Often called Quezon Province to distinguish it from Quezon City, Quezon is a province in Calabarzon which is rich in culture and nature. It has a bad reputation as a rainforest backwater along the highway to Bicol, but its festivals, hidden beaches, and historical monuments are things worth visiting.
Quezon Province's main draw is Mount Banahaw, an extinct volcano, which is sacred to the ancient Tagalog religion. Beside that, the province also has colorful festivals, like the Pahiyas festival in Lucban, hidden virgin beaches, charming old towns with old homes and Baroque churches in Lucban, Sariaya and Tayabas.
Quezon Province is commonly divided into these four traditional regions, with the Sierra Madre being the dividing line between them.
- Western Quezon (Lucena, Tayabas, Candelaria, Lucban, Mauban, Pagbilao, Sampaloc, Sariaya, Tiaong)- The most populated and urbanized region of Quezon, it has historical town centers, colorful festivals and culture, and some bits of nature.
- Eastern Quezon (Alabat Island, Atimonan, Calauag, Guinayangan, Gumaca, Lopez, Tagkawayan)- The rainier part of Quezon Province east of the Sierra Madre, it is mostly an area reliant on logging, fishing, and agriculture, but is slowly opening to ecotourism.
- Northern Quezon (General Nakar, Infanta, Polillo Island, Real) - A rainy, forested backwater region at the side of the Sierra Madre facing the Pacific. Isolated from the rest of the province, the only way to get there is through eastern Laguna until the completion of a coastal road from Mauban.
- Bondoc Peninsula - (Agdangan, Buenavista, Catanauan, General Luna, Macalelon, Mulanay, Padre Burgos, Pitogo, San Andres, San Francisco, San Narciso, Unisan) - Locally known as BonPen, it is a mountainous peninsula dotted with small towns, and has a distinctive identity from the rest of the province.
Being a mostly rural province, Quezon only has two cities, and most of the other locations that equal to cities elsewhere in the province will be towns, many dating centuries ago.
- 1 Lucena - Provincial capital, but is an independent city administratively. Has little sights (such as its church and the provincial capitol), but has a good bus station, some hotels, and the port to Marinduque
- 2 Atimonan - Rural municipality at the foot of the mighty Sierra Madre, with a little town center along the coast. It is the gateway to the rainier, rural east of the province.
- 3 Lucban - A municipality at the foot of Mount Banahaw, with a charming little town center that is home of the Pahiyas Festival, and the Kamay ni Hesus Catholic pilgrimage site.
- 4 Sariaya - Rural muncipality, with a heritage town housing many Art Deco buildings, and a seaside with a growing number of beach resorts.
- 5 Tayabas- Former provincial capital, also lends its name to the former name of the province. This city houses a heritage downtown that rivals Vigan or Taal.
- 1 Jomalig – White sand beaches facing the Pacific, rediscovered by backpackers.
- 2 Mount Banahaw - The highest mountain in Quezon, and the Calabarzon region. It has been closed to mountaineers since 2004 to allow local flora to rebound.
- 3 Polillo Island - Tropical island off the Pacific coast of northern Quezon.
Quezon is equally known as an destination for nature lovers and a backwater of southern Luzon, being a province of rainforests, small towns, and coconut plantations. Except for the beaten-path part of the province around Mount Banahaw, most of Quezon is unknown to most travelers, and the province is quite overshadowed by its more prosperous and frequently visited neighbors, Batangas and Laguna. You'll likely see the rest of the province only in transit: from the windows of a long-distance bus barreling down the highway from Manila towards the south.
The natives of Quezon often called themselves Quezonins or Quezonians or by their town, such as Lucbanin, Unisanin, and Infantahin. They are mostly Tagalog speakers, but there are also Visayans, Ilocanos, and Bicolanos, the former being concentrated in Lucena, the second at the boundaries with Aurora, and the latter at the boundaries with Bicol. The population is at around 2 million as of 2020.
Quezon is largely a rural province with an economy reliant on agriculture, fisheries, forestry, power generation and tourism. Rice paddies abound in western Quezon, and most of the rainforest has been cut down to provide space for the coconut plantations that dominate the landscape of the lowlands and hills in most of the province. There is logging activity on the remaining forests, sometimes involving illegal operations. The province is home to two major power plants, one in Pagbilao and another in Mauban; both use coal, that they are much hated by the locals, but also critical lifelines for Luzon's power supply. Tourism is already established in western Quezon, but remains largely unknown elsewhere in the province.
