The moment that President Manuel Luis Molina Quezón (1878-1944) had laid the blueprint for a new capitol city, the location of the Quezon City Hall was to be located where it stands now, as planned by Arch./Eng. Harry Talford Frost (1886-1943), Eng. Alpheus Daniel Williams (1887-1945), and Arch. Louis P. Croft (1900-1978) during the Commonwealth Era of the Philippines. However, Pres. Quezón’s vision was too grand to realize at that times, so Mayor Tomás Eduardo Bernabéu Morató (1887-1965) oversaw the development of the first city hall in 1940, from the old hospital extension of Dr. Valentin Salavy Afable (born 1895) near the corner of the Marikina-Infanta Highway (now Aurora Boulevard) and the North-South Circumferential Road (now Epifanio de los Santos Avenue). At that point, Dr. Afable was the assembly man of the lone district of Zambales (served 1938-1946), but he had gained prominence through his establishment of the his hospital in Manila in 1932, which would evolve to 3rd medical school in Manila in 1938. In 1942, President José Paciano Laurel y García (1891-1959) appointed Afable as part of the City Board of Manila.
After World War II, Mayor Ponciano A. Bernardo (1905-1949) moved the city hall to a location near the corner of North-South Circumferential Road and Kamuning Road in 1948, to bring the city hall closer to the Homesite relocation residential projects. After the transfer of the mayor’s office was transferred to the eastern Dilimán area, the second city hall was turned over to the Quezon City High School Cubao Annex (now the Ramon Magsaysay High School), whereas the first city hall had already become the Cubao Elementary School campus. The new city hall was designed by Arch. Luciano Aquino, of the city engineer’s office. Arch. Aquino would also design the Quezon City’s first monument, the Welcome Rotunda; and he continued to serve Quezon City until his retirement in the 1970.
However by the term of Mayor Norberto Salandanan Amoranto (1907-1979), the city hall at Bernardo Park was getting too small to accommodate the requirements of the citizenry, as the population of Quezon city had ballooned exponentially during the post-war reconstruction period of 1945-1957. Mayor Amoranto endeavored to have the city hall built at the location that Pres. Quezón had intended, and began clearing the area and broke ground and laid the cornerstone at the property in the corner lot between the Elliptical Road, East Avenue and Kalayaan Avenue in 1962.
However, this city hall was not the first to be designed for that location. Starting his term in 1954, Mayor Amoranto tapped into Arch. Federico S. Ilustre (1912–1989), who had designed the ongoing Quezon Memorial and was tasked to design the new national capitol building on Constitution Hill (now the Batasan Pambansa). Arch. Illustre’s design would have been thirteen stories tall with a seed budget of two million pesos, on the land given by the Philippine Homesite and Housing Corporation. However by 1957, Arch. Illustre’s plans for the national capitol were scrapped, as so were his designs for the city hall.
By 1961, Mayor Amoranto hires Arch. Ruperto Cecilio Gaite (born 1925) to plan the new building, as he had already built a reputation designing several city and provincial capitol buildings at that period. The construction of the Quezon City started in 1964 on the 25th anniversary of Quezon City. Without a final budget, the plan was just “pay as it goes,” and started with a seed budget of one and a half million pesos. The main building that housed the mayor’s office and all other city departments was 45.72 meters tall (150 feet), with fourteen floors that made it the tallest building in Quezon City at the time. The main building was 1,280 square meters in floor size, while located in a 12 hectare compound. The contract for construction was awarded to the Weldon Construction Company (est. 1958), while government supervision was handled by the City Engineer, Pantaleon Tabora.
On the 1st of January 1972, the new Quezon City Hall was formally inaugurated; along with the induction of the newly re-elected Mayor Norberto S. Amoranto and his city council. The final cost of the city hall complex was eighteen million pesos.
