San Juanico Bridge also known as Tulay han San Juanico for Waraynons is part of the Pan-Philippine Highway that connects the islands of Leyte and Samar by linking the city of Tacloban to the town of Santa Rita, Samar.
I’m from Samar and have crossed the bridge so many times. To be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention to the famous bridge growing up. For me, it’s just a bridge we used to cross whenever we need to go to Tacloban City. I didn’t know it was such a big deal until I went to Manila for work. Most of my friends were asking if I already went to the San Juanico bridge and were asking questions about it. That’s when I thought, Wow! ok! it’s one of the well-known tourist spots in Eastern Visayas that they wanted to know more about and visit.
I am making this blog, to list the things I know about the bridge.
San Juanico Bridge: What to Expect?
Visiting the bridge will only take a few minutes from Tacloban Airport so you can really squish it into your itinerary. The bridge offers a fascinating view especially early in the morning or during sunset. You get to see the ocean, the clear skies, the greenery, and the architecture of the bridge all within your eyesight.
Stopping for pictures is a challenge at times because since it’s part of the main highway big trucks, buses, and cars are passing, so you need to be careful.
San Juanico Bridge: How to get there?
From Manila, you can easily fly to “The Gateway to Eastern Visayas,” Tacloban, as all major airlines service the city. (Estimated cost: Php 2,700++, round trip, 1 hour and 15 minutes).
By ferry, it will take approximately 36 hours from Manila. And it will take almost a day and a half by bus.
San Juanico Bridge: Things You Need To Know:
First – It was once called Marcos Bridge because it was built under his administration. The 4-year construction of the San Juanico Bridge started in 1969 and costs $21.9 million. It measures 2,164 m (7,100 ft) in total length. The construction was completed in December 1972 with the help of Japanese Engineers.
Second – It’s part of the Maharlika Highway. San Juanico Bridge was constructed as 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.
Third- It was considered as the longest bridge in the Philippines until the new Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) was opened to the public on April 27, 2022.
Fourth – It was also dubbed “The Bridge of Love”. Late Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos dedicated it to his wife, Imelda who was known as the “Rose of Tacloban“. It served as a birthday gift and testimonial of his love for her. The late President Marcos even called it his most important gift to his wife.
Fifth – The bridge remains strong despite its age and countless typhoons. An urban legend or not, some say that it was because of the rituals done during its construction. Here are the urban legends on how it was built.
SAN JUANICO Bridge: The Urban Legend
Let’s start with the famous mixture of its foundation. During its construction, many children coincidentally disappeared in Samar and Leyte. When I was a kid, my grandmother would always want us to be at home whenever we heard that there was a part of the San Juanico Bridge that needs fixing.
Strong Foundation and Blood of Children
The foundations of the bridge were made stronger by mixing the blood of babies and young children. It was believed that a ritual was performed to strengthen the structure.
The Cement Mixer
Just like in the first story instead of just mixing blood, the bodies of children were also added inside the cement mixer by construction workers while preparing the cement to be used.
But the more popular version is about…
The Woman and The River Fairy
It was said that the woman in-charged to oversee the building of the bridge, consulted a fortune teller. It was believed that the bridge will never be completed unless the blood of children is mixed in its foundation. Believing the fortune teller, the workers were ordered to kidnap young children and slit their throats, splattering the blood on the bridge’s site. The bodies of the children were just then thrown away in the river. It was all seen by the “river fairy.” Feeling troubled and greatly affected by the children’s fate, the river fairy cursed the woman. The legs of the woman grew scales and emit a foul fishy smell— this is why she always wears long skirts and gowns to hide her legs and frequently takes a bath to remove the smell.
What do you think? Do you believe in those stories?