Note: This is a part of my May 2 - 8, 2015 Samar-Leyte-Biliran-Mactan-Cebu Trip which includes: Capul Island, San Antonio Island, Dalutan Island, Sambawan Island, The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine, Ciriaco Hotel, Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Other Calbayog tours, San Juanico Bridge, MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, Limasawa Island
San Juanico Bridge is a US$21.9 million infrastructure which was built for four years where its construction started in August 1969 and was completed in 1973 under the administration of the late President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. This is the very reason why the bridge was formerly called as Marcos Bridge. The connecting link of the bridge is from the Municipality of Sta. Rita of the Samar side across the San Juanico Strait to Barangay Cabalawan of Tacloban City of the Leyte side which is 10 kilometers from the city proper. The bridge connecting the islands of Samar and Leyte did not only benefited the two islands but it also spurred economic development for the entire country particularly Mindanao.
To date, it is the longest bridge in the Philippines spanning a body of seawater, that is, the San Juanico Strait, the narrowest strait in the Philippines, with the length of 2.162 kilometers or 1.34 miles and width of 10.620 meters supported by a total of 43 spans. The shape of the bridge varies into an “S” shape on the Samar side and “L’ on the Leyte side. Its height is 41 meters from the sea level.
The best thing to be on the bridge is very early in the morning when the sun starts to rise till 8:00 A.M. and late in the afternoon till the sun sets. The hues of the sky and sea give a total contrast on the architectural lines of the bridge. These hues of colors give a useful advantage to the photographers to capture a postcard perfect picture of the bridge. I like the bridge when its color was silver then but this time it was changed to rust red. However, upon looking to my pictures recently, I realized that its present color defines it better in contrast with its sky and sea background while a silver color would only blend with the silver color clouds and structural lines do not seem to appear much.
Walking through the bridge might be an exciting experience for some but the contrary for those who have fear of heights. Just imagine, when a bus or truck, passes, the bridge really shakes and the sound of the vehicle’s engine is magnified like that of a thunder. And as you approach the midpoint of the bridge, the wind literally blows you strong. Down at the sea level, you can see a countless whirlpools.
A lot of you may know this monumental bridge merely by its name but there are some stories behind it that you may ought to know. There was one article in Manila Bulletin which I read that I kept but since it was an article cutout, it no longer bears the date of its publication.
Firstly, initially known as Marcos Bridge project, it was awarded to the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP) for the contracts to design, finance and construct this enormous engineering project. CDCP's design and engineering staff, together with Japanese engineers, undertook a detailed survey, study and analysis and the construction of the bridge began and it was completed in 1973.
Secondly, the bridge has been dubbed as “The Bridge of Love” since the late President Ferdinand Marcos has dedicated it to his wife, Imelda Marcos famous as the “Rose of Tacloban” as a birthday gift to prove how he loves her so much. This has been held during the groundbreaking ceremony of Marcos bridge which he coincided it with Imelda’s birthday. Of course, we knew Imelda Marcos. She is known to everyone as a “Woman of Thousand Shoes” who lived extravagantly during the administration of his husband as the president of the Philippines. With that, her name, Imelda, has been used in some dictionary as “imeldific” which means extravagance.
Thirdly, San Juanico Bridge is a part of the Maharlika Highway which now appears in Philippine road maps as Pan-Philippine Highway which means that it is a network of roads, bridges and nautical routes that connect the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao. I still remember when I was a kid that this Maharlika Highway is also called South Road – a network of road which connects Manila to the southern part of the country.
It was on July 4, 2005 that a certain treaty took effect designating the Pan-Philippine Highway as an Asian Highway (AH-26) under the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network which has for its objective of providing a framework for coordinated development of the international highways in Asia. Aha!!! Now I knew why often see the sign AH-26 along our highways recently.
Fourthly, the moviemaking industry history revealed that once a film was shoot in San Juancio Bridge with the action star Dante Varona jumped off the bridge in 1981 with Carlo J. Caparas as the director in a movie titled “Hari ng Stunt” to really prove that the former was really the king of stunts in the Philippines.
In addition, it has been revealed in the recent news that the foundation of the bridge remains strong and operational despite being hit by a super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013 locally named as Typhoon Yolanda. Major repairs has been made then to restore it to be fully operational.
Right after, San Juanico Bridge, you can either go first to San Rafael Farm in Babatngon if it becomes fully restored already. It was devastated by Typhoon Yolanda and is now under major renovation. This link shows when the farm was still on its full glory. Or better head to Tacloban City to check what it is in store for you now that it has gradually recovered from Typhoon Yolanda’s destruction.
HOW TO GET THERE
If you intend to experience how it feels to be at San Juanico Bridge, the link below will be great help for you, that is, your point of origin is Manila. You can have it BY AIR or BY LAND TRAVEL with a number of bus companies operating from Manila direct to Tacloban. From Tacloban, you may board a public utility jeep or take a taxi going to San Juanico Bridge for 10 kilometers from the city proper.