Antonio Villegas

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Antonio J. Villegas
Antonio J. Villegas, Mayor of Manila, 1970.jpg
Antonio J. Villegas, Mayor of Manila, taken in 1970
Mayor of Manila
In office
April 15, 1962 – December 31, 1971
Preceded by Arsenio Lacson
Succeeded by Ramon Bagatsing
Vice Mayor of Manila
In office
December 30, 1959 – April 15, 1962
Preceded by Jesus Marcos Roces
Succeeded by Herminio A. Astorga
Personal details
Born (1928-01-09)January 9, 1928
Tondo, Manila, Philippines
Died November 16, 1984(1984-11-16) (aged 56)
Reno, Nevada, United States
Resting place Manila North Cemetery, Manila, Philippines

Antonio de Jesus Villegas (January 9, 1928 – November 16, 1984) was a Filipino Mayor of Manila from 1962 to 1971. His term was in the middle of Manila's golden age, after the term of Arsenio Lacson as Mayor of Manila, and before the period of Martial Law in the Philippines.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born on January 9, 1928 at Sales Street in Santa Cruz, Manila, Philippines. He grew up in the swampy slums of the Abad Santos Avenue area in Tondo, Manila. Villegas always enjoyed telling people that he was born during the Feast of the Black Nazarene, a feast held in Quiapo, Manila.[1] His father, Epifanio Trinidad Villegas (1905–1985), a brilliant lawyer with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) of the Philippines, was born in Camiling, Tarlac, Philippines. His mother, Obdulia de Jesus Villegas (1908–1994), was born in Candaba, Pampanga and raised in Mariveles, Bataan, Philippines.

He is the oldest son of ten children. His siblings include Lucia Villegas-Balboa (1926–1993), Vitalico Villegas (1931–1998), Corazon Villegas-Tiglao (1933-), Epifanio Villegas Jr. (1935-), David Villegas (1938-), Obdulia Villegas-Demesa (1940-), Fe Villegas-Torres (1943–1996), Domingo Maximo Villegas (1946–2003), and Perla Villegas-Fernandez (1950-). The living siblings emigrated to America except for the youngest who chose to remain in the Philippines.

Villegas graduated valedictorian from Cosmopolitan College (1947), from Far Eastern University (AA, 1949), and from Manuel L. Quezon University Law School (LLB, 1953). He received the Doctorate of Law (LLD, 1963) degree from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law[2] (1963) and Doctorate of Humane Letters (LHD, 1969) honoris causa from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (1969).[3]

He was selected as one of two delegates of over 1,000 applicants from the Philippines to be awarded a scholarship to attend Harvard Law School,[4] Boston, Massachusetts. Upon his return to Manila at the end of 1952, he began work on the campaign of Ramon Magsaysay for President while being excused by MLQ Law School Dean Africa from attending his last year of law school and simply required to sit for final exams which he passed with flying colors and ending up as MLQ Law School Valedictorian.

Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas and wife Lydia, 1968

On New Year's Day in 1953, he married Lydia Mirasol Alano at San Marcelino Church in Manila. She was crowned "Miss Davao" in the early 1950s when her parents and five siblings were still living in Mindanao while her father Dr. Segundo Alano, DVM, managed their haciendas. She attended Saint Theresa's High School and graduated from University of Santo Thomas in 1951 with a bachelor degree in home economics. They had three daughters - Teresita, Victoria, and Antonieta - and one son - Antonio Jr.

