Guagua, officially the Municipality of Guagua, is a 1st class municipality in the province of Pampanga, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 117,430 people.
The town of Guagua belongs to the Second District of Pampanga, along with the towns in the south-western part of the province. It is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the capital city of San Fernando and 76 kilometres (47 mi) from Metro Manila. The town is bounded on the north by the towns of Bacolor and Sta. Rita; on the south by the towns of Sasmuan and Lubao; on the east, Macabebe and Sasmuan; and on the west, Porac and Floridablanca.
Wawa (Lán-nâng: 偎岸, Hua-hua), which means “river mouth” (Kapampangan: alua or bukana), was the earliest recorded form of the town’s name according to records dating back to 1590. The town is strategically located along a river which played a vital role in trade and transportation during the precolonial era.
Wawa was already a prosperous settlement when Spanish colonists took control of the town in the year 1561, from then on calling it Guagua, which is a Hispanised form of the original name. Indeed, archeological artifacts have been excavated in a nearby town which affirmed the existence of a prehistoric community in Guagua.
Early inhabitants opted to stay in the town because it was here that they could engage in barter trade with people from different islands, along with other means of livelihood like fishing and farming. The navigable river with which the town was endowed allowed shipping vessels to transport commodities to and from other chief localities, particularly the imperial Manila. The first cargo boat to arrive in Guagua was the Doña Dominga on 7 May 1884. Much later it was followed by the steamships Kaibigan and Kababayan, which anchored at the pier in Bgy Santo Niño, better known as the Yañgco Landing.
In 1892, when the Manila–Mabalacat railroad was inaugurated, Guagua was virtually the port of embarkation to and from Manila that served the province. Commerce was further improved when the San Fernando–Guagua line of the railroad was chartered on 17 November 1907.
The Chinese have long been part in Guagua’s social and economic mainstream. In the 18th century, they sought refuge in the town to escape discrimination and persecution in Manila. After their near-total slaughter, the Chinese lived in relative peace while they freely practiced their craft and mingled hand-in-hand with the local residents. The Chinese residents were merchants, masons, woodcarvers, carpenters, agriculturists and labourers. Their influence on the cultural and economic life of Guagua cannot be overlooked. The town could not have prospered so well without the economic services provided by the Chinese.
The town took significant part in the revolutionary struggles against the foreign intruders. A house near a church was made a secret cell of the Katipuneros in August 1897. In March 1898, a massacre of all Spanish sympathisers in Guagua marked the end of Spanish colonialism and the outset of American rule. Moreover, during the Philippine–American War and the ensuing Second World War, Guagua became an important battleground.
At the turn of the twentieth century, a new system of education was introduced and made popular and available to the Filipinos. The Guagua Elementary School in Bgy Santa Filomena, is believed to be the first to be established in the town in the year 1901. Later in that year, an English teacher came to Betis district and opened a primary school which functioned on a regular basis. In 1908, Colegio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (now St Mary’s Academy in Bgy San Roque) was established in a two-storey building donated by a charitable matron, in downtown Guagua. Later in 1918, Guagua National Institute (now Guagua National Colleges in Bgy Santa Filomena) was founded at the convent of the Catholic church. Further, in 1941, the then-parish priest felt the need for another high school in town, so he opened Saint Michael’s College.
At the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, the local government carried out a sustainable development program to address the town’s destitute state. From its income classification in 1986 as a third-class municipality, Guagua grew to a first-class one. Guagua garnered several outstanding citations for its achievement, including of several “Most Outstanding LGU” awards.
Guagua was severely devastated by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.
For political and economic purposes, Guagua is divided into four (4) districts, subdivided into 31 barangays:
- Plaza Burgos
- San Nicolas 1st
- San Pedro
- San Rafael
- San Roque
- Sta. Filomena
- Sto. Cristo
- Sto. Niño
- San Vicente (Ebus)
- Jose Abad Santos (Siran)
- San Pablo
- San Juan 1st
- San Jose
- San Matias
- San Isidro
- San Antonio
- San Agustin
- San Juan Bautista
- San Juan Nepomuceno
- San Miguel
- San Nicolas 2nd
- Sta. Ines
- Sta. Ursula
San Rafael was constituted from Dock Island in 1956.