Municipality of Santa Monica
This town is situated on the northern part of Siargao Island, approximately 60 nautical miles from Surigao City. The municipality was known as Sapao, a name given by Spanish colonizers who accidentally were stranded ashore and met a native fishermen catching fish with his fish net. One of the Spaniards asked the fishermen “como se llma este pueblo.” The fisherman, thinking he was asked regarding his catch answered, “no Sapao ra”, signifying that he was not able to catch the whole fish for it went over the fish net he casted. So the Spaniards believing that the word uttered by the fisherman was the correct answer to the question recorded “Sapao” as the name of the place.
This place was first created into a town during the Spanish regime, but later was converted into a barrio during the early part of the American occupation due to some defects in the administration of the municipal government. After the lapse of more than half of a century, this town was recreated into a municipality by an Executive Order No. 623 dated October 1, 1953. Recently, however, the name Sapao was changed to Sta. Monica, in honor of the Patron Saint of the town, by virtue of an Act of Congress.
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
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.
BAJUHAN SURFING AREA
Another surfing site within the vicinity; perfect for beginners who want to learn surfing.
BITAUG BREAK POINT
is where the biggest swells in Siargao Island are found during the Amihan season
RIZAL SURFING AREA
the longest surfing ride in the island
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is one of the best finds in the area, a falls which boasts of its crystal clear and soothing cold waters.