By Raffi Banzuela

Everardo Nery Napay was popular for his architectural and design works. No less than 68 residential, industrial, and commercial buildings were done by him in Albay, Sorsogon, and Catanduanes. These structures still serve as landmarks in these areas.

He is also a popular playwright. He wrote and staged zarzuelas and composed Bikol songs. He was a music teacher and choreographer. He was a cherished teacher of Humanities in the Bicol University and Divine World College of Legazpi. He taught Architecture subjects in Aquinas University [now University of Santo Tomas (UST)-Legazpi].  

His contributions to the development and growth of the Bikol culture, arts, architecture, and education have been recognized and appreciated, favored, and envied. The Aquinas University of Legazpi (now UST-Legazpi) conferred him the “Omaw sa Oragon” Award on Enero 27, 2010, a fitting if long delayed salutation.

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Omaw sa oragon program which posthumously honored Ever together with Novelist Bienvenido Santos (Raffi’s files)


Ever, as he was casually called and publicly known, was born in Iloilo City on February 24, 1924. His parents are Juanito Miranda Napay and Josefina Grageda Nery. They both hailed from the municipality of Camalig. At the time of Ever’s birth, the Napay family was residing in Iloilo City as they were exercising their professions in that Visayan central.

At a very early age, Ever already had precocious bents. At the age of four, he asked his father to teach him how to play the violin and his mother to introduce him to piano playing. Both his parents were accomplished musicians. His mother was a music teacher, his father was a cellist. His parents took note of Ever’s artistic bent—his doodles and drawings on the walls of the house and the many other things that his precocious mind got him into trouble with his father, mother, and siblings and others in the household.

Juanito decided to enroll Ever in Kindergarten at the Colegio de San Agustin, Iloilo City to shore up his boundless energy and perhaps find some direction to his artistic flair. In the kindergarten, Ever would surprise his teacher and classmates with different drawings and artistic outputs using only a single piece of crayon. At age six (6) he started to exhibit some virtuosity with the violin and the piano. He was very talented and he always got the highest rank in his class. Very talented and very mischievous too.

After his kindergarten at Colegio de San Agustin he was enrolled at the Baluarte Elementary School in Iloilo City where he finished his primary grades on top of his class.  It was at this period of his life when the Napay family moved out of Iloilo and to Manila they went. He continued his intermediate education at the Singalong Elementary School.

It should be noted that during the United States colonial period of the Philippines (1898-1946), the United States government was in charge of providing education in the Philippines. Every child from age 7 was required to register in schools located in their own town or province. The students were given free school materials. There were three levels of education during the American period. The “elementary” level consisted of four primary years and 3 “intermediate” years. The “secondary” or high school level consisted of four years; and the third was the “college” or tertiary level (https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/ Education_in_the_Philippines_during_American_rule). Thus, Ever had his primary grades at Baluarte Elementeray School and his intermediate grades at Singalong Elementary School.

In Manila, Juanito Napay would work at the National Library. Everardo continued his studies at the Singalong Elementary School where he would finish his Grade 7. At that age and while at the Singalong Elementary School, Ever was invited to take an examination that would qualify him to proceed to high school without undergoing an admission examination.

A teacher took note of Ever’s demeanor during the examination. She said that he appeared as if the examination was easy-breezy. He was doing it leisurely from start to finish; he was enjoying what others may have found to be some kind of chastisement. When the results of the test were released a week after, Ever registered the highest score committing only three (3) mistakes. He became a celebrity in school, blue-eyed boy at home.

After Singalong Elementary School he was enrolled at the Araullo High School where he stayed for only a semester as he was transferred to the Paco Catholic School in Manila. While in the Paco Catholic School Ever learned to cut classes as he fell in love with stage plays. He would secretly hie off to the office of his father and pore over the latter’s books on architecture and drama. Those books provided him with ideas for play writing, drawings, paintings, and doing other art forms. He also got ideas on how to act in a stage play.

