The 25-year old open water swimmer. Image courtesy of Cleevan Alegres
Culture

This Cebuano will attempt 18-hour swim around Mactan to help raise awareness on plastic waste

“I literally grew up in the ocean since our house is just by the sea. And from where I live, I could see both ends of Mactan side to side, so I think it is not quite impossible.” 
CLINT HOLTON POTESTAS | Mar 31 2021

“In celebration of the victory of Lapu-Lapu 500 years ago, how about I circumnavigate my hometown?” says Cleevan Kayne Alegres over the phone when asked how he arrived at the idea of circling Mactan Island by swimming by his lonesome. 

The 25-year old open water swimmer will be going around the island on April 24, two days ahead of the commemoration of the great Mactan battle. A native of Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City’s bayside area, Cleevan has been planning this swim since 2019. “If he is able to achieve this feat, he will be the first Oponganon [Mactan native] to circumnavigate Mactan Island,” says Cebu Daily News. 

Cleevan with the mayor of Lapu Lapu City. Photo from the Facebook page of Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan.

Cleevan even enjoined the participation of Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Ahong Chan in the challenge, asking the public official if the city government can purchase a garbage compactor machine for the island if he becomes successful in his attempt. A longtime volunteer of cleanup drives, Cleevan believes the machine could ultimately help solve the persistent waste problem in the waters of Mactan. The compactor melts plastics which could then be made into chairs or tables. It could also spark a source of livelihood for locals, he says. 

Cleevan, who finished his degree in Biology at Cebu Doctors’ University and is now studying Veterinary Medicine at Southwestern University-Phinma, says it would take him 18 to 20 hours to complete the 42-kilometer route, beginning and ending at the Lapu-Lapu Shrine in Punta Engaño where he already expects rough waters, especially at the open sea across Camotes Island. He would also swim through Magellan Bay, Cebu Strait, and underneath the three major bridges—Marcelo B. Fernan, the Mactan-Cebu Bridge, and the upcoming Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway—hovering above the Mactan Channel. Cleevan says he will only take in liquid foods, electrolyte drinks, and protein bars while swimming. To ensure his safety, a team of paddlers and officers from Disaster Risk Reduction and Management will accompany him. 

Cleevan has been a longtime volunteer of cleanup drives. Photo courtesy of Cleevan Alegres

In a Facebook post, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Ahong Chan said he has already assured Cleevan that the city government will extend all the support needed for Cleevan to achieve his goal and ensure his safety. He said the young man’s gesture only shows that Oponganons (natives of Mactan) are truly brave and unique.

Last Sunday, March 28, Cleevan began the simulation. He swam from the Mactan shrine to Maribago (13 km) anticipating strong currents across Arterra resort at the tip of Punta Engaño. He started at 9PM and ended at 3AM. “I was told the current is stronger there, but surprisingly, the waters were calm,” says Cleevan.

Cleevan finished his degree in Biology at Cebu Doctors’ University and is now studying Veterinary Medicine at Southwestern University-Phinma. Photo courtesy of Cleevan Alegres

“I know I can swim that long and deep, but maybe, before I reach the end, I’d be hallucinating already because of physical stress,” says Cleevan. “But I will. I literally grew up in the ocean since our house is just by the sea. And from where I live, I could see both ends of Mactan side to side, so I think it is not quite impossible.”

For someone who grew up with the myth of sea monsters inhabiting the island’s surrounding waters, Cleevan sounds more excited than worried about his upcoming adventure. “I still do not know whether I’d be successful or not in this attempt, but all I am thinking about is the beauty of the depths of the sea that I’d get to witness soon,” he says. “It’s a different perspective of marine life, far more beautiful than the surface.”