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Then and Now – Puente de Ayala

Posted by BCS on October 19, 2008

Puente de Ayala in 1899 - Photo courtesy of the United States Library of Congress (www.loc.gov)

Puente de Ayala in 1899 - Photo courtesy of the United States Library of Congress (www.loc.gov)

Present-day Ayala Bridge (Photo taken on September 27, 2008)

Present-day Ayala Bridge (Photo taken on September 27, 2008)

According to the book “Basques in the Philippines” (by Marciano R. de Borja and William A. Douglass, 2005), the Puente de Ayala (or Ayala Bridge) was named after the patriarch of the Ayala Clan of the Philippines, Antonio de Ayala whose company, the Ayala y Compañia, funded its construction.

The first Ayala Bridge, sometimes also referred to as Puente de Convalecencia (in reference to the name of the islet in the middle of the Pasig River adjacent to the bridge on which the Hospisio de San Jose is situated), was constructed in 1880 with arched wooden trusses. This bridge, however, collapsed ten years later and was replaced with another of steel construction (the one shown in the 1899 photo above).

In his book “An Army Officer On Leave In Japan” (published in 1911), L. Mervin Maus recalls what the “Major” had said to him on their way to the bridge:

“‘As we pass over the Ayala Bridge, please obeserve that large rain tree on the island in the Pasig River, upon which is built the insane asylum. You will notice that the island is connected with this bridge, which is familiarly known as the Crooked Bridge, because on our arrival it made an angle at the juncture of the asylum entrance.’”

There are those who claim that this steel bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel (of the Eiffel Tower fame). If this is true, well, we’ve lost it, however sad it is.

Contained in the 1903 Annual Reports of the United States War Department was a proposal for the construction of a single-span bridge at the cost of US$60,000 (as a replacement for the “crooked” bridge existing at that time which had reportedly been causing numerous accidents).

I’ve read of an “Ayala Bridge” being constructed at a cost of US$21,338.15 which was opened to public traffic on August 13, 1906. However, I can’t be too sure if this is THE Ayala Bridge we’re talking about here since I only got to see tiny excerpts of it.

But then again, for those of you who know of the bridge as it is today… it’s no longer crooked (as you can also very well see in the recent photo). So, pardon me for the cliché but, I think, the rest, as they say, is history.

Oh, before I end this, I found something on Maus’s book which, I think, the ladies will find quite delightful…

“‘From my experience with the men and women of the Philippine Islands, I am willing to believe that, had the women gone into the trenches and the men remained home with the children, the war would have been going on yet. Yes, the Filipino women are far superior to the men, for they embody all that is good, courageous, and enterprising in the race.’”

Note on the use of the old photograph:

From the United States Library of Congress website:

“Whenever possible, the Library of Congress provides factual information about copyright owners and related matters in the catalog records, finding aids and other texts that accompany collections. As a publicly supported institution, the Library generally does not own rights in its collections. Therefore, it does not charge permission fees for use of such material and generally does not grant or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute material in its collections. Permission and possible fees may be required from the copyright owner independently of the Library. It is the researcher’s obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the Library’s collections. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Researchers must make their own assessments of rights in light of their intended use.

“If you have any more information about an item you’ve seen on our website or if you are the copyright owner and believe our website has not properly attributed your work to you or has used it without permission, we want to hear from you. Please contact OGC@loc.gov with your contact information and a link to the relevant content.”

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