The province of Laguna was named after Laguna de Bay, the body of water that forms the province’s boundaries. Laguna de Bay was named after the town of Bay, which was the first provincial capital during the Spanish period. Laguna de bay is the biggest fresh water lake in the country.
Laguna, along with its surrounding areas, was conquered for Spain by Captain Juan de Salcedo in 1571, after which, the Franciscan friars started the Christianization of the province. The province became a bloody battleground during the Chinese revolts in 1603 and 1693.The succeeding centuries brought rapid progress in agriculture, education, commerce and cultural pursuits. The province bred a large number of intellectuals, businessmen and landowners who benefited from access to education and liberal ideas led by the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Fanned by his execution in 1896, thousands joined the revolution against Spain.
Laguna was one of the first eight provinces to rise in revolt against the Spanish rule. The ill-equipped Filipino forces, led by General Paciano Rizal of Calamba, General Severino Taino of Pagsanjan, General Agueda Kahabagan of Calauan, among others, fought the Spanish authorities and won on August 31, 1898, with the surrender of the last Spanish garrison in Sta Cruz.
On January 23, 1899, Laguna expressed its full support for the First Philippine Republic that was proclaimed in Malolos, Bulacan. Two citizens of Pagsanjan, Don Higino Benitez and Don Graciano Cordero, represented the province during the historic event.
The eruption of the Filipino-American hostilities in 1899-1901 saw Generals Juan Cailles and Paciano Rizal leading the defense of Laguna until surrender was inevitable. Under the American Flag, Cailles was named the first Filipino Governor of Laguna.
After the hostilities, Laguna progressed rapidly. More schools and colleges were established, agricultural production was strengthened, core areas of trade and commerce were established, various public services were instituted and roads were built to link the towns to each other and with the country’s capital in Manila. In 1917, the Manila Railroad Company extended its line to Laguna to as far as Pagsanjan. The abundance of its natural resources, the high literacy rate of its people and the presence of numerous ventures in agriculture, entrepreneurship became the determinant of its eminent position as one of the countries’s most developed provinces at the beginning of the 20th century.
Today, Laguna is a bustling province which hosts major export processing zones, light and medium industries and educational institutions. Its fertile lands produce millions of pesos worth of agricultural products. Its tourism assets that dot the province have attracted a multitude of foreign and domestic tourists.