Young trainspotters fascinated by Phl railways

‘We usually wait at a location that we want for the day, such as a level crossing or a nearby station. For PNR lines, we look at the schedule of train arrivals in a specific location. We only choose safe areas where we can take a video of trains passing’

Trainspotting and railway appreciation have always been niche interests for the most devoted rail fan out there. It often involves people jotting down train cars passing through specific areas at a given time, as well as taking photos and videos and devoting research to existing and defunct train lines.

In the Philippines, trainspotting and railway appreciation are not much talked about, nor is it a famed activity. In fact, we think of our rail transits and on-ground railways less as a fascination and more as an everyday struggle for commuters.

However, as Daily Tribune discovered last week, there is indeed an existing subcommunity of Filipino trainspotters known as “Philippine Train Enthusiasts and Railfans Club,” who devote their time and resources to appreciating the historical significance and relevance of the country’s railways.

Surprisingly, their members consist mostly of students and working individuals from various academic backgrounds, as PTERC member Karl Vincent Dyangco explained.

“(PTERC) has 20 members. Most of our members are students in Metro Manila, but we have a member in Negros Occidental who is helping us document the sugar companies that still use steam locomotives. The majority of us are in railway-related degrees, while others are in other courses, such as Information Technology, Tourism Management and Secondary Education,” Dyangco said.

Despite having fairly diverse academic backgrounds, PTERC has a united vision and appreciation of our railways old and new. They manage a group page where railfans post content ranging from current developments within our existing rail lines, including those from Light Rail Transit, Metro Rail Transit and the Philippine National Railways.

Outside social media, PTERC conducts other activities, particularly trainspotting sessions where they document passing trains at certain locations, as well as surveying certain locations where old lines used to exist.

They also take photos and videos of their discoveries, which they post on their group page, as well as on their Facebook page which has garnered more than 9,200 likes, and a YouTube channel which has 454 subscribers since 2020.

“We usually wait at a location that we want for the day, such as a level crossing or a nearby station. For PNR lines, we look at the schedule of train arrivals in a specific location. We only choose safe areas where we can take a video of trains passing,” PTERC member Miles Santos explained.

Indeed, photo and video contributions from group members and the public, even jotting down the specific train sets on each line, showcase the nuts and bolts of our railways. They even have access to areas that we can’t normally access, such as train depots and secluded areas with hidden railway trails.

Santos recalled one of their notable discoveries in a not-so-obvious area in Antipolo, where he discovered a part of a very old, now-defunct PNR Santa Mesa-Antipolo rail line.

“To be honest, I was shocked that there were remnants of a defunct railway embedded in a wall near a mall in Antipolo, Rizal. I was on my way to Masinag when I saw this wall where some metal railings had been raised. Upon exploring a couple of times, I saw that there were indeed remnants there,” he narrated.

What benefits do trainspotting and railway appreciation bring to them? PTERC member Jan Maravilla said that, first, their activities are for personal enjoyment, but that they are also aiming to raise awareness and interest in the historical significance and relevance of the country’s railways amid further developments in our infrastructure and public transportation.

“Personally, these activities are for our personal enjoyment, for our hobbies, and our interest in Philippine railways. Yet, (we hope) that we could raise the importance of these railways to the general public which, in turn, could support it more, and to preserve the lines and to improve its services from Point A to Point B,” Maravilla said.

Indeed, a further inquiry into PTERC reveals that their hobbies and general appreciation of our railways show that they are also aiming for a much bigger cause for the improvement of the country’s public transportation system.

(To be continued)


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