Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Today in History - November 24, 1892

MANILA, Nov. 24 (PNA) -- The means of travel and communications in Luzon improved greatly with the inauguration On November 24, 1892 of the 195-kilometer long railway line from Manila to Dagupan in Pangasinan.

This led to the efficient delivery and transport not only of goods and people but also information to the north via reliable and fast (8 hours at that time) mode of transportation the Philippines enjoyed during the last decade of the 19th century.

The general plan for the establishment of the railroad line was introduced as a means of exploiting the untapped riches of the virgin islands of Luzon, which had been endowed with nature’s blessings but only slightly stirred by trade and commercial activity, even during the galleon trade.

Hence, on June 25, 1875, a royal decree of King Alfonso XII of Spain required the Inspector of Public Works of the Philippine Island to submit a general plan for the establishment of a railroad line on the island of Luzon.

On June 1, 1887, a concession for the construction of a railway line from Manila to Dagupan, Pangasinan was awarded to Don Edmundo Sykes of the Ferrocaril de Manila-Dagupan, the original corporate name of the Manila Railway Company Ltd. of London.

The cornerstone of the project was laid on July 31, 1887 at the present site of the Philippine National Railways' main terminal building at Tutuban, Manila.

Since then, the construction of lines continued such that by 1940, the railway had been extended up to Legazpi, Albay in the South and to San Fernando, La Union in the north. Branch lines were constructed from Paniqui, Tarlac to San Quintin, Pangasinan; from Tarlac, Tarlac to San Jose, Nueva Ecija; from Bigaa, Bulacan to Cabanatuan City; from San Fernando, Pampanga to Carmen, Pangasinan; from College to Sta. Cruz, Laguna and from Sta. Mesa to Hulo in Mandaluyong.

The Manila Railroad officially became the Philippine National Railways (PNR) on June 20, 1946 by virtue of Republic Act No. 4156. The PNR is an attached agency under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Also on this same day in 1895, Eduardo A. Quisumbing, a leading botanist and national scientist in the country, was born in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Quisumbing’s book, Medicinal Plants of the Philippines (1951), is the forerunner of all studies on the subject.

On this same day in 1779 was also the birth of Manuel Blanco in Zamora, Spain. Blanco was the Augustinian priest known for his extensive study of Philippine flora. His Flora de Filipinas (1837) is a systematic and scientific book on 1,200 kinds of plants in the country. (PNA)

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