The most beautiful bridges in the Philippines
The Philippines faces severe problems in public infrastructure. Reuters described it as a “slow train to nowhere,” while the New York Times called it a strain that “erodes the nation’s growth prospects.” The laundry list of sad, decrepit institutions is both long and depressing: Manila has consistently won the award for worst airport in the world; traffic doesn’t seem to get any better; and of course, there’s the MRT. Let’s not even start with the MRT.
For all the burdens Filipinos must endure on a daily basis, it probably seems as though nothing is being built or improved. And while that holds true for numerous buildings and facilities across the country, there are still legitimate projects being constructed throughout the archipelago that are actually world class, and not in the Makati-City-Hall-kind-of-way.
One such category of projects where Filipinos can actually look at with pride are bridges. Perhaps it has something to do with having to connect thousands of islands, but the Philippines has seen the construction of several bridges that its citizens can be proud of.
From having what is considered as the first steel suspension bridge in Asia, to featuring engineering marvels like the San Juanico Bridge, take a tour of some of our best bridges.
San Juanico Bridge
No discussion of Philippine bridges can start without the San Juanico Bridge. With a total length of over two kilometers, the bridge crosses over the San Juanico strait and serves as the primary connection between the islands of Samar and Leyte. Construction was started in 1969 and completed in 1973 by the government-owned Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines.
Puente Colgante (Replaced by the Quezon Bridge)
Completed in 1852, the Puente Colgante was a true engineering achievement during its time. As a booming and fast-growing city in the 19th century, the government of Manila was commissioning the construction of numerous roads and bridges. Among them was the first steel suspension bridge in Southeast Asia. Nick Joaquin, in his book “Manila My Manila,” described seeing the Puente Colgante: “Across the city’s river now arched…the amazing Puente Colgante, suspended in the air, like a salute to the age of science and engineering.”
The Puente Colgante was replaced by the Quezon Bridge. Opened in 1939, the bridge was designed in the Art Deco style and rebuilt after suffering damage from World War 2.
The tallest bridge in the Philippines was completed in 2009, and crosses a deep ravine in Southern Leyte. The bridge has become a vital connection that lets motorists avoid a circuitous route that traverses several mountains. Recently, the DPWH has announced measures to secure the stability of the bridge after heavy rains and landslides around the area.
Marcelo B. Fernan Bridge
Named after the former Chief Justice and Senate President from Cebu, the Fernan Bridge is known as the second bridge that connects Mactan to mainland Cebu. It opened in 1999 and is a 1.2 kilometer-long cable suspension bridge. The Fernan Bridge was constructed to ease traffic and provide an alternative to the Mactan Bridge, which only has two lanes. A small park dedicated to seafarers is located below the bridge on the Mactan side.
The longest bridge in Mindanao, the Macapagal Bridge crosses the Agusan River and serves as a connection between Butuan City and Davao, Surigao, Leyte, and other provinces. It was inaugurated in 2007 by President Gloria Arroyo and built through funding from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.
For those looking for a spectacular roadside view of the ocean, the Patapat Viaduct fits the bill. Snaking its way across the municipality of Pagudpud, the Patapat Viaduct elevates 31 meters from the ground and offers winding vistas for 1.3 kilometers. This coastal bridge links the Maharlika Highway from Laoag to the Cagayan Valley Region.
At over one kilometer in length, the Buntun Bridge is the longest river bridge in the Philippines. It crosses the Cagayan river, and even spans over rice fields near the sides of the river banks. It connects Tuguegarao City and Solana, Cagayan. The bridge was completed in 1947.
Known locally as the “Golden Gate of Cagayan,” the Magapit Suspension Bridge also crosses the Cagayan River and connects Apayao, Ilagan, and West Cagayan to the rest of the region. The bridge opened in 1978, and was closed briefly for two months in 2012 for rehabilitation.
The first of the two bridges that link Mactan and Cebu, the Mactan-Mandaue Bridge was built during the Marcos administration as a way to connect the city centers of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. It was inspired by the look of an old Japanese railroad bridge and has two lanes, including pedestrian access.
Gumain River Bridge
Motorists driving through the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) may not notice this bridge as they speed by. The SCTEX has a total of 43 bridges along its length, and the Gumain Bridge is the tallest structure at 150 meters, and spans across 381 meters. The Bases Conversion and Development Authority has earmarked Php 18 million for the strengthening of the Gumain Bridge for future rainy seasons.