Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Santa : The Town with a Long Name

(This is part of my Ilocos Sur townhopping last June 15-16, 2013)

I first had an encounter with Santa during our school's Ilocos tour in 2009 (I wasn't a blogger, much more a backpacker, then). What made me like Santa then was the view it offers to the passersby from the bus' window : tall hills on one side of the road and the seacoast on the other side. Another thing which made me awed with Santa was a bridge spanning a river separating two mountains, where the river opens up to the South China Sea in the west. It was really a fantastic view! Later, I learned that this bridge is called Banaoang Bridge (also known as Quirino Bridge) and serves as the boundary between the towns of Santa and Bantay.

Banaoang Bridge (Quirino Bridge)
A newer bridge was already built to replace Banaoang Bridge when it was partially destroyed by a storm in 2001. Though the old Banaoang Bridge was reconstructed, it is now seldom used and serves more of a tourist attraction. The bridge is best viewed from a viewing deck in Barrio Banaoang, Santa.

Like many other people, I also asked the question "Santa? Santa what?" upon hearing the name of the town. I thought the town's name is Santa (insert any female saint here) but it was just Santa, no more, no less. 

There's actually a folk story that explains the very short and seemingly incomplete name of the town and it goes something like this: The town was formerly called Santa Catalina de Alexandria, Virgen Y Martir in the olden time after the town's patron saint, St. Catherine of Alexandria. After a big flood which devastated the town in 1852, the name was shortened to Santa Catalina de Alexandria because of the belief that changing the town's name would save it from further disasters. The name was further shortened to just Santa when the town experienced another flood in 1905.

If the story of how Santa got its name is to be believed, it would seem that the town actually got a very long name originally! The town's address could have been "Santa Catalina de Alexandria, Virgen Y Martir, Ilocos Sur, a very long address at that.

Santa, Ilocos Sur
I reached Santa town proper from Narvacan at around 4pm (June 15, 2013) and was literally awed with what I saw. The view of the town's church and park is really good, having the high mountains to the east as backdrop. It was a view of which beauty cannot be captured by a camera, much less by a digital camera. 

Santa Municipal Hall. Ilocos Sur.
In the town park, just in front of the municipal hall, can be found a historical marker heralding Gabriela Silang as Santa's daughter. It says that Gabriela was born in the town's Barrio Caniogan, a barrio which doesn't exist now because it was already swallowed by the river.

Gabriela Silang Historical Marker. Santa, Ilocos Sur.
The Imelda Garden and Park was aptly named because it shows beauty reminiscent of the culture of beauty the former first lady espouses. Actually, the park is simply designed but the backdrop it has enhances its beautiful view. The park can be found just in front of the Municipal Hall and is different from another park with the same name before but is now called Gabriela Silang Park which can also be found in Santa.

Imelda Garden and Park. Santa, Ilocos Sur.

Santa Church can be found across Imelda Park. The church's design is typical of an Ilocano church but what's different is the absence of a large bell tower. In lieu of an old and large bell tower is a small and obviously newly built bell tower located at the right side of the church.

Santa Town Church. Ilocos Sur.
Interior of Santa Church. Iloco Sur.
The view of the church with the mountains behind it is just astonishing. This is one of those times when I appreciate the view of an edifice against its backdrop more than the view of the edifice itself. I stayed for about 15 minutes in Santa, relaxing at a bench in the park, enjoying the view and the fresh air of Santa.

Just before I leave for Bantay, I took one last shot of Santa and continued on to my journey north. 

Santa Town Hall. Ilocos Sur.
I left Santa smiling because it didn't disappoint me. I was captivated by its simple beauty, given that I have explored just a small part of it. I know that Santa still has much to offer so I will surely be back for more. :)


To know more about my Ilocos Sur Tour, please keep posted for detailed posts about the different towns I have been to in the coming days. Thanks! 

