Before the Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi (1502-1572) arrived in the island of Luzon in 1570, and established the colonial outpost of Manila in 1571, the area that would be known as Quezon City populated by many small farming communities of Tagalog people. When Quezon City was formed in 1939 with the Commonwealth Act of 502, the lands that would comprise of the new city were taken from the municipalities of Morong, Ciudad-Municipal de Pasig, Mariquina, San Jose del Monte, Caloocan, and San Mateo. But before the arrival of the Spaniards, much of these areas were provinces of the Islamic kingdom of Tondo and Hindu kingdom of Namayan.
Parts of the Kingdom of Tondo included the Mariquina Valley, which was explored by the Augustinian monks conducted preliminary evangelizations in the 1570s, and was later established as the Paróquia Jesus dela Peña (Parish Jesus of the Rocks) by the Jesuits in 1630. Morong was explored by Captain Juan Pacheco Maldonado in 1572 and settled by the Franciscans by 1578. San Mateo was also mapped by Captain Maldonado, and was established by the Augustinians monks in 1596. The Ciudad-Municipal de Pasig was established by the Augustinian friars in 1573. Caloocan was part of the greater Tondo area, even when it was established as a Spanish municipality, until it was founded as a separate municipal by 1815. San Juan del Monte was part of the Kingdom of Namayan, before it was declared as a Spanish encomienda in 1590, and settled by the Dominicans in 1602.
The Kingdom of Tondo was formed around 900 AD, and they were interacting with Song Dynasty Chinese settlers and traders, who referred to the area as Dōngdū (東都). By the 1300s, Indian traders and Hindu Javanese migrants of the Majapahit Empire arrive in Luzon, and start two centuries of Hindu Kingdoms, such as the Namayan. Then in the 1500s, Islamic missionaries from the sultanates of Burnei, Sulu and Maguindanao start the Islamic conversion of the kingdoms of Maynila and Tondo. By the 1600s, Tondo was the largest of the kingdoms by provinces, but could not maintain its control of these provinces due to its conflicts with Maynila and Namayan. This was taken advantage by the Spanish explorers and missionaries, who were able to explore and convert these outlying territories without much resistance.
One of the earliest recorded parts of the Kingdom of Tondo that would become part of the future-Quezon City is Balintawak. According to a folktale, the area was explored by the Spaniards in the late 1570s, when they encountered the natives of the area, and were readily accepted. During the welcome feast, the Spaniards attempted to inquire the name of the locality. However, not understanding the query, the natives cried “Balin Tabak,” thinking that they were asking about the name of the dance they were performing to entertain the foreigners.
Although inland, the many Tagalog communities were able to thrive in the area, because of the many rivers and tributaries that crossed the landscape at that time, allowing the water sources for drinking, washing, travel and irrigation. The main river system in Quezon City is the San Juan River, which grows from the Asucena /Waling-Waling Creek in Barangay Roxas and the San Francisco River in the Retiro District. The San Francisco River is fed by the Anaran Creek from the West Triangle, the Matalahib Creek in Santo Domingo, and the Balingasa, Dario and Mendez creeks also in the Retiro District. The San Juan River is fed by the Campupot Creek, Salapan River and the Valencia Creek in New Manila in the southwest; and the Dilimán, Immaculate Concepcion, Kamias, and Lagarian creeks from central Quezon City. The San Juan Riven nourishes the Pasig River in turn.
In the northeastern districts of Novaliches and Tandang Sora, the main tributary is the Tullahan River, which feeds both the San Juan River and the La Mesa Dam Water Shed and the Balara Filtration Park, of the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System (MWSS). The Tullahan River is fed by the Kalamiong Creek in Payatas, as well as the Culiat, Centerville, Gabe, Ilang-Ilang, Jordan Plains, Paltok, Pasong Tamo, Pingkian, Tangue, and Villa Verde creeks in the north.
