Lucena is a city destined for greatness. It started out as just a simple barrio in the province of Tayabas back in the old days. Muslim attacks and colonization could not halter its progress, eventually growing to be the capital of the province. It was officially declared as a city in 1962. Currently the site of several business and commercial areas, Lucena is a highly urbanized city in the province of Quezon.
Lucena is home to Perez Park, one of the biggest parks in the country. It was named after Don Filemon E. Perez, the former governor of Tayabas. People flock to the park on weekends to relax by the fishponds while the playgrounds are filled with children. It is also the venue for the numerous events and festivals held in the city. The park also has a monument of Manuel L. Quezon, the second President of the Philippines and "Father of the National Language."
The MJD Urban Escape Farm is a park, farm, garden, and restaurant rolled into one. Visitors can choose to sit around and relax while viewing lush green scenery, or take a stroll and explore the area's beautiful garden landscape. Its restaurant serves dishes made from the farm's fresh produce. The farm can also host parties, seminars, and all sorts of events.
One of Lucena's famous dishes will have to be Pancit Chami. It is made of flat noodles, meat, and vegetables stir-fried together with spices. It is served in the eateries around Lucena. Pancit Chami cooking and eating competitions are also held during the annual Pasayahan sa Lucena festival.
Lucena is just a short two to three-hour drive from Metro Manila. Take the Batangas Exit along South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). You will pass by several towns in Quezon before you reach Lucena City.
You can also easily commute to Lucena. There are several bus lines with terminals in Cubao and Pasay that offer daily three to four-hour trips to Lucena Grand Terminal. Lucena Lines, JAM Liner, JAC Liner, and DLTB are just some of the bus lines that serve the Manila-Lucena route.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys can get you around some destinations in the city and even to the neighboring towns and cities of the Quezon province. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the jeepney routes. If you find yourself lost, you can ask the locals for directions and transportation tips.
Taking a tricycle is recommended when traveling short distances or reaching the more remote locations in Lucena.
What to See
Lucena has a rich past, as evident in its many historical sights. Aside from having a colorful history, the city also has a good number of attractions that will keep you occupied during your trip.
Lucena serves as the capital of the province of Quezon, and its seat of power is the Quezon Provincial Capitol. The Neo-Classical building features a bright facade that is over a hundred years old, having been built in 1908. It is named as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission in 2010.
Just near the capitol building is the Quezon Convention Center. This events arena serves as a venue for major gatherings both in the city and province as well as concerts and sporting events.
Another prominent landmark is the St. Ferdinand Cathedral, also known as Lucena Cathedral. It is also a centuries-old structure, having been established in the late 1800s. The cathedral also boasts an impressive adjacent bell tower.
Sacred Heart College is another of Lucena's historical gems. Founded in 1884, it is the oldest Catholic learning institution in the entire Quezon province.
The towns and cities of Quezon boast many heritage houses and Lucena is not an exception. The
Zaballero Mansion and the Daleon Ancestral House are just two of the remaining heritage houses in the city that are definitely worth visiting, especially if you're a history buff.
Unknown to most tourists, the highly urbanized city of Lucena also has its share of gorgeous beaches. The Dalahican Beach Resort and the Talao Talao Beach Resort are perfect spots for a tropical vacation.
Perez Park is one of the favorite hangout spots of the locals. It is named after Don Filemon Perez, the former governor of what used to be the Tayabas province, which used to occupy the present-day Region IV-A provinces of Aurora, Quezon, and Marinduque. The park has a playground for kids and several food stalls if you want to go on a food trip. Manuel Quezon's Monument is also a stand-out attraction in the park.
Gintong Yaman ng Quezon Museum is another interesting establishment to visit. Located just near the provincial capitol building, the museum chronicles the history of the province through its various memorabilia and artifacts such as old photographs and the belongings of prominent persons including former President Manuel L. Quezon.
Events and Festivals
Pasayahan Festival is celebrated every May in Lucena City. Originally meant to boost tourism in the city, the festival is highlighted by all sorts of merrymaking and staple fiesta activities such as parades and street dances. There are also food and trade expos as well as various contests and competitions where both locals and tourists can participate in.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
If you're craving for familiar meals, popular fast food chains such as Jollibee, McDonald's, Chowking, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Mang Inasal have branches in Lucena.
Located within the compound of the cozy Villa Javierto bed-and-breakfast, Catalino's Restaurant is one of the highly-recommended dining places in Lucena. It offers traditional Filipino food that you can enjoy while looking out into a magnificent view of the Alitao River. Order comfort food such as kare-kare, lechon kawali, and pancit chami, Lucena's signature delicacy. The relaxing ambiance of the restaurant adds to a positive dining experience.
For pizza lovers, Ground Zero House of Pizza will truly satisfy your cravings. Aside from pizzas, the restaurant also offers native dishes in their menu such as lumpiang ubod, pancit lucban, and longganisang lucban to name a few.
Meanwhile, Sadik Restaurant has an extensive menu, offering Middle Eastern and Asian dishes on top of local dishes. The establishment also has a bar where you can enjoy some alcoholic drinks.
Lucena is famous for its pancit chami. This noodle dish is unique from other Philippine noodle dishes because of its sweet-and-sour flavor combination. Most Filipino restaurants and carinderias in Lucena offer this delicacy.
Where to Shop
SM City Lucena, Pacific Mall, and Ocean Palace Mall have wide selections for shopping, dining, and entertainment for tourists.
What to Buy
Tinapa or smoked fish is a popular pasalubong in Lucena. They are usually made from small but meaty varieties of fish like galunggong and tunsoy.
Leah's Pasalubong Center is one of the well-known pasalubong centers in Lucena. Tourists can buy pastries like broas or ladyfingers and uraro or arrowroot cookies. The place also sells native delicacies and kakanin such as budin or cassava cake.
ATMs and Money Changers
Lucena has several banks and ATMs should you need to withdraw some cash for your expenses.
Fare: PHP 200.00 to PHP 250.00
The cost of a bus trip to Lucena varies depending on the bus line. Make sure to pick the most trusted company to ensure your safety during your trip like Lucena Lines, JAM Liner, JAC Liner, and DLTB.
Food: PHP 50.00 to PHP 300.00
For PHP 50.00, you can already enjoy a savory meal at an eatery. Meanwhile, the cost for a restaurant meal ranges from PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00.
Shopping: PHP 150.00 ++
Tinapa typically sells for PHP 150.00 per kilo at the public market. Meanwhile, one box or 60 pieces of budin at Leah's Pasalubong Center costs PHP 190.00.
Accommodation: PHP 700.00 to PHP 2,000.00
An overnight stay at a fan room is very cheap: only PHP 700.00. Meanwhile, if you're going to stay at a hotel, make sure to allot a budget of PHP 1,800.00 to PHP 2,000.00.