i guess most people are already aware of the North Rail project of the government. sa dami ba naman ng na-displace na tao sa project na ‘to, sino ba’ng di makakapansin diba? at least the government provided relocation sites for the affected residents. but one affected “resident” can’t easily be relocated, particularly in my own hometown.
when i was still a little kid, dad would wake me up around 5:30AM to get ready for school. i’d take a bath, get dressed, eat breakfast and wait for my school service to pick me up. and each morning at 5:45 AM, in what is mostly a quiet dawn (save for the early greetings of the neighbor’s chickens), i’d hear the train passing through the adjacent barangay through the noise it made with its wheels on the tracks and perhaps with its engine as well.
now that i look back on it, i think i never saw the train itself. i guess we had conflicting schedules. 😛 but unfortunate as i was, my dad would tell me stories about the train. how he, as a child, used to go with my uncles and playmates to the train tracks, line up coins on them and wait for the train to pass. and once it did, they’d hear all of the coins they placed jingle and fly from tracks as the train flattened them into what looked like blobs of nickel or gold. he also told me that they could never hold them immediately with their hands because they were really hot after being flattened.
when he grew older, he told me how the train became critical to our family’s livelihood. my grandfather was a watchmaker and tailor who worked in Avenida. my father would commute via the train to Manila, bringing some materials to the shop and would come home with my grandfather afterwards. this was quite easy for them since we had one station in our town. and now, with the new North Rail project, this station is deemed unnecessary since they will maintain the one in the City of San Fernando, leaving our station to be demolished.
this morning, before i left for work, i biked to the old station to take pictures. i was greeted by a security guard and asked what was my purpose for taking pictures. i just said, “personal lang po.” and allowed me to take pictures of the station. it was somewhat bittersweet to see this station for the first and maybe last time up close. and there was that feeling of panghihinayang — that it was now to late to do anything about it — that i could only come to document its existence and not its development. it would have been a perfect site for a museum of sorts, a marker or the history of our town. sadly, we give way to progress. “out with the old, in with the new.”
even with the roof gone, the building still has character. though dilapidated and vandalized, it still looks dignified and beautiful with its brick walls. even the vandalism on the inside walls now looked good to me!
as i was finishing up the “shoot”, as if on cue, the guard (not writing his name for his own safety) came to me and politely asked me to leave because it was time for the PNR’s inspection soon. i gladly left and thanked him for allowing me to take pictures, though i assume there were strict orders to not let people take any photos.
maybe i’m just romanticizing too much about it, or even overly sentimental — the building ‘posed’ beautifully for me. i’m not a great photographer and my equipment is just a point-and-shoot without a tripod but the photos were just so nice. she wanted to be remembered. this one station, in the last few weeks of its existence in the little town called Santo Tomas in Pampanga has history to be told and recorded — perhaps too late or maybe just in time, but it should not be forgotten nonetheless.