It was more than a decade ago when I first set foot in Tacloban.
I was a high school student and I qualified for a national writing competition which was held in the city. It was my first airplane ride, first travel without my family, and first time to be away from home for a week.
It was an experience that has become possible just by being a student writer.
I loved Tacloban, its people and its spectacular view of the sea. One of the most memorable for me was seeing the famous San Juanico Bridge for the first time, the structure that connects the provinces of Samar and Leyte. It was November then, and raining hard when we passed through San Juanico. Though I didn’t get the chance to get off the bus and explore the bridge, seeing it before my eyes was enough.
I was so amazed at how the bridge would look like a letter S when you’re going to the province of Samar, and how the bridge would depict an L when you’re approaching Leyte.
An infrastructure like no other and definitely poured with much love, just like what everybody’s saying that the bridge was actually a gift of love of President Marcos to his wife, Imelda, a native of Tacloban.
We’ve heard a lot of stories about San Juanico Bridge, from the undying love of Ferdinand Marcos to Imelda, to the courageous jump of Dante Varona. But one thing remained, after seeing it for the first time, made me want to experience it more.
GOING BACK TO TACLOBAN
I was so stupid. Stupid not to pay attention to what I felt when I first experience that long travel at a young age. I was dumb not to embrace the early signs in my life, that I am destined for a life of writing.
I had a long but amazing journey. I’ve been to different jobs only to realize at an old age of 30 that I wanted to write, that I had to write, not for anyone but for myself.
I have gone through a confusing, tumultuous soul-searching through traveling, until an epiphany hit me. I have no problem with my current day job, actually I am very thankful with it, but at the end of the day I had to write, write my travel stories and finally take charge of my life.
For some reasons, I was invited by our Tourism Department to be part of a tour in Leyte and Samar. For some reasons, I was back in Tacloban.
It was still the charming city that I used to know, the only difference was the tarnish of the typhoon Yolanda. On our first day, we explored the nearby province of Samar and the only way to get there is by passing through San Juanico Bridge. Seeing it from inside the coaster bus brought back some memories. It wasn’t raining, but the feeling when I saw it was all the same.
Our gracious hosts said we would be given a chance to experience more of San Juanico Bridge when we get back from Samar.
The Sohoton Caves and National Park was an unforgettable adventure, and we have enjoyed it too much that it was almost dark when we left the town and headed back to Tacloban. We passed through the bridge in the middle of the night. I was a bit sad, but our host assured that we will be going back on our last day in the city.
Second day, third day have passed and we were just delighted at the beauty of Leyte. On our last day, we were back in Tacloban and we all woke up as early as 4AM just to witness San Juanico Bridge in the morning.
I was still sleepy, but then replaced with excitement as our bus approached San Juanico Bridge. We settled on the Samar part and got off the bus.
Wow. San Juanico Bridge is better enjoyed in the morning. The cold air and mist made the experience melancholic, nostalgic (for me). But the moment we brought out our cameras, we were all excited.
Looking at the vast sea, I noticed the current at how it sometimes moved in a straight phase then doing a circular motion. It was believed that the engineers who constructed the bridge studied the sea current to make it a timeless structure.
When a bus passed by, I could feel the bridge shaking. San Juanico was beautiful. I would love to go back and do a morning run there, that must be awesome.
It was just a few minutes, small amount of time if you think of it.But it was enough for me, enough to enjoy and even ponder some reflections.
The first time I was in Tacloban and San Juanico Bridge, I was a student writer. Then after years of making a living and different jobs, I was back again in Tacloban. Not because of my current job, but because of being a writer, again.
As the first rays of sun touched San Juanico, I realized what a life journey it has been for me. I felt my life has made a one full circle in Tacloban, making me realize of the life works that I need to pursue for the rest of my life.
If there is one thing I can advise you. If you feel lost, looking for meaning, just pay attention to your life. There are early signs at your young age that would lead you to where you’re supposed to be.
For me, that happened more than a decade ago, when I went to Tacloban as a student writer.
Disclaimer: This trip was made possible through an invitation from our Tourism Promotions Board (DOT) for a familiarization tour in Easter Visayas. Thank you for the wonderful experience.