Sta. Mesa is one of the oldest districts in Manila. Its history is rich and colorful. Nonetheless, there is yet another story about Sta. Mesa you ought to hear. Or perhaps, you might’ve heard it before, but this story is worth retelling.
The place before it became Sta. Mesa
Before it was even called Sta. Mesa, the place was a friar land or a parcel of land owned by a religious order. The area was an agricultural land, and its produce including fruits, vegetables and fish were sold to fund the operations of schools, hospitals, and etc. The majority of the revenue was devoted to social reliefs.
The Jesuits gave the place its name from the Spanish phrase, Santa Hermanidad de la Misericordia. The phrase means Holy Brotherhood of Mercy. The name was inspired by The Sacred Heart of Jesus, an obra pia (pious work) offered by the land’s former owner, Tuazon family. The Tuazons spearheaded the social activities in the area during those times.
There was another data which detailed that the Brotherhood itself was the one providing the social relief services to the people. The Brotherhood was institutionalized in 1594.
In yet another document, the social workers were referred to as La Hermanidad de la Santa Misericordia (or Sisters of the Holy Mercy). And since the Spaniards were fond of abbreviations, the name was shortened to La Sta. Mesa. Mesa is a Spanish term that refers to both table and feminine.
If the last account is accurate, then it was the first time the place was referred to as Sta. Mesa.
The story of Our Lady of the Flood
The name Sta. Mesa was given another meaning after an inexplicable event. The area was submerged in flood after it rained for days. Since the neighborhood was the premiere resident of some of the wealthiest Spanish and Filipino families, their houses were built with second floors. During the inundation, the residents climbed to the upper floors.
Looking outside the windows from the room upstairs, the people saw the statue of Virgin Mary atop a table that was floating along the gush. Those who saw such a miraculous sight knelt and prayed to the Holy Mother, and the flood subsided. They called it Our Lady of the Flood. Since then, the place became known as the holy table or Sta. Mesa.
The Sta. Mesa we know today
During the 1950s, Sta. Mesa was considered as an important commercial hub not just because of its proximity to central Manila. It’s because of the Sta. Mesa market, a shopping complex where hundreds of stalls selling PX goods are found.
Sta. Mesa is still busy nowadays although not as busy as Quiapo, Ermita or Divisoria. The reason is the place links to the main cities such as Quezon City, San Juan, Mandaluyong, and Makati.
It also connects to various commercial districts such as SM San Lazaro, Powerplant Mall, and Greenhills. The closest shopping mall, nonetheless, is SM Centerpoint, which is just 1 kilometer away from Amaia Skies Sta. Mesa. It’s politically incorrect to call SM Centerpoint as SM City Sta. Mesa because it is technically not a part of Sta. Mesa.
There are several reputable healthcare facilities in the area like St. Luke’s Medical Center as well as trusted academic institutions. Choices of schools include La Salle Greenhills, St. Paul’s College, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and Centra Colleges of the Philippines.
So, whether the historical records are true or not, there remains a fact that Sta. Mesa is more than just “under the radar” destination in Manila. In fact, it is one of the busiest megalopolitans in the area.