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Naga City, the Heart of Bicol: 'An Maogmang Lugar'

- Erlinda Hospicia V. Orbita () - April 25, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Naga City is the Heart of Bicol, “An Maogmang Lugar” or the Happy Place, and is known for Our Lady of Peñafrancia and its Peñafrancia festival. It is Bicol region’s premier and most progressive city in Camarines Sur. It is a first-class city of the Philippines about 377 kilometers southeast of Manila. The place is well known for pili nuts, coconut products, and its warm, hospitable and chili-eating people as all Bicolanos are.

Naga City — known as the Heart of Bicol — is the commercial, financial, educational, religious and cultural center of the Bicol region. For hundred of years, it has been a center of trade, education and culture, and the seat of governmental and ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In the city’s central business district, hotels, fruit stands, banks, stores, fast-food chains and restaurants, bazaars, malls and movie houses make for a beehive of burgeoning economic activities.

Every September, the city takes center stage as Bicolanos celebrate the country’s most popular and perhaps biggest Marian devotion — the Peñafrancia fiesta with its traditional traslacion and fluvial procession. Devotees, pilgrims, and tourists from various places come together to pray and celebrate the weeklong Peñafrancia festivities. This year, Nagaeños will commemorate the 300 years of the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the miraculous patroness of the Bicol region.

The city is also the educational center of the region due to the presence of numerous academic institutions. It is home of Universidad de Sta. Isabel, one of the country’s oldest universities, where the University of the Philippines opened its Open University to cater to distant-education students; Ateneo de Naga University, the only Jesuit University in Bicol; and the University of Nueva Caceres, the very first university in Southern Luzon outside Manila. Other schools are the Naga College Foundation, which is the leading criminology school in the region, Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges, government-run Camarines Sur National High School considered the biggest secondary school in the region which has always registered over 10,000 enrollees every school year, and the Naga Parochial School, the first PAASCU-accredited parochial school in the Philippines. The Naga Parochial School, an exclusive Catholic elementary school for boys, has a big number of alumni priests (63 as of 2007 with three bishops) in the city.

One of the leading maritime schools in the country is Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation with two campuses in Metro Naga, one along Panganiban Drive and another in Canaman, a suburban town.

The oldest specialized live-in Christian higher educational institute for the clergy in the country is also found in Naga City. Established in the early part of the 18th century, the Holy Rosary Seminary (El Seminario del Santissimo Rosario), a Roman Catholic seminary run by the Archdiocese of Caceres, has produced 22 bishops, including the first Filipino bishop, Jorge Barlin, and the first Filipino Cardinal to work in the Roman Curia, Jose Cardinal Sanchez. It has richly contributed as well to the national heritage through Jose Ma. Panganiban and Tomas Arejola, and seven of the 15 Bikol Martyrs. On January 29, 1988, the National Historical Institute declared the Holy Rosary Seminary as a National Historical Landmark.

Jesse M. Robredo, the incumbent mayor of Naga City, has served for an unprecedented six three-year terms in office. In 1988, he was elected mayor of Naga City, making him the youngest city mayor of the Philippines at age 29. He was able to transform the city from being dull and lethargic to being one of the “Most Improved Cities in Asia,” as cited by Asiaweek magazine in 1999. Today, Naga City is one of the most awarded local government units in the Philippines. In recognition of his works, Robredo received 14 major individual awards like the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service and the 1996 Top Outstanding Young Persons of the World Award to name a few.

Its local government is known worldwide for its model governance, practices and innovations, and was adjudged in 2006 as the Philippines’ Most Business-Friendly City award for the third consecutive year, thus elevated to the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries’ Hall of Fame.

No wonder, Naga City, “An Maogmang Lugar,” was chosen as the location of the first-ever SM Supermall branch in the Bicol region. Though SM City Naga will just  turn one year old on May 1, it is now the most visited shopping mall of Bicolanos from Masbate, Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur and Norte, and even as far as Catanduanes. It is a welcome addition to Naga City’s booming, growing economy. It means one will no longer have to go to Manila to have a great shopping spree.

SM City Naga is a haven of good shopping, bonding with family by watching a movie, jamming with friends, or just merely strolling, whiling away the time after a hard days work.

Yes, SM City Naga with its department stores, supermarkets, cinemas, boutiques, National Book Store, food court, ACE hardware, music shops, Sports Central, Toy Kingdom, SM appliances, computer shops and net cafés, HomeWorld, among many others, will always be the number one shopping mall not only in Naga but in this part of the country.

Nagaeños indeed love their city and SM!

AN MAOGMANG LUGAR BICOL BICOLANOS CITY CITY NAGA HEART OF BICOL HOLY ROSARY SEMINARY NAGA NAGA CITY NAGA PAROCHIAL SCHOOL
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