San Juan, Philippines, was reestablished as a Santa Barbara Sister City on October 10, 2000, by the Santa Barbara City Council. San Juan Metro Manila, Philippines expressed a desire to re-join the City of Santa Barbara in a Sister City relationship. The City had a Sister City relationship with San Juan, Rizal, and Philippine Islands in 1965 which was transferred to Santo Domingo Illocos Sur, Philippine Islands in 1981; this relationship was terminated in 1986.
Santa Barbara has an active Filipino community and a local heritage that can be traced to 1788 at the Presidio Chapel. It is here that the earliest known grave of a Filipino in the State of California is located.
In 2017, a delegation of 11 diplomats and officals from San Juan, Philippines, led by San Juan's Vice Mayor Janella M. Ejercito, visited Santa Barbara in honor and furtherance of our Sister Cities relationship. While in Santa Barbara, the delegation met with then-Mayor Helene Schneider who accompanied the delegation, along with representatives from the Santa Barbara branch of the San Juan Sister Cities group, during much of the visit. The delegation was also introduced to members of the local Filipino community who hosted a lively welcome dinner and dance for the visitors at the Filipino Community Center.
Through the course of their stay, visiting officials were introduced to local cuisine, had an opportunity to tour the Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez wine regions, spent an afternoon enjoying lunch at the beach in the City's beachfront Las Palmas facility, experienced local government in action, had the opportunity to speak at a City Council meeting, and heard from a variety of local representatives regarding Santa Barbara's education system, economy, tourism, business industry, and emergency operations.
It was a first-time visit for many of the delegates, and most vowed to return again. The visit was a mutually delightful and memorable experience for all involved, and definitely strengthened the Santa Barbara-San Juan Sister Cities bond!
We invite you to watch a brief video about San Juan, Philippines that includes clips from the delegation's 2017 visit to Santa Barbara. Enjoy!