Cagayan de Oro City in Southern Philippines has now five bridges: the Kauswagan-Puntod Bridge, the Maharlika Bridge (formerly known as Marcos Bridge), the Gov. Ysalina Bridge (formerly known as Carmen Bridge), the Kagay-an Bridge and the Emmanuel Pelaez Bridge. I was unable to get an aerial photo of the latter because the plane I was riding on took a route that could not provide an unobstructed view of the said bridge.
I grew up with just the Marcos and the Carmen bridge. The other three are fairly recent additions to address the increasing traffic flow in the city. Although most of the infrastructure development can be found at the eastern side, it would just be a matter of time before the western portion would be buzzing with malls and high-rise buildings. This is due to fact that Cagayan de Oro City serves as a convenient gateway and an important trading hub of Northern Mindanao.
The oldest among the five is the Gov. Ysalina Bridge. But this was not the city’s first bridge. A suspension bridge was constructed under Governor Zanon’s orders back in the 1800s. It collapsed during its christening when the residents and the dignitaries present rushed towards the structure. The live load was apparently not considered in its design. It was then reconstructed and improved but also gave in to the great flood of 1902. During World War II, a bridge built by the Americans was intentionally destroyed by the same to immobilize the Japanese troops.
Aside from old bridges getting destroyed or washed up, there are also new ones that are hounded with controversies. Perhaps the most famous of which is the Emmanuel Pelaez Bridge which connects Taguanao and Pueblo de Oro. Its construction was questioned because it apparently hit a significant portion of the Huluga open site. Previous archaeological excavations have yielded artifacts, metal tools at the site which suggest that the area could very well be the site of Cagayan de Oro’s predecessors.
A recent study conducted by the University of the Philippines and the National Museum, however concluded that Huluga could only be a habitation site or a temporary camp. I just learned about this in my recent conversation with Mrs. Agnes Roa from the City Museum of Cagayan de Oro. The findings of that group show that the site in question lack the minimum requirements such as portholes, berths and middens for it to be declared as a permanent settlement. She added that they would be holding seminars on the topic not only to address the controversy but also to better educate the public this year.
Whether it was built with or without strong engineering design, met with or without controversy, all these bridges serve as silent witnesses to Cagayan de oro City’s history and development. These would enable the city to flourish further in the present.
But for ordinary joes like me, the bridges are important because the other alternative for those who want to get to the other side of the Cagayan de Oro River is to swim or to ride rafts across it. I wouldn’t mind the latter but if you do that on a daily basis, it becomes a boring and tiring chore. Thankfully indeed, these structures are already in place for as long as I could remember.