Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Stand on the Mendiola (Chino Roces) Bridge, Manila

* the behind the bridge: Joaquin ‘Chino’ Roces;
notice the missing marker during this visit

* perhaps a previous marker?

Job hunting of last year enabled me to be in close proximity of Malacañang (or Malacañan) Palace. The leadership residing in this Spanish era is somehow balanced by the presence of this seemingly small bridge, literally a few meters only from the grounds of Malacañang Palace.

Of course I refer to the famous (if not infamous) bridge called Mendiola Bridge. Officially called Chino Roces Bridge (after Joaquin ‘Chino’ Roces, once head of several media outfits in the Philippines but perhaps more known for his stand against the Marcos dictatorship during his Martial Law), this bridge has been witness to numerous protests and rallies against whoever is in power in the Palace. A famous massacre was also named after this place.

It was kind of eerie standing in the midst of the bridge while I took some photos and videos. The cheerful tones of the students’ voices could not suspend my awareness that this is a battle ground, a field where the powerful and the people (to whom Power – yes, with the capital letter – resides in reality) clash. Or perhaps where the sentinels of the powerful and the people clash. 

* behold, the Mendiola Peach Arch

* the bridge’s load limit

Separating the bridge and the areas covered by San Beda College and Centro Escolar University is the so-called Mendiola Peach Arch, something which I see as structure that would easily divide any two battling groups when such a case happens. It is good to note as well the barbed barriers placed near the arch, most likely in case of any eventualities.

* street scene from Mendiola bridge

* the river (or is it a creek?) under Mendiola Bridge

As I recall today that particular visit, I see that it is quite important to visit historical places in the country. Yes, reading history books are helpful as far as hard facts are known. But I see actual visits – this may be in the form of solo visits, group visits, or educational trips – as the instrument to impart the emotional aspect, the ‘feel’ of a historical detail. Most of us did that when we were in our elementary school days to Luneta Park and specifically to the Jose Rizal Monument. Why not do that as well to some other historical sites found all over the country?

By the way, for the technically-minded, the Mendiola Bridge can hold masses up to 15 tons.

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