Old Quirino Bridge (Bantay, Ilocos Sur)

The old Quirino Bridge

The old Quirino Bridge

The scenic Old Quirino Bridge, also called Banaoang Bridge, is an old Parker-type (camelback) bridge named after the late former Philippine President Elpidio Quirino, who hails from Vigan. Spread across the Abra River, it majestically connects the two beautiful, transcending rocky mountain slopes of the town of Santa and the tail end of Bantay, both in Ilocos Sur.

The mighty Abra River

The mighty Abra River

Considered as one of the country’s most beautiful bridges, this arch bridge, next to the Vigan Gap,  is considered an iconic symbol of Ilocos Sur. Aside from its magnificent views, it is also widely praised for its marvelous engineering and grand architectural design. The approach to the bridge is as scenic as the bridge itself.

Quirino Bridge (5)

The original bridge trusses

At the height of Super Typhoon Feria (which devastated the province from  July 4-6, 2001), one of its steel spans was damaged and washed away.  The old, 4-span bridge was reconstructed, with a different third quarter K-truss portion, and is still presently passable.  However, on December 2007, Chinese engineers and a local construction company started to build a new, 456 m.-long replacement, a stone’s throw (350 m.) from the original bridge.

The replacement span

The replacement span

The new Quirino Bridge is a component of the Japan-funded Urgent Bridges Construction Project for Rural Development which plans to replace old bridges with new bridges, on national roads that lead to urban centers all over the country. On December 30, 2009, it was officially opened by then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The old truss type bridge, currently preserved as a tourist attraction, doubles up as a backup in case the new main bridge is damaged by typhoons.

The new Quirino Bridge

The new Quirino Bridge

Old Quirino Bridge: Vigan Gap, Bantay, Ilocos Sur

Rialto Bridge (Venice, Italy)

Rialto Bridge

The Rialto Bridge (ItalianPonte di Rialto), one of the four bridges (and the oldest) spanning the 3,800 m. long, S-shaped Grand Canal, is one of the architectural icons of Venice.  The dividing line for the  the sestieri (districts) of San Marco and San Polo, it is renowned as an architectural and engineering achievement of the Renaissance.

A gondola passing under the bridge

This pedestrian bridge had its beginning in 1181 as a pontoon bridge called the Ponte della Moneta (presumably because of the mint that stood near its eastern entrance) built, at the narrowest point of the canal, by Nicolò Barattieri. In 1255, the development and importance of the Rialto market on the eastern bank, necessitated its replacement by a timber bridge with two inclined ramps, meeting at a movable central section, that could be raised to allow the passage of tall galleys. The connection with the Rialto market eventually led to a change of the bridge’s name. The painting Miracle of the Relic of the Cross at the Ponte di Rialto, by Italian Renaissance artist Vittore Carpaccio, dates back to 1496, the time when the bridge was still in wood.

The painting Miracle of the Relic of the Cross at the Ponte di Rialto, by Vittore Carpaccio, can be found at the Gallerie dell’Accademia

During the first half of the 15th century, two rows of shops were built along the sides of the bridge, its rents and taxes bringing an income (which helped maintain the bridge in working order) to the State Treasury. In 1310, it was partly burnt during the revolt led by Bajamonte Tiepolo. In 1444, it collapsed under the weight of a crowd watching a boat parade in celebration of wedding of the Marquis Ferrara. In 1524, the bridge collapsed again.

In 1503, the idea of rebuilding the bridge in stone was first proposed. Over the following decades, several projects were considered. In 1551, the authorities, among other things, requested proposals for the renewal of the Rialto Bridge and plans were offered by famous architects such as Jacopo SansovinoPalladio and Vignola (Michelangelo  was also considered as a designer of the bridge), all involving a Classical approach with several arches (which would hinder the river traffic), and all judged inappropriate to the situation.

The present 48 m. (157 ft.) long and 7.32 m. (24 ft.) high stone arch bridge, designed and built by Swiss-born Venetian architect and engineer Antonio da Ponte (appropriately translated as “Anthony of the Bridge”) and his nephew, Antonio Contino (the architect of the Bridge of Sighs, Venice’s second most talked about bridge), was started in 1588 and completed in 1591.

