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Last Update July 2014

The arch welcomes you to the province of Quezon; Tiaong is its gateway town. The welcome arch is now resplendent with its new coat of paint, the gold-clad deco angels have been fashioned new sky-blue robes. For a while now, it has been spared the abuse of political banners and posters, and commercial ads for alcoholic beverages and mall announcements. There has been an infusion of civic-mindedness, perhaps, to a some extent, a consequence of the Mayor's mandate of programs, one of which is to boost tourism in Tiaong.

I used to think of Tiaong as Small town, Philippines, getting most of its name recognition from Villa Escudero, its resort entrance on the left just inside the welcome arch. Otherwise, it seemed to linger in small-town anonymity, caught in some time-warp, little changing in the interim between visits, sandwiched by the towns of San Pablo and Candelaria, both manifesting measures of commercial success and progress. For many, It's. . . . um. . . . Where's Tiaong?. . . Um. . . 'di ba doon maraming NPA?

For now, it's still Small Town, Philippines. But Tiaong is making an effort to rise out of its anonymity. Of the old Tiaong, most of the gentry - hacienderos and illustrados - have long gone. Many of the old families have left, in search of their greener pastures. Only a few have returned. And from the many of the the salt-of-the-earth Tiaongins who stayed, the few who came back, and the new blood who came from neighboring provinces seeking possibilities - a new Tiaong spirit has risen, forging together in separate measures with scattered grassroots efforts. With encouraging programs and pronouncements from local government, the Tiaong air wafts with new possibilities.

For now, the town still switches off at dark. However, the blight of beer houses that peppered the diversion roadside, once providing the male townsfolk's generic testosterone needs of wine, women and song, or rather, beer, bar girls and videokes, have been removed by municipal edict and resolve during Mayor Dick Umali's term.

On the surface, nothing much seem to have changed, except for the small and recent buildings of commerce flanking the highway through the town proper of Tiaong. The stretch of Maharlika highway that cuts through Tiaong - Lalig, Poblacion, Lumingon, Lusacan, Talisay, Lagalag and Masen- into Candelaria – reveals strings of fast-food carenderias and clusters of make-do stalls hawking seasonal fruits, pawnshops, grocery stores, banks, and hardware stores, ornamental plant gardens, the essential cockfight arena, schools, and recently built handsome stone residences hinting of OFW monies. Despite the traffic and pollution in the town proper, and the too-many tricycles that clog, all in all, there is still a pleasant and untrammeled small-town flavor, with the townfolk in the daily hustle-and-bustle of their lives.

Winds of Change. . . Then
A few years ago the winds of change appeared to be blowing Tiaong's way. There was talk of a "bullet train" station in Lalig. with efforts to dismantle and "relocate" the tabing-riles communities squatting by the railroad tracks. A stretch of the highway was cleansed of roadside stalls, the gateway for a "high end" residential community, Hacienda Escudero, for the "new burgis" To boot, a McDonald's that anchors a truck stop, Tagpuan, with fruit-food stalls and eateries to draw in the commerce of travelers and weekending tourists.
There was a short-lived fanfare to boost tourism which, alas, never really got off the ground. Alas, that wind of change stalled at the arch-end side of Tiaong.

And now. . . Bagong Tiaong
Now, there's a new wind of change, courtesy of Mayor Ramon Preza. It's change replete with a
new town logo and a triad of colors—orange, yellow, and green painted in poles, posts, fences, tree trunks and sundry structures in the poblacion areas. Even the June fiesta streamers blazoned the same color motif. While some locals have suggested that they represent color preferences of politicians, the Mayor attests they represent the various colors in the growth and maturation of corn.

The most striking of recent changes is the modernization of the municipio. To boot, there's talk of a hospital, a feed mill that will support agricultural programs to benefit local farmers.

To his credit, Mayor Preza's has brought more visible changes in his first year of mayorship than what four terms of the Umali dynasty left behind. While some of the locals are hopeful, some are not, their hopes discolored by the past and the difficult lives they live. But I hope "Bagong Tiaong" is just that—new, with the promise of more changes to come. I am hopeful it is not just colors and modernization.

