Often called Quezon Province to distinguish it from Quezon City, Quezon has culture, nature and history to provide. It is quite off the beaten track over its neighbors in the Calabarzon region, but its festivals, hidden beaches, and historical monuments are things worth visiting.
There is no definitive way of dividing Quezon into regions, but with over 31 municipalities and 2 cities, it can be divided into regions mostly concurrent with the four legislative districts to some extent.
- Western Quezon (Lucena, Tayabas, Candelaria, Lucban, Mauban, Pagbilao, Sampaloc, Sariaya, Tiaong)- The most populated 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 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, Real) - A rainy coastal region below the Sierra Madre, and the gateway to Polilio Islands. Isolated from the rest of the province, most transportation goes via Laguna until the completion of a coastal road from Mauban.
- Bondoc Peninsula - (Agdangan, Buenavista, Catanauan, General Luna, Macalelon, Mulanay, Pitogo, San Andres, San Francisco, San Narciso, Unisan) - Locally known as BonPen, it is a mountainous peninsula with a distinctive regional identity from the rest of Quezon.
- Polillo Island - A remote tropical island (and nearby outlying isles) off the Pacific coast
Cities and towns
Being a mostly rural province, Quezon only has two cities, and most of the other locations equaling cities elsewhere in the province will be towns, many dating centuries ago.
- 1 Lucena City - Provincial capital, but is an independent city administratively. It is rather more of a traveller's stop than a destination, but you can visit the few of its sights or shop here if you can buy enough time.
- 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 small municipality near Mount Banahaw, and home of the Pahiyas Festival and Kamay ni Hesus pilgrimage site.
- 4 Sariaya - Little heritage town, housing numerous historical houses 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.
- Jomalig – White sand beaches facing the Pacific, rediscovered by backpackers.
- 1 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.
- 2 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 traveling from Manila towards the south.
Locals of Quezon are called Quezeños (or also "Quezonians" in English), often negatively stereotyped as lazy and unsophisticated country folk. They are mostly Tagalog speakers, but there are also Visayans and Bicolanos, the former being concentrated in Lucena and the latter at the boundaries with Bicol. The population is at around 1,800,000 as of 2015.
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. 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, Quezeños 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 regularly served by buses from Metro Manila and also Batangas City. Most bus traffic through Quezon are bound for Bicol, Eastern Visayas, and also, Mindanao. Some companies operate bus service that terminate in the province, terminating at Lucena.
The Maharlika Highway (Manila South Road, or Route 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 (Route 422), the Batangas-Quezon Road (Route 435) and Pagsanjan-Lucban Road (Route 605).
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.
There is frequent bus and jeepney service along Maharlika Highway. Many of the private bus lines plying that highway use modern air-conditioned intercity buses, but there are a few operators that utilize smaller and older vehicles, usually rebuilt trucks.
Boats and ferries connect Pollilo Island with the mainland; the same also applies to Alabat and Jomalig.