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The title of this article is actually a bit tame and on the diplomatic side of trying to describe transportation and traffic in this city that was once relaxed a retreat for many. I had wanted to end February on a good note and so I decided to defer posting this until March.
We used to frequent Tagaytay and liked spending some rest and recreation time there to the tune of being there almost once a month at one time. Needless to say, at the time travel to Tagaytay from our home in Antipolo took us only about 2 to 2.5 hours excluding our usual stop at Paseo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. We liked the city so much that we even considered making it a second home; even inquiring and looking at properties there.
Fast forward to the present and it has become an excruciating travel with the highways leading to the city already congested. It didn’t help that when you got there, you also had to deal with serious traffic congestion. This started not a few years ago when the city approved developments by major players including Robinsons, SM and Ayala. The developments by SM and Ayala proved to be the backbreakers with Ayala coming up with the first mall in the city and SM operating an amusement park beside its prime acquisition that is the Taal Vista Hotel. Now, there is another mall under construction by Filinvest and right at the corner of the rotonda where the Aguinaldo Highway terminates.
Vehicles queue along the Tagaytay – Nasugbu Highway towards the Rotonda where Tagaytay traffic enforcers attempt to manage traffic but appear to create more congestion instead.
More on Tagaytay soon…
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.
Section before the Victoria Valley gate (view away from the gate) along which is a community
One 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.
Widened section towards the Parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Section across the Parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Power and light posts are yet to be relocated away and clear of the carriageway after the road was widened
Many electric posts need to be relocated as they pose dangers to road users
Section towards Hinulugang Taktak gate – the fence on the left is to secure the national park’s grounds from informal settlers
Section 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.
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:
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.
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:
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).
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.
- What traffic engineers can learn from doctors
- As traffic deaths rise, blame engineering dogma
- The new science of traffic engineering
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.
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:
- Innovative Collection of Road and Traffic Data for Road Safety Audit (Aileen Mappala & Ricardo Sigua)
- Study on Safety of Railway/Highway Grade Crossings in the Philippines (Albie Clarito, Beverly May Ramos & Ricardo Sigua)
- 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)
- Development of Drive Cycles and Measurement of Fuel Economies of Light Duty Vehicles in Metro Manila (Ernesto Abaya, Karl Vergel, Ricardo Sigua & Edwin Quiros)
- Selection of Metro Manila BRT Corridors Using Multi- Criteria Assessment (Ricardo Sigua & Cresencio Montalbo, Jr.)
- An Assessment of Walkability in a Medium-Sized Philippine City (Hilario Sean Palmiano, Sheila Flor Javier & Jose Regin Regidor)
- Traffic Noise Measurement, Perception, and Modelling in a University Campus (Hilario Sean Palmiano, John Carlo Villar & Michelle Monelle Quilatan)
- Assessment of Metro Manila Bus Fare Computation (Sylvia Chavez & Hilario Sean Palmiano)
- 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)
- Fuel Economy and Public Utility Jeepneys Using 2% and 5% Coco-Metyl Ester (CME)-Diesel Blends (Edwin Quiros & Karl Vergel)
- 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)
- Challenges of Urban Transport Development in Metro Manila: A look back at the last 40 years (Maria Sheilah Napalang & Jose Regin Regidor)
- An Assessment of the Public Necessity Concept for Estimating the Requirements for Public Transport Vehicle (Arnel Manresa, Karl Vergel & Jose Regin Regidor)
- State of Pavement Engineering in the Philippines and Implications on the Economic Life of National Roads (Maria Sheilah Napalang, Jose Regin Regidor & Nathaniel Diola)
- Planning Metro Manila’s Mass Transit System (Ricardo Jose, Daniel Mabazza, Jose Regin Regidor, Marco Stefan Lagman & Jonathan Villasper)
- 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)
- 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)
- Dignity of Travel: BRT Development in the Philippines (Cresencio Montalbo Jr & Colin Brader)
- Mending a Metropolis – Understanding Passenger Demand Across Metro Manila To Improve Road Transit (Nicholas Greaves & Cresencio Montalbo Jr)
- 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
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:
You can also download a brochure about EASTS here:
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:
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.
Old 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.
Trees notwithstanding, this is the view from what used to be the platform of the railway station.
An old drinking fountain that’s probably survived the passing of time and witnessed a lot about the old railway station and Hinulugang Taktak.
What’s left of the former railway station structure are the platform and columns.
Taktak 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Remaining structures of an old PNR bridge in Bulacan.
Old 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.
PNR 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.