When US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) signed the Tydings-McDuffie Act on the 24th of March 1934, the law gave birth to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines that would see the 10 year transitional process of independence of the Philippine from 1935 to 1945. Representing the Philippines was then-Senate President Manuel Luis Molina Quezón (1878-1944) and then-Senator Elpidio Rivera Quirino (1890-1956). This was followed by a constitutional convention, where the Philippine Constitution was drafted, and signed by Pres. Roosevelt on the 23rd of March 1935. Two months later, Filipinos went to the polls in a constitutional plebiscite on the 14th of May 1935 that would set the foundation of the new Philippine government. On the 16th of September 1935, a national election was held and saw Manuel Quezón as the 2nd President of the Philippines, with Vice-President Sergio Osmeña Sr. (1878-1961) and Speaker of the National Assembly Gil Miranda Montilla (1876-1946).
As a senator and now as the president, Quezón knew that the Commonwealth Government would require a readily armed forces; especially with the tensions of war arising from the Japanese annexation of Korean in 1910, Prime Minister Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (1883-1945) and his Partito Nazionale Fascista grabbing Italy’s government in 1923, the eruption of the Communist Revolution of China in 1927, Adolf Pölzl Hitler (1889-1945) and his Nazi party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) taking control of Germany in 1933 and persecuting the Jewish people, Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde (1892-1975) wresting power over Spain during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War, Russian General Secretary Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dzе Djugashvili, 1878-1953) instituting the Great Terror of Russia from 1936 to 1938, and the eruption of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937.
By 1935, Quezón transfers the headquarter of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) from Intramuros to a new camp in the Cubao District, with lands purchased from Doña Magdalena Hashim Ysmael-Hemady (1877-1955) and the Hacienda de Mandaloyon of Francisco “Don Paco” Ortigas (1875-1935). The new camp was named Camp Murphy, after the former American Governor-General (1933-1935) and High Commissioner (1935-1936) to the Philippines, William Francis Brennan Murphy (1890-1949). However, when the Philippine Army (PA) was established in 1938, the camp was split into two with the PC headquarters renamed Camp Cramé, after the first Filipino Chief of the Philippine Constabulary, Brigadier General Rafael Cramé y Pérez de Tagle (1863-1927); while the PA headquarters remained Camp Murphy until 1965, when it was renamed Camp Aguinaldo after the revolutionary general and 1st Philippine President, Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy (1869-1964).
By 1938, the Philippine Army develops the roads in the properties north of Camp Murphy, as residential areas for enlisted men and officers, and their families. To the northeast, in what is now Project 4, the Philippine Army’s 1st Signal Corps occupy Barrio Lata (tin can), which was probably named after the canned rations they were given. The community was later renamed ISCOPA, after the “1st Signal Corps Philippine Army,” and later changed to Barangay ESCOPA. The area immediately outside the camp’s north gate, was designated for enlisted men and their families and had two large water tower built to supply the community. Now called Barangay Soccoro in Cubao, the streets were generically named 1st to 20th avenues, while the main roads were entitled Main Avenue (now Justice Lourdes Paredes San Diego Avenue), Central Avenue (now Judge Justice Pedro Tiangco Tuazon Boulevard), and Liberty Avenue. The lots north of the Marikina-Infanta Highway were designed for further expansions the enlisted men’s residences, with the streets in the northeast named after famous universities, and the roads in the northwest named after American cities and states. These roads are is now part of Project 5 of the post-war Homesite relocation projects. The lot in between the enlisted men’s residences and the Marikina-Infanta Highway (now Aurora Boulevard) was purchased by the RCA (Radio Corporation of America) for their six radio transmitter towers, which is now the commercial district of Cubao.
To strengthen the Philippine Armed Forces’ air combat capabilities, the Zabalan Air Field was constructed in 1935, at the east side of Camp Murphy. The Zabalan Air Field was the home of the Philippine Constabulary Air Corps (PCAC), and named after Major Porfirio E. Zablan, who was killed in training in the same year. The Zabalan Air Field is now the southern end of Katipunan Avenue. In 1937 the future US President, Lt. Colonel Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower (1890-1969) joins the PCAC for flight training, while working as an aide to General Douglas Hardy MacArthur (1880-1964). Later, Pres. Quezón offers Eisenhower the position of Chief of Police for the proposed Quezon City, which he declines.
