In the distant past, trains used to rumble from Argao in the south all the way up to Danao in the north. In fact, the old Cebu railway system was instrumental in the development of the Queen City of the South. These days, only a few people remember the good old days of the Cebu Railroad.
Nearly four decades before the Second World War, a 57-mile railway track connected Argao to Danao. The railroad served the needs of the people of Cebu and was mainly used in transporting goods around the island of Cebu. The Central Railway Station used to be located at the junction of what is now P. Del Rosario and Leon Kilat streets. The station covered the area from the present Development Bank of the Philippine up to the old Cebu City Medical Center, which currently being reconstructed after it was damaged during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013. Aside from the tracks leading to the north and south, another track led to the port area since Cebu was the center of trade in the region during the Spanish and American periods.
The train had stops in the municipalities of Carcar and Sibonga. The Villadolid train station in Carcar is one of the four remaining train stations in Cebu and is currently being used as a restaurant. The train station located in Sab-ang Sibonga is the present Simala Elementary School library. The train station in Argao is currently being used as the fire station of the municipality of Argao. The cost of a third-class passenger ticket was at P 1.20, which is already a considerable amount at that time.
While the southern route had three stops, the northern route only had one, in Danao. The station in Danao is located in Sitio Estasyonan, which is derived from the word “station.” The trains would make their turn at the Rotunda located in Poblacion, Argao for the journey back to the City of Cebu.
Cebu became the second most important trade center in the country mainly due to the huge volume of products passing through the city. Cebu was already trading with other Southeast Asian and Arabian merchants before the coming of the Spaniards. The participation of Cebu in the Galleon trade increased activities in the port of Cebu. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, a Spanish Royal Decree opened Cebu to international trade with the increasing demand of raw materials.
The island of Cebu was once at par with Negros when it came to sugarcane production due to the sugarcane plantations in the north. Abaca was also a major product in the island since abaca weaving was already extensively practiced before the coming of the Spaniards. Another major export product of Cebu was copra. The island of Cebu was home to a considerable number of coconut farms.
However, the end of the old railroad in Cebu came during the Second World War. The damage to the central depot and thee tracks were so extensive that authorities did not even consider rehabilitating it. Despite the demise of the railroad system in Cebu, the Queen City of the South continues to become the center of trade in the region. Old Cebuanos can now only reminisce on the days when a railroad used to transport people and products across the island of Cebu.
Lola Pureza's Peanut Browas, a taste of old Cebu.
Available in leading supermarkets and pasalubong shops.