Tributaries in eastern Quezon City contribute to the Mariquina River, such as the Buwaya Creek in Project 4, the Don Jose Creek in Cubao, the Libis Creek in Bagumbayan, and the Katipunan, Pansól and San Antonio creeks in the Loyola Heights-Balara area. It is also noted that there were many more creeks in these aforementioned territories, but they have been covered up by settlers over the centuries, and many of the remaining tributaries have become canals for liquid wastes.
The first major Spanish era (1565-1898) community in the future-Quezon City is the Pueblo San Francisco del Monte, which was established by the Franciscan missionary, Saint Pedro Bautista (born Pedro Blazquez, 1542-1597) in 1590. The parish and the area was dedicated to San Francesco d’Assisi (born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, 1181-1226), and was strategically located at the delta of San Juan and San Francisco rivers. Fr. Pedro left for Japan in 1595, and was later executed by crucifixion with twenty-five other missionaries on the 5th of February, 1597. The next year, and envoy from the Philippines was able to retrieve the remains of Fr. Perdo and his fellow martyrs, and bury his bones at the San Francisco Church, while his skull was sent to the San Esteban del Valle, in his home town of Avila, Spain.
Although the Franciscans first arrived in 1578, Fr. Pedro was part of the second wave that arrived in 1584, and he was first assigned to the San Francisco Church in Manila. We Fr. Pedro was elected as custos superior of all Franciscans in the Philippines in 1586, he set about expanding the missionary work of the Franciscans in the Philippines and other parts of Asia. Fr. Pedro realized that the order needed a monastery to prepare the missionaries and a novitiate to train the next wave of Franciscans, far from the activities of Manila. So in 1590, a bamboo and nipa chapel constructed and dedicated to Our Lady of Montecelli, but was more commonly referred to as the San Francisco Church. After the canonization of San Pedro in 1862, the church was renamed after him. Although area of the San Francisco del Monte had eight springs and was close to the San Juan River, it was also very hilly (monte) with a think forest cover. This led to the slow development of the surrounding community, which would only see an influx of residents when the area was annexed to the newly formed Quezon City, in 1939. However, the boom of the district would follow the migrations and rebuilding after World War II (1939-1945).
The next century saw the quite expansion of both Spanish rule and Catholic evangelizations. The Spanish government would expand it territories, with the conferment of rule of the encomienda to favored individuals who would pay tribute to the Spanish crown, from the labor of the indios (natives). The Catholic Church explore further than the conquistadors, establishing parishes throughout the archipelago, which would eventually evolve to the present towns and cities of the Philippines. In their evangelization, the Catholic missionaries would also claim vast tracks of land in the name of the Church, and convert them to haciendas that would earn from the labor of the inquilinos (lessees) and kasamas (sharecroppers) in the area, without paying any tribute to the King of Spain. This was causing subtle tensions between the Church and State. The worst example of this conflict can be exemplified by the assignation of Governor General Fernando Manuel de Bustillo Bustamante y Rueda by the followers of Manila Archbishop Francisco de la Cuesta, on the 11th of October 1719.
As for the lands that were to become Quezon City, much of these were originally estates owned by the Jesuits, who arrived in the Philippines in 1593. In their evangelization outside Manila, the Jesuits acquired the lands of the Hacienda de San Isidro de Mariquina (Marikina City), the Hacienda San Pedro de Macati (Makati City), the Hacienda de Maysilo (Caloocan City), the Santa Mesa de la Misericordia (Holy Table of Mercy) between San Jose del Monte and Manila, and the Maximo San Ignacio College’s Hacienda de Piedad in between Caloocan and Mariquina. However in 1767, King Charles III of Spain (1716-1788) declared that all Jesuits banished from Spain and it territories, which led to the expulsion of the order from the Philippines in 1768. This was followed by 1773 Dominus ac Redemptor of Pope Clement XIV (born Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio Ganganelli, 1705-1774), announcing the suppression and disbandment of the Society of Jesus. In the Philippines, the Jesuit lands were confiscated as property of the government, while other lands were distributed to the other Catholic orders. Part of Santa Mesa was turned over to the Franciscan Capuchins; while the Hacienda San Pedro de Macati, Hacienda de Maysilo and Hacienda de Piedad were purchased by Don Pedro de Galarraga (1750-1809), the Marqués de Villamediana, Prior to the Consulate of Commerce and former commander of the Spanish military. The Jesuits were later reinstated and returned to the Philippines in 1859, but were no longer able to take back the lands they lost.