The centerpiece of the whole complex is Quezon City Assembly Hall, with the adobe bas-relief of the “Life of Pres. Manuel Quezón” by Eugenio Bunuan. At the left to center portion of the artwork, Bunuan featured scenes from Pres. Quezón’s military service during the Philippine-American War, his taking of law studies at the University of Santo Tomas, his meteoric rise from the Philippine Assembly to Senate, his election as the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth government, his celebration of the 1st National Rice Planting Day on the 9th of July 1939, his planning of the new capitol city, to his relationship with General Douglas Hardy MacArthur (1880-1964) and World War II. At the right side of the artwork, Bunuan shows the rise of Quezon City, with the develop of industry as the construction of the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, GSIS General Hospital on East Avenue, the University of the Philippines, the Quezon Memorial Park, and the Quezon City Hall. At the center of the artwork, Bunuan presents Pres. Quezón in his famous stance, while delivering his fiery speech as the newly inducted president of the Philippine Commonwealth.
Before its formal inauguration, the Quezon City Assembly Hall had been completed by 1971, and Mayor Amoranto offered the use of the hall to the National Assembly (i.e. the House of Representatives / Congress), free of charge. And on the 1st of June 1971, the assembly hall became venue of the Constitutional Convention, to draft a new constitution from the 1935 Commonwealth version. And after the 1973 constitutional plebiscite, the National Assembly would call the QC hall its home, until its transfer to the Batasan Pambansa in 1978. With the Philippine legislative body in the same compound as the Quezon City Hall, many national government offices now housed at the Elliptical Road and the nearby avenues, and the Quezon Memorial nearing completion and designated as a national shrine in 1974; Mayor Amoranto felt that his twenty-five years of service had fulfilled as much as he could to complete Pres. Quezón’s dream of the ideal city. So in 1976, Mayor Amoranto tendered his resignation to Pres. Marcos and quietly retired.
Years after Mayor Amoranto’s retirement, his successors would continue to expand on the Quezon City Hall complex, with the most developments under the nine year term of Mayor Herbert Constantine “Bistek” Maclang Bautista (born 1968). Some of the infrastructure development of the compound are the addition of an artificial lagoon and park, the QC Hall of Justice (1992), the Yakap Day Care Center (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), the QC Parking Building and Building Regulatory Office (BRO) in 2018, and even a Muslim Consultative Council. There are also regional offices for national agencies, such as the Bureau of Immigration (BI), the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the Department on Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), and the Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost).
The Quezon City Hall Park and Lagoon was created shortly after the city hall was completed, through the efforts of former-First Lady Imelda Trinidad Romualdez Marcos (born 1929). The park serves as a continuance of green spaces that Pres. Quezón had wanted in his ideal capitol city. Currently, the park has also has an Orchidarium, which is managed by the Philippine Orchid Society.
During the term of Mayor Brigido R. Simón, Jr., the first Quezon City Hall of Justice was completed in 1992, to accommodate the growing needs Regional Trial Courts that were originally housed in the Quezon City Hall Administration Building. The start of the city’s judiciary arm began with Pres. Quezón’s initial appointment of Perfecto R. Palacio as first Justice of the Peace in 1939. This was followed by Quezón’s formal appointment of Perfecto Palacio as the municipal judge, and Amado Amador (1901-1981) as the judge of the Court of First Instance. An interesting note that one of the handymen first hired to work in the city hall in 1939, Cornelio Sora Domingo (1884-1963), would eventually become a municipal judge decades later. Also at the lobby of the Hall of Justice is a bust of Mayor Amoranto by Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo (1907-1990).
As the decades past, the old Hall of Justice was getting too cramped and dilapidated. So in 2014 the Cecilia Muñoz-Palma Hall of Justice to absorb all the functions of the old building, as it was going through a renovation. However the new building still could not accommodate the growing demands for judicial services of the city, and two more annexes were opened in 2019. The new Hall of Justice complex contains 52 Regional Trial Courts, a day care center, library, and the office for the Philippine Judges Association. The new hall of justice was named after Cecilia Arreglado Muñoz-Palma (1913-2006), the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. To honor her legacy further, a small museum dedicated to Judge Muñoz-Palma was opened within the premises, in 2017.
