Quezon province’s impressive historical and cultural heritage

July 18, 2012 11:34 pm 

By Lily O. Ramos

MANILA, July 18 — Historically, the present Quezon Province’s wide and massive land territory was divided among the provinces of nearby Laguna, Batangas and Nueva Ecija before being consolidated as Tayabas Province in 1591.

In 1946, Tayabas was finally renamed Quezon Province in honor of its favorite native son, Manuel Luis Quezon, the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth who died of tuberculosis in 1944 in Saranac Lake, New York, USA.

Quezon Province is surrounded by four major fishing grounds Ragay Gulf, Lamon Bay, Tayabas Bay and Polillo Strait with two cities and 40 municipalities — 34 of which are coastal.

With a population of 1,977,650 (May 2010 census) and covering 8,760 hectares, a total area of 513,681 hectares is devoted to agriculture.

Being the Philippines’ sixth largest province and the biggest in Region lV-A (Southern Tagalog) with Lucena City as its capital, Quezon Province could be reach within three hours from Metro Manila via South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) in Laguna.

It’s the country’s main producer of coconut and its by-products such as virgin coconut oil, Buko juice and coconut vodka which are also exported worldwide.

“Our products are appreciated in many parts of Europe, the US and Canada,” said Gov. David “Jayjay” Suarez who is bent on finding more foreign markets for his constituents’ produce to stem Quezon Province’s brain and brawn problems due to unemployment.

Quezon Province also produces the delicious Lucban longganisa (sausage), pancit habhab (noodle dish), vegetable, seafood and meat dishes cooked to perfection, pastries such as puto seco, mazapan, yema, broas, arrow root cookies, banana and cassava chips and “kiping”– a leaf-shaped and multi-colored rice paste wafers used as house/table décor in any occasion.

Its cultural, historical and pilgrimage sites are tied up with its many monthly festivals — marking May 15 yearly with the most famous/colorful celebration known as “Pahiyas” as the residents’ way of thanking their patron of farmers, San Isidro Labrador’s for bountiful harvest.

In Gumaca, the harvest festivity is called Baluarte and Aranya with arches and big chandeliers get decorated with fruits and vegetables.

Tayabas’ celebration is named Mayohan while people of Sariaya are happy with their “Agawan sa Sariaya” which means decorating houses and trees so those who join the street merrymaking can freely get every decoration and local goodies they can lay their hands on.

”Boling-Boling” festival commemorates Palm Sunday in Catanauan, while Infanta holds the Semana Santa Lenten activities, even as General Luna observes Buhay na Kubol.

The Municipalities of Catanuan, Mulanay and San Narciso also observed the Centurion Festival down south.

Others are the Sibidan and Carabao Festivals of Tagkawayan (January), Candle Festival of Candelaria (Feb. 2), Lagujimanoc Festival of Padre Burgos (Feb. 17), Hambujan Festival (April 11), Sinampalukan Festival of Sampaloc (April 25), Seafoods Fest of Guinayangan (June 21);

Lilay-coco of Unisan (June 28-30), Maubanog Fest of Mauban (July 14), Lubid-Lubid Fest of Tiaong (June 24), Katang Fest of Calauag (May 25th), Tagultol Fest of Atimonan (Aug. 1-2), Bilao Fest of Pagbilao (Aug. 29), Malagkit Fest of San Antonio (Oct.4), Drum and Lyre Fest of Lopez (Oct. 6)and the Fluvial Celebration of Real (Oct. 24).

Another major occasion is Lucena City’s Pasayahan” sa Lucena on May 27 to 30 where the main thoroughfares are lined with colorful floats and street dancers. In the evening, the main streets are closed to give way to live bands and partying.

Former President Quezon’s August 19 birthday coincides with Kalilayan Festival when municipalities gather in Lucena for parade, agricultural fairs and exhibits, food competition to promote the province’s best products.

Yearly, local hero Apolinario dela Cruz, a.k.a Hermano Pule‘s martyrdom on November 4 is poignantly remembered by residents. He was beheaded by the Spanish authorities for allegedly leading a revolt against them.

Must-see places

In Lucban, Quezon’s mystical mountain of Mt.Banahaw offers pilgrims the chance to experience healing power, paranormal encounters and energizing aura that the mountain is famous for.

To date, Banahaw has 168 thriving religious sects. The recently-built Kamay ni Jesus and Healing Grotto in Barangay Tinamnan, Lucban is a favorite of both local and foreign visitors in search of spiritual and physical healing.

Mt.Banahaw is a peaceful, quiet, green and restful mountain visited by hundreds of pilgrims who claim they were miraculously healed of their illnesses and granted with favors sought by them.

Tayabas, which was awarded in 1703 by a Spanish Monarch with the royal title “La Muy Nobe Villa De Tayabas" may have originated from "tayaban", a winged being of human form and usually seen at night with a body that glows like swarms of tropical firefly.

Some Tayabas residents say the first class community located 150 kilometers southeast of Manila founded by the Franciscan missionaries in 1578 might have gotten its original name from the firefly.

It rests at the foot of Mt. Banahaw, bounded on the north by Lucban, Pagbilao on the southeast, Lucena City on the South and Sariaya and on the west.

Hot water springs at the northern part of the city is believed to be therapeutically beneficial to those who take a dip there.

Must-to-be visited historical places also in Quezon are the St. Michael the Archangel Minor Basilica in Tayabas which is one of the oldest but most beautiful churches in the country with its towering structure and delightful ceiling paintings.

Built in 1585 and repaired in 1590 using light materials of nipa and palm, the church was destroyed by earthquake in 1743 but later rebuilt with bricks and masonry in 1856.

Built at the start of the 19th century, Casa Comunidad symbolize the socio-economic eminence of Tayabas as the capital of the province during Spanish colonial period.

Sariaya's first parish church of Saint Francis de Assisi was built in 1599. There was a second and third rebuilding but in 1703, the town was transferred to Lumang Bayan.

Earthquakes and floods destroyed the town and caused the people to transfer to its present site in 1748.

Sariaya is home to old and grandeur ancestral houses, including the two-storey Gala-Rodriguez owned by an Ilustrado couple Dr, Isidro Rodriguez and Dona Gregoria Gala. The house was occupied by the Japanese forces in World War ll and later by the American Forces with complete mementos and memorabilia of the occupation.

On May 2008, it was declared as a national heritage site by the National Historical Institute (NHI).

The Gala-Rodriguez House is a remarkable architecture done in art deco style from the stained glass windows to the fan-shaped front terrace by designed by Dr. Juan Nakpil in the early 30s.

It was Dr Rodriguez’ gift to his ailing wife, Dona Gregoria and their seven children but she died on May 4, 1935 before they could move in to it.

Well-known Augusto “Ugu” Bigyan's ceramic artistry has graced numerous important private and government buildings aside from residences is a pride of Tiaong, Quezon.

"Ugu" produces dinnerware sets, decorative tiles and accent pieces for finishing walls and floorings.

Aside from artistically displayed clayware, Ugus’ workshop and showcase offers quaint huts in his restaurant for visitors to savor the unique environment or browse through a collection of artworks produced by the artist. (PNA)

lgi/CTB/LOR

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