During the post-war reconstruction of the Philippines, Pres. Elpidio Rivera Quirino (1890-1956) and acting-Quezon City Mayor Nicanor A. Roxas broke the grounds of what was to be the 27 hectare Quezon Memorial Park in 1949, with a 2 kilometer Elliptical Road surrounding it. Located at the cross-points of the Quezon Boulevard Extension (now Quezon Avenue), East Avenue and North Avenue; this Elliptical Road and the government institutions to be built around it was a compromise of the original plan that President Manuel Luis Molina Quezón (1878-1944), with Arch. Harry Talford Frost (1886-1943), Eng. Alpheus Daniel Williams (1887-1945), Arch. Juan Marcos de Guzmán Arellano (1888-1960), Arch. Louis P. Croft (1900-1978), and Arch. Welton David Becket (1902-1969), had proposed as the design of a new Philippine capitol city in 1941, during the Philippine Commonwealth Era.
Despite the launching of a new Diliman Quadrangle plan, Pres. Quirino would be unable to see its completion, with his successor, Pres. Ramon del Fierro Magsaysay (1907-1957) and Arch. Federico S. Ilustre (1912–1989) of the Bureau of Public Works, to see the first government buildings erected on site, while the Quezon Memorial Park remained a work in progress. The first government institution to be moved by Pres. Magsaysay is the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) and its many bureaus and sub-agencies that would take up several buildings in the Elliptical Road, and the adjoining Quezon Boulevard (now Quezon Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue), Visayas Avenue, and East Avenue; as well as the perpendicular streets of National Irrigation Administration Road in the later years. During the term of Mayor Norberto Salandanan Amoranto (1907-1979) and President Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Sr. (1917-1989), the Elliptical Road saw the completion and a greater expansion of other government institutions, giving the Diliman Quadrangle its current semblance of Pres. Quezón’s dream.
The current Department of Agriculture (DA) building was first the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR), when it began operations at lot occupying the corner of the Elliptical Road and North Avenue, in 1957. The DANR started as the Department of Agriculture and Manufacturing in 1898 under the Philippine Revolutionary Government, then it saw several incarnations during the American Occupation, as the Bureau of Agriculture in 1901, the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1917, and the Department of Agriculture and Commerce in 1932. Under Japanese control it was reorganized as the Department of Finance, Agriculture and Commerce in 1942, then as the 1945 Department of Justice, Agriculture and Commerce immediately after World War II. In 1947, it reverted to the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and moved to its current home in 1957. In 1974, it was restructured as Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Natural Resources, before it was separated as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Agriculture in 1987. The DENR took up office at the old Bureau of Environment and Natural Resources in Visayas Avenue, while the DA retained it building between the Visayas and North avenues.
The DA’s Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) was first the offices of the Bureau of Agricultural Extension (BAEx, est. 1953) under the DANR, when it opened its offices in 1959. The Bureau of Agricultural Extension’s mandate was to develop and implement extension agricultural programs of the DANR, such as the development of model farms and farm schools, farmers’ cooperatives, farm management programs, home management programs, and rural youth development programs. With the restructuring of all government agencies after the 1986 People Power Revolution, and the split of the DA and DENR, the build was reorganized as the Agricultural Training Institute, with the mandate to train both private and government organizations in various new technologies and techniques in agricultural work and research.
To augment the work of the Agricultural Training Institute, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) compound was opened in 1987, at the corner of the Elliptical Road and Visayas Avenue. And in 2004, the DA’s Research and Development Management and Information Center (RDMIC) was opened inside the compound.
Right across BAR compound on Visayas Avenue is the DA’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) and Soils Research and Development Center (SRDC) compound, which was constructed in 1990. The BSWM started in 1921 as the DANR’s Division of the Soil and Fertilizers, under the Bureau of Science. Then it went through several reorganizations as the Division of Soil Survey in 1936 and the Division of Soil Survey and Conservation in 1946; and when the Bureau of Science was separated from the DANR, the division was renamed as the Bureau of Soil Conservation in 1951, the Bureau of Soils in 1964, and finally the Bureau of Soils into the Bureau of Soils and Water Management in 1987.
The DA’s Philippine Coconut Administration (PHILCOA) was constructed in 1958, at the corner of the Elliptical Road and Quezon Boulevard Extension (Commonwealth Avenue). The PHILCOA is mandated to develop and implement programs that are specific to the coconut industry, and started as the National Coconut Corporation (NACOCO) in 1940. Renamed as the PHILCOA in 1954; then as the Philippine Coconut Authority (PHILCOA) in 1973, when the offices of the Coconut Coordinating Council (CCC, est. 1971), the Philippine Coconut Administration (PHILCOA), and Philippine Coconut Research Institute (PHILCORIN, est. 1964) were placed under one coordinating organization. To accommodate the growing responsibilities of the new PHILCOA, a new building was constructed within the same compound in 1981.
