The City of Cabanatuan (Ilokano: Ciudad ti Cabanatuan; Kapampangan: Lakanbalen ning Cabanatuan/Siudad ning Cabanatuan; Filipino: Lungsod ng Cabanatuan) is a first class, partially urban city in the province of Nueva Ecija, Philippines. It is considered the economic hub of the province. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 222,859 people in 45,424 households. It is a bustling city home to many jeepneys and tricycles. It bears the title as the "Tricycle Capital of the Philippines", because it has about over 30,000 registered tricycles.
The old provincial capitol of Nueva Ecija is located here and is still used by the provincial government and the governor.
Cabanatuan was founded as Barrio of Gapan in 1750 and became a Municipality and capital of La Provincia de Nueva Ecija in 1780. In 1899, Emilio Aguinaldo moved the Capital of the First Philippine Republic from Malolos to Cabanatuan. Cabanatuan is the site of the historical "Plaza Lucero" and the Cabanatuan Cathedral, where General Antonio Luna was ambushed on his way to Palanan. Cabanatuan lost the title of capital in 1850 when the capital of Nueva Ecija was moved to San Isidro, another historic town. It was only in 1917, when the Administrative code was enacted, that Cabanatuan was restored as capital of the Province. However, in 1965, Congress created Palayan City, which has been the capital ever since.
During World War II, the occupying Japanese built Cabanatuan Prison Camp, where many American soldiers were imprisoned, some of whom had been forced to endure the infamous "Bataan Death March." In January 1945 elements of the US Army marched far behind enemy lines to rescue the prisoners in what became known as the Raid at Cabanatuan.
Cabanatuan was also the epicenter of a massive earthquake at roughly 3 p.m. on July 16, 1990. The earthquake leveled some buildings, including the Christian College of the Philippines (Liwag Colleges) in the midst of class time. At 7.7 on the Richter scale, it killed 1653 people.
The city is a major hub of transportation services within the province. The Cabanatuan Central Terminal was constructed to handle all passengers and transport vehicles going in and out of the city. Within the city, tricycles are used as a major mode of transportation since buses and jeepneys are mostly headed outside the city.
Brief History of Nueva Ecija
The province of Nueva Ecija was created in 1705 by the Spanish Governor General Don Fausto Cruzar y
Gongora. Looking then at the undulating ripples of the Pampanga River, Spanish Governor Cruzar was struck by this nostalgic longing of his homeland “Ecija” – it’s an old town on the left bank of the gentle river Genil in the province of Seville, Southern Spain. Being a native Ecijan, he called his new foundland “Nueva Ecija” – his “New Ecija”.
Gov. Cruzar’s creation of the new commandancia (fort) extended from the Pacific Ocean in the east, to southern tip of what is now Isabela in the north, and the territorial limits of the provinces of Bulacan in the south and Pampanga in the west.
Despite its huge size, Nueva Ecija, in 1845 only had population of 9,165. the overland travel was both difficult and hazardous in the new territory. As set up, the coastal towns of the province progressed first. In an attempt to hasten the development of the territory, the populated towns of Pampanga such as Cabiao, San Antonio, San Isidro, Gapan and Aliaga were annexed. Soon, the province had a population of 69,000.
In 1853, the coastal towns of Baler and Casiguran were separated from Nueva Ecija and were annexed to Tayabas (now Quezon) province. This land partition was followed by the transfer of the town of Palanan to the new created province of Nueva Ecija. Finally the town of Binalonan and Polilio along Pacific Ocean were separated from the province which completed the isolation of Nueva Ecija from the sea.
When the Philippine Revolution broke out in 1896, Nueva Ecija was one of the first eight provinces that revolted against the Spanish government. Because of its strategic location, it became the center of military operations during the infamous Filipino-American War. General Emilio Aguinaldo’s refuge in the province made it a rebel territory until his eventual surrender in 1901.
During the pacification of the province, a new government under the American was formed in 1898 headed by Felino Cajucom as governor. After cessation of hostilities, a civil government was established in 1901. In 1912, the provincial capital was returned to Cabanatuan, where it has remained until a recent decree created the city of Palayan and thereafter, named it the capital of Nueva Ecija.
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