June 26, 1875, a Royal decree was issued authorizing the preparation of a general plan for a railroad in Luzon.
The history of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) actually started not on June 26, 1875, when the preparation of a general plan of a railroad on Luzon was authorized by virtue of a Royal Decree of King Alfonso XII of Spain. Don Eduardo Lopez Navarro, the Inspector of Public Works of the Philippine Islands, was required to submit a general plan for the establishment of a railroad line in the island of Luzon. After 5 months of conscientious study, he submitted the Memoria Sobre El Plan General de Ferocarilles en la Isla de Luzon.
The PNR website and other sources stated that it happened on June 25, but the historical marker at Tutuban station which was installed in 1934 states that it was on June 26. This said decree was barely three years after the Cavity Mutiny, and the subsequent execution of the alleged brains of the mutiny, the priests Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, more known in history as Gomburza.
This first inkling of a nascent Filipino nationalism coincided more or less with the very first important geographic linking of small trading points in Luzon. And this, ironically, by royal decree of the colonial overlord, the last person to appreciate any restless sense of country in his subjects.
Five months after royal decree was issued, the public works inspector of the islands, Don Eduardo Lopez Navarro, submitted his plan. It was titled, Memoria Sobre el Plan General de Ferrocarriles en la Isla de Luzón, and was promptly approved. On June 1, 1887, a concession for the construction of a railway line from Manila to Dagupan was granted to Don Edmundo Sykes of the Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan.
For some reason, this concession is later transferred to a Don Carlos E. Bertodano on July 8, 1887, who represented the Manila Railroad Company, or MRRCo. At the end of the same month, a cornerstone was laid for the building the Tutuban Station and Filipino workers started the construction of the Manila-Dagupan railroad.
The projected system
- A line running north from Manila through the Provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga and Pangasinan.
- A line running south from Manila and then along the Laguna de Bay shore eastwards through Tayabas, Camarines and Albay Provinces.
- A branch from line (2) on the Laguna de Bay shore to run almost due south to Batangas.
In 1890, the contractors failed and only the first section of 45 kilometers was opened to traffic on the 24th of March, 1891. Finally, on November 23, 1892, Governor-General Despujol in Tarlac in an energetic speech, declared that the first Philippine Railway, the Manila to Dagupan line is open to traffic.