Gerona is one of the 17 towns of the province of Tarlac. It is bounded on the north by Paniqui; on the east by the Pura; on the south by Tarlac City (the provincial capital); and on the west by Santa Ignacia. The town is 73 km. from San Fernando City, the regional center; 50 km from Clark Special Economic Zone in Angeles City; and 139 km north of Metro Manila.
Gerona has a land area of 141.47 square kilometers of plain and rugged agricultural land representing 4.63% of the province total area. The Tarlac River, which originates from the eastern slopes of the Zambales Mountain, cuts across the west central areas, dividing the town into two parts.
The eastern area consists of 31 barangays with total land area of 90.50 square kilometres representing 63.9% of the total area. It is characterized as plain, low-lying agricultural land.
The second part is the Western Area consisting of 13 barangays with total area of 50.97 square kilometres representing 36.03% of the total land area. It is characterized by hilly and rugged agricultural land and is also forested.
Gerona is predominantly agricultural in nature. Around 70.36% of the total land area is devoted to agriculture. About 19.62% are built up areas, which are residential, and commercial. On the other hand about 0.41% or 58 hectares are devoted for industrial use and the rest are creeks/rivers, and forest areas. Vast agricultural lands (along the National Road) that can be readily converted for industrial use….
The present built-up area of the municipality of Gerona is approximately 2,776 hectares or 19.62% of the total land area. Most of the build-up area were allocated for residential uses, which covers 2,362 hectares or 85.08% of the total build-up area. A total of 14,396 households occupy this area wherein the average residential lot is registered at 1,640 sq. meters.
On the other hand, the commercial use covers 76 hectares or 2.74%, which includes the public market, and 253 registered commercial establishments in the municipality. Institutional uses covers 117 hectares or 4.24% of the total build-up area, which includes government lots, schools and churches. This also includes the 49 elementary schools and seven secondary schools present in the municipality. And lastly, there is more or less 220 hectares or 7.94% of the total build-up area recorded as open space. This is composed of parks, playgrounds and cemeteries found in the municipality.
The general pattern of built-up follows the traditional ribbon type of development where residences, commerce and other urban activities are mostly found along major roads and inter-sections.
In rural areas, sporadic to concentric pattern of development is observed. With the formulation of a new Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the Municipality of Gerona, covering the period of year 2000 to 2005, the proposed built-up area for Gerona will be approximately 21% of the total land area or 2,971 hectares. This is composed of the residential, commercial, institutional and open space. With the expected increase in population to 73,194 by the year 2005, an expansion in the residential use and commercial activities will also follow.
The industrial section in Gerona occupies an area of more or less 58 hectares. At present, there are 45 industries operating in the municipality. This includes agro-based industries like piggery, poultry, panocha or muscovado processing, rice mills/mini-cono and pancit/bijon manufacturing.
The proposed Agro-industrial Zone is will be in Barangay Padapada to cover 160 hectares, while the Light Industrial Zone will be along the stretched of the national highway that covers the barangays of Parsolingan, Amacalan, and Salapungan covering a total of 130 hectares. All-in-all, this will cover a total land area of 290 hectares.
The forest area in Gerona is approximately 263 hectares or 1.86% of the total land area of the municipality. This is located along the boundaries of the barangays of Calayaan, Mabini, Padapada, and San Agustin. This s part of the protected area specified by the municipality for reforestation.
Gerona is basically an agricultural town as manifested in the existing general land use. At present, the agricultural area is more or less 9,955 hectares or 70.37% of the total land area.
However, with the expected increase in population, agricultural area will definitely be affected and is expected to be reduced to 9,529 hectares. The minimum for the reclassification of an area is slightly observed.
Rivers and Creeks
The remaining area of 1,095 hectares or 7.74% are composed of rivers and creeks. These rivers and creeks will be preserve to prevent flooding.
The urban area of the municipality of Gerona includes Poblacion 1, 2, and 3 has a total land area of 288 hectares. There are at present 1,172 households found in the urban area. The area covered by residential establishments is approximately 138 hectares. The commercial establishment occupies 8.8 hectares. On the other hand, institutional area comprising government property, churches, schools and clinics covers 9.7 hectares. Lastly, open space at the urban area is 1.5 hectares while the remaining 130 hectares were devoted to agriculture.
Gerona is an agricultural community with a total land area of 14,147 hectares. The total agricultural land is 9906.12 has, the land area dedicated for rice is approximately 4681.75 hectares. Out of this, 2789.75 hectares are irrigated area while 1,892.00 hectares is rain-fed. Rice production in the irrigated area has an average yield of 2.83 metric tons. Aside from rice, there are other crops such as root crops, corn, legumes and fruit vegetables are also being produced in the municipality.
Aside from rice, sugar is also one of the major crops produce by this municipality. Although there are no data available on sugar production in the municipality about 1,050 hectares are devoted for sugar cane according to data acquired from Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA). These sugar canes are brought to the Sugar Mills principally in Central Azucarera de Tarlac in San Miguel, Tarlac City or at the Paniqui Sugar Mill Inc. in Paniqui, Tarlac whenever it also opens.
