Old Congress Building, Manila

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Old Congress Building
Dating Gusali ng Batasan
Building with neoclassical architecture
The Legislative Building during the 1930s
Old Congress Building, Manila is located in Metro Manila
Old Congress Building, Manila
Location within Metro Manila
General information
Status Complete
Architectural style Neoclassical
Town or city Manila
Country Philippines
Coordinates 14°35′13.01″N 120°58′52.76″E / 14.5869472°N 120.9813222°E / 14.5869472; 120.9813222
Construction started 1918
Design and construction
Architect Ralph Harrington Doane, Antonio Toledo, Juan M. Arellano


The Old Congress Building (also known as the Old Legislative Building) is a building located on Padre Burgos Avenue in Ermita, Manila, Philippines. It is currently home of the National Art Gallery of the National Museum of the Philippines. From 1926 to 1972, and again from 1987 to 1997, the building was home to various legislative bodies of the Philippine government.

History[edit]

SEATO member states' leaders at the Congress Building in 1966. Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos is fourth from left.
The current state of the building, as home of the National Museum.

The building was originally designed by Ralph Harrington Doane and Antonio Toledo in 1918, and was intended to be the future home of the National Library of the Philippines, according to the Plan of Manila of Daniel H. Burnham.[1] Meanwhile, a Capitol building for the Philippine Legislature (established on October 16, 1916) was to rise on Wallace Field, just south of the library (the location is now María Y. Orosa Street in Rizal Park). Instead, the Philippine Legislature decided to move into the Library building in 1926, and changes to the building's layout were done accordingly by architect Juan M. Arellano.[1] The building therefore became known as the Legislative Building. The Second Regular Session of the 7th Philippine Legislature was formally opened at the building on July 11, 1926. It was concurrently the headquarters of the National Library from 1928 to 1944.

In 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was inaugurated, and the inauguration ceremonies and oath-taking of President Manuel L. Quezon were held outside the building. The building became home of the National Assembly of the Philippines, and it was subsequently known as the National Assembly Building. In 1940, the National Assembly was replaced by a bicameral Congress of the Philippines, consisting of a Senate and House of Representatives. The Senate occupied the upper floors while the House occupied the lower floors. The building would serve as home of the Commonwealth Congress until 1945.

In World War II, Japanese forces in Manila bombed and destroyed the building. Most of the structure was beyond repair, except for the still-standing central portion.[2] With the inauguration of the Republic of the Philippines in 1946, the building was to be reconstructed to be the home of Congress. Reconstruction began in 1949, while the Congress moved back the same year. The two wings of the building were completed in 1950.[2] The building was rebuilt mostly from memory, with the aid of a few remaining blueprints.

The building became known as the Congress Building, and continuously served as home of the Congress of the Philippines until 1972 with the declaration of martial law. The Congress was effectively dissolved, and the building was padlocked. For a short time, the building became home of the offices of the Prime Minister of the Philippines, a position established under the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines. The building was called the Executive House for the duration of that time.

The Congress of the Philippines was reestablished with the ratification of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines. While the House of Representatives moved to the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Constitution Hill, Quezon City, the Senate used the original Congress Building for their plenary sessions.

The Senate would use the Congress Building until May 1997, when it moved to the Government Service Insurance System Building on reclaimed land on Manila Bay in Pasay.

The building was then turned over to the National Museum of the Philippines, and presently houses the National Art Gallery.

On September 30, 2010, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines declared the building as a "National Historical Landmark" by virtue of Resolution No. 8 (dated September 30, 2010).[1] A marker commemorating the declaration was unveiled on October 29, 2010.[1]

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Coordinates: 14°35′13.01″N 120°58′52.76″E / 14.5869472°N 120.9813222°E / 14.5869472; 120.9813222