San Andres, Catanduanes

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San Andres
Motto: "Calolbon Mahalon. Lalong Pauswagon!
Map of Catanduanes with San Andres highlighted
Map of Catanduanes with San Andres highlighted
San Andres is located in Philippines
San Andres
San Andres
Location within the Philippines
Coordinates: 13°36′N 124°06′E / 13.600°N 124.100°E / 13.600; 124.100Coordinates: 13°36′N 124°06′E / 13.600°N 124.100°E / 13.600; 124.100
Country Philippines
Region Bicol (Region V)
Province Catanduanes
District Lone district
Barangays 38
 • Mayor (Executive) Peter C. Cua
 • Total 167.31 km2 (64.60 sq mi)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 35,779
 • Density 210/km2 (550/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC+8)
Zip Code 4810
Dialing code 52

San Andres is a third class municipality on the island of and in the province of Catanduanes, Philippines. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 35,779 people.[3][4]

Municipality of SAN ANDRES (Calolbon), Catanduanes.[edit]

Brief History[edit]

The name Calolbon, said old–timers of yesteryears, used to be “Calolobong”. They refer vaguely to its origin from the Bicol expression “ naca lobong” because the houses of the original community along the banks of the river up to the barrio Carangag looked almost submerged when viewed from the sea. So the early Spanish explorers must have misunderstood the native guide who informed the “naca lobong’ houses to mean the name of the town. Unfamiliar with the language, they placed “Calolbong” on the map. Usage in the course of time dropped out the “g”.

Two ruins and a cave reveal interesting epidoses in the history of this town. The Luyang Cave below the Calolbon – Virac highway witnessed the bloodless massacre of natives who fled from Moro pirates during the 17th century. The native sought refuge inside Luyang, but the marauders traced them. The wily Moros then uprooted sili plants abounding there, stuffed them at the mouth of the cave and added dried leaves, then set them afire and suffocated the hapless natives. In the memory of this massacre, a requiem mass is said at the cave entrance on April 26 each year.

Old sources say that when the town’s Catholic Church was constructed around the end of the 18th century, there was a much bigger unfinished church at the left front of the present church. Parts if its foundations are still seen among the squatters shanties in the town’s section called campo.

At the east of the poblacion are the patios of the former Catholic Cemetery have been used for many years as a sturdy fence for a lush plantation. This cemetery was abandoned when the use if the present site beyond the west and stated during the early years of American Rule. Tradition say that the superstitious inhabitants clamored to have the cemetery transferred from the east to the west of the poblacion because they believed that a cemetery in the direction where the sun rises barred progress and portended more deaths for young people than old ones.

The first parish priest on record was Rev. Cornelio de Jesus who ministered to the town’s spiritual needs for 29 years (April 1798 – November 1827). The priest who saw the end of the Spanish domination and the beginning of the American regime was Rev. Pio Imperial (June 1893 – May 1902) two priests guided Catholicism in this town for two decades: Rev. Roberto Floranza (May 1019 – July 1920) and Rev. Jose R. Alberto taking spiritual care of the people.

The town’s first Captain on record during the Spanish time was Juan Gasang, whose term covered eight years ( 1798 – 1806 ). With the exception of Capitanes Cristobak (1806), Felix Santelices (1835 – 1842) and Teodoro Santelices (1843 – 1847), the rest served a two years term each. The last Captain was Alipio Vargas (1899 – 1900).

American occupation started with a Controversial Municipal President, Deogracias Belmonte (1901 – 1904). Branded pro-American without trial, Belmonte was almost beheaded in the cemetery of Pandan, Catanduanes on December 8, 1899 by the insurrectors headed by Comandante Florencio Eras. The father of the late Senator Jose O. Vera saved Belmonte’s neck.

