American-era bridge in Negros Occidental to be demolished
An American-era bridge in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, is set to be demolished to give way to the bridge-widening project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The new two-lane Hinigaran Bridge constructed some years ago beside the American period bridge will reportedly be widened to four lanes, so that the old bridge will have to be demolished.
Measuring about 145 meters, the old Hinigaran Bridge, which spans the Hinigaran River, is also called the Senator Espiridion Guanco Bridge, so named after the Hiligaynon lawmaker who had it built during his term as senator between 1916 to 1925.
Guanco was one of the inaugural 24 senators of the country representing the then Eight Senatorial District—Negros Occidental, Negros, Oriental, Antique, and Palawan. He served as the Senate President Pro Tempore 1919 to 1922.
When the new concrete bridge was constructed by the DPWH, the old one was converted by the local government as a park and named it after the late senator.
Former senator Nikki Coseteng, Guanco’s great granddaughter, opposed the demolition.
She said that the old bridge should form part of the country’s cultural patrimony and must be preserved.
She noted that DPWH projects were “hounded” by heritage issues.
Nancy Guanco-Javelona, 74, another granddaughter of Guanco, also expressed her opposition to the planned demolition, saying the structure might just be the oldest existing bridge in the province.
Heritage Conservation Society (HCS) chair Tats Manahan said “many times heritage structures are pronounced unfit even without proper documentation or an analytical assessment for possible restoration.”
“With modern means, updated methods of conservation, and proper experts in the field, definitely, there are options to retrofit the structure properly and let it remain where it is, as is, in its historical intent and design,” Manahan said.
The Inquirer asked DPWH Bridges Management Cluster project director Gil Villanueva and Executive Director Ludovico Badoy of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to comment, but they refused. –CONTRIBUTED
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