15 years after river tragedy, 2 bridges open in Iloilo town

Published March 9, 2021, 2:26 PM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY—Almost 15 years after a river tragedy that killed more than 40 people, two bridges finally opened in Igbaras town, Iloilo province.

The Songsongon bridge in Igabras town, Iloilo province.  More than 40 people died along this side of the river in October 2006 when a jeepney full of passengers fell.  (Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin)

“Ga pasalamat kami. Tungod sa trahedya, nadumduman nga himu-an na diri taytay (We are thankful. Because of the tragedy, the bridges were built,” said Genoveva Estrellanes when the Songsongon and Ligtus bridges were inaugurated.

The 58-year village councilor of Corucuan is very much familiar with the October 2006 tragedy. Her husband Antonio Sr. was one of those who were killed when a jeepney full of passengers fell off an overflow bridge and into the Tangyan River, which had rising waters due to heavy rainfall. Antonio’s body was swept and found along the coast in Tigbauan, which was about 20 kilometers from the incident site.

Of the 41 people who died, 19 remained missing. Their bodies were never recovered.

Even prior to the October 2006 incident, Genoveva recalled that getting from one village to another was highly risky. As a student in the early 1980s, she said crossing the river meant she and her classmates would have to look out for each other.

For Genoveva, the bridges mean that the younger generation including her own grandchildren will not have to face risks of trying to cross the Tangyan River by foot.

The Western Visayas regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-6) oversaw the construction of the two bridges worth P111 million, wherein the funding was pushed by then congressman Richard Garin.

Present at the inauguration of the Songsongon and Ligtus bridges were Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Loreto Garin, Igbaras Mayor Jaime Esmeralda and DPWH officials.

Meanwhile, Igbaras Town Councilor Vincent Robles said the two bridges also make travel easier for visitors to nearby waterfall.