Cavite’s Spanish-era Camaren Bridge stays

Cavite’s Spanish-era Camaren Bridge stays

GENERAL TRIAS CITY, Cavite — Representatives of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) are set to meet with project engineers and architects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for a compromise deal on how to preserve the centuries old Camaren Bridge in General Trias, Cavite while pursuing the construction of a new bridge for the safety of thousands of residents and school children passing the area.

A view under the centuries old Camaren Bridge (Photo by Gladys Pino)

This, as a public dialogue initiated and organized by Cavite (6th District) Rep. Luis “Jonjon” Ferrer IV ended up with an agreement from the affected sectors that both the historical bridge and the upcoming bridge will stand.

Held at the Governor Ferrer Memorial National High School (GFMNHS) last Aug. 31, the public dialogue served as a venue, where all bridge project proponent heads, heritage advocates, and members of the community met and voiced out their concerns and opinions on the issue, prompting the NCCA and the NHCP to join the multi-sectoral dialogue and agree to meet with the DPWH soon.

Ferrer said the dialogue was set “para makapagbigay ng kanilang posisyon at makinig sa lahat ng panig, at pag-usapan ang agarang solusyon na naayon sa pangangailangan ng lahat (so everyone concerned could say their positions, hear each other’s sides, and arrive at an immediate solution that is in line with everyone’s needs).” Attendees to the dialogue include heritage advocates, represented by Glorife Samodio and Mark Dela Cruz, NCCA Head of Cultural Heritage Section Lawrence Charles E. Salazar, NHCP chief on Historic Preservation Division architect Reynaldo Lita, Barangay Buenavista chairman Danny Potante, DPWH project engineer Romualdo Bernardo, and GFMNHS school head Prudencio Animas.

On July 31, Samodio’s group resorted to the social and traditional media its clamor to spare the centuries-old bridge, believed constructed on the order of the Augustinian friars in the 17th or 18th century, while the government puts up a new bridge beside it.

The group cited government issuances meant to protect and preserve built heritage, cultural properties, and cultural landscapes, whether declared or presumed cultural properties and aged 50 years and above.

It moved to “put on hold” the ongoing DPWH construction, pending recommendation from the NCCA and the NHCP for a “win-win” solution.

The new bridge being constructed by the DPWH beside the centuries old Camaren Bridge (Photo by Gladys Pino)

However, the local residents, including the school community, said in as much as they want to save the old bridge, they still hope that the new bridge project continues.

The residents and the school community said that for almost three decades, they have been waiting for a safer access for the more than 11,000 residents and schoolchildren in the area.

The one-way, weathered Daly Bridge now serves as the “safe” access for some 1,200 students and teachers of GFMNS.

Bent on finishing the project this year, DPWH representatives presented during Friday’s dialogue that if the ongoing bridge project would be re-designed to spare the Hispanic bridge, they have to give up the pedestrian walkway, which is not safe, especially for schoolchildren. Bernardo also explained the bridge’s position and design were anchored on “right of way” issues, as land owners agreed to the new bridge project, provided that their lots would be spared as well.

NCCA’s Salazar clarified that his agency has not issued any stoppage order on the ongoing bridge construction.

He also appreciated the local government’s efforts to bring all groups together.

This is among the few I’ve attended where all sides were heard, he said.

NHCP’s Lita, meanwhile, said while he had noted the locals’ position and in as much as they want to preserve the old bridge, the public needs the new bridge more.

An aerial shot of the Daly Bridge now being used by the community in lieu of the centuries old Camaren Bridge below it. Beside the bridge are the foundations for the new bridge being constructed by the DPWH. (Photo courtesy of DPWH District 1)

On behalf of the heritage advocates, Samodio also took advantage of the occasion to apologize for the group’s radical approach.

Nadala lang po kami sa bugso ng damdamin(We were just carried away by our emotions),” she said, citing their desire to preserve the locality’s heritage and promote cultural tourism in the suburbs.

Samodio further offered to assist the local community, through trainings and lecture series, on how to develop cultural tourism, which the local community readily welcomed.

Also present during the dialogue are city government officials led by General Trias Mayor Antonio Ferrer. Gladys Pino/