Similar to the wooden bridge it succeeded, it consisted of a massive single 28.8 m. (94.5 ft.) long span, built on some 6,000 wooden piles driven under each abutment in the soft alluvial soil, with two inclined covered ramps lead up to a central portico. The bed joints of the stones were placed perpendicular to the thrust of the arch. The lower chord of the bridge has a length of 25 m. (83 ft.) and a width of 22.9 m. (75.1 ft.). Stone reliefs on the bridge depict St. Mark, the city’s patron, and St. Theodore and the Annuciation

Its design was considered so audacious so much so that architect Vincenzo Scamozzi predicted its future ruin.  However, the bridge has defied its critics and is now a significant tourist attraction in the city. The bridge has three walkways.  Two are located along the outer balustrades while the wider central walkway is lined by two arcades of small shops selling jewelry, linens, Murano glass, and other tourist items.

Rialto Bridge: Sestiere San Polo, 30125 VeniceItaly. As the bridge consists primarily of steps, crossing it is a challenge for tourists with strollers or wheelchairs.

How to Get There: From the train station or the Piazzale Roma or if you’re walking from St. Mark’s Square, simply follow the signs to “Rialto.” From the square,  head for the clock tower, cut through the arched passage, and follow the upscale shopping streets (known as the Mercerie) until you reach the Grand Canal, then turn right and walk two blocks to the bridge. Another option is to approach the bridge via the No. 1 vaporetto (water bus) which stops at Rialto on its way up or down the Grand Canal.

The Iconic Foot Bridges of the Grand Canal (Venice, Italy)

Grand Canal

Fascinating Venice, often called the “City of Canals,” is also known as the “City of Bridges” because of the 400-plus pedestrian bridges, both nondescript and practical, that crisscross its waterways and embody the city’s beauty and history.  However, only four of these bridges span the Grand Canal.

Rialto Bridge

The photogenic Rialto Bridge (Ponte de Rialto), the first and oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal, is still in use, connecting the sestieri  (districts) of San Marco and San Polo.  One of the city’s most famous landmarks, rows of shops (mostly jewellers and souvenir shops) line each side of this wide, stone arched bridge which is the gateway to the famous nearby Rialto (the name Rialto is derived from the words rivo alto meaning “high bank”) food market, the city’s principal food market since the 11th century located west of the span.  Built along the so-called “lazy bend” of the waterway (between its two highest points above sea level) and its narrowest point, tourists flock here to see this famous bridge and its views of the gondola-filled Grand Canal waterway. It has fairly steep flights of steps. Until the completion of the Accademia Bridge in 1854, this was the only bridge over the Grand Canal.

Check out “Rialto Bridge

The Academy Bridge (Ponte dell Accademia), so named because it crosses the Grand Canal (near the southern end) at the Gallerie dell’Accademia (one of the top museums in Venice after whom it  is named for), links the sestieri of Dorsoduro and San Marco.

Check out “Gallerie dell’Accademia

The original steel structure, designed by Alfred Neville and opened on November 20, 1854, was demolished and replaced by a wooden bridge designed by Eugenio Miozzi and opened in 1933 (despite widespread hopes for a stone bridge).

Ponte de Accademia

In 1986, when the 1930s bridge was deemed too dangerous, the total replacement of the wooden elements was necessary and metal arches, capable of supporting the structure better, were inserted. Interesting because of its high arch construction and the fact that it is made of wood, Venice authorities have attempted to crack down on lovers attaching padlocks (“love locks“) to the metal hand rails of the bridge.

Approach to Ponte de Accademia

The elegant stone arch Scalzi Bridge (Ponte degli Scalzi or Ponte dei Scalzi), named for the nearby Chiesa degli Scalzi (literally the “Church of the Barefoot Monks”), links the  sestieri of Santa Croce, on the south side, and Cannaregio on the north side. If you are arriving in Venice, via rail, to the Santa Lucia (Ferrovia) railway station, the Scalzi Bridge will be one of the first bridges you will cross after disembarking. Designed by Eugenio Miozzi, it was completed in 1934, replacing an Austrian iron bridge.

Ponte degli Scalzi

The Scalzi is located a mere stone-throw away to Ponte di Calatrava, the fourth and final of the four bridges to span the Grand Canal. Strategically located, it links the Stazione di Santa Lucia, on the north, to Piazzale Roma (the city’s arrival point by car/bus), on the south side of the Grand Canal, a bus depot (this bridge is closer to the bus station than the Scalzi bridge) and car park.  Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and constructed by Cignoni, its design and installation studies were carried out by a specialized group – Prof. Renato Vitaliani (Padua University) and Prof. Francesco Colleselli (Brescia University) for geotechnical and foundation aspects; the company Mastropasqua-Zanchin & Associates Structural Engineering for the steel arch and weldings verification; and Fagioli Group and Giorgio Romaro (Padua University) for the installation activities.