On the same year that the Cecilia Muñoz-Palma Museum opens, the Quezon City Public Library’s central building was inaugurated. The Quezon City Public Library first opened in 1948, beside the second city hall in Cubao. By the transfer of all city operations to the new city hall, the Main Library was transferred to the ground floor of the administrative building, whereas the old library was relegated to a branch of the Quezon City Public Library System. Currently there are nineteen branches all over the city. Aside from books and other typical library services, the Quezon City Main Public Library also have learning and reading programs, with a Puppetry Room that not just uses puppets as educational aids, but it also conducts puppetry workshops for children. Another interesting feature in the library is the large 1910s American period propaganda mural of the 1987 “Pack of Biak na Bato.” The painting was donated by Mayor Bautista, and it shows symbolical images of the Filipinos relinquishing its sovereignty to Spain (i.e. Pres. Emilio Famy Aguinaldo surrendering), while an eagle with the American flag is flying in from the distance to “save” the Philippines.
Aside from that mural, there are many other artworks found throughout the Quezon City Hall complex. Aside from the “Life of Pres. Manuel Quezón” relief by Eugenio Bunuan, the next notable sculpture is the monument to Pres. Quezón by Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo (1907-1990), which was completed in 1977. Once again, Pres. Quezón is presented giving his Commonwealth speech. In 2002, the base of the Quezon Monument was repaired and a time-capsule installed right beside it. Inside the time-capsule are essays written by Grade 6 students from schools throughout the city, writing with the themes of “The Quezon City where I want to Live” and “How can I help Quezon City a model community?” The time-capsule will be opened in the year 2039, on the centennial of Quezon City.
At the open ground of the city hall complex, there is the 2009 statue of Andrés de Castro Bonifacio (1863-1897) by Francisco Maravilla Verano (born 1938). The sculpture is to remind the Quezon City citizenry that Bonifacio and the revolutionary “Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan” (Supreme and Venerable Union of the Children of the Nation, Katipunan for short) fought for Philippine independence from Spanish rule in the Philippines (1565-1898). The monument is also a reminder that the first declaration of independence from Spain was the “Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin” (The Cry of the Hawk’s Nest) of August 1896, where the Katipuneros tore their cédulas personales (identification tax certificates), to symbolize their severance from Spain. Bonifacio’s running stance also symbolizes the ensuing “Battle of Pasong Tamo.”
The next monument is Frederic I. Caedo’s 2009 statue of the reform propagandist, Dr. José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda (1861-1896), who was promoted as the “National Hero of the Philippines” during the American occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946). Although he was used as a propaganda piece to choose a more peaceful avenue of action, in the middle of the Philippine-American War (1899-1904), Dr. Rizal’s works and actions still merit him worthy of the title of “National Hero.” This statue is the second monument to Dr. Rizal in front of a government office in Quezon City, with the first monument installed in 1910 in front of the Novaliches municipal hall.
At the waiting room of the Quezon City mayor’s office, there are more artworks such as busts of Philippine heroes by Jose “Al” Rabino Giroy (born 1962). Lining the walls are portraits of the Quezon City mayors by Luisito “Chito” Katindig Villanueva (born 1938), which were commissioned by Mayor Ismael “Mel” Austria Mathay Jr. (1932-2013) close to the end of his term.
At the ground floor of the Quezon City Hall Administrative Building, there are two reliefs dedicated to the industries of the city and Pres. Marcos vision of the “Bagong Lipunan” (New Society). The reliefs were also created by Eugenio Bunuan when the city hall was under construction.
At the walkway above the Quezon City Hall Administrative Building ground floor, there are ten mural paintings by the members of the EREHWON Art Collective, which portray key events in the history of Quezon City. Completed in 2014, the paintings were created by Pablo Baen-Santos aka Adi Baens Santos (born 1943), Dario Boado Noche (1949-2015), Edgar “Egai” Talusan Fernandez (born 1955), Edgardo “Eghai” Roxas (born 1955), Leonilo “Neil” Ortega Doloricon (born 1957), Florentino “Jun” G. Impas, Jr. (born 1970), Maria Lourdes Prado Inosanto (born 1971), Grandier Gil Bella (born 1972), Simkin S. de Pio (born 1976), and Othoniel Neri (born 1985).
