Laguna, Philippines.


Laguna is a province of the Philippines located in the CALABARZON region in Luzon. Its capital is Santa Cruz and it is found south-east of Metro Manila, southern province of Rizal, west of Quezon, north of Batangas and east of Cavite. Laguna de bay, which is the largest lake in the Philippines, is almost surrounded by the whole province of Laguna. The province got its name from the Spanish word "lago", which means lake. Laguna is known as the birthplace of Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. Also known to tourists are the Pagsanjan Falls, Park Town of Pila, Laguna, The Woodcarvings of men in Paete and Pakil, The Hot Springs of Los Baños on the slopes of Mt. Makiling and the Hidden Valley Springs in Calauan.

   History The Province of Laguna was named after Laguna de Bay, the body of water that forms its northern boundary. Laguna de Bay, in turn, was named after the town of Bay (Laguna de Bay is Spanish which means "Lake of Bay"), the first provincial capital. Captain Juan de Salcedo with a band of one hundred Spanish-Mexican soldiers and many Bisayan allies conquered the province and its surrounding regions for Spain in 1571. Seven years later, two Franciscan friars started the work of Christianization.

   In 1577, the Franciscan missionaries arrived in Manila, and in 1578 they started evangelizing Laguna, Morong (now Rizal), Tayabas (now Quezon) and the Bicol Peninsula. Fathers Juan de Placencia and Diego de Orepesa were the earliest Franciscans sent to these places. From 1580, the towns of Bay, Caliraya, Majayjay, Nagcarlan, Liliw, Pila, Santa Cruz, Lumban, Pangil and Siniloan were founded. In 1678, Fray Hernando Cabrera founded San Pablo de los Montes (now San Pablo City) and built a wooden church and convent considered as the best and finest in the province.

   In 1670, delimitation of borders were made between Lucban, Majayjay and Cavite. The populous town at that time was Bay, the capital of the province until 1688, when the seat of the provincial government was moved to Pagsanjan, and later, in 1858, to Santa Cruz. In 1754, the Province of Laguna and Tayabas were divided, with the Malinao River separating the towns of Majayjay and Lucban.

   The province became a bloody battle ground for the Chinese during the two instances that they rose in revolt against Spain. In 1603's, the Chinese made their last stand in the mountains of San Pablo, and in 1639, they fortified themselves in the highlands of Cavinti and Lumban, surrendering in Pagsanjan a year later.

   The loyalty of the people of Laguna to the crown was tested during the British invasion (1762-1764) when thousands of Filipinos rallied to its defense. When a detachment of British troops under Captain Thomas Backhouse entered the province in search of the silver cargo of the galleon Filipino, Francisco de San Juan of Pagsanjan led a band of volunteers that fought them in several engagements in and around the town which was then the provincial capital (1688-1858). Captain Backhouse plundered the town and burned its newly reconstructed church but San Juan succeeded in escaping with the precious hoard to Pampanga where the treasure greatly bolstered the defense effort of Simon Anda. For his heroism, San Juan was made a brigade commander and alcalde mayor of Tayabas (now Quezon) province.

   The people's loyalty gradually degenerated into bitter hostility. Grave abuses by the colonizers, including that of the clergy, caused the resentment of the natives to be fanned into a rising flood of insurrection. In 1840 for instance, religious intolerance led the people of Majayjay, Nagcarlan, Bay, and Biñan to join the revolt of Hermano Pule (Apolinario de la Cruz) of Lucban, Tayabas.

   Laguna was also exposed to the aspirations of its most famous son, Dr. Jose Rizal, who was born in Calamba. The persecution of Dr. Jose Rizal and his parents toward the end of the century further aggravated the situation, so that by 1896, thousands of patriotic inhabitants, especially of Bay, Los Baños, Nagcarlan, Magdalena, Santa Cruz, and Pagsanjan had joined the revolutionary Katipunan.

   Laguna was one of the eight provinces to rise in revolt against the Spanish misrule led by Generals Paciano Rizal of Calamba, Severino Taino of Pagsanjan, Agueda Kahabagan (woman general) of Calauan, and Miguel Malvar of Batangas. The ill-equipped Filipino forces fought the well-armed enemy until on August 31, 1898, when the last Spanish garrison surrendered to the victorious patriots in Santa Cruz. The province was cleared of Spaniards. There had been only one respite, the Pact of Biac-na-Bato on December 14 to 15, 1897.

   Laguna actively supported the first Philippine Republic proclaimed at Malolos on January 23, 1899. Her two delegates to the Malolos Congress, Don Higino Benitez and Don Graciano Cordero, were natives of Pagsanjan.

   Upon the outbreak of the Filipino-American War (1899-1901), General Juan Cailles and General Paciano Rizal led the defense of Laguna until June 30, 1901, when surrender became inevitable. Cailles became the first Filipino Governor of Laguna under the American flag.

   The Province of Laguna progressed rapidly in peace. Roads were built, schools were established, and in 1917, the Manila Railroad Company extended its line to Laguna as far as Pagsanjan.

   During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines (1942-1945), Laguna was a center of Filipino resistance despite the presence of Makapili collaborators. Beginning in 1945, attacks by the Filipino soldiers and Filipino guerillas against Japanese forces in Laguna increased in anticipation of the Liberation of the Philippines by the Filipino & American forces.

   Present-day Laguna shows a thriving economy. Peopled by 1,734,618 (1997 estimated population) industrious citizens and possessing a total area of 1760 km² of land, Laguna produces millions of pesos worth of coconuts, rice, sugar, citrus fruits, lanzones and other products. Tourists flock to its beauty spots, especially Pagsanjan Falls, Los Baños Hot Springs, Makiling National Park, Caliraya Lake and many others. Levels of development vary. The towns near Metro Manila have become industrialized whereas the inner towns continue to engage in agricultural production or pursue agri-based industries and cottage and small-scale industries.

   Laguna was one of the first sites of the Philippine Revolution. Calamba City is the birthplace of José Rizal, the country's national hero.
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