The Jones Bridge restoration should be completed by the end of October, said Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. Photograph by Chris Clemente
Culture Spotlight

The Jones Bridge makeover is almost complete, whether you like it or not

Just a few more fillings here, and a coat of paint there.
Bam V. Abellon | Oct 29 2019

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has made true another one of his promises. As part of his plan to invest on heritage preservation and cultural revival of Manila, Jones Bridge is currently being restored to its almost-original design.

The mayor revealed the progress of the project through a Facebook Live session on the evening of October 19 to the early morning of October 20 (the guy famously roams Manila’s streets during odd hours). Holding up his phone to face its camera, he apologized for not being able to finish everything by October 20, the original date of completion. “Okay na rin,” he said. “Best effort naman.” 

One of the ornate lampposts.

You may also like:

The view facing Binondo.

We did an on-site inspection (naks naman!) a week after, specifically Monday morning of October 28. Some parts, indeed, remain unfinished, including wirings, paint job, and balustrades. Much of the bridge had not been painted green and gold — a detail that has been met with comment section protests, with some saying the choice of colors is gaudy. Honestly, we don’t know what to make of the colors, especially the yellow gold parts that look like keso ice cream with strips of nata de coco. Some netizens, however, pointed out the old lampposts look simpler and more pleasant. 

The original Jones Bridge was meant to replace The Bridge of Spain, which was torn down due to increasing Manila traffic. The final design was created by architect Juan M. Arellano, after the passage of the Jones Act, named after the lawmaker, who passed a bill to give the Philippines autonomy from the United States. 

The view of the bridge from the Escolta stairs.

The original design had four plinths and four statues on pedestals by the sculptor Martinez. The bridge was destroyed during World War II, which, in turn, destroyed one of the statues. It was reconstructed in 1946 with a new design. In 1988, it was partially reconstructed by the architect Conrad Onglao, more popularly known as Zsa Zsa’s BF. 

Mayor Isko’s 20-million-peso restoration hopes to bring back the original design of the project with the three remaining sculptures. The fourth sculpture would be replicated.

Jerry Acuzar of the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar heritage park in Bataan served as consultant for the project.

Panning to the street with his phone camera, the mayor showed his followers the newly built barricade in the middle of the bridge’s four-lane road. “Hindi na kakabahan ’yong mga nagdadaan, na baka may biglang tumawid,” he says of the structure, which would force people to use the pedestrian lanes.

Up close and personal: the green-and-gold balustrades.

Solar road studs, or road lights used to delineate road edges and center lines, have been placed so that even if there’s a blackout, the roads would be safe for drivers and commuters. He then showed the walkway where he was standing, and said it isn’t done yet. Soon, it would be washed by rubberized paint, to make it less slippery. Pin lights would also be installed on the foot of the posts.

“Dito magmi-meet sa Jones Bridge ang dalawang pamana,” he said, talking directly to his audience again. “Pamana ng panahon ng Kastila at Americano, at pamana ng ating mga kababayang Chino.” He then pointed the camera straight ahead, which revealed a very quiet Chinatown.

The project, he said, is slated for completion by the end of October which is, really, any minute from now. 

 

Photographs by Chris Clemente