THE CONTROVERSIAL road-widening project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Iloilo province is threatening to affect two largely unknown ancient bridges in San Joaquin town.
Heritage advocate Cristhom Setubal and other residents say the bridges date back to the Spanish colonial period and are two of four existing bridges from that era in the town.
The bridges located along the Iloilo-Antique Road in Purok 1 and in Barangay Masagud may just look ordinary from above, but a closer look underneath reveal the material used in construction, which are locally sourced coral stone and river stone.
The DPWH should not demolish the bridges and instead preserve them, says Setubal.
The new bridges should hold the traffic without affecting the old ones, Setubal adds, suggesting that the Magad-agad Bridge in Masagud should also be retrofitted.
Ronillo Pascasio, the town’s municipal engineer, says he cannot make an assurance for now if the Purok 1 bridge would be saved. He said he would refer the matter to the DPWH.
The Purok 1 bridge is the most threatened of the two since it is the next section of the Iloilo-Antique Road that will be widened.
San Joaquin municipal tourism officer Erlyn Alunan says the local government would make sure representations with the national government so that Purok 1 bridge and other heritage structures could be protected.
“It is our task to make sure all of these heritage structures will be taken care of and protected because these are part of our heritage,” she says.
Meanwhile, the Spanish-era San Joaquin Campo Santo will no longer be affected by the same road-widening project.
Alunan says it was agreed in a meeting in July among the DPWH, local government and town residents that the widening would veer from the cemetery and just use a portion of the lot opposite it, which is also church property.