Taytay Boni: Miag-ao’s Sesquicentennial Bridge
On your way to the town of Miag-ao from Guimbal, you’ll notice a strange shaped structure at the side of the road. Now enclosed in a small park, this stone structure used to be a bridge that once passed through a creek and connected the people of Miag-ao to the rest of Iloilo. It is called Taytay Boni where “taytay” is an Ilonggo term for bridge, while “Boni” came from its foreman, Bonifacio Neular. Built in 1854, it is now more than 150 years old.
The bridge used to connect Guimbal and Miag-ao before the construction of the national highway. If you see the bridge and its surroundings, you’ll wonder why a bridge was built on dry land. They said that during the Lady Caycay (magnitude 8.2) earthquake of 1948, an opening in the ground came out and sucked large amounts of water. The earthquake-caused tidal waves and landslides covered the creek entirely. Take note that the side of the mountain was cut to make way for the new highway.
The construction of the bridge was done by forced labor, a common practice during the colonial era. The people of Miag-ao had to transport large tablets of stones from the boundaries of Igbaras, which is 5 to 6 kilometers from the site by means of karosa (a sled pulled by carabaos). The construction was supervised the ever-watchful guardia civil.
The material used in building Taytay Boni was commonly called tablea or tabreha (stone slabs) and were fitted one after the other just like today’s modern hollow blocks. If you look closer at the stones, you’ll notice that they’re indeed yellow and are made of coral stones. Lime was used to hold the stone slabs together in way we use cement today. It seems palitada or plastering was not a trend those days.
The bridge was still passable before and after the Pacific War but was partly damaged because of the strong earthquake in 1948. The stone floorings were loosened, while the middle portion of the wall crumbled. After the construction of the new highway,the old bridge was neglected; weeds grew and covered the structure.
Several years ago, Taytay Boni was cleaned up, beautiful flower plants and trees were planted around it, and was converted as a center piece of a small park. But still challenges remain in maintaining the structure. One side of the bridge’s wall is now leaning away, and if not properly supported, would certainly collapse.
About Taytay Boni
(The following text came from Professor Henry Funtecha and Melanie Jalandoni Padilla, 1999)
Taytay Boni is located in what the people of Miag-ao call Crossing Kamatis going to Barangay Guibongan. This place is about a kilometer from the town proper and lies between Kirayan Sur and Barangay Igtuba. According to the old folks of Miag-ao, the bridge was named after Boni Neular, its construction foreman and cantero-mayor (major carpenter).
Before the construction of Taytay Boni, the people just waded the creek on their way to the town and back because the creek was not really deep.
Made of stone blocks, Taytay Boni was constructed in 1854 when Miguel Navales was the gobernadorcillo. He wanted to prove to the people that he was a good administrator and leader. It was also to establish good relations with Spanish officials who delighted in driving their carruajes or horse-drawn carriages over the bridge.