The Kingdom of Namayan and Maytime Fiesta in Sta. Ana of Old Manila




Most moving of Mary’s title is Nuestra Señora de Desamparados (Our Lady of Forlorn) which recall how in the Spanish City of Valencia in the 15th century, some good folks grouped together to give shelter and aid to the homeless and mentally ill. This helped found the first psychiatric hospital in the world.




May 12 is when Sta. Ana and Marikina annually celebrate the feast of the Our Lady of Forlorn.




The Upriver Kingdom of Namayan




When the parish of Sta. Ana de Sapa was founded in 1578, the site was already ancient as a settlement, being the capital of a kingdom that claimed all the territories enclosed between Manila Bay and the Pasig, from Pasay to Makati. This kingdom is said to be the oldest on the Pasig, outranking Manila and Tundo.


The First Franciscan missionaries to evangelize the region chose to build another settlement some distance away from the ancient town, which was called Namayan. The present church is thus on the site of that new settlement which is why there is some doubt that the graves that have been excavated there are pre-Hispanic.




One theory is that the excavation site was the original graveyard of the church, where early converts were buried in the old native manner –that is, with their jewels and porcelains and other heirlooms. Another conjecture is that the artifacts were buried there by the Chinese who occupied the church after it was abandoned by the friars during the Revolution.


Felix Huertas corroborated the oral account in 1869 when eh wrote that “this town takes its name from the titular saint and the addition of Sapa for its having been established in a site immediately upon an estuary or rivulet proceeding from the Pasig River, which the natives call Sapa and the name of the town itself.” Huertas believed that Sapa was not one but many communities composed of Meycatmon, Calatondangan, Dongos, Dibag, Pinacauasan, Yamagtogon, Maysapan (which became Pasay), Malate, Dilao (Paco), Pandacan, Quiapo, Sampaloc, San Miguel, San Juan del Monte, San Felipe Neri (Mandaluyong), San Pedro de Makati and Taytay.



Huertas further asserted that in his time, these ancient names were still borne by some villages he had mentioned. Moreover, administrative and political records of Spanish Manila indicate that these settlements mentioned as territories of the Kingdom of Sapa were recorded in 1578 as parts and visitas of Sta. Ana de Sapa.


According to Huertas, this upriver kingdom was ruled by Lakan Tagkan or Takhan, and Lady Buan, whose primary residence was in Namayan or Sapa, the heart of the wide kingdom. The two had five children, the principal son Palaba, who sired Laboy, who in turn sired Calamayin, who then later sired a son later converted to the Catholic faith and named Martin. It was also said that Lakan Tagkan had another son, Pasay, by his Bornean slave-wife, to whom bequeathed the territory now known as Pasay.   



Old Sta. Ana was a fishing village criss-crossed by brooks and creeks and chiefly noted for its carpenters and masons, its piña-embroidery and cigar factories, its tinapa-makers and brick-makers and sugar refineries. The street called Panaderos attests to a time when Sta. Ana was a bakery center. As the street called Lamayan recalls the ancient capital of King Lacatagcan and Queen Buan.



Virgen del Pozo (TheLady of  Well)



Behind the Church was a holy well that drew pilgrim since 1919, when health authorities ordered it to be closed due to a typhoid epidemic. Old people say that the closing of the miraculous well brought on a typhoon and flood that lasted twenty days.



Across the street from the Chapel of the Well is a Chinese chapel also dedicated to Our Lady of Forlorn, where joss sticks are burned on the altar draws crowds of worshipers, both Christians and non-Christians, on the great Chinese holidays.





The Sta. Ana of Old Manila


In the 19th century the riverside of Sta. Ana became an elegant suburb where foreign merchants lived in fine villas and rich Creole had their summer houses.





The American era made Sta. Ana famous for a cabaret billed as “the biggest in the world.” Sta. Ana Junction was where you changed streetcars, from the Pasig shuttle to the city line, or vice-versa -but the Junction was also cultural history.


Round about was where the American soldiery of Fort McKinley shacked up with native girls, producing he mestizaje that gave vaudeville in the 1920s some of its brightest stars.



Today, Sta. Ana’s stables and race tracks, cabaret and junction are gone, but from the baroque altar still stoops the Our Lady of Forlorn and in Maytime is still fiesta time in Santa Ana, when the Patroness is borne forth in procession, accompanied by her parent: St. Joaquin and St. Anne.



