History of the city of tayabas


During the Spanish Period, names of various towns were changed from the original ethnic sounding to a more Hispanized or Christian inspired names. These new names were adopted either to gratify a Spanish Monarch or to venerate a saint of the Catholic Church. Unlike other towns where names had been altered, this foothill village retained its original name – Tayabas.

But until today the origin of the word Tayabas remains unsure; its etymology requires further study. There are various versions as to the origin of the name and all of which are fascinating though. One source says Tayabas may have originated from the word Tayaban. Tayaban is a night creature known for having wings that glow like a tropical firefly (OCPDC, 2010). Another possible explanation of the origin of the name Tayabas comes from E. Arsenio Manuel’s Dictionary of Tayabas Tagalog. A word from this dictionary points to Tayaba which refers to a local practice or ritual of the natives during New Year where they open up a farm by cutting down three trees on the patch they chose to cultivate. The cut trees then were placed to the boarder of the patch to mark it. In this sense, Tayabas may be considered as a place intended for kaingin. 

Another interesting theory is the one advanced by sociologist, Rolando V. Redor. He mentioned that the name Tayabas was suggested by the abundance of the well-loved fern (pako) called Tagabas thus, putting to rest the more popular theory which points to bayabas, guava fruit (Psidium guajava) as the etymology of the name Tayabas; bayabas, that endearing fruit as not being native to the Philippines (Zialcita,2009).


In earlier times, Tayabas was already thriving in a perfectly balanced ecosystem. It serves as host to the mystical Mount Banahaw which serves as a habitat for many species of flora and fauna. Its rainforest serves as watershed for the crystalline water that flows into the rivers, streams, tiered rice paddies and bambanes. Various water tributaries cut through the town of Tayabas before finally joining Tayabas Bay in the south-east (Palad, Pataunia, & Abulencia, 2006).

The Tayabasin had a strong sense of community long before colonization began. This was evidenced by formation of ancient village located between the Alitao and Ibiya River (Palad, Pataunia, & Abulencia, 2006). People back then were living in a rural setting which was usual at that time. Barangays were headed by village chiefs and council of elders (Tayabas CityGovernment, 2007). The estimated number of population in 1591 was around 2,800 inhabitants (Palad, Pataunia, & Abulencia, 2006).


In 1573, Fray Juan de Peñalosa, an Agustinian friar was the first to evangelize the province of Tayabas. Formation of Christian pueblos, however, started only upon the arrival of the Franciscan Missionaries in 1578. Two Franciscan friars, Juan de Placencia and Diego de Oropeza started the Christianization of the early Tayabasin and subsequently the foundation of the town. The design of the established pueblo was patterned after the pueblos in Spain. The Spaniards applied reduccion in which small scattered communities were forced to go to the defined centro of the town and build their own houses (Palad, Pataunia, & Abulencia, 2006). 

In 1637, Calilaya (Unisan: the former cabecera or seat of provincial government) was subjected to frequent Moro attacks and plunders. Calilaya collapsed leaving its people in anxiety and suffering which forced them to move the cabecera to a more secure area. With the transfer of the cabecera to the pueblo of Tayabas in 1651, the province was subsequently called La Provincia de Tayabas (Palad, Pataunia, & Abulencia, 2006).


In 1703 during the 52nd year of being the cabecera of the province, Tayabas was granted the royal title of La Muy Noble Villa de Tayabas ( The Very Noble Villa of Tayabas) by the Spanish Monarch. This type of classification was granted to only a few. There were only eight settlements which earned the status of villa in the country,  Among the eight villas, only Tayabas earned the honorific title La Muy Noble which means The Very Noble (Palad, Pataunia, & Abulencia, 2006). Upon the conferment of the enviable title to the cabecera, many sectors grew and flourished during that time. Arts, comedia, music, dance, and poetry were in full bloom at the noble town. So visible were the massive infrastructures such as bridges, chapels, cemeteries, government buildings, schools, court that were all constructed during this period. Thus, Tayabas became a veritable workshop for craftsmen, artists, engineers, architects, masons and builders (Palad, Pataunia, & Abulencia, 2006)


The American Regime. In July 16, 1900, the first military government

under the American rule was established in the province of Tayabas by Col. Cornelius Cardiner. The colonel who established the military government also became the first American governor since there was no municipal code then. They held an election which enabled Tayabasin to hold positions in the government. The Presidencia held their sessions two or thrice a month at the ground floor of D. Gil Jarmin’s House.

In March 12, 1901, Governor General Taft arrived in Tayabas together with his other officials. During that time, they established the first civil government under the American rule. The provincial capital was then moved from Tayabas to Lucena.

