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.