Tag Archives: laguna de bay

To España (via Philippine National Railroad!)

In Alabang, PNR staffers told passengers that they could only accommodate those who bought tickets from an earlier time. The rest would have to wait  for two hours for the next ride. Yes, not efficient but if you don’t have any options you’d be happy to wait. Well,  air conditioned Metropolis Alabang is nearby so those passengers can go inside and idle their time away.

No not madre españa but that frequently flooded area named after the Iberian motherland.

The journey felt like an attraction ride. It ran steady at 20 kilometers per hour as it wildly swayed from side to side. Not to disparage efforts our government is taking to modernize our train network but like its current speed—it’s too slow.

To this my mother said, “mas mabuti na yan kaysa wala”.

But let me point out that even in its current condition PNR benefits many of our countrymen. The trip from Alabang to España was under an hour. That’s faster than taking any other public transportation today.

During the ride, I stroke up a conversation with a farmer from Tanauan. An OFW from Saudi who decided to come home to farm. He was headed to Pasay to buy pesticides. He dreams that our trains would one day connect his beloved Tanauan, hometown of the hero Mabini, to Manila.

“Pare, maybe not in our lifetime, but who knows?” I told him.

I went to a public elementary school in Makati where many of my classmates lived “home along da riles”. Our school was near the Buendia Station. Our teachers would pause from teaching as trains blasts their thunderous horns.

We played in and around the railroad. I noticed how scant and unkempt my friends houses were. They were illegal settlers along the railroad. Their shanties stood in stilts with the canal below serving as sewage. But what made an impression on me was how happy they were even living in that condition.

Rail work begun in 1887 under British direction. The asset was transferred completely to the Philippine government during the American administration. Since then it went through its phases of development.

Our PNR stations these days are devoid of the former elegance and grace it once had. We never had grand and wide stations like those in old Europe but they were lovely. They look pretty and there are a few of them left, like Paco and San Fernando (Pam.), though slowly crumbling to their deaths, scattered along our old riles.

Our trains had its good days. The line north referred to “Sugar road” while the south transports “Sugar, forest products and petroleum.”

History teachers tells us of Rizal’s letter praising the women of Malolos. Well, he visited the town via our railroad. He then proceeded to see friends as far as San Fernando. This was a century ago. The crumbling stations along the north has been waiting for the trains return.

When? that depends on how determined our government wants to put us right back on track (there’s the pun).

Recent developments under Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” vision looks promising. It comes as one of the bigger items in the infrastructure build up. The railway sector get a big pie with 1 trillion pesos (this budget includes the MRT).

The north would be extended all the way to Malolos (from Tutuban). Then another 55 kilometer railway reaching Clark in Pampanga. So you can alight from Clark airport and go straight to Manila.

To the South, from Tutuban the railway would run once more and reach Los Banos. I’ve been dreaming of riding an overnighter train to Bicol since I was a little boy. I wonder when would I finally get to ride one—I’m almost 40 now!

While I was on vacation a few years ago when visited Quezon province I saw the old railroad cut through an intensely green rice paddy (if memory serves me right I was in Unisan). Imagine if you were on a comfortable train ride going down south and you wake up seeing something like that?

Aside from moving goods and people, there’s tourism money for the PNR and towns it serves. A reliable and working train network is good for local economies too. One of my favorite travel show is “Japan Hour,” it is basically people riding trains to visit towns in the province.

The plan to establish a train running near the Laguna De Ba’y was drawn during the American occupation. Another plan that would have benefited us if it were carried out (much like the Burnham plan for Manila) to its conclusion. Due to massive population growth in recent years all you see today are houses.

Experts say that trains would contribute in dispersing the population out of Manila. It improves local economies. People would build their homes outside Manila if there’s an efficient public transport. This is something we haven’t realized yet because we have a failed rail system.

How we ended up with a mismanaged railway system? We all know the answer to that. The same answer why we ended up with poor infrastructure all over our islands.

I now live here in Singapore where the slightest delays in train arrivals makes the evening news—and theirs I feel is one of the best in Asia. They demand the highest standards from the people that runs their train system. I imagine having the same trains going in and out of our cities, taking us to our provinces, north and south, to see relatives and spend fiesta holidays.

Sana lang we get to see it in our lifetime. Sana.


This Morning

Took some pictures of the lake and the people that spends their time either exercising or fishing around it during Sunday morning. Its  nice seeing this area getting some attention from the local government. It wasn’t like this before.The area now have a school and sports hall. Though short, the paved road that goes around the area is good enough for some biking.

