In 2005, there was an actual attempt to make three new provinces in Cebu when then last-term representatives from Cebu—Clavel Asas-Martinez, Antonio Yapha and Simeon Kintanar—filed bills to turn their districts into new provinces: Cebu del Norte, Cebu Occidental and Cebu del Sur. This move was so controversial that it got an infamous moniker, “Sugbuak,” a portmanteau of Sugbu (Cebu) and buak (break).

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, the governor at the time, led the resistance, and the bills did not prosper.

So controversial the move was by the three lawmakers that the word Sugbuak entered Wikipedia. The neologism has entered the Cebuano consciousness.

Seventeen years later, the word Sugbuak surfaced again after Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan floated the idea in a news forum on Tuesday, July 5, 2022 to create Province of Mactan, which would break Cebu Province into two if it becomes a reality.

The reelected mayor could picture Province of Mactan as the “next little Singapore” if its creation is realized. If the province is created, Lapu-Lapu City would be its capital, Cordova would be elevated into a component city and Olango Island would become a municipality.

In the current setup, Lapu-Lapu City is a highly urbanized city and it is not under Cebu Provincial Government’s political sphere; the barangays of Olango Island are divided between Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova, a municipality that is under the Cebu Provincial Government’s jurisdiction.

Several politicians led by Governor Garcia opposed Chan’s proposal to split Cebu, saying “I was and I am and I will always be against Sugbuak.” She wants other mayors in the province to be consulted if they are in favor of letting Cordova go to the Province of Mactan. Cebu Province excludes the highly urbanized cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Cebu.

Chan said if the Province of Mactan is realized, it would mean more income. However, the mayor failed to realize the political implications as pointed out by Sixth District Rep. Daphne Lagon and Cordova Mayor Cesar “Didoy” Suan, and one of which is the remapping of the legislative districts in Cebu. After Lapu-Lapu City and Mandaue City became lone legislative districts, the municipalities of Cordova and Consolacion are the only two local government units left in the sixth district.

The Lapu-Lapu mayor said he would ask his wife, Lapu-Lapu City District Rep. Ma. Cynthia King-Chan, to lobby for the creation of the Province of Mactan in Congress.

However, Chan said after the news forum that the creation of the Province of Mactan is not his administration’s “utmost priority” as Lapu-Lapu City is still recovering from the bad effects of Covid-19 pandemic and Typhoon Odette (Rai).

The mayor attributed the idea of creating the Province of Mactan to the late Cordova mayor Adelino Sitoy; however, there were no reports in the past that Sitoy advocated for the creation of such a province.

When Sitoy was the presidential adviser on legislative affairs in 2018, he did suggest to Cebu Island a separate state or federated region under the proposed new federal constitution, which did not push through under the Duterte administration.

Pursuing the Province of Mactan is not a good idea. The islands of Mactan and Cebu are historically, politically and economically intertwined with each other.