Ponte della Costituzione

A controversial addition to Venice’s architectural landscape because of its cost (its official budget for the project of €6.7 million ballooned to approximately €10 million), its construction and inauguration was also delayed by heated criticism, walk-outs and protests by politicians and the general public, in part, due to controversy over its Modernist-Minimalist style (being incompatible with Venice’s decorative medieval architecture),  the lack of wheelchair access (its many steps, embedded in its relatively steep pavement, means that elderly people will have difficulty climbing it and wheelchair users are excluded from crossing) and lack of necessity (the distances between Scalzi and Rialto Bridges or between the Rialto and Ponte dell’Accademia bridges are severalfold longer, and with no other way to cross the canal besides the vaporetto or traghetto).

However, its basic span was finally moved into place by a large barge from July to August 11, 2007 and the bridge was opened for public use on the night of September 11, 2008. In 2010, a mobility lift system, resembling cocoons, was installed, incurring large costs as  it was not part of the original design.

This arched truss bridge, designed to be constructed off-site and installed entirely from the canal, has a large radius of 180 m. (590 ft.).  It has a central arch, two side arches and two lower arches, all joined together by girders (consisting of steel tubes and plates which forms closed section boxes) placed perpendicular to the arches.The bridge stairway, paved with pietra d’Istria (a stone traditionally used in Venice), has tempered glass steps illuminated from below by fluorescent lights. The tempered glass parapet  terminates in a bronze handrail with concealed lighting.

Formerly known as Quarto Ponte sul Canal Grande, the official name of Ponte della Costituzione (English: Constitution Bridge) was adopted in 2008 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Italian constitution. However, tourists and locals in Venice still refer to it as the Calatrava Bridge (ItalianPonte di Calatrava). Today, this bridge is important, both functionally and symbolically, as it connects arriving visitors to the city, welcoming them to Venice with a panoramic view of the Grand Canal.

Seine River Cruise (Paris, France)

Seine River Sightseeing Cruise via Bateaux Parisiens

After our morning tour of the Eiffel Tower, we made our way, by foot, to the boat docking station at Port de la Bourdonnais where we hopped aboard a popular and modern Bateaux Parisiens glass-topped trimaran  to embark on a quintessential, scenic and leisurely cruise along the Seine riverbanks.

Port de la Bourdonnai

Bateaux Parisiens trimaran

All aboard …..

Bateaux Parisiens has a fleet of four trimarans, three named after legendary French actresses (Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Adjani and Jeanne Moreau) and another after a French businessman (Pierre Bellon). They each hold up to 600 passengers.

The author

Our trimaran, with terrace and exterior passageways, was well equipped, clean and well maintained, with plenty of outdoor seating at the upper deck.

Jandy and Grace

The company also has nine smaller boats, some of which are used for dinner cruises and private events.  They offer high priced lunch and dinner, to the sound of the resident band, with a choice of four different a la carte menus, on separate restaurant boats.  All boats follow the same 12-km. long route.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Eiffel Tower

Louvre Museum

Grand Palais

A fantastic introduction to the highlights and magic of Paris, we soaked up the passing sights of iconic, world-famous monuments and landmarks as we cruised up and down  the Seine River.

Musee d’Orsay

National Museum of the Legion of Honor and Orders of Chivalry

National Assembly

Registry of the Paris Commercial Court

On the left bank are the Notre Dame Cathedral, the National Museum of the Legion of Honor and Orders of Chivalry, Conciergerie, National Assembly, Les Invalides, the Institut de France, and the Musée d’Orsay.

Paris City Hall

Institut de France

Hotel Dieu

 

Paris Conceiregerie

On the right bank, during the return trip, are the Louvre,  the Grand Palais, the Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde, Tuileries Garden, the Paris City Hall, and the Eiffel Tower.

Pont Neuf

Pont Alexandre III

Pont au Double

Pont de la Tournelle

We also glided beneath beautiful historic bridges (more than 30 bridges span the river), including the famous Pont Neuf. Even the Seine riverbanks, collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991, are a sight to behold.

Pont de Sully

Pont de l’Archevêché

Pont des Invalides

Pont d’Iéna

Pont Marie

Pont Saint Louis

After half an hour, our boat turned around and cruised back up along the opposite bank. Our 1-hour cruise ends back at the original departure point near the Eiffel Tower.

