idealists should try weighing things from a more balanced perspective. Think of it: Wasn’t a so-called “dictator” behind San Juanico Bridge, our greatest infra achievement?

Why didn’t anyone during the 30 long Yellow years even get beyond making a more ambitious and grander bridge than 2-km San Juanico? It’s about time to learn from Mark Villar’s work ethic – ambitious but just quietly churning out one mega-project to another without all the boisterous fanfare.

Why not stage a march in the streets or hold a rally IN SUPPORT of those who work hard to deliver? How about shedding off that contagious Crab Mentality and start pushing our hard-working leaders up rather than tearing them down?

We are in an age where Elon Musk (SpaceX) is already testing out Falcon Heavy rockets intended to send humans to Mars. Filipinos have to start shaking off that “that’s impossible” mindset and get behind their new leaders who embody that line in the Zaxxun Creed:

Dream Big! Think Big! Press hard towards the goal!

To the vast majority of ordinary Filipinos, Duterte’s legacy won’t be the “EJKs” or “dictator-sounding rhetorics” but a Massive Transport Overhaul (from subways and bridges to PUV modernization and world-class airports) that Filipinos have been yearning to have – just to make living in PH a bit more bearable. We are truly living in a Golden Age of Infrastructure. His right-hand men in making this BUILD BUILD BUILD campaign possible (Arthur Tugade and Mark Villar) will be well remembered along with him.

For comparative reference:

San Juanico Bridge connecting Samar and Leyte (2.2 km) – the longest sea-spanning bridge in the Philippines since 1973

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge (2.7km) – most famous suspension bridge in America

Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in China (164.8 km) – longest bridge in the world

Seikan Tunnel: Honshu-Hokkaido railway tunnel in Japan (53.9 km) – longest undersea tunnel in the world


5 Replies to “Boracay-Panay-Negros-Cebu-Bohol: Can Infrastructure Superhero Mark Villar Link the Major Visayan Islands?”

  1. “Whatever men can conceive, it can be achieved”, they usually say. Man conceived to land on the moon. We landed on the moon. Man conceived to have internet. We got the internet and Information Technology. I salute those Doers, Dreamers; instead of those talkers, and do not do anything.

    We can have a RAIL BRIDGE transport system, connecting the Philippine Islands. Rail Bridge are less expensive. They are also lighter, and easier to construct. Rail Transport system, can move a lot of people, from island to island, including Mindanao and Palawan. Bullet Trains, which runs about 350 miles per hour, can make travel easier. Infrastructures are the lifeblood of a country’s commerce. We don’t need subways. We need above sea level metro rails.

    I congratulate those Filipino Doers. Instead of destroying the country. They build , and improve the country. Get away from politics and idiotic ideologies. They are time wasters.

    1. Bullet Trains run on the principle of “magnetic levitation”; this is the reason it runs so fast. It is safe, fast and is the modern locomotive transport. Let us modernize our country. Time to put on the trash: politics, division, obstructionism, etc…

  2. I am all in favour of modernizing infrastructure. I also wish that during the phase where all those plans are put on a drawing board, they will take into consideration all possible natural disasters that the Philippines struck (in the past, today and in the future, such as earthquakes, landslides, typhoons). I also wonder if there is a real demand (from consumers, civilians and businesses) for such megalomaniac projects. Or is it a form of ‘window dressing’ (As a figure of speech, “window dressing” means something done to make a better impression, and sometimes implies something dishonest or deceptive.)?

    Why not start with solving the traffic congestion in bigger cities?

    Furthermore, I still think and believe the Philippines has much bigger and much deeper problems that needs to be solved first.

  3. I hope our government should also build 2 tunnels or bridges that will link between Luzon, Eastern Visayas & Mindanao just like similar to Eurotunnel that linked between England & France. I don’t care if the project will be too expensive but it’ll give a great beneficiary to the Filipino people as long as there are no corruption & kickbacks on the said project. President Duterte doesn’t like that.

  4. My message, especially to young people, is to have courage to think differently, courage to invent, to travel the unexplored path, courage to discover the impossible and to conquer the problems and succeed. These are great qualities that they must work towards. This is my message to the young people.

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