San Juanico Bridge light show seen to spark tourism


IMPORTANT LINK The San Juanico Bridge is a major infrastructure that facilitates trade and tourism activities between Samar and Leyte provinces. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

TACLOBAN CITY—Tourism officials are lighting up the iconic San Juanico Bridge to put up a colorful show that they hope will attract visitors to the area still recovering from the onslaught of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) five years ago.

Lawyer Karen Baydo, head technical assistant to Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) chief operations officer Pocholo Paragas, said Tieza had approved the P80-million-budget to light up the bridge, which links the provinces of Leyte and Samar.

First of its kind

Baydo said the government was hoping that the project would revitalize tourism in Samar and Leyte, and spark hope, following Yolanda’s devastation that killed more than 6,000 people in 2013.

She said the budget would be spent to light the 2.16-kilometer viaduct built in 1973 and dedicated by strongman Ferdinand Marcos to his wife, Imelda, a Leyte native, who is now representing Ilocos Norte province in the House of Representatives.

Once completed, the project would be the first of its kind in the country, as it would feature special colored lights along the two-lane bridge, according to the project brief.

Samar Gov. Sharee Ann Tan said the bridge would be temporarily closed during the 5- or 10-minute show that would be held every night. Viewing decks would be built near the bridge, while music would be provided.

Job opportunities

“They (motorist) can stop for a while to enjoy the light show,” she said.

Expected to be finished before the fifth commemoration of Yolanda’s onslaught on

Nov. 8, the project could potentially rival other bridges with a lighting system in other parts of the world, said Tan.

Baydo said they were hoping that the project would draw in tourists and even investors who would help create  job opportunities for locals.

“Hopefully, this will be successful because it has a multiplier effect in terms of helping the local economy, tourism and jobs creation,” she said.

‘Big boost’

Tan said that the lighting of the San Juanico Bridge could benefit not only Samar and Tacloban City, but also the rest of the Eastern Visayas region. “[This] will be a big boost for us,” the governor said.

Tan also said she and Tacloban Mayor Cristina Romualdez would team up to ensure the project would be carried out. “After all, both sides will benefit from this project,” she said.

Baydo said it was Tan who proposed the project to Tieza, an agency under the Department of Tourism, last year. The Tieza board approved the budget in January this year.

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