              Information sources:               

Nick Joaquin’s Almanac for Manileños

The River Dwellers by Grace P. Odal


Related Link: Erratum


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43 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I completed my first 6 years of my early education at Sta.Ana Elementary school, 1948-1953. I failed t save all my class pictures.
    If anybody attended same school in those years, please send me a note-much appreciated. Thanks.

  2. Hi everyone. I was born and raise in Sta.Ana-Plaza Hugo-Calderon area. My father owned and operated the Dizon Barber Shop and my mother owned the Miladgros Dress Shop at Calderon near the church and the Police Precinct No.5. If anybody remembers us, please let me know.

  3. My name is Maria (Cruz) White. I was born, schooled and raised in Santa Ana until I left in Nov 1969.

    I am 72 years old, and live in the USA for 43 years now. My memories of Santa Ana are numerous. I went to Santa Ana elem school where my mother taught 5th grade. Our ancestral home,is in Del Pilar St., corner Callejon 5. Still have families living in Zamora St. Have great memories of my growing years with the Alquintos, Penas, Apostols, Kargsnillas, Mamuyacs, Basas, Montoyas, Trinidads. would love to reminisce with anyone who desires. Please contact me at

  4. Hello there, my name is Andrew Enriquez and my Lolo is from this part of Manila. In fact we still own our colonial era home in punta. Our family name is Enriquez and my grandfather worked for Pan Am. His fathers name was Venancio Enriquez and he was married to Julie Cena, he had some work with the Jeepny after the WW2. His fathers name was Canuto Enriquez and I am told by my family that he was a fireman in punta santa ana in the early days. From what I can gather he would have been born around 1899 which would take my ancestry back to just before american occupancy and Spanis Colonial Era. Please if you have any information or know of anyone i can speak with regarding these things i would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank you and i look foreward to hearing from you!

  5. Hi:) May I know if can we use that house for our shooting?

  6. […] Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned) Other Blog Sites to Visit: The Urban Roamer’s Journal, Traveler of Foot, Visit Pinas, The Gridcrosser Files, Hecho Ayer, Around Metro Manila, Loopie’s The Church in […]

  7. Peace and Joy.!!! Pray the Holy Rosary Everyday and do the Angelus at 6:00 am or pm daily.

    I was born & raised in Sta. Ana, I flew 1992&got married and raised my family in MD USA. I miss so much the Fiesta & procession, Christmas seasons and the Holy week. I love and proud of my hometown STA. ANA Manila.

    My father was born in Sta. Ana, and died in Maryland USA. Sta. Ana was his homeland, grew up, got married and raised our family. He went to Sta. Ana Elementary School as well as all of us his 9 children. He told me lot of stories and legend of Sta. Ana Church. (1940’s to 60’s) especially the Pasig River where Lambingan bridge connected Old panaderos and Punta Sta Ana a distance from Mandaluyong.
    May his soul eternally rest in peace and the perpetual light shine upon late Jose Lopez Janeo Sr through the mercy of Jesus Christ. Held his wake & prayers at the adjacent rtside of the church (Interment room) have the burial mass Sta Ana church on 3/7/2009(7/19/33- 2/22/2009)


  8. If you want to know more or tour Santa Ana, Manila now, we have a group – COMMUNITY BASED HERITAGE TOURISM..Here we will introduce you many things that you still do not know about Santa Ana. The archeological diggings, (ceramics and bahay na bato) .. if you are interested, please call 387 54 51 and look for Marcy Oculto or email us at Thanks!

  9. Sta Ana will always be home to me. I may have moved to Pasig’s business district, but I go home to our ancestral house every weekend to visit my aunts. Our house is in Zamora Street, near the rotunda.

    One thing I always go back to in Sta ana is the palabok in the market. Yummy!

    • We lived on the corner of Zamora and Liwayway-the Grajo’s lived across the street-i always think of my friends of yesteryear-this was in the early 60’s-went to school in Concordia College in Herran.

      • Hello, I also used to live in Sta. Ana, (Medel street near Del Pan). I actually know the Grajos who lived in Del Pilar cor. Callejon 8. The Grajo brothers were my friends and katropa, so they say. Sadly, they have already moved to the US, and their house has been bought by another friend. I have also moved to Quezon City but Sta. Ana will always be my hometown.

