The old cemetery at the Penafrancia Shrine in Naga City

The beautiful entrance gate at the back of the Penafrancia Shrine

The beautiful neoclassic entrance gate at the back of the Penafrancia Shrine

Within the busy city of Naga in Camarines Sur, at the back of the beautiful Penafrancia Shrine or ermita is the city cemetery that goes back to the Spanish colonial period. It’s interesting to note that it is one of few cemeteries in the country that is still being used and attached to the church despite a 1787 edict by King Charles VI of Spain mandating the transfer of gravesites away from the church and outside the town proper.

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While there are interesting cemetery architecture dating from the 50s to the 70s, the old parts are only limited to the perimeter walls, columns and an arched entrance gate that has been painted with pastel colors. As it is in the neoclassic architectural style, it must have been built in the second half of the 19th century.

Only a portion of the old walls remain: roadside with the arched entrance gate, a portion perpendicular and a portion opposite this entrance. A good part have been hidden with built up niches while most mausoleums have also covered up. There are also portions that have been demolished to give way to another entrance and when the cemetery was expanded despite its very small area.

Closer view of the entrance gate pediment

Closer view of the entrance gate pediment

Back of the entrance arch gate

Back of the entrance arch gate

Detail of the underside of the entrance gate's rear where the lintel used to be found

Detail of the underside of the entrance gate’s rear where the lintel used to be found

View of perimeter wall at the opposite side of the main entrance

View of perimeter wall at the opposite side of the main entrance

Detail of column finial that has lost its top

Detail of column finial that has lost its top

Column and wall just beside the road

Column and wall just beside the road

The perimeter walls with its wave like construction still evident but has been built over as more niches were constructed

The perimeter walls with its wave like construction still evident but has been built over as more niches were constructed

Niches at the back of the shrine

Niches at the back of the shrine

In October 2014, I visited Naga City and the towns of Calabanga and Camaligan in search of old churches and cemeteries. This three part series shows what remains of these final resting places of the dead: the old cemetery of Camaligan, the forgotten cemetery fence of Quipayo and the old cemetery at the Penafrancia ermita

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