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St Lucy Church old photo

SANTA LUCIA is one of the oldest towns in the Ilocos Region. It was known as Kaog and Dumangague during the Spanish times, bounded on the east by the interior town of Salcedo, Ilocos Sur “formerly Baugen” and the Cordillera Mountain, on the west by China Sea, on the north by City of Candon and on the south by Sta. Cruz, another town of Ilocos Sur. It has a total land area of 4700.8545 hectares and a population of 28,242 (MSWDO/MBN 2010 Census) scattered among its Thirty-Six (36) barangays. Municipality of Santa Lucia belonged to the 2nd Congressional District of Ilocos Sur.

The name SANTA LUCIA was given in 1586 by the Augustinian friars in honor of the town’s Patron Saint Lucy through the Ecclesiastical Power of Spain in Manila. But the original name was Kaog before the evangelization of Igorots who inhabited the town and later became Dumangague during the Spanish colonization in the year 1572 by Captain Juan de Salcedo, a Spanish conquistador colonized the region of Ilocos Sur and founded Vigan as capital of the province.


Before the evangelization of Igorots inhabiting KAOG (now Santa Lucia, Ilocos Sur), turmoil and chaos usually visit this rich settlement. Although historical accounts are silent on the civilization of these Igorots, it was presumed by early historians that these were uncivilized, tattooed in their faces, their noses and earlobes pierced, clothed in G-strings. It was their usual practice to embark on head-hunting expeditions in the lowlands and seacoast areas. They usually do these once a year in connection with their Tagnawa (sacrifice rituals) to their God or Kabunian, where these select at least the head of a Christian convert as a sacrificing offering. A head is placed in Sakurang (a long light bamboo) and placed in the middle of their village where they dance in merriment to the tune of their primitive music gongs, flutes and cymbals.

Oral history handed from generation to generation until today claim that these Igorots (Prof. Otley Beyer) point to as the original Kankanaeys or Ibalois living in the western foothills of the Cordilleras, are fierce-looking, armed to the teeth with spears, axes, blowguns, kampilans and poisoned arrows. Adept at ambuscades and lightning raids over Christian settlements to the west in the middle of the night in pitch darkness, these Igorots were reported to have inflicted several casualties in the settlement of Kaog. These were the Spanish Peninsulas, friars, and converts.

When the present town (Sta. Lucia) was evangelized, it was told heavy downpours could be witnessed by inhabitants and with their naked eyes, saw the delicate figure of small beautiful woman carrying over her head an earthen jar (caramba) wending her way to the east following carefully a tiny foot trail leading to the dense forest growth, east below the foothills of the Western Cordilleras. This beautiful woman was ivory white, with silky brown hair spread downwards reaching to her ankles, and much to the surprise of witnesses could never be wet in spite of the strong intermittent rains and fury of the wind. At the sight of the woman, the burikan, (tattooed) Igorots fled to the east for their safety.

One Local historian during the late Spanish period, Claro Tiburcio Ridad, in an unpublished manuscript claimed that converts in the pueblo of Kaog band themselves together and armed with talunasans, homemade cannons, spears and arrows ran after the marauders. It was said that if the Igorots were taken prisoners, Christians would torture them with barit-barit, a thorny vine, abundant in the settlement of Cabaritan and also leaves (an itchy plant) abundant in Lupa-lupa, a sitio some ten kilometer east.

It was on January 5, 1586, when the ministry of Santa Lucia was finally established by Augustinian friars, the Image of the Virgin and Martyr Saint Lucy arrived from Mexico and stalled inside the new town church. The people claimed that the image looked like the beautiful woman. It was at this instance that the clergy recommended to the authorities of Spain through ecclesiastical powers in Manila to change the name Kaog and later Dumangague to a new Santa Lucia in honor of the patron saint and celebrated the Feast day every 13th of December.

The majestic Sta. Lucia Church was built by Augustinian friars in 1586. It is the only church in the whole Philippines with a dome look like that of the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Like the most Philippine churches, it is built of red bricks called ladrillo. It is dominantly Romanesque in style as proven by the rose window on the façade and its flying buttresses on both eastern and western sides.

An air of medieval atmosphere is at once felt as soon as one enters the atrium or the entrance court. The wide have which goes up to the central altar is bisected by a transept. The eastern and western ends of the transept are actually minor altars.

The image of St. Lucy, the patron saint of Sta. Lucia, is enshrined in the central altar (altar mayor). But there were two images of St. Lucy – Saint Lucy, the old woman (Sta. Lucia, Apo Baket). The former is said to have come from all the way from Mexico and was brought here by Augustinian missionaries. It is enthused in the western altar. The latter is the one placed in the central altar, and it is believed to be miraculous. People from another places flock to Sta. Lucia for a pilgrimage especially during the 13th day of December, the feast day of Saint Lucy. The dress of the image is bedecked with silver ornaments with the shapes of eyes, arms and legs. These were pinned by devotees as a token of their gratitude for the ailments cured miraculously by St. Lucy.

