As we veered away from NLEX entering San Fernando City, we were greeted by two gigantic malls that stood like sentinels along Jose Abad Santos Avenue (formerly Olongapo-Gapan Road). As the provincial capital of Pampanga, San Fernando has its share in Philippine history. Remnants of a long and colorful past are still intact particularly in the barangays of Sto. Rosario, San Jose and Sto. Niño.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando
We’ve learned from our travels that one of the best ways to discover a historical district is to visit its church. On the site of the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando, a wood and thatch church was built by the Augustinians in 1755 under the patronage of King Fernando III of Castille. In 1880, the church was rededicated to the Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion.
During the Philippine Revolution of 1898, President Emilio Aguinaldo viewed the Philippine Revolutionary Army from the church’s convent. On May 4, 1899, the church and convent as well as the first Casa Municipal located in front of the church were burned under the orders of General Antonio Luna. Another fire destroyed the church in 1939.
The current church was designed by Fernando H. Ocampo, the same architect of the reconstructed Manila Cathedral in Intramuros. In 1948, it was elevated to a Cathedral when it became the seat of the Diocese of San Fernando.
Sotero Baluyot Bridge
Across the Cathedral next to the Municipio is the Baluyot Bridge. Formerly known as Puente Colgante, the iron and stone bridge was destroyed during the Philippine-American War in 1899. An arch bridge of reinforced concrete designed by Sotero Baluyot replaced the old bridge. It was bombed during World War II and has been restored. Today, the bridge is a historic landmark in the city.
In San Fernando: A City Rich in Architecture Heritage, fellow blogger Ivan Henares provides a comprehensive guide about the history of ancestral houses clustered along Consunji Street and surrounding streets. Taking a calesa in front of the old Pampanga Hotel, we turned to V.Tiomco Street for the Henson-Hizon House.
The Henson-Hizon House is a Spanish colonial period bahay-na-bato built by the couple Don Saturnino Henson y David, who was gobernadorcillo of San Fernando and first tesorero municipal and Maria Lacson.
Next to the house is a monument dedicated to the heroic efforts of Nicolasa Dayrit-Panlilio of helping the sick and wounded Filipino fighters during the Filipino-American War. She also became instrumental in neutralizing the dispute between Generals Antonio Luna and Tomas Mascardo.
At the corner of Consunji Street, the Lazatin House stands regal. Built by sugar farmer and former president of SFELAPCO, Don Serafin Lazatin y Ocampo, the ancestral house exemplifies the architecture prevalent during the American Period. During the Second World War, it served as residence of the 14th Army Commander of the Japanese Imperial Army, General Masaharu Homma.
Next to the Lazatin House is the residence of Don Antonio Consunji, Gobernadorcillo of San Fernando in 1892, who was removed from office by Spanish authorities because of his presence during the visit to San Fernando of Dr. Jose Rizal. Don Antonio became presidente municipal of San Fernando during the Philppine Revolution from 1898 to 1899.
The Tabacalera House has been declared as an important heritage edifice of San Fernando City. Built for Don Ramon Lopez, the ground floor housed the offices of the Tabacalera. The house was later purchased by Simeon Ocampo. The Japanese Imperial Army appropriated it to serve as headquarters of the Kempeitai (Japanese Police) from 1943 to 1944.
Leoncia Hizon inherited the house from parents Anacleto Hizon and Victoria Singian de Miranda. She married Basilio Ocampo, gobernadorcillo of San Fernando. Among their children was famous architect Fernando H. Ocampo.
A distinctly Victorian-style house, the Santos-Hizon House was built by the couple Teodoro Santos and Africa Ventura. It was purchased by Maria Salome Hizon, a volunteer of the Red Cross during the Philippine Revolution. The house is currently owned by the heirs of her brother.
The Hizon-Singian House was the second house of couple Don Anacleto Hizon and Victoria Singian de Miranda y de Ocampo. During the 1896 Revolution, the house was occupied by Spanish General Antonio Ruiz Serralde. It was appropriated by the Japanese Imperial Army to serve as a military hospital and barracks from 1943 to 1944. The house also served as headquarters of American General Walter Krueger of the 6th American army during the liberation period until 1945.
In Barangay Del Pilar is the Cuyugan-Baron House. Residence of Vivencio Cuyugan y Baron, it was sequestered during the war and served as the Municipal Hall of San Fernando during the Japanese Occupation.
Currently owned by Archdiocese of Pampanga, the Archdiocesan Chancery was the former residence of Luis Wenceslao Dizon and Felisa Hizon. It was designed by architect Fernando H. Ocampo and was completed in the mid-1930s.
Pampanga Provincial Capitol
The original building of the Pampanga Provincial Capitol was constructed shortly after the seat of government of the province of Pampanga was transferred from Bacolor to San Fernando. An important battle between guerilla forces and the Japanese Imperial Army took place in the site during the Second World War.
At the back of the provincial capitol is the Presidio. Built in 1907, it used to house the courts of Pampanga before it became as Pampanga Provincial Jail.
Old Provincial High School Building
Completed in 1910, what’s left of the old Pampanga High School Building is its frame. In 1935, the high school was transferred to its present site. It was used as an extension of the school and also served as the site of the University of the Philippines Extension Proogram in San Fernando until floods hit the city in 1995.
San Fernando Train Station
Inaugurated by Governor General Eulogio Despujol and Archbishop of Manila Bernardino Nozaleda on February 23, 1892, the San Fernando Train Station stood witness to historic events. On June 27, 1892, Jose Rizal debarked from the station and the next day en route to Bacolor.
On April 1942, KM 102 was the ending point of the Bataan Death March. From with Filipino and American prisoners-of-war were hauled to Capaz, Tarlac to Camp O’Donnell.
PASUDECO Sugar Central
The Pampanga Sugar Development Company was formally incorporated in April 1918. It is the first Filipino financed sugar central which became a catalyst for the economic growth of San Fernando as the capital of rich sugar-producing province of Pampanga.