Passerelle Debilly

Passerelle Léopold Sédar Senghor

Bateaux Parisiens: Pontoon 3, Port de la Bourdonnais, 75007 Paris, France. Tel: +33 825 01 01 01 and +33 1 76 64 14 66.  Open 9:30 AM – 10 PM. Website: www.bateauxparisiens.com. Admission: adults (€15), children under 12 yrs. (€7), free for children under 3 years old. Ticket will be valid for one year at any given time. Departures: April to September (from 10:15 AM -10:30 PM, every 30 mins., no departures at 1:30 PM and 7:30 PM), October to March (from 11 AM -8:30 PM, at least every hour). Book online in advance to avoid queues. The boat also departs from Notre Dame Cathedral. Audio guide commentary with musical accompaniment, from a handset, available in 13 languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, American, Russian, Dutch, Polish, Chinese, Japanese and Korean). Smoking is not allowed on the boat and animals are not permitted on board.

How to Get There: Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel (RER C) 5 . Nearest metro: Trocadero or Bir Hakeim

Dampol Bridge (Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya)

The nearly two century old, single arch Dampol Bridge

The nearly two century old, single arch Dampol Bridge

While my media colleague  Alexis Romero was busy interviewing Fr. Ferdinand E. Lopez at the Church of St. Vincent, I walked a short distance to Dampol Bridge which was said to have been built at the same time the church was being built.  Most tourists and some locals pass by it and don’t know that they are stepping upon or driving on one of Dupax del Sur’s historical treasures.

Approach to Dampol Bridge

Approach to Dampol Bridge

This nearly two century old, single arch unreinforced bridge that spans the Abanatan Creek which divides Brgy. Dopaj and Brgy. Dumang, was built in 1818 by the Isinai and other indigenous groups living in the area.  Its red-colored bricks were made from an old adobe workshop near the church, when Spanish Dominican friar Fr. Francisco Rocamora was vicar.

Abanatan Creek

Abanatan Creek

During a road construction and widening project undertaken by the DPWH -Nueva Vizcaya 2nd District Engineering Office in 2014 (who regarded the bridge as part of the National Highway), this important cultural and historical landmark was spared from demolition after an outcry from the Isinai community, but not after part of the protective brick wall had already been taken down in sections, exposing the inner filling to decomposition.

The damaged portion of the bridge

The damaged portion of the bridge

Today, only light vehicles (load limit: 5 tons) such as cars are allowed to cross the bridge, one at a time.  A suggestion to re-route traffic away from Dampol Bridge is now being considered.

Malagonlong Bridge (Tayabas City, Quezon)

Leaving the Tayabas City proper, Jandy, Maricar, Violet, Lanny and I continued on our way to Lucban.  About 2.4 kms. outside the city, we made a stopover at the now unused, Spanish-era Malagonlong Bridge across the Dumaca-a River.  This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen this bridge, having seen it on our way to Mauban to attend the Maubanog Festival 3 years ago.

Malagonlong Bridge

Malagonlong Bridge

However, this would the first time I would actually explore it, crossing the bridge’s 445 ft. (136 m.) length to the other end. The first time, I just took pictures of it from the modern, girder-type concrete bridge parallel to it. On August 12, 2011, it was declared as a National Cultural Treasure under the Historic Bridges of Tayabas. On its eastern side is the plaque installed by the National Historical Institute.

The plaque installed by the National Historical Institute (NHI)

The plaque installed by the National Historical Institute (NHI)

An older plaque installed at one of the bridge's balconies

An older plaque installed at one of the bridge’s balconies

The oldest in the province, the charming, ivy-covered Malagonlong Bridge (Puente del Malagonlong) is one of the few remaining and the longest Spanish colonial, arch-type bridge in the country. One of 11 Spanish-era bridges within Tayabas City, it connects Brgy. Mateuna with Brgy. Lakawon.

Dumaca-a River

Dumaca-a River

Built with about 100,000 adobe blocks, limestone and molasses, it was started, during the term of gobernadorcillo Don Joaquin Ortega’s term, by Spanish Franciscan parish priest Fr. Antonio Mateus in 1840 and completed 10 years later during the term of gobernadorcillo Don Julian S. Francisco. 

The bridge's 6 m. wide carriageway

The bridge’s 6 m. wide carriageway

The bridge has five spans, the first arch with a height and width of 36 ft (11 m); the second at 33 ft (10 m); the fourth at 30 ft (9.1 m) and the fifth at 18 ft (5.5 m). It has a width of about 20 ft (6 m.) and six small balconies.

