demolition permit

After 72 years on this site, the Santa Ana Park of the Philippine Racing Club is being razed to make way for new developments on the prime property in Makati City, the country’s premier business and commercial district.

Racing operations were transferred to a new facility at Naic, Cavite, last January 6. Today, structures at the old track are coming down – grandstands, betting windows, paddocks, stables. Everything is being reduced to piles of rubble and stacks of wood.

The turnstiles at the pedestrian entrance (Gate 3).

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The right-hand grandstand (facing the track). It used to have badminton courts and a Savory Restaurant. Before that, there were rows of betting windows and open-air canteens.

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The bridgeway between the two grandstand buildings. The structure behind it had the weighing scale, viewing deck, racecaller’s booth, and stewards’ stand.

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The main grandstand, with the ballroom with the painted horses on the wall and the VIP boxes for horseowners and well-heeled patrons.

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You can still see the green staircase to the upper floor, now choked with rocks and leading to nowhere.

My children and I live just behind this former racetrack, on my father-in-law’s property, most of it given over to a twelve-stall stable, now empty, as the horses have all been moved to Naic.

The once-vibrant and noisy neighborhood is quieter. Yes, that’s a good thing, but we were used to the racket – the chatter of grooms and their families, the neighing and snorting of horses, the clatter of hooves on the street in the morning, the faintly-heard voice of the racecaller over the PA system during race meetings.

All gone from here, now.

PRC management says that part of the property, around four hectares, has been purchased by taipan Lucio Tan’s group, perhaps for an Allied Bank data center, or some other  purpose. The rest of the property, maybe 21 hectares, will also be developed in time, into a mixed-use residential and commercial area much like the Rockwell area, also in Makati.

It’s hard to imagine a Rockwell here, but if it does happen, it’ll be good for the ‘hood. Property prices will rise. There’ll be jobs and other economic benefits.

Call me a sentimental fool, but I’ll miss the old track. It’s where I trained every morning for two months back in 1990 as the country’s first female apprentice jockey. It’s where my husband asked me on our very first date, to marry five months later. It’s where I sunned my babies; it’s where they learned to walk, on the strip of grass beside the rail, while their father exercised horses in the mornings, all of us coming home smelling of sun and dust and the sweat of horses. It’s where I picked up my career when I had to go back to work after my marriage faltered.

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Murals still on the wall, barely glimpsed.

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Murals of  Gypsy Grey and Little Morning, champions my father-in-law trained.

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The jockeys’ quarters, once so noisy and alive, now silent, yawning, empty.

When a mall or condo is built here, right on the track, will the ghosts of gone horses still race, silently, where they used to run free? Shall phantasms of riders and horses, or their manifestations of psychic energy remaining in the rocks, in the soil, and carried on the breeze, still run races until entropy consumes the sun and time runs backward?

Now my eldest, Alex, is nearly 18, and in college; she took these pictures. Erika is 10. Where did time go?

And the racetrack, that stood here for many generations, and that some thought would never be torn down in our lifetime, is no more. You know what they say about change. And in fact, it’s for the better – the new Santa Ana Park in Naic is modern, roomy, and with an excellent cushiony track.

But I never thought, when I married a jockey almost twenty years ago, that the time would ever come that I would be a historian of this track’s demise.

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The far end of the main building.

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The white stripe divides the part that the Lucio Tan group bought (the right) from the Prime Channel and PRC corporate offices, and the rest of the property. The line extends to where the outer rail of the track used to be.

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PRC corporate offices; on the left, what used to be the PRC Motorpool.

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Lush vegetation frames a view of the bridgeway.

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The side of the main grandstand. Here used to be carinderias (eateries) with tables, chairs, and cases of San Miguel beer.

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The side of the grandstands facing the track. People used to stand and watch races from here.

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The tote board gapes with holes. Well, it hadn’t been working properly for years, anyway. The rails beside the track have been removed and taken to Naic. This grassy area, where my children learned to walk, is now overgrown and unkempt.

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The saddling paddock, with the jockeys’ quarters at the end.

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Right across the saddling paddock was this viewing area where horses were walked for warmup/cool down. People came right up to the fence, where the stacks of wood are now.

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This is what it looks like from the other side of the fence.

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Open-air grandstand and private boxes being stripped of anything usable.

Photo credit: All photos taken by Alex Alcasid with a Nikon D60.

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7 Comments on demolition permit

  1. TAO
    11 March 2009 at 4:58 pm (4047 days ago)

    Those are great pictures. Sad event. It’s good someone as least documented it.

  2. Joel
    11 March 2009 at 9:13 pm (4047 days ago)

    Beautiful genius loci! A heartfelt tribute to a place. Too bad, Jenny, I’ve never been in this track when I live in Manila…

  3. tom belles
    12 March 2009 at 12:45 am (4047 days ago)

    Hi Ms. Jenny,
    How sad, looking at the old PRCI go down for progress. I used to go there once in a while whenever I’m free. I remember when I was still single, went there all by myself because of my love for horses and horseracing too simply because I’m a Saguitarian? Anyway I’m also happy that even though the new saddle and Club is much too far here from Manila, it only displays a lot of improvement and modern facilities as well. Even though I have no time betting due to my work, I always see to it I’m updated with the results of every racing day. That’s how I’m very attached to horseracing. By the way, if not too much, can you please give me feedback regarding the latest “unfit to ride” status of my idol jockey Jeff Zarate?Please? What happened again? All I know is that he has been hospitalized again? When will he comeback?
    Thank you very very much and hope to hear from you soon Ma’m Jenny.
    TOM
    PS;
    Pasensya na if there are some wrong grammars used.

  4. clem
    12 March 2009 at 1:15 am (4047 days ago)

    it’s sad to see some things go, right? then again, beautiful things are about to come to the old place. hopefully. you’re lucky to have lived so near the place and treasure all the good memories you had there. cheers ate jen! :-)

  5. Jenny
    12 March 2009 at 4:27 am (4047 days ago)

    @TAO: Yes, I felt the need to document. This was not done for San Lazaro Hippodrome in Tayuman, in the heart of Manila, when it came down in 2003.
    @ Joel: thanks! ‘Genius loci’, that sounds much better than my idea of ‘tyanak ng karera’. LOL!
    @tom belles: I’m also a Sagittarian, maybe that’s why I love horses too.
    @Clem: I’m just in the right place at the right time. :)

  6. Rafael
    11 October 2010 at 3:01 pm (3468 days ago)

    Hi Jenny,
    Thank you for documenting the demolition of PRCI / Santa Ana Park and sharing your experiences. The club actually used to belong to my father’s family and A.P. Reyes is my grandfather, whom I never had the chance to meet. I have some fond memories of Santa Ana growing up and I actually worked there at one of the betting booths while I was in high school. It is quite sad to know that Santa Ana is no longer there though. I was wondering if I could ask you a favor if you could possibly email me copies of the pictures you posted or lead me to website where I can view them. For some reason. I only see one picture which is of the Gate 3 Pedestrian Entrance. I’ve been searching online for pictures of Santa Ana in it’s glory days until I ran into your blog and found out that it has been torn down. No problem if you’d rather not email the pictures but I thank you in advance if you would.
    Best Regards,
    Rafael

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