MANILA, Oct 20 (Mabuhay) — Describing the newly-launched aesthetics light and sound show at the San Juanico Bridge as “an excuse to come home”, President Ferdinand R. Marcos on Wednesday expressed confidence that the new attraction would boost economic activities and tourism in Eastern Visayas region and nearby areas.

NEW ATTRACTION. President Ferdinand R. Marcos hails the San Juanico Bridge Aesthetic Lighting Project as new attraction that would boost economic activities and tourism in Eastern Visayas region and nearby areas. Marcos officially switched on aesthetic lighting project on Wednesday night (Oct. 19, 2022). (MNS photo)

In a speech in Santa Rita town, Samar province after personally witnessing the 21-minute light and sound show, Marcos said he did not want to pass up the chance to attend the event because the San Juanico bridge holds a “special place” in his heart.

The 2.16-kilometer San Juanico Bridge, which connects Leyte and Samar islands, was built during the administration of his late father, former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

“With the recent completion of the San Juanico Aesthetic Lighting Project, I look forward to seeing the bridge turn into a true sight to behold not just during the day but now even in the dark at night. I look forward to the economic opportunities that will be stimulated by this as well as other Spark Samar initiatives in the near future,” Marcos said, referring to the branding campaign of the local government that was launched in 2015.

“I eagerly anticipate the assistance it will bring for the complete recovery of the tourism industry in the Eastern Visayas and nearby areas,” he added.

Marcos congratulated officials from both the provinces of Leyte and Samar, the Department of Tourism (DOT), Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), and others involved in the completion of the project.

He said joint efforts of government and non-government entities were “commendable”, noting that such partnerships were needed to “transform” the country’s post-pandemic economy.

“It is fundamental in our pursuit of programs, this kind of cooperation you have done, and programs and projects that will boost the tourism and economic development of Samar and Leyte. After all these years, after overcoming postponements and restrictions brought about by the pandemic, the result of your dedication and perseverance will now be shown in its full glory,” he said.

Marcos also expressed hope that the project encourages other local government units (LGUs) to pursue programs that will translate to significant enhancements to infrastructure and pave the way for long-lasting impacts in the lives of Filipinos.

“Every day henceforth, this bridge will stand, as it has stood since the beginning, as a staunch reminder of the rewards awaiting our collaborative endeavor and come night time as people are mesmerized by the wonderful display put up at this scenic spot, let it exemplify how we hold the power to add value, purpose, and grace onto our nation,” he said.

The President said the lights in the San Juanico bridge signal the Filipino resolve to make islands even more connected by “filling its gaps with displays of ingenuity, creativity, and openness so that progress may move freely among us.”

He also assured other LGUs that his administration will provide the support needed to enhance, preserve, and showcase the best tourism projects and other initiatives they have to offer.

‘Built for Samar, not Leyte’

Meanwhile, Marcos took time to explain to Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan that the San Juanico Bridge was built not just because his mother, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, hails from Leyte.

“I would also like to point out to our good governor, San Juanico bridge was not built for Leyte, San Juanico bridge was built for Samar,” Marcos said.

He said his mother was crucial in making sure that the bridge provided economic and tourism activities for Warays in Samar.

“…It was very very important that this bridge be built to give Samar some of the advantages that Tacloban has, that the province of Leyte has. And to respond to your cry na ‘Samar naman (Samar next)’, I would like to say dati pa naman Samar na (it has always been Samar),” he added.

Built in August 1969 and completed in 1972, with a span of 2.162 kilometers, the bridge stood many challenges with the Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that ravaged Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013.

The San Juanico Bridge aesthetic lighting project was proposed to TIEZA in 2015 by Tan and the DOT in Eastern Visayas (Region 8).

TIEZA is the funding source of the PHP80 million aesthetic light and the sound project carried out by Amigo Entertainment Technologies Inc.

The San Juanico Bridge Aesthetic Lighting Project is the first of its kind in the country. (MNS)