Perhaps, tourism can become revitalized; the wasted opportunites of two Tiaong sites—Tikob Lake and Mainit hot springs. Mainit hot springs is known to locals, a destination for rejuvenation and relief of sundry rheumatic complaints. Tikob lake, a more than 50-hectare lake crater, replete with legend and mystery, with great potential for a truly ecofriendly attraction, awaits visionary development. (See:Points of Interest)

There is healthcare, terribly wanting in many of the rural communities. There is a drug culture and commerce that have infected some of the barangays—cleaning that up would certainly be a Preza-achievement.

Return of the Naytib
I am one of those who came back to Tiaong, a decision slow in making, brewed from many nights of tippling on lambanog with my brother. Returning after a long absence, delusional with a vision and possibilities, I built Pulang Lupa, atop a hill in Barangay Lumingon, and to boot, set up the Pulang Lupa Foundation which has been vehicle to some education and community efforts for the barangays of Lumingon and Lusacan.

Why? There are many answers, many reasons, each one easily impassioned. It's my birthplace and hometown. I was born in that old abandoned stone house with "the crocodile" in the middle of the front yard. Too, there are so many childhood memories, corny and sentimental for the telling; halcyon days in that bucolic life — picnicking the rivers, walking or carabao-carting or treading the rice pilapils into the remote villages, roots and memories forever weaving together. Inevitably, I returned to Tiaong. And, yes, I love this town, the people, the traditions, the mythology and superstitions that color their lives, the small-town flavor. I am irrevocably linked to it's past, embedded in the difficult landsacpe of the present, and challenged by the possibilities for the future.

Of course, there are still days when I stray into pondering the wisdom of having returned. It still is a microcosm of Small Town, Philippines, suffering the generic afflictions of rural existence – poverty, unemployment, marginalization, and the pervading culture of dishonesty. It is a difficult balancing act of failures and successes. And it helps, to know that change is happening, albeit, so slowly. And I know it's just not posters and billboards. And although pondering the madness of returning is inevitable, I try to put it on the shelf for now, spending the next two or three years in the rehabilitation of the ancestral house.

And in those sunset times, with colors splashing in from the west, and the mountains of Banahaw and Cristobal dusking blue and magical, in those nights with the celestial dome ablaze, and in those early mornings when the sun rises spectacular, my resolve is renewed, the failures are diminished, the disappointments forgotten, and the successes exaggerated.

The best view of Tiaong
So, weary traveler, if you're visiting Tiaong or just passing through this Any Town, Philippines, take a small detour and come on up to the White House at Pulang Lupa, atop the small hill in barangay Lumingon, up to a view deck to indulge in a panoramic vista of mountains and the Tiaong countryside – a view unlike any other in Tiaong.

And if we both find idle time, I can share with you some of its thousand stories – of kapres, tikbalangs and white ladies, and some stories to break your heart, many to make you smile.

And admission is free. . . really.
And I might throw in a free jigger of lambanog.


There was a lady of great wealth
Her name was Doña Tating.
So kind and so giving,
and so loved and respected
"Tia" she was fondly called by all.
Every morning she would go to church
Riding a cart drawn by her big black carabao.
The priest would not begin the mass
Until the carabao was heard,
"Oooooonnng-ing" as it approached
to announce the arrival of their beloved Tia.
And so it came to pass,
From the "Tia" they called Doña Tating
And the "Oooonnng" of the carabao,
TIAONG, the town was named.
101 km south of Metro Manila, an hour and a half by car, longer by public transportation; 36 KM northwest of the Provincial Capitol, Lucena city.
Maharlika Highway cuts across the Barangays of Lalig, Poblacion, Lumingon, Lusacan and Lagalag.
AREA 15,239 hectares of rolling terrain and scattered plains.
CLIMATE Dry: January to May. Rain: Late May to December.
LAND Slope of 0-3%, soil of a loamy texture suitable for extensive agricultural applications.

As per the 2000 census, the population of Tiaong is 75,498 with 15,256 households. For 2010 projected population has increased to 100,925.

Projected Population
2010 – 100,925
2014 – 102,227
2015 – 104,507

There are 31 barangays, 90% have electricity and accessible by land transportation. The two most populated are Lusacan and Lalig.