Straddling a 23.85-hectare lot between the Elliptical Road, North Avenue and Quezon Boulevard, the DENR’s Philippine Parks & Wildlife Center began construction in 1954, and was completed in 1970. On its opening the park featured an artificial lagoon and picnic grounds, with a mini zoo of local fauna. When the part closed down for renovations in 1982, a tea house, fishing village, amphitheater and picnic sheds were added around the lagoon, and was reopened as the Lungsod ng Kabataaan Recreational Park (Children’s Town) in 1983. After the People Power Revolution, the park was named Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Nature Center (NAPWNC) in 1986, after the martyred Senator Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Lampa Aquino Jr. (1932-1983) and husband now then-Pres. María Corazón “Cory” Sumulong Cojuangco Aquino (1933-2009). On that same year, the NAPWNC placed under the now-Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), which would eventually turn the mini zoo into Wildlife Rescue Center (WRC) in 2000. Hence in 2002, the park was renamed as the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) and the PAWB was also restructures as the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), and the WRC was declared the National Wildlife Rescue and Research Center (NWRRC). In 2004, the park is placed under the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS), with its 3,000 tree species and 1,465 individual mammals, birds and reptiles as of 2019. In 2017, the NAPWC opened is Museum of Philippine Biodiversity. The NAPWC also features several public artworks by Ben-Hur Gorospe Villanueva (1938-2020), Luis “Junyee” Enano Yee, Jr. (born 1942), Peter Tiamzon de Guzman (born 1962), Janus Andrade Nuñez (born 1989), and the students of the Far Eastern University.
One abandoned lot in the Elliptical Road, between Commonwealth Avenue and Maharlika Road, is the old Bureau of Fisheries compound of the DANR. First built in 1957 as a series of small one-story buildings in 1957, the construction of a larger building was halted. By the 1970s, the lot was transferred to the GSIS (Government Service Insurance System) and construction for a new building was initiated in 1977, but then again halted for favor of the development of the GSIS complex in the reclamation area in Pasay City. The only sign of the existence of the Bureau of Fisheries in that lot is a fountain. At the meantime, the bureau was restructured as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) under the Ministry of Natural Resources in 1974, and then it was transferred under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food in 1984. Finally, the BFAR, under the DA, was able to open its Manila office inside the newly constructed PHILCOA building, in 1981.
While deciding what to do with the abandoned construction in the Bureau of Fisheries compound, the southern end of the compound was given to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in 1974. The NLRC sets up the compound as the National Labor Center, which now currently houses Metro Manila offices of the Philippine Government Employees Association (PGEA, est. 1945), the Associated Labor Unions (ALU, est. 1954), the Visayas-Mindanao Confederation of Trade Union (VIMCONTU, est. 1961), the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP, est. 1975), and the Philippine Seafarers Union (PSU, est. 1984).
The “last” government institution related to the DA is the former National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) compound, which was opened in 1968 between the PHILCOA and the Agricultural Training Institute compounds. Restructured as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DA) in 1971, the NARRA grew from many policies during the early part of American Occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946), to redistribute the friar lands and royal estates to farmers. Finally, the National Land Settlement Administration (NSLA) was established in 1940, followed by the Land Settlement Development Corporation (LASEDECO) in 1950, and finally organized as the NARRA with the integration of the Court of Agrarian Relations, Land Tenure Administration (LTA), and Agricultural Credit Cooperative Financing Administration in 1954. By 1963, the NARRA was placed under the Commission on Agricultural Productivity (formerly the Bureau of Agricultural Extension), before its institutionalization as the DAR in 1971. To this day, the DAR is mandated with the development and implementation of policies and programs in the redistribution of agrarian lands, from government and private properties.
