President Quezon’s farm in Arayat

Tantingco: President Quezon’s farm in Arayat

During his first term as President (1935-1941), Manuel L. Quezon loved spending weekends

with his family in various places across the country, including Baguio and Baler, but according

to his biographer Sol Gwekoh, his favorite retreat was Arayat, Pampanga, in a 200-hectare farm

in barrio Camba called Kaledian Farm.

President Quezon’s family physician, Dr. Emigdio Cruz Sr., a native of Arayat, suggested and

arranged the acquisition of the farm as part of his treatment for Quezon’s tuberculosis, a terrible

disease that had always haunted the President. Quezon had lost two family members to the

disease—his mother n 1893 when he was only 15, and his youngest daughter in 1924 when she

was barely 10 months old. MLQ himself was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1927, eight years

before he became President.

Quezon’s first lady, Doña Aurora, liked the farm so much that she spent more time in Arayat

than in Malacañang. She became an instant plantita, tending both vegetables, herbs and

ornamental plants, and she helped organize the folks in Camba and adjacent barrios to participate

in her husband’s efforts to showcase Kaledian as a model farm for the rest of the country.

According to historian Ian Alfonso, President Quezon ordered the construction of a local hospital

and renovation of schools located all over town.

Quezon had actually planned to spend his retirement in Arayat when his first term ended in 1941

but as fate would have it, he ran for reelection and won in November that year, but a few short

weeks later, was forced to flee in exile when Japan invaded the Philippines. His family was in

Kaledian at the time, and as the same Japanese forces that had bombed Clark on December 8

were proceeding to Arayat, he had his family evacuated and taken to Corregidor to join him

before he escaped to Australia.

President Quezon died in exile on August 1, 1944. After World War II ended, his widow made a

bittersweet return to Kaledian where she stayed for a few months. In 1949, she and her

entourage were driving between Nueva Ecija and Baler when armed men ambushed and killed

them. The government put the blame on the Huk—an accusation that Luis Taruc vehemently

denied and which has never been proven.

Two years after Mrs. Quezon’s assassination, the government purchased Kaledian Farm, which

had already grown to more than 600 hectares, and distributed to the 84 families that had lived

and worked on the property.

Robby Tantingco
Author: Robby Tantingco
Director of the Center for Kapampangan Studies, Head of Student Affairs & Vice President for External Affairs of Holy Angel University

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