‘Patay’ Railways?

By Alex P. Vidal

“Implementation of promises is as important as making them.”—Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy

PARDON us for being so skeptical, but we doubt if the “Patay Railways” will ever be revived under the Marcos Jr. administration.

Not in six years, perhaps; not even under the administration of the next president—or when Mr. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has bowed out from the presidency in 2028.

Not everything the President has announced in his recent State of the Nation Address (Sona) will turn into gold.

Sometimes those that weren’t openly mentioned are the ones on the priority list; those that were constantly mentioned aren’t even in the radar and are, therefore, not taken seriously.

Proposals and suggestions, yes. Plans and “priorities,” maybe. Implementation and demonstration, dream on!

We even doubt if the storied but “dead” railway system will be able to rise again like Lazarus post Marcos Jr. administration thereafter. Since its engines “conked out” or were silenced in 1983, efforts to bring it to life proved futile.

We always have serious misgivings each time the government announces the construction or rehabilitation of mega-million worth of public works projects ahead of securing the funds needed to start the engine.

It’s like pushing the cart ahead of the horse. There’s no joyride in the locomotive.

Let’s take a cue from the recent announcement from the Department of Transportation (DOTr), which unceremoniously doused a cold water to the railways’ proposed revival: 1.“There are no funds yet…” and 2. “Its revival is not a priority of the agency.” Loud and clear.


It’s always been the grand plans, the big dreams, the excitement and shockwaves attributed to the grand plans and big dreams, but not the implementation—especially if funds are scarce and may not be immediately available.

Mega-projects of such magnitude may need billions of pesos for immediate implementation and the limited public funds might not be able to sustain their grandeur unless the government can secure fresh loans from foreign sources and hack out a partnership with the private developers without prejudice to the interest of the government.

Like what happened to the Iloilo-Guimaras bridge project which was prematurely announced to romp off during the Duterte administration under the ambitious and expensive “build, build, build” program even without the sufficient budget and logistical preparations.

The proposed revival of the 117-kilometer “Patay Railways” might remain as cold skeletons in the cemetery unless the cash-anemic government can set aside or look for the funds and prioritize it over the other “more urgent” infrastructure projects in Luzon and Mindanao.

Through the combined forces of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Budget, and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), anything can still be possible, but probably not in the timeline of the present administration.


“He knows too much!” We often hear this in debates and public fora.

President Marcos Jr. “knew too much,” his fans cheered when he recently delivered his Sona.

Many politicians and sales executives are impressive because “they know too much.”

But nobody knows too much. Nobody ever yet knew enough. We cannot have too much knowledge, any more than we can have too much health.

What we really mean when we say a person knows too much is that he knows too little, and is too positive about it.

An ignorant man’s mind is just as full of ideas as a wise man’s mind. But his ideas are wrong.

There are just as many plants growing in his garden as in the wise man’s garden, but they are weeds.

Enemies to knowledge are egotism, sensitiveness and pride. These things keep us from being teachable. They build a wall around us, so that knowledge cannot get in.

The surest way to get knowledge is not to advertise that we have it. About the wisest man that ever lived was Socrates, and he was fond of saying of himself that he knew nothing at all.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)