History began with the years 1571 and 1572, when Capitan Juan de Salcedo first explored the province of Tayabas. The Franciscan priests Juan de Plasencia and Diego de Oropesa between 1580 and 1583 founded its town, also named Tayabas. Lucena was just one of its barrios.
The Spaniards of the 16th century called the present site "Buenavista" because of its awe inspiring 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. Hence, the place became known as "Cotta" which is the Spanish name for "fort".
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 heat of the Philippine Revolution in 1896, the people of Lucena showed their brand of patriotism. Jose Zaballero led the local revolutionists and helps their own force 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.
Lucena's fertile soil became soaked with the blood of many Filipinos and Americans at the outbreak of the Fil-Am War in 1899. The foreigners established a civil government in the country, and on March 12, 1901, the provincial capital was transferred from Tayabas to Lucena.
During the Second World War, the Japanese Imperial Force occupied Lucena on December 27, 1941, 19 days after they set foot on Philippine soil. But the underground resistance movement was so tenacious in Lucena that by January 25, 1945 (even before the Americans have returned), the Hunters ROTC guerillas penetrated into the town and successfully drove out the Japanese. The rest of Quezon Province (new name of Tayabas Province) had to wait for the American Liberation forces to hand freedom on April 4 of that same year.
On June 17, 1961, by virtue of Republic Act No. 3271, Lucena was made into a Chartered City through the efforts of the late Congressman Manuel S. Enverga. It was officially inaugurated on August 19, 1962, during the 84th anniversary of Manuel Luis Quezon. On July 1, 1991, Lucena became a Highly Urbanized City.
Between 1571 and 1572 when Capitan Juan de Salcedo first explored Tayabas Province. Eight years later, from 1580 to 1583, Franciscan priests Juan de Plasencia and Diego de Oropesa founded a town inside the province named after the Province. So at that time it must have been usual to refer to it as Town of Tayabas from the Province of Tayabas. Lucena was just one of its barrios.
At the 16th Century, the Spaniards had renamed this barrio "Buenavista" for its awesome scenic beauty. After several years it became known as "Oroquieta". Aside from its official name, the barrio was popularly referred to as "Cotta". Cotta is the Spanish name for "fort" which the barrio folks built along the seashores to defend it against attacking pirates. Building defense walls became necessary when Muslim pirates began terrorizing the entire Philippine coastlines. Oroquieta was not spared from the notorious raids and a century later the barrio became known for the forts along the seashores.
Lucena was born Nov. 5, 1879. The name was a tribute to Father Mariano Granja of Andalucia, Spain, an honor vested by the Orden Superior Civil to the Spanish friar who had been responsible for the development of the barrio that became a Parish in 1881.
If Lucena was born 1879, it came of age on June 1, 1882 by becoming an independent municipality.
1896, at the height of the Philippine Revolution, Lucena folks displayed their own brand of patriotism. The known leader of the local revolutionists fighting against Spanish muskets was Jose Zaballero. Later on, Miguel Arguilles together with Jose Barcelona as President formed a revolutionary government in Lucena.
June 12, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed independence in Kawit, Cavite. Two months later on August 15, 1898, it was General Miguel Malvar's turn to take over Tayabas Province as Commanding General for Southern Luzon. Don Crisanto Marquez was elected as the First Municipal President at this First Philippine Republic
Peace time had been elusive for Lucena because the following year, 1899, Filipino-American War broke out. Americans established a civil government in the Philippines. Under this administration the capital of Tayabas Province was transferred from Tayabas Town to Lucena on March 12, 1901.
December 27, 1941, on the 19th day from day one of Japanese Imperial Force on Philippine soil, Lucena fell into the hands of Japanese conquerors. It was World War II. The tenacity of the people of Lucena became the backbone of the underground resistance movement. By January 25, 1945, the Hunters ROTC underground guerillas had penetrated the town and successfully drove out the Japanese even while the rest of Quezon Province (new name of Tayabas Province) was still waiting for the American Liberation Forces to declare freedom which took place on April 4, same year.
Lucena became Chartered City by virtue of Republic Act No. 3271 on June 17, 1961 through the efforts of the late Congressman Manuel S. Enverga. And on July 1, 1991, Lucena became Highly Urbanized City.