By Joey Natividad
CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region, 06Oct2013 (BicolToday.com) – Many Bicolanos felt sad when the news broke out last week that General Manager Junio Ragragio of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) was replaced by a non-Bicolano.
Others considered him a big loss to the Bicol railway modernization project when it is still gathering steam. “Too early for him to step aside as decided by the top decision makers,” said members of Naga media.
GM Ragragio is a true-blooded Bicolano who spent his elementary and high school years in Naga City in the 1960s and until early 1970s, His roots came from Sorsogon, but he spent the rest of his student years in Naga when his parents were teachers at (then) Ateneo de Naga College – that was the time when PNR’s Bicol Express Train had been running full blast bringing passengers to and from Manila.
The train had been part of Bicol, and it had been part of Bicol history. The dream of its complete modernization is still a dream. GM Ragragio has that dream of the train running from Manila to Matnog, Sorsogon.
Last night, outgoing GM Ragragio sent this farewell message, and BicolToday.com finds it worthy for posting for the netizen community to read:
“We all have dreams that we would sacrifice for. Mine was to see the Bicol Express Train running again all the way to Matnog (Sorsogon) as General Manager of PNR.
That, I won’t be able to do anymore since I have been replaced.
But, my dream lives on and I believe I have ensured that it will happen because no less than the President announced the Bicol Express shall reopen by the first quarter of next year.
Because in its “Road Map” strategic assessment, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) has justified the continuity of the Bicol Line.
. . . Because in its expert study, the Canadian Rail consultants have shown the need for the Bicol railroad.
. . . Because, the community of planners under NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) has expressed the demand for rail connectivity with Southern Luzon and Bicol.
Now, even more in the past, there is simply no reason why the Bicol Express should not be restored.
To all my fellow Bicolanos, on the issue of PNR,
— PNR General Manager Junio Ragragio