The area was originally called Mapisong, and it was a part of the municipality of Gapan. The area was organized into a municipality by José Maria Peñaranda, a Spanish engineer, and subsequently named after him.
Peñaranda was once known for its high quality crop called ikmo, a plant used by older Filipinos as a chewing substance. Recently however, the crop is on the brink of extinction. Rice remains a flourishing farm produce.
In December 1941, the Japanese fighter and bomber planes was found invading the town municipalities in Peñaranda during the Japanese Invasion. In 1942, the Japanese Occupation forces entered in Peñaranda, Nueva Ecija. The established of the military general headquarters, garrisons and concentration camps of the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces was stationed and built from the town municipality.
In 1942 to 1945, the ambushed by the local guerrilla groups and Hukbalahap Communist resistance was around the conflicts and insurgencies from the municipal town in Peñaranda and attacks the Japanese. When the guerrillas and Hukbalahap Communists groups there retreated from the Japanese. Before the arrival by the local Filipino troops and officers of the Philippine Commonwealth Army units was liberated the municipal towns.
In 1945, entering to the Philippine Commonwealth Army troops of the 2nd, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 25th and 26th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army took in Peñaranda, Nueva Ecija together with the local recognized guerrilla units and Hukbalahap Communist fighters we fronted the battles against the Japanese troops by defeated from successful to the Philippine troops and recognized guerrillas beginning the Invasion of Peñaranda during World War II.
Every May, Peñaranda residents stage a musical drama called "Araquio", a re-enactment of Christians' quest led by QueenHelena and King Constantine for the Holy Cross where Jesus Christ was nailed. Actors and actresses garbed in colorful and cute costumes dramatize this century old tradition which features swordfights between the Christians and Moors.