Quezon knew that expediting the transport of goods and personnel was key to the development of the nation, hence the he endeavored the construction of the North–South Circumferential Road (now Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) that would link the properties Hacienda San Pedro de Macati (now Makati City), Hacienda de Mandaloyon (now Mandaluyong City), Hacienda de San Isidro de Mariquina (Marikina City), and Hacienda de Maysilo (Caloocan City). Completed in 1940, the highway also linked the military installations in these municipalities; such as the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) infantry base and headquarters Fort McKinley (named after the US Pres. William Allison McKinley Jr., 1843-1901, and now the Bonifacio Global City) in the Municipality of Taguig, Manila International Air Terminal (aka the Nielson Airport, completed in 1937) in Makati, the Philippine Army’s Camp Murphy and Philippine Constabulary’s Camp Cramé in Cubao, and the US Navy Transmitting Corps compound in Barrio Bago Bantay (New Guardians).
As a former major in the Philippine-American War (1899-1903), Quezón knew that Manila would be indefensible from enemy naval artillery fire, and its roads have become too congested and the city over populated. He conceived a new capital city in the Dilimán Estate that spanned the municipalities of San Juan del Monte, and Mariquina. So in 1937, Quezón first called William Edward Parsons (1872-1939), the architectural consultant to the American government in the Philippines, and help select the suitable site and plan the new national capital in Dilimán Estate. Although Parsons showed interest in the project, he was already back in the United States, and it would take time before he could return to the Philippines.
Impatient, Quezón conducts an initial survey of the Dilimán Estate in 1937; accompanied by Caluag Mayor Tomás Eduardo Bernabéu Morató (1887-1965), Colonel Mateo M. Capinpin (1887-1958), Major General Basilio J. Valdes (1892-1970), his aide-de-camp Major Manuel Nieto Sr. Pres. Quezón would return to the area in July 1939, this time with Tomás Morató, newspaper publisher Don Alejandro Roces, Sr. (1875-1943), Ramon Pardo Roces (1897-1993), Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce Eulogio “Amang” Adona Rodríguez Sr. (1883-1964), Dean of the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines Antonio Guillermo Leuterio Sison (1883-1972), and José Páez. And as Pres. Quezón sat on top of a hill and imagined the new city from his vantage point, little did the president realize that the hill he was using to view his new capital would become his final resting place, and site of the Quezon Memorial Park.
On the 14th of October 1938, Pres. Quezón establishes the People’s Homesite Corporation (PHC), which purchased 1,572 hectares of Dilimán Estate from the Tuason clan, through the matriarch Doña Maria Teresa Eriberta De La Paz Tuason (1867-1951), as mitigated by her nephew Angel “Bobby” M. Tuason Valdez (1899-1948), on the 10th of October 1938, and began developing the properties into low cost housing for government workers. The first Homesite Project was completed in 1940, and was named Barrio Obrero (Workers Village). The Luzon Bus Lines plied the route from the Tutuban Station to Kamuning Road for 5 centavos a trip, to ensure daily transport to the new residents from Manila to Quezon City, and back. Currently the Homesite Project 1 is divided into the barangays of Kamuning, Obrero and Roxas, and the other seven residential projects were to be completed by the presidents after Quezón: Sergio Osmeña, Manuel Acuña Roxas (1892-1948), Elpidio Rivera Quirino (1890-1956), and Ramon del Fierro Magsaysay (1907-1957).
To solve the housing crisis in Manila, these low cost houses were designed by Arch. Juan Arellano, who drew inspiration from the practical nature of the colonial “Bahay na Bato” (house of stone), which he would continue in the Homesite’s Project 2 and 3, after the war. Construction was supervised by the future-Quezon City vice-mayor, Col. Vicente Ochoa Novales. And to fulfill the education needs of the Homesite Project 1 residents are the 1939 Kamuning Elementary School on South G Street (now Eagle Scout Antonio Rios Torillo Street) and the 1941 K-C Annex of the Kamuning Elementary School (now the Tomas Morato Elementary School) at the corner of K-B Street (now Teodoro E. Gener Street) and K-A Street (now Vice-Mayor Luis Sianghio street). For the schools’ design, Arch. Arellano followed Gabaldon Schoolhouse style, as designed by Arch. William Parsons.
In 1938, Quezón proposes the new capital to the Philippines as “Balintawak City” to the Philippine Assemble. Quezón chose the name after the historical area known for the several key events during the Katipunan Revolution against Spainish rule in the Philippines, including the “Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin” (Cry of the Hawk’s Nest), where Andrés de Castro Bonifacio (1863-1897) and the Katipuneros tore their cédulas personales (identification tax certificates), and declared their independence from Spain, on the 23rd of August 1896. However, the Philippine Assembly voted to name the capital city as “Quezon City” and was enacted as was on the 12th of October 1939, with Commonwealth Act 502, also known as the Charter of Quezon City. As stated in the charter, the municipalities of Caloocan, Mandaluyong, Mariquina, Pasig, and San Juan gave up properties to create the new capitol city.
