MANILA – As Quezon City officials and residents prepare for the celebration of the 81st anniversary of the erstwhile capital of the Philippines on Oct. 12, this writer decided to conduct a research to find out how many cities were created nationwide during the Commonwealth Government from 1935 to 1946.
A glance at the website of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) shows that aside from Quezon City, Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon established nine other cities in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao during the first four years of his term and until the spread of World War II to the Philippines on Dec. 8, 1941.
Quezon was sworn in as the first president of the Commonwealth Government on Nov. 15, 1935. He died on Aug. 1, 1944, while his administration was in exile in the United States due to World War II.
QC was the seventh city created during Quezon's incumbency and the ninth since the time of the Philippine Commission in 1901.
The Philippine Commonwealth-born cities, according to their charter numbers and dates of creation, were: Zamboanga City, Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 39, Aug. 4, 1936; Davao City, CA 51, Oct. 16, 1936; Iloilo City, CA 57, Oct. 20, 1936; Cebu City, CA 58, Oct. 20, 1936; Bacolod City, CA 326, June 18, 1938; Tagaytay City, CA 338, June 21, 1938; Quezon City, CA 502, Oct. 12, 1939; San Pablo City, CA 520, May 7, 1940; Cavite City, CA 547, May 26, 1940; and Marawi City, CA 592, Aug. 19, 1940.
According to the LCP, the first two chartered cities in the Philippines were Manila, which was created by the Philippine Commission Act No. 183 of July 31, 1901, and the City of Baguio in Benguet which was declared as the "Summer Capital of the Philippines" on Sept. 1, 1909, through Philippine Commission Act No. 1963.
The Manila City Charter was amended by the Philippine Congress through Republic Act 409, otherwise known as the Revised Charter of the City of Manila, on June 18, 1949.
There was a hiatus in the creation of new cities in the Philippines after Japanese forces bombed the American naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 8, 1941, that eventually dragged the Philippines into World War II.
There were no cities founded during the incumbency of Presidents Jose P. Laurel Sr. (1943-1945) and Sergio S. Osmena Sr. (1944-1946), as they ruled while the country was at war with Japan. The same was true with President Emilio F. Aguinaldo (1898-1901 due to the Filipino-American conflict.
After the United States granted independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946, the administration of President Manuel A. Roxas resumed the creation of additional cities in the country.
As of 1972, the year President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared martial law and abolished the 1935 Constitution, the Congress, and the Judiciary, there was a total of 60 cities nationwide.
Of these cities, the biggest number of 15 was founded during the 20-year rule of Marcos (1965-Feb. 25, 1986), followed by Presidents Quezon (1935-1944), Elpidio R. Quirino (1948-1953), and Carlos P. Garcia (1957-1961) with 10 each.
Former President Diosdado P. Macapagal (1961-1965) signed eight cityhood laws; President Roxas (1946-1948), four; and President Ramon F. Magsaysay (1953-1957), one.
The 15 cityhood bills approved by Marcos were those of Bais in Negros Oriental; Batangas in Batangas province; Cadiz, Negros Occidental; Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte; General Santos, South Cotabato; Iriga, Camarines Sur; Mandaue, Cebu; Olongapo, Zambales, Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental; Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur; Puerto Princesa, Palawan; Surigao, Surigao del Norte; Tagbilaran, Bohol; Tangub, Misamis Occidental; and San Jose, Nueva Ecija.
The 10 cities born during Quirino's time were: Butuan in Agusan del Norte; Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija; Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental; Calbayog, Samar; Dumaguete, Negros Oriental; Iligan, Lanao del Norte; Naga, Camarines Sur; Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental; Roxas, Capiz; and Tacloban, Leyte.
Those founded during Garcia's presidency were: Caloocan in Rizal (now in Metropolitan Manila); Canlaon, Negros Oriental; Cotabato, Maguindanao; Danao, Cebu; Gingoog, Misamis Oriental; Lapu-Lapu, Cebu; Legazpi, Albay; San Carlos, Negros Occidental; Silay, Negros Occidental; and Toledo, Cebu.
The eight cityhood laws signed by President Macapagal were those of Angeles in Pampanga; Bago, Negros Occidental; Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte; La Carlota, Negros Occidental; Laoag, Ilocos Norte; Lucena, Quezon; Palayan, Nueva Ecija; and San Carlos, Pangasinan.
The four former towns that became cities during the time of Roxas were: Dagupan in Pangasinan; Lipa, Batangas; Ormoc, Leyte; and Rizal City before it became Pasay in Metro Manila.
The lone city created during Magsaysay's time was Trece Martires in Cavite.
Although not mandated by the 1987 Constitution, there was a virtual moratorium on the creation of new cities in the country during the six-and-a-half-year term of President Corazon C. Aquino (Feb. 25, 1986-June 30, 1992).
Upon the opening of the new Congress in July 1987, the people of the divided former town of Novaliches, now shared by Quezon City and Caloocan City, petitioned the House of Representatives to convert their former town into the 61st city of the country.
However, the attempt became futile due to the strong objections of the officials of both QC and Caloocan City.
The creation of new cities in the country resumed in the second year of the six-year term of President Fidel V. Ramos, who succeeded Mrs. Aquino on June 30, 1992.
Ramos spearheaded the creation of the 61st city in the country -- Mandaluyong in Metro Manila -- by signing Republic Act No. 7676 in 1994.
Not long afterward, at least seven other cities were created in the National Capital Region (NCR) by the Ramos administration. These were Pasig, Makati, Muntinlupa, Marikina, Las Pinas, Parañaque, and Valenzuela.
The other five cities of Metro Manila at present -- San Juan, Malabon, Navotas, Taguig, and Valenzuela -- were created during the succeeding administrations of Presidents Joseph E. Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno S. Aquino III.
With the NCR now having a total of 16 cities, only Pateros in southern Metro Manila remains a town.
On Feb. 23, 1998, Ramos also signed RA 8535 creating the City of Novaliches, but this time, the proposal was defeated in a plebiscite held throughout Quezon City on Oct. 23, 1999.
Aside from the creation of eight new cities in Metro Manila, President Ramos was also credited with the birth of several other cities in the rest of the country.
According to the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the country now has 81 provinces, 146 cities, 1,488 municipalities, and 42,046 barangays in 17 regions.
The youngest Philippine city so far is that of Sto. Tomas in Batangas, whose cityhood law, RA 11086, was signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2018 and ratified by the local voters in a plebiscite held on Sept. 7, 2019.
Sto. Tomas is the fourth city in Batangas province after Lipa, Batangas, and Tanauan. (PNA)