The defunct railway passing Northern and Central Luzon from Manila has almost disappeared almost both from intangible memory and physical structure. Watching a local documentary about the remnants of this railway gives me a heavy heart because of the railway’s historical importance and pertinence. Majority of the defunct stations are either torn down or utilized in different. On my personal account, my grandmother’s house in Mabalacat is few strides away from the train station. I remember the days when the train is arriving and my grandmother would call us to check on it since the train is arriving rarely that time. I have remaining faint memory on how the train looks like, but I strongly remember the sound and ground shaking it creates as it comes to a full stop. Those were the years before Mt. Pinatubo erupted. After the train ceased operations, people came around the tracks and built their homes.
The Kapampangans are blessed to have one of the train stations preserved and the original structure turned to a museum showcasing the historical highlights, story behind the iron tracks and relevant history. It is momentous for me to set foot in this train station since I understand its relevance and I am wishing for years to.
Amongst displayed are remnants from the war, photos of the station and statues of pertinent people in the recent Philippine history. Thank you to our dear volunteers, especially Sir Jude, who helped maintained this structure. It could be a small piece of brick structure, but holds memories of the train, the war and of Kapampangan heritage. If only the walls could speak the stories.
Our tour in the train station was sponsored by the City of San Fernando Tourism Office through its new Calesa Tour Program. It is recommended to visit and understand the importance of this structure, because once in our history, a locomotive ran actively amongst the iron tracks bringing the promise of economic development through effective passenger and goods transfer.
What is the Calesa Tour Program?
The calesa, a horse drawn carriage, once ruled the main thoroughfares before the advent of motored vehicles. I grew up seeing these calesas around Angeles City and City of San Fernando, though number dwindling as years go by as I observed. The industry of the calesa carriage making is dying as mentioned by the tourism officers, and they are planning to revive the industry through tourism. Our tour started in the school were the trained guides, the student scholars, performed a welcome presentation and led us to room where we registered. Tour guides were trained student scholars and are enthusiastic to explain the stories behind each structure we visited.
What is included in the Calesa Tour?
You will get guided tour starting outside the home of the Archbishop, Capitol grounds, the train station museum then around the Heritage District in downtown City of San Fernando where historical houses are now opened for public viewing.
HOW TO VISIT THE OLD TRAIN STATION
From Manila, take Bataan bound bus and alight in SM City Pampanga. There are jeepneys bound to San Fernando downtown area. From the downtown area, you can take tricycle, jeepney or calesa (recommended) to the junction of the Train Station. If you are from the San Fernando downtown area, the Train Station would come first, few meters from the Capitol Grounds.
From Manila, take NLEX and exit in San Fernando. Drive to Olongapo-Gapan road and turn left to Lazatin Boulevard, under the second flyover. Turn left again to Capitol Boulevard, the junction to the train station is few meters across from the Capitol grounds.