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.
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.
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.
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
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.