What was once just a small sleepy town in Manila, Sta. Mesa has become one of the busiest and liveliest districts in the city with its booming urban landscape of towering condominiums, shopping malls, schools, commercial establishments, and transportation.
There’s an interesting story on how Sta. Mesa got its name. It was said that long ago, the town was engulfed in the flood after days of heavy rain. The locals climbed up to their rooms for safety and by their window, have seen the statue of the Blessed Mother Mary on a floating table along the flooded streets to which they knelt and prayed. Miraculously, the flood subsided. And since then, it was called Sta. Mesa or Holy Table. It was also said that the Jesuits gave the town’s name from Santa Mesa de la Misericordia or ”Holy Table of Mercy” or that it was derived from the Spanish Santa Misa or Holy Mass. It’s also amusing to know that after how this town was named after religious inspirations, it’s now well-known for the city’s love hotels and motels.
If coming from southern areas, the most accessible train line to ride on is the Philippine National Railways’ Commuter Express (PNR Commex) or SRTS Orange Line. It has a station near Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Sta. Mesa, near PUP Main campus. Fare to and from Sta. Mesa ranges from 10 pesos to 40 pesos depending on the origin and destination. Another option is the Manila Light Rail Transit Line 2 or commonly known as LRT 2 or Purple Line. Drop off either at Pureza Station or V. Mapa Station to go to Sta. Mesa.
You can also board a G-Liner bus in Lawton and drop-off at Fernandos or Pureza. Another option are the buses heading to Cubao. Once in Cubao, ride in LRT 2 and alight at Pureza or V. Mapa Station. From Divisoria, Sta. Cruz, Avenida or Doroteo Jose station, ride a jeep to Cubao or San Juan and drop off in Sta. Mesa. If from the EDSA side, take a jeep to Divisoria and drop off in Sta. Mesa.
A Pasig River Ferry service can be accessed at Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) terminal in Pureza that transports commuters to any of the other six stations from Intramuros Ferry Station to Pinagbuhatan Ferry Station. Fare ranges from 20 pesos to 65 pesos.
Jeepneys are the main mode of transportation to get around Sta. Mesa. Other options available include Tricycles or auto rickshaw and Pedicabs or bicycle rickshaws.
In this district you’ll find The Mabini Shrine. This government recognized National Shrine in PUP Main Campus features the replica of the nipa house where Apolinario Mabini, “the Sublime Paralytic” and “the Brains of the Philippine Revolution”, used to live since he entered law school in 1888 until his death in 1903. The house’s original location was across the river in Nagtahan, Pandacan. And after several relocations, it was transferred to PUP in 2009 to give way to Pasig River rehabilitation. Alongside the shrine is the Museo ni Apolinario Mabini where some of Mabini’s belongings and memorabilia can be found.
As mentioned earlier, The Mabini Shrine and Museo ni Apolinario ni Mabini are located in this zone. Spend some time visiting these sites and learn more about Mabini’s life and appreciate his greatness and contribution to our country.
Looking to buy that dream guitar? You don’t need to go far as Sta. Mesa is a hotspot when it comes to music stores. Quality musical instruments for new and experienced musicians are available at reasonable prices in stores such as Benjie’s Music Store, Lumanog Guitars, and JBG Music Store.
For a new ride experience, hop on (at your own risk though) the unlicensed Trolleys or rail skates that run along the railway tracks. Though it might not be an ideal choice of transportation but trying something new or breaking a routine once in awhile might work its wonder. Just don’t forget that safety comes first.
As Sta. Mesa houses PUP, one of the well-known state universities in the country, a variety of food stalls available around the university offer delectable student value meals. The bestseller is the unlimited and refillable Lugaw or rice porridge coupled with boiled egg and Lumpia or spring roll, each for 10 pesos only. Another student's’ choice snack that is good for sharing is the Footlong Egg Wrapped Around or commonly known as FEWA for the affordable price of 39 pesos.
If you’re after American-themed cheat day food trip with your squad or planning to go on solo, restaurants such as Sabroso and Hungry Heroes can be your go to place for burger, pasta and shake fix.
SM City Sta. Mesa, previously called SM Centerpoint, can be a go-to for some entertainment and amusement with its feature of restaurants, KTV, and theaters. However, the night has its curfew as the mall has operating hours until 9 p.m. unless you went to see a last full show movie. You can also have a bottle or two of cold beers while singing the night away in karaoke bars such as Lucman’s Crib, JB Bar and Karaoke, and Dana KTV Bar.
Although Sta. Mesa is generally known for its love hotel strip along Old Sta. Mesa St., there are hotels that offer accommodation both to business and leisure travellers. Hotel Sogo Sta. Mesa and Halina Drive Inn Hotel are practical choices as these are near SM Sta. Mesa and public transportation. For a quieter place, Town and Country Hotel in V. Mapa is a considerable place to stay in.
Looking for a shortcut in Sta. Mesa? If you’re along Old Sta. Mesa Street going to Quirino Ave., there are motels that allow you to pass through for a small fee of five pesos at certain hours. The traffic can be horrendous along Old Sta. Mesa St. and turning to Valenzuela St. can take a while.
Don’t miss the chance to ride the PNR Commex train or the Pasig River ferry service, or even the infamous adventuresome trolley along the railway tracks, even for just the experience.
Support local. Buy local musical instruments in Sta. Mesa’s strip of music shops.