When he finished his second year in high school, the Napay family went back to the Bicol Region as Juanito joined the General Auditing Office (GAO). Juanito Napay would head GAO in its Bicol office. Ever would be in his third year in high school, he enrolled in Albay HIgh School of Legazpi, now Bicol University College of Education Integrated Laboratory High School (BUCEILHS) and finished his secondary education thereat in 1940 as valedictorian.


In June 1940, the Napay family went back to Manila. Ever pursued higher education at the Mapua Institute of Technology, now Mapua University, enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Architecture course. He hoped to finish the course soonest but this couldn’t be realized due to the outbreak of the Second World War. He had to leave Mapua. The family went back to Bicol, to the home town of his parents, Camalig.

The family set up some kind of a recreation facility featuring a music school which his father, Juanito, founded and served as instructor. But soon they would forget all those amenities as the war raged and seriously threatened the lives and safety of the family. Juanito decided to bring the family to a more secure place. In no time, Ever decided to join a guerilla unit in Camalig. In 1944, as the brutal confrontations between the warring forces started to wane, the public gradually learned that Ever earned a 2nd Lieutenant rank in the guerilla unit he was with, the Sandico Guerilla Unit.

Juanito III (Toi), son of Ever, remembers an episode in his father’s life as a soldier. “One time his team was given the order to blast the Banao Bridge in Guinobatan; on the day they were about to execute the order, he fell ill.” He could have been part of a group of soldiers who blasted a bridge whose construction was also supervised by his grandfather, Saturnino Nery Sr. Saturnino was said to have come to Albay from Mindanao. He got married to one of the ladies of the popular Grageda clan of Camalig. My father’s mother, Josefina Grageda Nery, was born out of this union. My father’s grandmother did not live long. Thereafter, my great grandfather got remarried to Mercedes Imperial.”

Incidentally, Banao Bridge in Guinobatan is one of the longest bridges in Albay., It was originally built by the Spanish colonial government in honor of Queen Isabel II, and was called “Dos Grandes Ojos,” “two big eyes,” in English. This moniker came about due to an image that is formed when its two archs are reflected on the river water. This bridge was also called Reynolds Bridge after the Americans renovated it in early 1900s to honor Charles A. Reynolds who became the 5th Governor of Albay.

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A surviving charcoal pencil draft by Ever (Toi Napay files)

While the war raged, Ever found rare moments to improve his knowledge about the Bikol language, its grammar and orthography, the variations and nuances and vocabulary as used in different areas of the region, particularly Albay. He wanted to use Bikol fluently, orally and in writing. He made up for the lost opportunity to learn and use Bikol while in his young age.


After the war, with his status as a veteran and the educational benefits that went with it, Ever decided to pursue his stalled quest for a baccalaureate degree in architecture. He went to Manila, and in 1948 enrolled in an architecture course and finished it in 1949 at the Adamson University. In that same year he took and passed the board examination in Architecture. He was among the top five finishers. Now armed with a baccalaureate degree in Architecture, he returned to Albay to practice his profession after a short stint in the metropolis.

His professional engagements lasted for about forty (40) years. He designed residential, commercial, and industrial edifices not only in Albay but also in neighboring provinces. He erected monuments and sculpted liturgical icons. Among the monuments he built, the Battle of Legazpi Pylon, at the center of the Legazpi Port District, stands out. It commands a view with its fifteen-meter height (15 m) at the center of the intersection between Rizal St. and Quezon Avenue, being in the middle of where the historic San Rafael Bridge once stood with Mayon Volcano providing a postcard perfect backdrop. It also commands a recollection of the vicissitudes of the saga of the Albayano heroes.  The monument honors the fallen heroes of the noble Battle of Legazpi on January 23, 1900, retells the legendary exploits of the heroes of Ibalong and recalls the inspiring heroism of the Albayano warriors during the Second World War. His works would receive public acclaim.

