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Sta. Catalina, Zamboanga City, Philippines
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Location of Sta. Catalina, Zamboanga City
Distance from CITY PROPER: 1.76 Km.
History of Sta. Catalina, Zamboanga City
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Sta. Catalina during the 18th century, before it has gotten its name as such, was totally a mangrove or swampy area where wild animals abound. The place was totally green with mangrove, nipa or palm and others. The families of Pedro, Luna, Leonardo, Bella, Enriquez, Romero were said to be the first settlers of the place. These people are from the different parts of Zamboanga Peninsula. Their means of livelihood depended mostly on nipa weaving for nipa shingles, coconut products and whatever they catch from the rich water resource such as fish and crabs.
During that time, accessibility to the place was through Jovellar Road that ended up at the junction of Tumaga Road (now Veterans Avenue) in front of the now Zamboanga City Medical Center. From there a "trail" or commonly known as "pilapil" was connected to the interior part of he vast mangrove/swampy place.
On the other hand, from the north (Barangay Tetuan) people used to passed through the rice fields to reach the place. Just at the back of Zamboanga General Hospital, there was a big Sampaloc tree and further about 500 meters more or less inward exactly at the end of Rio Hondo (bucana in local dialect), there stood a big majestic Balete tree. All the people living in the area were afraid to go near the tree, believed to be the place of the unknown. Whenever the residents of the place go for marketing (tabu), fiesta or gathering in other places, they were occasionally asked where they live, simply they would refer the place as "alla na Sampaloc" or "Balete". Thus, in the early time before the place acquired the name "Sta. Catalina" it is known as Sampaloc or Balete.
On the onset of the 20th century, intermarriages from among the original settlers of the area and migration pressure of population have increased. And before World War II, the place was divided into two (2): Sampaloc (now Lustre) and Balete. This time the residents no longer depend largely on nipa weaving as their means of livelihood, but some had involved themselves in government employment, Philippine Scouts, farmers, carpenters and mostly laborers at the local wharf (stevedore).
Balete was also known for having big warehouses (bodegas). The city garbage site was transferred from Panigayan to the present site of Don Gregorio Evangelista Memorial School (DON GEMS). Alongside or nearby, are "red" houses controlled by a Chinese businessman and dragged into flesh trade in that area. Furthermore, the present site of DON GEMS was known also as the place were dead Japanese and Indian nationals were burned or cremated and their ashes were shipped to their respective families.
During the war, many of the families were dislocated or evacuated to safer places in the city. However, after the war, most of them returned back to Sampaloc and Balete. In late 1945, the elders, who were the respected community leaders at the time, decided to consolidate Sampaloc and Balete into one and apparently with the idea of giving it a permanent name. The original settlers being predominantly Catholic came out to name the place as "Sta. Catalina" in honor of St. Catherine de Sienna, who is considered as one of the greatest woman saints in the Catholic community, aside from the fact that, they pray for their protection from St. Catherine de Sienna from the cruelty of the Japanese soldiers during the war. From then on, the place was known as Sta. Catalina.
article from: Sta. Catalina LGU
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