Quezon is the 8th largest province in the Philippines, located to the southeast of Metro Manila. It was named after Manuel L. Quezon, the second president of the Philippines and the "Father of the National Language." Though Quezon has seen extensive progress and growth over the years, it remains an agricultural province. It is the leading producer of coconut and coconut products in the country. Every year, the province attracts numerous tourists when it celebrates one of the most exciting and colorful Filipino feasts.
Pahiyas Festival is the yearly celebration of the bountiful harvest in Quezon and to honor San Isidro Labrador (St. Isidore the Laborer). The locals decorate their homes with fruits, vegetables, flowers, and rice wafers called "kiping," which also come in different colors. Tourists visit the province during Pahiyas to see the attractive designs of the houses and to participate in the festivities, which include parades, a fireworks show, and concerts.
The mystical Mount Banahaw is the highest peak in the whole CALABARZON region. It stands at 7,119 feet and covers 10,901 acres of land. The "Holy Mountain" is considered a sacred place by the locals. Hikers and pilgrims often climb the mountain during Holy Week. Banahaw also has natural wonders that are sacred to the locals such as a cave and a spring.
Noodle dishes are popular in the Philippines and the capital city of Lucena is popular for its very own Pancit Chami. Made of flat noodles and stir-fried with meat, vegetables, and spices, this dish is must-try in Quezon.
The province of Quezon is about three to four hours away from Metro Manila by land. There are many bus lines that serve this province like JAC Liner, JAM Liner, DLTB, and Superlines. Lucena Grand Terminal is the main drop-off point for buses going to Quezon, but some also stop by specific towns in the province.
Meanwhile, for those who prefer to go on a road trip to Quezon, you can get there after a two-hour drive via the South Luzon Expressway (SCTEX).
How to Get Around
You can get around a specific town or to neighboring municipalities by riding the jeepney. The minimum fare is only PHP 7.00, which is the cheapest among public transportations.
By Van or Bus
At Lucena Grand Terminal, you'll find several buses and vans that can take you to Quezon's towns and cities. Taking a bus or van to get around the province is quicker and more comfortable than taking the jeepney albeit costlier.
Tricycles are convenient for short distances. It's recommended for those who need to get to a specific location immediately since tricycle drivers know their way around town. It's also good for a small group of travelers since it can fit up to four passengers.
What to See
When it comes to cultural and historical sites and natural wonders, Quezon certainly does not disappoint. There are a number of historic churches in the province as well as a bounty of various amazing landforms and bodies of water.
Quezon is home to some beautiful century-old churches. The Minor Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel in Tayabas is hailed as a National Historical Treasure by the National Historical Commission. Another notable church is the San Luis Obispo Parish Church which was built in the 1700s in Lucban.
Tourists also like to visit the unique mermaid sculpture at Lamon Bay in Atimonan. Residents believe that mermaids inhabit Lamon Bay's waters because of the many strange disappearances that happened on the bay in the past.
Quezon has an impressive coastline filled with amazing unspoiled islands and beaches that lure beach bums and nature lovers alike. Some of the prominent ones include Cagbalete Island in Mauban; Jomalig Island; and Borawan Island, Dampalitan Beach, and Puting Buhangin Beach in Padre Burgos.
Aside from beaches, Quezon also has a number of waterfalls. Visit Aliw Falls in Lucban, Balabag Falls in Real, Lumiliay and Magsaysay Falls in Atimonan, and Sta. Lucia and Cristalino Falls in Dolores.
You'll also find caves in Quezon if you're in the mood to explore. The town of Atimonan has plenty of them, including Nilubugan Cave, Cueva Santa Cave, Bantakay Cave, and Marulas Cave to name a few. Meanwhile, you can go swimming at Kwebang Lampas in Pagbilao and Anilon Cave in Polillo. If you want to challenge yourself with mountaineering, you can make arrangements for climbs to Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Mirador.
Kamay ni Hesus is a popular pilgrimage site in the town of Lucban. It features a 50-foot statue of Jesus Christ as well as other attractions like replicas of the Noah's Ark and the Garden of Eden. People go to this place to attend a healing mass by Fr. Joey Faller.
Meanwhile, Villa Escudero in Tiaong is a native Filipino-themed resort. You can enjoy cultural shows and tours to its many attractions including a museum filled with many artifacts and memorabilia. But the highlight of this resort is the sumptuous Filipino lunch by the man-made waterfall.
There are also many heritage houses in some municipalities of Quezon such as in Sariaya in Candelaria. One of the most popular is the ancestral house of Governor Natalio Enriquez that was designed by Andres Luna de San Pedro, the son of Juan Luna.
Events and Festivals
Pahiyas Festival is perhaps Quezon's most prominent feast and one of the most awaited festivals in the country. This vibrant fiesta is held in Lucban every May 15, the feast day of its patron saint, San Isidro Labrador. As thanksgiving for the town's bountiful harvest, residents adorn their houses with fruits, vegetables, and colorful decorations made of kiping or rice paste wafer.
Meanwhile, Niyogyugan Festival is a province-wide celebration that showcases the coconut, one of the main products of Quezon. This event is held every August and features parades, street dances, pageants, competitions, and trade expos.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
Quezon has branches of popular fast food chains like Jollibee, McDonald's, Mang Inasal, Chowking, and Pizza Hut.