Another Jesuit property was the Dilimán Estate, which was named after the Dilim or Old World forked fern (Stenochlaena palustris), which grew abundantly in the area. The Dilimán Estate was awarded to the Chinese trader, Son Tua (1679-1795), for his support of the Spanish forces during the British invasion of 1762 to 1763, which was part of the Seven Years’ War of 1756-1763. Son Tua financed and led attacks on the British, earning him the rank of colonel with 1,500 Chinese mestizos under his command. With the war ending with the 1763 Treaty of Paris, Son Tua who previously took on the Hispanic-sounding name of Antonio Maria Tuason in 1755, and was conferred the title of Don (noble lord) by the Spanish Crown, and was given ownership of the Dilimán Estate and title of “mayorazgo” by the Governor-General Simón de Anda y Salazar (1701-1776), with an excemption from paying tribute from two generations. The position of the Mayorazgo allowed the holder to collect 1/5 of the net revenues of the noble estate, which would expand the Tuason’s wealth exponentially. Don Antonio’s younger brother Gregorio, settled in the province of Pampanga, creating the northern Tuason clan of Central Luzon, including the Tuazon family.
After Son Tua’s death, his son and captain of the Royal Spanish Regiment, Don Vicente Dolores Zaballa Tuason (born 1744) was able to purchase the former Jesuit land of Hacienda de San Isidro de Mariquina, while his sister (either Eusebia, Eustaquia, Gregoria, Martina, or Petrona) purchases the Hacienda de Nagtajan in Pandacan, Manila; expanding the family lands. The 3rd Mayorazgo, Don José María Fabié Tuason (died 1856), establishes the import-export company JM Tuason & Company and manages Banco Español Filipino de Isabela II (now Bank of the Philippine Islands). The 4th Mayorazgo, Don José Severo Tuason y Patiño (1833-1874) expands the family lands by purchasing the Hacienda de Santa Mesa in San Juan del Monte. The 5th Mayorazgo, Don Gonzalo Tuason y Patiño (died 1910), co-founds the La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel, while his son Don Gonzalo José María Tuazon y Gil de Sola (born 1880) purchases a part of Hacienda de Maysilo in Tambobon (Malabon).
Don José Severo Tuason, 4th Mayorazgo, had six children José Victorino de la Paz Tuason (1865-1878), Don Juan José Tuason (1865-1916), Doña Maria Teresa Eriberta (1867-1951), Don Mariano Severo (1868-ca. 1940), Don Demetrio Asuncion (1870-1927), Don Augusto Huberto, and Doña Maria Soterrañea Cristina Tuason Valdez (1872-1936). Since his eldes son, José Victorino died at a young age; the title of Mayorazgo was transferred to his brother, Gonzalo. When President Manuel Luis Molina Quezón (1878-1944) was planning Balintawak City (now Quezon City) and proposed to purchase parts of the Tuason clan’s lands, it was through the matriarch Doña Maria Teresa Eriberta De La Paz Tuason (1867-1951), as mitigated by her nephew Angel “Bobby” M. Tuason Valdez (1899-1948), that 1,600 hectares of the Tuason land was used to build Quezon City.
Within the Mariquina territory of the Tuason’s Dilimán Estate, the farming community of Barrio Gulod (Hilltop) was founded around 1705. The area was later renamed to Krus na Ligas after a crossed shaped tree (Ligas: Semecarpus Cuneiformis) that grew in the vicinity. After the Ligas tree died, a small Franciscan chapel was erected in its location, around the 1820s. By 1896, the area was also a hotbed of revolutionary activity, as Andrés de Castro Bonifacio (1863-1897) used the area as one of his many covert meeting places, during the Katipunan Revolution. Currently, Barangay Krus na Ligas is considered part of the University of the Philippines, and it was designated the residential site for university blue-collared employees.
