EXPLAINER: What’s wrong with ‘Lapu-Lapu’ having a hyphen? Must the international airport be named after the Mactan hero as well? Chan, Del Mar bills filed in new Congress raise the issue of disturbing 50-year-old names.

CEBU. Photos of  Representative Cindi Chan, Representative Cutie del Mar,  Mactan-Cebu International Airport and a reproduction of Chan’s bill. (Contributed photos/File)
CEBU. Photos of Representative Cindi Chan, Representative Cutie del Mar, Mactan-Cebu International Airport and a reproduction of Chan’s bill. (Contributed photos/File)

TWO BILLS ON LAPU-LAPU. Among the bills filed on the first days of the 19th Congress involve Lapu-Lapu City and Cebu’s major airport, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Those are:

[1] House Bill 3718, filed by Representative Ma. Cynthia “Cindi” King Chan of Lapu-Lapu City’s lone district, seeks to change the name of Lapu-Lapu City to Lapulapu City.

[2] HB 00137, filed by Representative Rachel Marguerite “Cutie” Del Mar of Cebu City’s north district, would rename (a) the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority to Lapu-Lapu-Cebu International Airport Authority and (b) the Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Lapu-Lapu-Cebu International Airport.

Chan’s bill would delete the hyphen: “City of Lapu-Lapu ” would become “City of Lapulapu.” The Del Mar bill would strike out “Mactan” from the airport’s name and replace it with “Lapu-Lapu” but, note, would keep “Cebu.”

MUCH ADO OVER HYPHEN. Why should a bill -- which, if quantified, must cost tens of thousands of pesos to process in the legislative mill -- be proposed just to remove a hyphen? Could the correction of deleting a punctuation mark in the word “Lapu-Lapu” not be done locally and administratively?

DUTERTE STARTED IT. Cindi Chan apparently took the cue from her husband, Mayor Junard “Ahon” Chan, who in turn took the cue from Rodrigo Duterte.

Then-president Duterte issued on December 7, 2021 Executive Order No. 52 enjoining all groups and the public and private sectors to adopt the hyphen-less spelling when referring to the national hero.

The next day, Mayor Chan announced his support for the idea, saying the president didn’t want Lapu-Lapu’s name to be the same as that of the local fish “pugapo.” Mayor Chan may have overlooked this: removing the hyphen from “Lapu-Lapu City” wouldn’t stop people from using the word on the fish and that punctuation marks don’t make much difference in oral communication. Hyphenated “Lapu-Lapu” would sound the same as a hyphen-less “Lapulapu.”

The Chans may also be inspired by Duterte’s method: similarly, an executive order from the mayor and an ordinance from the City Council -- maybe with parallel help from the governor and the Provincial Board -- to order government offices and employees and encourage private sectors and organizations, along with the rest of the public, to avoid using the hyphen in writing the word “Lapu-Lapu. “

‘PROTECTING CEBU.’ Rep. Cutie Del Mar’s bill seeking to rename the MCIA Authority and the airport itself from Mactan-Cebu to Lapu-Lapu-Cebu was first filed by her dad, the late congressman Raul Del Mar in the immediately preceding or 18th Congress. The nine-termer congressman sensed at the time that a snowballing move in 2021 to honor the Mactan hero might delete “Cebu” from the airport’s name. Thus, he filed the bill that would change “Mactan” with “Lapu-Lapu” but would protect “Cebu.”

Opposition to the change, led by Representative Pablo John Garcia of Cebu’s Third District, produced a “compromise” among House leaders that would name the airport’s domestic and international terminals after Lapu-Lapu, but not the airport itself or the authority running it. Another bill, HB 8986, was approved on third reading before Congress went on recess in March 2021. It wasn’t known if it had passed in the Senate but the passage in the House set off some confusion that the airport would then be called Lapu-Lapu, instead of Mactan-Cebu.

NEW PUSH FOR MACTAN HERO? Congresswoman Del Mar’s re-filing of the bill -- among 17 bills and three resolutions she filed last June 30 -- may indicate a renewed push to give Lapu-Lapu the additional honor of MCIA and MCIAA being renamed after the Mactan chieftain.

The original intent of the bill though -- that is, to keep the name “Cebu” -- was already achieved with the 2021 “compromise” bill seeking to name only two terminals, not the entire property, after the Mactan hero.

The elder Del Mar told a group of Cebu journalists then that keeping “Cebu” was deserved historically. The name will be 51 years old this September 1; on that day in 1961, the “Tugpahanang Pangkalibutan sa Mactan-Sugbo” was born. Its branding value, he said then, was “already priceless.”

NO AIRPORT BILL FROM CHAN. Interestingly, Lapu-Lapu City’s rookie congresswoman, Cindi Chan, didn’t include in her first batch of five bills a measure that touches on the airport’s name. Her bill, HB 03718, about Lapu-Lapu City would just delete the hyphen from the city’s name.

Her husband, Mayor Ahong Chan, in 2021 advocated for renaming the airport and MCIAA after Lapu-Lapu but agreed to keeping “Mactan” and “Cebu.” His proposed name would’ve been a mouthful: Lapu-Lapu-Mactan-Cebu International Airport, five words and two hyphens.


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