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Santiago History, Philippines

Santiago city, Philippines, has a long history. Though much is not known about the early part of Santiago history, the accounts of the initial Spanish missionaries have indicated that present-day Santiago city and its adjoining regions have been inhabited by native tribes like Gaddangs and Ibanags; since most of these native settlements found by the missionaries lay at the bank of Carig River (present-day Diadi River), the region was named Carig.

Santiago History – Spanish Settlement Onwards

Officially, Carig was established in 1743 but Spanish settlements in the region date back to the early years of the 18th century (almost two centuries later than the first Spanish settlement at Cebu, Philippines). It was in the initial Spanish Rule years that Carig was named Pueblo of Santiago Apostol de Carig after the patron saint of Spain, Saint James the Apostle. (The name was officially changed to Santiago only in the 1950s).

To start with, Pueblo of Santiago Apostol de Carig was a part of the Cagayan province in Luzon Island; however, when the province of Isabela was created following the issuance of the Royal Decree on May 1, 1856, the town became a part of the newly created province along with towns like Angadanan, Camarag (modern Echague), Gamu and Palanan. This was followed by the creation of Municipality of Santiago in 1858.

Pueblo of Santiago Apostol de Carig remained more or less an unknown town even after stepping into the 20th Century. It had much less significance than Camarag, which then happened to be the trading point of merchandise exchanged by the people of Isabela province with the outside world via the Cagayan River. Nevertheless, the opening of the Villa-Verde Trail changed things in favor of the Pueblo of Santiago Apostol de Carig – the 27-mile route not only made the Cagayan Valley (especially Pueblo of Santiago Apostol de Carig) more accessible, it also gave direction and motion to the developmental process. The population of the town started swelling and new businesses, etc. were set up.

Santiago History – During the Second World War

WWII years proved troublesome for Pueblo of Santiago Apostol de Carig. By 1942, the town was captured by the Japanese troops and the toughest chapter of the liberation of Philippines was written when the American Army fought a 119-days grueling war (from January 30, 1945 to May 28, 1945) to drive away the Japanese from their strong-hold at the Villa Verde Trail.

Santiago History and its Cityhood

The most important event in Santiago history so far has been the town’s incorporation as a city. The process started in December 1993, with the ratification of the conversion bill (which sought the conversion of the Municipality of Santiago into an independent component city) by the Lower House of the Parliament. In February the following year, the bill was placed before the Senate Committee on Local Government and was approved by the committee on March 14. On May 5, 1994, the then President, Fidel V. Ramos, signed the Republic Act 7720 in Malacanang Palace, Manila, and Santiago was declared an Independent Component City.

The Act had granted Santiago the status of a self-governing city; but soon its self-ruling status was revoked through the Republic Act 8528. Santiago was once again recognized as an Independent Component City with its own government once the Supreme Court ruled against the Republic Act 8528. This paved the path for progress and today, Santiago is one of the leading commercial and industrial cities in Philippines.

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