Sunday, May 11, 2014

Naga City's Public Plaza and Naga Church (Cebu Province)

The other Naga City in the Philippines isn't near Nora Aunor's hometown (in Bicol), but my childhood nanny's. I remember her distinctly because she introduced me to the realm of the folkloric Visayan aswangs: Agta, santilmo, kikik, etc. After visiting Carcar, I decided to drop by Naga on my way back to Cebu City.

City Hall
Naga, founded 1829 by the Spaniards, is 22 kilometers from Cebu City, roughly about an hour by commuter bus (including all the stops to drop and pick up passengers along the way). It's easy to see why it easily qualified for its cityhood although it had the same "on-again, off-again" status like Carcar. In 2009, the Supreme Court decided to bestow its cityhood with finality. 

Factories of steel and cement, a power plant, a company producing semi-conductor gadgets for mobile phones, a marble industry, a shoe village - these constitute some of the businesses that make Naga a vibrant community. They have a well-laid out City Plaza and the Naga Baywalk, officially called St. Francis Ocean Park, a scenic seaside promenade, to show for these commercial and industrial potboilers. 

With a population (105,000) smaller than Carcar's, it's evident that the emergence of the factories and commercial plants have made Naga a more progressive place, and it shows. Unfortunately, Naga doesn't have Carcar's cultural and historical artifacts.

I took a multicab from Carcar (just a kilometer away from the Naga City boundary, PhP25) and got off when I saw the Metro Mall. In this area, you will find the city hall (that was being renovated during my visit) and the beautiful town plaza which displays Andres Bonifacio on a pedestal (instead of Jose Rizal); the Children's Playground; and the Naga Church (St. Francis de Assisi).. 

The Children's Park reminds me of how it probably once was: graciously carved concrete statues (with oodles of broken parts) surround a dry fountain; paint chipping off briskly. You do wonder why maintenance of this seemingly once-glorious park had been neglected. A sign of the city's true financial standing? Or simply one of governmental indifference? 


Naga Church, officially called St. Francis of Assisi Church, was built sometime in the 17th century. It was designed by Fr. Santos Maranon. Constructed out of coral stone, Spanish priest Fr. Simeon Aguirre supervised its construction with free manual labor provided by the Naganian townsfolk. With a 5-level stand-alone bell tower, Naga Church has simple interiors. Too simple in fact. White walls and a yellow altar define the interiors. There's sparseness of statues and other religious regalia, and the gradually fading walls are starting to show their gray undercoat. 

From the outside, the two minarets are styled like Carcar's St. Catherine Church, but that's where the similarity stops. The sculpted cornices are chipping off fast, and as earlier mentioned, the white paint is fading fast. The church looks worn and neglected with hardly a sign of care or refurbishment. Ain't that sad? A "third class industrial" city with bustling commercial establishments has thrown its very central landmark to utter neglect. 

I couldn't help but think that the development of their beautiful Baywalk, fetching as it is, has probably left the city penniless for the maintenance of their other landmarks. Unless there's another story behind this.

This is the Eye in the Sky!     

Andres Bonifacio

Dry fountain's chipping off paint.

A burst of colors at the Playground.

Broken statues and paint fading fast.

Naga Church waits to crumble

Eye-catching Bell Tower.

Don Sergio Osmena, former President of the Philippines during the Japanese Regime.

Metro shopping center

I had to squeeze in to fit on the chair in this Cebu City-bound bus.

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