The first “official” parish of the newly established Quezon City is Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish of the Homesite Project’s Barrio Obrero, which was established by the priests of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD, or Societas Verbi Divini) from the nearby Divine Word Mission Seminary. The church was completed in 1941 as the first parish of the newly formed Quezon City, and was designed by Arch. Arturo M. Mañalac (1915-1990), who also designed the nearby Immaculate Conception Cathedral the home of the Diocese of Cubao.
When Quezón was conceptualizing the new Philippine capital in 1937, he informs Tomás Morató that he wishes to appoint him as Mayor of Quezon City. Morató accepts the offer, and purchases a lot on Nevada Street (now Felix Manalo Street) near the España Boulevard Extension (now the Senator Eulogio Adona Rodríguez Sr. Boulevard), in the district of Cubao. Morató completes his house short after the Quezon City Charter is signed, making it the first home built in Quezon City. Sworn into office on the 10th of November 1939, Morató sees the construction of the first Quezon City Hall at the corner of the North–South Circumferential Road and the Marikina-Infanta Highway, which is now the site of the Cubao Elementary School. Upon signing Quezon City into law, Pres. Quezón first acted as the mayor with his own council, until Mayor Morató and his own city council can be formally appointed by the 10th of November, 1939.
For the peace and order of the newly established city, Mayor Morató places a Philippine Constabulary (PC) outpost at the site of the temporary penitentiary that was built in 1935 to house prisoners, while the New Bilibid Prison was being constructed in the Municipality of Muntinlupa. This PC outpost is now the Kamuning Police Station 10 between and the Lagarian Creek and Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA for short), and the holding facility is now the Quezon City Jail.
To unify the new citizens of Quezon City, Mayor Morató commissions Amado Malonda Calleja (1889-1949) to compose the “Marcha de la ciudad de Quezon” (Quezon City March), with the lyrics penned by the Filipino-Spanish ambassador, journalist, poet and playwright Jesús Balmori y Gonzalez-Mondragon (1887-1948).
By 1939, Parsons was able to visit and inspect the Dilimán Estate and gives his initial assessments to Quezón, but falls into ill health and is forced to return to America. Before leaving for home, Parsons endorses his partner, Arch. Harry Talford Frost (1886-1943) as his replacement before his death. Upon his arrival in May 1940, Quezón appoints Arch. Frost as the head of the planning team, along with director of Public Works Alpheus Daniel Williams (1887-1945), architect Juan Arellano (1888-1960), landscape architect Louis P. Croft (1900-1978), and modernist Arch. Welton David Becket (1902-1969), to draft the plans of the new capitol city. Quezón envisioned the capitol site as 400 hectare city center, with green parks. The team designed the three branches of government located near each other, with the Legislative Building and City Hall located at 25 hectare elliptical site (now the Quezon Memorial Circle), with the Executive National Capitol at the adjoining North Avenue (now the Veterans’ Memorial Hospital) and the Supreme Court in the East Avenue (now the East Avenue Medical Center). Four avenues would emanate from the elliptical City Hall site, representing the cardinal directions of East, North, South and West, in a diamond pattern that is bisected by the North–South Circumferential Road at the northern and southern corners of this Diliman Quadrangle, while the Quezon Boulevard Extension (now Quezon Avenue) passing through the eastern and western corners. At the southern sections of the capitol site are the new residential relocation sites of the Homesite projects and the military and constabulary camps of Cramé and Murphy. To the north of the capitol site would be the University of the Philippines and the Philippine Military Academy (now the Batasan Hills Complex).
At the entrance to the capitol grounds, there was to be an Arch of the Republic, designed by Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890-1976), inspired by the 315 AD Arco di Costantino in Rome and 1836 Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile in Paris. This plan stemmed from an initial plan to create a Commonwealth Triumphal Arch, which was approved but discontinued due to lack of funds.
Just as Arch. Croft presenting the University of the Philippines Dilimán Campus Plan a year before, Arch. Frost presented the Quezon City Master Plan to the National Assembly in 1941, and gets it approval. The plan was projected to be completed by 1946, coinciding with the end of the Commonwealth and independence of the Philippines. To launch the new independent republic and capitol site, a grand international exposition will be held at the capitol park grounds, reviving and outdoing the Philippine Exposition (also known as the Manila Carnival), which ran from 1908 to 1939. In 1940 construction of the Diliman Quadrangle had already started along with the University of the Philippines campus, however these plans never saw completion when Japanese invaded the Philippines on the 8th of December 1941. It was only during the term of President Elpidio Rivera Quirino (1890-1956) did the plans be revived with the construction of the Quezon Memorial Circle and four avenues of the cardinal directions, as well as the declaration of Quezon City as the new national capital with Republic Act No. 333. This was completed by President Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Sr. (1917-1989) to transfer almost all government offices to Quezon City, while declaring the whole Metro Manila as the National Capital Region with the Presidential Decree No. 940.