The term “Municipal President” for town head was last used by Roberto Inigo (1931-1935). He was succeeded during the Commonwealth by Emilio Surban, the first to be called “Municipal Mayor”. The Japanese Occupation found Japanese – appointed Mayor Felizardo Santelices almost executed by Filipino Guerrillas. It came about in mid – 1944 when a Japanese plane force landed on the rice fields near the poblacion and Santelices ordered that the pilot to taken to the Japanese garrison in Virac instead of being handed over to the guerillas. Impartial sources say that, had Santelices turned over the pilot to the guerillas they would have killed the pilot and Japanese reprisal would have been a merciless burning of the poblacion and massacre of innocent civilians.

Sometime in 1964 the natives of Calolbon got the biggest surprise of their lives. A bill presented in Congress renaming the town – San Andres was approved as republic Act No. 3948 on June 18 of that year.

Spanish Era[edit]

The town's first leader on record was Juan Gazang who served for eight years between 1798 and 1806, with the exception of three other capitans- Cristobal (1806), Felix Santelices (1835–1842) and Teodoro Santelices (1843–1847) -the rest served two terms. The last captain was Alipio Vargas (1899–1900).

American Era[edit]

The American Era started with a controversial municipal president, Deogracias Belmonte (1901–1903). He was branded as pro-American by the insurrectos headed by Comandante Florencio Eras. Belmonte was almost beheaded on December 8, 1899 in the cemetery of Pandan, Catandauens. However, the father of the late Senator Jose O. Vera saved him from execution.

The term "Municipal President" for town heads was last used by Roberto Iñigo (1931–1935).

During the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the town head of Calolbon was Emiliano Surban (1935–1937) who was the first to assume the title of "Municipal Mayor".

World War II[edit]

Felizardo Santelices (1944–1946) was appointed mayor of Calolbon by President Jose P. Laurel. During the Japanese Invasion, Mayor Santelices experienced what could well be called the most brutal eventuality ever noted for a public servant of the province. It all began in the afternoon of October 5, 1944, when a Japanese tora-tora plane was forced to land on a rice field near the town center. Santelices conducted an inquiry, and although his first urge was to kill the pilot, he sent him instead to the Japanese headquarters in Virac, the capital of Catanduanes, to avoid potential disaster. He knew that Philippine troops and recognized guerrillas would have killed the pilot themselves, and the Japanese reprisal for that act would have been a merciless burning of the poblacion and a massacre of innocent civilians.

The Japanese thanked Santelices for returning the pilot, but the Philippine Commonwealth troops and the recognized guerrillas, accusing him of being pro-Japanese, had the mayor arrested and brought to trial. He was convicted and sentenced to die and be buried with another Japanese pilot who made a forced landing in the province of Camarines Sur. The condemned Japanese aviator was decapitated first, and Santelices was then placed on the execution block. Seconds before the sword was lowered, the wife of the slayer cried out: "Save him... save him! he is an innocent man!" So, Santelices was freed. The woman's name was Felicidad Garcia. Few years after the war, she visited him in Calolbon. Mr. Santelices and Mrs. Garcia didn't knew each other during the war years. But during those times of trials, Mayor Santelices always prayed the Holy Rosary. Up until his death, he was a devotee of Our Lady of Penafrancia.

Major Salvador Rodolfo organized the Catanduanes Liberation Forces.It was the back bone of the resistance movement in Catanduanes. It performed numerous ambuscades against the Japanese Imperial Army and conducted intelligence gathering, which was necessary in paving the way for the eventual liberation of the province by the combined American and Filipino troops. During his exploits as a guerilla leader, Rodolfo was rumored several times to have been killed in battle but time and again he keeps on coming back to destroy every vestige of enemy control in the province of Catanduanes, hence he was called “Phantom” or the Man who never dies.