  10. I wonder if anyone knows the tenorios-ligons-grajos-marcos’s-I grew up in sta ana went to school in La Concordia-went to church in Sta ana the streets near us were mabuhay-tejeron-revellin-trabajo its been so many years ago 1960’s thank you for bringing those memories back to me

    • I knew a Grajos family near Del Pilar and Cagayan. Brothers Galterius and Antonio who was my classmate at SAES. My mother was a school teacher there teaching grade 2. I was a “sacristan” at the Church and my favorite priest was Father Mosconi. We lived in Kasarinlan St. close to the river where our pastime was log jumping the trosos at Interwood and raid the sculls at Manila Boat Club. the races, what else. Patok.

      • The Grajo’s I knew lived on the corner of Zamora and Liwayway-there were many children Chito;Ony,Monching etc.

        • hi Christine…This is Gally Grajo from Naples, Florida. I went to Sta. Ana Elementary School and Villamor High. We used to live at the corner of Del Pilar and Cagayan. Moved to US in 1971 after medical school.Chito, Ony and Monching are my cousins. Thanks for the information.

      • Hello there. Galterius (or Gally) as we called him, is already in the US. I think he went there a few years after getting his MD License. Tony on the other hand, went to work with PLDT but is also in the US now, together with their brothers Bading and Joseph. Such are the old days, you never know where they went.

  11. Hello, I would like to enquire about what happen to Santa Ana Elementary School. My teacher name was Miss Suba. It was in the mid 60’s. I appreciate any reply.
    Thank you for youe website.
    My email is

    Kind regards,
    Leila Evison

  12. i was born in makati but raised in sta. ana. i remember the church very well. my mother would also take to the chapel on lamayan run by the chinese. i heard stories about the snakes which came out of the well and chased the japanese away. how i long to once again join the procession during the fiesta. the palaro were fun too. the best was the celebration of the resurrection where the “salubong” is held where our lady once again meets her resurrected Son after her black veil is removed by alittle angel lowered by safety ropes. is precinto 5 still there? sta. ana church had many good memories of it imprinted in my mind…sneeking into the klausura with freddie non and other friends, climbing the rickety stairs to the belfry to get a great glimpse of the town, pasig river, mandaluyong and even malacanang palace. i miss the halo halo and palabok from tres rosas and the puto bumbong during simbang gabi. now that was a real treat. although now thousands of miles away ( i left after college during the late ’60’s) there is still that longing in me for the good old days in my beloved sta. ana. it saddens me when i come home to find some of our old haunts not being there anymore. do kids still go log hopping at the river? we did that at he saw mill there by the river. sta. ana., it will always be home to me.

  13. Two months ago me and a close friend of mine went to visit Sta Ana.He drove around showing me the names of the streets,we laughed reminiscing the past and we ended visiting the church.I left Sta Ana in 1963 and now I still regret leaving that beautiful place.It reminded me of my youth,my friends and some classmates..Thanks so much..Loved this article.

  14. I miss my hometown! Thanks for this article.

  15. I used to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at Sta. Ana Elementary School when I was a 4th grader until the 6th grade. After school, I would literally roam the
    streets of Sta. Ana and sometimes I would climb up the old stairs of the church to go to the bell tower. I remember how I was in awe of how huge that bell was. One time, I was chased away by one of the priest and was told never to come back to the bell tower. I was so scared! The Sta. Ana Market was also another favorite place to hang out, and that caramel colored water of the Pasig River fascinated me so much. I remember the big houses on Lamayan, Felix and Inviernes. As a young girl, I told myself when I grow up, I will live in a great big house with a red tile roof! I do remember St. Anne’s Academy across from the market and also Arellano University. And Foundation College was on Inviernes. I used to walk home from school and vice versa. Those were good times to be a kid. Can you imagine allowing any of your children/grandchildren to do what I used to do? I love going back ‘home,’ I left in 1968 to teach here in the United States and have gone back several times since then…I’ve been just about everywhere but Sta. Ana will always be home! Thank you so much for bringing us such wonderful, fabulous memories! Wishing you well, Nenette West

    • Thank you Nenette and we wish you well.