Projected 2011 Population

  Poblacion I     
Ayusan I   
  Poblacion II     
Ayusan II   
  Poblacion III    
  Poblacion IV  
  San Agustin   
  San Isidro    
  San Francisoo      
  San Jose  
Del Rosario    
  San Juan   
  San Pedro  

Projected Population


Agriculture is the main source of income and livelihood. Gateway town to coconut country, coconut is not Tiaong's mainstay economic product. A decimated industry, local production is mostly sold its to neighboring towns for the manufacture of end products. But it still contributes to agri-income, together with palay, corn, lanzones, rambutan and rainy-season cash crops like ampalaya, sitaw, talong and kalabasa. Income is supplemented by the risky raising of animals –·horses, cows, pigs, goats, chickens and carabaos - to tide over existence through drought periods, or provide rainy-day sources of cash for celebratory needs (weddings, fiestas, birthdays), illnesses and funereal needs, that is, if the livestock survives the marauding on-site slaughterers and rustlers who come in the dark of night. Many of the farmers have learned secondary skills for dry-season work as masons and carpenters. Many are increasingly seeking employment in the neighboring towns. There is also a burgeoning local education industry —28 elementary schools in 28 barangays, 5 high schools and colleges (Southern Luzon Polytechnic University in Lagalag) and ALS for out-of-school youth—with the essential and peripheral livelihoods that caters to the needs of schools and students.


Pulang Lupa is the peak of 50 hectares of hilly agricultural land called Sitio Santol - or "Proses" (a rural Taglization of Four Roses) to the old-timers, or the "Farm" to family - less than 2 kilometers from the town center of Tiaong, province of Quezon in the Philippines.

Locals and old-timers refer to the place as Pulang Lupa because of the color of volcanic soil found in abundance at the peak. Historically, it has been called "Pinagbanderahan" (Flag Site), where the Japanese held a strategic station during its provincial occupation in World War II. The folklore is replete with buried treasures the Japanese left behind, still undiscovered in tunnels and caves in the bowels of Sitio Santol. Furtive diggings still happen in the cloak of the dark of night. Some hunters come with their treasure-seeking gizmos or third-eye psychics in tow. Others try to establish contact for Japanese clients reported to be brandishing authentic-looking maps. On occasion, talks reach deep into the details of digging, security measures, and division of the treasure. . .

On it stands my more than 10 years of an on-going architectural effort – a cluster of buildings that has become known locally as "The White House."

Come visit. To contemplate, to while away . . . . To be engulfed by the sounds of birds. To indulge on a vista of an unending circumference of mountains and the verdant rural countrysides. . . the morning sunrises wrapped by wisps of awakening low lying clouds. . . . the capricious colors of the sunsets. To be swept by the fierce and moaning amihan winds of the early months. And at nights, there is the dome ablaze with a starry spectacle of constellations and planets, and the recurrent moon traversing the celestial arc. . . and the layers of sounds that hide in the dark. (More: Pulang Lupa) (Directions)

More: Pulang Lupa
Directions to Pulang Lupa

The Haunted House

. . . Many say it's haunted. Headless soldiers in Japanese uniforms, helmets in hand. An elderly couple in white slowly descending the circular steps, sometimes completing the descent as a headless apparition. The rattling of doorknobs. Doors that suddenly refuse to open. The sound of shackled walking and the dragging of chains. The heavy cold air that wraps around the intruding guests.

Many have tried to brave through a night. My brother's karate group, brown and black belters, visiting for a weekend of instructions and exhibition of their martial art skills. Another, a nephew and his barkada, aware of the ghosts, intent to tease and draw them out of their ethereal habitats, their nerves augmented by alcohol and fraternity. None lasted to the midnight hour, skedaddling back to Manila, their machismo bruised and tempered.

Some believe the spirits have claimed the space and have joined together to hinder and stall all efforts to sell or demolish it. Some say evil spirits have taken a penchant for hanging around the crocodile sculpture in the garden.

Recent caretakers continue to tell of an old lady in the traditional ghostly garb of white, her white hair loose on her shoulders, lingering around the rooms, with a penchant for conversing with their little children, bringing them to giggles and laughter, and as often, fearful crying spells.

It hauntedness is kept alive by the townsfolk – stories from diminishing number of old-timers who remember the olden days, replenished with sightings by passers-by as they steal glances at the framed glass windows and doors, sometimes catching shadowy forms moving about. And sometimes, at twilight or in the early evening hours, especially a Friday nearing a full moon, they tell of a white-haired woman gazing out from the second floor library window – stories that resuscitate as the October days march into Halloween night.

Alas, for ghost lovers, the spirits seem to have moved on. In the past two and a half years of rehab work and many nights spent in the house, there have no sightings, no presences, no unearthly occurrences. Just small noises easily explained by old house creaks.