The Japanese Occupation. The horror of impending war reached Tayabas on December 8, 1941. Blackouts were being observed every night. The town’s people were experiencing anxiety and fear. The Tayabasin Civilians were then assigned either as civilian guards or first aiders.

The Japanese forces began to occupy the town in December 26, 1941. At that time, USAFFE never mounted strong military assault against the Japanese Forces. However, they destroyed valuable bridges. It was a war tactic to delay the advancement of the enemy forces. One of the bridgesdestroyed was the Alitao Bridge (constructed in 1798) which connects the poblacion to Munting Bayan.

The Tayabas Peace Committee was established in January 9, 1942 by the order of the Japanese Captain Foza Wataya. The committee was tasked to administer the community by way of joint civilian and military officials; strict orders for the conduct of the committee were issued by the Japanese Military High Command. Under the commission, the destroyed Alitao Bridge was reconstructed. The Tayabas Peace Commission became the governing body of the town until January 30, 1943.

Andersons Guerilla was formed in 1943 to counter the forces of the Japanese. A number of Tayabasin joined the armed group. Captain Nonito Alonzo was the most notable. He was captured and later executed by the Japanese Imperial Army.

On March 15, 1945 the American Forces dropped bombs to flush-out the Japanese and force them to surrender. Several stone houses and buildings like the municipal hall and schools were levelled to the ground. Magnificent structures reminiscent of the La Muy Noble Villa de Tayabas era were destroyed. Massive destruction of the town, however, occurred on March 22, 1945 when another team of American fighting planes swarmed the air, fired bombs and crippled completely the Japanese force stationed in Tayabas. This had caused great fires all over the poblacion (LGU-Tayabas,1978).


House Bill No. 12878 entitled: “AN ACT CONVERTING THE

MUNICIPALITY OF TAYABAS, QUEZON, INTO A COMPONENT CITY TO BE KNOWN AS THE CITY OF TAYABAS,” has been duly filed during the Eleventh Congress through the sponsorship of Congressman Rafael P. Nantes of the First District of Quezon. It was referred to the Committee on Local Government by the House of Representatives on February 5, 2001. While said house bill was pending consideration before both Houses of Congress, Senate Bill No. 2157 which calls for the amendment of Section 450 of R.A. 7160 by way of increasing the required average annual income from at least twenty Million (P20M) to One Hundred Million (P100M) was passed and had lapsed into law on February 24, 2001 as Republic Act No. 9009.

Prior to June 30, 2001 which is the effectivity date of R.A. No. 9009, the municipality of Tayabas, Quezon had already complied all of the requisites for conversion along with other municipalities, namely: Municipalities of San Francisco, Agusan del Sur; Borongan, Eastern Samar; El Salvador, Misamis Oriental; Baybay, Leyte; Santa Barbara, Iloilo; San Jose, Occidental Mindoro; Mati, Davao Oriental and Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

Inasmuch that Republic Act 9009 has been in effect from June 30, 2001, Congress found a compelling reason to favorably consider the reasonableness and merit of House Joint Resolution No. 006 authored by Honorable Carmen L. Cari; this is in order to afford justice and equity to the municipalities adversely affected by the recent amendment of Section 450 of the New Local Government Code of 1991. In support, the local Sanggunian adopted Resolution No. 04-38 ENDORSING HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 066, SERIES OF 2002 (JOINT RESOLUTION EXEMPTING AREAS EMBODIED IN BILLS FILED IN CONGRESS BEFORE JUNE 30, 2001 FROM THE COVERAGE OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9009) on June 28, 2004.

On March 18, 2007 by virtue of Republic Act 9398 the Municipality of Tayabas was converted into a component city of the Province of Quezon. The municipality held a plebiscite on July 14, 2007 to ratify RA 9398. The question posed to the public was: Do You Approve of the Conversion of the Municipality of Tayabas, Quezon into a Component City, Pursuant To Republic Act No. 9398 Dated March 18, 2007? Though people’s participation in the exercise was lowi, a large majority of voters favoredii the conversion of Tayabas into a component city. The enacted laws on the cityhood of Tayabas and other 15 cities, however, were declared unconstitutional and illegal by Supreme Court on November 18, 2008. The High Court had said ruling on the basis of Section 10, Article X of the constitution which mandates that No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected. The contentious phrase being in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code led to the unsteady position of the Supreme Court on the classification of the sixteen affected local government units. The High Court contended that the newly created component cities failed to comply with the income requirement provided for under Republic Act 9009 authored by then Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. On December 21, 2009, after several years of pendency at the High Court, the constitutionality and validity of RA 9398 which converted the municipality of Tayabas into a component city of the province of Quezon was finally upheld by the Supreme Court.

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