Foundation date of Lucena City: when was it, really?

Although I’ve known about it for sometime, it was only two years ago when I started to seriously explore the Portal de Archivos Españoles (PARES) or the Spanish Archives website, an online project of Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports whose aim is to disseminate the former empire’s historical documentation heritage in which our country is a part of. I randomly searched for digitized archival documents of various towns, especially those that have become a part of my life. And since I was born in Lucena, it is no longer a question for me to explore PARES in search of anything interesting that might come up from my place of birth.

Surprisingly, there was (I used surprisingly here because there are still many towns whose archival history has not yet been uploaded on the website). With the right key words, I stumbled upon a 65-page bundle of documents titled Sobre erección en pueblo civil independiente de su matriz Tayabas en el nombre de “Lucena” which roughly translates to the history of how today’s Lucena City was established as an independent civil town from its mother town Tayabas.

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As a former member of the Quezon Province Heritage Council (QPHC), I thought it best to notify the other members regarding the find. This I did by uploading the digitized documents to my Facebook wall, then tagging the other members whom I personally know so that they would be able to access them. They did acknowledge the find, but it was lukewarm. Back then, it appeared that the digitized documents were of no importance to them. This all happened in late 2016.

But a few months later, or early in 2017, Vladimir Nieto, another member of the QPHC who is also president of the Konseho ng Herencia ng Lucena (KHL) or Lucena Heritage Council, discovered those documents that I uploaded through mutual friends. We started communicating. Little did I know that there was some controversy going on regarding the foundation date of my place of birth.

Lucena City has been celebrating its foundation date every August 20th. The observance is glaringly incorrect because that date serves as Lucena’s cityhood (it became one in 1961). Others contend that the city’s true foundation date is 1 June 1882 without any strong basis. But through some old books, KHL already had an idea that the city’s true foundation date is 3 November 1879. The only problem is that they still had to find the archival documents to prove their claim.

After months of online communication with the KHL, the latter decided to hold a modest program on 3 November 2017, on the exact same date when Lucena was founded as a town. I was invited to deliver a speech at Pacific Mall to explain the importance of these digitized documents that I discovered from PARES. During my speech (attended by students, educators, heritage advocates, local media, and government officials of Lucena), I reminded everyone that, although a modest affair, that day was a historic one because we were commemorating for the first time the city’s true foundation date. And we have the documents to prove it. The only question that still remains is this: when will the city government of Lucena accept and recognize this historical fact?

This is the second time that this serendipity game happened between me and Filipino History. The first time was in 2012 when I was commissioned to research and write on the history of La Laguna Province. The discovery of the date was somehow accidental while I was nonchalantly browsing through my collection of rare Filipiniana, hoping to find early events that might have any mention of the province. I wasn’t even looking for the province’s foundation date. But I stumbled upon it (sadly, the project has since been aborted).

Going back to Lucena’s foundation date. The documents that I have uploaded on Facebook were just 15 pages. But those were incomplete. As mentioned earlier, the digitized bundle comprises 65 pages. I was supposed to translate everything from Spanish to English to present our case to the Provincial Government of Tayabas (renamed Quezon in 1946, a move that I resent) and even promised to blog about it the soonest. Unfortunately, my health was already failing during that time, ultimately leading to tuberculosis and pneumonia a month later. After being released from the hospital, I spent the next couple of months regaining my health back. It’s just now that I’m slowly getting the hang of it, and given a small luxury of time to write about this event. I cannot let it pass right now especially since today is the anniversary of Lucena’s foundation.

Yes, I do confirm that the correct foundation date for Lucena City is 3 November 1879, not 1 June 1882, and certainly not 20 August 1961. It’s high time that the Provincial Government of Tayabas correct this. So without further ado, I present for the first time —and with profuse thanks to PARES’s gracious efforts— the complete digitized documents establishing the facts behind the creation of the town of Lucena as a separate and independent town. Click here to view them.

¡Feliz fiesta a mi ciudad de nacimiento! 😇 ¡A Dios sea toda la gloria y la honra!

 

 

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A new reason for me to love Lucena City

My parents have always known that I have become a self-taught historian over the past few years. But I haven’t heard any comment from them about it. To them, it was nothing short of remarkable. Or so I thought.

Last Friday, November 3, was something special. It was when I was invited by Mr. Vladimir Nieto’s Konseho ng Herencia ng Lucena (Heritage Council of Lucena) to speak in front of a live audience at Pacific Mall regarding some old Spanish documents that I have discovered (from the Portal de Archivos Españoles, a website that will never be utilized nor enjoyed by my contemporary Filipino historians for obvious reasons) proving that the date of establishment of Lucena, Tayabas Province —my place of birth— was neither on 1 June 1882 nor on 20 August 1961 but on that very date of the event itself: November 3. Those documents prove once and for all that Lucena has just turned 138 years old last Friday.

But all that was secondary, at least from a personal perspective. I had one other important thing in mind: to make my parents proud of me, something that, I believe, I have never done to them before. I confess to all of you that I have never been a good son to them, the kind of son that many parents can be proud of. My mom was just thrilled to be there. And I was surprised that my dad appeared at the event. I invited him weeks before, but he did not give a clear confirmation if he would attend. That is why I honestly didn’t expect him to arrive. But he did.

I may not be able to reconcile my parents anymore. But at the very least, both of them were there to support me. They saw for the first time how I function as a historian. And the most amazing part of this was that it all happened in the city where I first breathed, where I had my first taste of sunshine, and where I first cried. And to the best of my memory, it was the first time that they were with me, in the city of my birth. We and all the others who were gathered last Friday at Pacific Mall Lucena celebrated for the first time in history the foundation date of Lucena. It was both a public and personal triumph for me. I couldn’t have asked God for any other “pacific” reunion.

I keep on telling everyone that, while I was born in Lucena City, the place is still a “stranger” to me because I didn’t grow up there. But not anymore. November 3 was a gift from God that I didn’t even ask from Him. He truly works in mysterious ways. 😇

Anyway, I’ll be blogging more about the details behind this event soon. ¡Hasta la vista!