The greenest property along Eulogio Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard (E. Rod for short) is the Quezon Institute, which is the home of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society. Named after President Manuel Luis Molina Quezón (1878-1944), the medical complex was completed in 1938, and designed by the National Artist for Architecture, Juan Nakpil.
Arch. Juan Felipe Nakpil (1899-1986) was the son, of the musician and composer, Julio Garcia Nakpil 1867-1960) and Gregoria Álvarez de Jesús (1875-1943); who were both known for their efforts during the Philippine Revolution (1896-1898). Nakpil initially take up engineering at the University of the Philippines, then he would later study architecture at the Fontainebleau School of Fine Arts, in France. After working for several architectural firms, Nakpil eventually opened his own architectural firm in 1930. Nakpil’s most noted works are San Carlos Seminary, Iglesia ni Cristo Riverside Locale (Now F. Manalo, San Juan), Capitol Theater, Captain Pepe Building, Manila Jockey Club, Rufino Building, Philippine Village Hotel, the Quezon Hall and Gonzales Halls of the U.P., and the Rizal Shrine in Calamba, Laguna. Nakpil was given the honor of National Artist for Architecture in 1973.
However, the history of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society starts much earlier, as the disease was a major health during the latter Spanish (1565-1898) and American (1898-1946) occupation of the Philippines. In 1910, the Philippine Islands Anti-Tuberculosis Society was established. The organization was spearheaded by the American Saturday Evening Post journalist and co-editor of the Manila Times Bertha Eleanor Pedigo Franklin Egan (1879-1925) and former revolutionary, University of the Philippines professor, national forensic doctor, and future legislator and politician, Dr. Sixto Manahan de los Angeles (1875-1945); with Mrs. Egan serving as the president.
After much lobbying, the Philippine Islands Anti-Tuberculosis Society was able to open the Santol Sanitarium in 1918, as a small cluster of huts along Santol Street, just a few meters away from the present site of the Quezon Institute. In 1927, then-Senator Manuel Quezon was suffering from tuberculosis, and moved to Gilmore Avenue in the nearby Hacienda Magdalena (now called New Manila), to be treated at the Santol Sanitarium. And in 1934, as the Senate President, Quezon campaigned for the passage of the 1935 Sweepstakes Law that would allocate 25% of its proceeds to the Philippine Tuberculosis Society.
With the new funds, the Philippine Islands Anti-Tuberculosis Society was able to start the plans for a permanent hospital, with the laying of the cornerstone for the new Santol Sanitarium in 1936, led by First Lady Doña Aurora Antonia Molina Aragón Quezón (1888-1949) and Filipina feminist and president of the National Federation of Women’s Clubs Sofia Reyes de Veyra (1876-1953). Architect Juan Nakpil designed in the Art Deco style, as a part of the Filipino thrust towards modernism and breaking from the old rule of the Americans, which was symbolized by the earlier established Neoclassic architecture.
Before the opening of the sanitarium, the hospital was named from the Teachers’ Santol Sanatorium to the Quezon Institute, after it benefactor, President Quezon, whose portrait by Fermin Sanchez hangs in the lobby. Fermín Vergara Sánchez is an illustrator and painter, known for his romantic classicist style. Sanchez once worked with Carlos “Botong” Farncisco and Victorio Edades in creating painted backdrops for the sets of the Manila Grand Opera, in the 1930s. However, when Edades was promoting modernism in Philippine Art, Sanchez was one of the artists who debated Edades against the acceptance of modernist styles.
When the Quezon Institute opened in 1938, the president of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society was Doña Julia Vargas de Ortigas (1881-1969), whom the administration building is currently named after. Married to noted lawyer and businessman, Don Francisco Barciñas Ortigas Sr. (1875-1935), Doña Julia lobbied to President Quezon for the passage of the 1935 Sweepstakes Law. Doña Julia remained the president of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society until her death, and worked for the expansion of the hospital from 150 to 350 beds, as well as the Quezon Institute’s extension programs to other provinces and government hospitals. For all her work for the reduction of tuberculosis in the Philippines, Doña Julia was given the Golden Heart Presidential Award in 1960 by President Carlos P. Garcia during the golden anniversary of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society. Other members of the first Quezon Institute board were the “Father of Public Health and Social Welfare in the Philippines” Dr. José Fernandez Fabella (1888-1945) as the vice-president and Philippine General Hospital’s Dr. Miguel Cañizares as Medical Director; with the National Artist for Literature and diplomat Carlos Peña Rómulo (1898-1985), the first Manila Mayor under the Commonwealth Juan Pablo Posadas, Jr., the Government Insurance Service general manager Salvador Lagdameo, the Director of Health Dr. Eusebio D. Aguilar, and the “Father of Philippine Journalism” Don Alejandro Gonzales Roces, Sr. (1875-1943) as board members.