The Quezon City Planning Team:
Arch. William Edward Parsons (1872-1939) was the architectural consultant of the American government in the Philippines, from 1905 to 1914. Parsons first took his formal architectural studies at the Yale University, then continued his advanced education at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Parsons worked for the architect and urban planner Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912), during the 1893 Chicago World Fair, who was impressed by the young Parsons. From 1901 to 1905, Burnham was shuttling between the Philippines and America, as he was supervising the urban planning and design of Manila, Baguio, the Pangasinan Provincial Capitol in Lingayen, and Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol in Bacolod; while working on American projects in the cities of Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, San Francisco and Washington D.C.; this was heavy work load that forced Burnham to discontinue his Philippine obligations and recommend Parsons as his replacement to the then-So when the United States Secretary of War, William Howard Taft (1857-1930). Parsons arrived in Manila in 1905, and was able to work as both architectural consultant and a private practitioner. Upon his arrival, Parsons organized the American and Filipino staff of the architectural office of the Bureau of Public Works. As the chief architect of the US government, Parsons employed the Neoclassical style propagated by the American colonial government but infused it with Art Deco and Filipino elements, such as wide capiz shell windows. Parsons’ major buildings include the Philippine General Hospital, the Normal School and its women’s dormitory, the Manila Hotel, the Army-Navy Club, the Elks Club, and the Young Men’s Christian Association or YMCA Building; as well as the provincial government buildings in Cebu, Legaspi, Tarlac, and Capiz. Aside from grand government buildings, Parsons design the basic format for all public schools to be constructed between 1907 and 1946; which he called the Gabaldon schoolhouse, after Assemblyman Isauro Gabaldón y González (1875-1942), who authored the bill to construct modern schools nationwide. Due to conflicts with government policies, Parsons resigned in 1914, and returned to America to do consultancy work for various cities with the firm Bennett, Parsons & Frost, before quietly retired in New Haven, Connecticut, until his death in 1939.
Arch. Juan Marcos de Guzmán Arellano (1888-1960) is known as one of the Philippines’ founding fathers of architecture. He finished his studies at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila in 1908; while taking art lessons under noted masters Lorenzo Leogardo Guerrero (1835 -1904), Toribio Asona Antillon (1856-1913), and Fabian de la Rosa. When most people thought that he would pursue a full time career in the arts, Arellano decided to take architectural studies at the Drexel Institute in 1908, and further architectural studies at the Académie des Beaux-Arts. However the draw to painting could not be resisted and he to additional art studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1911. As an architect, Arellano is most noted for Manila’s Metropolitan Theater (1935), Executive House (1926, now houses the National Museum of the Philippines), the Manila Post Office Building (1926), and Jones Bridge; where he had employed both the Neoclassic styles recommended by the American government and the Art Deco style pushed by Filipno modernist thinkers.
Arch./Eng. Harry Talford Frost (1886-1943) was an American architect/engineer born in England, who served as the architectural consultant of the Philippine Commonwealth government. Frost took his civil engineering studies at the Ohio State University, and his architectural studies at Washington University in St Louis. Frost first worked as a draftsman in the U. S. Office of Immigration in New York City, then at the office of the U. S. Supervising Architect in Washington D.C. under Elliott Woods (1865-1923); before transferring to Chicago and partner with Edward Herbert Bennett (1874–1954) and William Edward Parsons (1872-1939) to create the firm of Bennett, Parsons & Frost. While working in the firm, Frost organized the Chicago Plan Commission that established the Zoning Ordinance for the city. The Bennett, Parsons & Frost was tapped into creating city plans for the cities of Pasadena in California, Palm Beach in Florida, Saint Paul in Minnesota, and Brooklyn and Buffalo in New York. Upon the recommendations of Parsons, frost flew to the Philippines to work as the architectural consultant of the Philippine Commonwealth government, and was tapped by President Manuel Luis Molina Quezón (1878-1944) to design the new capitol city and its proposed exposition. Frost was able to complete the initial concept in 1941, with Alpheus Daniel Williams (1887-1942), and Juan Marcos de Guzmán Arellano (1888-1960). Frost was not able to see his plans come to light, as he was captured and died in a concentration camp during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in World War II.
Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890 -1976) is a classical sculptor who was named National Artist for the Visual Arts in 1973. Tolentino took his art studies at the U.P. School of Fine Arts, and later at the Ecole de Beux Arts. In 1926, he started teaching at the U.P. School of Fine Arts, and he would later be given the position of director. Tolentino sculpted the University of the Philippines’ most recognizable emblem, the “U.P. Oblation”, as well as the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City. He was also awarded the UNESCO Cultural Award in Sculpture in 1959, Araw ng Maynila Award in Sculpture in 1963, Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1967, President’s Medal of Merit in 1973, and the Diwa ng Lahi Award in 1972, before given the highest honor as National Artist.
Arch. Welton David Becket (1902-1969) is a modernist architect, who is noted to have design many of the landmarks of Los Angeles California. Becket graduated from the University of Washington program in 1927, and later formed a Los Angeles partnership with Walter Wurdeman (1903-1949) and Charles F. Plummer (1879-1939) in 1933. The trio promoted the Streamline Moderne architectural style, especially with the Pan-Pacific Auditorium (1935). This edifice catches the attention of many celebrities, politicians, and businessmen; including the new investors in the Philippines who hire the partners to design and complete the Manila Jai Alai Building. The design becomes Jai Alai Building’s Sky Room becomes a favorite haunt of Manila’s rich and powerful, bringing Becket to the attention of President Manuel Luis Molina Quezón (1878-1944), who hires Becket to join the team that would plan the future capitol of the Philippines. After Quezon City plans were presented in 1941, Becket returns to America and focuses on government defense and housing projects, as part of the World War II efforts. After Wurdeman’s death in 1949, Becket formed Welton Becket and Associates and advocated the philosophy of “Total Design,” in which his firm would design nearly every aspect of the building; from the site plan, engineering, interiors, furniture, fixtures, and even typography of the building’s signage.
Alpheus Daniel Williams (1887-1945) was an officer Engineering Reserve Corps and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Williams arrived in the Philippines between 1908 and 1911, and he worked with the American government architectural consultant, William Edward Parsons (1872-1939), in completing the designs of Baguio City by the city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912). Due to his outstanding work in developing the “City of Pines”, Williams was appointed as mayor of Baguio, and served from 1913 to 1916. Upon completion of his mayoral term, Williams returned to America to work for the Department of Public Roads West Virginia, from 1914 to 1918. When the Philippine Commonwealth was enacted, Williams was recalled to the Philippines to serve as the director of the Bureau of Public Works, from 1939 to 1943. President Manuel Luis Molina Quezón (1878-1944) tasked Williams as part of the team that would conceptualize and build the new capitol city, along with Arch./Eng. Harry Talford Frost (1886-1943) and Juan Marcos de Guzmán Arellano (1888-1960). The plans did not see fruition with the onset of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in World War II, where Williams was arrested and detained in a concentration camp. After the war, Williams served in the 1945 rehabilitation plan of the Philippines, but died shortly after.
Arch. Louis P. Croft (1900-1978) was an American landscape architect and planner, who trained under Warren Henry Manning (1860-1938) who was a leading proponent of Regional Planning in America. In 1934, Croft would build his reputation as a landscape architect of the National Park Service (NPS) in North Carolina, before joining the Civilian Conservation Corps and sent to the Philippines to work under the Bureau of Public Works, under Alpheus Daniel Williams (1887-1945); where helped develop the National Parks Office of the Philippines. Croft was recruited by Williams to be part of the team that would plan the new capitol city of the Philippines, but they were unsuccessful in completing their plans when the Japanese invaded the Philippines in 1941. Croft was arrested and detained in Santo Tomas Internment Camp, with his wife Lois, the principal of the American School, Manila. After the war, Croft remained in the Philippines, acting as the 1945-1946 Chief of City Planning under President Sergio Osmeña Sr. (1878-1961), then as the 1947 to 1949 Manila Planning Commissioner and advisory staff for Land Planning under President Manuel Acuña Roxas (1892-1948); where he worked in the Manila Electric Company City Planning and the Philippine Safety Council in 1947, and Director of Traffic for Manila in 1948. In 1950, Croft left the Philippines to take a long vacation touring Java, Bali, Singapore, India and Europe; before returning to America to work as the chair of Urban Planning Salt Lake City, the head the landscape planning of the Grand Canyon in 1955. Upon his retirement in the 1960s, Croft and his wife gave talks around the US about the atrocities of the Japanese concentration camps.