This photograph is part of a series showing mostly construction projects undertaken by the Bureau of Public Works during the American colonial era. All photographs have been digitally extracted from the Quarterly Bulletins of the bureau and processed using graphics editing software to improve quality. It goes without saying that the eventual output of each extract was always going to be dependent on the quality of the original scan.
At the turn of the 20th century, the new American colonial government, through its arm the Bureau of Public Works, started executing various projects designed to improve the public’s standard of living, facilitate movement to, from and within the province of Batangas and stimulate economic activity.
Among these was the building of roads, some, like the Calamba to Batangas road, begun as early as the year 1900. A necessary adjunct to the building of roads was also the construction of bridges to span the various gaps in flat land around the province. The Bureau of Public works, in its July 1914 Quarterly Bulletin, noted that old bridges in Batangas built during the Spanish era were “unusual in their number.”
Moreover, it acknowledged that these old bridges were “yet standing and are maintained in good condition.” This was in contrast to the roads that the Spaniards left behind. While the Americans acknowledged that the Spanish colonial government had planned a complete road network, the actual execution, i.e. pavement with modern materials, of these roads left a lot to be desired.
The fact that the Spanish bridges were mostly in good condition would have been beneficial to the Bureau of Public Works’ road building efforts, and the fact that many of these were still in good condition would have saved the bureau time and money.
Below is one such bridge, described in the July 1914 Quarterly Bulletin as a “Spanish steel-girder bridge with adobe abutments, Batangas-Nasugbu Road, Kilometer 160.” Cross-referenced against a road system map provided by the bureau in the same bulletin, this bridge would have been between the towns of Calaca and Balayan but closer to the latter.
|A Spanish bridge near Balayan. Image digitally extracted from the July 1914 edition of the Bureau of Public Works Quarterly Bulletin.