The Rehabilitation of the Ancestral House

It has long stood abandoned, in chronic and progressing disrepair. The paint old and peeling, many windows gone, crooked, or unhinged, the garden unkept, the weeds overgrown, the interiors unlit - all lending to a look hauntedness. A communal property, it could not be sold; always there were dissenting votes that threw all offers out the window, always a few who would rather see the house rot in dilapidation. So instead, many shared in a sadness, shared in a dream to save the house. For some in my generation, distanced and dispersed, taking a peek at the house was a vacation ritual, to suffer the sadness and the memories of childhood, to close our eyes and imagine the place, resurrected, once again grand and resplendent.

Two years ago, the dream to rehabilitate the house was once again resurrected, egged on by an impassioned and shared sentiment to dedicate the effort to the memory of our grandmother, Lola Concha. In February 2012, the restoration started. . . (more)

Revolutionary Routes by Angela Stuart-Santiago

Since I returned to Tiaong, I have been surprised so many times by the townsfolk's stories about the clan - the Umaling-itim clan, the disparate characters and their stories, the uncles and aunts, and some from this generation who contribute various colors to the story. Many of the stories were about Lola Concha, always told with fondness, her generosity, the parcels of land she donated for causes she was so passionate about. Alas, time continues to diminish the stories, and I have wondered that the ancestral house, that haunted stone house with the crocodile in front, might soon be all that will remain to link her memory with Tiaong's history.

Perhaps, that will not be so.

Little known to the Tiaong townsfolk, Lola Concha started writing in the 70s, filling ten notebooks in hand-written Spanish with stories of her life and the generations that revolved around it, colored with history, politics and details of rural life. She left behind the manuscripts: Fragmentos de mi juventud (Fragments of My Youth). For a while, it lay in limbo, collecting dust, until my mother, Nena, already burdened by progressing blindness, took on the work of translating it into English. Later, my sister Angela picked up that heirloom of memory, and for more than three years immersed herself into the translated memoirs, reliving, then extracting from it, the stories that would become the book Revolutionary Routes. - Godofredo Stuart

Revolutionary Routes is more than a family history across four generations. Author Angela Stuart-Santiago has deftly woven together the memoirs, clippings, correspondence and other traces of her family's past into a microhistory that spans the late 19th century up to the 1950s. While this book is rooted in the specific experiences of a family that lived in Tiaong and its adjoining towns in southwestern Tayabas (now Quezon) province, it also tells us much, from the ground up, about everyday life in the countryside under the shadow of successive imperial and national regimes. This book can also be read as a modern history of the Philippines. -- Reynaldo C. Ileto.

website: http://revolutionaryroutesbook.com/
The book is also available at the Pulang Lupa Library in Brgy. Lumingon.

TIAONG: Coming Into Its Own
A coffee table book

This coffee-table book Tiaong: Coming Into Its Own, published by the Tiaong Lubid-Lubid Foundation Inc. was launched in 2011.

The book revives Tiaong's illustrious place in history since its establishment as a visita then as encomienda of Nayum in the early 1600s: its important role in the coconut economy and political expansion during the Spanish colonial times, its contributions to the independence efforts during the war. . .

The book captures in photographs the changing skyline and landscapes of Tiaong that are positive indications of Tiaong's determined thrust toward progress and modernity.

The book is written by former journalist Abe Florendo. Archival research was done by Dulce Festin-Baybay and Dr. Luis Camara Dery, with images by Donald Tapan and Ramon Jeffrey Florendo, and book design by Teody Hidalgo.

Text excerpted from Arts and Culture / philSTAR.com
Book is available at the Tiaong tourism office (Municipio) / P1950.


A collection of Tiaong photographs by Godofredo Umali Stuart.


Claro M Recto


Arts & Crafts

Pulang Lupa Art Gallery

The art gallery in Pulang Lupa has a permanent collection of the multimedia works of Godofredo Umali Stuart. The latest additions are the "Circus at Carnival sa Pulang Lupa" (Cirque ni Stuart) – a collection of circus and carnival figures and creatures of childhood mythology, and outdoor metal and cement sculptures. (See: Pulang Lupa and Art Gallery) Open by appointment and whenever the artist is around. Call 09164105949.

