The history of the Municipality of Gerona can be traced back to the reign of the Spaniards when the Dominican Missionaries in the Philippines started to propagate the Catholic faith in the whole archipelago in 1704.
The Dominicans placed the Vicar of Malanguey (now Bayambang, Pangasinan) is charged with the mission of converting the local inhabitants of “Paontalon” (original name of Gerona) to become Catholics. In 1722, Paontalon was recognized as a small village and became part of the Municipality of Paniqui then under the Province of Pangasinan.
In the early part of the nineteenth century, the inhabitants of Paontalon started to flourish due to the migration of people from the Northern Provinces of Luzon in search of greater opportunities. It is believed that the first group of people who came and settled in Gerona are the Ilocanos and Pangasinenses.
The people settled on the hill by the skirt of a little forest that the Pangasinan folks named “Barug” meaning little forest or “Pugo” in Ilocano. It is believed that Barug was adopted as the name of the newfound settlement due to the fact that the Pangasinense outnumbered the Ilocanos.
In 1765, the name Barug was officially changed to Gerona in honor of the Spanish Governor-General Narciso Claveria, who hails from Girona, Spain. Girona is a city in northern Catalonia, Spain, at the confluence of the Ter, Onyar, Galligants, and Güell rivers.
It was not until the year 1844 when Gerona finally became an independent town but without a Gobernadorcillo. The Don Anacleyo Melegrito, the town’s first Gobernadorcillo, was only appointed in 1845.
When Tarlac Province was founded in 1873 by the Spanish Central Government, Gerona was one of the towns which were included in the new Province of Tarlac.
The rich culture of Gerona is exhibited in the daily life of its people which can be attributed to their roots as native Ilocanos, Pangasinense, Kapampangan, and Tagalog.
Together, they share a common love for the town but with each having unique beliefs, customs, and traditions, thus creating a vast local culture. The Museo de Gerona is established to showcase the local heritage, artworks by local artists, and writings of great people. The museum is located on the ground floor of the Municipal Library.
Farming is still the predominant livelihood in Gerona, in fact, 66% of the total land area (14.147 hectares of plain and rugged agricultural land) is very suitable for planting rice, corn, and sugarcane.
And as producers of sugarcane, the town best selling products include Panocha, Cane Vinegar, and Muscovado. In addition, the residents of Barangay Caturay, a barangay which straddles along the Mac Arthur Highway, is now known in the lantern-making industry. The cottage industry has also been introduced and incorporated into the business sector of the populace.