VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur, Nov. 16 (PNA) –Ilocos Sur officials sought assistance from the Japanese government for the restoration OF the missing span of the old but historic President Elpidio Quirino bridge in Barangay Banaoang, Bantay, Ilocos Sur.

The move is considered as one of the significant initiatives of the local officials to relive the legacy and memory of President Quirino, the first Ilocano president, recognized as one of the greatest Filipino leaders the country has ever produced.

Today, the people of Ilocos Sur is celebrating the late president’s 125th birthday.

The restoration of the old bridge is part of the proposed President Elpidio Quirino National Park.

Vice Governor Deogracias Victor B. Savellano said a benchmark event to honor the memory of President Quirino proposed the establishment of the “President Elpidio Quirino National Park” in an area that needs development.

It was suggested that the park should be located in the mountains of Santa, Ilocos Sur and Bantay, Ilocos Sur at the intersection of the Abra River where the old Quirino Bridge and a new bridge run astride.

“The old President Quirino bridge has historical value between the Philippines and Japan because it was called the “bridge of peace,” Savellano said.

The Quirino bridge, which was referred earlier as the “Banaoang Bridge,” was built by Japanese contractors in 1933.

Meanwhile, the Banaoang bridge, the main link of Northern Luzon provinces including Cagayan Valley provinces, survived several bombing incidents during World War II and was renamed as President Quirino bridge in honor of former President Quirino in the late 1950s.

The four-span old Quirino Bridge had greatly served and benefitted the people of the north until its one span was taken by strong current of water brought by previous super typhoon Feria that devastated the province on July 4 – 6, 2001. As a result, the bridge weakened and unusable for traffic.

“This bridge had become a historic and heritage structure that needs to be restored to its original exemplary architectural design to be used as tourist attraction,” he said.

“The old Quirino Bridge is an iconic symbol of Ilocos Sur,” he added.

Meanwhile, the construction of the new 456 – meter President Quirino located at the downstream of the old bridge started in December 2007 by Chinese engineers jointly with a local construction company. It was officially opened by then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on December 30, 2009.

To formalize their request from Japan, the Ilocos Sur provincial officials led by Governor Ryan Luis Singson and Vice Governor Savellano passed a resolution forwarded to the Japanese government through the Japanese Embassy to the Philippines. FREDDIE G. LAZARO/PNA