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Legazpi City Hall facade designed by Ever (Lito Tuanqui’s files)


Ever’s musical acumen bloomed and ripened under his father’s tender loving playfulness and precision. His father, Juanito, was the cellist of the Lopez Strings Quartet of Iloilo City, one of the Philippines’ pioneer chamber music ensembles. He was also the composer and musical director of the Napay Orchestra which accompanied the zarzuela presentations of cum-Camalignung Justino Nuyda who had no less than eight (8) zarzuelas to his name.

Ever attempted to make musical arrangements and analysis at the tender age of ten. He also started to collect Bikol folk songs when he returned to Albay. This served as references for his forthcoming original Bikol compositions.

In 1957, he served as conductor of the immensely popular Mayon Swing Band which regularly performed at the Legazpi Garden, a favorite watering hole of Legazpi and Albay’s who’s who. His father was a mainstay of the band. The Napay residence was at Balintawak Street just across the Legazpi Garden. This place is now where Albay Astrodome is located. Before the Albay Astrodome, the place was known as the Albay provincial motor pool.  Ever also co-formed the Bicol Chamber Music Ensemble and the Bicol Symphony Orchestra which gave a recital at St. Agnes Academy in Legazpi City. The ensemble and orchestra performed the popular Rhapsody in Blue, a 1924 musical composition written by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects.
Ever wrote and presented zarzuelas which featured Bikol songs he composed. His favorite staging area was St. Agnes Academy Auditorium which, then, had the “best” stage and hall space in the City. He also wrote a liturgical repertoire which include the “Hymn for St. Raphael” which, up to this day, surviving members of the St. Raphael the Archangel Church Choir may still be able to sing.

About Ever’s music, Ruby Salazar-Sirirattanont wrote in “Mga Kantang Bikolnon,” “He belongs to a family of musicians and artists. Although a musician, Napay still found time to do extensive research works in Bikol history and culture. He also maintained a steady output of literary works and musical compositions including Bikol zarzuelas and liturgical music. ‘Tara Kagurangnan Maria,’ ‘Mayon,’ ‘Kun Dai Nin Burak,’ and ‘Poon Pagkahiling’ are among the most outstanding in this ‘Mga Kantang Bikolnon.” (Ruby Salazar-Sirirattanont, Mga Kantang Bikolnon (Bangkok, Thailand: P.S. Service Center, 1986) vi.

As to the zarzuelas Ever wrotre, Dr. Ma. Lilia F. Realubit, (1931-2017) scholar, writer, foremost Bikolista, had this to say, “Napay’s characters are consistent and well delineated. None of his characters indicate static qualities, but all are restless seekers of love and change. . . “ And about Ever she had this to say,  “The happy and carefree strain is best seen in the character of Napay himself. Here is a man of many talents. An architect and sculptor of no mean accomplishments, he is also a musician, singer, playwright, designer, choreographer, and director. But the clue to his happy frame of mind, and to many of the other Bicol playwrights, he says, lies in the happy way of life of people. The land is rich and fertile; there is no reason for him to starve nor to be unhappy.”

Retired Public Information Agency V (PIA V) Regional Director Aida Alcazar Naz remembers Ever Napay as Publisher/Editor of the weekly Bikol Today which held office at the old campus of then Aquinas University of Legazpi, now University of Sto. Tomas-Legazpi, beside the St. Raphael the Archangel Church. Bikol Today was a nicely written, well edited tabloid. She adds, Ever was doubtless a lover of nature, a Green Panther at a time when nature conservation was not in vogue yet, when ecology was hardly in the daily vocabulary. He irrepressibly shed tears when Hoyop-hoyopan Cave in Camalig was vitiated with cement structures which, admittedly, have no place in a most significant natural treasure. Indeed, imagine poorly sculpted images of denizens of the dark lurking in many moody corners of the cave; imagine benches, stairs, and pathways made of cement in some corners. Imagine the floor of one chamber covered with cement to make it a dance floor.

