Physical Profile

2.1 Geographical Location

The Municipality of Cordova is located at 10”15’ North, 123”57’ East with an elevation of 33 meters above mean sea level.

Cordova is located south of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIAA) and the major industrial areas like the Mactan Export Processing Zone 2 (MEPZ 2) and the Cebu Light Industrial Park (CLIP) which are about 4 kilometers away. From Cordova, one goes to the City of Lapulapu through two routes: northwest via Barangays Babag and Canjulao through the Pilipog-Babag bridge and northeast via Barangays Suba-Basbas and Marigondon via the Gabi-Suba-Panas bridge.

Geographically, the Municipality of Cordova complements the Province of Cebu, particularly Lapu-Lapu City, in terms of residential and tourism support. All barangays including the island barangay of Gilutongan and the islets of Shell, Tongo and Lava are inhabited. Most parts of the town is also dominantly used for residential purposes while the urban core or the central business district is surrounded by commercial and service establishments supportive to the needs of the residents.

Map 1 shows the position of the Municipality of Cordova in the map of the Province of the Cebu. It is located in Mactan Island, in the central part of Cebu. Cordova is part of the Metro Cebu area which is also known as the Mega Cebu. Map 2, on the other hand, shows the thirteen (13) barangays of Cordova including the islets.

2.2 Political Boundaries

It is in the southern part of Mactan Island near the center east coast of the Province of Cebu, and directly east of Cebu City. Cordova is bounded by Lapulapu City in the north, northeast and northwest sides; Camotes sea in the far east; Bohol strait in the south; and Cebu City in the west. To the southeastern portion of the town is the Gilutongan channel, said to be next to the Surigao Deep in depth.

2.3 Topography

Cordova is a coastal municipality which is generally flat with 0-3% slope.

2.3.1 Elevation

Cordova’s highest elevation does not exceed ten (10) meters above mean sea level.

2.4 Geology

The general substrate of the Island is of limestone. Sinkholes are very common in this formation.

2.4.1 Rock Formations

The outcrops of hard limestone are evident in almost all places making the surface rugged. The limestone type belonging to Carcar formation occupies flanks of ridges and practically all of coastal areas.

2.4.2 Landforms

Cordova’s landform can be described as flat as there are no mountains or hills. This formation is composed of limestone, limy turf and conglomerate limestone. It is dull to white or light brown when fresh and dark gray when weathered and break down into soil that ranges from brown to black.

2.4.3 Soils

The whole municipality is covered by only one type of soil – Faraon Clay (topsoil). Faraon Clay is common along the coastal hilly areas of Cebu. This soil type is characterized by its black color, which may be attributed to organic matter. Thus, this soil is commonly planted with coconut, corn, cassava, banana and other fruit trees. Barangays away from the national road, such as some portions of Barangays Ibabao, Cogon, Gabi and Buagsong are barren lands.

2.4.4 Land Capability Classes

Generally, the type of soil is good for agriculture but this soil is shallow and in between the coral reef formation, hardly can agricultural activities progress in the area. On the other hand, this renders the town an ideal place for urbanization, provided ample supply of water, electricity and efficient road network are available.

2.5 Land Resources

With reference to the Political Boundary Survey conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) VII in 2014, Cordova has a land area of, more or less, 956 hectares.

Table _ below shows the land area per barangay. Big barangays include Poblacion, Ibabao and Gabi. Incidentally, these are considered as urban brangays. The island barangay of Gilutongan is the smallest barangay in terms of land area with barely twelve (12) hectares only.

Table 1
Land Area Per Barangay (in hectares)

Name of BarangayLand Area (in hectares)
1. Alegria56.364
2. Bangbang55.863
3. Buagsong73.694
4. Catarman62.096
5. Cogon38.988
6. Dapitan15.519
7. Day-as70.011
8. Ibabao131.712
9. Gabi106.198
10. Gilutongan12.508
11. Pilipog25.259
12. Poblacion152.364
13. San Miguel40.048
Source: DENR – Land Management Bureau

The slope, soil type and the substrate have made Cordova suitable for any urban development, although there is a need for some soil investigation if heavy structures are planned to be built because of the general characteristics of limestone to produce cavities upon reaction with water.