Filipino food dominates the gastronomic scene in Quezon. Some of the best places to have local food are Bulwagang Salakot in Gumaca, Catalino's Restaurant in Lucena, Kamayan sa Palaisdaan in Tayabas, and Silangang Nayon Restaurant in Pagbilao. And if you want to have a taste of Lucban's specialty, pansit habhab, Buddy's Pizza in Lucban is a highly recommended place.
If you want to enjoy a unique dining experience, head to Air Summit Gourmet in Tayabas. An airplane converted into a restaurant, it offers gourmet dishes perfect for those seeking a more upscale dining establishment.
Aside from Pinoy food, you can also enjoy Mexican dishes with a local twist at Señorita's Mexinoy Kitchen, a wide selection of yummy pizzas at Ground Zero House of Pizza, and some vegan selections at Reasons.
Lucban is synonymous with pansit habhab and of course, longganisang Lucban. Fried siopao is also a favorite merienda in Lucban.
Bars and Clubs
Aside from offering Middle Eastern Dishes like kebabs and shawarma, Sadik Resto Bar is a great for some drinks while the night is still young.
Where to Shop
Lucena has two malls if you want to go shopping: SM City Lucena and Pacific Mall Lucena are home to various stores and stalls.
What to Buy
Kalye Budin in Tayabas is lined with shops selling all sorts of food products for pasalubong. There are shops that sell budin, which is Quezon's version of the cassava cake as well as other native cakes and biscuits. You can also buy some coconut wine, more commonly known as lambanog. While you're in Tayabas, make sure to buy the famous yema cake from Rodilla's for pasalubong.
Meanwhile in Lucban, there are many shops selling longganisang Lucban. You can also buy packets of pansit habhab.
ATMs and Money Changers
There are banks and ATMs in Quezon if you need to withdraw some cash. There are also money changers, remittance shops, and pawnshops.
Fare: PHP 220.00++
The bus ride to Lucena Grand Terminal from Metro Manila costs PHP 210.00 to PHP 220.00.
Food: PHP 50.00 to PHP 300.00
If you want to eat like a local, visit the many carinderias that sell pansit habhab for only PHP 10.00, which you can eat for lunch. Meanwhile, a rice meal starts at PHP 50.00. If you're going to eat at fast food chains, PHP 100.00 to PHP 150.00 should be enough. If you're eating in a restaurant, the dishes range from PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00.
Shopping: PHP 30.00++
Budin sells for less than PHP 30.00 apiece. Meanwhile, a half-dozen of longganisang Lucban sells for PHP 70.00. If you're going to buy lambanog, one liter costs around PHP 100.00. On the other hand, the price for a whole yema cake from Rodilla's is around PHP 200.00.
Accommodation: PHP 600.00 to PHP 2,500.00
For only PHP 600.00, two people can already enjoy an overnight stay at a fan room in a budget inn. But if you prefer to stay in a hotel, PHP 1,500.00 to PHP 2,000.00 for two people is the average.
Activities: PHP 1,400.00++
A day tour and lunch package at Villa Escudero costs PHP 1,400.00 per person.
Itinerary for Pahiyas Festival in Lucban
||Have breakfast at a local eatery.
||Take photos of all the festival happenings like the parade and street dances and of course, every household's colorful decorations.
||Break your photo tour and have a sumptuous lunch of Lucban delicacies from the food stalls in the event.
||Continue your tour.
||Head back to your accommodation.
Itinerary for Cagbalete Island
||Arrive in Mauban. Hire a tricycle to take you Barangay Daungan.
||Once you arrive in Barangay Daungan, head to the tourism center to pay the respective environmental fee and buy a boat ticket. You can either walk or hire a tricycle to Daungan Port. Once there, wait for the public boat that will take you to Cagbalete's Sabang Port.
||Start of journey to Sabang Port.
||Arrive in Sabang town in Cagbalete Island. You can choose to hire a boat or walk towards your chosen beach resort.
||Check in at your resort and have lunch at any of the carinderias around town. If your resort has an in-house restaurant, you can have your lunch there.
||Enjoy beach bumming. You can also go snorkeling.
||Have dinner at your resort's restaurant.
||Head back to the beachfront to enjoy drinks and bonfire.
The Philippines has two seasons: the dry season which runs from December to May and the wet season which runs from June to November. Try to avoid the rainy season since you won’t get to enjoy the outdoors of Quezon during this period.
Make sure to bring some medicine, first aid supplies, and insect repellent when you travel. In case you need medical assistance during your trip, Quezon has some hospitals and clinics.
Giving tips is not obligatory when you eat at restaurants, but for some Filipinos, tipping their servers is customary. Most people would just leave small bills like PHP 20.00 or PHP 50.00 for a tip, while some just leave their loose change. Take note that there are restaurants that already include a 10% service charge in their bill. In that case, there's no need to leave a tip.
Safety and Security
While Quezon is a generally safe place, there's no harm in practicing vigilance whenever you travel. Always observe your surroundings and make sure to keep your valuables in a safe place.