An abridged podcast of “The Bridge,” my short story about a very special former first lady and a psychic child can be heard on Pakinggan Pilipinas, site that features podcasts of fiction written by Filipino authors.
I had that story in my head for more than a decade, ever since I heard an urban legend that involved the costruction of the San Juanico Bridge, which connects the islands of Samar and Leyte and is the longest bridge in the country. It wasn’t until 2005 that, urged by the need to submit to Vin Simbulan’s A Time for Dragons anthology, that I finally decided to write it.
The writing of the story was very special to me. I was working in a newsroom of a major TV station back then. We were a small, but tight-knit bunch. I was in my mid-twenties but I was a kid next to the seasoned veterans who had 30 years of hard news reporting under their belts. I remember distinctly, the day the story finally, after more than ten years of just sitting in my brain, came together in my head. I looked over at the cubicle across mine and asked the guy seated there, one of the older reporters who had lived through everything, and asked “When was the San Juanico built?” He answered, “1972” (construction started in 1969 and completed in 1973, but 1972 is the year the story takes place).
For some reason, that date unlocked a door in my mind, and writing the story was easy. I had been preparing for it for more than 10 years, after all. And yes, I wrote it during work hours. But my boss didn’t mind.
“The Bridge” would go on to win a Philippine Graphic/Literature award, and I remember Neil Gaiman repeating throughout the evening when we were having dinner with him how much he loved the story. It is a memory that always warms my heart.
The story is read by the bedroom-voiced Nikki Alfar, and I am so glad to have gotten her as a reader. If you’ve read “The Bridge,” I hope you liked it. If you haven’t, you can try out the lite version via this podcast. I hope you enjoy it.