There is no specific history record as to how Santol got its name but tradition speaks of two accounts which is tied up to a tree called Santol. “The first version states that this place was once a favorite hunting ground for people of the Ilocandia, notably the people from San Vicente, locos Sur who were very much interested in sculpture specially in the making of images. In one of their adventures in this place, they came to see a big tree which we now call as Santol tree and from then on made it their main material in making images.

                  So remarkable was the size of the Santol tree that many images were carved out from one single trunk. During those days then, idols/images or “Santo” were made out mostly of that big tree. In the same manner that the tree got its name “santol” (because of its common use as material for making “Santol”), the municipality also got its name from that historic tree, hence Santol.” If this story were to be believed, it would account then for the scarcity of Santol trees in the municipality at present. “

                According to the second version, the more popular one, it was during the Spanish-American war that Santol got its name. It is said that when the Spanish soldiers pass by the place, they met women carrying baskets full of ripe santol fruits. The soldiers asked the name of the place, but, the women did not understand. Spanish and just thought that the soldiers were asking the name of the fruits they’re carrying. And so they answered, “santol, Apo.” The soldiers did not understand the local dialect and all they remembered was the word Santol, hence the name of the place.”


           Originally, Santol was then a mere barrio of Balaoan, La Union. Subsequently in 1908, through the able leadership of a village head named Camilot, it succeeded in organizing into a township to the sub-province of Amburayan, Mountain Province. Eventually, Camilot was appointed Municipal President. The first seat of township building was immediately built in Barrio Tubaday which is one of the easternmost barangay of the municipality today.

           Fourteen years later, the Mountain Province relinquished the Township of Amburayan River of which Santol became a Municipal District of the Province of La Union. Pedro Arellano became the first Municipal President. Finally, it was in April 30, 1949 through Executive Order No. 214 of then President Elpidio Quirino that Santol was reclassified into a regular municipality.