On February 8, 1945, when Rodolfo was about to declare the independence of the province after he and his men killed every Japanese Imperial Army and burned every Japanese garrison in Catanduanes, one of his men approached him and said that there were Japanese reinforcements on board 2 vessels approaching the island. He then talked to his men, most of whom were wounded and exhausted, he said:

Japanese reinforcements are coming. I have two options for you, we can go to the hills and save ourselves and wait there until the Americans arrive, but I assure you that all civilians left behind will be massacred by the incoming Japanese, or we can repeat what happened in the Battle of Thermopylae and stand our ground. Most of us will die, but we will live forever in the pages of history as the men who fought for the liberation of Catanduanes"

With that, everybody decided to stand their ground and fight the incoming Japanese. They went to their posts to wait for the enemy’s arrival but then, as if by providence, American planes arrived and bombed the Japanese vessels. Rodolfo declared independence of the entire province on February 8, 1945[3].

Post War Era[edit]

After Philippine independence in 1946 and Catanduanes became an independent province, the first elected municipal mayor of Calolbon was Jose B. Surban (1947–1948). He was followed by Jose de la Providencia (1948–1951) Francisco Imperial (1952–1955) and Aristeo Arcilla (1956–1963). During the term of Augusto T. Antonio (1964–1979), Calolbon was wired for electricity, and the town's infrastructure was greatly improved. Augusto T. Antonio was succeeded by Antonio Romano, MD (1980–1986) and then by Pedro Surban (1986–1987) as "Officer in Charge" of the town. Surban was succeeded by Lydia T. Romano (1987–1995), the first woman ever elected as mayor of Calolbon. Then Joseph Cua succeeded her. After Cua, Dr. Aly Romano, the son of ex-mayors Antonio and Lydia Romano was elected mayor. Then Leo Mendoza succeeded him in 2007. In the 2010 Elections, Dr. Antonio Romano won the mayoral post again after defeating Mendoza with a margin of 1,000 plus votes. Then Peter C. Cua succeeded Romano in 2013.

Republic Act No. 3948[edit]

In 1964, a bill was presented to the Philippine Congress to rename the town San Andres in honor of its patron, Saint Andrew the Apostle. This bill was approved as Republic Act No. 3948 on June 18 that same year. Many Calolbonganons loved the old name, a name used since time immemorial and unique to the entire archipelago. They were upset that there had never been a referendum vote. "The change of Calolbon to San Andres without consulting the townspeople," said one outspoken native, "is a rape of democracy." But for those who were deeply religious and very much devoted to St. Andrew, the change from Calolbon to San Andres was no different from changing a pagan name to a Christian one.


Population census of San Andres
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1990 26,727 —    
1995 30,242 +2.34%
2000 31,463 +0.85%
2007 33,781 +0.99%
2010 35,779 +2.11%
Source: National Statistics Office[3][5]

The Catholic Church in San Andres[edit]

In 1989, according to the Catholic Directory of the Philippines published by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the town of San Andres had a total population of 18,369, the majority of which were Roman Catholic. Others belonged to diverse religious denominations that include Jehovah's Witness, the Iglesia ni Cristo, the LDS Church and Born-Again or Fundamentalist sects.

The entire town of Calolbon was originally under the jurisdiction of a single Catholic parish, the parish of St. Andrew the Apostle. In the early 1950s, however, a new parish was established in the large neighborhood of Manambrag. Saint Isidore Parish now includes all of the farming community of San Andres plus some barrios from outlying areas outside the Municipality.

The parish of St. Andrew the Apostle has a number of pious associations many of which are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. These associations provide the parishioners with a powerful means of sanctification and an opportunity to take part in apostolic activities. Members of these organizations consecrate themselves to God in a very special way-by means of prayer, Mass and daily Holy Communion. They strive to promote their devotion to the Blessed Mother by every means, especially by example.

The Clergy of San Andres[edit]

Rev. Fr. Cornelio de Jesus (1798–1892) was the first parish priest on record. He ministered to the town's spiritual needs for 29 years. Fr. de Jesus was responsible for founding the parish church, which was partially constructed of limestone, and he chose St. Andrew the Apostle as patron saint of the parish because most people in Calolbon were fishermen by profession.

