"Within a short time all the islands are going to be crossed with networks of iron rails,

For where rapid
And explosive
Locomotives
Will go flying, 

as someone said. Then, the most beautiful spots of the islands will be accessible to all."
(from Jose Rizal's El Filibusterismo)

Black lines represent railways in operation during the American
period (1922) while white dots represent terminal stations
Photo courtesy of Philippine National Railways (PNR)
On October 20, 1888, the first of a five-line network of trains in Manila began operations. This is the Manila-Malabon Line, the only line with steam-powered trains (the rest would only have horse-drawn coaches). This may have been Rizal's inspiration in the aforementioned excerpt from El Filibusterismo. By 1902, it conducts 14 runs on each direction (28 total), but the trains provided for service are inadequate for the rapidly growing city (which would have around 300,000 people by 1920). This led to the completion of nine lines by 1913, with one extension line going 9.8 kilometers from Paco, Manila to Fort Bonifacio (now known better as Bonifacio Global City) and Pasig City. Extension lines were also built going to as far as Marikina City, Antipolo City, Taytay, San Mateo, and Montalban (now Rodriguez). However, the Second World War permanently put the trains out of operation (still called tranvia by this time even if these are not exactly streetcars). Interestingly, the transit lines we have today almost always coincide with the tracks laid down a century ago. For instance, LRT-2 goes as far as Antipolo, and LRT-4 is planned to go as far as Taytay. Meanwhile, take note of the various streets around Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog called "Daang Bakal" (Iron Rail). The old lines can still be traced using the roads named "Daang Bakal" for these are remnants of the said railways. However, some of the former railways have not been converted to roads, making it challenging to trace the former track of the old lines. See the following examples of illustrations used with the latest satellite maps and compare with the old map as provided by PNR in 1922.

Possible routes from Daang Bakal, Manila/Mandaluyong to Daang Bakal, Marikina
Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Possible routes from Daang Bakal, Marikina to Daang Bakal, Antipolo
Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Possible routes to take from Daang Bakal, Kawit and Daang Bakal, Montalban
Photo courtesy of Google Maps

A running light rail transit (LRT) train over Marikina River
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
For a number of decades, no rail system served the areas once operating the so-called "tranvia." In accordance to the recommendations made by the World Bank in 1977 (the MMetroplan), seven lines were proposed for construction to accommodate the increasing demand of what is now Metro Manila. However, to this day, only three lines were completed. One of these system lines would be Manila Light Rail Transit System Line 2 (locally known as LRT Line 2 or LRT-2). Despite its name, LRT-2 is actually the third line to be completed. The first one, Light Rail Transit Line 1 or LRT-1, was opened in 1984 and finished in 1985. The second one, Metro Rail Transit Line 3 or MRT-3 (formerly LRT-3), was proposed for construction in 1989, but was postponed until it was finished in 1999. As for LRT-2, which was much more delayed than MRT-3 due to various problems, it was opened in 2003 and finished in 2004. In addition, despite being named "Light Rail Transit," LRT-2 is actually a heavy rail transit. Thus, it has the distinction of being capable to operate larger trains than the two other lines. Nevertheless, it has the lowest amount of ridership. As of 2011, LRT-1 posted a daily average of 493,000 passengers, MRT-3 posted 499,000, and LRT-2 posted a daily average of 199,000.

Santol
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
This series shall begin with LRT Line 2. As of writing, there are eleven (11) stations in the line. For most people, these stations are common. The names are announced everyday. However, what is in the names of these stations anyway?

1. Santolan Terminal Station

Named after Barangay Santolan in Pasig City, the place itself gets the name from a fruit called "Santol" (Sandoricum koetjape). Believed to be brought to the Philippines from mainland Southeast Asia, a mature Santol tree can produce up to 24,000 fruits annually. As naming conventions go, the area was called Santolan because it is supposed to have the best Santol fruits in town. The same goes for nearby barangays like Caniogan (from niyog or coconut), Manggahan (from mangga or mango), and Maybunga (from bunga or fruit). Of course, it can also be noted that Santolan is also a family name. However, since it may have not been listed in the Catalogo de Apellidos (1849), it is possible that the surname may have been a more recent phenomenon than the place name. Otherwise, if the surname Santolan was in use prior to 1849, it may have been a local name allowed to be used even under the new system. As for surnames, it was usually elite families who are able to keep their indigenous names, such as Gatdula (from Lakan Dula), Soliman (from Rajah Sulayman), or Gatchalian (probably from Gat Salihan).