2.5.1 Land Classification

Based on the Land Classification (LC) Map, 74.90% or about 829.535 hectares of Cordova’s land area is considered Alienable and Disposable (A&D) while 25.10% or 278.032 hectares are classified as Forest and Forestland (FFL).

2.5.2 Existing General Land use

The existing and actual general land use of Cordova is classified built up area. Apparently, there are agricultural potentials in Cordova although some agricultural crops and fruit-bearing trees thrive in the locality.

2.5.3 Urban Land Use Pattern

Majority of the barangays are classified as residential area and this included the barangays of Ibabao, Dapitan, Cogon, Gabi and Alegria. Mixed use developments are allowed in Pilipog, San Miguel, Bangbang, Day-as, and Buagsong. Poblacion and Catarman are zoned as commercial. The eastern and the southeastern part of the municipality which strips on the area along the shore of Alegria is classified as tourism.

There are twelve (12) residential subdivisions thriving and operating within the town. Commercial uses take five percent (5%) of the total land area. Surprisingly, more than half or about 52% of the total land area are still open spaces either unutilized or underutilized. Table – below shows the actual land uses in Cordova:

Table 2
Actual Land Use (2016)

Land UseArea In Hectares
Memorial Park4.481
Environmental Protection98.676
Parks and Recreation1.485
Open Space499.207

2.6 Mineral Resources

Other than limestone and salt, Cordova has no other known mineral resources. Conversely, Cordova was known for Mactan Stones both for exports and domestic markets. Hard limestones are being extracted and quarried. They are then sliced into blocks to form building materials. They are transported and sold in tiles of various sizes depending upon the order of customers. However, this type of small-scale quarrying activities was discouraged and eventually prohibited in the Municipality of Cordova due to its negative impacts to the environment and community.

2.7 Coastal Resources

Cordova as a coastal town is endowed with abundant marine and coastal resources:
mangroves, sea-grasses, coral reefs, and variety of fish species.

2.7.1 Coral Reefs

The coral reef status in Cordova was observed to be in fair condition considering ten (10) coastal barangays that were assessed. Only one (1) coastal barangay showed a poor condition of corals which is Catarman. The fair condition of coral reef in Cordova is attributed to its coastal law enforcement which is fairly implemented by their “Marine Watch”. More so, the establishment of Marine Sanctuaries has also helped the reef area from recovering where extraction of resources are totally prohibited including those in the two islands of Gilutongan and Nalusuan.

The fair condition of coral reef in Cordova is attributed to its coastal law enforcement which is fairly implemented by their “Marine Watch”. More so, the establishment of Marine Sanctuaries has also helped the reef area from recovering where extraction of resources are totally prohibited including those in the two islands of Gilutongan and Nalusuan. Moreover, tourism has become a popular market in the municipality and the availability of employment in MEPZ has become the major source of income for most residents and fishing is no longer a priority livelihood. In some way there is an advantage to it because it promotes recovery and rehabilitation of their coastal resources. On the other hand, tourism today has become the number one user of these coastal areas. Law enforcement and proper management of coastal zone especially in the conservation and rehabilitation of marine habitats is very critical in reducing the impact of development and progress to its dwindling coastal resources of Cordova.

Chart 1– Coral Reef Profile in the Municipality of Cordova, Cebu

A large percentage of Cordova’s Coral Reefs is dominated by Live Hard Coral (LHC), which consists of 43%. A significant percentage (14%) of the Coral Rubble and 11% for the Dead Coral are also being noted. But on the average, the condition of the Coral Reefs in Cordova is “Fair”.

Chart 2– Coral Habitat Rating of Barangays in Cordova, Cebu

Cordova has ten (10) coastal barangays and mostly have extensive shallow reef flats which are generally sloping including the reef area in Gilutongan and Nalusuan Island.Among the ten (11) barangays, only nine (9) were assessed and according to PCRA survey Barangays Poblacion, Alegria and Nalusuan Island were rated to have good coral cover ranging from 52 to 72 percent. Other barangays were rated as relatively fair except for Catarman which showed a poor condition of coral cover (6.4%). In general, the entire Cordova reef has a mean live coral cover of 43.95% which was considered as “fair”.

