HISTORY OF LOPEZ
The town of Lopez is now a century and sixty years old. Many knew how this little town has struggled from nothing to what it is now-a prosperous and one of the first class municipalities in the fourth district of Quezon. Lopez has an area of 39,510 hectares, a population of 95,167as of 2015 census of housing and population in eighty-eight (88) barangays clustered around the town proper and seven (7) urban barangays. It is sprawled widely that their boundaries traversed the towns of Calauag, Guinayangan, Buenavista, General Luna, Macalelon, Catanuan and Gumaca.
- ORIGIN OF NAME
THE KALILAYAN KINGDOM OF LAKAN BUGTALI
There was a flourishing coastal settlement somewhere in the southern part of the municipality of Gumaca called TALOLONG. The settlement’s name Talolong was derived from the name of sturdy trees abundant in the place called “Talolong” with a scientific name “Drypetes Borbini” and “Balikbikan” as its national name.
The original location of the settlement was in the marshy mouth of a sedate river, which was founded by the descendants of DATU DUMANGSIL and BALINGSULA of the KALILAYAN KINGDOM. Due to the frequent plundering and terrorism of the pirates, the colony was transferred to the present town’s location.
The settlement of Lakan Bugtali who founded the community of Gumaca was gone. Even a trace of its remains cannot be identified neither the vantages of the Encomienda of Kalilayan nor a fraction of its 16th century glories. When it became a sitio through a Papal Bill, the village started to manage by her own.
A.1. FROM BARRIO TO TOWNSHIP
The Expendientes, an Spanish manuscript which can be found in the National Archives related to Don Miguel de San Agustin, the Provincial Governor of Tayabas had bestowed the name of Vista Talolong to the settlement on March 31, 1792, through the recommendation of Don Luis Innocentes, the Gobernadorcillo of the municipality of Gumaca.
But it was only in 1795 when Don Francisco de San Jose was proclaimed and appointed by the Gobernadorcillo of Gumaca through the recommendation of the parish priest as its first “Teniente Mayor”. His major task was to protect the village from terrorism and plundering of the pirates. It was the beginning of the migration of people from the municipality of Gumaca and Atimonan.
As peace restored, the place attracted several couples. Among them was Don Mateo Lopez of Tayabas ,who open up “ kaingins” and settlement. As time went by, more people flocked to the site and Don Mateo who was then acting as the leader of “ Cabesa” of this group of pioneers, realized the need of putting this newly founded settlement into a “Pueblo”. With the help of one Señora Hermana Vito, a close friend of Spanish officials, he made the long trip to Manila to seek the approval of the Spanish Governor-General who agreed to the proposal, and on April 30, 1856, Don Mateo Lopez emerged triumphant from the gates of Malacañang Palace with the certificates of approval.
- 2 FIRST CAPITAN
Don Mateo Lopez was confronted with the choice of the site of his new government. He and his men had to decide between the green plains of Pansol for the town site or the plain along the rushing navigable Talolong River. Don Mateo decided on the latter, and such choice was a mark of the exceptional foresight of a born leader. Later, he was chosen “Capitan” or “Gobernadorcillo” by the board of electors and the governor-general immediately confirmed his election in Manila. In tribute and justification to the sacrifices and services of the founder, his associates changed the name of the place from Talolong to LOPEZ.
Don Mateo established the first “tribunal” or municipal building on the site where the previous Rizal monuments stands. Other “capitanes” who followed him did much to improve the place and the lives of the people.
A.3 EARLY IMPROVEMENTS
In 1864, Don Antonio Oliver, then “Capitan” constructed a bigger “tribunal” on the site of the present municipal building. The increasing numbers of churchgoers gave urge to Don Mariano Villapando, “Capitan” for the year 1872-1873 to construct bigger church under the guidance of Father Antonio de la Fuente. This church which was reported to be the biggest in the province of Tayabas, now Quezon, however destroyed by hard-hitting storms and by the earthquake of 1900. This was rebuilt but again destroyed during the liberation campaign. As this church was near the bank of the Talolong River, churchgoers had to take off their slippers when the water rushed to its door during high tide. Father Damaso Abriol then urged the people to dig a canal to straighten the curling river from Peñafrancia (Bagopait) down to the eastern end of Dolores Street.
With the growth of commerce in the locality, Don Eustacio Argosino, Capitan from 1874-1875, improved the wharf or “Pantalan”, where “paraws” and small ships from Atimonan, Mauban, Gumaca and Alabat anchored to trade. Pio Salumbides, the last of the “Capitanes”, the “tribunal” was repaired and the “poblacion” was made bigger with the construction of Magallanes and Isquierdo Streets.
