Santa Ana, Manila

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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

Santa Ana is a district of the City of Manila in the Philippines, located at the southeast banks of the Pasig River, bounded on the northeast by Mandaluyong City, Makati City to the east, southwest is the Manila district of Paco, and to the west, Pandacan.

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 Sapa ("creek" or "stream"), the local name of the main settlement in the area when the Franciscan Catholic missionaries first arrived, which was located beside a rivulet connecting to the Pasig River.[2]



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 1000 years .[3][4] 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.[4]

Santa Ana was known as the ancient territory 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 were under the lordships of Lakan Tagkan and Buwan included the 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.[2]

Spanish Colonial Period[edit]

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 Spanish 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 (Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados).[5]

Edmund Roberts visited Santa Ana in 1832, writing about it in his travelogue, Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat.[6]


The Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned in Santa Ana

The Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned of Santa Ana (Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados de Santa Ana)[edit]

The Church of 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.

In the early 1700s, Fr. Ingles went to Valencia, Spain. The friar had been very enamored of a famous image of Our Lady that had become a popular spiritual attraction in Valencia. The image is known as “Our Lady of the Abandoned” (in Spanish, Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados). While Fr. Ingles was in Valencia, in the year 1713 he decided to have a copy of this image for Santa Ana Parish, which was in the process of being constructed near Manila. After reverently touching the copy to the original image, the friar brought the new replica image with him to the Philippines in 1717. The image has been venerated in Santa Ana for almost 300 years. In time, the parish became known as Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish, as it is today. But St. Ann, the original patron of the parish, has not been forgotten. Today, a statue of St. Ann with the child Mary at her side still stands in a niche directly above the exquisite image of Our Lady of the Abandoned that Father Vicente brought from Valencia.

Camarin de la Virgen[edit]

The Camarin de la Virgen is the repository of the image of Our Lady of the Abandoned since 1720. This also serves as dressing room whenever the image is vested for special occasions.

The camarin is approached with steps made from piedra china, Chinese stones savaged from old Spanish galleons while it has blue-white porcelain tiles of Spanish origin.

Notable also are the ceiling frescoes on the life of the Virgin Mary following the estampita age tradition. The urna itself of Our Lady of the Abandoned is crowned with an oversized silver corona imperial. The image is flanked with relleve images of Saint Peter, Paul, Dominic and Francis.

Due to its religious and aesthetic significance, the Camarin was declared by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts as a National Cultural Treasure in 2008.

Pozo de la Virgen[edit]

The Pozo de la Virgen refers to a spring which is believed to be miraculous. It is located at the back of Santa Ana Church enclosed by a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Well, a relleve replica of Our Lady of the Abandoned.

Taoist Temple[edit]

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), whom 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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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).

Lichauco Heritage House[edit]

The Lichauco House

The Lichauco Heritage House is one of the surviving old house structures located along Pedro Gil Street in Santa Ana district. Built around mid-19th century, its general structure reflects the architectural style of houses common during the Spanish Colonial period.[10][11] The Lichauco House was originally owned by the O'Brien family, before they moved out of the country at the onset of Japanese occupation in the Philippines.[12][13] The house was briefly occupied by the Japanese officials during the Second World War but were immediately abandoned at the arrival of the American Army in Santa Ana. After the war in 1946, the house was purchased by Ambassador Marcial Lichauco and his wife Jessie Coe-Lichauco, which remained their family residence up to the present.[13] In July 10, 2010, by virtue of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (then National Historical Institute) Resolution No. 5, the Lichauco House was declared a Heritage House,[14] the first to receive such distinction in Santa Ana.

Pascual Modernist House[edit]

Pascual House facade

The Pascual House is located in 2138 Dr. M.L. Carreon Street, in the district of Santa Ana. Like a number of older, prominent houses in the district, this 3-storey structure enjoys the view of the nearby Pasig River which is located on the east, as well as the Estero de Pandacan farther up on the northeast.These riverside houses have verandas and wide opening to frame the river views as well as catch the breeze.[11]

Pascual House interior, detail

The Pascual House is a modernist style house built in April 1948, using a mixture of reinforced concrete, masonry and wood. A notable feature of the exterior are the 3 reinforced concrete pylons on the façade of the house. The mirador or watchtower is also a notable feature of the exterior that adorns the corner mass of the whole house. Vertical and horizontal design elements complement the whole massing of the house. On the interiors, notable features are the built-in cabinetry, niches and the cove ceilings. All are in stylized geometric form. Granolithic flooring can still be found on the first 3 steps of the stairs and main entrance steps. The whole ground floor is covered in “Machuca” tiles. On the second floor, geometric stylized ventilation panels with the initials of the original owner (AV) embellish the wall partitions. Plumbing fixtures are all original from the 1940’s.

View of front facade pilasters and eaves

Originally the house was owned by Mr. Alejandro Velo, the house is currently occupied by its second owner, Mr. Rodolfo C. Pascual who bought the property in 1984. According to its present owner, the house was sometimes used as a location for some movies during the 1950’s and has managed to survive even as many neighboring older structures, mostly vacation houses built in other Architectural styles, eventually decayed through the years and are now being demolished to give way to modern developments.[15]



  1. ^ a b Final Results - 2007 Census of Population
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Locsin, Leandro V. and Cecilia Y. Locsin. 1967. Oriental Ceramics Discovered in the Philippines. Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Company. ISBN 0804804478
  4. ^ a b Fox, Robert B. and Avelino M. Legaspi. 1977. Excavations at Santa Ana. Manila: National Museum of the Philippines
  5. ^ Visita Iglesia: 8 Old Manila Churches
  6. ^ Roberts, Edmund (1837). Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 60. 
  7. ^ Laya, Jaime C. (July 5–18, 2011). "The Virgin’s Well, the Temple to Pao Ong Hu and to the Mother of Sta. Ana". Tulay: Chinese-Filipino Digest. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ See, Teresita Ang (July 5–18, 2011). "Culture, Tradition or Religion". Tulay: Chinese-Filipino Digest. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  10. ^ Gamil, Jaymee T. (December 20, 2010). "Pre-war Sta. Ana home now a heritage house". Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Francisco, Katerina. "Fighting to preserve heritage in Santa Ana, Manila". Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  12. ^ National Historical Commission of the Philippines (December 15, 2010). "NHCP declares Lichauco House as Heritage House". Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Lichauco-Fung, Cornelia (2009). Beneath the Banyan Tree: My Family Chronicles. Hong Kong: CBL Fung. ISBN 978-962-85098-2-9. 
  14. ^ "2010 BOARD RESOLUTIONS". National Historical Commission of the Philippines. February 3, 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  15. ^ Villalon, Augusto. "Good old Filipino values in Sta. Ana, Manila". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 3 May 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

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