The municipality of Sta. Cruz was an active participant in the making of Mindanao’s and Philippines’ histories. From the Spanish rule, to American regime, to Japanese occupation, to independence, to Martial Law, to EDSA Revolution, Sta. Cruz’ story was intricately interwoven into the country’s saga.
More than a century-old municipality, Sta. Cruz was legally created last October 5, 1884 and it is the third oldest town in Mindanao. This gulf was originally called LABO, a Bagobo word meaning marshland. The Bagobo-Tagabawa tribe ruled by Datu Ali were the early settlers in the area.
According to pioneers, Sta. Cruz originated its name way back in 1880 when Spaniards planted a cross under a shelter upon their failure to Christianize the settlers who continued to resist them. Another group of migrants settled adjacent to the cross whcih was near to the present municipal building site, the place came to be know as “SA CRUZ” which means at the cross.
Official records from Manila Archives also described how the town got its name during the Spanish Administration. It was documented that on October 4, 1884, Angel Rodriguez, Spanish Governor General of Mindanao province arrived on board the warship “Garduqui” escorted by a sergeant, corporal and 12 other persons from the capital detachment. They were greeted by both Christian and non-Christian inhabitants bringing with them banners bearing the embroidered word “STA. CRUZ”.
The next day (October 5), Rodriguez blessed the town “STA. CRUZ SA MINDANAO”. For the succeeding years, the municipality came to be known as STA. CRUZ.