Today in Philippine History, August 7, 1901, Manila became a chartered city

Monday April 29, 2013 ()

   Seal of the City of Manila as of 2009
   The seal of the City of Manila as of 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons).

On August 7, 1901, the City of Manila was incorporated by virtue of Act 183 of the Philippine Commission which was passed on July 31, 1901. Brigadier-General George W. Davis, the last provost-marshall of Manila, drafted the Charter. The Manila Charter followed closely in its general plan of legislation by which the City of Washington, D. C. was then governed.

Up to about the middle of the nineteenth century, Manila formed a part of the ancient province of Tondo. This province included almost the whole of what is now Rizal (and the present-day cities of Metro Manila). In 1859 a decree was issued establishing a civil government for the Province of Manila. With this decree what formally was Tondo became the province of Manila. According to this decree, the civil governor was also Corregidor of the city.

From time to time the City Government would undergo reorganization.

Today in Philippine History, August 7, 1901,  Manila became a chartered city

On August 13, 1898, the city was occupied by the forces of the United States Government and its affairs were conducted by the military authorities. With the establishment of civil government, the old Province of Manila was abolished, and some of the towns which belonged to it were given to the newly created province of Rizal. To the city of Manila was given a charter which took effect on August 7, 1901.

Under Act 183, Manila, like the City of Washington, D. C. at that time, its prototype, is governed not by a single executive head, but by three commissioners appointed by the President of the United States, with the consent of the Senate, the government of the City was vested in the Municipal Board composed of three members appointed by the Civil Governor by and with the consent of the Philippine Commission. One member of the Board was the president who presided over its meetings. He was given the power to sign all ordinances, bonds, contracts, obligations, made or authorized by the Board, and to issue such orders and instructions as were necessary in carrying out the policies of the Board. Each member of the Board was required to file a bond of P 10,000.00 with the Insular Treasurer. There was a secretary who was appointed like the members, with the provision that his successors were to be appointed by the Board under the Civil Service Act.

The Board possessed the legislative powers provided for in the Charter. It was also endowed with executive authority, to be exercised through the different departments into which the City Government was organized; viz., Department of Engineering and Public Works, Police Department, Law Department, Fire and Building Inspection Department, and Assessment and Collectiion Department. The functions of the latter department, however, were at the time performed by the Collector of Internal Revenue as ex officio City Assessor and Collector.


  1. Local government in the Philippine Islands, pages 139-140, Jose P. Laurel, La Pilarica Press, Manila, 1926.


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