124-yr-old rail tracks spring to life in Angeles
ANGELES CITY—While the contract for the modern railway NorthRail is hanging, officials and communities here are doing their share to secure the project’s right-of-way and meet public needs by converting 6.2 kilometers of the 124-year-old Manila-Dagupan tracks into pockets of parks.
Basketball courts, playgrounds, vegetable plots, gardens, concrete pathways, sand tracks and public toilets dot the first 2-km stretch of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) line in this city.
Residents and private companies are building jogging parks and biking tracks on another 1.8 km of the PNR line.
“This is now the PNR People’s Park. It’s where families go,” said Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, who once headed the North Luzon Railway Corp., then under the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
The PNR’s 6.2-km stretch—starting from the boundary of the City of San Fernando and ending in Barangay Dau in Mabalacat City—traverses the city’s Barangays Pulungbulu, Santo Cristo, Lourdes Sur East, Lourdes Sur, Agapito del Rosario, Claro M. Recto, Santa Teresita, Malabanias and Balibago.
Judy Susan, barangay captain of Agapito del Rosario, said the PNR allowed the village council to also take care of a train station in the area.
The city values this structure as a symbol of Filipino compassion.
Recognized locally as “food throwers,” residents hurled food and drinks into train wagons packed with US and Filipino soldiers transported by the Japanese Imperial Army to Camp O’Donnell, Tarlac, from the Death March in Bataan in April 1942, historian Daniel Dizon wrote.
Businessman Reghis Romero II, a native of Angeles City, has volunteered to convert the train station into a museum at a cost of P10 million.
Alex Cauguiran, Pamintuan’s chief of staff, said portions of the PNR line in Angeles City thrived with informal settlers, garbage and criminal gangs when the North Line routes stopped operating in the early 1980s.