2.7.2 Seagrass Communities

Seagrass. Based on the result of the Participatory Coastal Resource Assessment (PCRA), the areas that are abundant with seagrasses are found in barangays Catarman, Alegria, Poblacion, Gilutongan, Buagsong and Day-as.

On the approximate, the seagrass beds in Cordova cover a total of 1,000 hectares. The seagrass habitat assessment was conducted using 1 x 1 quadrat method. Only six (6) coastal barangays were conducted for seagrass habitat assessment and according to PCRA survey Barangays, Catarman, Alegria and Poblacion rated a good condition of seagrass cover (71 to 74 percent). However, the other three barangays: Gilutongan, Buagsong and Day-as have relatively fair seagrass cover ranging from 38-50 percent. The seagrass beds of Cordova were classified as “good” with a total percentage of 58.42% seagrass cover.

Chart 3 – Seagrass Habitat Rating per barangay in Cordova, Cebu

Species of seagrass were dominated by two (2) common species of Thalassia (sickle seagrass) with 30.90% cover, Cymodocea (ribbon seagrass) and with 17.37% cover. Other species were also present but grow only in patches along with the other dominant species.

Table 3
Average Seagrass Cover in the Municipality of Cordova

Barangay Catarman73.30
Barangay Alegria71.30
Barangay Poblacion71.20
Gilutongan Island49.13
Barangay Buagsong46.95
Barangay Day-as38.65
Average Seagrass Cover58.42

Table – List of Seagrass Species Observed in Cordova, Cebu

Seagrass Species
BARANGAYCymodocea sp.Halophila sp.Halodule sp.Enhalus sp.Syringodium sp.Thalassia sp.
Gilutongan Island+++++
Table above showed that the seagrass cover in Cordova is dominated by the Enhalus and Thalassia species.

2.7.3 Mangrove Forests

Cordova has several environmental considerations since it is endowed with coastal marine resources. It has mangrove areas which occupy the foreshore areas of the town with a size of more or less 278 hectares.

In the Participatory Coastal Resources Assessment [PCRA] conducted in 2009, there are fourteen (14) species of mangroves that were identified and the most common species are the usually planted Rhizophora and the naturally occurring Avicenia. The most dominant mangrove species is Avicenia marina covering at least 505 of the population and followed by Rhizophora with three (3) identified species: Rhizophora mucronata, Rhizophora stylosa, and Rhizophora apiculata.

Avicenia marina50.51%
Rhizphora mucronata15.55%
Rhizophora Stylosa13.98%
Pemphis acidula8.84%
Lumitzera racemosa3.53%
Sonneratia alba2.51%
Rhizophora apiculate1.98%
Camptostemon philippinense1.87%
Terminalia catappa0.35%
Scyphiphira hydrophyllace0.28%
Excoecaria agallocha0.28%
Luminitzera littorea0.18%
Sonneratia caseolaris0.14%
Scaevola frutescens0.07%

The mangrove areas, however, are affected by the conversion of some sites into fishponds, others are also being intruded by informal settlers. Claims of ownership in the mangroves and forestland areas also pose serious challenges to the authorities.

The Municipality of Cordova formulated its Forest Land Use Plan which is a resource allocation tool to determine the production and protection uses of the mangroves areas. These areas will be subjected to a co-management agreement by the Municipality of Cordova and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources once the Indicative Resource Management Plan (IRMP) will be approved.

2.7.4 Coral Life-forms and Associated Species

2.7.5 Reef Fish Communities

The diversity and abundance of coral reef fishes around Cordova resulted in an approximate count of 6,665 individuals distributed among 24 families. Among these families, only 10 are found to be target species (9%) and 15 are non-target species where it also dominated the population of reef fish (90%). Target species were mostly dominated by species belonging to the family Siganidae (rabbitfish) and Mullidae (goatfish) and non-target species dominated by Pomacentridae (damselfishes) and Labridae (wrasses). Indicator species of the Family Chaetodontidae (butterflyfish) was also observed contributing only 1% of the reef fish population.

