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Revisiting Daang Bakal, Antipolo

In a recent trip to a school located near Daang Bakal, I took the opportunity to ask my passenger to take photos of what used to be a railway corridor connecting Manila with Antipolo.

img_3945Section before the Victoria Valley gate (view away from the gate) along which is a community

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img_3949One side of the road has been widened. The other has a lot of trees that would have to be cut or balled in order to build an additional lane.

img_3950Widened section towards the Parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

img_3951Section across the Parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

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img_3953Skateboarders 

img_3954Power and light posts are yet to be relocated away and clear of the carriageway after the road was widened

img_3955Many electric posts need to be relocated as they pose dangers to road users

img_3956Section towards Hinulugang Taktak gate – the fence on the left is to secure the national park’s grounds from informal settlers

img_3957Section across Hinulugang Taktak gate

One can only imagine how these places looked like many years ago when the Manila Railroad Company operated the Antipolo Line.

On Antipolo’s railway heritage – Antipolo Station

I open 2017 with a post on history and rails. A reader of one of my previous posts on Antipolo and its railway heritage was very generous to include some photos of what remains of the Antipolo Station of the old (shall I say ancient), defunct railway line that traversed what is now still called Daang Bakal. Those comments and links to photos may be found under the post on old railway lines here.

Here is a photo I found in the Kalye ng Antipolo Facebook page:

antipolo-station-old

From what I see in the photo, this is a photo of the end station of the railway line that stretched from Manila to Antipolo via Pasig and Cainta through what is now Valley Golf and not via Ortigas Avenue as what some people are claiming. The last two stations were at Antipolo at Hinulugang Taktak, where the remains of the old station are well preserved and there is a historical marker, and at the area that is basically at the intersection of the Circumferential Road and San Jose Street, where the end station would have been closest to the shrine. I am also basing my assessment from the topographic features shown in the photo and the fact that there are three sets of railway tracks shown, indicating that this is also probably a depot for trains. Unfortunately, as mentioned by one of my readers, is in a state where it might soon be demolished due to the road widening project for the circumferential road. I hope the Antipolo government recognizes this important part of its history, its railway heritage, and perhaps help preserve what remains of the Antipolo Station and place a marker there for future generations to appreciate.

Antipolo Station of the old railway line

For readers who are interested in the old railway line to Antipolo, please look at the comments section of this old post from November 2012:

What if Manila retained its old railway lines?

Someone (Thank You!) posted about the Antipolo Station, which is the last one along the line and the station closest to Antipolo Church. While the remnants of the old station at Hinulugang Taktak is well preserved and safe (for now) from any future developments, what remains of the old Antipolo Station is now in danger of being demolished. Antipolo and the DPWH are widening the circumferential road located in the area and based on the dimensions of the sections already completed at Siete Media beside the Robinsons mall, the remains of the old station structure may be lost as well.

In my opinion, the city should preserve this part of its history that is also a part of our railway heritage. While such road widening projects may be important, retaining this piece of history is equally relevant as it provides us with a perspective of the past (i.e., how people travelled, what were their destinations of interest, etc.) and learn some lessons about this (e.g., why we should not have wholly abandoned rail for road transport).

Some interesting (and required) readings on traffic engineering

Christmas breaks allow me to catch up on a lot of reading. The previous months comprising our university’s semester were spent preparing for lectures though I had to do some readings related to researches I am involved in. Browsing the net and social media, I came across 2 articles shared by an acquaintance. He is a very progressive planner who has extensively studied and written about the most relevant issues in urban planning, focusing on transport. A third article I found while reading one of the two. These were very interesting for me in part because they are thought provoking in as far as traffic engineering is concerned.

The author seems to call out traffic engineers in general but these articles should also be contextualized properly. The situations mentioned in the articles are to be found in cities in the United States and may not be applicable in other cities in other countries. Traffic engineers in Europe, for example, have been working on exactly the solutions being mentioned in the articles that would make streets inclusive and safe especially for pedestrians and cyclists. The same with Asian cities like Singapore and Tokyo.

