Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Historical Sites of Naga City

The Naga City Police Station at Barlin Street
Site of the Cuartel General of the Guardia Civil in Camarines. It was constructed of granite blocks and wood in 1870, shortly after the Guardia Civil succeeded the Carabinera de Seguridad Publica in 1863.

During the mass arrests in September 1896, Florencio Lerma (who was also held in the Casino Español); Cornelio Mercado; Don Tomas Prieto, alcalde of Nueva Caceres; and Macatio Valentin were brought to and tortured in the cuartel by Civil Guards under the direction of Captain Francisco Andreu, chief of the Guardia Civil in Ambos Camarines, and Don Ricardo Lacosta, Spanish civil governor of the province. The horrific torture wrenched the first of two legally infirm confessions from the frail pharmacist Prieto which the authorities used as basis for the arrest, torture and prosecution of scores of Filipinos in the province, some of whom were also subsequently forced to sign fabricated confessions under extreme duress.

Around midnight of 18 September 1898, two European Guards, a responding Spanish voluntario, Captain Andreu, his wife and children died in the cuartel when Filipino Civil Guard corporals Elias Angeles and Felix Plazo led an uprising of Bicolano and Tagalog Guards in Nueva Caceres. The action resulted in the formal surrender of the Spanish colonial government in Camarines, after more bloodshed, to the Filipino forces on 19 September 1898. Ciudad de Nueva Caceres and the province of Ambos Camarines thus became the first in the Bicol Region to be liberated by arms after three centuries and before the arrival of General Emilio Aguinaldo’s republican army in the city.

On 1 September 1901, following the organization by Captain Edward S. Luthi of a Philippine Constabulary Detachment in Ambos Camarines, the cuartel became the PC provincial headquarters. The occupancy by the Constabulary was interrupted by World War II, but the Constabulary soon returned after the war that saw Naga liberated from the Japanese Occupation forces on 13 April 1945 by guerrillas of Camarines Sur before the combined Filipino-American forces got to Naga, at that time the capital town of the province.

On 30 March 1978 the century-old building, which was by then the headquarters of the defunct Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP) in Camarines Sur. was totally razed by fire caused by faulty electrical wiring.

Site of the Casa Tribunal at Elias Angeles Street
Until 1839, the Casa Tribunal or “common house” at this site stood on grounds prone to flooding because of the Naga River that ran just behind the building. The river until that time veered rightwards just after the San Francisco Church, followed a course that is now roughly P. Burgos Street, then snaked left and ran roughly parallel to Elias Angeles Street until the river swerved eastward at the western end of Dinaga Street and continued into its present course.

Following Alcalde Mayor Manuel Esquivel y Castañeda’s project which rechanneled the twisting river into its present course and reclaimed the low-lying area from Padre Burgos and Dinaga, an improved, beautiful Casa Tribunal which provided free rooms to travelers stood on less soggy grounds in 1887. The Becerra Law of 12 November 1889 gave Nueva Caceres and six other principal towns in the Philippines the authority to organize their ayuntamiento similar to those in municipalities in Spain. The ayuntamiento in Nueva Caceres transacted official business in the Casa Tribunal. On 19 May 1893, the Maura Law changed the name Tribunal del Pueblo to Tribunal Municipio, and in Nueva Caceres people began to refer to the elegant ayuntamiento edifice of bricks and wood at the site as the municipio.

During the American colonial regime and the Commonwealth period, the building became the Municipal Presidencia. Destroyed by American bombs in World War II, it could not be immediately rebuilt as the city hall of the new city government of Naga due to a technicality. It was eventually rebuilt as a smaller wooden building that became the city police headquarters. After the century-old Spanish cuartel being used by the PC-INP burned down in 1978, the city government constructed a new building at the cuartel site which housed the Naga City Police Department. The former police headquarter building on this site became the Naga City Library until the latter’s transfer to its new, modern building in the City Hall complex.