Poet Merlita Lorena-Tariman says that “Ever Napay was not just a compleat architect but also a composer of Bikol songs, author of a zarzuela, ‘Sa Hardin Nin Mga Burak’ that was staged at the St. Agnes Academy Auditorium early in the ‘70s and writer of a lot more.” She mused, “Sometime in 1984, Ever told me that he was writing a history of the Bikols in the Bikol language itself. ‘I’ll show you the manuscript when it’s done, and you please help me finalize it.’ I looked forward to reading his work but I never had the opportunity to see it.” A diligent search, with the help of his son Juanito III (Toi) for a draft manuscript or typescript of Ever’s Bikol history sometime after his passing away failed to yield a positive result.

Ever wrote stories that saw print in the Philippines Free Press in one of its January 1973 issues and in the “Asia Publication of Cultures, the Philippines Vol. 1 in 1987.” Records of his published works stand for reconstruction as files of his written works seem to have been blown by the winds if not wasted by the rains.

Ever launched his private architectural practice in 1950 in Manila. He had a sterling record as draftsman-designer in the office of Luis Araneta and Gabriel Formoso and then the Leandro Locsin & Associates. Soon enough though, he gave up Manila in favor of Albay, his home province, particularly, Legazpi City where he would reside for good. Here he designed and built residential buildings, commercial establishments, industrial complexes, and Sunday amusement spaces. .
He poured out all his professional energies and every other talent he’s been gifted with, with his cum- provincianos, with Bikolanos, with everyone who appreciates beauty, utility, creativity. And for everything he has done, for the many things he selflessly shared with the public, he was elevated to the UAP College of Fellows in 1993.

The College of Fellows is an institution within UAP which is composed of all Regular Members who have been elevated to “Fellow” for having rendered notable and outstanding contributions to the Architecture profession, community and society as well as exceptional service to UAP. It shall primarily serve as a consultative group to the National Board. It shall reflect the epitome of the highest ideals of the profession and humanity.

Ever wrote the lyrics and composed the The UAP March which until now gives a lift to every significant UAP event.

In 1984 Ever suffered from a stroke. Despite that, he endeavored to and learned the use of his left hand if only to create and complete a mural to be installed at the St. Raphael the Archangel Church Rectory. This fresco which portrays the saga of Legazpi City might prove to be his magnum opus.

In 1997, Everardo Nery Napay hushedly died at the age of 73. Legazpi City was generally unaware of his passing. He simply faded; a difficult act for everything that he did, for a jolly good fellow that he was. Perhaps he never wanted goodbyes or he frowned on fuss and fanfares, as some friends have noted in their soirees which they sometimes had even in a talipapa in a public market.

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Ever (left) rendering moral support to visual artist Ping Peralta (middle) during the latter’s photo exhibit featuring Albay churches. At right is sculptor Pat Noveno. The boy in the photo is Ever’s grandson. (Ping’s file)

Following is a list of Ever’s architectural accomplishments. Several other works, particularly residential structures are not included in this list.