Both mayors Mathay and Bautista were key patrons of the arts, and because of their support, as well as from the other mayors, there are many other artworks to be discovered in the various offices of the Quezon City Hall. Whether these are paintings by noted artist such as Jose Miguel “Jomike” Tejido (born 1982), or even the creation of the city hall’s own such as the City Personnel Office’s Marlon Villalon; these artworks add to the growing wealth and history of the Quezon City Hall.
Artist & Designer Bios:
Arch. Ruperto Cecilio Gaite (born 1925) is an architect who is noted for his application of the international and brutalist styles to government buildings during the 1960s. Gaite hailed from the Province of Rizal, and graduated from the National University in Manila. In 1949, Gaite was the 1st placer in the National Architecture Licensure Examinations, with a score of 96+ that has not yet been surpassed to this date. Gaite’s reputation soared when the Governor Isidro Santiago Rodriguez Sr. (1915-1992) hired him to design the Rizal Provincial Capitol Building, which was completed in 1962. The modernist capitol building caught the attention of municipal mayors, and Gaite was hired to design the Makati City Hall (1962) for Mayor Máximo Bondoc Estrella, the Marikina City Hall and Sports Park (1969) for Mayor Osmundo S. De Guzman, and the Quezon City Hall and Hall of Justice (1974) for Mayor Norberto Salandanan Amoranto (1907-1979). In all three municipal buildings, Gaite partnered with the sculptor, Eugenio Bunuan, who created the adobe bas-reliefs on the façade of each building. Other notable works by Gaite are the Rizal Technological University in Mandaluyong (1975) and the Century Park Sheraton in Manila (1976). From 1977 to 1978, Gaite served as the president of the United Architect of the Philippines (UAP), which would later award him with the Outstanding Architect on 1993, with the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC). Gaite was also honored with the City of Manila the Patnubay ng Sining and Kalinangan Award in 1979. Gaite also served as the dean of the Institute of Architecture and Fine Arts (IARFA) of the Far Eastern University (FEU), from 1981 to 1987. While working on various architectural projects and organizations, Gaite was elected Rizal Provincial Board, and then ascended to vice-governor in 1971, and served until 1981. Then Gaite would serve as a member of the National Assembly from 1984 to 1986, representing the Municipal of Makati. After the EDSA People Power Revolution, Gaite migrated to Los Angeles, California, and retired. The current Makati Hall extension is named after Gaite.
Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo (1907-1990) graduated from U.P. School of Fine Arts; under the tutelage of National Artist, Guillermo E. Tolentino. During his apprenticeship under Tolentino, the two took to body building as a means to understand the human anatomy and strengthen their bodies for his very physical work of sculpture. This love for body building led Tolentino to fashion his opus “The Oblation” after Caedo’s physique. Later Caedo made name for himself by sculpting many religious works for the Jesuits at the Ateneo de Manila and busts of the National Hero Dr. José Rizal for many of the Philippine Embassies around the world. Caedo was nominated three times as a National Artist of the Philippines (in 1983, 1984, and 1986); which he turned down, to avoid the politics in the art world.
Francisco Maravilla Verano (born 1938) is an abstractionist painter and sculptor, who is noted for being the first artist to utilize the antique wood from the deteriorating ancestral houses of the Spanish colonial era (1565-1898). Born in the province of Negros Occidental, Verano moved to Manila to pursue his formal studies at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) College of Fine Arts, where he won in the Shell National Students Art Competition. After graduating, Verano worked in advertising, and received the Award for Excellence in Advertising Art during the First Philippine Advertising Congress in 1969. Later on, Verano would embark on his own public relations firm in 1991. While working, he continued to create artworks, and garnered more awards from art completions such as that of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP). Verano started as a landscape painter, but his works would evolve to a somber abstract expressionism; while his sculptures expressed subliminal themes on the human condition, as he pushed the boundaries of his material, especially his noted Bamboo Fugue. Verano was active in many art groups, such as the AAP, and became the president of the UP College of Fine Arts Alumni Foundation and the Saturday Group.