History of Tayabas City
In 1578, Fray Juan de Plasencia and Fray Diego de Oropesa, two Franciscan missionaries from Spain founded the town of Tayabas in order to spread Christianity to its natives. Prior to the occupation, however, the native Tayabenses lived in rural settings typical to those times, with barangays headed by village chiefs and councils of elders.
From 1749 to 1901, Tayabas was the capital of the Province of Tayabas, now known as Quezon. In the 19th century, Tayabas was among the biggest towns in the country. Its Minor Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, which was enlarged in the mid-1850s, is the longest church in the country and is a lasting testament to its glorious and historic past.
In more than three centuries of Spanish occupation, only eight cities and towns were given the title of Villa, and Tayabas was one of them. These are La Villa del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus de Cebu in 1565, La Villa de Santiago de Libon (Albay, 1573), La Villa Fernandina de Vigan (Ilocos, 1574), La Villa Rica de Arevalo (Iloilo, 1581), La Noble Villa de Pila (Laguna, 1610), La Muy Noble Villa de Tayabas, (Tayabas, 1703), La Villa de Bacolor (Pampanga, 1765), La Villa de Lipa (Batangas, 1887). Interestingly, that Tayabas was given the title of 'most noble' villa even before it became the provincial capital shows its importance even before 1749.
In the book "The Philippines," written by French traveler Jean Baptiste Mallat, and published in 1846, it appears that Tayabas had more than 21,000 people at that time. This was reduced to 16,000 when Lucena became an independent town in 1879. Due to low population growth during the Spanish period, this number remained unchanged until the coming of the Americans.
Tayabas is at the center of the province's long-settled heartland, which possessed the best lands, the oldest parishes, and the most active commercial centers. The provincial heartland was described by Pres. Manuel L. Quezon as having the "richest and gayest places in the province."
Tayabas has many places of interest. Its Casa Comunidad, a centuries-old building, is the place where Apolinario "Hermano Pule" Dela Cruz was tried and sentenced to death in 1841. It was restored in the 1990s through funds donated by the "Friends of Casa Comunidad," an organization of affluent Manila-based Tayabenses.
Its numerous Spanish-era bridges mirror its rich architectural past. Two of the longest are the Malagonlong and the Malaoa bridges. Malagonlong's high and beautiful arches and its solid design are some of the reasons why it was declared a national historical site. It is so strong that it withstood the dynamites planted there to stop the Japanese advance during World War II.
Tayabas suffered a terrible blow near the end of World War II when it was completely burned to the ground after a bombing raid on March 15, 1945. Prior to that, the old houses of Tayabas rivalled those of Vigan's Spanish-era structures.