By Dhel Nazario
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin graced on Friday the inauguration ceremony of the restored Alkaff Bridge in Singapore.
“Bridges shape and explain much of history: from bridges like this closing a narrow divide making it easier for the same community to get around; to long bridges across chasms created by geography; to the symbolic ones linking nations and the one connecting our present to our past and both to the future,” Secretary Locsin said.
“These are bridges of memory and heart, of commitment and aspiration; They endure longer than physical bridges if we but wish them to. It depends only on how strongly we want to keep those connections,” he noted.
“Alkaff Bridge, so transformed, connects not just the banks of Robertson Quay, but brings together also the Filipino and Singaporean peoples in mutual appreciation, amity, and cooperation. Alkaff Bridge has become the metaphor for one of Southeast Asia’s most abiding friendships,” he added.
Secretary Locsin also paid tribute to the late acclaimed Filipina artist Pacita Abad, whose artistry was showcased in the bridge.
“Consummate artist that she was, she was seized with the idea of imparting a sense of vitality and community to a multi-racial, multi-cultural state imparting vividness and immediacy to the structure through color: a total of 55 hues and shades and 900 liters of paint to be exact. She explicitly said she was doing it for the people of Singapore,” he said.
Abad, then on an art residency at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, transformed the bridge in 2004 from being a plain, functional piece of infrastructure into one brought to life by her signature palette of vibrant hues and abstract form.
Now recognized as a “bridge of art”, the Alkaff Bridge has since become the very symbol of the long-standing friendship and vibrant, dynamic ties between the Philippines and Singapore. Ms. Abad would regrettably succumb to illness in December of the same year.
“The full restoration of Alkaff bridge to Pacita’s original vision and work, on the 50th year of our official friendship, pays tribute to her artistry, to the vibrancy and multiculturalism of Singapore, and to the enduring ties of our two countries and peoples,” Secretary Locsin stated.
Also present in the ceremony were the late artist’s relatives, led by her brother, former Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad.
The restoration of the bridge’s artwork, another centerpiece event in the ongoing golden jubilee celebration of Philippines-Singapore relations this year, was made possible through the joint efforts of the Philippine and Singaporean governments and the support of both countries’ private sectors.