San Juanico Bridge
The San Juanico Bridge, view from Samar, towards Leyte
|Carries||2 lanes of / (Maharlika Highway); pedestrian sidewalks|
|Crosses||San Juanico Strait|
|Locale||Santa Rita, Samar|
and Tacloban, Leyte
|Other name(s)||Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway bridge; formerly Marcos Bridge|
|Maintained by||Department of Public Works and Highways|
|Design||Arch-shaped truss bridge|
|Total length||2,164 m (7,100 ft)|
|Longest span||192 m (630 ft)|
|No. of spans||43|
|Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines|
|Construction cost||US$22 million|
|Opened||2 July 1973|
San Juanico Bridge (Filipino: Tulay ng San Juanico, Waray: Tulay han San Juanico and Spanish: Puente de San Juanico) is part of the Pan-Philippine Highway and stretches from Samar to Leyte across the San Juanico Strait in the Philippines. Its longest length is a steel girder viaduct built on reinforced concrete piers, and its main span is of an arch-shaped truss design. Constructed during the Marcos administration through the Marcos Japanese ODA scandal loans, it has a total length of 2.16 kilometers (1.34 mi) - the longest bridge spanning a body of seawater in the Philippines.
Marcos built the bridge as a personal gift to his wife Imelda using public funds siphoned through the controversial Marcos Japanese ODA scandal. It was one of the high-visibility foreign-loan projects initiated by Marcos during the run-up to the 1969 Presidential election campaign. Completed four years later, it was inaugurated on 2 July 1973 on the birthday of Imelda Marcos. Upon its completion, economists and public works engineers quickly tagged it as a white elephant which was "a possession that is useless and expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of", because its average daily traffic was too low to justify the cost of its construction. As a result, its construction has been associated with what has been called the Marcoses' "edifice complex".
In the years after the Marcos conjugal dictatorship, economic activity in Samar and Leyte has finally caught up with the bridge's intended function under the guidance of several administrations from Corazon Aquino to the present administration, and has become an iconic tourist attraction.
The "Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway Bridge" was part of a large bundle of high-visibility foreign-loan-funded infrastructure launched by Ferdinand Marcos' administration during the 1969 Presidential campaign. These foreign-loan-funded showcases, which also included the Cultural Center of the Philippines, allowed Marcos to credit the projects as part of his administration's "performance" - part of the reason he became the first and only President of the Third Philippine republic to win a second term.
At the time the project was conceived, there was not yet much traffic between the islands of Leyte and Samar because they were relatively underdeveloped, As a result, there was not yet a need for such a costly project funded by foreign loans which would charge interest.But the bridge was built there because Imelda Marcos, who had grown up in Leyte, wanted a bridge for her province
The Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway project started out in the mid-1960s with a single US$25 million Japan Export-Import Bank loan meant for the purchase of equipment for road development. But the Marcos administration requested its expansion to incorporate a bridge between Leyte and Samar, and various sea traffic projects such as roll-on/roll-off ferries.
The cost of the construction was US$22 million (about ?140 million), which was acquired through Official Development Assistance loans from Japan's Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency (OTCA), the predecessor of today's Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This was the first Official Development Assistance from Japan to the Philippines through JICA.
Through the then Ministry of Public Highways, the Philippine government contracted the San Juanico Bridge project to the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP; now the Philippine National Construction Corporation), a company founded by close Marcos associate Rodolfo Cuenca.
Construction of the bridge commenced during 1969 presidential campaign. It was finally completed four years later, in 1973. It was inaugurated on July 2 - in celebration of Imelda Marcos' birthday.
Its design reflected the aesthetic of other infrastructure projects associated with what has been called the Marcoses' "edifice complex," - described by Architectural historian Gerard Lico as "an obsession and compulsion to build edifices as a hallmark of greatness."
Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan proposed a project to install LED lights in the bridge, with timed lighting effects for select occasions as an effort to boost tourism between Leyte and Samar islands. The ?80 million project dubbed as the San Juanico Bridge Lighting Project was approved by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority in January 2018. The implementation of the lighting project has experienced delays. The groundbreaking for the project took place on July 26, 2019 with completion projected for December 2019 or January 2020.
San Juanico Bridge connects the islands of Leyte and Samar by linking the city of Tacloban to the town of Santa Rita, Samar. It passes over the San Juanico Strait. The road infrastructure is the longest bridge in the Philippines spanning across a body of water measuring 2,164 m (7,100 ft) in total length. It has 43 steels spans with the primary span measuring 192 m (630 ft).
The bridge's abutments are founded on steel H-piles while its piers are rock seated pedestals built using the Prepakt method, having single cylindrical shafts and tapered cantilevered copings.
The bridge is part of the Pan-Philippine Highway (commonly known as the Maharlika Highway), a network of roads, bridges, and sea routes that connect the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao in the country. The highway was proposed in 1965, and constructed under the administration of the late President Ferdinand Marcos to serve as the country's backbone of transportation.
The bridge is considered by the government as a main tourist destination of the Tacloban. San Juanico bridge also serves as an important role for both the tourism and economies of the islands of Samar and Leyte by linking them.
During martial law in the Philippines under then-president Ferdinand E. Marcos, Military personnel who conducted tortures referred to one particular method of torture as "the San Juanico Bridge." It involved a person being beaten while the victim's head and feet lay on separate beds and the body is suspended as though to form a bridge.
Filipino actor and stunt performer Dante Varona jumped from the San Juanico Bridge without a harness in the 1981 movie Hari ng Stunt.
There are a number of urban legends associated with the bridge's construction. The most popular one involved a woman who follows a fortune teller's advice and orders workers to mix children's blood with the bridge's foundation. A river fairy curses the woman and causes the woman to grow foul-smelling scales on her legs.
Rehabilitation of San Juanico Bridge (2.164 km.), P1.002 Billion.