During the pre-Spanish times, San Juan was a mere village until it became a small encomienda in 1590. Formerly a barrio of Santa Ana de Sapa, which was ruled by King Lacantagean and his wife Bouan, the town derived its name from the patron saint San Juan de Bautista (Saint John the Baptist), and “Del Monte,” often annexed to it, was named after the hilly structure of the land.
In 1602, the Dominican friars built a retreat house for their immediate use, where aging convalescing friars stayed. Later, the Dominicans Constructed a convent sanctuary and a stone church dedicated to the Holy Cross, a church destined to be ravaged during the Spanish occupation. To this day, the thrice-rebuilt Church of the Holy Cross stands on the same site, with the Aquinas School for the boys and the Dominican College for the girls. In 1783, San Juan became independent of Sta. Ana but it was still then a barrio.
History remained silent in the town of San Juan until August 30, 1896 when Spanish-Filipino war erupted and became the most inspiring battle in our history, the Battle of San Juan Del Monte.
Conversion of the Municipality of San Juan into a Highly-Urbanized City
For quite some time, the effort to convert the Municipality into a highly-urbanized city had been difficult. Not only because of its small land area and limited income, but its population, according the National Statistics Office, seemed to be decreasing every census year despite the influx of people due to establishment of high-rise condominiums and business enterprises in the municipality.
In 2006, Representative Ronaldo Zamora re-filed the cityhood bill in the House of Representatives geared with a special computation of its population and boasting of the remarkable 200% increase in its income. It was approved and later forwarded to the Philippine Senate. Both Houses approved the bill and, on March 2008, it was transmitted to the Office of the President for signature. The 30-day veto period lapsed which automatically entitled the provision to a plebiscite.
After months of campaign, the plebiscite was held and received more than 96% of YES votes. On June 17, 2008, Republic Act 9388 Converting the Municipality of San Juan into a Highly Urbanized City was approved.