Picture this: it’s rush hour. Standing in the crowded coach with the heat searing your insides, your sweat dripping and your will being tested, you look out the window and see a yellow sign, visibly showing its age. It reads “Doroteo Jose,” and the first thing you think is, “Aaargh, still 6 more stations to go.”
Before you resign yourself to the boredom once more, you idly wonder about that station name. Who exactly is Doroteo Jose? While you have nothing else to do but stand and tolerate your current situation until your stop, have you ever wondered about the names of these stations and the people behind them?
Let’s take a train ride as we present to you some of the stories behind the Light Rail Transit Line 1’s stations.
Let’s start with the one closest to our turf. Vito Cruz station is located in Malate, Manila, and if you are not a frequent train commuter or haven’t rode the train, it is the one located near University Mall, southbound, and near College of Saint Benilde, northbound. The station takes its name after Vito Cruz Street (now called Pablo Ocampo Sr. Street), which was named after the alcalde of Pasay from 1870-1871, Hermogenes Vito Cruz. He was known as one of the local leaders of the Katipunan in Pasay who fought in the Spanish revolution and Filipino-American war.
To those who transfer from Line 2 to Line 1, Doroteo Jose station is a very familiar sight because it’s where the walkway connecting the two lines is located. From Doroteo Jose, the path will take you to the Recto station of Line 2. Similarly, this station also takes its name after Doroteo Jose Street (formerly Melba Street), which was named after the nationalistic Filipino who was punished by the Spanish because he led the movement and petition to abdicate a corrupt archbishop.
A late physician, journalist, and legislator, Pedro Gil was also an architect who was affiliated with opposition groups. As a journalist, he published Los Obreros, specifically for the working class. As a representative of the south district of Manila, he also worked to lower the prices of utilities in his area. Herran Street, in Manila, was renamed after him.
This is a pretty common last name in the Philippines, but the station itself is actually named after Former President Elpidio Quirino. He did many things for the country during his time as a congressman, senator, ambassador, and president, but one of his greatest acts of heroism and sacrifice was going underground during World War II after refusing to be part of the Japanese “puppet government,” losing his family in the process. He then became the leader of the majority Liberal Party and president of the Senate.
Gil J. Puyat was a successful businessman whose father founded one of the first business empires in the country. It was his eye for business that caused the late President Manuel L. Quezon’s interest in him. The President made him the dean of UP’s College of Business and at the age of 33, he was the youngest dean the University of the Philippines has ever had. In 1951, he was elected Senator and served the Senate for 21 years, six of which he served as Senate President. He pushed for reforms and innovations in the public works funds, and was a “champion of civics and charity.”
While it’s pretty understandable why the station is named after EDSA, where prominently peaceful revolutions were held, not many people are aware that the Avenue itself is actually named after a person—not someone who has the last name “Edsa,” but instead someone whose initials are used for the title. “EDSA” actually stands for Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, named after a great Filipino scholar, musician, painter, and lawyer. He co-founded the patriotic newspaper La Libertad during the 1898 revolution and then joined the editorial staff of Antonio Luna’s revolutionary paper, La Independencia using the pseudonym G. Solon. He was one of the best critics, writers, and biographers the Golden Age of Philippine Literature produced.
This station is relatively newer than the others. Constructed during the Line 1 North Extension Project and opened last 2010, it takes its name after US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was a democrat who led the United States during a time of worldwide economic depression and war. He was also elected four times: he was in office from March 1933 to his death in April 1945.
Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in the Commonwealth of the Philippines when war broke out in 1941, and was chosen to be the Chief Justice and a member of the Cabinet under the newly organized government. He refused to swear allegiance to the Japanese government however, and his nationalism cost him his life. He was executed and he died in the service of his country.
For anyone who has studied (and can still recall) the life of Dr. Jose Rizal, it is known that Bohemian scholar Ferdinand Blumentritt was his greatest foreign friend. He and Jose Rizal exchanged many letters, even until the eve of Rizal’s last day. He shared Rizal’s love for the Philippines: he was a teacher, secondary school principal, lecturer, and author of articles and books on the Philippines and its ethnography. Even now, he is the most important symbol in the history between the Philippines and Austria, and beyond, to Central Europe.
*This article has since been corrected for factual errors.