2. Katipunan Station
Named after Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City, the station does not exactly lie along the said road, but it was named as such because it is located in the vicinity where Katipunan Avenue intersects with Aurora Boulevard. Of course, the inspiration of the name was obvious, the Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang Katipunan nang mga Anak nang Bayan, a secret society in the 19th century plotting a revolution against the Spanish colonial government. It is abbreviated as KKK or simply Katipunan, a name derived from tipon or gather. While Katipunan Avenue itself would not be constructed until after the plan for Quezon City was laid out in 1941, there must have been some connection with the road and the organization. Recent research show that Bonifacio and his fellow Katipuneros, coming down from Pamitinan in Montalban (Rodriguez), rested in Balara and Diliman, the very area where Katipunan Avenue crosses. It is also vital to Bonifacio's plan of attack against Manila that the threat to sabotage the filtering station in Balara is realized. This will cut off the water supply of the city from Marikina River. It may go to show that this road does have significance to its namesake, the Katipunan.

Atis
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
3. Anonas Station
Named after Anonas Street, it is similar to Katipunan Station for the station does not exactly lie along Anonas Street, but it is located in the vicinity where Anonas Street intersects with Aurora Boulevard. The street itself was said to be named after the Anonas Family. One of the more prominent Anonas family members was Gregorio Anonas (1896 - 1946) of Zambales, whose son Gregorio Jr. (born 1922) fought during the Second World War. He made a fortune by building a factory in the area, and then migrating to the United States during the war. However, another possible source of the street name was the atis or sugar apple (Annona squamosa), and thus, Anonas. Of course, there is no strong evidence to say that such fruit abounded in the place like Santol being grown in Santolan. There is also the notion that the name origin is the custard apple or Annona reticulata, but the custard apple is grown primarily in South and Central America. This is not similar to the sugar apple which is more common in the Philippines as it is elsewhere (the Americas and Africa for instance). Nevertheless, the place does have other street names derived from trees and plants like Chico Street, Tindalo Street, and Molave Street.

Araneta Colisuem, the main building of Araneta Center
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
4. Araneta Center-Cubao Terminal Station
The station combines two place names. Araneta Center is a commercial area in Quezon City developed by J. Amado Araneta (1907 - 1984), who purchased the land in 1952. The Araneta family hails from the Visayas and Mindanao. Also among the more prominent family members would be Gregorio Araneta (1869 - 1930), Vice President of the Malolos Congress, and Secretary of Finance and Justice (1908 - 1913), and Juan Araneta (1852 - 1924), one of the leaders of the Negros Revolution and Secretary of War of the Republic of Negros.

Meanwhile, Cubao has a more obscure origin. With no exact etymology, a folktale says that it is from the term "Kuba, o!" (Look, a hunchback!), a term used to describe the witches and sorcerers who were supposedly living in the area. Another notion is that it was an area where carabaos (kalabaw), the national animal, take a dip. Thus, Cubao may have come from kalabaw. If this is so, it may also suggest that Cubao and its vicinity was once agricultural land. Of course, even if Quezon City was then the national capital when Araneta bought the area, Cubao is more of a rural area. Perhaps the only sign of development in Cubao at the time was Highway 54 (now Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or EDSA), which crosses through it. The same goes for nearby areas like Diliman (dark place, or for those into popular culture, the dark side), which names supposedly embody characteristics of the place, albeit negative. When the rebel organization Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB or Huks) was active, it was said that Cubao is one of their operation zones. However, when rebel operations ceased and the area was developed, Cubao transformed into one of the nation's business zones. It even has the first major shopping mall to be built in the Philippines, Ali Mall, which was finished in 1976.

Betty Go Belmonte
Photo courtesy of Philippine Star
5. Betty Go Belmonte Station
Named after Betty Go Belmonte Street, it is similar to both Katipunan and Anonas stations for this station also does not lie along the street it was named after. It lies in the vicinity where Aurora Boulevard and Betty Go Belmonte Street intersect. Meanwhile, the street itself was named after Betty Go Belmonte (1933-1994), who was actually born as Billie Mary Go on New Year's Eve. After studying in the University of the Philippines, she first worked in her father's publication, The Fookien Times, which was established in 1926. However, since it was critical of the government, it was closed down by the Marcos administration when Martial Law was declared in September 1972. By this time, Go was married to Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte, Jr., former Speaker of the House of Representatives and former Mayor of Quezon City. Thus, she took the name Betty Go Belmonte. In 1985, she became one of the founders of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, but problems caused division among them. This led her, along with Maximo "Max" Soliven and Art Borjal, to establish another newspaper to rival the Inquirer and other leading broadsheets. This became the Philippine Star. She even conceptualized this newspaper's slogan, "Truth shall prevail." In 1997, what was then known as Valley Road was named after her.

Eugene Allen Gilmore
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
6. Gilmore Station
Named after Gilmore Avenue, the station does not exactly lie along Gilmore Avenue but in the vicinity where the avenue intersects with Aurora Boulevard. The road owes its name from Eugene Allan Gilmore (1871 - 1953), who was twice Governor General of the Philippines during the American period (1927 and 1929). Before his stint in the Philippines, he finished his law degree from Harvard (1899), practiced law, and taught at the University of Wisconsin. Despite his short service, he was admired for his contributions to education and health in the Philippines. Meanwhile, the road itself was once known as Mango Avenue for its supposed abundance of mango trees. To date, the area that is Gilmore is known as the information technology (IT) center of Metro Manila for the abundance of cheap electronic supplies and computers.

7. J. Ruiz Station
Named after J. Ruiz Street, it is similar to Gilmore Station because the station lies in the vicinity where the street intersects with Aurora Boulevard. The street is named after one of the first Katipuneros to die in the Philippine Revolution, Juan Ruiz of San Juan. For fighting and dying in the Battle of San Juan del Monte (or Battle of Pinaglabanan), Ruiz can be considered as one of San Juan City's heroes. Of course, there is also the notion that Ruiz may have just been brought to battle on the spot by the Katipunan, for the organization had the practice of recruiting people as it marched along the way. Since Ruiz is a local of San Juan, the place where the battle happened, this can be considered as a possibility. Little is known of the revolutionary Juan Ruiz, but it is quite a common name that the street's namesake may be mistaken for someone else. For instance, there is the Spanish poet Juan Ruiz (1283 - 1350) and the Spanish writer Juan Ruiz (1581 - 1639). Still, there is also another prominent Juan Ruiz (1884? - 1952?) in our history. He was a former Bureau of Posts (now Philippine Postal Corporation or Philpost) Director who once clashed with publisher and former Senator Vicente Sotto (1877 - 1950) in a Supreme Court case on newspaper distribution in 1921. Ruiz would continue to serve as director until the 1930s. It was during his service when the Philippines joined the Universal Postal Union in 1922, and when the Manila Central Postal Office was built in 1926. The building was designed by Ralph Doane, Tomas Mapua, and Juan Marcos de Guzman Arellano.

Victorino Mapa
Photo courtesy of Presidential Museum
8. V. Mapa Station
Named after V. Mapa Street, the station does not lie along the street itself, but it lies along Santa Mesa Boulevard where Sociego Street intersects. Of course, V. Mapa Street is in the vicinity. The namesake is Victorino Mapa (1855 - 1927), who is more prominent compared to Juan Ruiz. Mapa was former Secretary of Finance and Justice (1913 - 1920) and the second Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1920 - 1921). The first Chief Justice was Cayetano Arellano (1901 - 1920). Of course, this also means that Mapa was the Chief Justice when the case of Sotto against Ruiz was decided upon by the Supreme Court. He obtained his law degree from the University of Santo Tomas in 1880, and was Associate Justice in 1901. The street, meanwhile, was formerly Calle Buenavista.

The area which the station serves is also historical in its own. In accordance to recent research, it is in what is now the intersection of Silencio and Sociego Streets where the first shot of the Filipino-American War was made on February 4, 1899. The first shot was, of course, done by the English soldier William Grayson, who served in the American armed forces at the time. Two historical markers are erected in the place to date, one engraved in English and one in engraved in Filipino.

9. Pureza Station
Named after Pureza Street, it is similar to V. Mapa Station in the sense that it does not lie along the street itself, but along Santa Mesa Boulevard where Alegria and Maganda Streets intersect. Of course, Pureza Street is in the vicinity. The namesake is the Spanish word for "purity." In 1911, the Municipal Board of Manila adopted virtues as street names for what was then the Legarda Sanitary Barrio in Sampaloc. One of these street names was Pureza (Purity). Nearby street names also exhibit this policy, such as Alegria (Happiness), Prudencio (Prudence), Verdad (Truth), Firmeza (Steadfast), Honradez (Honesty), Reposo (Repose), Sobriedad (Sobriety), Silencio (Silence), and Sociego (Tranquility). However, there are street names which have been changed throughout the years. For instance, Trabajo (Work) is now Manuel de la Fuente Street, Economia (Thriftiness) is now Vicente Cruz Street, Constancia (Constancy) is now Ruperto Cristobal, Sr. Street, and Lealtad (Loyalty) is now Jacobo Fajardo Street.

Benito Legarda
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
10. Legarda Station
Named after Legarda Street, it lies nearer to Legarda Park than to Legarda Street itself. However, since it does not lie along any other main thoroughfare, a connector road to Legarda Street was built to accommodate passengers from the station. The street derives its name from Benito Legarda (1853 - 1915), who finished his law degree in the University of Santo Tomas in 1875. In the same year, he married the affluent Teresa de la Paz (1841 - 1890), owner of the largest private hacienda in the Philippines at the time (Mayorazgo Tuason and Hacienda de Mariquina) and scion of Marikina's de la Paz family. At least thirteen from the de la Paz family became mayors of Marikina. Of course, since Legarda was her second husband (the first being Jose Severo Tuason), he has no right to administer either of the two estates when de la Paz died. This responsibility was left to her children. President Quezon would later acquire part of the immense estate to constitute the planned capital that will become Quezon City. Meanwhile, her two husbands do have a family connection. Legarda's mother was Cirila Tuason. Cirila's great grandfather and Jose Severo Tuason's great great grandfather is the same - Antonio Tuason (? - 1794), who was Christianized in 1749, made a fortune from the Galleon Trade, and organized a battalion of 1,500 Chinese mestizos under the colonial administration. For faithful service during the British Occupation, the Spanish crown made Tuason nobility and gave him a coat of arms. Of course, the Legarda family is as prominent. His father, also named Benito Legarda (1822 - 1867), was Spanish.

In the First Philippine Republic, Legarda would serve as a representative in the Malolos Congress and one of the signers of the Malolos Constitution in 1899. Soon enough, he and other prominent Congress members like Pedro Paterno and Felipe Buencamino collaborated with the Americans, a turning point in their political careers. The following year, in 1900, he was one of the founders of the Federalista Party, the first political party organized by Filipinos during the American period. The Federalistas seek autonomy of the Philippines under the United States, as well as the quick creation of a national assembly, which the Americans were supposed to provide when peace comes to the archipelago. The Philippine Assembly would be elected only by 1907, and by this time, the Federalista Party was no more. It was revived as the Progresista Party and tried to campaign for independence, but by this time, the emerging Nacionalista Party took the mantle of independence, and thus, the majority of the Assembly as well (59 out of 80 seats). As for Legarda, he would resign from his position in the Philippine Commission, the Filipino branch of the Cabinet, and serve as one of the first two Resident Commissioners of the Philippines (1907 - 1912). In this position, he served with Pablo Ocampo (1907 - 1909) and Manuel Quezon (1909 - 1916).

Claro M. Recto
Photo courtesy of Presidential Museum
11. Recto Terminal Station
Named after C. M. Recto Avenue, the station lies along the said road. The namesake is Claro Mayo Recto (1890 - 1960). Prior to being named after him, the road was known as Calle Azcarraga (or Paseo de Azcarraga). The street was named in honor of Marcelo de Azcarraga (1832 - 1915), thrice Prime Minister of Spain (1897, 1900 - 1901, 1904 - 1905). His mother, Maria Palmero Versoza, was a Filipina mestiza from Albay in the Bicol Region. His father, Jose de Azcarraga, migrated from Spain to the Philippines and maintained a book shop thereafter. Azcarraga himself was born in Manila. The road itself is historical as well. It was in No. 72 Calle Azcarraga where the Katipunan was founded in 1892.

Meanwhile, Recto gained his bachelor's degree from Ateneo de Manila, where he received honors (maxima cum laude, a rare Latin honor that is usually an intermediary distinction between magna cum laude and summa cum laude). Then, he studied law in the University of Santo Tomas. He began his political career as representative of his home province, Batangas (1919 - 1928). In 1931, after a brief break from politics, he became senator. With the Nacionalista Party garnering 20 out of 24 senatorial positions, the opposition Democrata Party (winning only three seats) found its new leader in Recto. However, the party itself was dissolved in 1932, most of which went under the fold of the Nacionalista Party. Of this event, Recto would later say, "I’ve found the role of a minority leader extremely unprofitable and I’ve been poor enough." In 1934, he was elected President of the Constitutional Convention which drafted the 1935 Philippine Constitution. Thereafter, he became Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. In 1941, he would garner the top spot in the Senate elections, but the outbreak of the Second World War in the Asia-Pacific prevented the winners to take their seats.

Recto's political career would become controversial when he served as Commissioner of Education and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Japanese-sponsored Second Philippine Republic. His collaboration with the Japanese during the war dampened his appeal to the public. However, he managed to acquit himself in 1948 and successfully returned to the Senate in 1949, making him the only Nacionalista candidate to win a Senate seat that election. He would become senator again in 1955, and the following year, announced his intention to run for president against the popular incumbent, President Ramon Magsaysay. However, Magsaysay died in 1957. Recto would then participate in the most competitive presidential election until that time, with five major candidates campaigning. Despite being considered as the "finest mind of his generation," he and his nationalistic stances were not appreciated by the public. He won around 8.6 percent of the vote. Nevertheless, Recto is seen by his supporters as someone who "wants to build a country where Filipinos are free and prosperous, not beholden to foreign oppressors and big landlords as we are today." Three years later, he died in Rome while serving as Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Europe and South America.


LRT Line 2 with Masinag extension
Photo courtesy of Philippine Star

Five additional stations are being planned for LRT-2, with two of them scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017. As a bonus, the two new stations shall also be included.

12. Emerald Station
Named after Emerald Drive, the main thoroughfare of Emerald Valley Homes Subdivision, the station does not lie along the said road. It lies along Marcos Highway, also known as the Marikina-Infanta Highway (to distinguish it from other roads with the same name), with a connector to nearby shopping malls Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall (built in 1991) and Robinsons Metro East (built in 2001). Of course, the name is derived from emerald, a gemstone of the beryl variety which is usually green in color. Interestingly, the subdivision does have gemstones as street names. Besides Emerald Drive, there is Diamond Drive, Sapphire Drive, Pearl Drive, and Topaz Street.

SM City Masinag
Photo courtesy of Wikimapia
13. Masinag Station
Named after Masinag Market, the main shopping center in the area prior to the construction of SM City Masinag in 2011. Of course, like Santolan, there is the surname Masinag, but since it may have not been listed in the Catalogo de Apellidos (1849), it is possible that the surname may have been a more recent phenomenon than the place name. Otherwise, if the surname Masinag was in use prior to 1849, it may have been a local name allowed to be used even under the new system. Again, it was usually elite families who are able to keep their indigenous names. Masinag is a Filipino term for "bright" or "dazzling." The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) also used the term for the name of the 1998 class. However, the area where the market stands is not called Masinag, and the place name likely stuck only because of the market's name. This is ample reason why there is uncertainty where the area called Masinag begins or ends. For instance, the shopping mall built by SM takes the Masinag name, but it is not exactly beside the Masinag Market. The same goes for the station, which is built along Marcos Highway (Marikina-Infanta Highway) and is parallel to SM City Masinag. Of course, this would make Masinag Station the first LRT-2 station outside Metro Manila.

Masinag is mainly located in Barangay Mayamot, a former sitio incorporated in Antipolo by 1913. As for Mayamot, the meaning varies from bored to annoyed to disgusted. Since there is no exact etymology for this barangay, one can only speculate why the former sitio was called as such. It can be inferred that most of Mayamot was formerly agricultural land, observing from its elevation and the presence of various waterways, with Masinag being one of its highest points. Is there a connection between these past conditions and the name? Nevertheless, with the construction of Marcos Highway and Sumulong Highway (built in 1960, it was named after revolutionary and former Senator Juan Sumulong) intersecting at Masinag, the area was transformed into one of Antipolo's growth centers.

Here are your 11+2 LRT-2 stations and the history behind the names. What is in a name? A lot, really.

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