The Immediate Economic Benefits of Batangas Train Service in 1910 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore The Immediate Economic Benefits of Batangas Train Service in 1910 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

The Immediate Economic Benefits of Batangas Train Service in 1910

[In this article: Batangas Province, Lipa Batangas, Batangas City Batangas, Manila Railroad Company, Calamba to Laguna line, Luta to Lucena line, Batangas orange capital of the Philippines, dalandan, dalanghita, sinturis, Philippine Commission, William Cameron Forbes]

In the year 1902, the United States Senate wanted to know the state of Philippine Railroads from Elihu Root, then Secretary of War. Root’s short reply said that it was practically non-existent1. The previous Spanish colonial government had not taken the opportunity to build better modes of transportation when it could, railroads having been built in the West since the 19th century.

To remedy this, in the following years, the American colonial government began soliciting bids from private contractors for the building of rail networks around the Philippines. Among the projects eyed was a line from Calamba to Bauan through the then-town of Batangas2. The completion of this project would connect the province of Batangas to Manila, since the line from Calamba was merely a branch of the main line that went all the way to the capital.

READ: “The State of Philippine Railroads in 1902 and American Attempts to Improve It, Including New Lines in Batangas
By 1910, construction of the line was at an advanced stage. Its management was under the tutelage of the Manila Railroad Company, the forerunner of the present day’s Philippine National Raillways3. In his annual report, William Cameron Forbes, then Governor General of the Philippines gave a brief update on the construction’s progress:
“The Manila Railroad Company is now pushing its construction rapidly to the south. At the time of the present writing the line is open to Bay, La Laguna, is 9 kilometers beyond Lipa, in the province of Batangas, and the main line running south to Lucena, province of Tayabas, is extended 3.8 kilometers from the point of connection4.”
Batangas to Lipa train
Image credit:  Batangas Railways.  Posted by user Pinai on the Indonesia v the Philippines discussion board on

This would mean that tracks had been laid down just past the town of San Jose and there were just 12 or 13 kilometers left before the line reached the town of Batangas5. Branching out from the Calamba to Bauan line at Malvar was the Luta to Lucena line, some 74.5 kilometers of tracks6.

The line from San Jose to the town of Batangas would be completed that same year (1910) and soon be operational. The benefits of the line’s opening were immediate. According to Forbes, it was “more beneficial than had been hoped.”

“The effect of the construction of railroads has been more beneficial even than had been hoped. The Manila Railroad Co., during the year, has opened up its lines to the following points: Batangas, on the Manila-Batangas line; San Pablo, on the Luta-Lucena line; Mojon, on the Calamba-Santa Cruz line; Santa Cruz, on the Noveleta-Naic line; and Rosales, on the Paniqui-Tayug line. The opening up of these lines had an almost magical effect in stimulating industry and fostering production: territory in which crops had not been harvested for years is now being cared for, and particularly in the Provinces of Batangas, La Laguna, and Tayabas the advent of the railroad seems to have made the difference between a backward and a progressive situation.”
Among the beneficiaries of the line’s opening was the Province of Batangas’ orange growing industry. The orange in question is either of two species of mandarin oranges native to Southeast Asia – the dalandan (citrus aurantium8) or the smaller dalanghita (citrus reticulate Blanco or tangerine orange9). Both are referred to in Batangas as sinturis.
READ: “When Batangas was the “Orange Capital” of the Philippines

The entire province had developed something of a reputation as the “orange capital of the Philippines.” The most productive plantations were in the towns of Tanauan and Santo Tomas, considered at the time the “orange district” of Batangas7.

Whereas before, produce had to be carted over land to Calamba then ferried across Laguna de Bay to Manila, the opening of rail service meant that oranges could be shipped quicker to the capital. That orange growers were quick to embrace the rail service was documented by the Philippine Comission, which described what happened in its summary report to the Secretary of War:

“The Manila Railroad 00., operating on the island of Luzon exclusively, is rapidly pushing the construction of its southern branches. At the present writing the me has just reached the town of Batangas, the town of Tiaong in Tayabas10, and almost to the town of Magdalena in La Laguna. The sections opened up have proved unexpectedly productive, and the business of the railroad has been immediate. The Province of Batangas shipped out 10,000 tons of oranges the first year that the railroad went in.
Notes and references:
1 “Transportation in the Territory of Hawaii,” by L. E. Pinkham, published 1907 in Honolulu.
2 Pinkham, ibid.
3 “>Philippine National Railways,” Wikipedia.
4 “Report of the Governor General,” by William Cameron Forbes, part of the Report of the Philippine Commission for the Fiscal Year ending 30 June 1910, published 1911 in Washington D.C.
5 Distances calculated using Google Earth’s ruler tool.
6 “Report of the Supervising Railway Expert,” part of the 1909 Report to the Philippine Commission.
7 “Citriculture in Tanauan,” by Encarnacion R. Buendia, published 1926, online at the H. Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
8 “Dalandan,” online at the Philippine Medicinal Plants.
9 “Dalanghita,” online at the Philippine Medicinal Plants.
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