Sometimes getting diverted is a good thing. While I was initially irked that the bus I took to get to Philippine Normal University ended up in Plaza de Dilao, my mood changed when I saw the Takayama monument and the old Paco train station.
I dream one day our old train stations gets restored back to its former glory. Yes, there was once a time when efficient train service moved Filipinos to their destinations. Old city train stations in Europe, most of which were either destroyed or damaged in the WWII, are now tourism centerpieces in their localities. We should follow this as it not only promotes history but elevates the status of our railway system in the eyes of our people. We now have a generation who has never experienced train travel.
The train stations we have now are unsightly and unsafe platforms. Even the modest Spanish colonial stations (most are now ruins) are better than these eye sores. Philippine National Railway’s trains and coaches are mostly hand me downs from Japan. It’s high time this enterprise gets privatized. The government had the time to fix it but struggled to put everything in order. The people deserves a train system that works!
Built during the early years of the American era, the Paco railway station was partially damaged when some businessmen, with the backing of powerful Manila politicians, started preparing the site to build a shopping arcade. They abandoned construction but damaged had already been done to the historic railway station. The last time it suffered this degree of damage was during WWII.
The building of malls in our old towns and cities has been the greatest threat to our hopes to conserve our heritage. Businessmen look for historical sites as most of these sits on expensive prime properties. Politicians loves to profit from these projects too. It makes them look good as it not only generates jobs, to them it glamorizes their city. A feather in their cap that increases their chances of getting themselves re-elected.
Some of the fiercest battle during the ‘liberation of Manila’ took place here. The Americans had to cross the Pasig river to get to Paco and Pandacan. The Japanese, realizing this, made sure that Paco would be heavily defended. The battle for Paco produced two Medal of Honor awardee. Both American minorities, one American Indian and one Hispanic.
I’m curious as to why it has taken this long before our heritage agencies considered declaring the building a heritage structure. The Paco station deserves not only a plaque of recognition but protection from destruction!
 Sergeant Cleto Rogriguez and Private 1st class John Reese Jr. from Co. B, 148th battalion infantry.
Support the on line movement to save this wonderful building by liking the FB fan page below:
Another advocacy group I admire is the Railway and Industrial Society of the Philippines. They’re currently heading research and other conservation projects for some of our most important heritage structures.
Support and learn more about them here: