Santa Rosa: The Lion City of the South

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Things to Do in Santa Rosa
  3. Getting Around Santa Rosa
  4. How to Get to Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa City, the second-largest government unit in Laguna after Calamba, is a first-class city located west of Laguna de Bay. 

Named after the famous body of water forming its northern boundary, the province of Laguna is a place imbued with history and patriotism. Besides notably being the birthplace of the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, Laguna has also ridden the tide of globalization and technological innovation across the centuries. Back in 1688, Santa Rosa was known as Barrio Bukol, before being politically emancipated as the municipality of Santa Rosa on January 15, 1972—named after Saint Rose of Lima.

During the post-war era, until the 70s, the small community of Sta Rosa depended largely on basic agriculture and family-owned enterprise for their livelihood—but with the 80s came the entry of industrialization and fast-paced economic transformation. The once picturesque Hispanic town of Bukol has gone a long way. The city holds not only the remnants of the Philippines’ embattled past, but also some great economic opportunities in the present day.

Sta Rosa Laguna Weather

The Lion City of the South

Sta. Rosa is comparable to a lion that spends most of its day resting calmly. Having only been declared as a city in the Philippines last July 2004, Santa Rosa was said to have the potential of becoming the Makati of the South. Three years into its conversion as a city, Santa Rosa reached a P1-billion income. Now, more than a decade later, the influx of foreign and local investors who take interest in Santa Rosa allowed it to more than double its yearly income.

A Thriving Economy Nestled by the Bay

Santa Rosa is gearing up to be one of the contributors to the country’s sprawling number of booming business hubs. The city is known for one of its major economic drivers, the car manufacturing industry. Santa Rosa, dubbed as the Motor City of the Philippines, is host to Toyota Motors Philippines, Honda Cars Philippines, Nissan Motors Philippines, and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation. All of these contribute to 95% of the whole country’s total automotive production. Moreover, Santa Rosa is also home to industrial parks and major residential communities, and eyed by IT-BPM firms as a possible hub. This is because of the many special economic zones strategically located within the vicinity.


Visit the Country’s First World-class Theme Park

Nowadays, Santa Rosa enjoys its status as South Luzon’s major residential, commercial, and industrial center. One of its most notable developments is the Philippines’ first-ever theme park, opened to the public on October 1, 1965. The 17-hectare theme park is now one of the Filipinos’ go-to places whatever the weather. Families and friends venture out to Laguna just to experience the magic of the purple wizard—no matter the age! 

Enchanted Kingdom—dubbed as EK by many—is one of the many reasons Santa Rosa has stayed on everyone’s radar for so long. As its tagline goes, the magic lives forever.

Bike and Explore Nature

One of the most famous developments in the heart of Laguna is Nuvali. It is a master-planned residential, commercial, and recreational development complex that has practically everything a tourist looking to have a good time wants. The 2,290-hectare development is located in Sta Rosa, Calamba, and the municipality of Cabuyao, Laguna—a sustainable and environmentally-friendly space that allows for the harmonious co-existence of nature and its inhabitants.

At Nuvali, there is an array of different fun activities that can be enjoyed by foodies, adrenaline junkies, leisure travelers, or even the locals. There is always something to do within the expansive complex.

For those who enjoy the rush of heavy-duty activities, Nuvali has a good network of paved roads and designated bike paths that offer a lot of opportunities for biking. Those who want to take it up a notch also have the option to explore off-road trails by mountain bike. The tracks and trails system includes approximately 50km of off-road biking and running trails. In fact, it is the venue of the Nuvali Dirt Weekend—one of the most anticipated mountain biking events in the Philippines. 

Shop to Your Heart’s Content

Who doesn’t love great finds and bargain prices? At Paseo de Sta. Rosa, the cheaper prices make it seem like there’s a never-ending sale for Filipinos and tourists alike. Outlet stores are a saving grace for the typical Juan de la Cruz, giving people access to designer products at discounted prices that retailers usually get straight from the manufacturers.

Paseo de Sta. Rosa is sometimes considered as the outlet capital of the Philippines. It has three outlet shops that gather multiple brands under one roof, and a dozen brands that have put up their own shops, as well. Paseo de Sta. Rosa is a shopaholic’s paradise. It has everything, from proactive sports goods, gear, and equipment to designer clothes or shoes. The mall will surely provide tourists with whatever their hearts yearn for.

See Santa Rosa’s Version of Intramuros

Santa Rosa has its very own version of Intramuros, known as the Cuartel de Santo Domingo. It is an old two-storey Spanish barracks building currently being used as the headquarters of the Special Action Police Force of the Philippine National Police. True to the city’s traditional heritage, the fort was declared a National Historic Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in 2005. The barracks played a crucial role during the era of Gen. Emilio Aguinalo, proving to be one of the best tourist spots for city visits, and drawing investors to consider Santa Rosa for property purchases. The ruins of Cuartel de Santo Domingo served as a fort against the attacks of bandits and other lawless elements back in the day.

Learn More about Santa Rosa’s History 

Near the City Plaza and Parish Church, the Museo de Santa Rosa was established to give pride to the rich history of the city and to commemorate the heroic deeds of the Santa Rosa heroes. Not only does it tell the historical events that occurred inside the city, but the museum’s physical foundation also tells stories of its heritage. Before it was redesigned as the city museum in 1954, the structure, built in 1828 during the Spanish period, served as a government building—under the reign of Gobernadorcillo Don Bernardo Zavalla.


Sta Rosa is approximately 40 kilometers south of Metro Manila, lying within the first district of the province of Laguna. It is accessible via the South Luzon Expressway through its two exits: Santa Rosa (KM 38) and Greenfield City – ETON City – ABI (KM 42).

A lot of motorists also use Santa Rosa as a gateway to Tagaytay City, seeing as the Sta. Rosa—Tagaytay Road is one of the easiest and fastest routes to reach the popular weekend getaway. Jeepneys, buses, and tricycles are also available within the city for commuters who want to travel within and around the area.

One of the common ways to go around the city is riding tricycles. In fact, it’s the vehicle the majority of tourists use when going to Enchanted Kingdom after being dropped off at Walmart Mall. Usually, drivers charge P10 per person. In the city center, tricycles are everywhere, servicing early in the morning until the evening. Tourists can then find and hail them easily from where they are.

Another way to explore the city is through riding bikes. As mentioned above, tourists can enjoy the lush, verdant surroundings and cycling trails of Nuvali. It’s the ideal destination for tourists who want to see the nature side of Santa Rosa. The management of the eco-city offers bike rental services. The fee is P80 per hour. On top of this, Nuvali provides taxi boats, too. Tourists can relax and enjoy the scenic joyride at the Lakeside for just P40 per head.

Aside from trikes, bikes, and boats, jeeps are also common transportation options in going around Santa Rosa. Last year, there were modern fleets servicing locals and tourists. The seven-meter-long vehicle accommodates 21 passengers and features a space for a couple of standing passengers. The jeeps are equipped with a global positioning system device, WiFi, and air conditioning system. The fare starts at P11.


Boasting of a highly accessible location, Santa Rosa is only at the tip of Metro Manila, and right at the heart of the CALABARZON region. The city is surrounded by major roads and transport hubs, which facilitate easier travels for tourists who want to explore. Here are some of the ways the public can reach the Lion City of the South. 

By Bus

Buses are one of the most common transportation options when going to Santa Rosa. Currently, there are two companies offering services for tourists coming from Metro Manila: Jam Liner and Jac Liner. Both bus lines have trips bound for Balibago. This barangay houses the city’s transport terminal, where tourists can find transportation for going around the municipality.

Jam has two terminals in the metro. In Cubao, the first trip leaves at 3AM, while the last trip is at 8PM. The fare is P78. Meanwhile, in its LRT Buendia terminal, the first trip is at 5AM, while the last one is at 10PM. They charge P68. The buses have air conditioning systems and on-board video and stereo.

Meanwhile, Jac Liner has buses bound for Balibago in their Kamias terminal. The first trip leaves at 4AM, while the last is at 10PM. The fleets are also equipped with cooling systems and television. Some also have Wi-Fi on board.

There are also other bus companies that offer trips to municipalities near Santa Rosa. HM Bus Transport and DLTB Bus, for instance, are bound for Sta. Cruz. Tourists can get off Calamba and ride a jeep going to Santa Rosa. 

It takes about an hour or two for tourists to travel from Metro Manila to the city proper by bus.

By Jeep

Among tourists coming from nearby CALABARZON provinces, such as Batangas and Cavite, as well as Metro Manila cities in the South, jeeps are the most convenient transportation option. In particular, people coming from Tanauan and Tagaytay can already find jeeps bound for Balibago on national highways. Meanwhile, for those who are from Carmona, the easiest route is to ride a jeep to Biñan, and from there, get on a jeep going to Santa Rosa.

On the other hand, tourists coming from Muntinlupa and Las Piñas can ride a jeep bound for the Metropolis Mall from the West Service road or Alabang-Zapote Road. From there, they can ride a jeep to Balibago.

By Private Car

Driving with your own private vehicle may be the fastest and most convenient of all options. The city is accessible via the SLEX through four exits: Greenfield City (Mampalasan), Santa Rosa, Eton City, and Calamba. The estimated travel time from Manila to the city proper using a car is 45 minutes. 

The best thing about using this transportation option is that you get to stop by the sights you want to take pictures of, or restaurants you want to try. In Greenfield City alone, you’ll find a lot of recreational facilities already, from lifestyle malls to park spaces.

Did You Know?

Santa Rosa’s historical past goes as far back as 1571 when the Spanish Conquistador Juan de Salcedo discovered Biñan. Santa Rosa was a part of Biñan back then, and was known as Barrio Bukol. After being emancipated as a municipality, the town was named after Saint Rose of Lima of Peru, whose protection and patronage it was consecrated to.

Not only does Santa Rosa have subtle hints of colonialism in its heritage, but Santa Rosa also played a significant part in the revolutionary period—thus promoting patriotism during dangerous times. During this era, Santa Rosa was instrumental in the proclamation of Philippine Independence from Spain when it signed the Act of Independence on June 12, 1898. The town’s local revolutionaries fought alongside the forces of General Pio del Pilar during the Filipino-American War. Santa Rosa was liberated by the members of the Filipino guerilla resistance movement on February 5, 1945.

Nowadays, Santa Rosa keep safe and clean its historical areas of interest, such as the Baroque-style Roman Catholic Church built by the Spanish Dominican Order, circa 1792; the Arch de Triumph style structure, circa 1931; Spanish style houses, circa 1800s; Cuartel de Santo Domingo, mini Spanish bastion, circa 1872; and the City Museum, circa 1900. In this way, the city moves forward without forgetting where it came from and what it went through.


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