The interior of the church is well-lit because of the numerous arched windows on both of the eastern and western walls with ionic columns supporting the ceiling. The ceilings are painted with Biblical scenes like the sacrifice of Isaac and the Annunciation. The painting on the ceiling of the dome is an imitation of the Creation of Man painted by the Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The dome was decorated originally with stained glass windows but majority of these panes were broken through the years.

There is a staircase right of the atrium. It leads to the Belfry and to the second floor or a raised platform, where the choir used to stay during the early times.

The belfry was toppled during the earthquake of 1990. It was repaired in 1991 during the term of Rev. Fr. Peregrino Pira and continued in 1993 by Rev. Fr. Avelino Sipin as the parish priest. Fr. Sipin was also responsible for the replacement of the red brick floor tiles with marble tiles. The people of Sta. Lucia funded all the renovations and repairs done to this great relic of the Spanish sojourn in this town.

Source: Ablang, Yolanda Suzima; Anthropological and Cultural History of Sta. Lucia (unpublished term paper Submitted to Dr. Noemi A. Medina, PNU, taft, Manila, Summer, 1990). Other sources and published articles were researched by Buenavista, Romeo, Domingo.


The town of Santa Lucia formerly called “Kaog or Dumangague” was founded on June, 1572 by Juan de Salcedo. However the first mission was established on January 5, 1586 by the Augustinian friars in whom they called “Ministerio de Kaog”, formerly annexed to the “Ministerio de Candon”. The first “visita” must have been built also in that year. This town was one of the oldest encomiendas in the Philippines. It is reported that in 1591, the encomiendas already had a monastery with two religious to take care of 3, 600 souls. Later in 1671, it became a regular parish under the patronage of Saint Lucy whose feast day is celebrated every 13th of December. The parish was composed of the following missions; Nagtablaan, San Tiburcio, Pias, Atabay, Colliong, Balidbid, Sorioan, Napalit, Arangin and Corrooy, all with a distance of more than two and half hours from the church. It had a sitio of Catechumares called Cub-cubbuot and a barrio called Ronda with more than 6,286 inhabitants.

Its inhabitants – Christians in the lowlands and various tribes of Non-Christians Igorots in the mountains were farmers who planted rice, corn, sugar, cotton, vegetables and fruits. Due to irrigation coupled with persistent work under the direction of Father Exequiel Lanza Forta, they enjoined two harvest of rice every year. Other industries were fishing, spinning and weaving cotton, salt manufacturing, cattle raising and poultry. Shaped by physical limitations of their environment, the inhabitants were industrious, thrifty and migratory.

Evangelization of Dumangague or Kaog were done by the Augustinian fathers who tamed the natives and started building edifices which remain to this day a monument to their architectural genius and patience. They succeeded building a one-aisle church with a great transept and a magnificent cupola resembling the St. Peter Basilica at the Holy See in Rome. It was rebuilt completely by Father Pascual Barreda and Father Manuel Argueles in 1887 and renovated in 1936. Distinguished for its Quasi-Romanesque, Pseudo Gothic and Bizombinate feature trimmings on the details of the façade and interior. Santa Lucia Church apparently was part of the Neo-Gothic revival that occurred during the late nineteenth and twentieth century’s.

A big convent was constructed to the northwest church. This was the headquarters of the Katipunan forces commanded by General Manuel Tinio during the revolution. Before the outbreak of the earthquake in July 16, 1990, the convent was used as “home” of the religious order, the Oblates of the Holy Spirit Sisters (OSS) but it was severely damaged by the earthquake.

For a span of four hundred years, more or less, town residents and people from other towns heard several miracles of Saint Lucy, especially to people suffering from eye ailments were cured. .Accounts of these testimonies by devotees of Saint Lucy can be read in an article published by Bannawag on December 13, 1986 in connection with town’s celebration of its 400th founding anniversary.


The early settlements appeared somewhat hazy to how many people were settled in Kaog before Captain Juan de Salcedo discovered the place in his expedition in 1572. However it may seem clear that the early settlers were Bagos or Igorots-people of the mountains, probably half-civilized according to Spanish standards.

An account by the late Senador Isabelo De Los Reyes, Editor of El Ilocano, and lifted by the late Rev. Fr. Juan Fronda, “The Early Settlements of the Fifth Missionary” (Ilocos Review, Vol. III, Nos. 1 and 2, pp. 11 to 12) states that Captain Salcedo reached Dumangague probably by June, 1572 and found many inhabitants in this place. He discovered the place rich in gold and since Salcedo was well received by the natives of the seacoast, he tried to go deeper in forest place (interior) only to be met by hostile inhabitants under a chieftain named Silita (probably a Bago in G-string) and ambushed Captain Hurtado, one of the subaltern and younger officers of Salcedo. Incensed by the incident, Salcedo left his flagship with more soldiers and succeeded in subjugating Silita. The chief begged for mercy and Salcedo did not only pardon him but also loaded him with gifts, telling him to call his companions and make peace.