Site of the Casino Español, corner Elias Angeles and Arana Streets
On this site stood the Casino Español, a spacious building of piedra china and wood that served as the social and recreational center of the male Spanish population of Nueva Caceres and neighboring towns.

Following the discovery of the Katipunan in Manila in August 1896, the Spaniards in Nueva Caceres organized themselves into homeguards and called their group the Cuerpo de Voluntarios. Patterning themselves after the Cuerpo Casino Español in Manila, the local volunarios made the Casino Español their headquarters.

When Civil Governor Ricardo Lacosta ordered to mass arrest all over Camarines starting in September 1896, the Casino Español became one of several holding areas for harsh interrogation and violent torture. Among those taken to the Casino were Antonio Arejola, Camilo Jacob (from the infirmary of the San Francisco Church), Florencio Lerma (who was subsequently transferred to the nearby Cuartel General of the Guardia Civil), Macario Melgarejo, Mariano Ordenanza and Manuel Pastor, and from Daet, Roman Cabesudo, Ponciano Caminar, Diego Liñan, Valentin Lipana, Gregorio Luyon, Adriano Pajarillo, and Pedro Zenarosa. Many arrests were made on mere denunciation by Spaniards in meetings in the Casino.

Two years after, in 1898, enraged Nagueños violently trashed the clubhouse during the bloody uprising led by Elias Angeles and Felix Plazo.

During the American regime, the building was acquired by pharmacist Julian de las Herras. American bombs destroyed it in World War II.

Site of the Casa Real at General Luna Street
By 1588, the Casa Real stood at this site. It was made of light indigenous materials and was the residence of the Alcaldo Mayor of Caceres who had jurisdiction over the entire Bicol Peninsula and Catanduanes. The building faced the Naga River which followed a course much nearer to it and remained so for two-and-a-half centuries.

In 1655, the Casa Real was of bricks and lime. The Alcalde Mayor still resided in the building. His jurisdiction had been delimited for more effective control to the geographical area roughly corresponding to present-day Camarines Sur. But because Nueva Caceres was the capital of the province (which at various periods included Camarines Norte) the Alcalde Mayor or Civil Governor also thereby exercised administrative control over the Spanish city which included the pre-Hispanic native villages of Naga, Tabuco, Camaligan and Canaman.

By 1792, in the site which was still vulnerable to sudden flooding from the wayward Naga River and to fire from the flimsy native houses crowded around the edifice, the Casa Real had been constructed with more durable stone materials. After the river’s course was straightened and the area up to the present Plaza Rizal cleared of homes and elevated with earthfill by 1839, the Spanish civil government as well as church authorities undertook a spate of public works projects. One of these was a new government building that, by 1887, had replaced the nearly century-old Casa Real. By then it was more popularly referred to as Casa de Gobierno. To the south side of the new government house was the civil governor’s residence, the lot and building of which were later acquired by an American, Judge Robert Manley, during the Commonwealth period.

Slightly damaged like other Spanish-vintage buildings in the 1898 uprising by Filipinos in Nueva Caceres, the Casa de Gobierno was enlarged and remodeled under the American colonial regime following the cessation of the Filipino-American War in Camarines Sur in the early 1900s. This was the same architectural icon that the invading Japanese Army took over in 1942 and which an all-Filipino guerrilla force in Camarines Sur wrested back, for the second time in World War II, from the Imperial Army of Nippon on 13 April 1945 before the joint Filipino and American soldiers arrived. Damaged by American bombing raids, the edifice was reconstructed under the new Philippine Government and remained the provincial capitol building of Camarines Sur until a fire destroyed it on 26 June 1976.

Calle Via Gainza (Peñafrancia Avenue)
Peñafrancia Avenue was first known as Via Gainza in honor of Bishop Francisco Gainza, O.P. (1863-1879), the 25th and considered by many to have been the greatest Spanish bishop of the See of Caceres.

