Bridgetowne: Where two megacities meet

Legendary English journalist Joseph Rudyard Kipling famously said, “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” Well, never say never! Because East and West just met with the recent launch of Bridgetowne, Robinsons Land Corporation’s first township development, and its iconic bridge that will link two vibrant megacities — Pasig on the east and Quezon City on the west.

Imagine a 200-meter picture-pretty bridge, which will cost hundreds of millions of pesos to build, running across Marikina River, from the Quezon City approach to the Pasig City approach.

FYI, the bridge architecture is by Mañosa & Company, master plan by AECOM, engineering design by DCCD Engineering Corporation, landscape by Créaris, and public art by Jefre Manuel (but more on him and his art later).

A tale of two cities: Inaugurating the Bridgetowne bridge are Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, MMDA chairman Danilo Lim, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, and Robinsons Land Corporation president and CEO Frederick Go. Photo by WALTER BOLLOZOS

One Bridge, Two Cities

“The Bridgetowne bridge will connect Quezon City and Pasig, and will be a welcome infrastructure for everyone to use,” Frederick Go, president and CEO of Robinsons Land Corporation, discloses at an informal chat with media at the Bridgetowne site. “It will help alleviate traffic, especially for those coming from the east, and allow people to accomplish more every single day. It is also quite an unusual bridge. Better than a normal vehicular bridge, it will have two lanes on each side — a pedestrian lane and a bike lane, both of which are lacking in our country’s bridges today. With a bike-friendly bridge, we want to promote a more eco-friendly means of transportation to reduce pollution in the city. It’s also intended to be a walking type of bridge so it’s pedestrian-friendly.”

“I think it’s very exciting because it’s one development in two cities,” says a beaming Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte. “But I was joking that I’m happy that the revenue-generating parts — the mall and the hotel (in the Bridgetowne development) are in Quezon City.”

For his part, Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto exclaims, “I’m very excited for the bridge to formally open because, hopefully, it will also help ease traffic congestion. More than anything, I’m looking forward to the development of the Pasig side because so much can be done here. I’m also thankful to everyone involved. And I look forward to seeing all these projects completed.”

Winning art: Fil-Am Jefre Manuel is the artist behind “The Victor” sculpture

Now joined together are these two flourishing cities under two young, well-loved, dynamic mayors while keeping their own distinct charm. Quezon City, one of the largest cities in the country, is home to a number of government offices, universities and media networks. Pasig, one of the oldest towns in the Philippines, is now a highly urbanized city that’s transforming itself into a green city.

The Victor: To Dream, Aspire, Be Inspired

Amid these two major cities will rise Bridgetowne, a 31-hectare mixed-use, master-planned destination estate that’s bound to be a retail destination, too. Towering over Bridgetowne is a colossal art installation by Fil-Am artist Jefre Manuel. Meet “The Victor,” standing tall at 60 meters (roughly the equivalent of a 20-story building), probably the tallest non-religious public art in the country today.

“Obviously, The Victor is inspired by our founder, John Gokongwei, who has been very successful despite the challenging early part of his life,” Go shares. “He has emerged victorious by building a successful and huge conglomerate in the Philippines. The Victor can also symbolize somebody like Manny Pacquiao, a global sports icon, or the winning Filipino spirit.”

“Bridgetowne has been masterfully designed as a place where victors will live, work, and thrive,” says Robinsons Land president and CEO Frederick Go.

The Victor is really an aspirational symbol. “Bridgetowne is not just a place where you can live, work, and play,” Go stresses. “We’re adding another dimension because here, you can also dream, aspire, be inspired to achieve your goals in life. It’s a symbol of hope, strength, success or the triumph of the human spirit. Our hope is that this monument will become like a lot of the monuments you see in the world (think Eiffel Tower in Paris, Fontana di Trevi in Rome or the John Harvard statue at Harvard University in the US). Instagrammable statues or experiential sculptures where you rub something or drop a coin for good luck, make a wish or say a prayer. So, we’re building a platform on The Victor so people can walk up to him and maybe rub his shoe for good luck. We’re hoping to start a trend.”

Artist Jefre Manuel has done several installation designs for Robinsons Land Corporation. One of these is the Book of San Pedro at Robinsons San Pedro, Laguna Mall. “It’s like an open book where so many names are written,” Go describes. “It’s the book of St. Peter that he will be holding when you enter the gates of heaven at the end of your life. He will look and see if your name is written in the Book of Life. If your name is there, you can enter heaven.”

Home Is Where The Art Is

“It’s really about the people, what it is that makes these two cities identifiable,” Manuel explains his work. “For me, The Victor is a beacon for unity with the bridge being a metaphor for connection, the gateway between two cities divided by a river.”

He adds with immeasurable pride, “It’s going to be a new landmark in the Philippines, like what the Statue of Liberty is to the US or the Arc de Triomphe to France.”

Now under construction in Beijing is this mammoth sculpture in all its perforated metal glory. “It’s made of marine-grade steel,” Manuel tells us how sturdy The Victor is, as it battles time and the elements. “We’re using the very old-fashioned Chinese hot-rolling process.  It will be the tallest lighting project with interactive lights in the country. To be finished by the first quarter of next year, it will be shipped in parts from China and reassembled here.”

Bridgetowne will be filled with a lot of other Instagrammable art installations not just by Jefre Manuel. “The idea is to create a public art masterplan for Bridgetowne and bring other Filipino artists to collaborate and do other artworks,” he reveals. “But creating public art for the people has a lot of liabilities, things like wind load, engineering, maintenance. I will help our artists with those things, to create a lot more sustainable art.”

Indeed, no other place can inspire winners than one that’s built by winners. “We’re building a dream destination estate that spans two most prosperous and progressive cities and will be home to world-class residential towers, office buildings, recreational spaces, hotels, and retail centers,” says Go. “Robinsons Land Corporation has created several world-class developments and Bridgetowne is no exception. Bridgetowne has been masterfully designed as a place where victors will live, work, and thrive.”

He elaborates, “Our goal is to be able to house everybody who works and lives here, not just the bosses but the regular employees, too. It will be a self-contained community. Construction of the mall, hotel, residential towers, office buildings is ongoing. So when you come here to live, everything is ready, there are jobs already. It’s not a future promise.”

Yes, Bridgetowne is surely our kind of town!