Who would dare to jump from an almost 315-foot high bridge? It was 1981 and I was in grade one. I overheard my grandmother and my aunts planning to see the movie - Hari ng Stunt. It starred Dante Varona and his leading lady, Vivian Velez under the directorial helm of Carlo J. Caparas. The Pinoys were amazed - no one has ever dared to do this stunt in the past! And, I believe, no one has ever done it since. I remember that Mr. Varona almost killed himself in the process.
Before I share the YouTube video of the widely-talked-about-stunt-then, here's the...
synopsis from IMDB -
"To earn money that could be used to save his girlfriend from blindness, a stuntman named Dante agreed to perform the most dangerous stunt that no other stuntman would ever dare to perform. Should he ever made (sic) it alive, it would also bring him lasting fame of (sic) being known as King of Stunts". (IMDB, n.d.)"
Did you know that there was an urban legend about the construction of this bridge? During that time that it was being built, children were allegedly disappearing in the provinces of Samar and Leyte. It was believed that their bodies (more particularly their blood) were being mixed with the cement used in building this structure. The disappearances also stopped, purportedly, when the construction came to a halt.
Of course, we cannot talk about this movie without mentioning why this stunt was difficult to begin with. The San Juanico bridge is 134.514 feet high. I am, to this day, quite amazed on how Mr. Varona managed to survive what could have been a fatal jump. I know that he did hurt himself and the ambulance that was standing by was really used to transport him to a hospital.
San Juanico bridge is also, still, the longest bridge in the Philippines. This truss bridge is 2.16 kilometers long as it connects the provinces of Samar and Leyte. It used to be called the Marcos bridge but this was altered to San Juanico bridge since it runs across the strait of San Juanico.
The San Juanico Bridge remains the longest bridge in the Philippines and is almost 315 feet high.
Here are other fun facts about the San Juanico Bridge --
1. This is called by the people of Samar and Leyte as a bridge of love as it connects the two sister islands.
2. It took four years to finish this bridge (1969-1973).
3. This was a gift from then President Ferdinand Marcos to his wife, Imelda Marcos, who is a Leyte native and who was referred to as the rose of Tacloban.
4. It cost $2.19 million to build.
5. The locals believe that a river fairy saw the alleged kidnapping and killing of children that she cursed the fortuneteller who advised the builders to do this macabre act. The story goes on about how this fortuneteller grew scales on her legs and have since concealed them with long skirts.
6. This next one is so interesting - the letters L and S can be seen when you get a bird's eye view of the bridge. These represent, of course, the provinces of Leyte and Samar.
7. The San Juanico strait is the narrowest strait in the country.
8. This bridge is still a part of the Pan-Philippine Highway (more commonly referred to as the Maharlika Highway).
9. Some people also see a dragon shape when they look at this bridge.
10. It connects Santa Rita, Samar to Tacloban City in Leyte.
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