Laguna History, Philippines
Laguna was named after the bay borders at its northern boundary, the Laguna de Bay. This means Lake of Bay in Spanish and it was also named after the first provincial capital called Bay. It was in the year 1571 when Captain Juan de Salcedo conquered the province with a company of one hundred Spanish-Mexican soldiers together with the help of their Bisayan allies.
The Franciscans started their Christianization in the year 1578 starting with Morong, now called Rizal, Tayabas now called Quezon and the Bicol area. The earliest Franciscans sent to evangelize the area were Father Juan de Placencia and Father Diego de Orepesa.
In 1678 San Pablo de los Montes, now called San Pablo City, was founded by Father Hernando Cabrera. He built a wooden church and convent that remains until this day and it is considered to be the best church in the whole province.
The capital of the province was moved many times throughout its history. It was first established in Bay in 1670 then moved to Pagsanjan in 1688. It was then moved to Santa Cruz in 1858.
Laguna is the site of many historical battles, one of which was during 1603 when the Chinese revolted again Spain. Vicious fighting broke out in the region and the Chinese made there last stand in the mountains of San Pablo where they were wiped out. Another bloody revolt was launched by the Chinese in 1639 when they entrenched themselves in the highlands surrounding Cavinti and Lumban. However, they surrendered a year later due to hunger and starvation.
Laguna was the site of the British invasion from 1762 to 1764 in search of silver cargo of the galleon called Filipino. Thousands of Filipino volunteers rallied to the defense of the province led by Francisco de San Juan of Pagsanjan. The British troops led by Captain Thomas Backhouse gutted the town of Pagsanjan and burned its church. However, San Juan and his band were able to spirit away the silver to Pampanga. The treasure helped to solidify the defense of that city led by Simon Anda. The Spanish rewarded San Juan by making him a brigade commander and the mayor of Tayabas, now called Quezon Province.
The abuses committed by the Spanish colonizers and clergy alike soon destroyed the loyalty of the populace to Spain. Atrocities committed by the clergy led to a revolt by the natives in 1840 led by Hermano Pule.
Laguna will play a major role in the fight for Philippine Independence and it was one of the eight provinces to rise in revolt against the Spanish. It also supported the First Philippine Republic and it was the center of resistance against the Japanese during the Second World War.
Laguna will always be known not only as one of the starting points for the Philippine Revolution against Spain, but more so as the birthplace of Dr. Jose Rizal. Rizal is the country’s national hero.
Present day Laguna is a mix of a thriving modern economy and rich history. This is an ideal place to visit for every heritage traveler.
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