Lanao’s old Spanish bridge PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 11 October 2015 14:08

By ED GENERAL

LANAO DEL SUR — Maranaos around Lake Lanao were jubilant after DPWH-ARMM Don Mustapha A. Loong happened to discover the long abandoned historical Spanish bridge while on a road inspection in Lumbaca-Unayan, Lanao del Sur.

“This is what we are looking for, the trust of Hataman Administration is to preserve historical infrastructures in the region, related to the Moro wars during the Spanish and American era,” Loong said.

Thanks to the completion of Lanao del Sur Circumferential Road which drastically changed the lifestyle of people living around the lake where they shun traveling by boat from one municipality to the other but rather commuting on land to reach destination. Travel time has lessened while safety and comfort of travelers are a luxury.

The road between the circumferential road to Bayang-Lumbaca-Unayan-Malabang has been abandoned for centuries ago which makes it impassable to commuters, unless 4 wheel drive enthusiast would like to trail on it for thrill.

Farmers from both sides of the road use cows, carabaos and horses to haul their products to the center of commerce in Malabang which is bout 25 kms.  from Bayang town passing through the Old Spanish Bridge.

Lanao del Sur 2nd District Engineer Adib A. Arumpac said there is no local name to the bridge except people in the area call it “Old Spanish Bridge.”

A farmer living near the bridge had told tales of the rugged road with phrases like “ two horses have died travelling the road carrying farm products, they did not make it to the market.”

The road’s budget for 2015 only runs for 14 kms. but Arumpak said the remaining more than 10 kms .will be part of the 2016 budget, to make it complete.

The historical significance of the bridge is much more than the efforts of DPWH Engineers to concrete the rocky and muddy road because in 1889 Spanish Governor General Valeriano Weyler ordered his troops to land in Malabang to conquer the unconquered Maranaos. He had 1,242 soldiers in two columns. The first column started from Malabang while the second column started from Iligan.

After a few bloody clashes, Marawi was occupied on Aug. 19, 1889, but not without encountering strong resistance from the Maranaos led by Datu Amai Pakpak. In Sept. 1891, Weyler finally terminated his campaign without actually conquering the Maranaos.

This was the time that the Spaniards built the bridge in order to reach the native maranaos in the hills, who continued their resistance against the Spaniards even after gunboats were brought to Lake Lanao to launch a campaign against the communities around it.

On June 5, 1892, the Datus of Lanao cooperated in the fortification of the section around Agus River for their mutual defense. In Feb. 1895, systematic Maranao attacks on the Spanish forts began. As a result, the Spanish invaders launched another Spanish expedition on March 10 of the same year to attack and capture Marawi, once and for all.

The march to Marawi commenced. The Spaniards found themselves faced by strong cotta under the command of the same Amai Pakpak. The Maranao warriors fought with equal bravery but lost the war with the martyrdom of Datu Akader Amai Papak, his son, 23 datus and 150 Maranao warriors.

Another war where the Old Spanish Bridge was made significance in May 1902, during the Moro Rebellion (also known as the Moro–American War), It was in that Spanish Bridge were the Americans encountered resistance all the way to Bayang the next municipality where the site of a clash between Moro rebels and American troops that became known as the Battle of Bayang.

The US troops, three infantry battalions and a battery of artillery totaling some 1200 men, were led to Bayang by Col. Frank Baldwin to demand the extradition of the Moros responsible for the ambushing and killing of two American soldiers at the construction of a road from Iligan to Lake Lanao, two months earlier.

When the sultan of Bayang refused, Baldwin’s troops attacked and captured the nearby cotta (fortress; “small, castle-like structures with thick, high walls) of Binidayan. They subsequently attempted to capture the cotta of Pandapatan, which resisted the artillery fire and was only subdued the next day after hand-to-hand combat between Moros and Americans. The number of Moro casualties is estimated at 300 to 400, including the sultan of Bayang and his brother. On the American side, ten soldiers were killed and some forty wounded.

The cotta of Pandapatan has been preserved as a historical monument; the fallen of the Battle of Bayang are considered martyrs by Filipino Muslims.

Today, the “Old Spanish Bridge” will remain as a heritage site while a new bridge will be built beside for commuters to glance at the once upon a time bridge.

Engr Arumpak said “the plan is to built a new reroute bridge and preserve the old, it will also be difficult to built a new one if we will tear the old, cause it will greatly affect its foundation, so let it be.”

The old bridge is still passable to light vehicles and is a beholding site, below it is a waterfall sliding from the foot of the bridge to the ravine about 30 meters deep.

Loong also said he wants generation after generation to look at it as a reminder of how gallant our forefathers were when they fought with the superpowers of the world.

He said it is a “must visit” tourism area in Lanao, home of the Maranaos.