Ayuntamiento, also called as Cabildo was the term used in Spanish colonies for the administrative council that governed a municipality and its surrounding lands.
It used to stand on the northeast part of Plaza de McKinley in Intramuros or the walled city, along Andres Soriano corner Cabildo Streets. It was a two-story building which extended to an area of 6,240 square yards. Its construction started on 31 January 1735 and completed in 1738 under Governor-general Fernando Valdez y Tamon. Considered as the Seat of the Municipal Council of Manila, it housed important government units. It housed the Philippine Assembly in 1907 and the Philippine Legislation in 1935. The Supreme Court moved in the building during the American and Commonwealth periods.
The Ayuntamiento, which used to be one of the finest public buildings in the country, was excellently suited to be converted into a museum of art and history, until it was destroyed during the World War II (WWII).
The building was of stone and of the European type of architecture. On 3 June 1863, the old clock tower that used to top the facade was thrown down in an earthquake. The said earthquake also caused general damage that the town council and other bodies using it for a meeting place abandoned it for a time.
During the Spanish times, the town council used to hold meetings there and assembled to view from the upper balconies. Fiestas were celebrated there on the occasion of the arrival in Manila of a new governor general, or a new archbishop. Its halls also served as great reception areas for balls and other events.
On 30 May 1871, the municipal architect Sr. Botella submitted plans for a new building but the town council rejected them because the space alloted and its distribution were inadequate to the city's requirements. Botella also became occupied with other duties as engineer officer.
The Governor-general commissioned the ports and highways engineer Eduardo Lopez Navarro to draw new plans. His plans were used to reconstruct the building. The design was inspired by an urban palace in the European style. Its upper story followed the Bramante model used for constructing the house of Raphael in Burgo Vaticano, while its ground floor and patio were based on the Farnese Palace, which was an example of one of the finest palaces in 16th century Rome.
The following used to hold their offices at Ayuntamiento:
- Wesley Merrit- he commanded the American forces of occupation in 13 August 1898 and assumed the duties of military governor
- General Elwell S. Otis
- General Douglas MacArthur
- Governor William Howard Taft
- Governor Luke Edward Wright
- Governor Henry Clay Ide
- Governor James Smith
- Governor William Cameron Forbes
- Governor Francis Burton Harrison
- Sergio Osmeña, both as speaker of the Philippine Assembly and as speaker of the House of Representatives
The first American laws for the Philippines, the general orders of the military governors, and the acts of the Philippine Commission were enacted here.
The Ayuntamiento was destroyed during the Battle of Manila in 1945 and reconstructed in 2010 to become the Bureau of Treasury office.
- “Historical Manila Walk Tour”.emmthepinaytrekker.(Accessed 19 October 2014).
- “Today in Philippine History, January 31, 1735, Fernando Valdez y Tamon, the laid the corner stone of the Ayuntamiento”.The Kahimyang Project.(Accessed 19 October 2014).
- “Ayuntamiento de Manila”.facebook.(Accessed 19 October 2014).*“Government and Administration”.Discovering Philippines.(Accessed 19 October 2014).