"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

once upon a nighttime photowalk in biñan city

"come on, ride the train 
it's the choo choo, ride it, woo woo
come on, ride the train, it's the choo choo train"
- c'mon 'n' ride it (the train), lyrics

it started with a train ride...
14th of august 2010
EDSA (makati city, magallanes near mrt magallanes station) 

"first time mo?" 

that's what i told myself as i approached the ticket booth. it was a fine saturday afternoon and i had just alighted the bus that took me from batangas to metro manila. i felt like a child going to school for the first time. one of my sweaty hands was holding on tightly to the strap of my tripod bag and my other arm was supporting my red backpack.

i was concealing the excitement that overpowered whatever apprehensions i had as i handed out my money in exchange for a ticket. for the regular commuter in the metro, maybe it was just another 10-peso ticket but, for me, it was special. it was the ticket for my first ever PNR commex train ride! hahaha!

the philippine national railways (PNR) is the state-owned railway company in the philippines, which operates a commuter rail service in manila and in the bicol area. if metrorail (lrt 1) is the yellow line, megatren (lrt 2) is the purple line, and metrostar express (mrt 3) is the blue line, the PNR commuter express (commex or cx) is the orange line, which provides passengers the train ride option along the route from tutuban and alabang.

my first ever PNR commex train ride was pleasant and comfortable. i was at the EDSA station and my destination that afternoon was 10 stations away, tutuban. eventhough i was on my own and eventually got myself surrounded by so many strangers as soon as i boarded the train, i did not find my solo adventure daunting. the commex service train's silver-colored hyundai rotem DMU coaches appealed to my senses. they looked brand new and safe and the airconditioning was working good -- something which was not lost on me especially during those stops when the coaches got heavily packed with passengers from all walks of life, it seemed.

when the train arrived at the station in tutuban, i got off. i stood for awhile on the platform and ended up gawking at the old train parked near the brand new-looking train i'd just left. the old train had blue coaches that looked decrepit but the sight of it got me excited. it was the reason why i made the trip to tutuban, after all.

seeing PNR's old blue commex train with my own two eyes was an assurance that, indeed, i arrived at the right station and somewhere inside the terminal building were people i knew who were waiting for me -- the members of the d60krew!  we were excited to feed our curiosity and to finally experience riding this relic of a train from tutuban to biñan.

from tutuban to biñan city

"This walk first started out as an orientation on the PNR COMMEX train that plies the Tutuban to Biñan route. We were already familiar with the new air conditioned trains that we rode during the WWPW PNR Leg, but the blue and gold COMMEX train is a relic that refuses to give in to time and age. Since the return trip to Manila was in the morning after, we thought it would be best to spend the night in Biñan shooting.” 

our group, the d60krew, gathered at the tutuban station which is just behind the tutuban mall in divisoria to catch the train ride that would take us to the city of biñan for a price of only 24 pesos per head.

while the PNR mainly uses airconditioned hyundai rotem DMU coaches for the regular commex service in metro manila,  an old non-airconditioned train is used for the once-a-day commex run between manila and  biñan city in laguna, around 2 hours and 15 station stops apart.

the train left the tutuban station according to schedule shortly after sundown. the ride was a totally different experience from the usual mrt and lrt rides. it was a totally different experience from its airconditioned PNR commex counterpart, too. while there was room to move and there were small counters between chairs that faced each other like in those trains in the movies, the chairs in the non-airconditioned coaches were not that comfortable. nevertheless, with the d60krew family, i got to enjoy the ride and was able to relish the experience of what it's like to be in an old, old train that still runs. yey!

inside the blue PNR commex train | the old train

during that ride, some of us were able to personally relate to the truth in this statement: "traveling on the old trains meant taking a chance as the coaches got thrown rocks or worse, plastic bags loaded with urine (or excrement)." it's safe to stay away from the windows and side doors when the train passes residential areas -- some urchins with nothing better to do might just be on standby on the railway side and throw something at the train. thank goodness for the grills that the PNR installed on the windows, we got initial protection from being hit with embers and broken pieces of hollow blocks -- no excrement. fortunately for passengers traveling on the new trains with airconditioned coaches and closed windows, they are shielded from crazy projectiles.

except for those moments when we got surprised by debris, most part of the trip was good and worth repeating. our group arrived in biñan safe and happy.

destination: biñan city, laguna

the city of biñan is about 34 kilometers south of manila and is a first class component city in the province of laguna. biñan used to be a municipality but she earned her cityhood in early 2010 by virtue of republic act 9740 and became the fourth city in the province of laguna after san pablo, calamba, and sta. rosa.

at the station in biñan, we were met by the municipal special action group (MSAG), a special arm of the office of the mayor of  biñan city. we were led to two vehicles and taken to mcdonald's at olivarez plaza for a dinner treat before our 9pm-to-4am photowalk. now, that i've shared those details, i need to emphasize something: a very impressive and humbling reception!

ate bambit of the d60krew wrote a letter to seek permission for our photowalk. the office of the mayor of the city of biñan responded graciously and gave our group permission to photograph their place at night. normally, a permit is just a piece of paper that could be shown to prove that an appropriate clearance was sought and approved. we got more than that. definitely, more than that.

