Sunday, June 22, 2014

Penaranda, Nueva Ecija

The town of Penaranda is one of the more historical towns of the eastern Nueva Ecija where an old church still stands, a monument to a revolutionary built and historical markers are present. It still exudes the aura of an old town and still is practicing an old tradition going back to the Spanish era, the Arakyo (Araquio).

Spanish Era Penaranda Church
From Gapan City, one would pass by this town going to the famous Minalungao National Park of the town of General Tinio. The roads are in perfect condition and the views on the roadside are relaxing, bringing images of a rustic countryside.

Penaranda Arch
The town of Penaranda was once just a barrio of the then enormous town of Gapan. It was known as Mapisong and the farthest barrio of Gapan to the east. General Tinio (Papaya) was once a sitio, then a barrio, of Penaranda until it eventually became a separate town in 1921.

Penaranda Municipal Hall
Historical Marker of the town of Penaranda
The municipal hall is a modern building built far from where the old town is located. In front of that newly built hall stands a historical marker giving a summary of the town's history as follows: 

"Sa pamamagitan ng kautusan ng Gobernador Heneral noong 1851, ang nayong Mapisong ng Gapang ay naging munisipyo ng Penyaranda bilang parangal kay Jose Maria Penaranda, Inhinyero Sibil. Ang mga unang alkalde sa ilalim ng iba't-ibang pamamahala: Basilio Padilla, 1851, panahon ng Kastila; Ponciano Abesamis, 1898-1899, Republika Pilipina; Ambrosio Legaspi, 1900, panahon ng mga Amerikano; Casiano M. Abes, 1935, Komonwelt; Casiano M. Abes, 1945, Pagkapalaya; Aquilino H. Aberin, 1946, Republika ng Pilipinas; Amado B. Ramos, kasalukuyang alkalde."

Old Penaranda Town Hall
The old municipal hall stands just right outside Penaranda's Spanish Era Church and is now used as the municipal police headquarters. It means that the historical marker which can now be found installed in front of the new municipal hall might have been installed near this establishment before, which I personally think is the more appropriate location than the present one . The historical marker actually tells the story of the place where it is installed so it is most fitting to find it in the very place where the history it tells happened.

Penaranda Church

Penaranda Church Interior
The town church is a Spanish era church, said to be of Byzantine Architecture. It was dedicated to St. Francis of Assissi in 1851, and was built by the Franciscan order. Though it has undergone numerous renovations, it has retained its classic charm, especially its interior. One interesting thing about the church is that its bell tower can be found at the center of the church facade, unlike many of the others where bell towers can be found on either side of the church, or built some distance away from the church.

Right Side of Penaranda Church
Though the church facade has been renovated numerous times, both its old side walls, made of red bricks (materials prevalently used during the Spanish Era) are intact. The historical marker in the church facade says: 


Itinayo noong 1869 ni P. Florentino Samonte; Ipinagpatuloy ni P. Isodro Plata ang pagpapagawa, 1873-1875, at ni P. Candido San Miguel, 1879-1881; at tinapos ni P. Santos Vega, 1887-1889. Ang kumbento na yari sa tisa at kahoy ay itinayo ni P. Valentin Gato dela Fuente, 1889-1891. Ang unang simbahan ay may atip na kugon at pader na bato na itinayo ni P. Alvaro Calleja.

Penaranda's Role in Philippine Revolution

Penaranda and its citizen has also played an important role in the revolution against Spanish tyranny during the 1898 revolution as well as the Filipino-American War. One such man who figured prominently during the war is Col. Pablo Padilla who has a monument built for himself in a junction going to Penaranda town proper.

Some other notable figures born in this historic towns are General Urbano Lacuna and Isidro Hernandez, who are leaders during the war against the Spaniards, and later the Americans. During those times, Penaranda became a battlefield where skirmishes against the Filipino and American troops happened, adding to the Filipino's effort to make it known to the world their hunger and struggle for freedom.

How to get to Penaranda?

From Cubao, take a bus (preferrably Baliwag Transit) to Papaya (General Tinio). Tell the driver you will be getting off at Penaranda (around Php 160-175). 

If there is no scheduled trip to Papaya, you may take Cabanatuan instead and alight at Bucana, Gapan (Php 150.00). From Bucana, you may ride a jeep (Php 27.00) though their trips are scheduled so that you cannot expect them all the time of the day. You may just hire a tricycle to bring you to Penaranda for Php 80-100.

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About the Author

I am ROMEL RAFOR JAIME, the man behind San Josenyong Gala. My travel blogger name came about because I am a proud resident of the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. In real life, I am a licensed librarian who works in a college in Gapan, Nueva Ecija as a librarian and teaches general education subjects from time to time. My goal is to visit all the 81 provinces of the Philippines before visiting other countries. As of 2017, I have already visited 73... :)


  1. Hi, do you know if there is any statue of Gen. Urbano Lacuna, native of Penaranda, burried in Gapan? somewhere is this area?

    1. I am very sorry sir/madam... I am also just a visitor of the place... Thanks for the visit to my blog! :)