Sunday, January 5, 2014

Santiago City : A City of Unity

I have already met several friends and acquaintances from Santiago before I actually set foot in that city. From these friends I learned many things about the city including its politics, rotund economic activities, and of course, beautiful spots. Two of these friend I met when I was in Santiago City: Sir William who toured me around the city hall, and Nico Alialy who treated me to many stories while we're having a hearty McDonalds dinner.

I have been curious about these city since I was in college during the time when my fascination for Philippine political geography was starting to develop. I was curious how Santiago City looks because my perception of Isabela then is a province full only of farmlands -hundreds of acres of them. Forgive my ignorance then, I also thought that Santiago City would have been a city only by name but in reality just a wide expanse of farmlands.

All these changed when I was able to witness for myself the beauty and the richness that is Santiago City.

St. James Parish Church, Santiago City
These city's history starts from as far back as the 17th-18th century when the place was organized into a settlement of natives, many of which are from Ibanag and Gaddang ancestry. In 1994, it was converted into a city and became the first ever (and actually the only one until the present), independent city in the whole of Cagayan Valley region.

St. James the Apostle Statue. Santiago Church.

Because of its strategic location, Santiago City has evolved into a very lively economic hub which serves southern Isabela towns as well as Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Ifugao . Side by side with this excellent economic performance is the city's effort to turn it into a tourist worthy place. And they were actually successful to a certain degree.

Balay na Santiago
When I was in Santiago, I get to see some of the spots the city has to offer : St. James Parish Church, Balay na Santiago, and the best place for nature lovers and those who wants to meditate - Dariuk Hills.  

Interior of Balay na Santiago
Interior of Balay na Santiago
Balay na Santiago is a museum, and the city's repository of its historical records, heritage artifacts, and memorabilias. It shows how the city evolved into what it is now - becoming a melting pot of different culture of different people from different places. The museum also shows Santiago City's historical ties with the whole province of Isabela and the significant role it played in the province's history. It can easily be reached through tricycle wherever you are in the city proper and is open everyday, from 8:00 AM to 12:00 NN and 1:30 - 5:00 PM with a minimal admission fee of 5 pesos.

Dariuk Hills. Santiago City.
Dariuk Hills. Santiago City.
For the nature lovers, a stroll in Dariuk Hills located in Barrio Balintocatoc is a perfect choice. Hectares of land filled with trees, ornamental plants and small gardens comprise the place - suitable for relaxation and nature appreciation as well as for morning or afternoon runs. 

Calvary Hills. Dariuk Hills. Santiago City.

Chapel of Transfiguration. Dariuk Hills. Santiago City.
Dariuk Hills is also a famous pilgrimage site of Santiago City where people from many places flock during lenten season. It has its own calvary hills where life-sized station of the cross is depicted, starting from the foot of the hill going up to the top where a chapel stands. This chapel, known as the Chapel of Transfiguration, was designed to face the rising sun. 

Dariuk Hills. Santiago City.
Aside from this tourist spots, Santiago City is also famous for its Binalay - a locally made kakanin, and the Pattaraday Festival - the city's local festival celebrating the unity of all its ethno-linguistic groups (pattaraday means 'unity' in Ybanag dialect). The festival is celebrated during the month of May every year. 

Though I was not able to witness Pattaraday festival personally yet, I can say that it is a festival worthy to be featured and I am expecting to see it this year (2014). 

Aside from the places mentioned above, I was also able to personally see Santiago City's commercial area, and I was impressed, I must say. Economic activities is evident and thriving, and my former "imagination" of how the city looks was instantly erased... forever.

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About the Author

I am ROMEL RAFOR JAIME, the man behind San Josenyong Gala. My travel blogger name came about because I am a proud resident of the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. In real life, I am a licensed librarian who works in a college in Gapan, Nueva Ecija as a librarian and teaches general education subjects from time to time. My goal is to visit all the 81 provinces of the Philippines before visiting other countries. As of 2017, I have already visited 73... :)


  1. Wow! Napakagandang blog about Santiago City. Maraming salamat sir for writing a very informative and concise blog tungkol sa siyudad namin. You are always welcome to come back here sir! =)

    - occi of Skyscrapercity - Santiago City

  2. Facebook page of Santiago City ->

  3. Very nice comment

  4. great blog sir :) I plan to visit Isabela this week.

    1. Thanks for the visit and enjoy your Isabela tour! :)