The author posing at one of the bridge's balconies

The author posing at one of the bridge’s balconies

How to Get There: Tayabas City is located 147.28 kms. from Manila and 10.62 kms. from Lucena City. Malagonlong Bridge is a 15-20 min. tricycle ride from the city center.

Taytay Boni (Miag-ao, Iloilo)

On your way to Iloilo International Airport, we again passed the town of Miag-ao.  Here, we made a short stopover at Taytay Boni, a Spanish-era bridge that once passed through a creek and connected Miag-ao with Guimbal, before the construction of the national highway.

Taytay Boni

Taytay Boni

Now enclosed within a small park, this stone bridge’s name was derived from the Ilonggo term taytay  (meaning “ bridge”) while “Boni” is the name of  its construction foreman and cantero-mayor (major carpenter) Bonifacio Neular.

DSC_0229

It was built in 1854 through forced labor, during the term of gobernadorcillo Miguel Navales. The large, yellow-colored coral stone slabs (tablea or tabreha) used for its construction were transported from Igbaras, located 5 to 6 kms. from the site, by means of karosas, sleds pulled by carabaos. Lime was used to hold the stone slabs together.

DSC_0230

The bridge was still passable before and after the World War II but was partly damaged during the January 25, 1948 Lady Caycay (magnitude 8.2) earthquake. The bridge now rests on dry land, a result of the ground opening up during the earthquake and sucking in large amounts of water. The bridge is located at Crossing Kamatis, about a kilometer from the town proper, between Brgys. Kirayan Sur and Igtuba.

How To Get There: Miagao is located 40.04 kms. from Iloilo City, 12.2 kms. from San Joaquin and 8 kms. from Guimbal.

The "Real" Bagbag Bridge? (Calumpit, Bulacan)

On our way to Pulilan, I was on the lookout for the Bagbag Bridge, site of, according to Wikipinino.org:

“the first battle between Filipino and American soldiers during the retreat of Aguinaldo to the Ilocos Region and of the longest battle during the Filipino-American Wars (sic) led by Gen. Gregorio del Pilar on April 25, 1899.  The bridge commemorates the bravery displayed by the Filipinos as they victor (sic) in the battle against the American forces.”

Bagbag Bridge

Upon crossing a concrete bridge, I espied the much lower, similarly concreted bridge on the right.  This old, now disused bridge was impassable as one span has fallen into the river.  I guess I got the right bridge as pictures at the the Bulacan provincial government website depicts it as such.  However, looking at it, it begs the question “Was it the actual bridge that was the site of that battle?”  “We’re Filipino forces really victorious in that battle?”  First, let me state the facts, on the Battle of Calumpit, as I researched it at “Philippine-American War, 1899-1902” (written by Arnaldo Dumindin).

After taking Quingua (now Plaridel), Calumpit, only 8 kms. (5 miles) north of Malolos, became the next American objective. Gen. Antonio Luna, however, was nowhere near the town as he left for Guagua to punish Gen.  Tomas Mascardo, the military commander of Pampanga, for leaving his post to inspect troops (others say to attend a fiesta or visit a girlfriend) at Arayat (Pampanga). 

Gen. Mascardo, with around 21,000 men under his command at the time, had been supposed to strengthen the defense of the Calumpit–Apalit Line by providing reinforcements in the area when needed.  Luna took most of the defending cavalry and the artillery with him, leaving Gen.  Gregorio Del Pilar to counter the advancing American troops. Aguinaldo had ordered Luna to retreat and burn the railway bridge spanning the Bagbag River, but Luna ignored the order.

However, on April 23, 1899, Gen. Del Pilar did cut the iron girders of the railway bridge, with the intention of making the bridge collapse once the enemy’s armored artillery transport train, with 6 pounders and rapid fire guns, passed over it. However, the section of the bridge prematurely collapsed, under its own weight, before the train had reached it. Chinese porters pushed the train to the mouth of the river.  

Col. Frederick Funston, with 6 men, crawled, under heavy fire, across the ironwork of the bridge and, upon reaching the broken span, dropped into the water and swam to the opposite shore, where Filipino trenches were located. Upon reaching the opposite bank, they charged the trenches and killed 25 Filipinos.  Other troops promptly repaired the bridge to let their supply wagons cross over the river.

By nightfall of April 25, Luna had returned from Guagua with only Filipinos in the barrio of Sta. Lucia holding out against the Americans in the Bagbag sector. Gen. Luna tried to fight and repulse the Americans, but he was eventually forced to retreat, destroying bridges as his troops fell back to slow the American advance.

