Back in the days, this bucolic land that we now know as Quezon in the Province of Bukidnon was a vast ocean of grassy fields gently rising to verdant mountains. The nomadic Manobo tribe sparsely populated the area and lived mostly along riverbanks, around the edges of thickly-forested hills or near lush watersheds which Quezon is abundantly blessed with. Blissfully, the tribesmen foraged for most of their needs and relied mainly on the abundance of nature. For all their other needs such as salt and clothing, they traded abaca, preserved meat, and beeswax with neighboring communities within the province.
In the early 1900s, the ranching settlers arrived and raised cattle in the sprawling grasslands that stretched across the western part of Quezon.
After the Second World War, an influx of migrants from other parts of the country such as the neighboring province of Misamis Oriental and the islands of Bohol, Cebu, and Ilocos from up north began arriving in Quezon. Both Manobos and settlers lived harmoniously with each other. There was an abundance of food and the residents had everything they needed to make a living from – rice, corn, coffee, vegetables, meat, rubber, coconut, and even fiber. Whatever surplus they had they would haul in rafts across the Pulangui River in Opalon and trade them with neighboring communities. Migrants entered Quezon through the same route as there were neither roads nor bridges back then.
The Middle of the Century
Quezon, then called Barangay Kiokong of the Municipality of Maramag, saw its first major economic breakthrough in the middle of the 20th century. Don Jose Fortich, one of the very first ranching settlers to set up home in the area, put up the biggest rice and corn mill right in the center of Quezon’s would-be commercial district. In 1957, a bailey bridge was built over the Pulangui River, connecting Barangay Kiokong to its mother Municipality to the west and increasing the inflow of migrants even more. Foreign investors entered Quezon and pioneered the logging industry, which cleared a majority of the arable plains that became available for the expansion of farmlands. Bida Timber Corporation established the timber industry in what is now known as Barangay Dumalama.
Shortly thereafter, another logging company, NAREDICO, opened up for business. The latter is known to have had the biggest saw mill in the history of Quezon, harvesting forest resources from Salawagan, San Roque, Linabo, and Gamot, all the way to the boundary between Quezon and the Municipality of San Fernando. Logging operations lasted for so many years, until it dwindled and made way for the construction of the Bukidnon-Davao Road that opened for better economic opportunities for the residents of Quezon.
The Birth of a Municipality
Through the efforts of community leaders who aspired for self-sustainability and develop their own natural resources, Quezon became a Municipality in 1966. From Barangay Kiokong of the Municipality of Maramag, it was officially recognized as the Municipality of Quezon by virtue of R.A. 4802.
With the construction of the Bukdinon-Davao (BuDa) Road underway, public transportation from the Municipality of Maramag to Calinan in Davao became available and migrants from Davao Region started coming in. The population reached new heights due also to the deluge of settlers from Lanao Region. The conflict between Christians and Muslims in the area forced Christians to seek safety in other places and Quezon was one of their safe havens.
In 1974, the sugar industry took root in Quezon with the construction of the first sugar mill in the province. Bukidnon Sugar Milling Company or BUSCO had its first milling season in 1976 and received sugar cane from small farmers all over the province. Its operations gave rise to other industries and provided local employment to many. The developing economy also brought forth the growth of banking and financial institutions. Traders Royal Bank (TRB) was the very first bank to have been built in Quezon and it served both big and small farmers in the locality.
If the 1960s through the 1970s were the golden days of Quezon, when both locals and settlers lived harmoniously with each other and people had everything they ever needed, the 1980s were its twilight; when economic progress and the peace situation was at a low ebb. About the same time that the 1987 Philippine Constitution was proclaimed in force, the locals that lived then and are still alive today look back to days of disquietude. Some disgruntled groups of individuals disturbed the status quo and spread malice in the streets. Their activities decelerated economic progress and imperiled the peace and order in the municipality.
The Turn of the Century
Sugarcane was the most important crop that shaped Quezon’s modern economy. For more than four decades since its inception, the sugar industry dominated Quezon’s economy and provided employment to locals, until the advent of the pineapple industry in the early 21st century. Davao Agri-Ventures Corporation, Inc. or DAVCO is the first private corporation to grow pineapples in the Municipality, followed by Del Monte Philippines, Inc. which built its fresh fruit packing house in barangay San Jose sometime in 2008.
The turn of the century brought about significant changes to the community. Advances in information and communications technology, the modernization of agricultural practices, and improved local governance dramatically changed the way the locals lived. From the increase in the number of cellular sites, the arrival of multi-national corporations to the automation of the electoral process, the citizens of the once laidback town of Quezon gradually learned to keep up with the rest of their peers in the region.
Despite its being a first-class municipality, Quezon took some time to move forward with its development goals on account of the precarious peace situation in the area. Due in part to its mountainous topography, Quezon had been an ideal hotbed of communist movements that infiltrated the local government since the mid-1980s. The latter’s presence hampered progress and threatened the lives and properties of both local and foreign investors.
In 2016, the passage of several national laws drastically improved the country’s peace process and addressed long-standing social issues, allowing the town to surge onward. By virtue of Executive Order No. 70 s. of 2018, “Institutionalizing the Whole-of-Nation Approach in Attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace…” more popularly known as the End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) Program of the national government, the Municipal Government of Quezon, under the administration of Hon. Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III tenaciously pushed for the efficient delivery of basic government services to far-flung areas and intensified its efforts to end the local communist armed conflict.
Through effective governance, a thriving economy, and the cooperation of its resilient and highly-adaptable citizens, the Municipality of Quezon is well on its way to achieving sustainable peace and a brighter, prosperous future for all.