Today in Philippine history, May 24, 1915, Ignacio Villamor was elected president of the University of the Philippines

Saturday February 14, 2015 ()

On May 24, 1915, the board of regents of the University of the Philippines (UP) elected Ignacio Villamor as president of the university. Villamor was the first Filipino president of the UP. He was executive secretary of the Philippine Commission at the time of his election. He assumed the duties of office on June 7 of the same year.

Ignacio Villamor was born on February 1, 1863, in the town of Bangued, Abra to Florencio Villamor and Wenceslawa Borbon. Florencio was a man above the average height; affable and agreeable and a good story teller; a successful farmer; a man who enjoyed life in the pueblo, and was a hospitable a Filipino as could be found in that part of Luzon.

Ignacio Villamor
(Ignacio Villamor)

He was a true and loyal citizen as is shown by the fact that the electors of the town of Bangued elected him municipal president. Both he and his wife were educated in the Spanish language and they took a deep interest in the education and bringing up of their children.

At an early age Ignacio attended school and completed his primary education in the Seminario Conciliar of Vigan. Father Mariano Dacanay and Father Ignacio Noriega, Roman Catholic priests in the seminary at Vigan, helped Ignacio most in his studies, in his literary work, and in his character building.

Ignacio was seven years old when his father died. He was left with restricted opportunities, but he toiled and advanced. He was always brave and cheerful and was very popular in his town and thoughout the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.

Having given up his ambition to be a priest, Ignacio decided to move to Manila in 1882 and entered the college of San Juan de Letran where he completed his secondary studies and in 1885 received the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts. After receiving his degrees he returned to his home in Ilocos Sur where he spent a two years vacation in study and research. In 1889 he founded the college of San Antonio de Padua.

Later Villamor returned to Manila and matriculated in the college of law of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), receiving his degree of Bachelor of Law in March 1893. While studying law in the UST he finished two years work in literature and philosophy.

Villamor thus came into manhood fully equipped for a judicial career. He was morally clean, he was sober in his habits, he never gambled, he was honest, sincere and upright. He was also a profound thinker as well as a close reasoner. At this time he was without a thought of the great responsibilities awaiting him in later life.

In 1898 when the Malolos Congress convened, Villamor represented his province and took an active part in the discussion of the constitution of the Philippine Republic especially that part relating to compulsory education.

On June 29, 1900, with Enrique Mendiola, the noted Filipino educator and scholar, Villamor founded the Liceo de Manila where he served as professor and secretary until February 16, 1901 when he was appointed fiscal of Pangasinan. On June 17 of the same year he was appointed judge of the Court of First Instance of the sixth judicial district comprising the provinces of Cavite, Laguna and Tayabas. On July 9, 1908, he was appointed attorney general of the Philippine Islands. He held this position with credit and distinction until December 15, 1913, when he was appointed by the Philippine Commission executive secretary of the Philippine Islands. He was eminently successful in this position accomplishing a great deal for the betterment of municipal and provincial governments.

In 1918, after his stint at the UP, he became the director of the Bureau of Census. Two years later in 1920, he was named associate justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, a position he held until his retirement.

Ignacio Villamor spoke, read and wrote English, Spanish, Latin, Ilocano and Tagalog and several other dialects. He played the guitar and had a cultivated taste for art and sculpture. He had read widely in agriculture, education, sociology, and history and at the same time has achieved marked distinction in these various scholarly activities.

He was a member of the following scientific societies: Academy of Political and Social Science, National Geographical Society, Philippine Academy, Philippine Geographical Society and the Bar Association of Manila. Ignacio Villamor was a published author of several works on criminal science and general literature.

Ignacio Villamor married Mariquita Flores. They had five children, all boys, one of whom was ace pilot and World War II hero, Jesus Antonio Villamor. His aged mother made her home with him. Mrs. Ignacio Villamor took a deep interest in the affairs of the home and gave a large part of her time and attention to the care and training of the children.

Ignacio Villamor died on May 23, 1933.


  1. Philippine Magazine, Volume 1, Number 12, July 1915, Philippine Education Co., Manila.
  3. The Freeman at


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