In mid-1953, he took the Philippine bar exam and ranked in the Top 12 while receiving the highest scores in Civil Law, Equity Law, and Remedial Law. In 1954, he was appointed by President Magsaysay to draft his first presidential decree which established the Presidential Complaints and Action Commission (PCAC) and to serve as its Vice-Chairman with Manuel Manahan appointed to serve as PCAC Chairman. Upon the death of President Magsaysay in a plane crash in 1957, Villegas began work as corporate legal counsel for Yellow Taxicab.[5]

Vice Mayor of Manila[edit]

In 1959, at the age of 31, Villegas began his political career as a candidate for Manila Vice Mayor with the encouragements of friends like co-worker at Yellow Taxicab "Mel" Mathay who later became Mayor of Quezon City and feisty Radio personality "Paeng" Yabut. He had only three days to campaign for the Liberal Party nomination, which he won, and only 45 days to campaign for the office itself. He was elected by a landslide as Vice Mayor of Manila in the 1959 elections, without having previously run for any elective office while polling more votes than the fourth-termer incumbent Mayor, Arsenio Lacson.[1]

When Lacson died of stroke on April 15, 1962, Villegas assumed the chief executive post of the capital city of the Philippines. As the youngest Mayor of Manila at the age of 34, he received the TOYM (Ten Outstanding Young Men) Award for Public Service in 1962 from the Junior Chamber International.[6]

Mayor of Manila[edit]

After Lacson's sudden death in 1962, Villegas quickly decreed that the first overpass in the Philippines, located in Quiapo area of Manila, should bear the name of Arsenio Lacson in his honor.[1] Construction of Lacson underpass began in 1962 and was completed in 1964.

Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas and wife Lydia Villegas campaigning with the Women' Auxiliary Group (WAG) with eventual House Speaker Ramon Mitra and Councilor Cesar Lucero Jr. on stage.

In 1962, to mobilize neighborhoods to keep Manila streets and parks clean, Villegas and his wife Lydia established the Women's Auxiliary Group (WAG). Members included wives of government officials, police precinct commanders, police officers, public employees, private citizens, and some movie celebrities. WAG members wore bright RED Maria Clara dresses as they swept streets and cleaned parks of all four city districts on a weekly basis. They were known as the "RED Ladies" of Manila. When Ferdinand Marcos was elected President in November 1965, his wife Imelda similarly formed their group of supporters and called them the "BLUE Ladies." After Mayor Villegas left office in 1971, Marcos declared martial law in 1972, changed the color of his "BLUE Ladies" to RED, and renamed Marcos supporters as "loyalists".

Kay Villegas Kami ("We Are For Villegas") movement was also born in 1962. Its purpose was to support Mayor Villegas in his advocacy and implementation of government programs for the benefit of the poor. Its membership are composed of key leaders in various subdivisions and districts of Manila. This organization served as the pioneer to what is later known as Barangays (neighborhood associations) which prevailed throughout the Philippines.

In 1963, Villegas started completing the projects Lacson failed to complete, such as a city university (the University of the City of Manila),[7] a city hospital (the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center), and a city compost plant and a reclamation area in Tondo, Manila.[1]

Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas with Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal, shaking hands with Liberal Party Supporters during a 1963 reception for the president and reelection campaign of Mayor Villegas

On February 13, 1963, Mayor Villegas issued Executive Order No. 7, s-1963, to create a Planning and Working Committee to draw up a plan to establish the University of the City of Manila. It is the first university in the Philippines to have its official name in Filipino as Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).[3] PLM is also the first university in the country to be fully funded by a municipal government without collecting tuition from the students.[8] Students of PLM are known as "isko" since they received full scholarship throughout their college years while they maintain their honor student status. PLM attract the brightest and the best among the poor city residents. PLM repeatedly produced board exam top-notchers in the fields of engineering, architecture, accounting, and nursing.[citation needed] Years later, PLM expanded their educational programs with the addition of a law school, a medical school, and a graduate school in public administration.

Attendant legal challenges stalled the completion of the plan to start erecting the edifice of PLM in 1963. Villegas then sought the help of Congressman Justo Albert in the passage of House Bill No. 8349. President Diosdado Macapagal signed the bill in 1965, which is now known as Republic Act 4196. After four years of strategic campaign for national legislation and funding, Villegas opened the university in 1967 with Carlos Moran Sison as Chairman of the Board of Regents and 21 faculty members. On February 10, 1968, Villegas inaugurated Benito F. Reyes, PhD, LHD, LittD, DO as PLM's first President. On April 18, 1969, the first batch of 331 students graduated. During its first commencement, PLM honored Villegas with a Doctorate in Humane Letters (LHD) honoris causa.

