San Juanico Bridge | Samar-Leyte’s Graceful Crossings
Bridges are not just public architectural necessities but also images of melancholic departures, happy beginnings & celebratory crossings. In history, battles were rejoiced or lost in monumental bridges. But to the former President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, the San Juanico Bridge was one of his professions of love for the Rose of Leyte, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.
Constructed in 1969 to 1973, the San Juanico Bridge connects the provinces of Leyte & Samar on a 2.16-kilometer steel truss bridge design. It rises 41 meters above the San Juanico Strait boasting of graceful arches & balance.
Coming in from Cabalawan in Tacloban, the travel begins through a smooth L-shaped path, obviously standing for Leyte. Then, it swerves gently into an S-shaped maneuver welcoming you to Sta. Rita in the province of Samar.
San Juanico Bridge: Love from End to End
The San Juanico Bridge is an important link when travelling overland from Luzon to Mindanao. I first crossed it back in the 90s on that nostalgic Philtranco bus line. But it was only in the mid-2000s when I got the chance to walk on it.
Yes, it’s possible to walk on it from end to end. And that’s almost 5 kilometres back & forth. Actually, at my age & size, I hardly walk this long, but this one’s an exception. After all, it’s a an experience worth the keeps.
In one of those crossings I made before the typhoon Yolanda, I got curious about those bancas sailing underneath. I wondered how the bridge looked like from below. So, I traced my steps back to where they dock. And that led me to a small fishing community just below it.
Back then, cruising under the San Juanico Bridge was unheard of. Most tourists are happy to just stay on top, take a few photos & leave. But I always felt there’s more to this place than just an assemblage of cold metals.
So I chartered a motorised banca for P500 to bring me around. Indeed, I was right. The view from underneath is massive & beautiful. And if you come very early, you’re in for a treat of sun rays escaping through the web of steel like it were a show.
Cruise & Island Hop
Further away, my boat man brought me to an island called Sinapdan. This islet is quite a popular swimming spot among locals. It is decked with tiki huts & serves simple meals. Stopping by on this resort was a steal! Truly, I never thought to get more than just cruising.
And to complete my experience of San Juanico Bridge, I had a plush lunch arranged at Pasqualino’s Ristoranti Italiano. This hilltop restaurant at the end of the bridge on the Samar side serves good Italian food. Above all, it offers a magnificent view of the engineering masterpiece that we all adore.
Be it for the simplest desire to reach people or places, or Marcos’ demonstration of eternal love for Imelda, surely the San Juanico Bridge reshaped the entire Waray islands and brought it to the rest of the Philippines.
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Betwixt and between the arthritic 40 and a horrendous body mass index of positive 30, escapism and yummyeology are my real-life double post-graduate degrees conferred with the highest honors. I lived nearly half of my life in fancy suitcases, jetsetting between reality and fantasy... read more