Bridge to boost mobility, economy of Santiago Island

SANTIAGO ISLAND. An aerial view of a portion of Santiago Island in Bolinao town, Pangasinan in this undated photo. Works for the construction of a bridge that will connect the island to the mainland town will start this year and is expected to be completed by 2028.
SANTIAGO ISLAND. An aerial view of a portion of Santiago Island in Bolinao town, Pangasinan in this undated photo. Works for the construction of a bridge that will connect the island to the mainland town will start this year and is expected to be completed by 2028. PNA Photo

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Opportunities to improve the economy and mobility of residents of Santiago Island in Bolinao town, Pangasinan are expected to get a boost with the construction of a bridge that will connect the island to the mainland.

Department of Public Works and Highways Ilocos Region director Engineer Ronnel Tan, earlier this week, said preliminary works for the bridge will commence this year and target to be completed in 2028.

"The total project cost is PHP1.95 billion covering the construction of the 600 linear meter bridge and its approaches and access roads," he said.

From Barangay Luciente 2nd at the mainland, the bridge will be connected to Santiago Island’s Barangay Salud.

Kawayan Nature PH owner Precious Cayaon, in an interview on Friday, said transportation of products from the island to the mainland is a challenge, especially during rainy season.

"Iyong pagtatawid po ng mga bags, dapat talaga okay ang panahon. Ang landing barge kasi by schedule din (kaya) inu-unti-unti po na dinadala sa shop namin lalo pag may bulk (order) (The weather should be okay before we transport the bags. Use of the landing barge is by schedule so we bring the items by batch if we have bulk orders,” Cayaon said.

Kawayan Nature PH is a Philippine-based company supplying and promoting eco-friendly products made of Buri, a plant available to the island, and handcrafted by the islanders.

Cayaon said they source their raw materials in the island, where their workers are also based.

"Kilala talaga kasi ang Santiago Island sa mga weavers lalo ang Barangays Salud, Pilar, Victory (Santiago Island is known for its weavers especially in the villages of Salud, Pilar, and Victory)," she said.

Cayaon's grandmother and in-laws are also weavers and it has been their source of income.

A bridge that will connect the island to the mainland Bolinao will make the transportation of their products easier, she said.

"If there will be a bridge, we could go to Santiago Island anytime unlike right now when we are just relying on the schedule of the boat and the landing barge. We would be able to prevent delays in the delivery of our products even during the rainy season, since the materials of our products are fragile," Cayaon said.

Cayaon added some of their clients wanted to visit their production area thus, the bridge will be a "big help".

Municipal Administrator Blesilda Ramirez, in a phone interview on Wednesday, said allocation of funds for the bridge project is a welcome development.

"It takes 20 minutes (to travel) from Picucubuan Port to Binabalian, at PHP20 to PHP25 fare per person. The boats transport people and goods three to four times daily," she said.

The rainy weather and typhoon season, however, is a challenge and pose risks for sea travel, Senior Tourism Operations officer Mary De Guzman said in a separate interview.

The project was first requested for funding in 2005 but got approved only in 2020.

Santiago Island has seven villages, namely, Binabalian, Goyoden, Lucero, Pilar, Salud, Dewey and Victory.

Based on the 2020 Census of Population, it has a population of 18,690. (PNA)

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