What is now Quezon used to be parts of the current provinces of Batangas, Laguna, and Nueva Ecija. The boundary of the current province is formally defined as the Spaniards, under Juan de Salcedo, entered the Philippines. The province, originally named Kalilayan, has its first provincial capital at the present-day town of Unisan, but it is moved inland to Pagbilao after its destruction and pillaging by Moro pirates. In 1749, the capital is moved to Tayabas, which also have become its name until its renaming in 1946.
Because of the oppressive rule by the Spaniards, Tayabas also witnessed uprisings against the colonial authorities, most notably the rebellion led by mystic Hermano Pule (real name, Apolinario de la Cruz). At the end of the 19th century, it is one of the eight provinces that led the revolution against the Spanish authorities.
Civil government is established by the Americans in 1901, and the capital moved to Lucena. The Americans quelled remaining rebellions led by Filipinos in Quezon, as the province served as a supply point for rebels in Batangas and Laguna. Marinduque became part of Tayabas between 1902 and 1920. In December 1941, the Japanese arrived in Quezon, and stayed until their surrender in 1945.
Quezon gains its current name after a law is passed to name it after Manuel Quezon in 1946. Aurora is carved out as a smaller province within Quezon, until it was separated officially in 1979; it was transferred to Central Luzon in 2002. A referendum is held on the question of dividing the province into two in 2007, but has been defeated by a vast majority.
Quezon has a climate generally characterized by an almost equal distribution of rainfall through the year, but as the province is vast, there are variations, with western parts having a dry and wet season, and the eastern parts having a rainforest climate. The provinces gets struck by typhoons frequently, with the eastern parts the most vulnerable due to undeveloped infrastructure.
Quezon is quite conservative in politics, but is more so to the east of the Sierra Madre. This manifest in cultural differences between the more urbanized west (Pagbilao, Lucena, Tayabas Sariaya, Candelaria, Tiaong, and San Antonio), who are open to development, and the rural east, where locals strive to protect their traditional lifestyle reliant on fishing, agriculture and forestry.
Due to geographical barriers, lifestyle differences, and political preferences, inhabitants of Quezon have been increasingly polarized, and regionalism has increased, especially in the mountainous Bondoc Peninsula, where there is an active regionalist movement demanding the creation of their own province. A plebiscite to divide Quezon has been held in 2008, but is rejected by a sweeping majority of the province's residents.
As is common with the people of Calabarzon, Quezonians are staunch environmentalists. Major environmental challenges includes protecting the province's remaining rainforests, opposing construction of new fossil fuel power plants, and controling land development.
Quezon is a Tagalog-speaking province, but it has a distinctive dialect called Tayabas Tagalog or Tayabasin. Tayabasin is basically similar to Batangas Tagalog from its accent and vocabulary, but features a vocabulary with many borrowings from other Philippine languages like Ilocano, Bikol and Cebuano. While standard Tagalog or Batangas Tagalog is most commonly used in urbanized western Quezon, you'll likely stumble upon Tayabasin at the most rural parts of the province. The working population, educated residents, and learners can also speak or write in standard Tagalog or Filipino, and English.
Tayabasin also has its distinctive expression hane (huh-NEH), which is used similarly to the common Batangas expression ala eh and Marinduqueño ngani, indicating emphasis or asking for confirmation. This expression is used mostly in northern Quezon, on the Rizal border.
- AB Liner. Regular bus service from Manila (Alabang or Sampaloc, Manila) to Guinayangan and Tagkawayan via Lucena and Calauag.
- DLTBCo.. Services from Manila to Lucena, and onward to Bicol with stops at towns in Eastern Quezon. Tickets can be purchased on board from the conductor on the Manila-Lucena services, but for services stopping at Eastern Quezon, reservation is required if coming from major stops.
- JAC Liner and LLi. Frequent bus service from Manila to Lucena (Grand Terminal, SM City Lucena and Dalahican port), stopping at most towns and cities from Calamba.
- JAM Liner. Frequent regular AC bus service from Manila to Lucena terminal, and daily service to Mauban via Tayabas. Stops at Tiaong, Candelaria, Sariaya, and Tayabas (Calumpang). Mauban-bound buses stop at Gulang-Gulang (at Lucena) and Tayabas poblacion.
- P&O Transport. Air-conditioned buses run from Manila (Alabang) to Tagkawayan and Guinayangan via the Maharlika Highway and Batangas City to Tagkawayan via San Juan and Eco-Tourism Road.
