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Wet, dangerous days for Rizal sitio residents over

NEW BRIDGE — This footbridge, built through the efforts of Mapua Institute of Technology alumni, will be inaugurated on October 8. It will serve students and residents of Sitio Casili, Barangay San Rafael, Rodriguez, Rizal. (Courtesy of Bob Corrales)

NEW BRIDGE — This footbridge, built through the efforts of Mapua Institute of Technology alumni, will be inaugurated on October 8. It will serve students and residents of Sitio Casili, Barangay San Rafael, Rodriguez, Rizal. (Courtesy of Bob Corrales)

Many months ago, a picture of children using rubber interiors from tires while crossing a 100-meter wide river to reach their school on the other side was splashed on the front page of a major daily.

It was a sad sight. But through the efforts of alumni from the Mapua Institute of Technology, these children will no longer risk their lives from crossing a river.

On October 8, a steel and concrete suspension foot bridge will be inaugurated for students of Casili Elementary School and residents of the surrounding community who cross the river using rubber interiors and other floating devices.

The group behind building this bridge is from the Foundation of Outstanding Mapuans Inc. (FOMI) and members of the Mapua Alumni community here and abroad under the umbrella of the National Association of Mapua Alumni (NAMA).

The bridge is 100 meters long, one meter wide and 15.80 meters high across the Casili River in Sitio Casili, Barangay San Rafael, Rodriguez, Rizal.

The project started in 2012 when a group of Mapua alumni saw a TV documentary that featured children on bamboo rafts or rubber interiors crossing the river, their books and other belongings hoisted above their heads.

You would think a sight like this was taken from some isolated barrio in some far-flung province. Yet, the place is somewhere just outside Metro Manila and you wonder how this has gone on without town officials doing something about it.

“It just broke our hearts seeing these young children risk their lives to get to the other side of the river to attend school,” said spouses Bob and Mercy Corrales, the MIT graduates who helped raised funds and support to build the bridge.

The Mapua alumni decided that it would not wait for the national or local government to build the bridge. The group already had experience helping construct classrooms in typhoon-ravaged communities in Iligan City, Compostela Valley and Tanauan, Leyte and the members thought this was a worthy project.

Funds were raised and donations in kind poured in. They also saved money by getting graduates from Mapua to do the design, supervision and construction.

After securing the required permits, ground was broken for the construction of the project on Dec. 8, 2015.

In a few more weeks, the children and people of Sitio Casili, wet and endangered, will be walking on dry surface. It’s goodbye to bamboo rafts and rubber floaters and goodbye to risk of drowning.