  16. I grew up in Sta. Ana and loved everything that’s included in your article. I will try to get copies of every text and picture and try to create one album for myself. We moved in to Sta. Ana in 1951 so I have seen how it has changed over the years. From my father’s account, Sta. Ana was more or less spared by the American bombings when they tried to re take Manila from the Japanese. My father and his family used to stay in Paco and when the bombings started, they all moved to Sta. Ana where a lot of families settled in the church and inside Sta. Ana Elementary School. On their way to Sta. Ana, they noted that just after Pasig Line towards Sta. Ana, the American troops were already settled while house to house fighting was going on further up to Paco and other parts of Manila. We settled in del Pan which is still walking distance to the church. Walking to church every Sunday is always a pleasant one as we walk past M. Roxas street towards the rotunda, Sta. Ana Elem. School and the old building of Villamor High School along Syquia st. Going straight would bring us to Sta. Ana market. But we always turn right to Suter st. so we can walk past Plaza Hugo where something is always happening. Even after we finished high school, friends would meet at the church grounds after the 6pm mass for some chat and even a plate of palabok at the market.Friends and I always loved to recall those days in our lives. Going around Sta. Ana during those days would also give one a chance to see some of the artists who settled in Sta. Ana like Etang Discher and Panchito Alba in del Pan, Juancho Gutierrez in Suter, Eddie Rodriguez at the corner house of Suter and M. Roxas,Diomedes Maturan in Tejeron near Pedro Gil and of course our very own Eddie Peregrina.
    By the way, did you know that some old folks say that when you pray hard to the patron saint – Nuestra Senora do los de Samparados – and after your prayers you see the earrings move or glow, your prayers or request would be heard?
    Another story that was told during the war was that the Japanese, after some time were afraid to settle or sleep inside the church because of the appearance of a big snake that would come from nowhere. Did you notice that there is a snake at the foot of the statue of the virgin? I have not been that close to the statue so I cannot confirm this myself.
    More power to you.

    • I really appreciate this information you shared Ferddie. I would love to have another article about Sta. Ana this time incorporating the information you shared. Thank you.

    • Hello there Mr. Freddie. You know, when I was just a grade 1 student I used to pass by the duplex house Del Pan street where Panchito used to live, and I would see him on early mornings in his shorts attending to his fighting cock just outside his gate. Eddie Peregrina, who was a nodding acquaintance, used to wave at us whenever he passed by Medel. And, Im sure you were also customers of Cesar, just in front of Sta. Ana elementary school. You know, the place where they rent and sell comic books, local and imported. Do you recall Mang Teroy on Kasarinlan street, the old guy who rents his balloon tire bikes? Those were the days arent they? All the best to you.

  17. […] credits also to Traveler on Foot […]

  18. sir, thank you for helping us to travrl back in time. how about some photos and old memoires of pasay city. more power to you.

  19. dear Sir,
    I’m amazed by the historical events that have happened in Sta Ana. I was baptized in Sta Ana church in 1963 and i got my name Ana because my bday was the feast day itself May 12. I used to attend mass at Sta Ana church every 12th of May of each year because I feel inner peace and joy within me and as it the place was a part of my past life. every time i enter the church I’m very thankful to God and my parents who named me Ana Maria.
    I’m also thankful to people like you who help us understand our past thru this writings.
    Try to come and attend mass this coming May 12 at Sta Ana Church and listen to the song in honor of the Inang mapagampon. On the 2nd floor of the sacristy you can find religious relics exhibited only on this day. I have seen and prayed on the veil of Mama Mary exhibited in 2006, have seen the altar cover embossed with cherubim heads made of ivory, old statues of different saints etc.These precious relics were only exhibited on the Lady’s feast day and open to the public for viewing.

    best regards’

  20. Whenever I come back to this place it gets smaller everytime. It was great living and growing up here in the 70s and 80s, then one day it vanished.

  21. please email me the old pictures / website to

  22. Thank you for glorifying Sta.Ana.
    I wish i could help restoring the grandeur of it.
    I wanted to see more pictures of old sta.ana circa 1900’s – present. Gusto ko makita ang dati itsura ng Plaza Hugo, Rotonda sa Syquia, Sta.ana market, the side of estero de sta.clara (from delpan to havana pumping station & others) Please email me. I really love reminiscing & retracting the old places.
    Thank you –

  23. there is no such thing as “kingdom” in sta. ana at that time. the kingdom, as some say, that already established at that time headed by certain rajahs, is still a speculation, and no specific archaeological findings have tentatively suggests the historic folklore that is taught in the philippine schools today- that a certain rajah matanda or rajah soliman ruled the surrounding area of maynila or whatever it is called then.
    Though the stories bring back a certain nostalgia to the old sta. ana, i must say the pictures are excellent.
    marami pong salamat.

