THE test lighting of the country’s iconic San Juanico Bridge went successfully on Saturday evening, October 10, bringing a visual feast to the public albeit for over two hours only.
Karen Tiopes, director of Department of Tourism (DOT)-Eastern Visayas, said they are expecting that the P80-million aesthetic lighting project will be completed by December this year after months of delay due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“The Covid-19 may have slowed our efforts but just like our experience during Yolanda, we remain resilient and positive that this too shall pass,” said Samar 2nd District Representative Sharee Ann Tan, project proponent.
The lawmaker thanked DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, Tiopes and other officials for supporting the bridge lighting project despite the "skepticism" of others.
“It is not about the lighting itself, but the interest that will be generated and eventually the economic benefits of the project,” said Tan, calling the bridge lighting a “beacon of hope” for Samar and the entire region amidst the health crisis.
“I look forward to the completion of the project and to that day when we can once again witness and experience our people’s warmth and hospitality, our culture and food and our sites,” she added.
According to Samar Governor Reynolds Michael Tan, the lighting of the country’s longest bridge “will also create the mood that will stimulate the mind and motivate our people to strive.”
“This project will reflect our aspirations as we desire to make a niche in the tourism industry,” he said.
Earlier, the Eastern Visayas Tourism Association (EVTA) said the public will soon witness vibrant tourism activities along the San Juanico Strait upon the completion of the project.
“Side by side, Tacloban City and the Province of Samar will be coming up with developmental concepts at the Strait that will be offered to the private sector for investments either as a joint venture or on a Build Operate Transfer Scheme under the Public-Private Partnership Program of the government,” said Pocholo Franco, EVTA president and co-chairman of the technical working group on San Juanico Strait Development.
Franco also called for the support of the project which is under the contract of Amigo Entertainment Technologies, leading audio, LED lighting and multimedia supplier in the country.
Built in 1969 and completed in 1972, the 2.162-kilometer San Juanico Bridge connects the islands of Leyte and Samar. (SunStar Philippines)