Reality bites
TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) - November 22, 2019 - 12:00am

The painful reality has set in. The two proposed bridges that have got people in at least three provinces in Central Visayas all excited are not going to be after all. In the new list of priority projects under the government's aggressive "Build, build, build" program, the planned bridges connecting Cebu and Bohol and Cebu and Negros Oriental can no longer be found. Read that to mean they have been shelved, or even scrapped altogether.

This sad and painful development is just as I have always thought. Not that I am not for the construction of these bridges. I am. But I also happen to be a realist when it comes to these things, especially where they involve the government. In fact, more than being a realist, put the government in the picture and I become an instant skeptic.

When the proposal was first put forth, maybe two, three years ago, there were not just two bridges that the national government tried to titillate the Visayans with. There was actually a third, one that would connect Bohol to Leyte. The message the proposal tried to convey was that pretty soon it would be possible to travel by land all the way from Negros to Leyte via Cebu and Bohol. I wonder what's the news with the Bohol-Leyte bridge.

Anyway, it was a lip-smacking thought and I would not be surprised if some people actually started planning possible itineraries for a projected road trip spanning the country's central islands sometime in the near future. So enticing was the dream that, for good measure, they even put a Cebuano in some important-sounding position that ostensibly had something to do with the proposal. I think that Cebuano was Adelino Sitoy.

But I remember distinctly now that, despite my enthusiasm at the time, I also happened to put down in a column or two my reservations about the project. In my own reality check-cum-skepticism, I harbored the fear that building three bridges connecting Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Leyte all at the same time was simply too much for one administration to undertake.

Never mind the engineering, geological, seismological, oceanographic, and even meteorological challenges that the project must surely face. I am not qualified to tackle any of them and I am sure there is no shortage of experts who can and will. But I am pretty certain as well that it does not take a financial expert either to realize that such a project is sure to give the government severe financial indigestion.

That proposal was projected to cost something like P100 billion. Not only does the sound of that amount asthma-causing, it is admittedly, even for a prospective beneficiary like the Cebuano me, too much to spend on just four islands in a country of more than 7,100. And that does not even take into account the feelings of certain types who think Metro Manila is the Philippines. Never mind that President Duterte is part Cebuano.

So when the news broke that the proposal was no longer going to be, I was naturally saddened. And yet I was not sad enough. Come to think of it, I was, in a mischievous sort of way, actually happy in the sense that my initial misgivings were eventually borne out right. This has always been the problem with this country. We can roar really big but can hardly even lift a finger.

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