THE SITUATION. [1] First bridge connecting Mactan Island to Cebu -- variously named as Mactan-Cebu Bridge, then Old Bridge or First Bridge, later Serging Osmeña Bridge -- is still not officially named. A bill was finally approved last January 31 and awaits President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.

Second bridge was named Marcelo B. Fernan Bridge, after the late Cebuano Senate president and Supreme Court chief justice.

Third bridge carries the name Cordova-Cebu Link Expressway or CCLEX. Contractor-builder to keep it, "no plan to change for now."

[2] Of the three bridges, only the second bridge, the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, has been named officially according to law. Congress passed the bill that became the law.

WHAT WE JUST LEARNED. The bill seeking to rename the first

Cebu-Mactan Bridge to Serging Osmeña Bridge was passed by the House and the Senate last January 31 and awaits President Duterte's signature.

Explainer obtained a February 7 update on bills filed by congressman Raul Del Mar, who died November 16, 2021, from the office of the district's caretaker, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco. Former congresswoman Rachel "Cutie" del Mar -- who represented Cebu City north from 2010-2013 and seeks the same post in the May election -- is Velasco's representative in Cebu.

The status report traces the bill's timeline: from its approval by the House committee on public works on highways on November 19, 2020, to the joint Senate-House public hearing on September 29, 2021, to its approval on third reading by the Senate last January 31. It shows the long route it took to have the bridge officially named.

CONFUSION OVER UNOFFICIAL NAMING. The Mactan-Cebu Bridge Management Board (MCBMB) on April 12, 2013 made two proposals: (a) name the first Cebu-Mactan Bridge as Serging Osmeña Bridge, and (b) build another bridge, a third span, connecting Mactan via Cordova to Cebu.

The first confusion was over the authority of the Bridge Board: Many people thought or still think that MCBMB had authority under the law to name or rename national bridges. Only the President by proclamation or Congress by legislation is given that authority. What the MCBM did in 2013 was merely recommendatory.

Still some people have used the name erroneously. A number of news and feature stories -- check out Google or the archives -- reported that the bridge was "re-named" after Sergio Osmeña Sr., thus confusing the father, "Cebu's Grand Old Man," with the son Sergio Jr., or more popularly known as simply "Serging," minus the "Jr." Don Sergio was the father, Serging the son.

WHEN NO-NAME BECAME A PROBLEM. Confusion over the absence of an official name for the first bridge -- constructed starting in 1970 and opened in 1972 -- intensified after the second bridge, the Marcelo B. Fernan was built starting in 1996 and opened in 1999. After that, which bridge, one would ask: the old bridge or the new one? The first or the second?

To be officially named, it took 14 years from bridge opening in 1999 for the Bridge Board to recommend in 2013 the name Serging Osmeña Jr. in 2013 and nine years from that for Congress to pass the bill. If the president would sign the bill before his term ends this June 30, thus officially giving the first bridge a name, it would be 23 years from the opening of the bridge.

Why the extraordinarily long delay, especially when compared to the second bridge, the Marcelo B. Fernan bridge? Odious it may be but here's the comparison: The second bridge was named after Fernan under Republic Act 8795 dated June 27, 2000, which was 329 days from the bridge opening on August 3, 1999 and 352 days from Fernan's death on July 11, 1999.

A highly reliable source told Explainer that the powers in Cebu City didn't want the honor to be given to Serging. They wanted something more and bigger -- or they didn't want love him enough.