In the Philippines, however, there is so much that we can learn from the articles. The mere mention of the design guidelines being used in the US betrays the flaws of highway and traffic engineering in the Philippines. The Philippines’ highway planning manual and other guidelines used by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are heavily drawn from US references. Most highway and traffic engineers in the country are educated using curricula that use US textbooks and references. There are even civil engineering programs that use licensure exam review materials as their references! These exam materials are also known to be based on DPWH guidelines and manuals aside from problems “outsourced” or patterned after the Professional Engineer (PE) exams in the US. Few schools have progressive curricula that look to best practices that take into account the complexities of roads especially in the urban setting. Such ‘copying’ of American standards and practices in many cases do not consider Philippine (local) conditions and blind applications to our roads instead of proper adaptation often have lead to unsafe and inequitable roads.

Local papers presented at the EASTS 2015 conference – University of the Philippines

There were a lot of technical papers from Philippine universities that were presented in the recently concluded 11th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS 2015). In the interest of dissemination, I will be featuring a list of papers produced by leading universities in the Philippines that are doing studies on transportation. Following is a list of papers from University of the Philippines Diliman that were presented at the EASTS 2015 held in Cebu City last Sept. 11-13, 2015:

  1. Innovative Collection of Road and Traffic Data for Road Safety Audit (Aileen Mappala & Ricardo Sigua)
  2. Study on Safety of Railway/Highway Grade Crossings in the Philippines (Albie Clarito, Beverly May Ramos & Ricardo Sigua)
  3. Instantaneous Fuel Consumption Models of Light Duty Vehicles and a Case Study on the Fuel Consumption at Different Traffic Conditions in Metro Manila using Shepard’s Interpolation Method (Ernesto Abaya, Karl Vergel, Ricardo Sigua, Edwin Quiros & Jose Bienvenido Biona)
  4. Development of Drive Cycles and Measurement of Fuel Economies of Light Duty Vehicles in Metro Manila (Ernesto Abaya, Karl Vergel, Ricardo Sigua & Edwin Quiros)
  5. Selection of Metro Manila BRT Corridors Using Multi- Criteria Assessment (Ricardo Sigua & Cresencio Montalbo, Jr.)
  6. An Assessment of Walkability in a Medium-Sized Philippine City (Hilario Sean Palmiano, Sheila Flor Javier & Jose Regin Regidor)
  7. Traffic Noise Measurement, Perception, and Modelling in a University Campus (Hilario Sean Palmiano, John Carlo Villar & Michelle Monelle Quilatan)
  8. Assessment of Metro Manila Bus Fare Computation (Sylvia Chavez & Hilario Sean Palmiano)
  9. Estimating Road Roughness Conditions Using Ubiquitous Smartphones and Geographic Information Systems and its Application to Road Network Planning in the Philippines (Joel Cruz & Jun Castro)
  10. Fuel Economy and Public Utility Jeepneys Using 2% and 5% Coco-Metyl Ester (CME)-Diesel Blends (Edwin Quiros & Karl Vergel)
  11. Comparison of Fuel Economy of Fuel and Operating Characteristics of Diesel and Auto-LPG Jeepneys through On-Road and Vehicle Tests (Edwin Quiros, Karl Vergel, Ernesto Abaya, Ervin Santos & Jose Gabriel Mercado)
  12. Challenges of Urban Transport Development in Metro Manila: A look back at the last 40 years (Maria Sheilah Napalang & Jose Regin Regidor)
  13. An Assessment of the Public Necessity Concept for Estimating the Requirements for Public Transport Vehicle (Arnel Manresa, Karl Vergel & Jose Regin Regidor)
  14. State of Pavement Engineering in the Philippines and Implications on the Economic Life of National Roads (Maria Sheilah Napalang, Jose Regin Regidor & Nathaniel Diola)
  15. Planning Metro Manila’s Mass Transit System (Ricardo Jose, Daniel Mabazza, Jose Regin Regidor, Marco Stefan Lagman & Jonathan Villasper)
  16. Evaluation of Compliance of Dimensions and Selected Systems and Components of Customized Local Road Vehicles (CLRV) with Vehicle Regulations and Standards (Karl Vergel, Rachel Habana, Nonilo Peña, Loreto Carasi, Albert Mariño & Alorna Abao)
  17. An O-D Approach of Estimating Energy Demand and CO2 Emission for the Luzon Road Transport using Inter- Regional Passenger and Freight Flow Data (Marloe Sundo & Karl Vergel)
  18. Dignity of Travel: BRT Development in the Philippines (Cresencio Montalbo Jr & Colin Brader)
  19. Mending a Metropolis – Understanding Passenger Demand Across Metro Manila To Improve Road Transit (Nicholas Greaves & Cresencio Montalbo Jr)
  20. Accident Hotspot Mapping in Quezon City: The case of Katipunan Avenue (Jerome Ballarta, Nelson Doroy, Ishtar Padao & Cecil Villanueva)

Not included in the list are papers coming out of International Research Groups (IRG) as well as those where involvement by UP faculty were incidental to projects. Many of these papers will soon be posted on the official site of the International Scientific Committee of EASTS as part of either Proceedings or Journal of EASTS. Some may be nominated for the Asian Transport Journal (ATS), which is also published by EASTS.