Based on this research, the bridge in question was actually a railway bridge made of iron, not concrete.  The bridge in the recent photo I took was probably a more recent replacement but the location may be the same.  Here’s an actual photo taken of the damaged railway bridge, then being repaired by American troops, taken after the battle.  Aside from the difference in the materials used, I also noticed that the bridge supports are also different in size and shape.

Second, there was no Filipino victory in this battle.  Probably, the victory being referred to was the April 23, 1899 (not April 25) Battle of Quingua (now Plaridel) where the same Gen. Gregorio del Pilar, with 700 to 1,000 men, halted the advance of 62 Scouts plus a troop of the 4th Cavalry, all led by Maj. James Franklin Bell; or of their subsequent halting of the cavalry charge of Col. John M. Stotsenberg (who was killed together with 6 of his men).  This all happened in Quingua, not Calumpit.  In spite of these small victories, the Americans still triumphed in the end and took the town. 

This moment in history deserves a second look ……..

Cagraray Island (Bacacay, Albay)

From Viento de Mar Beach Resort, we made our way back to the Bacacay municipal hall where we our driver and the Isuzu Crosswind was waiting to bring Bernard and I to the 5-hectare, Class “AAA” Misibis Resorts, Estate and Spa.  Opened in late 2009, this resort is located on the southeastern tip of Cagraray Island and is being touted as the “Boracay of Bicol.”   The island itself is an eco-tourism destination with rich limestone deposits, waterfalls and 28 caves (ancient burial jars were found in 2 of these caves).  Joining us as guide was Mr. Patricio Bechayda, the Fishery Law Enforcement Team (FLET) officer of Bacacay.

Sula Channel

This 71-sq. km., low island is a 20-km. (45-min.) drive from the town.  The fine, white sand Misibis Beach (Brgy. Misibis), one of the town’s 11 white sand beaches, is located on the island’s southeast corner. From the mainland, we crossed over the narrow Sula Channel  to the island via the newly-built,  2-lane Sula Delta Bridge.  Built at a cost of PhP150 million, this bridge is 265 m. long, has 5 spans and was built with modular steel paneling (Delta) with steel decking.  Prior to its construction, motorized bancas and cable cars on a hill, both used to transport people, and barges (for cars) were used to cross over to the island.  During bad weather, the placid Sula Channel was used in olden times as a sanctuary by Acapulco (Mexico)-bound galleons.

Sula Delta Bridge

Past the bridge, the road is lined with eco-friendly solar cell-powered street lamps.  Along the way, we made a short stopover at a covered concrete view deck with a fantastic view of Lagonoy Gulf and the islands of Rapu-Rapu, San Miguel and Agutaya.  We also passed a roadside fishpond with 3 native-style cottages raised on stilts, all connected to the shore by a wooden footbridge.

Bernard and Mang Patricio at the view deck
View of the islands of Lagonoy Gulf

We didn’t have time and the permit (the resort charges a substantial entrance fee) to explore the resort’s 37 luxurious, Asian-inspired villas, swimming pools and small beach.  Instead, we dropped by the 100-hectare Misibis Bay Eco-Park, part of the Misibis Bay Complex just adjacent to and outside the perimeter fence of the beachfront property.

The Eco-Park’s Information Hut

Past its gate is the Information Hut (with its man-made waterfall) and the picturesque, open-air mini-amphitheater, perched on the edge of a cliff, with its stunning backdrop of a shimmering bay and  its surrounding greenery.  The amphitheater was featured in the 5th leg, Philippine pit stop of the 4th season of The Amazing Race Asia which was won by a team from the Philippines.  It was also a shooting venue for the telenovela Dulo ng Walang Hanggang.

The mini-amphitheater

Further up the hill is the Eco-Energy Park Adventure Zone.  It has 4 different zip lines, an obstacle course and a towering climbing wall for adrenaline junkies.  Each zip line differs from the other in length, speed, duration and view.  However, all are exclusively for the use of resort guests.

The Adventure Zone

Eco-Energy Park Adventure Zone: open Mondays to Fridays, 8-11 AM and 1-5 PM; Saturdays, 8-11 AM and 1-3 PM.  Holidays by special arrangement.  Admission: PhP25/pax.

