The supposedly four hour trip to Lucena City turned into a gruelling 8 hour butt-wracking on the road agony for us who were bound for Mauban. I never figured that the long lines at the bus station was a foretelling of the “penitensya” that we had to go through last Holy Thursday as we were headed to discover Cagbalete Island in Quezon. No wonder we only had to wait for 15 minutes as chance passengers to be able to board and sit comfortably inside the bus because it was going to be a traveler’s nightmare.
It was 3.30p and we were still in Tiaong. We left Manila at 12.30 and here we were stuck near Villa Escudero. I already figured that we won’t be able to make it to Cagbalete Island that evening and I was starting to worry on where we would be staying once we reach Mauban later that night. After making a couple of calls, all hotels are fully booked in Mauban. We had a tent but I really was not sure where we could actually pitch it. It was time for Plan B but the thing is… we do not have a plan B.
So when the bus finally rolled in at the Lucena Grand Terminal for brief stop. I made the call to reroute our trip to Lucena instead. I figured that if we cannot find a place to stay, it would be easier to head back to Manila that same evening.
Welcome to Lucena!
We were traveling at the height of the Holy Week celebration so I was already anticipating that finding a place to crash in might be a struggle. But luck was on our side as we were able to find a place to crash in at a very cheap price. It was decent and we had no qualms probably because we were tired and hungry.
Then there was the concern on where to go the next day – do we proceed to Cagbalete, explore nearby places, or head up for a daytrip to Marinduque. After the gruelling 8 hour trip, we actually just wanted to stay put and just chill so I made the decision to just explore Lucena and other nearby areas.
Lucena City is the capital of Quezon Province. It was previously named Tayabas, Buenavista, Oroquieta, and Cotta before acquiring the name of Lucena in 1882. It is the host of provincial government offices and major businesses as it is the provincial center. It is also known as the “Cocopalm Capital of the South” as it hosts a number of coconut oil mills that produced household products from coconut farming.
Food Stop: Hacienda Inn
We were dead hungry and there are not much choices to choose from as we went around the city at around 9.30pm. Apart from the usual fastfood fare, I was thinking of going for something that is uniquely Lucena. We decided to check out Hacienda Inn.
I had hesitations when I first entered the place as it really did not look appealing to me and there weren’t much people inside the restaurant. It was good though that we were directed to the airconditioned second floor where the “crowd” was so it was only then that I felt more comfortable with my decision. The second floor was more appealing and it also has a stage with band instruments so I guess a band plays in the restaurant.
We ordered their Hacienda Inn Rice, Buttered Fried Chicken, and Hototay Soup. All three satisfied our taste buds and Hacienda Inn did not disappoint us. No wonder it was one of the restaurants that is highly suggested when you do your research on the internet. Too bad though that I do not have any food shots as we were all dead hungry. Nevertheless, I strongly suggest that you try out Hacienda Inn when you are in Lucena.
Simbahan ng Lucena
The night was abuzz in Lucena City at the time that we were there as it was Holy Thursday. It was a time when most Catholic Christians profess their faith through various church activities. Interestingly while most Catholics go around doing their “Visita Iglesia”, I was amazed that they also have their own version of the “Alay Lakad” where the faithful walks long distances to a church destination. In this case, they walk from Lucena City to Lucban Church. We were still recuperating from the 8-hour bus ride so we were not up to the challenge of walking to Lucban Church. We opted to just drop by the Simbahan ng Lucena.
The Simbahan ng Lucena is an old church that was established in 1881 when the city was still named San Fernando. The stone structure was first built in 1882 and was finished two years after. It was dedicated to Saint Ferdinand. The church now bears the National Historical Institute plaque that recognizes its historical value.
The church stands majestically at the heart of the city with its simple cream-colored façade. Its main attraction is the four-storey belfry that flanks the right-side of the church. Its driveway also bears the statue of Saint Ferdinand to whom the church is dedicated to.
I guess the interiors of the church attract the attention of the vistors. It looks majestic with its high-ceiling navel with its intricately painted ceilings. The pillars along the sides of the church is also highlighted by angels that seem to guard the whole church. Paintings of the 14 Stations of the Cross are lined along the side walls of the church.
The Simbahan ng Lucena is definitely a must place to visit when you are in Lucena.
Day 2 started with no plans in place. We had a number of options to consider like doing a Visita Iglesia or heading out to a beach somewhere near. With nothing definite in place, we decided to explore downtown Lucena on foot.
I never figured that Lucena City was actually huge. Lucena, in my initial perception, was like San Pablo City. Small, compact, and oozing with its rural town charm. I was wrong. It was one huge city that was had a mix of rural charm and city life. I actually liked the atmosphere in Lucena. It was like I was in Cagayan de Oro and I just loved the vibe.