With the 1935 enactment of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes (PCSO) replacing the National Charity Sweepstakes, the new agency found a home in western portion of the Quezon Institute complex. Aside from the Philippine Tuberculosis Society, other major beneficiaries of the PSCO were Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation, the National Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Association de Damas de Filipinas, the Gota de Leche, the Associate of Manila and the Provinces, the Philippine Council of Boy Scouts of America, the Asilo Para Invalidos de los Veteranos de la Revolucion, and the Child Welfare Center. The Quezon Institute complex would be the headquarters of the PSCO, until its move to the City of Pasay (and now in Mandaluyong City), in 2010.
During World War II (1939-1945), the Japanese forces occupied the Quezon Institute and looted the compound. The hospital staff was transferred to the San Juan De Dios Hospital in Intramuros, Manila; while those who chose to stay were murdered. Later, seventy eight of the remaining staff were incarcerated at the Fort Santiago, in Intramuros, where forty-eight died. At the entrance of the Quezon Institute administration building is a “Roll of Honor” plaque dedicated to those who died and survived the Intramuros concentration camp.
At the field in front of the Quezon Institute is a small memorial marker to the total fifty-two hospital staff who died during World War II, either at the Quezon Institute or at the Intramuros jail. And fronting the memorial is a statue of the Madonna and Child, as a testimony to the loving dedication the brave hospital staff had displayed.
The Quezon Institute was not a badly damaged as other buildings had been flattened by the Battle for Manila. After the war, President Sergio Osmeña (1878-1961) campaigned to raise funds for the Philippine Tuberculosis Society, and its continued operations. And with donations of supplies and equipment from the US Army, the Quezon Institute reopened.
From the start of his presidency until his death, President Ramón del Fierro Magsaysay (1907-1957) showed his support for the Philippine Tuberculosis Society, which included a higher allocation of funds by the PCSO. To express their thanks, a portrait of President Magsaysay was commissioned, and created by the National Artist, Fernando Cueto Amorsolo (1892-1972). Fernando, along with his brother Pablo, lost his father at an early age; and they were “adopted” by their uncle Fabián de la Rosa. Born in Paco, Manila, Amorsolo earned a degree from the Liceo de Manila Art School in 1909, before entering the U.P. School of Fine Arts and graduating in its first batch in 1914. Amorsolo’s portrayal of the beautiful and dignified peasants of the Philippine countryside, as a form of silent nationalistic protest against the rapid adapting of American styles and attitudes among Filipinos in the city, and thus he was showing the true spirit of the Filipino was to be found in the provinces. He was declared the first National Artist, by Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, in 1972. Amorsolo is also known for designing the label of the very popular gin, Ginebra San Miguel.
Through the decades, many charitable organizations have donated their time and kind to the Quezon Institute, among these was the Sisters of Mary. The Catholic organization was established in 1964 by the American missionary, Fr. Aloysius Philip Schwartz (1930-1992), in Busan, Korea. The organization’s patron saint is the Our Lady of Banneux, the Virgin of the Poor; and their work with the poorest of the poor of Korea led to Fr. Aloysius receiving the Ramon Magsaysay Award, in 1983. While in Manila, Fr. Aloysius met with Cardinal Jaime Lachica Sin (1928-2005), who invited him to establish his charity program in the Philippines. And in 1985, the Sisters of Mary started working with the orphanages of the Manila Boys Town and Girls Town. Soon they were working in the charity ward of the Quezon Institute, which led to the opening of the Sisters of Mary Charity Pavilions, in 1989.
In 1998, the Out-Patient Department of the Quezon Institute was renamed as the Dr. Mita Pardo de Tavera Hall, after the former executive director and president of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society, and Secretary of Social Welfare during the Aquino administration, Dr. Mita Pardo de Tavera -Loinaz (1920-2007). Aside from her long service in the field of medicine and social work, Dr. Pardo de Tavera was also noted for her efforts in settling the 1992-1994 case in which the PSCO was claiming the Quezon Institute as property of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
In 2000, the Quezon Institute’s chapel underwent a major renovation, through the generous donations of the businessman and board member of the First Philippine Holdings Corporation of the Lopez Group of Companies, Mr. Rodolfo Soliman Valderrama (1924-2007), along with his wife, Teresita Topacio Valderrama (1927-2003).
