An old perspective of St. Andrew's Church in La Huerta.
The then town of Palanyag was founded in 1572. Since the place lay very proximate to the sea, the Paraqueños did much trade with the Chinese, Indonesians, Indians and Malayans. At that time the main means of livelihood were salt-making, fishing, planting rice, shoemaking, slipper-making and weaving. The community was headed by cabezas de barangay, a westernization of the local chieftains and the principalia as the local aristocrats were called, a very durable social institution since they were the political absorbers. They justified and moderated the demands of the Spanish colonizers. Education was limited to the principalia since it is only they who could afford it.
The recorded beginnings of Palanyag began in 1580 when Fr. Diego de Espinar, an Augustinian missionary, was appointed Prior or superior of the convent or religious house of the town. As resident priest, he established the mission house there, with its spiritual jurisdiction reaching up to Kawit in the province of Cavite. The Council of the Definitors (or conference of chiefs of the religious orders) held on May 11, 1580, accepted Palanyag as an independent town.
The image of Palanyag's patroness, Nuestra Señora del Buensuceso, was brought to St. Andrew's Church in La Huerta in 1625.
Historical accounts state that since Palanyag was located at the crossroads of Manila, the provinces of Cavite and Batangas, the town's strategic location enabled the townspeople to play an important role in Philippine history.
During the invasion of the Chinese pirate Limahong in 1574, Parañaque residents, particularly those from Barangay Dongalo, heroically aided in preventing the attack in Manila. This became known as the "Red Sea Incident" due to the blood that flowed as a result of the defense made by the people from barrio Sta. Monica, the barangay's former name.
When the British invaded Manila in 1762, the townspeople once again remained loyal to the Spanish colonizers, especially the Augustinians. The invasion however showed that the power of the Spaniards was not invincible and more than a hundred years later, this would prove to be true.
Then came the Philippine Revolution (circa late 19th century) and the Spaniards realized that the town was a practical gateway to Cavite, the bastion of the revolutionary Katipuneros. Conversely to the rebels based in Cavite, they saw the town as their gateway to Intramuros, the Spanish seat of government in Manila.
Prominent Paraqueños, like Manuel Quiogue and secular priest Father Pedro Dandan became leading revolutionary figures.
When the Americans took over, one of the first towns to have a municipal government was Parañaque.
During the Japanese occupation (circa 1940's), Parañaque supplied the leadership of the guerilla movement like the ROTC Hunters as well as food and arms. Parañaque was one of the first towns to be liberated and its guerillas helped in paving the way for American forces to enter Manila.
As can be gleaned from the above, Parañaque then and now has and continues to play a strategic role in the Philippines' political and economic progress.
Another outstanding feature of this historic town by the bay is the cultivation of its cultural traditions like the Komedya, Sunduan, and Bati, among others that continue to attract local and foreign tourists alike, especially during the summer months.
From Palanyag to Parañaque
Palanyag, the old name for the city of Parañaque, generally means "my beloved", among other definitions, for as far as its residents are concerned, this best describes their affection for their hometown. Another version came from the combination of the terms "palayan" and "palalayag", the former meaning ricefields of which the city once abounded in and the latter pertaining to the sailing and fishing occupation of many of its residents. This was also a sign of cooperation and goodwill between the two major working sectors of the town, the farmers and the fishermen. It was however a drunken guest, during a certain affair which decided on the final name, who said "Mabuhay ang Palanyag at ang mga taga-Palanyag! (Long live Palanyag and the people of Palanyag!)" So the name stuck from that day on.
Another version, according to tradition, was when a Spanish soldier told the driver of his caruaje or horse-drawn carriage, to "Para aqui, para aqui (Stop here, stop here)!" The driver, uncomprehending, kept on prodding his horse to go on while the soldier angrily repeated his instruction: "Para aqui, para aqui!" Onlookers just laughed as the Spaniards empathically said "para aniya aqui para aniya aqui (he said 'stop here' he said 'stop here)." For days the incident was repeated around and term "para aniya aqui" stuck.
There is another story that says of an imposing balete tree at the mouth of the Parañaque. It looked like a boat sailing slowly and majestically, earning the Tagalog term Palanyag, a corruption of the term "palayag" which means "point of navigation". Further adulteration of the word later resulted in the word "palanyaque".
A historian believes the town's name may have come from the term "palanas" which means a "broad flat plain," the geographic description of Parañaque.
Other origins of the name Parañaque are "palanac" (with no special meaning), "patanyag" or contest for popularity, and "paranac", a native term for the shell product that used to be the livelihood of the natives of the town at one time.
Whatever the correct origin of the name of Parañaque, the various terms strongly suggest the town's storied and mosaic past.
Main source : DULCE FESTIN-BAYBAY, Author of the first comprehensive history of Parañaque, courtesy of Parañaque's City Information Office.