Rio Grande de la Pampanga provided the lifeblood of the province, regulalry used as a channel to transport goods and agricultural produce from town-to-town, to Manila and beyond. To facilitate movement of commerce, bridges had to be constructed, but Spain chose to concentrate its bridge-building in Manila. The old España (renamed Jones Bridge) , Colgante ( (the country’s 1st suspension bridge) and Convalencia bridges (known as Ayala Bridge, designed and built by Gustave Eiffel) are some of Spain’s more prominent architectural legacies.
It took the Americans to fast-track the building of transportation infrastructures in the Philippines and the peacetime years of the 1930s were a period of raod and bridge-building, adding precious mileage to the country’s limited network of highways. linking towns, islands and whole provinces.
Pampanga has its share of historic bridges that have become historic landmarks of the province. Sulipan Bridge in Apalit provided a vital link between Manila and Pampanga and other northern provinces. The former wood-and-steel bridge was recently reconstructed through Japanese funding and was inaugurated in March 2007.
Still another famous architectural marvel is the Baluyot Bridge of San Fernando, which actually replaced an earlier Spanish-made bridge. Sotero Baluyot, the engineer-governor of Pampanga designed the bridge based on his theses completed at the University of Iowa in 1909, reconstructing it into an arched bridge made of reinforced concrete.
The Candaba Bridge, though lesser known than the Baluyot Bridge, is however, just as important. Candaba, after all, is a major farming and fishing community, and as it is a low-lying, marshy town, its fisherfolks and farmers depended much on water transport for the delivery of their catch and their various. The building of Candaba Bridge sought to make the flow of commerce quicker and more efficient for the community.
Spanning the Pampanga River, the Candaba Bridge was a major project of the Bureau of Public Works, supervised by a platoon of American highway engineers. It suffered extensive damages in the Second World War but was rebuilt after the war with a grant from the United States. In its time, the Candaba Bridge was truly a building masterpiece, sleek and streamlined, with its load-bearing deck hung below cables on vertical suspenders. From a distance, the bridge seemed to float miraculously on air. It is the same type as the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco in California, leading many to believe that the Candaba Bridge was patterned after the design of the famous American bridge completed in 1937.
The Candaba Bridge was rededicated in 1953 during the tenure of Mayor Anastacio Gallardo (assassinated in 1966) and Vice Mayor Vicente Pelayo. It must have been a major event as commemorative items such as this fan, were produced to mark the ribbon-cutting rites.
Today, Candaba Bridge has been totally overshadowed by the 5 km. Candaba Viaduct along the North Luzon Expressway, the longest concrete bridge in Luzon. But its place in our province’s history has long been cemented.