The San Francisco Church in Naga City was constructed in the 17th century. Located on the riverbank of Naga River, which cuts through the city, this church’s infirmary and basement served as interrogation and torture halls of Filipinos who were arrested during the peak of the Filipino-Spanish War in 1898. For the colonial masters, the Church was used as a fortress refuging 500 people during the attacks of Filipino revolutionaries Elias Angeles and Felix Plazo in September 1898. Accepting defeat to the Angeles-Plazo forces, it is in this church’s citadels that then Civil Governor of Camarines drafted his letter of surrender consequently offering the Province of Ambos Camarines to the Filipinos. The church grounds is also rumored to have once housed the oldest hospital in Southeast Asia. The San Francisco Church is located along Penafrancia Street. It can be reached by Foot depending on where you are. But if you do not want to walk, you can always take a tricycle for P8.00 (fare is same as the jeep so why take a jeep)
In downtown Naga, just opposite Naga’s tallest structure, the Holiday Hotel, you will see a park situated between Peñafrancia Ave. and Elias Angeles Street, and right in the middle of it the lofty monument to Bikol’s Quince Martires. Actually, Bikol’s martyrs of freedom number in the thousands but these fifteen have been specially singled out as symbols of the rest because on January 4, 1897, just five days after Dr. Rizal was executed, eleven of them were likewise shot at Bagumbayan field in Manila. The others died for country in exile or in prison.They were avenged, however, at the Peñafrancia Fiesta, September 18, 1898 for corporals Elias Angeles and Felix Plazo convinced their fellow members of the guardia civil not to allow the same fate to befall them as had befallen the Daet patriots. So on the night of the fiesta they attacked the Spanish officers’ quarters, routed them and then did battle with the rest of the Spanish community who had established themselves in the convento of the historic San Francisco Church (just opposite the Quince Martires monuments, its old bell tower can still be seen). When word of this startling defeat reached Partido, Legazpi, Sorsogon and Catanduanes, all Spanish forces and governmental men withdraw to Iloilo. Sad to say, in January 1900, the American imperialistic forces invaded Camarines Sur and headed for Naga. However, Naga resident General Ludovico Arejola, organized a large guerilla army and fought the Americans at Agdangan, Baao. Afterwards he set up a camp in the mountains of Minalabac and held out for a full year and two and two months more, until rampant sickness forced the surrender of himself and his men in a formal ceremony in Naga on March 31, 1901. In late December 1941, Naga was again put under another foreign power, Japan, but once again on May 1 and 2, 1942; the combined guerilla forces of the province smashed their way into Naga. Their main purpose in doing so was to liberate the 30 American prisoners in the provincial jail. At the risk of their own lives and those of their relatives and neighbors not only freed, but also sheltered their former colonizers in the mountain. On April 9, 1945, a large number of Major Juan Q. Miranda’s guerillas again attacked the Japanese forces in Naga. American planes also heavily bombed the city. The American army arrived finally on April 27. Naga became a chartered city in 1948. On the first decade of 1700’s the first chapel to the Virgin Mary of Peñafrancia was constructed just above the city and along the banks of Naga River that is the avenue upon which the image is triumphantly borne from downtown Naga on the afternoon of Peñafrancia Saturday. This devotion is an authentic regional fiesta and the population of the city more than doubles on those days as pilgrims come from all over the six Bicol provinces as well as many from Manila and other distant places to share in this great religious experience and festival.Three of the most venerable institutions and structures in Naga are clustered together along the upper part of Elias Angeles Street. They are the Cathedral that begun in the year 1816, the Holy Rosary Seminary and the Colegio de Sta. Isabel. Founded in 1793 as both a college and a seminary, The Holy Rosary Seminary is one of the oldest schools in the republic. It educated literally thousands of the sons of all the leading families from as far north as Mauban, Quezon, and as far south as Leyte. In 1925, the laymen’s department was separated from the seminary and became the Camarines Sur Catholic Academy, which in turn, in 1940 became the Ateneo de Naga. Naga Parochial School took over the training of the elementary boys in 1948.