For the meantime, visit:

A Blast from  the Past : Ilocos Sur
Sinait : A Town of Legend
Strolling around Cabugao, Ilocos Sur
Magsingal : A Town of Wanderers
San Vicente : the Barrio Destined to Become a Town
The Heritage City of Candon


  1. Santa is rich in heritage. The place is well revered because of St. Catherine of Alexandria. It is one of the beautiful places in the country for visitors, tourists and even the Filipino themselves to visit with.

  2. I could almost imagine what a very beautiful and scenic ride it would be, mountains, river and sea, wow! love the church images, it clearly depicts the richness in history and culture.

    1. Yes ms. betchai... Scenic po talaga... Favorite town of Ilocos Sur ko po ang Santa when it comes sa running tour... :)

  3. People who visit Santa will surely leave the place with a happy heart. Yes, not with disappointments. I haven't visited to this place yet :)

  4. the first photo is indeed magical! i love seeing mountains and trees and love the church structure! a must see for me!

  5. The interior design of the church is gorgeous!

  6. I like the fact that, it is surrounded by mountains. Close to nature, indeed.

  7. Thank you for the tour, I've never been to that island yet, you have help me know the place by sharing the information and pictures in your blog.

  8. Visiting Santa, as if one will feel going back to those Kastila days. Yes, nickname lang ang Santa ang haba kasi ng real name ng town na yun.

  9. The simplicity of Santa Church is so appealing to me.

  10. makes me want to head there ASAP...I love the Ilocos region so much....:) great captures...:)

  11. Wow old and new churches alike. Hope you had find there/

  12. Hi just dropping by bro, added you in Google friend connect, id appreciate if you reciprocate :)

  13. It must have been a great feeling to visit those places. It's actually my first time to hear about Santa, thanks for touring us!

  14. Kakaibang blog... Ang ganda ng mga photos which are essential esp. for me as a reader na hindi nakaka-travel. #PotPot :D

    super duper gala to the max na ito HA HA HA
    -Karl Jason Cangas

  16. beautiful pictures, thanks for showing a part of ilocos province to us. each ilocos post of yours makes me want to go back there next time we will be home. :) happy weekend.

  17. Sobrang ganda po ng tanawin. Di ko akalain na may ganyan po pala sa Pinas. Hehe. Thanks po sa pagpost ng pictures. Parang nakarating din kami ng Ilocos, agad agad. :))))
    - Angelou Ventus ^^

  18. Santa? Oo nga no parang bitin. But the place is so beautiful.

  19. I want to explore! haha interesting :)
    -marites musada

  20. This is a beautiful share. And I bet you still have a lot to share like when you were not blogging yet. Expensive yet a very nice hobby.

  21. Santa... haba nga. o.O,
    but I looove the interior of the church :-)
    - madoka sagucio takagi :3

  22. Santa is really beautiful ,, at first I didn't know this place but after seeing this blog spot I realize that there are so many places here in the Philippines that not yet known by everyone glad that there's San Josenyong Gala that captured this hidden beauty of us. :)
    -- Julie Ann Quiban

  23. Someday ,, I will explore the Philippines and discover the hidden beauties of our country in every small details I can ,, and after that I will explore the world ,, mag-aala Dora ako. :)
    Pero ngayon wala pang pera,, picture- picture muna ang pagsa- sight seeing sa Pinas :)Napapa- English ako ng di oras.
    -- Julie Ann Quiban

  24. Nice one sir.,.,., Galing Ah.,.,.,., Keep it up.,., more travel to you

  25. quirino bridge looks like san juanico bridge.. both bridges was the product of marcos.
    -ronel cachero

  26. Dapat na sumikat site na ito. napakagaling! :))
    nice kuya Romel :

  27. Dapat na sumikat site na ito. napakagaling! :))
    nice kuya Romel :)
    -Tracey Mae Cea once again

  28. Yay! Just heard of this place. And Philippines never seize to amaze! :) I love my country.

  29. WOW !! astig talaga tong blog na to :)) Ang ganda talaga sa Pilipinas :))
    - Rheana althea santos