Archive for the ‘History’ Category

A time to build, a time to heal—a poignant account of the fire damage in Naga

November 20, 2008

by Acela Badiola-Bretan

From Leni Robredo, here are the pictures from the Naga City Fire. According to Leni, the city’s priority is to assist the stallholders so they could start selling their goods again ASAP. But most of the stallholders were small-time entrepreneurs and none of them had their goods insured.”—Melyn Lucido, CSI’81

When I asked the vendors how long they will be back, nobody can give a definite answer. Looking at their faces, I experienced a surge of emotions. I was happy to know that they are still able to sell and earn a living for their children and family. At the same time I felt sad because they have to endure harsh conditions and nobody’s sure for how long this will last.”—Dusktildawn (UP Ibalon Blog, 11/17/08)

It’s no wonder why Naga sorely misses the market that has been razed by fire. Many ask how long it will take the government to restore the place to its original ambience. As one can imagine, the supermarket is truly the heart of a vibrant city where businesses flourish and the soul of the people dwells.”—Pitoy Moreno (UP Ibalon Blog, 11/15/08)

Iyo baga…Alms. Si Sherry Guerrero may Botica Lexar. Ang tugang ni Melyn igwa man 24 K pawnshop sa first floor. Napa-ngiturugan ko ngani ang supermarket several weeks ago ta dati akong alalay ni mama pag nagsasaod. Ang price ko kan pagbitbit kang sinaudan kadto iyo an mag snack duman sa kanto kan saodan na igwa nin mga turu-turo na loglog.”—Bingbing Badiola, CSI’81.

The first floor of the supermarket was spared, dai man nasulo. Si 2nd and 3rd floors ang nasulo… Nakasalvar si botica ni Sherry and pawn shop ni Tita Belits. Ang aram ko si Felo may meat store sa 3rd floor… Mapungaw, ta crisis na ngani, nangyari pa ining sulo na ini..” –Nenette Abrigo, CSI’81

Aram na baga what started the fire? Was the entire 2nd and 3rd floor razed down? Sinabihan ako kan sobrino ko kan Friday mismo na state of calamity ngani daa kamo dyan. Hope everything would turn out okay ta harani na baga ang holidays, herak man ang mga na-displace…”—Aleta Gehrke. CSI’81. (Photo Credits: Leni Robredo)

NOTE: The fire that gutted the Naga Supermarket happened on Thursday, November 7, 2008 after a province-wide black-out. It was theorized that an unattended candle ignited the blaze. =0=

RELATED BLOGS: “Naga Public Market (Supermarket) Burns Down” Posted by myty555 at 11/07/2008; “Huge Loss in Naga Supermarket Fire” Posted by mesiamd at 11/09/2008;”Fire brings woes to Naga City market vendors” Posted by mesiamd at 11/07/2008; “Feeling the loss of Maogmang Lugar’s market fire”
Posted by mesiamd at 11/15/2008.

Calle Natong: Naga City’s populist way of naming a street

August 27, 2008


In earlier days, ill-descript Bagumbayan Interior, in Naga City, Philippines could barely be regarded as a street. It was a short and dusty alley close to Ateneo de Naga University (AdenU) campus. The name gave a hint of a semi-wild location where planks of rickety wood served as elevated platforms—like toy bridges over muddy ditches behind the main road leading to Canaman, Bombon, Quipayo, Magarao, and Calabanga, not far from Universidad de Sta Isabel University (USI) and Camarines Sur National High (CSNHS.)

The unpaved alley’s name stuck for years. No one raised any objection or asked for a law or ordinance to change the village path’s name where zacate grass and snakeheads (talusog) in muddy pools grew wild. Maybe, it’s because Bagumbayan Interior is secluded. The alley with very confusing boundaries had a neutral reputation. There was no major historical meaning in the street unlike the old great Calle Via Gainza, named after Bishop Francisco Gainza, but later renamed as Penafrancia Avenue.

