Municipality of Santa Catalina


The town’s history has been gleaned from all available sources, written as well as unrecorded information regarding the origin and founding of the town. After the discovery of Ciudad Fernandina, now known as Vigan City, the capital town of Nueva Segovia, the Spanish Expeditionary Forces sought for further conquest.  Going westward, they came upon the Sand Dunes of Mindoro and Pantay (Vigan City) overlooking the Govantes River that serves as the natural boundary of Vigan and Sta. Catalina, from there they noticed a small island lying across the river.  Crossing then the river with rafts, they landed at a place called “CABITTAOGAN”, so called because of the abundance and luxuriant growth of certain species of a tree called PALOMARIA, or “BITAOG” in the local dialect.

Reaching Cabittaogan, the Spanish Forces planted a big wooden cross at the exact location where they rested.  The Cross is primarily a   symbol of Christianity that marks the Christianization of the inhabitants as well as a symbol of conquering the place. No documentary material could be found to show the exact date as to when the Cross was planted.  However, the fact remains that the cross still stands at the same spot where it was originally planted centuries ago, and this can be seen right in front of the main gate of the Cabittaogan Elementary School.

In their desire for further conquest, the Spanish Expeditionary Forces proceeded northward, and came upon a spring just west of the place where the present Catholic Church of the town now stands. The Spanish soldiers took turns in drinking the water from the spring.  Just as their leader was about to drink, there was an apparition, whom the oldest soldier among the group recognized to be that of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.  From that time on, the place was named STA. CATALINA, in honor of St. Catherine who had been chosen as the Patron Saint and has remained up to the present.  The water from the above-mentioned spring, so it was told from generations to generation, had some kind of a miraculous healing power.  The Spaniards and the inhabitants as well, valued the spring so much that they erected the Catholic Church, one of the remaining vestiges of the Spanish Rule in the country. Up to the latter part of the 18th century, 1795, Sta. Catalina was a part of Ciudad Fernandina, founded by Juan Salcedo, the Grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.  The other towns as part of Ciudad Fernandina were San Vicente and STA. CATALINA.  The Holy Cross, planted in barangay Cabittaogan also attests that Sta. Catalina was the mooring place for boats (rafts), thus, a very pertinent part of Vigan. (These informations were gathered from the archives at the Archbishop’s Palace in Vigan.)

It was only in 1795 that the late Bishop Juan Ruiz made Sta. Catalina a Parish. There was no assigned Parish Priest then, so the clergy of Ciudad Fernandina did the administration. Seeing that the Parish could well stand on its own, the next Bishop, Most Rev. Pedro Blacquier, appointed the Parish Priest in 1800, in the person of Rev. Fr. Manuel de los Reyes.  At the start, there were only 3,000 inhabitants who by nature are highly religious. The people were fond of remembering their dead, so in 1837, during the incumbency of Rev. Vicente Villanueva, the “Gofradia delas Almas Benditas del Purgatorio” was established.  The people, since then, are very devoted to God. Although there was no written record as to the exact founding of Sta. Catalina, it can be calculated from reports, verbal and written, that the town was founded sometime in the latter part of the 16th century.