Link of faith

MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Atty. Mike Toledo - The Philippine Star
Link of faith
One of the lighted crosses on the CCLEX bridge over the Mactan Channel.
STAR/ File

During times of crisis, people have oftentimes resorted to religion or spirituality, not just as a means of coping with stress, but also as a way of finding answers for what is seemingly inexplicable.

?I once read in an article in The New York Times that “Religion is the solace of first resort for billions of people grappling with a pandemic for which scientists, presidents and the secular world seem, so far, to have few answers.”??Religion and faith have been a source of comfort, of patience, of reassurance, and, more importantly, of strength in these troubled times.?

The author during the ocular inspection of CCLEX’s ongoing construction.

Our country is the only Christian nation in Asia. More than 86 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, and Filipinos are one of the only two nations in Asia with a substantial population of Catholics (the other being East Timor). On a global scale, the Philippines ranks third among countries with the largest number of Catholics, far more than the United States (which comes in fourth) and coming in only behind Brazil and Mexico.??The arrival of the Spaniards 500 years ago brought Christianity to these shores.

Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corp. president Allan Alfon (in dark blue polo) and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma (center) are joined in the historic event by (from left) Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama, Cebu Link Joint Venture project director Daniel Muñoz, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, Acciona Representative Julio Ruiz, Cordova Municipality Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho, Cordova Municipality Vice Mayor Ximgil Sitoy, CCLEC project manager Herbert Laboy.

The first documented Mass was held on March 31, 1521, an Easter Sunday, celebrated by Fr. Pedro de Valderrama, the chaplain of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition, along the shores of the island we now know as Limasawa.

Employees of the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corp. headed by president and general manager Allan G. Alfon with Sinulog festival queen Steffani Aberasturi.

??This marked the birth of Christianity in the Philippines, and this year we celebrate the 500th anniversary or the quincentennial of Christianity in the country. ??Historical accounts would show that Magellan’s expedition later on traveled from Limasawa to Cebu. ??In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte led the groundbreaking rites for the 8.5-kilometer Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway or CCLEX, the third bridge that would cross the Mactan Channel, connecting the Cebu mainland from the Cebu South Coastal Road (CSCR) to Cordova town on the southernmost tip of Mactan Island.??The fast-tracking of this bridge project was in line with President Duterte’s clarion call to speed up implementation of high-impact infrastructure projects under his “Build, Build, Build” program and the Private-Public Partnership framework, which also included other bridge projects to inter-connect islands in the Visayas and Mindanao. ??The CCLEX is said to be the largest single investment by a private company in the Philippines today. It is a project of the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), a unit under Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC).

Screenshot of MPTC chairman Manuel “Manny” V. Pangilinan in his virtual message during the program

 ??According to my hardworking high school classmate, Allan Alfon, president and general manager of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), the overall engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) progress of CCLEX is at 72.73 percent as of March 2021 with construction progress at 66.89 percent. It is nearing the homestretch and once all punch list items are checked, the CCLEX is on target to open to the public in February 2022. ??To serve as a vital link, not just of commerce, people, and transportation, but also of history to modernity, of the past to the present and also to the future, eight 40-meter-tall crosses, including light fixtures, were constructed and installed on top of the eight 140-meter twin pylon towers of the bridge on the Mactan Channel. ??

The late PLLO Secretary Adelino Sitoy.

These crosses were recently blessed and lighted in a fluvial ceremony by no less than the Cebu Archbishop, the Most Reverend Jose S. Palma, O.P., D.D., as part of the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. ??The good archbishop said: “The bridge is not just a bridge. The bridge connects and makes people closer together — a beautiful expression of what life should be.”??For Metro Pacific chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan or MVP, the blessing and lighting of these 40-meter-high crosses is “an achievement and a source of pride.”??“We add a deeper and loftier meaning to CCLEX by adding eight 40-meter crosses that celebrate the coming of Christ 500 years ago. These crosses will illuminate the skyline of Metro Cebu — beacons of hope and progress, symbols of achievement, and everything Cebuanos are proud of,” he said.??MVP added that “in many ways, we at Metro Pacific Tollways are the Magellans of today — building ways for people to make discoveries, to travel, and to bring gifts of life and faith, anywhere in this country and even beyond our shores.

”??The whole process of the construction of the CCLEX would not have been possible if not for the active partnership between CCLEC and the local government units concerned — the Cebu City government under incumbent Mayor Edgar Labella and then Mayor and now Vice Mayor Mike Rama, former Mayor Tommy Osmeña, the municipality of Cordova under Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho, and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Dino. Hats off as well to MPTC president and CEO Rod Franco and former MPTC chief, now Maynilad president and CEO Mon Fernandez.??

I must also make mention of then-Cordova mayor and Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) Secretary Adelino “Addy” Sitoy, who was instrumental in making this vision of the bridge a reality. Sadly, though, on the night itself that the crosses at the CCLEX were being blessed and lighted, Addy Sitoy passed away, perhaps content in the fact that this dream of his for his fellow Cebuanos had finally come true. ??Speaking of local government units, I’d like to congratulate Makati Mayor Abby Binay for opening the first-ever drive-through vaccination site to accommodate persons with disabilities (PWDs) and bedridden residents. Truly, Makati under her helm has taken great strides in the fight against COVID-19, especially with regard to its vaccination program. More power to you, Mayora!

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