Transportation research in UP Diliman is the most developed among schools doing research on these topics in the country. Papers came from a variety of disciplines and academic units including Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Urban Planning, Geography and History. These mostly were and are undertaken through the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS), which is with UP Diliman.

Next up: De La Salle University

 

EASTS 2015 – Cebu City, September 11-13, 2015

The 11th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS 2015) will be held in Cebu City this September 11-13, 2015. For information on the conference and program, check out their website here:

http://www.easts2015.com/

You can also download a brochure about EASTS here:

EASTS brochure2014-2015a

The conference is hosted by the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP), which is the local affiliate of the EASTS. More information on the TSSP are found below:

TSSP brochure_inside TSSP brochure_cover-back

The old railway station at Hinulugang Taktak

The Antipolo City Government recently re-opened the Hinulugang Taktak park to the general public. The National Park and its famous waterfalls have seen better days and is part of Antipolo lore, immortalized in songs and stories about the pilgrimage city. It has been rehabilitated with various initiatives the past few years and with the water again flowing strongly compared to the trickles of dirty water over a decade ago.

Somewhat lost in the promotion of Hinulugang Taktak is a piece of transport history. I am referring to the old railway station located near the gate to the national park. The most convenient and probably most comfortable way to Antipolo and its two main attractions, the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage and Hinulugang Taktak, many decades ago was by railway. Roads and road transport was not as good as today’s. There were no highways like Ortigas or Sumulong. There were no aircon buses, no jeepneys (yet) and cars and motorcycles were not affordable to most people.

IMG10125-20150214-1335Old sign? There is no formal historical marker for the former railway station at Hinulugang Taktak. I think the National Historical Commission of the Philippines should recognize this as a local if not national heritage site.

IMG10130-20150214-1338Trees notwithstanding, this is the view from what used to be the platform of the railway station.

IMG10132-20150214-1339An old drinking fountain that’s probably survived the passing of time and witnessed a lot about the old railway station and Hinulugang Taktak.

IMG10133-20150214-1339What’s left of the former railway station structure are the platform and columns.

IMG10134-20150214-1340Taktak Road was the old Daang Bakal or railroad. Much have changed since the glory days of rail with a line that connected Antipolo with Manila.

IMG10135-20150214-1341The view from the old entrance to Hinulugang Taktak in what also looked like the old railway station’s ticket office gives people (passengers?) a glimpse of the waterfalls.

IMG10136-20150214-1341The old entrance to Hinulugang Taktak.

Someone asked me before if I thought it was possible for old railway lines to be revived. I replied honestly that I thought it was possible but immensely difficult. For one, a lot has changed in the lands on and along which the old railways used to be. The old Daang Bakal, for one, now passes through private residential subdivisions and industries and is now comprised of busy roads. While nothing is impossible, to rehabilitate the old railways will be a great challenge in the financial and social sense. It would be nice to see realized but requires so much from so many people, agencies and local governments who need to commit to such a project. And it requires leadership and a talent for convincing people that it is the right thing to do and that it needs to be done.

Some thoughts on transportation heritage in the Philippines

There have been a lot of buzz about heritage conservation and especially the past few weeks about certain buildings in Manila. A lot has been written about this in newspaper columns and blogs, and there have been features on television about heritage conservation focused on buildings, mostly houses, in Negros, Cebu and Panay. Of course, the most prominent heritage project has just been recognized as a wonder of the world in the city of Vigan, Ilocos Sur. I think another area for consideration in heritage discussions is transportation. We do have a lot of historical routes consisting of roads, railways and even trails that could be preserved or enhanced and not just for commercial purposes but more importantly for the current and coming generations to remember and learn about history and heritage.

The availability and accessibility of such tools like GIS, GPS and aerial photography using drones make it possible to do studies and documentation of transport routes such as the old rail line to Antipolo, the PNR’s Main Line North, the Bataan Death March, and even Aguinaldo’s retreat to Palanan, Isabela. There are also pilgrimage routes linked to the most popular shrines in the country like those in Baclaran, Quiapo, Antipolo, Cebu, Penafrancia and Manaoag.