the krew has landed. some of the d60krew members in mcdo | biñan

when we arrived in biñan, we were shown generosity and hospitality which were truly remarkable and beyond expectations. the MSAG was our security detail during our stay in biñan. the mcdo meals which we ordered got paid for thru arrangements made by ms. roseann gonzales, administrative aide of the office of biñan city mayor marlyn "lenlen" b. alonte-naguiat. during our overnight and sleepless stay in biñan, we were never left wondering where to go or how to access what nor did we end up worrying about our safety or the safety of our cameras as we walked around -- our escorts were very accommodating and responsible. the people we passed by and who passed us by were kind and friendly as well.

we really never expected all of that. it's wonderful how a simple act of courtesy such as sending a letter to seek permission begets an incredible show of hospitality. until now, i get to look back and really say, "that was very awesome!"

a vibrant biñan 

"The result: a more vibrant Biñan than anyone has ever seen, as caught by the lenses of the D60KREW ... and two Canons "

that night was not my first time to be in biñan. i've been to the place before but i never really stayed long enough, i merely passed by. that night, i had time -- time to observe, time to walk around, time to look at the old houses and the rise of the new establishments, time to see people as they went about, time to watch vehicle lights, time to take pictures, and time to allow the nighttime local vibe to sink in.

when the d60krew finally walked the streets of biñan in the poblacion area or the bayan, our first landmark stop was at the back of the house of maestro justiniano cruz. there is a rizal in biñan historical marker there because it was where jose rizal, the national hero, received his first formal schooling in 1871.

the rizal in biñan historical marker

i'd like to think that our escorts really made sure that we would never miss dr. jose rizal's first formal school -- it was the first landmark they led us to.

the d60krew taking their respective spots to shoot pictures of an old house across the street

we saw old houses and structures here and there -- attention-grabbing living memories of the old biñan that a young jose rizal also saw in his lifetime. it's a pity i wasn't able to get the family names of the owners of the houses -- except for the house of perlas and the alberto house, i could not identify which house is which in the pictures i took.

if you have the patience to read this account of the families of the old biñan and be acquainted with the street names, then perhaps, when you find yourselves in biñan, you will be able to identify the houses better than i could.

the old house across the street | this is the house in front of the 'rizal in biñan' historical marker
 the house of perlas: a decrepit bahay na bato from the spanish colonial period
the spanish era building beside jose rizal's first formal school
another old house that still stands

among the old houses in biñan, the most popular is, perhaps, the alberto house, a grand spanish colonial mansion, a bahay na bato with tile roof, built using materiales fuertes and strategically located in the old town center just in front of the present-day city plaza.

the alberto house of old  biñan is still the alberto house of present-day biñan 

estimated to be around 200 years old, it was the house of rizal's maternal grandfather, lorenzo alberto alonzo, and, therefore, his mother's ancestral home. the house is all the more historically significant because rizal lived there from 1870 to 1871 when his parents sent him to biñan for his first taste of formal education.

the alberto house as seen from the second floor of the old municipal hall

just near the alberto house and also facing the city plaza is the old municipal hall of biñan, which now serves as a police headquarters and a museum in the making. when we were there, there were photos and displays -- visual souvenirs -- of the rich history of biñan.

the century old municipio: the old municipal hall of biñan

along with the san isidro labrador parish church, the old municipal hall (also known as the century old municipio) stands on the west boundary of the city plaza.

next to the old municipal hall is the pamilihang bayan ng biñan, regarded as the largest public market in the province of laguna and in the CALABARZON region. we took the chance to shoot some pictures at the public market and saw with our own eyes how alive it is even at around 1, 2 o'clock in the morning.

pamilihang bayan ng biñan
the public market of  biñan
this vegetable vendor paid attention to my camera | public market of  biñan

our group's favorite subject that night was, without a doubt, the rizal monument at the city plaza and understandably so. the city plaza -- the jose rizal monument plaza -- is the major landmark of the city of biñan.

the jose rizal monument plaza in biñan city's poblacion as seen from the old municipal hall

the statue of rizal is located right at the center of the plaza, surrounded by the san isidro labrador parish church, the century old municipio, the multi-purpose covered court, and the alberto house.

long exposure shot no. 1 |  the jose rizal monument plaza of biñan
long exposure shot #2 |  the jose rizal monument plaza of biñan
a closer look of the rizal monument

the rizal monument in biñan is notable because it is one of the oldest monuments of jose rizal in laguna and also one of the very first rizal monuments in the country. when it was erected before the 1920s, the rizal monument in biñan was the second largest, next to the one in luneta. even with the unveiling last june 2011 of calamba's 22-foot statue of the national hero, which is now the largest rizal monument to date, the biñan monument remains as one of the largest monuments of rizal in the country.

the d60krew in  biñan! :)
check out our biñan thread in digital photographer philippines here:
 "The D60Krew Walks Binan at Night"

it was around 4 o'clock when i thanked the municipal security action group and the rest of the d60krew and took my leave. i was heading back to batangas while the rest of the d60krew were going to take the early morning (and only) biñan-tutuban train of the day to get back to their respective homes in manila. i boarded a south-bound jeepney with a very grateful heart for the wonderful experiences i had despite having to endure sleeplessness -- the PNR train rides and the overnight photowalk in biñan!

i know that i only walked and saw a small portion of biñan. there's more to biñan that you and i have yet to see.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...