Table – List of Fish Families Identified in Cordova

Number of Families
Target SpeciesNon-Target SpeciesIndicator
8 Families13 Families1 Family

Chart – Population Density of Reef Fish per 500 sq.m. in Cordova

Chart – Diversity of Reef Fish per 500 sq.m. in Cordova

2.8 Freshwater Resources

Fresh water supply is perceived as low in the Municipality of Cordova as well as in the entire Mactan Island. It is because the natural terrain of the island is flat. Mountains and upland forests are nowhere to be found. It is especially true in the very small islands of Gilutongan, Tongo, Lava, Shell and Nalusuan. In the mainland of Cordova, however, natural spring and freshwater supply is available. Although over time, there are manifestations that freshwater supply is decreasing. Others say that the taste of the water has turned from palatable to brackish. The change may be related directly to over- extraction and probable salt-water intrusion.

In generating a watershed map for Cordova, the entire area of the municipality is treated as a catchment area or a drainage area except for the island barangay of Gilutongan and the islets. In other words, the mainland of Cordova is considered as a watershed area, (Map “5”).

While Cordova is part of the service area of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), only 20% of the total households have connections with MCWD.

2.8.1 Surface Run-off

Due to the flat natural terrain of the Municipality of Cordova, rainwater usually drains into the sea. There are also no rivers or lakes. The Pilipog-Gabi River is actually a sea waterway characterized by salty water; hence, technically it is not a river.

2.8.2 Groundwater Resources

About 80% of the households are extracting water from the ground. Identified water sources are natural springs located in Cansubing-Buagsong, Cogon, Matab-ang-Day-as, and Gabi.

2.9 Climate

Mactan Island of which Cordova is a part, belongs to type 3 climate. It has a typical south sea island climate; hot and humid with a varying range of temperature from 65 deg. F to 95 deg. F. The mean high temperature is 88 deg. F with a mean dew point of 80 deg. F and a minimum of 74 deg. F with a dew point of 68 deg. F.

In Mactan Island, two stations operated by PAG-ASA (one at the Mactan International Airport and another at Barangay Maribago) are measuring rainfall data.

2.9.1 Atmospheric Temperature

Monthly temperature averages fluctuate within a 40C range with January, February and December showing as the coldest months of the year and the months of April, May and June the hottest months. The annual average temperature is 280C and considered normal for the tropics.

2.9.2 Relative Humidity

Relative humidity is almost similar throughout with the months of September to February being the most humid months of the year.

2.9.3 Cloudiness

2.9.4 Rainfall

Annual mean monthly averages for the period 1990 – 2002 show a wet period from June to January with monthly averages ranging from 195.1 mm to 103.7 mm. The rainiest month is July with an average rainfall rate of 195.1 mm. The dry period is from February to May with rainfall rates ranging from 75.0 mm to 43.4 mm. April has been recorded as the driest month of the year averaging 43.4 mm for more than a ten-year period.

Average annual rainfall for the data period is 1504.4 mm with a mean annual number of 133 rainy days, which is approximately 36% of the total number of days per year. The month with the least number of rainy days recorded is the mean month of April, with only an average of 6 days of rain per month while the most number of rainy days is recorded on the months of July, September and October with an average of 15, 16, and 15 days of rain per month respectively.

2.10 Natural Hazards/ Constraints

The Philippines is located in the most typhoon-prone area in the world. On the average, the country is regularly visited on the average by about twenty typhoons of varying intensities annually, some of which may hit parts of the Central Visayas region where Cordova is located. Typhoons that pass through the Philippines’ Area of Responsibility (PAR) originate from the Pacific Ocean at about 50 North of the Equator and usually move towards the northwest. Cebu and the Metro Cebu area of which Cordova belongs is expected to experience at least one tropical typhoon of strong intensity annually.

2.10.1 Flooding

Based on the slope, soil type and rainfall the whole area of Cordova including its islets has a moderate flooding hazard. This means that flooding may occur in some spots with natural depressions and clavey soils but this can easily be remedied by filling up those spots or by establishing a good drainage system. However, with the widespread paving and concrete developments around, some areas in Cordova are now being flooded. The drainage system exists along the Mactan Circumferential Road (National Highway) and does not include the interior portions of the town.

2.10.2 Erosion and Siltation

With a slope of 0 – 3% and the type of soil, which is dominated by the presence of corals, erosion is unlikely to occur in this place because of this type of physical characteristics. All rain water drains through the porous limestone then into the fresh water lens thus erosion is not a problem, though minimal erosion may occur along the shoreline due to the wave action of the sea.

2.10.3 Infiltration and Soil Drainage