Semana Santa 2012 (Part 3): The San Juanico Bridge and McArthur Memorial Landing Park

On my birthday, I rode from 1AM to 11PM from Laguna to Leyte. The following morning, I set out to explore Tacloban City.  It is a highly urbanized, busy city and is the province of Leyte’s capital. One of the major tourist destination is the San Juanico Bridge which is about 10 kms away from the city. It connects the islands of Samar and Leyte across the San Juanico Strait. It was erected from 1969 to 1973 by the Marcos Administration and is said to be a present by then-President Ferdinand Marcos to the First Lady Imelda Marcos who is a native of Leyte. Hence, it is also known as Marcos Bridge. At 2.16 kms, it is the longest bridge in the Philippines spanning over a body of water.

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When I was a kid, every time we are in a vehicle and would pass across a bridge, I will try to hold my breath from end to end. I was made to believe that if successful and you make a wish, it will come true. So, this is the longest, huh? Probably, the greater the challenge, the more rewarding it will be.. If I do at least 60 kph, I can cross it in a little over 2 minutes. I might just be able to do it.. I’m going to wish for a Honda DN-01 or a Yamaha R1.

I never got to do it. lol! As soon as I rolled into its arch-shaped truss design, with the sunrise to my right, I had to slow down and well, I guess you can say that it is.. BREATHTAKING. Literally. I know it’s only a bridge, but c’mon, it’s the longest! I rode my bike over 700 kms for 22 hours on my birth-day to ride across it.

It may be the longest but definitely not the busiest. There were barely any vehicles crossing the bridge

It may be the longest but definitely not the busiest. There were barely any vehicles crossing the bridge.

The bridge rests on Kabalawan Island and there is also an islet nearby

The bridge rests on Kabalawan Island and there is also an islet nearby.

The bridge is said to be shaped like the letters "S" and "L" for Samar and Leyte.

The bridge is said to be shaped like the letters “S” and “L” for Samar and Leyte. (Image Source)

They said that there are a lot  of whirpools in the San Juanico Strait but I didn't see any. Unlucky.

They said that there are a lot of whirpools in the San Juanico Strait but I didn’t see any. Unlucky.

The bridge has 2 lanes for vehicular traffic and a sidewalk for pedestrians.

The bridge has 2 lanes for vehicular traffic and a sidewalk for pedestrians.

Stopping on a bridge is usually not allowed but since traffic was very light, I made several stops along the way. 😉 Then I made my way to Palo, Leyte past the junction going to Tacloban City Proper to see the McArthur Landing Memorial Park. It is 18 kms away from San Juanico Bridge.  The park is  at Red Beach in Barangay Candahug and it marks the spot where General Douglas McArthur and his men landed on October 20, 1944. What followed is a sequence of fierce battles known as The Battle of Leyte Gulf and is the largest naval battle during WWII fought on October 23 through October 26. It was the first time where the desperate Japanese used their famous kamikaze attacks. Japan announced its surrender on August 15, 1945 after the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

the silhouettes of Gen. McArthur, President Sergio Osmeña, General Carlos P. Romulo, General Sutherland and other men in the Landing Memorial Park during sunrise.

the silhouettes of Gen. McArthur, President Sergio Osmeña, General Carlos P. Romulo, General Sutherland and other men in the Landing Memorial Park

The statues are cast in bronze and about 10 ft tall.

The statues are cast in bronze and about 10 ft tall.

The plaque of "A Memorial of Fulfilled Promise" by Ferdinand Marcos and the plaque of  "Proclamation" by Gen. McArthur.

The plaque of “A Memorial of Fulfilled Promise” by Ferdinand Marcos and the plaque of “Proclamation” by Gen. McArthur.

The Red Beach also offers a beautiful view of Leyte Gulf.

The Red Beach also offers a beautiful view of Leyte Gulf.

Just outside the park is a BSP Monument marking the  12th National Jamboree.

Just outside the park is a BSP Monument marking the 12th National Jamboree.

On my way back to the city, I noticed that the Monument of the Filipino Soldier has been vandalized. No, that's not a flag.

On my way back to the city, I noticed that the Monument of the Filipino Soldier has been vandalized. No, that’s not a flag.

I toured the cit, ate breakfast and bought pasalubong.

I toured the cit, ate breakfast and bought pasalubong.

I still wanted to see Agas-Agas Bridge in Sogod, Leyte or Ormoc City but both are over 100 kms away and in opposite directions. I needed to be home in Bicol that day because that’s what I promised my nephew. Anyway, I can still visit these when I pass by Samar and Leyte Island again. Maybe that time, I’m doing a Philippine Loop (read as bucket list). I checked out of the hotel at 10AM and headed home. I stopped by San Juanico Bridge once more to say goodbye. The islands of Samar and Leyte are 2 kms apart and they have different weather O_O

Clear, sunny weather in Leyte and a downpour in Samar

Clear, sunny weather in Leyte and a downpour in Samar.

The sunny-rainy weather I experienced crossing San Juanico Bridge is just a prelude to what the rest of my travel is going to be. I still have to cover over 400 kms with a bonus RORO crossing. Let’s see what Samar is like during daytime on the next post.

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About Dom de la Torre

The rider is a 20-something Filipino that rides a Honda Wave 125cc underbone. He knows little about motorcycles yet loves the experience going places on two wheels. Rider Ako is a motorcycle-slash-travel blog. The rider not only shares to you travel destinations and what to see there but also the experience of getting there. You will read about the thrills and adventure when he rides solo, the romance of riding in tandem, the camaraderie riding with a group, the excitement participating in events, and anything that he thinks you might find interesting.When he's broke and the fuel's empty, he will share stories about motorcycling how he sees it through his helmet visor.
This entry was posted in Long Ride, Rides, Solo Ride and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Semana Santa 2012 (Part 3): The San Juanico Bridge and McArthur Memorial Landing Park

  1. nvnl says:

    Reblogged this on The Bridge Club Too and commented:
    Fabulous bridge.

  2. mavic says:

    nice pictures! 🙂

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