Santiago Sights and Landmarks Guide, Philippines
Unlike Manila, Batangas, Cebu and Davao, Santiago City made a late entry in the Philippine-tourism business sector. But then with the city government of Mayor Navarro leaving no stones unturned to establish the city as a tourist haven, the city of Santiago has emerged as a world-class tourism destination with excellent infrastructure and amenities.
Following the inaugural ‘Pattaradday Festival’ of 2002, the annual festival has more or less become the identity of the city and the unique characteristic of Santiago tourism, but there are more of Santiago sights to explore once you step into the city.
Surrounded by three mountain ranges and four rivers, the city has been amply endowed by Mother Nature; moreover, with the city government’s conscious efforts to develop it as an eco-tourism center you will have much nature viewing to do in Santiago city. Santiago sights also give you glimpses of the city’s magnificent past and rich cultural heritage.
Santiago Sights – Natural Attractions
As already said, Santiago’s four rivers and three mountain ranges make it a virtual heaven on earth. The lush rice fields that cover nearly 70% of the city’s land area further enhance the picturesque beauty of place. Of course, much has been done to add to the beauty of the scenic locales and these include development of artificial lagoons, small forests, fish sanctuaries and nature parks, etc. These Santiago sights make scope for varied vacation pursuits like boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking and snorkeling. (One particularly popular camping site in Santiago city is the Balintocatoc Hills; the campsite comes to life when the boy scouts come here for the annual-fetes).
Santiago Sights – Cultural and Historical Sights
Speaking of Santiago’s cultural sights, the central attraction is undoubtedly the Balay na Santiago. Balay na Santiago is no massive building, rather a simple house (in fact, ‘balay’ is the Gaddang word for house) with impressive artistry. Since, elements of Spanish colonial influence are very much present in the house in the form of capiz windows, open courtyards with limestone benches, ornate lamps, tiled roofs, wooden balusters, etc., it is also gives glimpses of the bygone times.
Balay na Santiago also houses the city-museum on the second floor. The museum collections that vary from antique furniture to old photo-frames and jars as well as dresses, etc. give you some idea about the city’s glorious past.
Besides, there is the Philippine Revolution monument – the Mabini Circle, which was erected to pay tribute to the brains behind the revolution.
Santiago Sights – Religious Attractions
The Dariok Hills holds the answer to ones ecclesiastical quest, for it is here that you will come across Santiago’s religious sites – right from the Chapel of Transfiguration to the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette as well as the Last Supper sculpture. While the Chapel of Transfiguration (which is a brilliant exemple of modern architecture) and the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette stand atop the Dariok Hills, the full-size ‘Last Supper’ statuette is placed at the base of the Hills.
Gawad Kalinga Pagbabago Village is not an attraction in the way that other Santiago sights are, however, it is worth a visit if you can spare time after touring the rest of Santiago city. The village is actually a housing scheme/complex for the underprivileged and a visit to the village will give you important lessons in human empowerment.
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