The Iconic Bridges of the Singapore River

Upon reaching the end of South Bridge Rd., Jandy and I were now at the banks of the historic 6-km. long (19,690-ft.) long Singapore River. Here, we viewed a  number of pedestrian and vehicular bridges that span this river, serving the needs of Singaporeans and visitors alike by connecting residential, commercial and entertainment areas.  They also add history (rickshaws, ox carts, cattle, horses, etc. used to pass here), high technology and color to the Singapore skyline. Three of these bridges – Anderson Bridge, Cavenagh Bridge and Elgin Bridge – were, on November 3, 2008, selected for conservation as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s expanded conservation program. The Anderson Bridge and the newer Esplanade Bridge also forms part of the Singapore Grand Prix‘s Marina Bay street circuit which debuted on September 28, 2008.

Singapore River

The Cavenagh Bridge, opened in 1870 (the third bridge to be built in Singapore) to ease access between the civic district on the north bank and the commercial district (now Raffles Place) on the south bank , is the oldest among the original bridges spanning the Singapore River.   It spanned the lower reaches of the Singapore River in the Downtown Core. Before this bridge was built, people could only get to the 2 districts via a detour over Elgin Bridge or by paying 1 duit (¼ cent) for a boat ride across the river.  Originally known as the Edinburgh Bridge (to commemorate the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh), it was renamed in honor of Maj.-Gen. William Orfeur Cavenagh, the last India-appointed Governor of the Straits Settlements (1859-1867). His family’s coat-of-arm scan still be seen atop the sign at both ends of the bridge.

Cavenagh Bridge

Cavenagh Bridge, originally designed as a drawbridge, is also Singapore’s first and only steel suspension bridge, with elaborate suspension struts. During construction, numerous steel rivets were used and steel casting methods commonly used during that era were employed. Its parts were manufactured by P & W MacLellan, Glasgow Engineers (Scotland ) at a cost of S$80,000, built and tested in Glasgow to withstand a load 4 times its own weight, shipped to Singapore in parts and it reassembled by Indian convict labor. Subsequently, in the late 1880s, the bridge became overloaded due to the flourishing trade on the Singapore River and vehicular traffic volume overtook the capacity of the bridge.  Added to this was its low draught which was insufficient for the passage of boats during high tide.

Cavenagh Bridge

The bridge was  eventually spared from demolition by conversion to a pedestrian bridge.  In the 1990s, lighting was added to accentuate its architectural features at nightfall. It now complements the renovated Fullerton Hotel (formerly the Fullerton Building) beside the bridge. At the southwest abutment of the bridge are sculptures of a family of Singapura cats (kucinta or drain cats), recognized as one of the smallest breeds of cats in the world. At both ends of the bridge are preserved police notices  restricting the passage of vehicles that weighed beyond 3 CWT (152 kgs. or 336 lbs.), including cattle and horses.

Anderson Bridge

Cavenaugh Bridge’s replacement was the century-old Anderson Bridge, near the river’s mouth, which provided sufficient clearance for vessels to pass under during high tide. Connecting the financial district directly to City Hall, this bridge is also located near the Fullerton Hotel and the former Merlion Park.  An excellent combination of intricate plaster and metalwork, this elegant bridge has 3 steel arches with supporting steel ribs across them, 2 rusticated archways and a fluted pier on each end.  The abutments were built by the Westminster Construction Company Limited. Started in 1908, it was officially opened on March 12, 1910 by Sir John Anderson (Governor of the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner for the Federated Malay States from 1904–1911) after whom the bridge was named. During the 1942-1945 Japanese Occupation, the severed heads of criminals were hung on the bridge as a warning to discourage citizens from breaking the law.

Anderson Bridge – Western Approach

The slightly younger, concrete Elgin Bridge, a vehicular bridge in the Boat Quay area linking the Downtown Core to the Singapore Planning Area located within Singapore’s Central Area, was named after India governor-general (March 21, 1862-November 20, 1863) Lord James Bruce, the 8th Earl of Elgin.  Elgin Bridge is believed to have existed, as early as 1819, at its current location as an unnamed footbridge linking the Chinese community, on the southern side, to the Indian merchants of High St. on the northern side.  As this was the first bridge across the river, the two roads leading to it were named North Bridge Rd. and South Bridge Rd. accordingly.

Elgin Bridge

In 1822, this footbridge was replaced by the Presentment Bridge, a wooden drawbridge (also called the Monkey Bridge, as its narrowness limited the number of people crossing at a time, therefore using it required some agility) was built by Lt. P. Jackson. In 1843, a wooden footbridge, built by John Turnbull Thomson replaced the drawbridge (also called the Thomson Bridge).  In 1862, an iron bridge was built but, in 1925, the iron bridge had to make way for the new, existing bridge which was opened to traffic by Sir Hugh Clifford, Governor of the Straits Settlements, on  May 30, 1929.