This continued support of individuals and organizations for the Philippine Tuberculosis Society, one of the first organizations to donate is the Bureau of Posts, which is now the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost). Starting with the establishment of the Philippine Islands Anti-Tuberculosis Society in 1910, the Bureau of Posts issued “Christmas Seals” or fund raising postage stamps, whose additional purchase to regular mailing stamps would be donated the Philippine Islands Anti-Tuberculosis Society. And from the 1910s to the early 1960s, these stamps would feature images and symbols of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society. However, by the late 1960s to the 1990s, stamps would be more entertaining as they would feature various aspects of Philippine culture to get the interest of philatelists (stamp collectors); with subject matter ranging from flora and fauna, to traditional games and dances. By the 2000s, the Philippine Tuberculosis Society approached the artist Manuel Dalao Baldemor (born 1947) to create a series for them, and this would be a continuing relationship with Baldemor inviting more artists and art galleries to share their talents for the stamp designs, as well as fund raising art workshops, exhibits, and auctions every year.
By 1934, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes would be the primary source of financial support for the Philippine Tuberculosis Society, and would continue to this day. However, with the growing costs of expenses for the Quezon Institute’s upkeep and equipment requirements against the expanding charities that the PCSO supports, the allocated budget for the Philippine Tuberculosis Society is now sorely lacking. And with tuberculosis as a major health risk in the Philippines, then need for more funding raising activities.
However, the interest in the historical significance of the Quezon Institute also draws interest to the Philippine Tuberculosis Society. As a creation of a National Artist, Juan Nakpil’s design is viewed as a structure of cultural significance. And in 2008, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the Architectural Archives Philippines of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) and the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA) placed a “National Artist Architectural Marker” at the Quezon Institute’s administration building. It is also noted that the Philippine Institute of Architects was founded by Nakpil, in 1933.
Across the hallway to the “National Artist Architectural Marker” is the plaque dedicated to Pres. Manuel Quezon, for his efforts to have the new Santlo Sanitarium funded and built. The plaque was designed by Crispulo de Mendoza Zamora (1871-1922), who was considered the best engraver during the American occupation of the Philippines. Born in Sampaloc, Manila, Zamora started as a silversmith and learned his craft from his father, Mauricio. Zamora would continue his art education with private lessons from Jose Flores, then he would continue his formal studies at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura, and trained under Lorenzo de Icaza Rocha (1837-1898) and Melecio Magbanua Figueroa (1842-1903) from 1890 to 1893. Zamora would take further studies under Felix Lorenzo Martinez (1859-1917), at the Escuela Practica y Professional de Artes Oficios de Manila. After graduating, Zamora would first work with his brothers under their father in Quiapo, before making a name for himself after his father’s passing. Aside from creating religious pieces such as the chanter of the Manila Cathedral and the crown of the icon of the Virgin of Naga, Zamora is also noted for designing medals and military ornaments for the U.S. Army, the Philippine Constabulary, and different units of the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Zamora is also recognized for creating plaques with the images of noted public figures, such as the American presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the King of Spain Alfonso XIII, and the Emperor of Japan Yoshihito. After his death, Zamora’s business was taken over by his wife and sons.
Despite its limited resources, the Philippine Tuberculosis Society continues to improve its services, in the Quezon Institute and its many extensions around the country. To beef up its finances, the Philippine Tuberculosis Society had to sell a portion of the eastern property of the Quezon Institute to the Cosco Prime Holdings, Inc., which opened the Puregold Price Club QI Central supermarket in 2010.
And now the Ayala Land, Inc. has expressed its intent to purchase the Quezon Institute property and convert it into a commercial complex. Despite the protection of the National Cultural Heritage Act, and the Ayala Land’s promise to preserve the historical structures, I fear that the Quezon Institute will lose its meaning amidst the proposed shopping and dining establishments. So I hope that the Philippine Tuberculosis Society will find a way to stay in its original home, and that there will be more investments for the mandate of the eradication of tuberculosis and the legacy of Pres. Manuel Quezon are upheld.
Resource for the stamps: Philippine Republic Stamps by Andrew J. Liptak (1948-2014)
Resource for the PCSO Sweepstakes Tickets: Republic of the Philippines – Stamps and Postal History by Nemy L. Rivera (died 2016)