The population in the archdiocese is approximately 1,277,720 of whom 1,237,068 are Catholics. The growth rate for the province is 2.25 percent, compared to the national growth rate of 2.3 percent. With some 175,269 households in the archdiocese, the average household size is six members per family. The male-female ratio is 1:3.
Evangelization and the First Parishes
More stable evangelization efforts came with the Spanish Franciscans in 1578. Assigned to the Bicol Region were Friars Pablo de Jesus and Bartolome Ruiz.
In the same year, consolidating the gains of previous missions, the two Franciscans established no less than four parishes: Naga, Quipayo, Nabua and Bula. Thus, "Tierra de Camarines" came to be more permanently a Franciscan mission, remaining so till the end of the Spanish regime in the Philippines.
With the establishment of the first four parishes, came a more focused attention of ecclesiastical governance. Thus, while the Franciscan chronicler, Friar Francisco Ribadeneira, OFM, wrote of early Bicol as being "most temperate, docile and modest...," most open to the Gospel in the archipelago, Bishop Andres Gonzales, OP of Manila (1685-1709) would denounce the exploitation of the people and other such social ills committed in the name of Christianization and conquest by government officials and even churchmen.
Further, till this time, the parishes of "Tierra de Camarines" were governed from Manila by P. Santiago de Castro, with such difficulties of administration and vicissitudes of travel that distance entailed.
The Church of Caceres
Against this backdrop, the Diocese of Nueva Caceres was established as the suffragan of Manila on Aug. 14, 1595. This was by virtue of the Papal Bull "Super specula militantis ecclesiae" issued by Clement VIII. The diocese extended over "the provinces of Camarines and Albay as far as and including the islands of Ticao, Masbate, Burias and Catanduanes; the province of Tayabas as far as and including Lucban; and, in the contracosta of Mauban to Binangonan, Polo, Baler and Casiguran." The official name given to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction was "Ecclesia Cacerensis in Indiis Orientalius." The name taken from "Ciudad de Caceres" also indicated the seat of the diocese. Friar Luis de Maldonado, OFM, was appointed the first bishop of the Diocese of Nueva Caceres.
The period following the erection of the diocese saw crucial transitions in the histories of both the Church and state, from the Philippine Revolution to the Philippine Republic, from an evangelization colored by colonization to Filipinization. Prominent in Bicol were:
- Bishop Jorge Barlin, the first Filipino and secular bishop, battling erroneous doctrines of the Aglipayan schism;
- the promotion of the regional devotion to the Virgin of Penafrancia and the Divino Rostro --- to the construction of a worthy cathedral church for the faith; and Penafrancia Fiesta in Caceres
Camarines Sur province in general, has long been tagged as one of the most economically underdeveloped areas in the country where the real per capita income has never substantially increased. This situation has reduced families to a life of poverty. The inability of the government to provide more jobs, proper housing, price stability and adequate infrastructure has continued to increase.
The political experience of the Bicolanos (people of Bicol) in more than four decades since the country attained its political independence can be said to be both satisfying and disappointing. The newfound freedom has brought about certain positive aspects.
Most of the roads are cemented except for some coastal parishes where roads are still rough. As a result, the people in coastal parishes travel by sea. About 40 percent of the households own a car. But students, ordinary employees and workers travel by jeepney or tricycle.
Caceres has regular air, sea, and land links to major points in the country. Naga City is only an hour and 45 minutes away from Manila by plane or seven hours by buses that leave Manila every evening.
The archdiocese, since 1990, has covered an area of about 3,207 square kilometers. It is situated on a hilly terrain interspersed with patches of plains which are useful for farming. Major products are rice, corn, root crops, coconut, sugar, and marine life in its rivers, lakes and seas.
Actual cultivated agricultural land is 61 percent of the total area, both irrigated and non-irrigated. There is a wide expanse of high-quality pastureland, such as found in the hinterlands of Caramoan, Garchitorena and Tinambac. However, these are potentially unproductive due to remoteness and inadequacy of transportation.
The province has wide areas of fertile lands. However, it also has wide areas of Type C soil of low to fair fertility, a condition that improved with technology and management.
While a fairly bracing climate and an even distribution of wet and dry seasons favor the province, it is also situated along the path of typhoons, which occur five to six times a year.
As of 2006, the Archdiocese of Caceres had 1,237,068 baptized Catholics, representing 96.82 percent of all 1,277,720 people in the territory
Forty-seven (47) percent of the labor force in the Bicol Region comes from Camarines Sur. According to data from the National Statistics Office Bicol Region as of July 2006, total labor force in the region was 13.14 million and unemployment rate was at 9.5 percent About 62 percent of those earning wages receive 2,000 pesos (US$ 49.81) or less per month. At least 70 percent of workers are farmers, while the rest are involved in service, business and sales.
Many of the unemployed migrate either to the more urban centers such as Metro Manila or overseas.
Radio and TV are considered the main sources of information and entertainment in the archdiocese. About 75 percent of households are "TV homes" while about 65% are "radio homes" (Philippine Survey Research Group, 2002, Naga City).
The archdiocese does not own any radio or TV station. The local church is blessed with the generosity of some station managers who offer free airtime on their TV and radio networks. There are 19 radio stations and 2 local TV stations in the archdiocese. Moreover, about 60 percent of the people have access to cellular phones and landlines.
Internet cafes and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) connections in private houses have also increased significantly in the past couple of years.
There are 2 Catholic universities, 4 colleges, 4 technical/vocational, 11 high schools, 14 elementary, 20 kindergarten, 14 preparatory and 20 nursery schools. There are many other non-sectarian and public schools in the province. While the province is well known as a center of educational development, those who have been educated here find a mismatch between what training they receive in schools and what the economic sector requires.
Contemporary music like reggae, rhythm and blues, rap and alternative rock appeal to the youths. They enjoy forming bands while the older adults prefer classical and more mellow music. Schools especially Catholic schools have their own choirs. People are becoming appreciative of quality concerts, recitals, plays and the like. Religious songs and music appeal to the older ones and only to a few of the young generation.
Street dances depicting the history and culture of the region are still being performed during big annual festivals of the region like "Kaogma (happiness) Festival," Penafrancia Festivities, Ibalong Festival, Masbate Rodeo Festival and Sinulog. Most young people prefer tribal, hip-hop (modern age), funk (metallic) and techno dances. Middle-age people and the elderly in religious organizations are attracted to ballroom dancing.
Television show preferences/drama
Some adults, especially the elderly are fond of radio dramas. Most people enjoy Filipino soap operas and Asian telenovelas. People in the upper class and academe can afford to watch theatrical plays. Among young people, theatre is becoming a popular means of evangelization especially for Bible animators, religious clubs in Catholic schools and parish organizations.