Until around the second quarter of the 19th century, the thoroughfare was an unpaved road that stretched from the Peñafrancia Shrine in the present Barangay Peñafrancia to the San Francisco Church in front of what is now the Plaza de Quince Martires. Under his prelacy, Gainza widened and paved the road with stones and extended it to its present junction with the western end of Panganiban Drive that was then known as Calle Legaspi. Bishop Gainza’s design had the paved road with two outer lanes for opposing vehicular traffic and a middle lane for pedestrians.

Francisco Caracciolo Urreta Vizcaya de Gainza was born on 3 June 1818 in the city of Calahorra, province of Logroño, Spain. He joined the Dominican Order in 1833 and arrived on assignment to the Philippines in 1846. From a professorial chair in the University of Santo Tomas, he went on to hold various positions and assignments in and outside the country.

A month after he was consecrated bishop of Caceres at the Santo Domingo Church in Manila, he assumed his office in Nueva Caceres, on 19 March 1863. His episcopal rule saw the improvement of the Metropolitan Cathedral along with various churches in his See that at the time encompassed the Bicol Region and the eastern seaboard of Luzon up to Palanan, Isabela. He gave immediate, particular emphasis to the reconstruction and beautification of the Peñafrancia Shrine. A born linguist, he wrote the definitive history of the Patroness in the Bicol language in 1866. On that same year, he delivered his sermon in Bicol. An academic as much as a missionary, he had Fray Marcos Lisboa’s Vocabulario de la Lengua Bicol, long out of print since 1754, reprinted in 1865. The tome had been his basis for his study of the language.

As Delegate of the Pope, a position he held concurrently as bishop of Caceres, he spoke out openly and joined the archbishop of Manila and the bishop of Cebu in refusing to defrock Fathers Burgos, Gomez and Zamora as formally requested by the Soanish government in the Philippines.
As an educator he reorganized the curriculum of what is now the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary and turned it into the premier educational institution in Southern Luzon that produced priests and bishops and lay Bicolano and Tagalog professionals up to the early part of the 20h century. His most visible legacy is the present Universidad de Santa Isabel which he established first as a primary school for girls in 1868, then as the first Normal College for women in the Philippines, called the Escuela Superior, in 1875.

On the same year that he opened the Escual Superior, he organized and successfully held in Nueva Caceres the first agricultural and industrial exposition ever in the Bicol Region. On a more lasting note, he extended the novenary in the Metropolitan Cathedral to Saturday, a practice observed to this day and opened with the annual traslaciom of the Lady of Peñafrancia down the length of Peñafrancia Avenue that once was named Via Gainza in his honor and memory. In the 1920s Via Gainza was shortened to that stretch up to Paz Street only; from Paz Street southward, it became Mabini Street.

Calle Real (Elias Angeles Street)
Calle Real was one of the earliest streets in Spanish Nueva Caceres. It was laid out at about the time that the Castilian settlement was established as a city towards the close of the 1500s.
Originally, Calle Real ran in a northwesterly direction. From the eastern end of present-day Caceres Street (originally Calle Padian) it skirted the western bank of the original course of the Naga River at the central downtown area. It ended just beyond the Casa Real, and was connected by an unpaved road (in the area of P. Burgos Street now) along the northern side of the same river to the San Francisco Church in the east.

By the first half of the 19h century, Calle Real had been reoriented and lengthened in a more northerly direction that it retains to the present. With the transfer and construction of the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Seminario Conciliar and the bishop’s palace at their present site in the 1820s, the Ciudad’s central area enlarged with the rechanneling of the Naga River two decades later and the Colegio de Santa Isabel built afterwards, the paved Calle Real provided a wide and impressive avenue to which the road from Magarao, then called Camino para Nueva Caceres, linked up through the street that by 1899 would be called Bagumbayan.

Calle Real figured as a historic backdrop to events of September 1898, not the least having been the establishment of the Revolutionary Filipino Government of Camarines headed by Elias Angeles in the Colegio which faces the same street that witnessed the early shedding of Castilian blood and on which a delegation of Spaniards less than twenty-fours later walked to formalize the capitulation and end of Spanish colonial rule in the province.