When the revolution broke out in 1896, sons of Lopez joined in fighting and when American sovereignty was established in the islands, Lopez was among the first to reorganize its improvement. A series of “presidents” were appointed and each had done their bit towards the improvement of the town.
- AMERICAN RULE
The first municipal president under the American Civil Government was Don Francisco Yngente who served from 1902-1903. Public education was given emphasis under his administration.
As population increased, the need for extending the “poblacion” became imperative. Mr. Uldarico Villamor answered the need of having Anda Street constructed.
The people of Lopez then, were enjoying steady commercial activities, and a kilo of meat was worth five centavos while a basin full of “dilis” cost two centavos. To centralize trading, Don Mariano Matriano (1916) constructed the public market at its present site. Seeing too, that certain people of Lopez who were not Catholic were refused for the burial in the church cemetery, he opened the site for the municipal cemetery in an adjacent lot.
Due to low elevation of the poblacion, a little torrential rain would cause water remains stagnant, thus hampering the health of the people. Don Eustacio Escobar, deepened the ditches and constructed culverts (imburnal).
A strong nationalistic spirit caused Don Marcelo Masaganda to construct the monument for our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal and concrete municipal building which was being renovated at the Magsaysay Memorial Hospital.
With an idea of bringing about a greater standardization of living, consistent with efficiency in the conduct of public services, salaries of employees were increased under the administration of Don Antonio Fortuna.
- FIRST WATER SYSTEM
Lopez owes to Don Tomas Florido, the water system, and the development of barrio schools and opening of agricultural lands for the landless. Copi and Anda Streets were opened, the latter became the longest street in the municipality.
- COMMONWEALTH AND JAPANESE ERA
Shortly after the birth of the Philippine Commonwealth, the first election for local office was held in December 1937. Don Tomas Florido was elected for his second term in this election. In the December election, 1940, Dr. Alberto M. Aguila was elected mayor, but his term was cut-short by the Pacific War. At this dire hour of American need, sons of Lopez were called to arms. They stood loyally for her and fought gallantly in the defense of democracy and freedom. Days later, the vanguards of the Japanese Imperial forces occupied the town.
On January 1, 1942, Dr. Jose R. Vilar was appointed by the Commander in Chief of the Japanese Forces until May 1, 1944.
On May 2, 1944, Atty. Vicente A. Salumbides was appointed Municipal Mayor and he discharged his duties as such until the town was liberated on March 30, 1945.
Lopez was not exempted from the atrocities of Japanese, more so because it became the seat of guerilla activities. Under the command of Gen. Gaudencio V. Vera, of the Vera’s Tayabas Guerilla, the under-ground movement composed mostly of men and women from Bondoc Peninsula continued to harass the Imperial Japanese Force. When the Commonwealth government was restored, however, with the landing of Gen. Mac Arthur’s forces at Leyte, Lopez town was no more for the once prosperous place was reduced to ashes completely during the liberation campaign.
In 1945, Gen. Vera appointed Mr. Juan T. Tabien, as mayor and he was inducted at the guerilla mountain camp in barrio Lalaguna. Mayor Tabien has faced with problems of rehabilitation, relief and reconstruction of Lopez. Meetings are being held at the temporary municipal building in Barrio Danlagan, at the place of Mr. Ramon Mopera, along the national road, later transferred to the town proper at Mr. Marcelo V. Escaro’s residence until the municipal building was constructed in the present site. Lopez owes to Mayor Tabien, the Magsaysay Memorial Hospital, and previously Lopez Emergency Hospital, which was operated at Mr. Escaro’s place in 1946, until the P25,000.00 Emergency Hospital building was constructed. Dr. Jose Alonzo, Jr. was the first Physician. At the time of the opening of the Lopez High School was approved by the Secretary of Education, Mr. Diego Manza was the first principal. The Lopez-Lalaguna road consisting of seven kilometers was constructed within few weeks by guerillas and town people. These were inaugurated under the guidance and effort of Congressman Gaudencio V. Vera and Tomas B. Morato.
The first election for elective local officials was held in November 1947. Mr. Eufigenio C. Panganiban was elected Municipal Mayor. The new district of Bagumbayan now Magsaysay was created as part of the Poblacion, (just across the Talolong River going to Calauag).It was also during his administration that the public market building was rehabilitated.
The administration of Mayor Panganiban ended on December 31, 1951 and Mayor Ceferino M. Osuna, who won on the election protest, assumed his office on February 14, 1952. In his administration, a fund was released for the renovation and repair of municipal streets. He exerted much efforts to make the municipality economically self-sufficient.
