Sunday, July 2, 2017

Time Travel Part II-The Tranvia

   When I was a child growing up in Pasay City, I used to see steel rails embedded in the street along Taft Avenue by the public market on the corner of Libertad Street.  I used to wonder who put the rails there and for what purpose.  To a child it looked like nothing have ran on it for a hundred years.  My grandmother told me there used to be a tranvia, some kind of train, that ran on those rails.

Tranvia in Manila
  The electric street car built by Americans, called tranvia by Filipinos, ran to Pasay public market from Escolta and Plaza Goiti through Luneta and M. H. del Pilar.  It was called “Pasay line” of the Meralco powered tranvia.  It was patterned after the San Francisco cable car system built in 1873.  
San Francisco Cable Car in the background 

   Pasay was a part of Rizal province back then and had a long way from becoming a city.  However, new automobiles from America with 20kph maximum speed have arrived.  The engine top speed capability was 35 mph.  However, the roads were bad and tires manufactured then were deplorable.  These cars trudged side by side with public transport horse and buggys called kalesa.

Manuel L. Quezon with Marlene Dietrich
From: http://www.classicmoviefavorites.com
     In 1935, the US was struggling to fully come out of the Great Depression.  To help the US economy, a high tariff was charged on imports from other countries.  Commonwealth of the Philippines with Manuel L. Quezon as the first President had been established but the tariff did not affect the Philippines because the Philippine industry remained in the hands of Americans.  So, while the world crumbled during the Great Depression, the Philippines lost no jobs, got no bank failures due to Filipino conservative banking practices and with the six months long rainy season, none of the drought condition that dried some parts of the US into being called “Dust Bowl”, the topic of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

   The Great Depression was less severe in the Philippines because the import tariff discouraged export of food items and produce.  Thus food flooded the local market and took down the cost of food benefiting the Filipino poor while the poor of the world suffered starvation.  

   A search for Philippines or Manila in the Wikipedia page for Great Depression came up zero.  The affected countries were as follows:

Australia
Canada
Chile
China
France
Germany
Greece
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Latin America
Netherlands
New Zealand
Portugal
Puerto Rico
South Africa
Soviet Union
Spain
Sweden
Thailand
United Kingdom
United States


See also:


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