On 15 January 1929, the Municipal Council of Naga (the name which had replaced Nueva Caceres) unanimously passed a resolution asking the American Governor-General of the Philippines for authorization to conduct a drive for public voluntary contributions to fund the construction of a monument to Elias Angeles. Twenty-nine years later, in 1958, the proposal remained unacted. In the meantime, Calle Real had been renamed Calle Elias Angeles.

Calle de Legaspi (Western portion of Panganiban Drive)
Until the 1830s, this street did not exist. It was part of the marshy land of the pre-Hispanic village of Naga then bordered by the eastern bank of the Naga River. The river at that time followed a course that ran roughly parallel to the present-day Elias Street, from what is now P. Burgos Street, to the western end of Dinaga Street.

By 1839 when the river had been straightened to its present course and the swampy land all the way to Dinaga had been filled up, a rudimentary road from the side of the ayuntamiento building known as the Municipio appeared. It served as a short cut from Calle Real to the new western bank of Rio Naga. A light bridge of wooden planks and bamboo railings provided the first direct link to the other side of the river, to the Camino Real that led to Pili and points beyond. Around 1850, a solidly constructed bridge replaced the wooden span. It eliminated the need for heavy, wheeled vehicles to take the roundabout way via Tabuco to reach the Camino Real in the Pueblo of Naga. Vehicular traffic through the short cut increased and it gained importance as a commercial artery. When the authorities during the second half of the 19th century began to improve roads and name them after illustrious Spaniards, the once lowly footpath became Calle de Legaspi.

Puente de Naga (Lt. Delfin Rosales Bridge)
Before Alcalde Mayor Manuel Esquivel undertook his reclamation project, the area bisected by the Rio Naga east of Calle Real was part of the Pueblo of Naga. At that time Naga was accessed from the Ciudad de Nueva Caceres by a bridge of wooden slabs at the river’s original bend south of the San Francisco Church. This bridge led to a road that is now approximately Balintawak Street and ran in a north to southwest direction to the Pueblo de Tabuco. Perpendicular to the road in Naga was the Camino Real going to Pili.

Following the completion of Esquivel’s project around 1839, the Camino Real was extended to the new eastern bank of Rio Naga while a road was laid out on the opposite side that became Calle de Legaspi. With the appropriation of government funds in 1844 for the construction of a sturdier link between the two points, the existing light bridge was replaced with a massively designed one of concrete in 1847. The bridge was named Puente de Naga, and until the early parts of the 1900s people referred to it by that name. In the 1920s the bridge was renamed in honor of Bicolano Jose Maria Panganiban, a leading light in the Propaganda Movement.

Following its passage by the Sangguniang Panlungsod on 18 October 1989, Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo approved the ordinance that changed the name of the bridge to honor the memory of Lt. Delfin C. Rosales who sustained mortal wounds from enemy fire while rescuing a fallen guerrilla soldier on the bridge during one of the most significant events of the city’s history in the 20th century—the Battle for Naga in April 1945 by the combined Filipino and American soldiers.

Site of the House of Bicolano Martyr Tomas Prieto (Corner Panganiban Drive and Peñafrancia Avenue)
Around half a century after the reclamation of this land area bounded by the present Naga River on the east, P. Burgos Street on the north, and Elias Angeles Street on the west all the way down Dinaga to the river boundary with Tabuco on the south, Don Tomas Prieto acquired a residential lot on which he built a large house on this site. He allowed a poor Chinese to use a portion of the ground floor while he himself put up his pharmacy store that opened to present-day Peñafrancia Avenue and Panganiban Drive. His botica soon became a favorite meeting place for resident and visiting ilustrados. Gifted with a photographic memory, he entertained his friends and guests who included a Freemason and fellow pharmacist from Cavite, Victoriano Luciano, with verbatim recitations of passages and even chapters of politically banned publications, including Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Luciano was likewise executed by the Spaniards in 1896.

