Santa Monica (Sapao)

.:: History of Santa Monica (Sapao) ::.


The Municipality of Sta. Monica formerly known as “Sapao”, is part of Siargao (“Sidargo”) Island, that belongs to Surigao which is part of the old territory that existed in Northern Mindanao called “Caraga”. The latter was named after the people called “Calagans”, believed to be of Visayan origin. They were the inhabitants of the Province of Surigao at that time.

Historically, in 1538, the Spanish Expedition led by Francisco del Castro, a Portuguese-born Spanish, landed in what is presently Surigao del Norte province, and therein baptized theinhabitants to Christianity. The legendary name “Sapao” originated from a native fisherman, who threw his net to catch a school of fish that exclaimed “Sapao-sapao” whenever it was full, meaning the catch was so plenty that it overloaded the net. Hence, the name Sapao was given to the place.
As early as 1683, a Spanish settlement and development was established in Tandag by the Recollect Fathers who had residence at Tandag, Butuan, Bislig, Linao-an in the interior of Agusan and Siargao Island. The stone arched gate of the old church of Sapao is the strong permanent legacy of this early Spanish settlement in Siargao Island.

After the Spanish-American War, the American military governor issued an Executive Order to revert Sapao into a barrio under the municipality of Numancia, until October 1, 1953. In March, 1947, a massive activity of revision and division of tax declarations at the Provincial Officer were undertaken between Numancia and Sapao in an effort to create Sapao into a municipality. The revision was completed in March, 1952. In the succeeding year, on October 1, 1953, His Excellency, President Elpidio Quirino issued Executive Order No. 624 officially creating Sapao into a municipality. A few years later, House Bill No. 7233 which became RA 4998, duly approved by President Ferdinand E. Marcos, changed the name Sapao into Sta. Monica.


Sta. Monica has a population of 7,916 as of 2007 and a total land area of 39.19 square kilometres. It is blessed with beautiful sights and sceneries such as the Danjug Cave, an underground palace of a certain tribal king, Taktak Falls, and a 3-kilometer stretch of fine, white sand beach which has become an attraction for all Sapaonon and tourists as well. It has also a moderate climate all year round, except in the months of November to January when there are occurrences of severe northeastern monsoon wind.

Sta. Monica is 45 kilometers north of Dapa, the island’s commercial center, which can be reached from Surigao City via 2-3 hours boat ride to Dapa from where jeepneys and motorcycles are available to take travellers to any point in the mainland Siargao. Direct launch trips to Sta. Monica from Surigao City is also available, taking about 3 hours boat ride to and from the island.


Land Area        : 39.19 square kilometers
Population       : 7,916 as of 2007 (NSCB)
Class                : 5th class; partially urban
Municipal Officials :   PENERA, ROSALINDA A. - Mayor
POSPIA, ARNEL R. – Vice Mayor

  1. Brgy. Tangbo Surfing Area – Albeit undeveloped, this site will qualify as a world-class surifing site like the more popular Cloud 9 in General Luna. The area has an wide stretch of coral reefs that serves as a natural break for the waves. It is ideal for back packers who want to enjoy the relatively undeveloped area in the north side of Siargao Island.

  2. Bajuhan Surfing Area – Another surfing site within the vicinity; perfect for beginners who want to learn surfing.

  3. Bitaug Break Point – is where the biggest swells in Siargao Island are found during the Amihan season 

  4. Rizal Surfing Area- the longest surfing ride in the island

  5. Kibrada Ship Wreck Diving Spot – A historic site and an enthralling experience for divers as it where the Spanish Galleons sunk during the Philippines and Mexico Trade in the 1600’s.

  6. Danjug Cave – Just beside the diving spot is a cave called “Danjug”, so-called because it was believed to be the place where a Muslim pirate with the same name hid his loot. This site is perfect for adventure tourists who fancies an action-packed experienced with nature.

  7. Florentino Das Landing – A stone-throw away is another historic site where it was believed was the landing area of the first Filipino who sailed from Hawaii to the Philippines.

  8. Alegria White Sand Beach – The long stretch of fine, powdery white sand beach will be every beach-lover’s delight. Truly undisturbed and a perfect place to commune with nature.
  9. Tak-tak Waterfalls – This is one of the best finds in the area, a falls which boasts of its crystal clear and soothing cold waters.
Source: Municipality of Santa Monica

About Siargao

Siargao is composed of 48 islands and islets-politically divided into nine municipalities: Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, Gen. luna, Pilar, San Benito, San Isidro, Santa Monica, and Socorro. Read more...

Guest Publisher

We accept guest publisher. Please send your stories, municipal/barangay updates, upcoming events or articles at

Blog Archive