Anything Under the Sun
At present, there is a plan to revive the Panay Railways which was closed sometime in 1983 because of the sharp decline of the sugar industry in West Visayas.
Because of this move it is interesting to know something about the history of this only railway system in the country outside Luzon.
This railway system started as Philippine Railway Company incorporated on March 5, 1906 at Hartfort, Connecticut, USA thru the initiative of Gov. Raymundo Melliza.
The work started on June 8, 1906 with one team starting from Capiz town (now Roxas City) and another from Iloilo town (now city). In 1907, the two teams met halfway somewhere along the 117-kilometer line. Operations began immediately with 19 permanent and 10 other flag stations.
The line which roughly cuts east-west the island of Panay into two equal parts passed thru La Paz, Jaro, Pavia, Santa Barbara, Lucena, Pototan, Dingle, Dueñas and Passi in Iloilo and Dumarao, Dao, Panit-an and Cuartero and Loctugan in Capiz.
The line served both passengers and freight. Sometime in the 1970's, modern de luxe passenger cars were introduced. But more profitable was the freight cars which mostly carried sugar canes to the sugar centrals and from there, molasses to the port of Iloilo.
In the early 80s, a 12-kilometer spur line was erected from Dueñas to Calinog to serve the sugar refinery in Calinog.
The ownership of the system passed thru several hands -- Development Bank of the Philippines, Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corporation (Philvedec) and finally, Panay Railways, Inc.
The plan to revive this system reportedly includes expansion to Kalibo, Aklan, thus connecting the three provinces of Panay -- Iloilo, Capiz and Aklan with the hope of enhancing their progress.