Wednesday, March 21, 2007


TAYO NA SA ANTIPOLO. Magalang excursionistas get the ride of their life on board Pampanga’s pride—Pambusco.

“Maluat tanang buring myaman pasialan
Deng anggang sacup ning labuad Kapampangan
Ania ngeni-ngeni, ing quecatang gawan
Saque tang PAMBUSCO, libutan tala ngan..”1

The joys of summer would not be complete without the “pasyalans” to escape the summer heat. Excursions were the vogue of the 1930s peacetime period, when people had more time for relaxation and fewer worries to attend to. Besides, there were miles and miles of newly built roads to explore, as the Americans went on a building frenzy, adding 7,500 kilometers of first class highways more between 1909 and 1934. .

Students, teachers, office workers and ordinary town folks would take a break from the drudgery of work and school for a taste of the great outdoors. From the little swimming holes of Mascup River in Mabalacat to the refreshing pools of Arayat, people would go to cool their heels, romp in the water and enjoy the sun. But for those with adventurous spirit and a little cash to spare, the idea of the perfect getaways involved going out of town to such places as Bataan, Sibul Springs in Bulacan, Hinulugang Taktak in Antipolo (to visit the shrine of Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buen Viaje), Balara Filter in Marikina or even Manila, where people could take in the cool bay breeze while promenading at the Luneta.

Back then, those places seemed like millions of miles away. Old timers’ stories abound of two hours+ trips to Manila where one can drive for miles on long, dusty stretches of road without meeting another car. Or of how bus drivers, travelling at an average of just 70 kph would suddenly shut off their engines and accelerate down the road, carried on by the momentum. So, to get to their destinations safely and quickly, everyone’s favorite way –as these happy Magalang excursionistas did--was to hire a roadworthy Pambusco bus for the day, which, despite its rickety , shaky appearance, could be relied on to take them there.

The Pampanga Bus Company, which actually started as Ambusco (American Bus Co.)was established in April of 1928 by L. D. Lockwood, in partnership with H.R. Andreas, Inc. with an initial capital of P250,000. Initially, there were 16 bus units, consisting of New Dodge Graham and 7 Fords, plying the Tarlac-San Fernando, Pampanga line. Mr. Lockwood was an acknowledged leader in the public transport business alongside Leopold Kahn of Estrella Auto Palace, Horace Pond, dealer of General Motors vehicles and Emmanuel Bachrach of Bachrach Motor Company. When the Manila Railroad Company reduced its train rates to entice more passengers, Pambusco and other bus companies complained, but even with the MRC threat, its business thrived. Eventually, Pambusco made an arrangement with MRC to transport passengers from Bataan.

By the 1940s, it was calling itself a “Pampanga institution”. Soon, Pambusco merged with La Mallorca and became even more famous as La Mallorca-Pambusco Transport Co., with lines in Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Bataan, Nueva Ecija and Manila. Macabebe was the home depot of La Mallorca-Pambusco. In 1946, it was headed by Lt. Col. Geminiano Yabut with Alfredo Balingit as Operations Manager. Vice Governor Geronimo Enriquez served as the General Manager and members of his family.

Pambusco got into fray again with its competitors Pantranco, Dangwa Transit and Philippine Rabbit in 1963 when it applied for a certificate to operate from Camiling to Cubao, then amended its application to include Baguio to Caloocan City. The other bus operators cried foul for infringement of territorial lines, but the court ruled in Pambusco’s favor and it started its merry Baguio-to-Manila way. Pambusco operations went on for another decade and a half until it ceased operations altogether.

Traffic today has rendered us immobile, nothwithstanding the Expressways, the MRT and the LRT. Most of the blame has been put on passenger buses and their drivers, self-proclaimed kings of the road of the smoke-belching, lane-swerving, road-blocking types. True, buses may be falling out of favor for the harried daily commuter, but whenever summer comes rolling, the bus is still the way to go for out-of-town pasyalans, providing excursionistas a bumpy, jolting and heart-thumping experience not unlike that promised by Pambusco, the “Pampanga institution” of our days. (6 July 2002)

1From “Deng Balen a Kapampangan”, Lyrics by Mr. Ernie C. Turla,

1 comment:

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