Francisco Ortigas

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Francisco Ortigas y Barcinas, Sr. (1875-1935) was a prominent lawyer during the American colonial period and patriarch of the Ortigas family.

Ortigas was born on 11 September 1875 in Porac, Pampanga. After the death of his father Ignacio Ortigas who was a captain of the Spanish infantry, he was brought to Manila by his mother Asuncion Barcinas. The impoverished mother and son sought refuge in the house of a close relative. Showing early promise he was admitted as a scholar to Colegio de San Juan de Letran. There he befriended the young Sergio Osmeña, Vicente Madrigal, Francisco Imperial, and Manuel L. Quezon.

He finished his bachelor of arts in Letran and pursued law studies at the University of Santo Tomas, while working as an intern at the law of office of Jose Juan Ycazas, the prominent Manila lawyer. He obtained his law licenciate in March 1896 and he joined the young lawyer Rafael del Pan, son of the great journalist Jose Felipe del Pan to start a law office.

The outbreak of the 2nd phase of the Philippine revolution in 1898 disrupted his law practice. He was appointed by the American military governor as a registrar of the south district of Manila from 1899 to 1901. The following year he was named registrar of deeds for the city of Manila.

Togehter with former law partner Rafael del Pan, he opened a new law practive with American frederick Fisher. Their office was called Ortigas, del Pan and Fishes Law Office, which achieved prominence in its time. The American government designated them as chief investigator of anomalous titles and land purchases of the Spanish friars.

In 1910 Ortigas left his law office to join Judge W.J. Goldsborough for the Code Commission to revise the Civil Code of the Philippines. Ortigas also became a law professor at the University of Santo Tomas and the University of the Philippines, where he became a member of the Boards of Regents.

Ortigas, Madrigal y Cia, S. en C. (sociedad comanditaria por acciones) was established on 20 January 1920 with the purpose of acquiring Hacienda de Mandaloyon, which was part of the estate of the Augustinians. The property consisted of 4,033 hectares bordering San Juan, Pasig and Quezon City.

The original incorporators were Francisco Ortigas (Don Paco), Vicente Madrigal, B.C.M. Johnston, Fulgencio Borromeo, and Clyde A. Dewitt who were designated as general partners (socios gerentes colectivos), while then Senate President Manuel L. Quezon was listed as a limited partner (socio comanditario). The company intended to divide the large tract into residential and commercial subdivisions.

Ortigas married the socially prominent Julia Vargas de Ortigas y Camus, the daughter of the Governor Vargas of Basilan. Their son Francisco Ortigas Jr. would also become a lawyer and greatly expand Ortigas & Co., Limited Partnership.

Ortigas Senior died on November 1935 of lung cancer, on his return trip from the United States where he sought medical treatment.


  • Eminent Filipinos. Manila: National Historical Commission, 1970.
  • Quirino, Carlos. Who’s who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995.



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