The priests who saw the end of the Spanish Rule and the advent of the American Era was Rev. Fr. Pio Imperial (1893–1902). During the next two decades, two dynamic clerics guided and strengthened the Catholic faithful of this town. They were Rev. Fr. Roberto Floranza (1910–1920) and Rev. Fr. Dominiciano Camu (1920–1930). Fr. Floranza concretely improved the church building, as it was badly damaged by a typhoon a month before he assumed his office as cura of the town. Floranza was a talented musician who organized a liturgical choir that was often invited to perform at social gatherings such as biladas and dotocas and at other public events.

"The Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Sorrows"[edit]

Virac Bishop Manolo A. De Los Santos of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) confirmed on June 13, 2008, the existence of a ‘miraculous’ "growing" century old stone (now 3 inches in height) in Paloway, San Andres, Catanduanes, Bicol Region which has the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is said to heal illnesses: “What is unexplainable is not that the stone grew in size over the years, but the fact that the image of the Virgin was never distorted as it grew." Called “Batong Paloway (Stone of Paloway)," it is at the altar of the Our Lady of Sorrows chapel, a “de facto shrine" in Barangay Paloway and the image is called “Our Lady of Sorrows."[6]

The image of our Lady on this stone is actually "Our Lady of the Finger" (Nuestra Senora del Dedo) - see her finger coming out from her veil. It is originally a Spanish icon. Since, NS del Dedo was not yet known or popular in the Philippines then, the people simply called her Our Lady of Sorrows, whom the people were more familiar with, especially during Holy Week when the image of Our Lady of Sorrows goes with the traditional processions.

The Church has no official statement yet regarding the devotion to the "miraculous image", but it does not hinder it. In fact, every Friday a Mass is being celebrated in the Chapel to cater to the spiritual growth of the growing number of devotees and visitors. On Holy Thursday, youth from neighboring parishes also go on foot to visit the Image in the evening. Sort of pilgrimage or "visita iglesia". The parish of San Andres and the Diocesan Commission on Youth Apostolate are planning to organize such pilgrimage to make it more meaningful and fruitful for the young people.



San Andres is subdivided into 38 barangays.[2]

The Official Website[edit]

In accordance to ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER No. 39, S. 2013 (AO-39) issued by the MALACAÑAN PALACE, encouraging all Local Government Units (LGUs) to establish a Government Website, the Local Government Unit of the MUNICIPALITY of SAN ANDRES scheduled to launch this website last OCTOBER 8, 2013 which also marks the 100th day in the service of the current Administration and in preparation for San Andres Town Fiesta held last November 30.

This website handled by San Andres Website Development Team under the banner of LGU-San Andres, operates not only for the speedy enforcement of rules and delivery of accessible public services to the people, promised and dedicated to develop a website which will give a concrete description of our very own town and its people, focused to publish and deliver efficient public service by extending transparency on informative and important matters, and will also concentrate on different areas such as the Municipality's tourism, culture, religion, affairs, festivals, food and delicacies, environment, the native life, community and its people, as well as the current Administrations' implementation of programs, projects and activities.

Furthermore, this website as approved and certified by Department of Science and Technology - Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) for LGU-San Andres to handle will be the PERMANENT OFFICIAL WEBSITE of The MUNICIPALITY of SAN ANDRES, from which all contents are kept published as the designated URL,, will be passed on from administration to administration - bound to represent the Municipality of San Andres on its Global Online Community.

Dagos Tabi Kamo sa Samuyang Banwa! Mabalos po!

- The Website Administrator The Local Government Unit San Andres (Calolbon), Catanduanes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Municipalities". Quezon City, Philippines: Department of the Interior and Local Government. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Province: Catanduanes". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay: as of May 1, 2010" (PDF). 2010 Census of Population and Housing. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Province of Catanduanes". Municipality Population Data. LWUA Research Division. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  6. ^, 'Miraculous' stone with image of Mary 'grows' in Bicol
  • The Official Website of the Municipality of San Andres, Catanduanes | CALOLBON Official Website -
  • Some part of this article was taken from SAN ANDRES: A PLACE CALLED HOME, by James Santelices, 1996. Patterson, CA. U.S.A.

External links[edit]