Born on 18 September 1867, Tomas Prieto was the youngest of six children of Dee Se Co, a Chinese from Amoy, China, who took the name Marcos Prieto upon his baptism, and Juana Antonio, a resident native of Nueva Caceres. He spent his early years in the family house which was then at Calle Padian in what is now a part of the Naga City public market. Following his studies in the Seminario Conciliar de Nueva Caceres, he went to the University of Santo Tomas in Manila where he earned a Bachiller en Artes degree. He took up further studies in pharmacy and passed the examinations with the highest grades (sobresalientes) in 1888.

Returning to Nueva Caceres, he put up the first and only botica in the province at that time. He had an inclination for politics and by 1895 he was alcalde (equivalent to mayor) of Nueva Caceres. He still held the position when Spanish voluntarios from the Casino Español arrested him in his fairly new residence late in the evening of 16 September 1896 following an incriminatory confession by Vicente Lukban to the authorities in Manila.

Pronounced guilty by a Spanish military tribunal of the trumped-up charge of rebellion as defined in Articles 229, 230 and 232 of the Codigo Penal para Filipinas, he was executed by firing squad at 7:00 o’clock in the morning of 4 January 1897 at Bagumbayan Field in Manila together with his elder brother, Rev. Fr. Gabriel Prieto, and nine others from Nueva Caceres, namely, Rev. Fr. Severino Diaz, Rev. Fr. Inocencio Herrera, Manuel Abella, Domingo Abella, Camilo Jacob, Florencio Lerma, Mariano Melgarejo, Cornelio Mercado, and Macario Valentin. On 11 November 1896, nearly two months before the trial took place, Don Tomas Prieto’s house on this site and the properties of others arrested and executed with him were confiscated by the government on grounds of rebellion and disloyalty. Don Tomas left behind him his wife, Filomena Pasion, a niece of Mariano Arana, another martyred Bicolano from Nueva Caceres, and four young children. He was twenty-nine years old.

San Francisco Church
The church and parish of San Francisco antedated the erection of the Diocese of Caceres in 1595 by nearly two decades.

Originally of bamboo and other light materials, the church was built in this present site on a north-south orientation. Its puerta mayor faced its parish, the pre-colonial pueblo of Naga which lay across the Naga River that at that time curved from its southerly course to a westerly direction before winding southward again alongside present-day Elias Angeles Street.

By the middle of the 17th century, a church of bricks and lime had been constructed. Nearly two centuries later, San Francisco lost a portion of its parish when the river, straightened to its present course to mitigate flooding in Nueva Caceres, established the new boundary between native Naga and the Ciudad de Españoles. The two were connected about a decade afterwards by the new Puente de Naga, but the new boundary later precipitated an ecclesiastical controversy that contributed to the death of Fr. Gabril Prieto and Fr. Severino Diaz.

In the mass arrests of September 1896, the infirmary and basement of the San Francisco parish house were used for the interrogation and torture of some of those arrested from Nueva Caceres to as far as Libmanan. Among the detainees were Mateo Antero, Leon Hernandez (who was transferred to the provincial jail where he died from more torture), Camilo Jacob (transferred to the Casino Español), Eugenio Ocampo, Severo Patrocinio, Pablo Perpetua (later also taken to the provincial jail), Celedonio Reyes, Juan Razonable, and Vicente Ursua.

The infirmary, convento, and the church itself became the refuge of some 500 men, women and children when the Filipino Guardia Civil contingent led by corporals Elias Angeles and Felix Plazo rose up in arms against the colonial government towards midnight of 18 September 1896.

Following another attack by the Angeles-Plazo forces the next day, Civil Governor sent a letter from San Francisco offering to surrender the Province of Ambos Camarines to the Filipinos. In the afternoon of 19 September, a delegation of Spaniards signed the protocol of surrender in the Colegio de Santa Isabel, which became the seat of the new Filipino government of the province formed by Elias Angeles that same day.

Reduced to rubble by the heavy bombing of Naga in World War II, the church remained in ruins until the present new edifice was constructed.


Blogger Unknown said...


Can you share the sources of the information for this blog post? I am helping my nephew do his research on Naga's history.

Warm regards,

10:24 PM  

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