SFMSCC Nov. 27 2006 visit to Manila led by SF Mayor Gavin Newsom and hosted by Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, on the mural above is the image of Gatpuno Antonio Villegas

On March 1963, Villegas welcomed international delegates from the San Francisco – Manila Sister City Commission (SFMSCC) which was formed in 1961 with a memorandum signed by Manila Mayor Lacson and San Francisco George Christopher. SFMSCC continues to exist to date. On November 2006, over 140 delegates of SFMCC visited Manila with Mayor Lito Atienza as host. During his 2006 visit, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. who was later elected Lt. Governor of California in 2010, received an honorary degree from PLM.

On June 1963, Villegas visited San Francisco in an effort to strengthen the sister city bond. He then proceeded to Sacramento to receive his Doctor of Laws (LLD) from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, as handed to him by U.S. District Court (California North District) Judge Halbert.

On October 1, 1963, Manila Science High School, the Pilot Science High School of the Philippines, known as "Mataas na Paaralan ng Agham", was born in accordance to Municipal Resolution 426 signed by Villegas.[9]

On November 1963, Villegas ran for reelection based on the platform of "Building a Better Manila." He and his running mate, Herminio A. Astorga for vice mayor, won decisively under the LP banner. Consistent with his campaign promise, he began major infrastructure construction of roads, parks, buildings, and even the mayor's office.

On December 18, 1963, the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center (ONM), which Villegas pushed to be built upon assuming office on April 15, 1962, began construction.[10] It was finally completed and inaugurated on January 31, 1969. It provided free health care, free vitamins, free child delivery, free surgery and free hospitalization to poor citizens of Manila.

Also in 1963, construction began on the new mayor's office with a large reception hall for press conferences and public events with seating for a hundred guests. The hall was named Bulwagang Katipunan and later renamed in 1993 as Bulwagang Gatpuno Villegas by Mayor Alfredo Lim during his first term of office.

Villegas commissioned national artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco to paint the panoramic mural to chronicle the history of Manila and the Philippine. The mural portrayed Rajah Soliman and early chieftains of Tondo, the Chinese traders with Limahong, the Spanish colonial period with Legaspi, the 1896 execution of Jose Rizal, the ensuing KKK revolution led by Andres Bonifacio, the 1898 liberation from Spain, the American colonization leading to the 1935 Commonwealth with President Quezon and finally ending with the pictures of Manila Mayors at the front panel with Villegas in the center. This 2.7 x 4.87 meter mural in four panels was completed at the end of 1964. Villegas named the mural as Filipino Struggles Through History.

In 1964, Villegas started new infrastructure constructions of streets, plant pot dividers, sewage, parks, and buildings in Manila.

The first overpass and underpass near Quiapo church started in 1962 was finally completed. It was named in honor of Mayor Lacson. A second underpass located in front of Manila City Hall was also completed. Villegas named it Lagusnilad for Lagusan ng Maynilad which means Manila Passage (overpass/underpass).

Sewage systems were reconstructed to prevent flood and obstruction of drainage. Flower plants as middle dividers on avenues were created to prevent flood from heavy rain, air pollution by smoke belchers and injuries associated with jaywalking. Streets with pot holes were fixed. Unpaved roads were paved with asphalt or concrete.

Children playground parks at various locations in the four districts of Manila including one in front of Manila Zoo were constructed. They were called Paraiso Ng Bata'ng Maynila which meant "Paradise of the Children of Manila." Manila Zoo became a tourist attraction as well with construction of a stage and more cages for new animal acquisitions including the unique cross of Zebras and Donkeys called Zebronskys.

In 1965, Villegas inaugurated the newly constructed mayor's office (Bulwagang Katipunan) in Manila Cit Hall (Maharnilad) and signed a series of Executive Orders on June 24, 1965 to establish a proud identity for Manila.

