|Luisita Interchange entrance from San Miguel, Tarlac City|
On our way back to Manila from Pangasinan, I jumped for joy when we found ourselves traversing the San Miguel / Luisita Interchange of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), the longest highway in the Philippines. Thanks to my princess' Red knight, who couldn't find the SCTex Tarlac City Interchange entrance, for this chanced travel which I recorded in my Sporty Chronicles!
|Luisita Interchange exit to Manila|
The Luisita Interchange is one of the eleven (11) exits starting from Subic in the south and ending in Tarlac City in the north of the - 94-kilometer SCTex that connects the Subic Bay Freeport, the Clark Freeport, and Tarlac City. Of all the 11 exits of the SCTEx, the Luisita Interchange is said to be the only one that directly leads to private property - the Hacienda Luisita.
The Hacienda Luisita is a 6,435 - hectare sugar plantation owned by the Cojuangco family, which includes the late former President Corazon C. Aquino and her son, our incumbent President Benigno S. Aquino III. This huge piece of real estate housed the Central Azucarera de Tarlac, one of the largest sugar refinery in the Philippines. The controversy involving this manufacturing plant and the workers that escalated into the so - called Hacienda Luisita Massacre was used against Pres. Noynoy during his campaign and is still an issue hounding his presidency.
From the San Miguel entrance, I noticed a signage that tells me what inside this (in)famous piece of real estate other than the Central Azucarera de Tarlac. There is Microtel Inn and Suites, Luisita Industrial Park, Luisita Business Park, Las Haciendas de Luisita which housed the five (5) residential villages named after the second generation Cojuanco sisters: Carmen, Corazon, Josefine, Pacita and Teresita, a Spanish-Mexican inspired multi-purpose Haciendas de Luisita Clubhouse consisting of a sports complex, community clubhouse, function room, swimming pool, and picnic area, the Luisita Golf and Country Club, and the Central Techno Park.
From where I sit, I enjoyed one smooth, free-flowing, green ride, unlike when we used to drive along Mabalacat Road amidst the traffic and smoke. No doubt, this gift of greenery during travel is brought about by the direct connection of the Luisita Interchange to the Central Techno Park of Hacienda Luisita. This connection, however, has spawned several controversies. Claimants said that the payment to the Cojuangco's of P83 million by the government for the 83 hectares road right-of-way was not only overpriced (Php 100 per square meter where the then on-going rate was only Php 6 per square meter) but also unusual because normally the property owners (who wish to have exits from the highway to their private properties) are the ones who pay the government for these exits (since having the exits increases the value of their private properties).
Well, I do not know whose claim is right and as a puppy who loves to bark, I can only hope and pray to these huge santo (carved wooden images of saints at the San Miguel entrance), that the attackers will not bark on the wrong tree!