Majayjay’s Tulay Pigue

The footbridge is about 20 to 30 foot long, this is a small portion of it. From the Catholic Cemetery and Jeepney station, its about a 500m walk.

Crossing Rio Olla from the poblacion to the bukid was difficult and dangerous for the locals during the Spanish years. Torrential rains transforms the small quite river into a raging body of water. The Majayjayenses had to go down to the river  to get to the other side. A project was then spearheaded by the Franciscan parish priest of Majayjay to make a bridge that would make it easy to cross the river. Bridge and roads construction [Caminos y Fuentes] are initiated by Friars to expedite their ecclesiastical work and the Franciscans in La Laguna are among the finest bridge builders in our history. The Missionaries were the first to establish the islands infrastructure until 1866 when the Spanish government placed all public works under civil engineers, Inspección General de Obras Publicas. The idea of a bridge over Olla was perceived to make going to the hills of Majayjay and Magadalena easier for hunters [mostly foreigners, dignitaries & the moneyed class] and farmers [the Majayjayenses living in this part of the town]. Once finished it will allow “unhurried walks and safe crossing”, this is how it came to be known as Fuente Cappricio. Some say that the bridge was made for hunters, a popular hobby at that time. Majayjay like Jala-Jala was favored grounds for hunting to many affluent men.

However, the bridge was never completed. There were several cited reasons; the Calatraveño Friar’s inexperience in bridge construction, insufficient funding and poor planning. Keen not to waste the effort of the Majayjayense folks in putting up the massive foundations of the bridge, the locals converted it into a narrow footbridge [using bamboo and wood] which can only accommodate one “pigue” [as it became to be known, Tulay Pige] at a time. Today, this small bridge is reinforced with concrete. Its foundations are hidden by vegetation as if nature took it back. A scene from Apocalypse now was shot in the bridge; it appeared like a footbridge made entirely of bamboo in the movie.

The bridge is easy to find but one has to pass a garbage dump site to reach the place. You would not recognize that it’s a Spanish era bridge because nature has covered its foundation with plant life. The elevation of the bridge provides a breathtaking view of Rio Olla. There is house right across the bridge where an extended family lives, the family  invited me inside their small home and offered me coffee [instant kape]. While drinking my cup, I told them that Theodor Tobler, the man who founded the chocolate company Toblerone, once administered vast coffee plantations in Majayjay, I asked them if they know of any existing coffee plantation in the area, they’re not aware of any.Unfortunately, it looks like that coffee production in Majayjay left with Tobler when he abandoned his plantation. Majayjayenses are nice and friendly people. Most are still devout Catholics. The man of the house recalls the Americans and its Filipino crew shooting the film in the area. “Tinabunan na ang tulay ng Kastila diyan”, the man said, saying the town government had repaired the bridge several times after being damaged by typhoons.

Nature taking back the foundations of the old bridge

This is an outrage! This dumpsite has to stop! I was told that the garbage are not even from Majayjay but the neighboring towns.

I was worried that the bridge can't hold my weight for long!

September 2009


9 responses to “Majayjay’s Tulay Pigue

  • Majayjay’s Tulay Pigue II | With one's past...

    […] observed that the article I wrote about Majayjay’s “Tulay Pigue” is receiving hits […]

  • mike

    Im from maj.i would like to know the source story behind thedor tobler travel to maj..a lot of europeans travelled and stayed there.including Paul P. de la Gironiere a French national .he published a book ‘juorney to maj.” Dated 1862

  • P.F.

    Do you think you could locate this bridge on Google Maps? I’m trying to gather data about some Filipino landmarks and I can’t figure out if I’m looking at this bridge, Puente de Olla, or just land jutting out. If you have the time please e-mail me at pprzystupa@sricrm.com Thanks so much!

  • Mark Lester Robel Gelverio

    Great article! … i remember my childhood days..when i was 8-10 yrs old my Kuya and i cross that bridge… that is the shortest way to get in brgy.talortor … i think that was a bamboo bridge way back 90’s..

  • Leoncio Gregana

    I remember when I was a kid, there were couple of times that a role playing was made during the towns anniversay on how the Spaniards hit their butt, who used a piece of stick as they worked on the construction of the bridge.

  • Leoncio Gregana

    I was raised from Majayjay and I knew of different story about it. According to the old people I knew, during the Spanish time that it was being built, the Spanish administrator was so strict and one false move of the workers, the Spaniards hit them on their butt. Until there were resistance and later no one showed up to finish the bridge. The priest who was assigned in Majayjay was later, replaced by a new one. The locals did not continue the bridge because of too much cliff and more work were needed. Later, the the locals redirected a new route for easier access. The bridge was called “Tulay ng Pigue” because of the the Spanish who hit their butt for every false move.

    • De AnDA

      @ Leoncio – it’s quite a story thanks for sharing. You know legends are a bit more prone to getting stained. So, the friar, who administered the building of a bridge, which from the looks of it must have been a huge undertaking employing countless souls, regularly hit the workers on the butt cheeks? I’m not saying that what you said never happened, its possible, but sometimes you look back and say “really”? they could easily threw twist his neck and throw him in the ravine. We’re very accommodating but we don’t react well when humiliated. If the Friars were that abusive I don’t think that they would be able to relate, succeed and survive in our world, then and now.

  • Augustine Leventer

    Interessanter Post. Ich lese jetzt weiter hier im Blog.

  • Fred Panola the Great!

    Sabi e pige ang tawag dahil ang tulay as sinlaki lang ng pige. Malaki ang pakinabang nyan sa mga taga-kabilang ibayo, lalo na sa mga batang nagaaral. salamat sa feature mo asawa ko taga dito pero umalis na kami at ngayon dito na us

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