Elgin Bridge – Approach

At one end of the bridge is the crest of the Singapore Municipal Commission. Its elegant cast iron lamps, on both sides of the bridge, were designed by the Italian sculptor Cavaliere Rudolfo Nolli whose signature graces the bronze plaques beneath the lamps, each with a lion standing in front of a royal palm tree engraved on it. Elgin Bridge is known as thih tiau kio in Hokkien, meaning “iron suspension bridge.”

Esplanade Bridge

The 260 m. (850-ft.) long, 70 m. (230-ft.) wide, low-level concrete arched Esplanade Bridge, a vehicular and pedestrian bridge along Esplanade Drive, in front of the mouth of the Singapore River, was built, from early 1994-1997, to provide faster access between Marina Center and the Shenton Way financial district.  After completion, it was found out that the bridge blocked views of the iconic Merlion statue from the Marina Bay waterfront, causing the statue to be transferred from the back to a more prominent place at the front of the bridge.

Esplanade Bridge

The Esplanade Bridge has 7 spans and supports two 4-lane carriageways and walkways along both sides.  The bridge offers panoramic views of Marina South, the rest of  Marina Bay and both sides of the Singapore River.  As such, it is often subject to occasional road closures during National Day and New Year’s Eve and the street lamps along it are shut off to allow spectators, pedestrians and revelers who pack all 8 lanes of the bridge a pleasant and unadulterated view of the fireworks.

Helix Bridge

The Helix Bridge, next to Bayfront Ave., was opened on July 18, 2010.  Previously known as the Double Helix Bridge, it is the world’s first curved bridge. This 280 m. (918-ft.) long pedestrian bridge is (Singapore’s longest) is located beside the Benjamin Sheares Bridge and is accompanied by the Bayfront Bridge, a vehicular bridge. The Helix Bridge links the hotels, commercial buildings and shops of Marina Center with Marina South in the Marina Bay area (a body of water formed through land reclamation at the mouth of the Singapore River).

Helix Bridge – Approach

The bridge has 5 strategically located viewing platforms sited at strategic locations.  They provide stunning views of the Singapore skyline and events taking place within Marina Bay. The bridge also functions as a gallery where children’s paintings and drawings are exhibited for public viewing.  The bridge is illuminated at night by a series of lights that highlight the double-helix structure, thereby creating a special visual experience for the visitors. Pairs of colored letters “C” (cytosine), “G” (guanine), “A” (adenine) and “T” (thymine), representing the bases of DNA, are lit up in red and green.

Helix Bridge – Approach

The Helix Bridge was designed by an international consortium including the Cox Group of Australian architects, Arup engineers, and Singapore’s Architects 61 and was fabricated and erected by TTJ Design and Engineering.  The bridge’s design features a series of connecting struts that hold together two spiraling steel members that resembles the structure of DNA (the building blocks of life), symbolizing life and continuity, renewal, abundance and growth, with the aim of attracting happiness and prosperity to Marina Bay.

Helix Bridge – Detail

It used approximately 650 tons of duplex stainless steel and 1,000 tons of carbon steel tubes to create the bridge’s major and minor helix that spirals in opposite directions. To provide shade for pedestrians, canopies made of fritted glass and perforated steel mesh were incorporated along parts of the bridge’s inner spiral.

View of Marina Bay From Helix Bridge

The Coleman Bridge, a vehicular bridge linking Hill St. and New Bridge Rd., near Clarke Quay, was the second bridge built across the Singapore River and the first built in masonry.  Part of the bridge demarcates a boundary between the Downtown Core and the Singapore River Planning Area, both located within the Central Business District. It first started out as a 9-arched brick bridge, built in 1840, designed by and named after Irish architect (Singapore’s first) George Drumgoole Coleman (1795–1844). It was referred to as the New Bridge, lending its name to New Bridge Road, the roadon its southern end.

Coleman Bridge

In 1865, the brick bridge was replaced by one made of not well constructed wood and, in 1886, an ironbridge was built to replace it. Considered one of the most attractive spanning the Singapore River, this iron bridge, however, was unable to cope with the increasingly heavy traffic flow between New Bridge Road and Hill Street and was finally demolished in 1986 and was replaced by the present concrete bridge. However, in recognition of its historical significance, the new bridge incorporated several features of the iron bridge such as the decorative lamp posts and iron railings. The Coleman Bridge is known, in Cantonese, as yi ma lo khiu (“the bridge at the second road”).