The Matina Bamboo Footbridge in Davao City became a symbol of unity and hope for the three community associations of Barangay 74-A Matina Crossing Communities residing in the Arroyo Compound. Each bamboo member of the bridge represents each member of the association who are joined and connected to achieve a unique and amazing piece of architecture and engineering. Together, these bamboo members form an arched bridge with a span of twenty-three meters over the silent and very unpredictable Matina River. The three community association currently occupies a private land with an absentee owner. They are constantly facing threats of eviction but the community vows to be able to purchase that land one day. With the river snaking around the plot, the community had to previously utilize a rickety makeshift bridge of lashed bamboo poles that often are swept away when the river, rises well beyond the banks submerging most of the houses in waist-deep muddy waters. The makeshift could not support heavy loads and it only allows a single line of passersby making the transfer of goods and transportation difficult. Thus, the three community associations united to come up with a solution.
The three community associations accessed initially a loan of P300,000 with 175 applicants – 77 applicants from St. Benedict Neighborhood Association, 74 applicants from Matina-Balusong Neighborhood Association, and 24 applicants from St. Paul Neighborhood Association – in order to provide a more permanent and lasting bridge for their communities. The bridge is significant to their lives as it brings them to the other side where their livelihood, their studies and basically their survival are waiting. With their affiliation to the Philippine Alliance in Mindanao, the community was given the opportunity to be exposed to modern bamboo construction in the Asian Coalition for Housing Rightssupporter (ACHR) National Process Workshop last February 6-7, 2010. Conventional construction methods like steel and reinforced concrete were not viable options as they are expensive to construct.
Thus, after a series of lectures and hands-on training on bamboo propagation, harvesting, treatment and construction – facilitated by the technical team composed of Arch. Cak Fitrianto and Jajang of Sahabat Bambu Indonesia (SaBa), Engr. Jeofry Camarista of Philippine Alliance Western Visayas, Engr. Noel Zeta of Philippine Alliance Central Visayas, Engr. Muncada of UP Mindanao, Engr. Tabanguil of UM and the YPs of TAMPEI Mindanao – the community was able to come up with designs. Like any community-led process, the Matina Bamboo Footbridge faced numerous challenges which were met with unusual and innovative solutions the community themselves decided upon.
Full project document can be read here