In 1854, the barrio of Novaliches was founded by the Augustinian missionaries, who would establish the Paróquia Nuestra Senora de la Merced (Our Lady of Mercy Parish) in 1856. The barrio was named after Governor General Manuel Pavía y Lacy, 1st Marquis de Novaliches (1814-1896), who had institutionalized a pardon and land for prisoners who cleared the forests of the area. After the lands were cleared, families from Polo (now Valenzuela City of Bulacan Province) and Morong migrated into the area, and called it Hacienda Tala (Star Estate), as the new land was like a star in heaven to these migrants. However their joy would not last, as the town and its parish was razed to the ground in November 1896, during the Battle of Novaliches between the Katipunan forces and the Guardia Civil.
Much of the northern territories of the future-Quezon City were a hotbed for revolutionary Katipunan (short for Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or Supreme and Venerable Union of the Children of the Nation), and its founder Andrés Bonifacio. And on the 23rd of August 1896 at the barrio of Pugad Lawin (Hawk’s Nest), Bonifacio and attending members of the Katipunan torn up their cédulas personales (identification tax certificates), and declared their independence from Spain and the start of the revolution.
The declaration of war was held at the home of the son of Melchora Aquino de Ramos (1812-1919), who is called the “Mother of the Philippine Revolution”. Fondly called Tandâng Sora, or Old Sora, Aquino was an advisor of Bonifacio, and who help feed and tend to the wounds of the Katipuneros after skirmishes with the Guardia Civil. Aquino was later arrested and deported to Guam on the 2nd of September 1896, and was able to return to the Philippines in 1903. Upon her death, Tandâng Sora was first buried with her fellow revolutionaries at the Panteón de los Veteranos de la Revolución in the Manila North Cemetery, the transferred the Himlayang Pilipino Memorial Park in 1976, before being buried at the site of her home in Barangay Banlat in 2008.
The Himlayang Pilipino Memorial Park was believed to be the site of the August 28-29 1896 Battle of Pasong Tamo, when the area was still part of Caloocan. Pasong Tamo (Passage of Tam-tamo) was named after medicinal plant Tano-tamo (Languas haenkei) that grew in abundance throughout the area, in which the Katipuneros had their first skirmishes with the Guardia Civil. Tandâng Sora was arrested shortly after the battle, for aiding the escape of the Katipuneros.
After the Battle of Pasong Tamo, more skirmishes would erupt in the Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. Katipunan units of Manila, Caloocan, Mariquina and Pasig would often regroup in Barrio Santa Monica, in Novaliches. What was once one of the secret meeting sites of Bonifacio and his men was now a place for the injured Katipuneros to bandage their wounds. One of first two casualties of the Katipunan uprising, the 18 year old Simplicio Acabo, was buried hastily in a shallow muddy grave in Barrio Banlat; and in 1954, Mayor Norberto Salandanan Amoranto (1907-1979) placed a small monument to Acabo, which has now been lost to time.
The Philippine Revolution ran for three years, despite the murder of Bonifacio on the 10th of May 1897 and the exile of General Emilio Famy Aguinaldo (1869-1964) to Hong Kong on the 29th of December 1897. With more Katipunan units forming around the provinces of Luzon and the Visayas, the Spanish forces were slowly losing ground by 1898, as all other royal forces were embroiled in the Spanish-American War of 1898. When the Katipuneros were coming close to victory and independence, the American Asiatic Squadron enters Manila Bay and defeats the Spanish armada on the 1st of May 1898. After a continuing land assault, the American forces capture Manila on the 13th of August 1898, and wrest governance of the Philippines from Spain with the Treaty of Paris on the 10th of December 1898. And this will be the topic of the next article, the development of the areas of the future-Quezon City in the American Occupation (1898-1946) before its establishment in 1939.