Another government agency mandated in the redistribution of lands is the People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation (PHHC) compound, which was also completed in 1957. The PHHC was established in 1938 by Pres. Quezón as a resettlement program to entice government workers to transfer from the highly congested Manila, to the newly developed Quezon City starting in 1939. However, with Manila and other municipalities devastated by World War II, the PHHC was relaunched as a resettlement program for families displaced by the war. During the reconstruction period, the PHHC was placed under the jurisdiction of National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) in 1954. After the NARRA was restructured as the Department of Agrarian Reform, the PHHC was reorganized as the National Housing Authority (NHA) in 1975, when it absorbed the functions of other housing programs, such as the Presidential Assistant on Housing and Resettlement Agency (PAHRA), the Tondo Foreshore Development Authority (TFDA), the Central Institute for the Training and Relocation of Urban Squatters (CITRUS), the Presidential Committee for Housing and Urban Resettlement (PRECHUR), and the Sapang Palay Development Committee (SPDC). In 1978, the NHA was placed under the Ministry of Human Settlements (MHS), which had a greater mandate of housing programs for indigent communities nationwide. By 1986, the MHS is restructures as the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and once again reorganized as the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) in 2019. Inside the NHA, there are also relief sculptures by Eduardo De Los Santos Castrillo (1942-2016) and Francisco Rovero.
By the 1980s, the Department of Health (DOH) starts building its own agencies along the Elliptical Road, but this had already had precedent with the construction of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (1955) on North Avenue, the Philippine Heart Center (1975) on East Avenue, and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (1979) on Don Mariano Marcos Avenue (now Quezon Avenue). At the corner of Marcos Avenue and the Elliptical Road, the Lung Center of the Philippines opened in 1982, through the efforts of the former Minister of the Department of Health, Dr. Enrique M. García (died 1981). It was in 1974, when Dr. Garcia was the Director of the Quezon Institute, and saw the deteriorating state of the hospital, and its inadequacies in dealing the pulmonary illnesses in the country, including tuberculosis. So Dr. Garcia approached First Lady Imelda Trinidad Romualdez Marcos (born 1929) for aid in possibly revitalizing the Quezon Institute. But instead of renovating the old building, Marcos invested a state-of-the-art facility, and hired experts from all over the world. Despite being the leading hospital in Asia for pulmonary diseases, the Lung Center of the Philippines had also fallen to some neglect, leading to a 1998 fire that razed 80% of the premises. This drew attention to the government, that poured funds to the reconstruction and revitalization of the hospital, which was reopened in 1999.
The second DOH property is the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, with a 58,899 square meter property at the corner of East Avenue and the Elliptical Road, while being connected to the Lung Center. The hospital first started in 1981 as the National Kidney Foundation of the Philippines, and saw the completion of the hospital in 1983. After the People Power Revolution, the hospital was renamed as National Kidney and Transplant Institute. Both medical centers were designed by Arch. Augusto Horacio Manalo Concio, and also have a collection large abstract paintings by Dr. Renato S. Cheng, a resident at the Lung Center. The Kidney Center also has sculptures by Solomon Arevalo Saprid (1917-2003) and Jonnel P. Castrillo (1969-2020).
Although it is not the oldest government structure in the Elliptical Road, the Quezon City Hall is the only structure that is in the place that Pres. Quezón had envisioned it to be located. The City Hall had its ground breaking in 1962, with construction starting in 1964. Designed Ruperto Cecilio Gaite (born 1925), the 14-story main building and its stunning assembly hall were completed in 1972. The centerpiece of the whole complex is the adobe bas-relief of the “Life of Pres. Manuel Quezón” by Eugenio Bunuan. Over the years, the Quezon City Hall complex has expanded, with the addition of an artificial lagoon and park, the QC Hall of Justice (1992), the Cecilia Muñoz-Palma Hall of Justice (2014), the QC Civic Center Buildings A-D (2014-2018), the QC Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Office (2016), QC Public Library (2017), as well as the QC Parking Building and Building Regulatory Office (BRO) in 2018. Over the years, the Quezon City hall has also accumulated artworks by Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo (1907-1990), his grandson Frederic I. Caedo, Jose “Al” Rabino Giroy (born 1962), Francisco Maravilla Verano (born 1938), Luisito “Chito” Katindig Villanueva (born 1938), Jomike Tejido, and the members of the EREHWON Art Collective.
The most obvious of all government structures within the Elliptical Road is the Quezon Memorial Park, which Pres. Quezón envisioned to be a stately park that encompassed the whole are within the Diliman Quadrangle. However, Pres. Quirino compromised the original plan for the park to take over the area at the corner of Quezon Boulevard, East and North Avenue in 1949. Never-the-less, the Quezon Memorial Park was become a major center of the Quezon City government’s cultural programs since its completion in 1972. Now-a-days, the Quezon Memorial Park and the Elliptical Road is not just a center of government activity and bureaucracy, but it is also one of the few green spaces in the Metro Manila.
Although most of the properties at the Elliptical Road are already occupied by government facilities, there is only area that is solely for private enterprise, the Kois and Ponds carp (Cyprinus rubrofuscus) breeding emporium and Pearlie’s Grill eatery, which opened in 1993 in a small lot between the Lung and Kidney centers.