At the heart of the city lies the Provincial Capitol of Quezon. The building stands in the middle of a huge complex complete with open parks and a government offices.
Interestingly, the Capitol Building still bears the name “Tayabas”, the former name of Lucena. On the same grounds once stood the first structure of the province’s central government. It was a mute witness to the unfolding of Philippine history until it was completely damaged in World War 2. It was then re-constructed in 1946 as part of the rehabilitation plan of the US which may be the reason why the building looks very similar to American government buildings.
At present, it now serves as the central executive office of Quezon.
Fronting the Capitol Building is a huge open park space known as the Perez Park. The open space park is highlighted by a rock sculpture where the names of the different municipalities of the Quezon are engraved on the rocks. It looked like building blocks that form a solid foundation which I figured meant that each municipality play a part in making the province a solid player in the country.
On the other side of the park is another sculptures of Quezonians in different forms of livelihood which recognizes the significant contributions of its residents to the current stature of the province of Quezon.
President Manuel L. Quezon Monument
Adjacent to the Provincial Capitol Building is another park dedicated in honor of the person to whom the province was named after, the late Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon. The province was initially known as Tayabas and was later renamed in 1946.
The park’s main attraction is a monument of President Quezon at the heart of the park. It also has his personal message to Filipinos engraved on the wall-backdrop.
Across the Quezon Park stands a grand Spanish house. It looked regal in white and it intrigued me what it was. My research yielded that it is the Governor’s Mansion. The house used to be the official home of the province’s Governors.
At present, it becomes the temporary home of visitors of Quezon Province.
Lucena City Public Market
One jeepney ride away from the Provincial Capitol is the Lucena City Public Market. The market is currently undergoing a facelift so the set-up is a bit topsy turvy at this time. Just like any other public market, this is the best place where you can get take-home goodies from the province, especially Lucban Longganisa! It is actually one of my fave products that comes from the province.
Around the area, you can also drop by the small shops where you can buy Broas, Pancit Lucban, Pacencya, etc. These are yummy goodies from Quezon Province.
Side Trip: Paraiso Beach Resort
As my little girl was rearing to head up to a beach, we decided to check out nearby beaches in area. Since we already explored Pagbilao, the beaches of Sariaya was worth exploring.
We opted to check out Paraiso Beach Resort along the coast of Guis-Guis. The resort is just one of the many resorts that dot the coast of Sariaya. It offers cottages for day and overnight use, swimming pool and recreational facilities, and access to the beach. The beach boasts of dark grey fine sand and its waters are not that deep hence it is ideal for kids. There were a lot kids enjoying the warm waters during the time of our visit.
The resort was really full with guests because of the Holy Week break that we had to wait for quite a while to be able to get a cottage. Our patience paid off as we got a small kubo by the beachfront. We did enjoy swimming and playing on the sand.
Unfortunately, the influx of guests also resulted to the undisciplined behaviour of garbage disposal. There were a lot of garbage strewn around by resort guests. It was disappointing because the resort have a lot of garbage bins and it was just a matter of taking a few more steps to the bin for proper disposal. At one point, Asher and I had to help in picking up trash at the shore and around our assigned cottage just to set the example for everyone.
Post Travel Notes
Travelers understand that there will always be times when trips do not go as planned, no matter how intensive one had gone through the details. There will always be that chance of detours. The only thing that really matters is how you are going to take these unplanned trips. I guess the best tip that I could give is the same mantra that we use whenever our IG travel group, @viajerongpinoy, go around – “Just go with the flow. Travel with the moment.”
In our case, Lucena City was not a bad place to be rerouted. The city has its own rural charm and I loved it. It was a mix of urban living without losing its rural touch and besides its rich history was enough to get me interested with the place. Again, things could have been different and thanks to the advancement in technology, it is a lot easier to do research now when faced with an unexpected detour. I guess the chances of detours form part of the excitement of traveling.
Lastly, we should start educating others about the importance of having the right behaviours when traveling. We should always make sure that we pack in our bags the right manners as this would go a long way on how we show our respect to the community we are visiting. The right manners will always make us remember that we are mere visitors and that we should respect the culture and the natural and man-made structures of the place.
Getting there: Lucena is about 3 to 4 hours away from Manila. You can take a Jam or Jac Bus Line from Cubao or Buendia to the city. There are jeeps and tricycles that you can hop on to go around the city.
To get to Paraiso Beach Resort from Lucena. You can take a bus or a jeep to Sariaya. You then take a jeep to Guis-Guis. Fares is at Php25 from the town proper of Sariaya. From the drop-off point, you can then take a tricycle to Paraiso Beach Resort, fare is at Php50.
You can also call Paraiso Beach Resort at (0920) 9011949 and look for Laiza. She is most comical and enthusiastic attendant of the resort.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.