Ilocos Sur

Brief History

There are two legends as to how the Municipality of San Esteban developed and got its name. The first legend states that the town was known by the name “Cabagbagototan”, from Iloco word “bagbagotot” which refers to a wild bush that produces numerous and elongated woody stems that bears berry-like fruits. The place, according to the legend, had vast wilderness with tree underbrush and grasses, yet the “bagbagotot” were predominant to one’s view, the reason why it was aptly called “Cabagbagototan” or place where “bagbagotot” abound.
The other legend puts it that a stranger named “Iban” or “Esteban” came to this town. For undisclosed reason, the townsfolks stoned him to death. They even beheaded him, and in the town held a feast around the dissevered head. The site of the feast was called “Naglawlawan” (Iloco word to place where inhabitants gather around for a purpose). Today, the same site located at the southern portion of town is where the town’s cemeteries are established.
The second legend did not stop at the “feast”. It winds itself to more developments, to wit: the name of the place was changed from “Cabagbagototan” to “San Esteban” when the townsfolks who stoned and beheaded the stranger discovered that he was a Catholic who rather died professing his belief and conviction than escape or fight back to the anger of the natives.
A shift to a factual details of the incident, however, was noticed when the people discovered for the first time that the place where they stoned the stranger was later on teeming with stones with good texture and attractive shapes. From that discovery to the present, quarrying industry prospered in the same site. The beautiful and decorative cobbles and stones were saleable to contractors of buildings, parks, landscapes, and others.
The strong belief of the natives of the goodness of the stranger they killed led to the renaming of their place as “San Esteban” in his honor whom they consider as “the town’s first martyr of the Roman Catholic Church”.
Naming the place after him was reaffirmed by the policy of the Spanish Government to name all towns of Ilocos Sur Province after the name of saints.