THE whooshing sound of the engines, the loud horns of the cars and the dragging noise of the trucks are the symphonies you hear at the site of Bolton Bridge in Davao City. It is beside the Tionko football field. Numerous public and private vehicles cross the bridge everyday day in order to get to their destinations.
The Bolton Bridge is not just an infrastructure but also a site of historical prominence. In 1848, Governor-General Don Narciso Claveria gave a special grant to Spanish native Don Jose Cruz de Oyanguren to pacify the Moros and establish the Christian religion in the entire gulf district of Davao.
Datu Daupan, the chieftain of the Samal Mandayas took Oyanguren’s plan of colonization as an opportunity to get back at Datu Bago, the Muslim chieftain of the Davao gulf. Both Datu Daupan and Datu Bago were in intense territorial rivalry at that time.
The first attack of Oyanguren against the Moros was ineffective because the ships that he used could not fit and move to the narrow strait of the Davao River Bend. Oyanguren’s allies was forced to depart without a fight. Oyanguren then found other ways to reach the Moro settlement.
In the Davao River Bend is where the Bolton Bridge is currently located.
Its history aside, people often just pass the bridge and little did they know about the little settlement beneath it. Under the Bolton Bridge, matchbox like houses are in array. Thereare children cheerfully playing on the steep platform and domesticated pets are also with them including a white fluffy rabbit, chained barking aspins and caged yellow chirping love birds.
One of the settlers below Bolton Bridge is Warlito Panonggo. He is originally from Tawan Tawan, Baguio district. Panonggo was a farmer but he chose to move to the city. He said it is easier here in the city because you could eat well unlike in their province where you could only eat what you plant like camote and cassava.
Their house is made of a tiny puzzle of kawayan, tarpaulin and nails. However, around a dozen of individuals stay at the house including the wife, the children, the brother and the grandchildren of Panonggo. Amidst the lack of space, there lies a mini television set and a dvd player in the hut of the Panonggos. Every time their stomachs growl in hunger, they resort to the entertainment the television brings.
Panonggo’s family has been living under the Bolton Bridge for almost 14 years. Would Panonggo and his family want to live in a better place? Definitely. They are just waiting for the relocation site that the government would soon provide.
The Bolton Bridge is not only rich in history but it is also a source of shelter to the less privileged. It may be viewed just as a mere infrastructure but that very bridge vehicles cross is the home of the people who are thriving to survive the city life.Aivy Rose Villarba