However, not all of the sugarcane produced in the municipality is being processed in the sugar mills. Some of the small farmers resort to panocha or muscovado where this is being sold as far as Divisoria, Manila. However, the technology of processing sugarcane to panocha or muscovado is still low and needs to be upgraded or improved to meet international standards.
Technology research and provision of relevant farming inputs including trainings are well disseminated to the grassroots. Majority of the farmers have availed and received extension, development programs and projects concerning marketing, post harvest processing and micro finance. The LGU were able to come up with food security and productivity plan. In order to avail of the government’s projects, various non-government and people’s organization have been organized in the municipality. Most of these are cooperatives from the farmers sectors, transport sector, and business sector.
According to data, 16.61% of our farmers are members of our cooperatives and other collective organizations while 80% of farmers are benefiting from our agricultural development programs.(see table 31 for the list of cooperatives and accredited people’s organization)
On the other hand, livestock and poultry raising is a growing industry in Gerona. However, due to the problem of flies brought about by commercial piggery and poultry, the Sangguniang Bayan of Gerona adopted a resolution banning commercial piggery and poultry in the municipality.
Likewise, fishing in Gerona is mainly on backyard scale. Among the species propagated are tilapia, carpa, dalag and hito. There are two existing commercial fishponds in Gerona. One is in Barangay Amacalan and the other is in Barangay Calayaan. There are total of 350 fishpond operators in the municipality that are utilizing a total fishpond area of 31.1 hectares.
On the other hand, there are also communal fishing area and they are located in existing creeks of Beneg and New Salem. To augment the family fish supplies, the farmers utilize the Small Farm Reservoir (SFR) measuring 500 sq. m., to seed fingerlings during rainy season and harvestable before the second cropping season. The system works well in most barangays in the western areas.
For data on agricultural production see table 29
For data on existing irrigation and irrigable areas see table 30.
Commerce and Trade
There are 575 recorded business establishments located in the municipality. Among these are the sari-sari stores which constitute as the dominant form of commerce in the municipality with 196 establishments followed by refreshments and cafes, poultry farm supplies and agricultural products and parlors and barber shops ( See table 28).
Majority of the commercial establishments stated above are found in the town center and most of them are located at the town’s public market. The public market is located at Poblacion I. The market operates everyday but more traders come every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
On the other hand, there are forty-five (45) industries operating in the municipality, which includes mostly agro-based industries like commercial piggery and poultry, panocha or muscovado processing mills, ricemill/mini-cono, and pansit or bijon manufacturing plant. These establishments are sporadically located in the municipality.
One of the world class restaurants is located in the Municipality, the Fresh Catch Isdaan Restaurant. This was showcased several times in national newspapers and national televisions because of its uniqueness and good services being offered. It is now considered the main attraction of the municipality, many tourists and motorists traversing along the Manila North Road cannot resist coming and dropping by at Isdaan to visit the place.
With the economic development in the municipality especially along the industrial zone of the town, many investors are now coming in to invest in the municipality. Number of prestigious and highly regarded companies now has properties in the town for future investments and developments.
Added to these investment attractions is the approved Gerona Investment Incentive Code which was approved by the SB through the initiative of the Local Chief Executive that offers fringe benefits and incentives to the investors.
There are two rural banks operating in the municipality. These are the Banco San Juan and Rural Bank of Guimba (GM).
Owing to the agricultural nature of the municipality the major source of employment is in agriculture. The agricultural worker account for 57% of the total labor force where half of these are seasonal workers. Other employment opportunities are in the government service, school, commercial, and agro-based industries. The presence of special economic zones in nearby city and province also contributes in the employment of industrial workers in the locality.
Applicants that were hired through the Public Employment Service Office were referred, placed and hired to establishments like SM San Fernando and Clarkm IWS, Sanyo, TIPCO, Jollibee and call centers in Subic Pampanga and Manila and other business establishments.
Other programs are Special Programs for Employment of Students (SPES), Work Appreciation Program and other livelihood trainings.
Once a year job fair is now being done so as to facilitate the needed job of the constituents.
Family Income and Family Expenditures
Data gathered during the 2000 Family and Income Expenditure Survey (FIES 2000) by the Income and Employment Statistics Division, National Statistics Office provides the family income profile of families in Region III of which the profile of Gerona may not be too different. See Chart 1.1 on the next page.
On the other hand 64.48% of the families earn below P150,000.00 annual income. If we use the 2000 Census data of 15,769 families of Gerona, Tarlac, this would be equivalent to 10,168 households. Average income for the region has also been indicated to be P151,449.00 per year or P12,620.75 per month.
In the same FIES 2000 cited above, average expenditures for families in Region III amounted to P120,003.00 in 2000. Food expenses were 47% of expenses, while rent or rental value of occupied dwelling units 11.70% and fuel, light and water 7.10%. The three were at the top of families’ expenses.