- Supreme. Run both regular AC and non-AC buses between Batangas City and its own terminal in Lucena, with stops at Candelaria, Sariaya and Calumpang (Tayabas).
- Superlines. Daily runs from Manila (Alabang and Cubao) to Santo Tomas Batangas, San Pablo Laguna, Alaminos Laguna, Catanauan and San Francisco via Pagbilao and Padre Burgos, with a layover at Lucena. Buses either AC or non-AC, with restrooms on board. Reservations required if traveling from their Manila (Alabang and Cubao) or Superlines and own sister company Daet Express bus stations.
The Maharlika Highway (Manila South Road, or Rte 1) passes through Quezon and serves as a major transport backbone. Most motor traffic in the province passed through Maharlika Highway, but it has been experiencing major bottlenecks in the most important towns, resulting to the construction of bypasses. Other entry points when travelling by car are the new Quezon Eco-Tourism Road (Rte 422), the Batangas-Quezon Road (Rte 435) and Pagsanjan-Lucban Road (Rte 605).
To northern Quezon from Manila, most go through Marcos Highway aka the Marilaque (Marikina-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon) Highway, popular with motorcyclists for its bends and scenery (though crashes are all too common). Alternatively, you can take Santa Maria-Infanta Road (Rte 601) which begins in eastern Laguna.
Northern Quezon will be connected to Aurora Province and Nueva Ecija through a road through the eastern Sierra Madre from Dingalan, but as of the moment, it will be a long drive through Manila (the same goes for the rest of Aurora).
Philippine National Railways (PNR) operate a regional train service between Calamba and Lucena, stopping at Los Baños, San Pablo and Candelaria.
Service from Bicol remains suspended as of 2022. The Metro Commuter service from Manila has been discontinued in 2023; to connect with the regional train, you must take a bus from Manila, get off at Calamba Crossing and walk or ride a trike to the station in Calamba.
RORO ferries connect Marinduque with Dalahican port at Lucena, on Avios Lines, Montenegro Shipping Lines (with M/V Marie Kristina) and Starhorse Lines (with M/V Virgen de Peñafrancia).
The province is vast, and distances can be rather deceptive. With no expressways until the completion of an extension of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) to Lucena by 2022, travel by road can take long, as many major highways also serve as main streets of the towns they serve. That said, many large towns have bypass roads being built, which should shorten travel times a bit until the expressways open.
Northern Quezon (Infanta, Real, General Nakar) can be reached only from the rest of the province through eastern Laguna. There is a highway along the eastern coast, but is incomplete; as of 2020, the remainder of the route is still being built through difficult terrain at the Sierra Madre facing the Pacific.
While the bulk of bus services crossing the province are headed for Manila or Bicol through the Maharlika Highway, there are also local bus companies with routes originating from Lucena to points within the province, usually to towns in Bondoc Peninsula and Northern Quezon.
- FOC Transportation. Services between Lucena and Northern Quezon via Tayabas, Lucban, and Eastern Laguna.
- NCR-Rienton Lines. Non-AC minibuses between Lucena, Tayabas, and Mauban.
Services to the Bondoc Peninsula are provided by AB Liner (to Guinayangan via Gumaca, Lopez and Calauag), Superlines (to Mulanay and San Francisco via Pagbilao), and smaller companies running minibuses. Those by AB and Superlines are usually continuation of services from Manila, which have a layover at Lucena.
Jeepneys connect Lucena with Lucban and Pagbilao, Gumaca with towns in BonPen, and Lopez and Calauag (with onward service to Santa Elena in Camarines Norte). Lucena City has its own jeepney network. Other routes are more likely to be run by unlicensed ones (e.g. Lucena-Sariaya), and must be avoided in favor or buses that also serve those destination pairs and places in between.
Boats and ferries connect Polillo Island with the mainland; the same also applies to Alabat and Jomalig.
Quezon Province's local cuisine is Tagalog, but as the crossroads of Ilocano and Bicolano cultures, you can also find dishes from their respective regions as well.
Quezon dishes often include coconut (gata), which reflects in the province's large coconut industry and its Bicolano influences. Others originating from Quezon are:
- Longanisa - The town of Lucban is also known for a variety of this sausage.
- Pancit habhab - stir-fried noodles, served in a banana leaf and served without utensils. A local specialty of the town of Lucban.
Quezon is also known for pastries and snacks like budin, puto-bao, bonete, broas, kalamay, letse puto and yema cake.