  1. 1950, Lee Seng Yap Building, Legazpi City; 2. 1950, St. Martin de Pores Chapel, Binanwaan, Legazpi City; 3. 1952, Juanito Napay’s House, Balintawak Street, Legazpi City; 4. 1952, Everardo Napay’s House,Maoyod, Legazpi City; 5. 1953, Tanchulig Building, Camalig, Albay; 6. 1954, Del Rosario Building, Legazpi City; 7. 1955, St. Anthony Chapel, Ponso, Polangui, Albay; 8. 1955, St. Anthony Grotto, Ponso, Polangui, Albay, 9. 1957, Murillo’s Residence, Camalig, Albay; 10. 1962, Camalig Rural Bank, Camalig, Albay; 11. 1964, Sherman Hotel, Legazpi City; 12. 1964,  Premier Secretarial School, Albay District, Legazpi City; 13. 1964,  Memorial World War II Veterans, Guinobatan , Albay; 14. 1965,  Legazpi City Hall Façade, Legazpi City; 15. 1965-1968, Mayon Rest House,Tabaco City; 16. 1967, Judge Rebustillo’s Residence, Legazpi City; 17. 1968, Lim Rice Mill, Ligao, City; 18. 1968, Jojo Theater, Ziga Avenue, Tabaco City; 19. 1969, BU Mayon and Cagsawa Incinerator, Daraga, Albay; 20. 1972, Abdon A. Balde Mausoleum, Mayao Catholic Cemetery, Mayao, Oas, Albay;
  2. 1971, Southern Luzon Technical School, Daraga, Albay; 22. 1972, W. Baritua’s Residence, Legazpi city; 23. 1973, Maya Theater, Sorsogon City; 24. 1973, Chong Hua Building, Legazpi City; 25. 1974, W. Baylon’s Residence, Legazpi City; 26. 1974, Bistro Albay, Albay District, Albay District, Legazpi City; 27. 1975, Rex Hotel, Peñaranda Street, Legazpi City; 28. 1975, Sacred Heart Clinic, Peñaranda Street, Legazpi Cty; 29. 1975, Quinto Complex, Sorsogon City; 30. 1975, Oga Theater, Sorsogon City; 31. 1976, Velasco Building, Legazpi City; 32. 1976, Long See Buiding, Albay District, Legazpi City; 33. 1976, Lita’s Lodging House,  Albay District, Legazpi City; 34. 1976, Tanchuling Hospital, Legazpi City; 35. 1976, S. Conde Residence, Oas, Albay; 36. 1978, Camalig Public Market, Camalig, Albay; 37. 1979, AMEC BCCM Chapel, Albay District, Legazpi City; 38. 1979, AMEC BCCM Hospital, Albay District, Legazpi City; 39. 1979. Manuel Sabater’s Residence, Legazpi City; 40. 1979, Goyito Imperial’s Residence, Legazpi City;
  3. 1980, Jim Rebustillo’s Residence, Legazpi City; 42. 1980, Divine World College, Legazpi City; 43. 1980, Zapanta Family Mausoleum, Legazpi City; 44. 1981, District Engeneering Office, Salugan, Camalig, Albay; 45. 1982, BBCS Building, Legazpi City; 46. 1983, Doña Pepita Building,  Legazpi City; 47. 1983, The Risen Christ Image, Bonot, Legzpi City; 48. 1985, Nidea Family Mausoleum, Bicol Memorial Park, Legazpi City; 49. 1986, Matelco Building, Legazpi City; 50. 1986, Mater Salutis Seminary, Sipi, Daraga, Albay; 51. 1991, Daraga Church. Daraga, Albay; 52. 1992, Engr. Jhonie Rebustillo’s Residence, Legazpi City.
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The meaningful bas relief PATARABANG-TABANG (left) on the frontage of the demolished Supermarket, where Ayala Malls now stand; at right, the Legazpi City Heroes Memorial Pylon designed and erected by Ever. Between these structures is the Pope Mobile when Pope John Paul came for his 1st apostolic journey to the Philippines. (Photo: Gary Vargas/Uno Armeña)

No dates   (continuation of his works): Old Legazpi City Supermarket, Legazpi City; Cottage Industries Display Center, Legazpi City; New PDCC Building, Legazpi City; Mendoza Building, Legazpi City; PVLB Building, Legazpi City; Zandra Hotel, Legazpi City; Zandra Hotel / Romacar Hotel, Legazpi City; Rural Bank of Camalig,  Peñaranda Street, Legazpi City; St. Rafael Church Parish Extension, Legazpi City;

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Matelco Bldg. facade with bas relief by Ever (Photo: Raffi Banzuela)

Altar de La Pieta, St. Rafael Church, Legazpi City; Fiat House and Seminary, Catanduanes;  Main Building and Seminary, Catanduanes; Interior of Cave Chapel, Catanduanes; Bishop’s Chapel,  Catanduanes; Dormitory, Catanduanes;  Octagon Hall, Catanduanes; Living Room (made of rattan), Catanduanes.