San Juanico Bridge is part of the Pan Philippine Highway that connects islands of Leyte and Samar from the city of Tacloban to the town of Santa Rita, Samar. With a length of 2.6 kilometers, it is considered as the longest bridge spanning a body of water in the Philippines, and crossing the bridge offers a scenic view of the San Juanico strait with its whirlpools and islets scattered on it.
Constructed during Marcos Administration (1969), the bridge was called as the “Philippine-Japan Friendship Bridge” as it was built using the Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans. However, some say that the real cause of building the bridge was not for the people but as the late president’s gift to his wife, Imelda, a native of Tacloban, as the average daily traffic in the area was too low to justify the cost of construction. Conspicuously, after its completion four years later, it was inaugurated during Imelda Marcos’ birthday, on July 2,1973. Overall, the construction of the bridge costs $21. 9 Million.
The overall shape of the bridge is an arch-shaped truss design, with its main arch rising 41 meters above the sea, tall enough for medium boats to pass beneath it. On 2013, the bridge was slightly damaged by the super typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) but the government managed to repair and reopen it within a month.
A famous urban legend involving the San Juanico Bridge is that its foundation was soaked with the blood of children. The story goes that when the bridge was being built, many children disappeared in Samar and Leyte, and it only stopped once it was finished. They say it was because the woman who managed its construction was highly superstitious and was ordered by a fortune teller to mix the foundation with children’s blood for the bridge to stand. She had her men kidnap street children at night to slit their throats on the bridge site, then throw their bodies over the water. The diwata living in the Strait then cursed the woman to grow foul-smelling scales on her legs, forcing her to hide from public for the rest of her life.
San Juanico Bridge is only 10 minutes from downtown Tacloban and accessible via jeep, bus, or private vehicle. Walking through it is an option too.