The PNR and Panay Railway lines are good starting topics for transport heritage studies that may lead to some form of conservation. Following are a few photos taken back in 2006 when we surveyed the alignment for what was supposed to be Phase 1 of the Northrail project. The activities were preparatory for transport surveys that would have provided data that were to be used as inputs to estimating passenger demand for the railway line.

IMG_0091Remaining structures of an old PNR bridge in Bulacan.

IMG_0103Old PNR station in Bulacan – I can’t recall if this were in Marilao or Bocaue but the red brick building reminded me of similar rebuilt and preserved buildings in Japan such as Tokyo Station and the warehouses at Aka Renga in Yokohama.

IMG_0116PNR Malolos Station back in 2006 – the building was occupied by informal settlers at the time.

A good reference for those interested in railway heritage and its conservation is a book entitled “The Colonial Iron Horse” by Arturo Corpuz and published by the University of the Philippines Press. There’s a lot of material in that book to get one started about rail history in the Philippines particularly for the island of Luzon and the two main lines of the PNR – the Main Line North and the Main Line South, which I have written about in previous posts. These could be good topics for interdisciplinary studies involving historians, sociologists, anthropologists, architects, engineers and specialist in other disciplines.

Daang Bakal and Antipolo’s attractions

I recently wrote about the old railway line that used to run between Manila and Antipolo via a route passing through the town of Cainta that used what was probably the gentlest slope at the time – through what is now Valley Golf, Victoria Valley and Fairmont Subdivisions. Here are some more photos along Daang Bakal, the old Manila Rail Road line that is now a road.

IMG08002-20140417-0940Daang Bakal is a scenic route and one can only imagine how this place looked like when it was still a railway line and the areas along it were still undeveloped.

IMG08003-20140417-0941Hinulugang Taktak has been designated as a National Park and the areas along Daang Bakal at least have been preserved. Users of this road are quite limited to residents of exclusive subdivisions with gates along the road and trips generated by the Immaculate Heart Parish near the Fairmont gate. Public transportation is provided by tricycles that have a terminal at the intersection of Daang Bakal and Taktak Road.

IMG08005-20140417-0942The temporary fence that was made out of tarpaulin material is now in tatters. There is road construction work ongoing though but mainly for the access roads connecting to Pinagmisahan. The concreted area at the right side of the road in the photo seems to be for parking rather than road widening. Traffic is low along Daang Bakal and will probably not require road widening for the foreseeable future.

IMG08004-20140417-0941The main entrance and facilities for Hinulugang Taktak are still closed and there seems to be no activity to indicate that the rehabilitation project is not moving at all.

Daang Bakal

The right of way for the old railroad line going up to Antipolo is still there and is now a regular road. Daang Bakal rises from what is now Valley Golf Subdivision (Celso Tuazon Ave. and Taktak Drive) in Cainta, Rizal through Victoria Valley Subdivision (Taktak Drive), Fairmount Hills Subdivision and Hinulugang Taktak (Daang Bakal though often referred to as Taktak Road, which is actually a different road and on the other side of the river), and until part of the Sumulong Memorial Circle in the vicinity of the Antipolo Church (Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage).  I took a few photos of Daang Bakal on our way to the Parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for Palm Sunday Mass. The photos have been modified as I took it at dusk. The originals were quite dark so I adjusted the brightness. Still, I can only imagine now how this route could have looked like back in the day when the Manila Rail Road line passed through this area. It could have been one of the most scenic rides as it is still a scenic route today.

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At right in the photos is a fenced property designating the Hinulugang Taktak National Park. Hinulugang Taktak refers to the water falls that used to be one of the more popular destinations in Antipolo. There is actually a popular folk song inviting people to come to Antipolo (“Tayo na sa Antipolo at doon maligo tayo…”) to enjoy the falls. The falls have deteriorated through the years as it has been affected mainly by the settlements around it. There seems to be an effort to rehabilitate the area but it is still closed to the public. The road though is in excellent condition and has low motor traffic volumes. It is popular among cyclists as well as joggers. This Holy Week, the area should have a lot of visitors because of the Parish church in the area, which has an impressive architecture and gardens. The church is perfect for those doing Visita Iglesia or perhaps people just wanting to go to a quiet place for some meditation and prayer.