Last updated on September 30, 2019
In the 1570s, Captain Juan de Salcedo first explored what was the province of Tayabas. The Franciscan priests Juan de Plasencia and Diego de Oropesa between 1580 and 1583 founded its town, also named Tayabas. Tayabas was organized by the Spaniards through the Franciscan missionaries and Lucena was just one of its barrios.
The Spaniards of the 16th century called the area “Buenavista” because of its scenic beauty; several years later, the barrio was renamed “Oroquieta“. A century later, Muslim pirates began terrorizing the entire Philippine coastline, and Oroquieta was not spared from the notorious raids. The barrio folks built forts along the seashores to defend it against the attacking pirates along the coast, particularly in the present-day Cotta and in Barangay Mayao, though these structures are no longer extant. Hence, the place became known as Cotta, the Spanish form of the Tagalog “kuta” (“fort”). The growth of local maritime trade facilitated in the Cotta port and the final defeat of Moro pirates plying the Luzon and Visayan waters, afforded the growth of Lucena as a town which eventually led to its being the capital of Tayabas, Quezon province in 1901.
Finally on November 5, 1879, the Orden Superior Civil officially adopted the name “Lucena” in honor of a Spanish friar by the name of Father Mariano Granja in Andalucia, Spain. Fr. Granja was responsible for the development of the barrio that became a Parish in 1881. Lucena became an independent municipality on June 1, 1882.
During the 1896 Philippine Revolution, the people of Lucena showed their brand of patriotism. José Zaballero led the local revolutionists who were under the barrage of Spanish muskets. Later, Miguel Arguilles with Jose Barcelona as President formed a revolutionary government in Lucena.
After Aguinaldo proclaimed the nation’s independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite, Gen. Miguel Malvar, as Commanding General for Southern Luzon, took over Tayabas Province on August 15, 1898. Don Crisanto Marquez became Lucena’s first elected Municipal president during the first Philippine Republic.