Mayor Gregorio C. Yumul assumed office on January 1, 1956. He was a man of talents. In a short period of time, on March 1957, he was able to start the construction of the new concrete municipal building with the budget appropriation of P15, 000.00 allotted from the congress. He worked for the early release of fund for the Lopez-Hondagua Port Road. Several improvements were initiated during his administration and it was made possible through his initiative as well as with the assistance of the provincial and national officials.
Mayor Francisco M. Yngente, Jr. took an oath of office on January 1, 1960. He continued the work left by the former mayor. Municipal streets and drainage system were constructed and further improved to solve heavy downpours problem of the municipality which caused flood during rainy season. A concrete gutter was constructed and other principal streets to ease the flow of water during rainy seasons. His administration ended December 31, 1963.
On January 1, 1964, Mayor Gregorio C. Yumul was re-elected as mayor and continued the projects he started during his first term. He worked for the release of fund allocated by the congress for road projects; school building, etc. During his second term, he established the Home Economics Building at Lopez West Elementary School Bldg. I, constructed Calantipayan Feeder Road going to Barangay Jongo and continued rehabilitations and improvement of other projects. He was re-elected for the third time as mayor in the local election of November 1967 and strived to continue his projects.
Unfortunately, a conflagration happened on May 29, 1968.The municipal building and all the records including the twenty-six (26) blocks residential and commercial districts of the poblacion were totally burned.
In 1970, he started to reconstruct the present municipal building using the Php 50,000. insurance premium and President Ferdinand E. Marcos’ allocation from his Calamity Fund together with Congressman Goding Tan who also appropriated an amount from his Public Works Fund. In January 1971, the offices of the national, provincial and municipal government were transferred to the present building. In his term, from January 1 to December 31, 1971, he rehabilitated the concreting of the portions of San Jose, Rosario, Dolores, Isquierdo and Anda Streets.
On November 1971 election, General Vicente M. Yngente, AFP (Ret.) emerged victor. The pet project of Mayor Yngente and his municipal council was the Municipal Nursery situated on the lot donated by Dr. Teodoro V. Salumbides and his family. This nursery serves as a demonstration lot supervised by an agronomist from the Bureau of Plant and Industry (PLI).
Mayor Yngente, in his brief administration of only a year has built the concrete pavements of San Francisco Street and the stage in the municipal town plaza. He personally supervised the beautification of the surroundings of the town plaza and selected the plants, planted thereat.
Upon the death of Mayor Yngente, Vice-Mayor Nerio O. Ramos replaced him. Mayor Ramos continued the programs of the late mayor, by putting up cottages in the municipal nursery and became the place of camping, market and slaughter were also constructed there.
In 1980, Mayor Nerio O. Ramos was elected. One of his major projects was the construction of artesian wells in Barangay Lalaguna, San Miguel Dao, San Francisco B, Bagacay, Vegaflor, Sta. Jacobe and Mandoog. A communal faucet and shallow tube wells were also built. He also renovated and repaired several school buildings, roads and bridges.
- 1980-1990 “THE DECADE OF POLITICAL CRISIS”
In 1980, Atty. Nerio Ramos won the election against Dr. Teodoro Salumbides by a landslide of more than 2,000 votes, the first in the election history of Lopez.
President Marcos lifted Martial Law in 1981, but for the Lopezeños, it was the beginning of the Martial Law.
In 1981, the first surprised organized political rally staged by the farmers against Marcos regime was launched in this municipality headed by former Senator Eva Estrada-Kalaw. This has signaled the deployment of military forces in the municipality. Military camps, detachments and checkpoints were established in almost every corner. NPAs gained their strengths through campaigning for an election boycott. On the Election Day, the NPA’s snatched ballot boxes particularly in the remote barangays. The strengths and influences of the NPA increased.
In 1984 Batasang Pambansa election, the ruling party of President Marcos, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan suffered its major setback in the municipality in the hand of the opposition party, United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO). This election was recorded as the bloodiest ever held in this peace loving community. Several civilians as well as military personals were ambushed and killed.
In 1985, Vice-Mayor Edgardo Gutierrez was shot and wounded by an un-identified armed men right in his own house. On July 22, 1985, Mayor O. Ramos was ambushed and assassinated at Barangay Tocalin on his way back to the Poblacion. Vice-Mayor Edgardo Z. Gutierrez succeeded him.
- THE EFFECTS OF 1986 PEOPLE POWER REVOLUTION
With the revolutionary government in place after the four- (4) day people power revolt against the Marcos era, headed by Corazon C. Aquino, then Local Government Secretary Aquilino Pimentel appointed Edgardo Ornedo as Officer-in-Charge of the municipality of Lopez. This was under the provision of Article III; Section 2 of the Revolutionary constitution promulgated under Proclamation No. 3 dated March 23, 1986.
