Attraversiamo: Crossing the San Juanico Bridge

Attraversiamo is Italian for “let’s cross over or let’s go to the other side“. Ever since I have read the book “Eat, Pray, Love”, this Italian word never left my mind. Moreso when I have watched the film. I just love how the actors enunciated this word. It just sounds so pleasing to the ears. The word is often uttered when people walk down the road. Beyond the aural orgasm it brings to my vestibule-cochlear nerve, I like “attraversiamo” because it’s meaning goes beyond crossing over the other side.

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Attraversiamo means letting go of the past (especially those that has tremendously hurt or disappointed us), the “what was”, “what if’s” and “if only’s” that are setting us back to move forward. This word reminds me to think of the “now”, the “what is” and “what will be”.

In 2011, my friend Imma and I went on a trip to Leyte and Samar. I remember that there were moments when we talked about what we envision to be our personal “Eat, Pray, Love” journey. And attraversiamo has been was an outright topic for conversation then. You see, the island provinces of Samar and Leyte are connected with each other by a lengthy bridge. We were in Samar side when Imma and I decided to go to the other side (Leyte) on FOOT via the San Juanico Bridge.

She was hesitant to do so. I was too. But the sense of excitement has always been at the back of my mind. Well, who wouldn’t? The bridge is considered the longest in the Philippines at 2,200 meters. I knew I wanted to cross the bridge, and I was aware it was a bit tad scary as well.

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“What if my then fear of heights comes back while we were in the middle?”
“What if an earthquake strikes, and we haven’t reached the other side yet?”
“What if Imma, my friend, tells me she can no longer do it?

These were so many thoughts running my mind before we started our foot race. “Attraversiamo” as a word became more significant than ever. We took our time crossing the bridge, stopping from time to time for several reasons. There were times when we had to take photos and marvel at the lovely water view, there were instances when we had to stop because we can feel the bridge shaking as vehicles pass by, and there were moments when I just wanted to pause, breathe, and look back how far we have come. Another notable thing I have observed then when I looked back from where we came from, the clouds were dark and gloomy, while the weather towards the direction we were heading to was all bright and sunny.

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It was yet another moment reminding me that nothing in life is set in stone. That as human beings, we always have the choice to change directions or paths and be better individuals. Crossing over could mean going after our dreams… Getting into the other side could be a way of pursuing our passion. And as I look at my life, it has dawned in me that I have already made several crossovers… Crossovers that led me to where I am right now. Six years after that literal “attraversiamo” moment in Samar-Leyte, I was able to put into fruition my personal “Eat, Pray, Love” journey. And it wasn’t a smooth sailing “attraversiamo”.

I do not epitomize perfection like anyone else. I had a lot of setbacks, rerouting, layovers and even dead ends. I have been ruined from some of my past experiences – from heartbreaks to family problems to work frustrations. And letting go has always been a challenge on my end. But I am learning… slowly learning to do more “attraversiamo”… Baby steps they maybe, but the goal is to keep moving. I am on a constant learning to let go of the pains and become a better version of myself… A Lester who is kind, thankful, optimistic, and nice to everyone… and in everything he does.

Say ATTRAVERSIAMO with love and conviction. Attraversiamo to a wonderful place, to a wonderful change, to a wonderful YOU.

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The Philippine landmark featured in this write-up is The SAN JUANICO BRIDGE.

The San Juanico Bridge is regarded as the longest bridge in the Philippines connecting the islands of Samar and Leyte. It is considered by most as a symbol of love since it is a gift of former Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos to his wife Imelda, a native of Leyte Province.

How to Get There: The San Juanico Bridge is the major route for Eastern Visayans as it connects Tacloban City on the Leyte side and the town of Santa Rita on the Samar side.

From Manila, one can fly to “The Gateway to Eastern Visayas,” Tacloban City, as all major airlines service the city. A bus and ferry ride are also possible options but it will take 24 to 36 hours of travel time. Once in Tacloban, you can take a jeepney or a tricycle going to the bridge. The best way to experience the bridge, just like what I did, is to cross it on foot.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

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