Capitals of the Philippines

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This is a list of current and former national capital cities in the Philippines, which includes during the time of the Spanish colonization, the First Philippine Republic, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the Second Republic of the Philippines (Japanese-Sponsored Republic), the Third Republic of the Philippines, the Fourth Republic of the Philippines and the current Fifth Republic of the Philippines.


Spanish Colonial Period

The Heritage of Cebu Monument in Parian.

On April 7, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan landed in Cebu. He was welcomed by Rajah Humabon, who, together with his wife and about 800 natives, were baptized by the Spaniards on April 14, 1521 and are considered to be the first Filipino Catholics. Magellan, however, failed to successfully claim the Philippines for the crown of Spain, having been slain in neighboring Mactan Island on April 27, 1521 by the chieftain Lapu-lapu.

On April 27, 1565, Miguel López de Legazpi, with Augustinian Friar Andrés de Urdaneta, landed in Cebu. Legazpi renamed the city on January 1, 1571, from San Miguel to Villa del Santissimo Nombre de Jesus. During this six year period, Cebu City was the capital of the newly established Spanish colony.

Intramuros, Manila's colonial capital circa 1920s

In 1570, a Spanish expedition ordered by the conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi demanded the conquest of Manila. His second on command, Martín de Goiti departed from Cebu and arrived in Manila. The Muslim Tagalogs welcomed the foreigners, but Goiti had other plans. The Spanish force of 300 soldiers marched through Manila and a battle was fought with the heavily armed Spaniards quickly defeating and crushing the native settlements to the ground. Legazpi and his men followed the next year and made a peace pact with the three rajahs and organized a city council consisting of two mayors, 12 councilors, and a secretary.

A walled city known as Intramuros, at the southern banks of Pasig River was built to protect the Spanish colonizers. On June 10, 1574, King Philip II of Spain gave Manila the title of Insigne y Siempre Leal Ciudad ("Distinguished and Ever Loyal City"). In 1595, Manila was proclaimed as the capital of the Philippine Islands and became a center of the trans-Pacific silver trade for more than three centuries.

First Republic of the Philippines

The town of Malolos in the northern province of Bulacan became the headquarters of the revolutionary movement yet several other towns became capitals, at a succeeding rate to avoid capture from the Americans during the Philippine-American War. The status of the national capital moved back to Manila after capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo on 1901.

Commonwealth of the Philippines

During the time of the Commonwealth, Manila still served as the nation's capital. During these times too that Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon dreamt of a city that could become the future capital of the country, replacing Manila

Second Republic of the Philippines

During the Japanese-sponsored Second Republic of the Philippines and through-out World War II Manila still served as the nation's capital.

Fourth Republic of the Philippines

During President Ferdinand Marcos' period of Bagong Lipunan (New Society), Quezon City's stature of being the nation's capital was reverted back to Manila on June 24, 1976 by Presidential Decree No. 940.

Fifth Republic of the Philippines

The current capital of the Philippines is Manila.

Other capitals

Baguio City is often billed as the "Summer Capital" of the country. A presidential mansion is within the vicinity, and the Supreme Court holds their summer (April-May) sessions at Baguio.

Other capitals also abound, such as the "Shoe Capital" of Marikina City, the "Queen City of the South" of Cebu City.


Former and present capital city Island Group Since Until Change, reason
Cebu Visayas 1562 1578 moved to Manila after their capture and establishment of the Intramuros.
Manila Luzon 1578 1899 moved to Malolos after the fall of the Spanish colonial government in Manila.
Malolos Luzon 1899 1901 Served as the headquarters of the revolutionary government, moved to Manila when President Aguinaldo was captured during the Philippine-American War.
Manila Luzon 1901 1948 Served as the nation's capital during the American occupation, the Commonwealth and the Japanese-sponsored Second Republic, moved to Quezon City via Republic Act No. 333
Quezon City Luzon 1948 1976 became capital in 1948 through the Republic Act No. 333 and moved back to Manila in 1976.
Manila Luzon 1976 present became capital through Presidential Decree No. 940 by President Ferdinand Marcos on June 24, 1976.