    • there is really a kingdom…called NAMAYAN

    • While reasearching about the history of Mandaluyong, I was given by my former co-professor a book by National Artist Nick Joaquin ,”MANILA,MY MANILA” and in its Chapter3(pp.9-11),I encountered a brief account of the history of the KINGDOM of NAMAYAN with its capital SAPA,and a genealogy of its rulersI wondred where Joaquin got his data and while researching in the Phil.Nat.Library I accidentally found out that his source was Fr.Felix de Huerta’s “Estado Geografico,Topographico,Estadistico,Historico-Religioso de la Santa y Apostolica Provincia de S.Gregorio (Manila.1855)pp.46-46.
      Maybe further research in the National Library ,UST Archives and the Franciscan Archives will yield documents regaarding Namayan/Sapa,known in th Spanish time as STA.ANA de SAPA. I will be willing to provide xerox copies of Fr.Huerta’s account and Nick Joaquin’s by giving me your name and complete addresss.

  24. Garry,

    Try asking at the Sta. Ana church. They are required to keep those records…


  25. dear Sir and Madam,
    looking for someone who may can help us.
    The parents of my finance’ has married in July 1966 in Sta. Ana Church in Manila.
    Now the NSo said in certificate….the marriage is not rgistreded. Means nobody knows about that marriageof here parents.
    Where we can find the Authoryties of Sta. Ana Church in Manila..coz we need to registred that marriage from 1966 for to get the Registration by NSo…coz..we want also marry and need that registredet marriage certificate of her parents.
    Thanks for now for your help.
    Regards Garry

  26. I am so honored to have someone from Old Santa Ana visit and provide these valuable information. I appreciate all that you’ve shared ArtQuebec. I am pretty sure that these information about Sta. Ana you knew then are not available elsewhere and can only be revealed today by a genuine Manileno. Thank you.

  27. Remembering the town where I spent my youth, though
    ravaged then by terrible bombing, now as an adult,I could still feel the romance that this part of Manila evoked. I went to the Old Santa Ana Academy on Herran,
    (I don’t know if it is still there, and promenading at
    that island on that street on a weekend afternoon was
    quite exhilarating. The bombed out house of the Phillips by the Pasig river, the Alonzo’s house across the river, the Bardetscher home on Herran, the Pena’s home on street parallel to Herran, and also the Chavez’s, and we would even go as far as Mandaluyong, where the Arcache had their home. Close to the back of the Santa Ana Church was still a vegetable patch and rice fields. This was many many years ago, and now in my twilight yearsI would like to seethem again, even with the progress greatly altering the landscape disappointingly. I was born in Santa Cruz before the war, and grew up in Santa Ana in the very early fifties.

    • by the way….herran now is pedro gil and the school santa ana acadamy is now st. mary’s acadamy….im a citizen of sta. ana…

    • Hello there Mr. Art Quebec. Since you know a lot about the old houses in Sta. Ana and their owners, I wonder if you know something about the old houses in Inverness street corner Ick st. before you reach the railroad tracks. It was a big property with two large old houses at the front area, while a third one lurks just beside the pumping station at the rear. I think this is already Pandacan area, not Sta. Ana, but some people I talked to during the late sixties and early seventies had some stories to tell, which I dont want to repeat here, since they may just be products of hyperactive imaginations and may be unfair to the present owners of the houses. Anyway, they look a little scary alright, but they have a certain charm and appeal, and I would not mind living in one of them. Oh, and yes, one of the houses has been demolished and is the property is now a holding area of container vans. (Sad)

      If you can tell me anything about them, I will be grateful. By the way, I used to live in Medel street, near Del Pan, from 1951 to 1993.

  28. What happened to your Holy Week Procession feature. I wanted to go back, but could not find it anymore.

  29. […] reminiscing about a childhood visit to Santa Ana Church kicks the column off (some pictures over at Traveler on Foot). I’m uneasy with terms like “Kingdom of Sapa,” which is supposedly what the area […]

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