The old San Fernando Train Station, located at a grassy residential area in the province of Pampanga, could be easily be mistaken as an abandoned warehouse, if not for the historical markers installed in its vicinity. This station was inaugurated on February 23, 1892 and was part of the Manila-Dagupan Line of the Manila Railroad Company. It is no longer in use anymore today.
But during the station’s heyday, it witnessed two important events that unfolded in Philippine history. It is said that Jose Rizal once alighted this station in 1892, to visit some friends in San Fernando and Bacolor. He wanted to recruit additional members for the La Liga Filipina, a civic organization which he founded that pushed for moderate reforms from Spain. This organization was one of the important dominoes that tumbled many others, including Andres Bonifacio’s Katipunan Movement, which then led to the Philippine Revolution in 1896.
There is also a Bataan Death March marker propped near the old train station. In 1942, Japanese soldiers subjected American and Filipino Prisoners of War to walk with very minimal food and water and under the scorching heat of the sun. The march, which started at Bataan and ended in Pampanga, spanned a total of 102 kms. The few who survived this atrocity were then cramped ‘like cattle in boxcars’ and transported to Camp O’Donnel, a former US Army Base in Capas, Tarlac.
There are rumors of reviving the northbound rail to provide an alternative means of getting to Pampanga and other provinces in Luzon. The old San Fernando Train Station may be revived by then. Until that time, every brick of this structure, remains a humble reminder of Rizal’s trip and also that of the many survivors of the Bataan Death March.
The San Fernando Train Station stamp site for the Lakbay Jose Rizal @150 is at the Pampanga Provincial Capitol. There are many ways in getting to Pampanga. Some of the options are enumerated here.