By Daniel Infante Tuaño
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA – Filipino pilgrims who walked the Camino de Santiago, a famous Spanish pilgrimage route which ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, were shocked and saddened upon hearing the news on Spain’s worst train tragedy.
The accident took place on July 24, in the eve of the feast of St. James the Apostle, an important public holiday in Santiago de Compostela and the rest of the Galician region.
“Noong nabalitaan nga namin na may aksidente, nabigla kami, kasi nga pumunta tayo para doon sa festivities ng Santiago. Nakakalungkot na nangyari yun at marami pa ang namatay pero despite that tuloy pa rin tayo and hopefully pagdating natin sa Santiago ipagdadasal natin yung mga naapektuhan,” said Eleanor Merca, a Filipina pilgrim from Belgium who had taken the earlier Alvia train from Madrid before the crash happened.
Another pilgrim from Belgium, Arnel German was staying in Arzua, nearby town and expecting to finish the pilgrimage in time for the local celebration, was also saddened by the unfortunate news, and has expressed his sympathies to the victims and their families.
All scheduled activities have been cancelled as the whole Galician region declares seven days of official mourning. Black ribbons can be seen in shops and local establishments in the capital city Santiago de Compostela. A picture of a black ribbon has been placed on a stage in Plaza de la Quintana, and masses and minutes of silence have been also offered.
Nats Sisma Villaluna, a Filipino pilgrim from Barcelona, felt the gloomy atmosphere in the city.
“Habang naglalakad ako, I was thinking of the victims. Pagdating ko sa Santiago, the ambience was very solemn, very sad. I dedicate my Camino to these passengers, those who perished and those who were injured.”
According to Spanish website Libertad Digital, the accident claimed 78 lives and 178 passengers were injured. Among the fatalities identified, most were Spanish; three came from Algeria, Mexico and United States.
The Philippine Embassy in Madrid said that they are closely coordinating with hospitals and city councils to determine if there are any Filipino casualties. ABS-CBNnews.com
Watch this related TV report aired on Balitang Europe, The Filipino Channel, ABS-CBN: