I had two encounters with the prominent bridge: late in the evening when we were heading from Tacloban to Guiuan, and one afternoon when we have to go back from Samar to the airport for our scheduled flight to Manila. Two different time settings but one reaction: bedazzled. I’ve only seen this famous landmark in history books in elementary, and passing through it was surreal enough to consider it a remarkable experience.
The sight in the evening was profound, with all the lights illuminating the bridge on a breezy night. I was not able to capture a photo of it due to sleepiness and rushed pacing of the vehicle, but grabbed a chance to took some when I saw it again in broad daylight. Albeit a short opportunity to go down from the van and take speedy snapshots on the shaky bridge, it was still a “proud moment” to recall.
It was one of those days you wished the same scene will be witnessed in Manila – no traffic, car windows down, no pollution. And ironically, I hoped the bridge’s length was longer or our pace was slower – to relive the moment and see more of the bridge’s astounding beauty.
The longest bridge in the Philippines was also dubbed as the “bridge of love” since it was the gift of the late President Ferdinand Marcos to his lady love and “Rose of Tacloban”, Imelda Marcos. It was named Marcos Bridge before but was later changed to San Juanico Bridge since it spans the San Juanico Strait, the narrowest strait in the Philippines.
The bridge connects the provinces of Samar and Leyte. The part near Samar shows letter S, and L for the part going to Leyte. Its construction commenced in 1969 and was finished in 1973 with the help of Japanese engineers. The bridge remains to be sturdy up to the present, having weathered so many typhoons including Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013.
The bridge has contributed immensely to the country’s economic growth and tourism as it attracts tourists with its magnificent view. I dream of dining at one of the restaurants situated near the bridge. 🙂
Although it was a frightening experience to go down from the van and feel the bridge shaking with the vehicles passing by it, the view was worth it. Definitely should be one of the items in your bucketlist, if you plan to visit Samar or Leyte.
Another historical heritage we visited was the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park. Like the San Juanico Bridge, it was only a quick stop over among our swamped schedule. It was just near Oriental Leyte Hotel so we took the chance to see it despite the downpour of the rain. We realized later that it was a good thing we passed by it already although the weather was not good – since we had to go to Guiuan already that evening.
The seven double life-sized bronze statues on a shallow man-made pool depict the A-day Landing where General Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his promise that “he shall return” at the Red Beach and marks the liberation of the Filipinos from the Japanese imperial forces. It was an iconic symbol of a promise fulfilled after two years of absence from the war scene with the Japanese invaders – that I could imagine intense human emotion from the utterance of those words.
Here is the original photo. Those with him are President Sergio Osmeña, Lieutenant General Richard Sutherland, Brigadier General Carlos P. Romulo, Major General Courtney Whitney, Sergeant Francisco Salveron and CBS Radio correspondent William J. Dunn.
I have no deep knowledge on this history, all I know is part of the freedom I am enjoying right now is somehow attributed to the valiance of these men, led by MacArthur.
San Juanico Bridge
Pan-Philippine Hwy, Santa Rita, Leyte
General MacArthur Landing Memorial Park
Address: Brgy. Candahug, Palo, Leyte
*No entrance fee
Open Hours: Always Open