In the 1970’s, ordinary people started calling Bagumbayan Interior “Calle Natong,” a populist reference to the wild taro plants (dasheen bush) which grew aplenty in that marshy locale. We, the few low-brow barangay residents, didn’t object. Calle Natong was just the right name to keep us reminded of our favorite, Bicolano dish, the spicy ginota’an na natong (laing, sinilihan na katnga) when the proverbial green leaves of the dasheen bush got burning hot with bedeviled red peppers (lada,siling labuyo.)

The informal appellation took root and tricycle drivers who rode the peaceful place knew where Calle Natong was. The building of homes much later altered the course of the street and the landscape. It didn’t take long when more people settled in the place, Calle Natong gave way to a more urbane, but unfamiliar name: Seminary Road then later becoming the Mother Francisca Street, perhaps because a convent was there in the area.

These were confusing changes we didn’t understand. Natong which we held dear being our celebrated Bicol regional plant—the source of nourishment of Handiong‘s children, was waylaid on the side. After our street was renamed, Calle Natong, was never the same.=0=

A Torture Chamber, A Safe-house For Travelers, A Street Named After A Bishop…Some Of Naga City’s Notable Landmarks

July 27, 2008

Jose V. Barrameda, Jr.’s interesting account on some memorable landmarks in Naga City published in Bicol Mail this week (07/24/08, Barrameda, J.V.Jr.,) includes Penafrancia Avenue, the genteel paved road from Plaza Quince Martires at the city proper to the old Penafrancia Church. Though he didn’t describe much of what is in the stretch of the famed avenue, he gave us a glimpse of the old buildings that dotted the city in the past. Their historical significance proved very enlightening.

The Naga Police Station in Barlin Street served as an infamous torture chamber where brave Bicolano heroes and martyrs met their unjustified deaths during the Spanish time. Barrameda wrote:

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.”

The author then clearly described Casa Tribunal along Elias Angeles Street, an edifice of brick and wood where the municipal council (ayuntamiento) similar to that in Spain, transacted government business in Naga in the last quarter of the 1800’s. The building also provided free accommodations to travelers who came to the city. After the Spanish and American occupations, the Casa Tribunal served a different purpose:

“Destroyed by American bombs in World War II… 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.”

On the other hand, the Casa Espanol of Arana Street which was a social and recreational center of people of Spanish descent in Naga and neighboring towns had disturbing incidents when the Katipunan was discovered in Manila:

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.”

Today, our young generation of Bicolanos may never know of Casa Real in General Luna Street where as early as 1588, the place, facing Naga River, served as the residence of the alcalde mayor of Nueva Caceres who had jurisdiction over the entire Bicol peninsula and Catanduanes. Unfortunately, like the buildings Barrameda described, the Casa Real had been razed, torn down, and largely forgotten.

Penafrancia Avenue was once called Calle Via Gainza, a famous city street memorializing Francisco Gainza, the illustrious Bishop of Nueva Caceres credited for establishing Colegio de Sta Isabel (Universidad de Sta Isabel) in 1868, the nation’s first normal school for girls. The great bishop also made curriculum improvements for the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary which became then, Bicol region’s top study hub for priests, religious, and lay citizens. As a pope delegate, Gainza was with the Bishop of Manila in opposing the stripping of the religious affiliations of rebel priests Gomez, Burgos and Zamora (Goburza) as sought by the Spanish government in Manila.

What was unclear though was why Calle Via Gainza which aptly pays tribute to the bishop’s admirable contributions to Naga City was renamed as Penafrancia Avenue. The reason for the change was unclear.

In our minds, street names like Calle Via Gainza could have been better left alone. In a way, they are sentinels of a period in history gone by. Retaining old street names helps preserve our cultural linkage with the past. In simple practical terms, the postman’s job of delivering letters is made easy when old street names are retained. Unless there’s an imperative to make changes, old names better stay as they are. As invaluable remnants of the old, they make us remember the richness of our past; they make us feel the meaning of history. =0=