This San Pedro guy is progressive in his politics. This young mayor is bringing in some fresh ideas and good planning. I like his initiative of banning the use of plastic bags. When I heard of it I was thinking that it will never be enforced. Another useless law. Then the local government started closing down stores that violated the plastic bag ban. The recent store to be shut down is  KFC at the corner of Zapote Alabang rd near the market. Though the closure deprives me of my KFC fried chickens and zinger sandwich, the message is clear.

No one is above the law – even big business.

Makiling really looks like a woman lying on her back.

Boat fishermen heading out to the lake at the break of dawn.

The water lilies. Why haven't anybone thought of that as a good band name, I don't know.

Recreational fishing around the lake. But no "catch and release" here. What's caught goes straight to the frying pan.

Afternoon Bike Around

I rode my bike late this afternoon to sweat and get some fresh air near Laguna de Ba’i. When it rains, the tributaries leading to the lake are free from rubbish and litter. The flowing waters of these narrow tributaries that goes straight to the lake looks so beautiful this time of the year.

Locals are anxious when it rains hard around these parts because of the floods.The bitter memories of typhoon Ondoy are still fresh. Some areas around aplaya had been underwater for months after the deluge.

I like this area of the town. The area gives you a good look at historic lake. Right across is Binangonan. Here you can see different classes of Muntinlupeño: Poor, rich, fisherfolks and tenderos.The tricycles are everywhere.

The governments lack of planning is to blame for the houses built near the aplaya. The view must’ve been amazing 100 years ago when when its waters were used to irrigate surrounding rice fields, fishing and passage ways for steamboats. The fishpens are an eyesore that must be removed.

I then went to my parish, St. Peregrine in Tunasan. Churches for me are proven to  perfect for contemplation.  Rested for awhile then headed back home.

Sunrise Over Laguna de Bay

Sunrise that look more like a sunset. I love its ember hues, thin dark clouds and goldish tones. Its 5 in the morning here and I'm here seeing this.

Words can never explain the beauty of nature. So I’ll stop here…

The view from here

It is hard to fit everything on my schedule these days. Good thing is that there are fixed weekend day-off. Enough time for some rest, exercise [which is terribly lacking] and recreation. And speaking of recreation, I plan to visit a museum tomorrow.

My first week in office was ok, my mind is a bit divided lately but I still enjoyed the week. I’ve met a lot of great people and the place continues to impress me. I don’t know if it’s because all of these are new to me but things are good so far. The learning part is challenging and I’m sure there will be bumps ahead as the situation gets complicated with sudden changes that you normally expect from this industry. I’m excited to see what’s in store for me in my new role. Its going to be tough I know.

The highlight of my shift is the breaking of day. Observing sunrise over the hills of Morong while the historic lake reflects its glory makes me feel good, nostalgic even – it provokes memories of my youth. When we moved to Muntinlupa in the early 90’s, I commute from our new home to Arellano University daily. I had to leave early, usually around 5 in the morning, because of the skyway construction [started in early 90’s] that causes terrible traffic during rush hours, if it were not for this, I would’ve attended college in Letran after my secondary studies in Arellano. When the Lawton bus pass by Sucat Bridge I’m always greeted by this post card scene, the most picturesque sunrise one could ever see in Manila. For awhile you forget how polluted the lake was becoming due to human invasion.

The office where I now work is located several floors up and it allows a great view of the whole Muntinlupa area, I could even see our small village. Thick smog often blocks visibility but it’s still a sight to behold, I could see as far as Calamba on a clear day. I was talking with a French colleague [in English of course] and told him about Jala-Jala, a town that was once part of La Laguna, how it used to be a farmland administered by a Frenchman in the 17th century. I was trying to show him where it was located in the lake, I’m not sure if I made sense but I tried, maybe I should learn French instead. The French haciendero, Paul de la Gironiere was an exceptional writer, who wrote about his adventures here in our country. As he himself indicated in “Voyage a Majaijai”, he had an illness and it is believed that he went back to die in France. Curiously, another foreigner took up the farm tenancy. Peter Vendi, his name suggests that he’s European possibly of Armenian descent, he abandoned the estate [during the revolution I think] and nothing was heard from him again. There is much we could learn from Laguna de Bai, the towns around it and its people. Sadly, hardly anyone is interested in studying history. If only we can  learn how to respect Laguna de Bai’s historical significance, maybe we would value it differently.

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