How many churches does a single city need? Not that I am complaining. On the contrary, I am rather fascinated by the establishments of multiple churches in a single city despite it being not really huge – no matter what that means. This is why; Naga City churches interest the heck out of me for having a lot of churches with some of them being just walking distance from each other.

In a country being hugely populated by Catholics, this does not come as a surprise. Devotees actively participate to any celebrations and feasts churches organize. Needless to say, the church remains one of the most influential entities in Philippine society. This led me to believe that many still shiver at the thought that they may be going to hell if they fail to pay their religious dues.

Without any research, I am likely to believe that the churches in Naga City may belong to the oldest batches in the country. If not, then why are there four churches a tricycle ride/jeepney ride away from each other?

I loved going to their churches. Looking up their ceilings, I saw heavenly works of arts looking down at me with peaceful gracefulness. The altars, adorned with gold-colored or marble pillars mostly, embraced you with celestial welcome even though you’re still alive. The coldness from the generally marble pillars of the churches electrifies you with the sense of familiarity only home could provide. However, every time I stepped out of every church I found myself muttering silently, “Holy smokes, how much do these cost?”.

I may be good at math than most people realize, but with this, I can only assume – “a lot”!

With the city’s population, do they fill all the churches during masses? Do people in the outskirts of the city come here to hear the masses? Does the faithful feel nearer to God as they enter the premises of God’s houses? Do people here have better lives? How do they choose which church to go during Sundays? Do they feel like they’re disappointing a church by going to the other instead?

Some of these questions are nonsensical but still better than asking which is the most Instagrammable.

I was born and raised Roman Catholic and believed that the house of God needed to be the most beautiful, respectful, and dignified dwelling place. Now, I am more inclined to believe that hospitals, especially government ones, need to be the most equipped, accommodating, and loving place in the country because as a wise friend once said, ”Nobody should die because they are deprived of food or proper medication.”

The question of why the ‘Houses of God’ remain one of the extravagant structures in a relatively poor country can initiate a heated debate. However, one cannot just turn a blind eye to the influence that the church currently has on the entire country. Putting the spotlight on the structures is just a tip of the iceberg. But if believers actually believe that they are nearer to God’s side through them, then by all means…

This skeptical viewpoint is grounded to the observation that being churchgoers do not always guarantee a better person. In a country where religion is heavily embedded in the culture, you’d expect that people are of the higher sense of right and wrong. However, human as we are, we have convoluted the image of God not only to instill fear but to secure obedience. Time and again, history repeats itself.


Destinations

📍 San Francisco Parish

After exiting the bus terminal, I asked around for the nearest church in the city and a lady directed me to this parish after repeatedly reminding me to pay only 8 pesos for the tricycle fare.

Flowers ornamented the aisle of the church. A wedding was about to start.

San Francisco Parish, Naga City, Camarines Sur

📍 Porta Mariae

I had been in awe of this arc as I associated it with those in France.

Porta Mariae, Naga City, Camarines Sur

📍 Naga Metropolitan Cathedral

Definitely on of the most beautiful churches I’ve been to. The black exterior had been interesting and the intricate designs on the ceiling had been heavenly. Also, the church had been decorated for a wedding.

Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, Naga City, Camarines Sur

📍 Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine

If I remembered correctly, the ceiling on this one is painted. If I am wrong, I will be very disappointed.

Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine and Parish, Naga City, Camarines Sur

📍 Peñafrancia Minor Basilica

The church was closed. There were some people selling religious blings on the side. A lady asked me if I would like her to pray the novena, for a fee, for my family back home. I declined with a smile. I was inclined to ask her what made her think her prayers were more effective than mine but then I did not want to be rude.

Minor Basilica of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Naga City, Camarines Sur

📍 El Pueblo de Camarines Sur a Sus Quince Martires del 96

Just on the other side of the road where San Francisco Parish is. People stared at me as I took selfies and other antics. Feeling uncomfortable, I proceeded to walk to Plaza Rizal.

El Pueblo de Carmarines Sur A Sus Quince Martines del 96

📍 Plaza Rizal

Some students were practicing their dance routines. After a few minutes, the rain drove people into finding a nearby roof.

Plaza Rizal, Naga City, Camarines Sur

📍 Bigg’s Diner

Highly recommended by numerous blogs, I saw myself entering one of these local food franchises. I tried their burger. I proceeded to regret the money I spent.

Bigg's Diner, Naga City, Camarines Sur

How to get there?

Should you have a couple of hours to kill in Naga City, church hopping should be an option. The tricycle or jeepney base fare in Naga City is currently at P8.00. Like in some places, there will be shameless people who will take advantage of you by imposing their own fare matrix especially if they observe you are not a local. Nevertheless, there will also be people who will remind you to be careful of those opportunists.

Fare

From the airport, walk to the highway and wait for the bus or jeepney going to ‘Naga City’
Airport to Bus Terminal

10.00

Bus Terminal to San Francisco Parish (Tricycle)

8.00

Walk to El Pueblo de Camarines Sur a Sus Quince Martires del 96
Walk to Plaza Rizal
Plaza Rizal to Porta Mariae (Tricycle)

8.00

Walk to Naga Metropolitan Cathedral
Walk through Santonja St until the first intersection, cross the road then hail a tricycle
To Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine

8.00

Walk through Magsaysay Ave until the Shell intersection
Ride the sikad to Peñafrancia Minor Basilica

5.00

Peñafrancia Minor Basilica to Shell intersection

5.00

Wait for a Jeepney to SM on the other side of the road (the bus terminal is walking distance from SM)

8.00

Total

PHP 52.00

 

If you are not sure, always ask for directions. People are polite and will remind you to be careful.

Author: Mark Atong

If he is not taking advantage of his skills on full-time IT employment, he is going different places and hopefully making his mother proud. He believes writing is his passion; but it has yet to prove to pay his bills. He is a fun-loving individual who would rather stay at home reading books and catch-up on episodes of TV shows.

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