Tiaong Paper Workshop
The genesis of Philippine paper-making with Luis Umali-Stuart at the helm of this grass roots industry. From Its early days of fledging paper production from banana leaves and kogon, his paper produce is now a merging of science, art and function. If you're lucky, you might chance your visit into a day of actual paper production.
Address: Barangay Lusacan
Ugu Bigyan
An in-resident potter-artist producing ceramic art for a wide range of applications. His workshop grounds showcase quaint huts and a garden trimmed and decorated by his artistry.
Address: 490 Alvarez Village, Barangay Lusacan
Telephone: 042 545-9144
Lunch by Reservation

E L E C T I O N    2 0 1 6
Preza, Ramon  (LP)                  
Umali, Roderick (PDPLBN)

Castillo, Romano (IND)              
Ilao, Tom (NUP)

Razon, Kap William (LP)     
Monica (LP)   
Preza, Jessa (LP) 
Boongaling, Gemson (PDPLBNP) 
Bautista, Res (LP)  
Aldovino, Raul

General Info
Projected 2013 population: 99,998
No. of clustered precincts reported: 67/67.
No of registered voters: 50,250.
No of voters actually voted: 42,593

T I A O N G   J E E P N E Y S

It's official address is San Pablo City, Laguna; the phone number area code is 049. It is included in this Tiaong page because of the resort's entrance location in Tiaong's north end.

A resort replete with all the essentials for a memorable experience. The slow carabao-drawn cart ride around the grounds while being serenaded by native folk songs. . . The Museum that houses a unique collection of religious art and antiques and eclectic miscellany that could easily absorb two hours of your visit. A wading lunch by the waterfalls indulging on a spread of native cuisine. Bamboo rafting, a cooling dip into the pool, and on weekends, a cultural show to highlight your visit.
      And in the changing gateway part of town, a new addition: "Hacienda Escudero"—a residential community for the new burgis.
Telephone: (049) 562-32182 / (02) 52100830 / EMail: vespar@vasia.com

A lake replete with legends and harmless crocodiles.
Hot springs, a favorite for picnicking by the locals. Cement vats that can hold five to six persons each, receive the warm spring water believed to be beneficial for rheumatic and dermatologic maladies.
These other three rivers are popular among locals for bathing and picnicking, some with competing upstream use by carabaos and river laundry. Seasonally, weekend rural entrepreneurs put up refreshment stands and videoke stalls at five pesos per song. The rivers are descriptively named— Dapdap is situated in barangay Lusacan, Bulwakan and Lagaslasan, in Anastacia.

Earthkeepers' Garden & Restaurant
For the traveler seeking a break, a stretch of legs, or a simple quenching of thirst. Meals are served for breakfast, lunch and snacks, unique for its on-site organically-grown ingredients. There's a garden that invites for a leisurely walk and a shop-around for trees, plants, landscaping needs. And if you chance into Arnan and Tere, prepare to be charmed by a friendly welcome and with the impassioned storytelling of their work, a walk through their organic patch and perhaps, an update on the Tiaong news-and-politics.
Address: Close to Km 101, Barangay Talisay.
Hours: 6 AM to 6 PM.
Telephone: 042 545-7112

Far from the madding crowds and pollution of urb-suburbia is Camp Tiaong Gubat, a bucolic sanctuary in Tiaong, Quezon, where campers and backpackers can rest their weary urban souls and just chill out, or enjoy a myriad of activities - hiking, bird watching, study the flora abundant in medicinal plants, or visit the peak of Pulang Lupa, where you can savor the circling vista of a the verdant countryside and its ring of mountains, and at night, a grand dome of the celestial night sky.

Check out the site regularly for Reggae & music festivals

Km 97.5 Brgy. Lusacan, Duo ng bypass road
Contacts: 09053541901 09208492878

Interesting Reads

The Quiet of Tiaong, Quezon / Katrina Stuart-Santiago / Travel Book
Tiaong has its come-ons / Annelle Tayao / Philippine Daily Inquirer
This quiet little town occasionally surfaces in print. Some are provincial events and edicts that impact the town. Occasionally the town becomes involved with political concerns, albeit elite-burgis-fueled, or is site of events that merit media interest and coverage.

Last Updated June 2016
The Division of Quezon
The Rural Wedding
The Tiaong Jeepneys

by Godofredo Umali Stuart

Please email comments, contributions and corrections. Postings for events and news worthy items are most welcome.

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