Pres. Marcos led the switch-on ceremony
STA. RITA, Samar– Aside from adding ‘glow,’ the lighted San Juanico Bridge is expected to provide economic impetus to Leyte and Samar provinces.
On Wednesday (Oct.19) night, no less than President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. led the switch-on ceremony of the aesthetic lighting and sound show at the iconic bridge.
Top officials of the Department of Tourism (DOT) led by Sec. Maria Esperanza Christina Frasco and local officials headed by Samar Gov. Sharee Ann Tan and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez were also around during the ceremony which was witnessed by thousands of people.
The ceremony, held at the Samar side of the bridge, had a festive mood with performances from cultural contingents from Burauen in Leyte, and Catbalogan City in Samar performing.
In his speech, Pres. Marcos said that he was “genuinely delighted” that he was able to lead in the lighting of the San Juanico Bridge, calling it among the flagship projects under his father’s administration.
The bridge was built during the administration of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. as a ‘gift’ to his wife, Imelda, who is from Leyte.
The President also said that with the additional attraction, he hopes that Eastern Visayas’ landmark will not only become a must-see among local and foreign tourists but will pave the way for economic development not just in Leyte but most especially Samar where poverty remain high.
“It is my earnest desire that this lighting project will encourage the people of Samar and Leyte and the rest of the country to pursue programs….that will pave the way for long lasting impacts in the lives of the Filipinos,” the President said.
Marcos also underscored that the bridge was constructed for Samar, quoting his mother, Imelda, saying that the people of the province should also enjoy the advantages the development of the people of Leyte.
He also assured that his administration will support all programs and projects that will result in the progress of Samar.
For his part, Rep.Reynolds Michael said that Samarnons are happy that no less than the President led in the lighting up of the San Juanico Bridge.
“This is a big thing for us. Not only he is a popular President here in Samar. It was nice that the bridge was built during the time of his father and now another ceremony will happen with him leading it,” he said.
For Gov. Tan, the lights illuminating from the San Juanico Bridge is a symbolic signal that Samar is on the verge of achieving development.
Tonight, as the San Juanico Bridge illuminates, this is the symbolic signal that Spark Samar is now a burning flame that shines like a beacon of hope for the people of Samar,” she said.
“Now, it is our turn to rise and transform. With all of you as witness, we open the doors of Samar and invite the Filipino people and the rest of the world to visit our breathtaking sites, explore our mysterious caves, invest in our growing cities and emerging towns, taste our delectable cuisine, immerse in our culture, and get to know our beautiful and passionate people,” the governor.
It was learned that the provincial government plans to develop the area with a mixed-use area wherein government offices will be constructed as well as a commercial and residential centers.
The provincial government has allocated initially P6 million for security and maintenance purposes like the monthly electricity bill.
The lighting project at the 2.16 kms San Juanico Bridge was first started in 2019 and funded by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority(TIEZA) at a cost of P80 million.
However, its completion, undertaken by the Manila-based Amigo Entertainment Technologies Inc. using LED lights was hit by several snags like bad weather and the coronavirus pandemic. It was targeted to be completed in 2020.
The aesthetic light and sound project at the 49-year old San Juanico Bridge is a first of its kind in the country.
The computer-controlled aesthetic light and sound show produces various colors and ‘themes.’
During the death of Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, for one, the entire stretch of the bridge was aglow in purple, a color associated to royalties.
The project was conceived by Gov. Tan under her ‘Spark Samar’ tourism-driven program saying the bridge will not only be a day-time attraction but even during the night.
The bridge, which straddles at the San Juanico Strait, was constructed during the administration of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. as his birthday gift to his wife, Imelda, who is from Leyte.
The San Juanico Bridge was built as part of the Pan-Philippine Highway now called the Maharlika Highway, a network of roads, bridges, and sea routes that connect the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao.
JOEY A. GABIETA/LIZBETH ANN A. ABELLA