Perhaps the most controversial mayor of Lopez was Edgardo Ornedo due to the fact that local UNIDO leadership did not accept him with his appointment as the Acting Mayor. He tried his best to serve his constituency by being honest and sincere to his works. He became an instrument in the concreting of several community roads and thoroughfares. The highlights of his term was the visit and inauguration of the Lopez-Catanauan Road at Barangay San Francisco B by President Corazon C. Aquino.
In the 1988 election, Dr. Joel E. Arago defeated Officer-in-Charge Edgardo Ornedo by more than 10,000 votes, the first ever happened in this municipality.
From 1988 to 1992, the project of Mayor Arago was centered on infrastructure. Such as construction of school buildings, proliferation of day care centers in the far flung barangays; establishment of barangay high schools, promoting and building of deep-wells and cooperatives.
In 1992 election, Dr. Joel E. Arago was elected municipal mayor for second term. He continued his program of governance by providing basic services to his constituents, building roads, bridges, multi-purpose halls and pave ways; providing medical assistance, creating task forces to facilitate the growing needs of the community. During his term, the Municipal Covered Court was constructed. He also initiated the opening of 3V’s Road in Villa Espina, Vegaflor and Vergana and likewise supported the improvement of Lopez-Buenavista, Lopez-Catanauan Road and construction of San Jose St. Bridge.
In his last term, Dr. Joel E. Arago once again elected as the municipal mayor for the third time. He was the first mayor who made in the history to be elected in three consecutive terms.
After his term, Hon. Isaias B. Ubana II became his successor and became part of the history as the youngest Municipal Mayor at the age of 31. On his second term as the municipal mayor, several changes had been implemented and projects are on the process to meet the needs of the entire populace.
In 2004, Hon. Fidencio Salumbides was elected as municipal mayor. Some of the projects during his term are the construction of the new public market in lieu of the old public market which was razed by fire on September 2005, launching of the ECCD program which focused on the development of children from 0 – 6 years old.
After the election occurred in 2007, Hon. ISAIAS B. UBANA II once again elected in the office. He continued his priority programs and projects that he initiated in his previous terms. Among the programs/projects are; Infrastructure- the construction/establishment of new school buildings in Hondagua National High School, PNU, PUP and Lopez National Comprehensive High School and many other, Farm – to – Market Roads, ports (particularly in Barangay Pansol), Bisita – Opisyal (which provides basic services to his constituents), various improvements in the municipal building, and other on-going PPA’s that are beneficial to the municipality as a whole.
At this very moment the Municipality is being highlighted in media, particularly in ABS – CBN due to the assistance that have been received by AETA community in barangay Villa Espina, they were given a two-classroom school building through ABS – CBN Foundation and Health Center coming from Bayer Philippines. Mayor Ubana is supportive to develop and maintain their community and help preserve our cultural heritage.
Mayor Ubana once again won the 2010 and 2013 elections and became the longest Municipal Mayor of Lopez for 15 years including six years on his first two terms. During his time, big projects were materialized from different funding agencies including, ARISP III, KALAHI CIDDS, BUB, SALINTUBIG PROGRAM, PAMANA and others. Many Health Centers and Health Stations were established in different barangays as well as Day Care Centers.
As a leader who valued education most, he was able to finish his Doctorate Degree and introduced Lopez, Quezon as the Center of Education in the Fourth District of Quezon. He pursued the establishment of two well-known state universities- Technological University of the Philippines and Laguna State Polytechnic University in June 2012, in addition to the first two leading and established Polytechnic University of the Philippines and Philippine Normal University as home of Topnotchers in Engineering and Teachers’ Board Examination. He also initiated the administration of Lopez Municipal Training Center (formerly TESDA) to be under the Local Government Unit. He prioritized scholarship program for deserving college students who enrolled in the four state universities in the municipality.
On his last two terms as Mayor, Dr. Ubana supported the construction of Bagsakan Center located in the Lopez Public Market through the help of Provincial Government and Gov. David Suarez. Different business establishments were also opened like Jollibee, 7-Eleven, Goldilocks and others. Construction of Lopez By-Pass Road was also started during his term.
After the term of Dr. Isaias B. Ubana II, he was elected as Board Member of 4th District of Quezon in May 2016 Elections. His wife, Hon. Rachel A. Ubana was elected as the First Woman who won Mayor of Lopez, Quezon same with Vice-Mayor Maria Adeline A. Lee. Her administration aims to continue supporting and creating projects for the development and welfare of the whole community.