CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Mayor Edwin Santiago assured the public that the San Fernando Old Train Station alongside the museum will be preserved despite government's plan to revive the railway system.
The National Government earlier announced the construction of the 17-station Manila-Clark Railway Project that will connect Manila to Central Luzon under the “Build, build, build” infrastructure program of the Duterte administration.
The 106-kilometer railway project will run from Tutuban, Manila and will pass by 15 other stations, including one in the city, going to Clark Freeport Zone with a budget of P255-billion.
However, concerned citizens from this city raised their worries over the possible disjunction of the museum which houses several memorabilia from the Bataan Death March and World War II, and remarkable persons and events in San Fernando.
The San Fernando railway station, also known as Kilometer 102, was utilized by the Philippine National Railways (PNR) for more than a century, is within the right of way of the proposed new railway station.
But Santiago stressed that the identification of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to the defunct PNR station as historical landmark is already a protection of the structure.
“Hindi nila pwedeng basta-basta tanggalin ‘yan kasi parte na ‘yan ng heritage and kultura hindi lang ng San Fernando kundi ng buong mundo,” he said.
Santiago said that the local government will assert its rights on the preservation of the train station and museum which is maintained by the city for more than a decade now.
“Ito ang posisyon natin at ipaglalaban natin ito,. Kung tatanggalin mo ‘yan, parang binura mo na din ang parte ng San Fernando sa kasaysayan ng mundo,” he said.
City Tourism Officer Ching Pangilinan, for her part, said that there are many old train stations in the country which were preserved alongside the new development it underwent.
“If we look on the brighter side, mas makakatulong oa ito sa turismo natin dahil mas maraming tao ang makakakita ng museum natin at iba pang exhibits kapag nandito na ang railway system,” she said.
Based on history, the Himpilang Daan Bakal ng San Fernando was inaugurated in February 1892 as part of the Manila-Dagupan line of the old PNR.
It became the last stop of some 80,000 Filipino, American and European soldiers during the infamous Death March 75 years ago and is also remembered for serving as a recruitment stop for Rizal who visited San Fernando and Bacolor town on June 27, 1892.