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Santa Ana is a district of Manila, Philippines known for its architectural heritage known as Santa Ana Heritage District which is composed of numerous historic ancestral houses, Plaza Hugo, and the Santa Ana Church and its Camarín de la Virgen in which the Patroness of Santa Ana is Enshrined, The 300 years old Image of the "Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados de Manila" (Our Lady of the Abandoned of Manila) La Gobernadora de la Ciudad de Manila. The district was classified as a histo-cultural heritage/overlay zone by an ordinance passed by the Manila City Council.[2] It was the only district of the city spared from the destruction of World War II. The area is also extremely rich in archaeological findings, notably on the material culture of pre-colonial or protohistoric Tagalog communities.[3]

Santa Ana, Manila

Location of Sta. Ana in Manila

City Manila
Population (2007) 178,769[1]
 – Density per km²
Area km²
 – Barangays 99[1]
 – Cong. Districts 6th District

Geographically, Santa Ana is located at the southeast banks of the Manila-part of the Pasig River, bounded on the north by San Juan River, facing Santa Mesa, northeast by Mandaluyong, Makati to the east and southeast, Paco and Pandacan districts to the west, and San Andres district to the southwest. It is also the only district in Manila that is found north and south of the Pasig River.

Santa Ana belongs to the 6th congressional district of Manila with thirty-two barangays from Zone 96 to 100, barangays 874 to 905. Based on the 2000 national census, the National Statistics Office reports that Santa Ana has about 34,694 households, and an approximate 83,306 registered voters based on the national elections of 2004.



The district was originally called Santa Ana de Sapa after its titular patroness Saint Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary, and the Tagalog word sapà ("creek", "stream", "rivulet"), the local name of the main settlement in the area that sat beside a rivulet connecting to the Pasig River.[4]



Archaeological excavations of a pre-Hispanic grave site within the Santa Ana Church complex and its vicinities in the 1960s have revealed the antiquity of the district, which dates back to around 900 to 1,000 years .[5][6] Chinese ceramics from the Sung and Ming dynasties have been found associated with the burials, indicating the active participation of the early communities in Santa Ana in the extensive maritime trade around Southeast Asia and China from 12th to 15th century AD, as well as the elaborate mortuary practices of its inhabitants.[6]

In a research published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology by Timothy Vitales of the National Museum of the Philippines, it was described that at least five significant dog skeletons, three of which were complete, have been recorded in Santa Ana's protohistoric grave site. The dogs were dated to be between the 12th and 15th centuries AD. The research found that the dogs were buried on their own right, and were not companions for the dead. The research concluded that ancient Tagalog communities, specifically in Santa Ana, used to have good relationships with their dogs and treated these dogs as family. One of the dogs that was buried was 10cm away from the skeleton of a child.[7]

Santa Ana was at the centre of the ancient polity of Namayan. According to Felix Huerta, a 19th-century Franciscan scholar and missionary, the original inhabitants of Namayan trace their roots to a ruler named Lacantagcan/Lakan Tagkan and his wife Bouan/Buwan ("moon"), who were said to have resided in this village. Other territories that belonged to the dominions of Lakan Tagkan and Buwan included the modern Manila districts of Malate, Paco, Pandacan, Quiapo, Sampaloc and San Miguel; the cities of Pasay, San Juan, Mandaluyong and Makati; and the municipality of Taytay in Rizal Province.[4]

Spanish Colonial PeriodEdit

The Spaniards established settlements in Santa Ana that served as the seat of Namayan, with the area awarded to the Franciscan missionaries. They were the first to establish a mission beyond the walls of Intramuros, the colonial seat of power in Manila, in 1578. The church as it stands today was first built in 1720 and is known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Abandoned (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados).[8]

The Rizal novels mention Santa Ana. Earlier in the same century, in 1832, an American diplomat Edmund Roberts visited Santa Ana, writing about it in his travelogue, Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat.[9]

American Colonial PeriodEdit

Early in the twentieth century, the Americans built a Meralco streetcar line (illustration) on Herrán which led to the eastern end of this long street. This line linked Santa Ana with Ermita.


The Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned in Santa Ana

The Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned of Santa AnaEdit

The Church of Santa Ana (Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados de Santa Ana) stands on the site of the first Franciscan mission established outside Manila in 1578. The church was built under the supervision of Fr. Vicente Ingles, OFM. The cornerstone of the present church was laid on September 12, 1720 by Francisco dela Cuesta, then Archbishop of Manila and Acting Governor General of the Philippines.

The church itself is among the List of Cultural Properties of the Philippines. In addition, the church convent's patio museum and the Camarin de la Virgen have been declared as National Cultural Treasures.

Taoist templeEdit

The Taoist temple of Santa Ana

Across the street behind the Santa Ana church (Lamayan Street) is an old Taoist temple dedicated to Pao Ong Hu, a venerated Chinese historical figure whom people pray for justice, and to the Lady of the Abandoned (Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados), of which the temple referred to as the Mother of Santa Ana. The date of its construction has not yet been determined; however, records indicate its existence as early as the 1920s.[10] According to the oral tradition the temple, particularly the shrine dedicated to the Our Lady of the Abandoned, was built by a Chinese trader who was said to have been healed after making a pilgrimage to the Pozo de la Virgen in front of it.[11] Other local sources relate the construction of the shrine with the miraculous saving of the Chinese by the Mother of Santa Ana from a Sinophobic massacre in the past.[12] The temple is divided into two chapel rooms. The left chapel is dedicated to the Our Lady of the Abandoned while the right chapel is dedicated primarily to Pao Ong Hu. Aside from the Chinese saint, also venerated within the Pao Ong Hu chapel are other Taoist deities and the images of Santo Niño (Child Jesus) and Our Lady of Antipolo (Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buenviaje).

American Eagle ClubEdit

The American Eagle Club building

This old building, which stands at the corner of Mabuhay and Tejeron Streets, used to be an entertainment club or restaurant bar that catered to most foreigners after World War II. The exterior wall at the ground is made of adobe and concrete, while the second floor is made of horizontal clapboards. The window has glass on a wooden frame with decorated metal grills. The building was never renovated since then. The ground floor is being used as a garage.

Notable residentsEdit

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b Final Results - 2007 Census of Population Archived 2012-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Jaymee T. Gamil (August 17, 2011). "Manila councilors declare Sta. Ana a heritage zone". Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Huerta, Felix de. 1865. Estado Geográfico, Topográfico, Estadístico, Histórico-Religioso de la Santa y Apostólica Provincia de San Gregorio Magno. Binondo: Imprenta de M. Sanchez y Ca.
  5. ^ Locsin, Leandro V. and Cecilia Y. Locsin. 1967. Oriental Ceramics Discovered in the Philippines. Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Company. ISBN 0804804478
  6. ^ a b Fox, Robert B. and Avelino M. Legaspi. 1977. Excavations at Santa Ana. Manila: National Museum of the Philippines
  7. ^
  8. ^ Visita Iglesia: 8 Old Manila Churches
  9. ^ Roberts, Edmund (1837). Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 60.
  10. ^ Laya, Jaime C. (July 5–18, 2011). "The Virgin's Well, the Temple to Pao Ong Hu and to the Mother of Sta. Ana" (PDF). Tulay: Chinese-Filipino Digest. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  11. ^ Austria, Jose Alain (2013). "Virgen de los Desamparados/del Pozo: Sacred Space, Syncretism and the Geopolitics of Healing Water". MANILA: Selected Papers of the MSA 21st Annual Conference.
  12. ^ See, Teresita Ang (July 5–18, 2011). "Culture, Tradition or Religion" (PDF). Tulay: Chinese-Filipino Digest. Retrieved 31 March 2014.


  • "By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II, 3 February-3 March 1945" by Alphonso J. Aluit (1994) Bookmark, Inc. © 1994 National Commission for Culture and the Arts ISBN 971-569-162-5

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 14°34′48″N 121°00′43″E / 14.580°N 121.012°E / 14.580; 121.012