Convince of the sincerity of Salcedo, Silita and his people presented Salcedo with many gifts mush provisions, gold and other precious things which Salcedo gallantly refused, giving impression that he did not come to exploit them. On June 12, 1572 Salcedo’s fleet left Dumangague and by nightfall, it arrived at Caoayan, a town close to Vigan on its northern periphery.

Under the Spanish colonial policy, the Ilocanos were ordered to cultivate tobacco, indigo, coffee and sugar. Due to the enforcement of unjust taxation and forced labor, the Ilocanos fought the Spaniards during the Philippine Revolution. During the revolution, General Manuel Tinio established his headquarter at the old convent west of the church. The local Katipuneros led by Lt. Evaristo Ramirez and Francisco Pre saw action in Balidbid in 1898 and raided the American Garrison in Salcedo, Ilocos Sur in 1899.

General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898. The Americans colonized the country and military law was enforced in 1898. Captain Paulino Parel (Last Governadorcillo) was executed in 1899 and civilian government was established in 1901. In 1941, thousands of Ilocanos were executed by the Japanese army and likewise experienced hunger and poverty. The people of Santa Lucia fled to the interior parts of the town to escape execution. A part of the Poblacion was burned by the Japanese army. On February 21, 1942 a mass induction of USAFE Forces was done at Nagtablaan by American USAFE officers.

After the war, the Filipinos started to build the foundation of the new Republic. Santa Lucians preoccupied themselves in the opportunities for development. They planted rice, corn, sugar, native tobacco and other crops, and later Virginia tobacco in 1958. They tried to hasten the pace of development in the municipality with its very limited resources, has been progressing quote well through the cooperative efforts of the leaders and inhabitants.


The municipality is classified as a 3rd class municipality, it consist of thirty-six (36) barangays with total land area of 4700.8545 hectares and a population of 28,242 (2010 MBN Census). Out of the 4700.8545 hectares, 4055.4237 hectares are agricultural and agro-forest lands, 20.0000 hectares for pasture lands, 126.8896 hectares are residential lands, 12.6475 hectares are commercial/industrial lands, 436.2879 hectares are public utility lands, 47.8424 hectares are belong to the institutional land, 0.1200 for amusement land and 1.6434 for special use lands.

Predominantly, Santa Lucia is an agricultural municipality, its major crop is rice followed by tobacco, corn, vegetables, peanuts, watermelon and mangoes. These crops account the great bulk of livelihood and income of its populace.

Santa Lucia is fast becoming a center of trade and commerce. It has now a number of commercial establishments as follows; groceries, sari-sari stores, tailoring/dress shops, drug stores, bakeries, rice mills, gasoline stations, eateries/carinderia, catering services, computer shops, metal crafts, machine shop, farm products, furniture making, hollow blocks making, piggeries, poultries, construction supplies, car wash, cable services, parlor/beauty shops, funeral parlors and memorial home. It has a total of 480 business establishments were registered for the year 2008. It has also an OTOP Center along the national highway in front of the new public market selling PEANUT products. PEANUT is the One-Town-One Product (OTOP) of Santa Lucia.

The Municipality also enjoys a number of infrastructure and public facilities like concreted roads and bridges, concreted irrigation canals, 17 public school buildings (3 high schools, 14 elementary and primary schools), 35 daycare centers, district hospital, 1 rural health unit and 4 health centers, 1 covered auditorium with basketball court, waiting sheds, comfort rooms and a hanging bridge across the Buaya river located at Barangay Paoc Norte, Santa. Lucia, Ilocos Sur. It has also 2 private school buildings. New public market was constructed and started to operate on May 8, 2010.

It is also a potential tourist destination. Its church is a historical landmark usually visited by foreign and local tourists. The people’s park located at northeastern part of the church and in front of the municipal hall where the statue of Antonio Luna, a famous hero and soldier is situated. Its beaches are among the potential tourist destination especially during summer time. Santa Lucia has a Tag Line “RANIAG STA. LUCIA.” Ragsak ti pagilian, Agnanayon a panagkaykaysa, Natalna ken nadalus nga aglawlaw, Iparangarang ti napudno a panagserbi, Ayat ken anus a galad, Gameng dagiti umili.

Santa Lucia is now aiming to become more productive with its vast agricultural area and marine resources; this will be the tool for a better living of the people and a way to a progressive town in the province of Ilocos Sur. This will be possible through the joint effort of the municipal government and the people of the community.


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