Manila's Birthday:

On January 1965, Villegas declared June 24, 1571 as Manila's birthday. Prior to this, no one commemorated "the day of the Adelantado, Governor Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, officially proclaimed Rajah Soliman's kingdom of Maynilad as the 'Ever Loyal and Distinguished City of Spain in the Orient.'"[11] He inaugurated the annual foundation day celebration and called it Araw Ng Maynila (Manila's Birthday).

Manila's official seal:

Villegas with his Executive Order No. 37, s-1965, established the new official seal for the City of Manila (Sagisag ng Maynila). It includes palisades of Rajah Solimon with a background of field of gules (red) properly superimposed on the palisades are symbols on each point on an imaginary triangle: Top is the Malayan script K gules; on the base are the San Agustin Church and the gates of Fort Santiago proper.

Mayor's coat-of-arms:

Villegas with his Executive Order No. 38, s-1965, established the distinctive coat-of-arms for the Office of the Mayor of Manila. It is represented by the 15-rayed Sunburst (Sigliwag or Sigla ng Liwanag).

Manila Museum and Library:

Villegas issued his Executive Order No. 40. It directed the organization and establishment of a district Museum and Library to be known as the Kamaynilaan. By the authority of Ordinance Nos. 4834 and 5428 dated November 6, 1963 and March 25, 1966 respectively, a three-storey concrete building was erected. It housed the Central Office of the Manila City Library. However, a year after Villegas's term ended, in 1972, the Manila City Library was ordered to vacate the Kamaynilaan Building to give way to the Manila Action Center (which was later called the Manila Barangay Bureau).[12]

In 1966, Villegas continues to "Filipinize" Manila in preparation for Manila's 400 anniversary in 1971.


Villegas began efforts to replace English with Tagalog to be the lingua franca of law, business, and education. He coined terms such as Maharnilad (City Hall), Gatpuno (Mayor), Gining (First Lady), Lagusnilad (Manila overpass/underpass), Sigliwag (Sunburst), Pamantasan (university), Batasang Magiting (Manila's Finest, Police Force), Kagiting (Colonel), Kabasal (Corporal), Sining Kalinangan (cultural arts), and others.

He also petitioned to change various streets with colonial names to Filipino names. While Dewey Boulevard overlooking Manila Bay was so named for the benefit of tourists, Villegas insisted on renaming it Roxas Boulevard in honor of Philippine's first republic president for the benefit of the residents.

Manila anthem:

On January 1966, Villegas collaborated with national music maestro Felipe de Leon to compose various songs. With his poetic skills both in English and native Tagalog, Villegas composed the lyrics. With his musical talents, De Leon composed the melody to the songs. Their musical collaboration included

Awit Ng Maynila (1966, Manila City Anthem), Awit Ng Bayan Kay Villegas (1966, Song for the Country from Villegas), Lydia (1966, Song for Manila 1st Lady, beloved wife of Villegas), Kay Villegas Kami (1967, We Support Villegas, a Marching Song), Pamantasan Mahal (1968, PLM School Anthem)


Manila Hero:

Villegas made Andres Bonifacio the Hero of Manila and had a statue erected in his owner on Plaza Lawton, in front of the Postal Office Building.[1] He also had the Postal Service design and release a stamp with the image of Bonifacio as national hero of Manila.

Manila Film Festival:

Mayor Villegas created the Manila Film Festival, the father of the Metro Manila Film Festival and all other Philippine festivals,[14] to encourage local producers to develop world class quality movies that showcased the beauty of the Philippines and the greatness of the Filipino people. He appointed Attorney Expiridion Laxa to serve as the Chairman of the film festival which starts on June 14 and culminates on June 24, Manila's birthday. Most of the first batch of the festival films came up with English titles.[15] The BEST Films of Manila Film Festival included "Daigdig ng mga Api' (1966), "Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak" (1967), "Manila, Open City" (1968), "Patria Adorada" (1969), "Dimasalang" (1970), "Cadena de Amor" (1971), "Elias, Basilio at Sisa" (1972), "Nueva Vizaya" (1973), "Alaala mo Daigdig Ko" (1974). From 1975 to 1990, Manila Film Festival was discontinued as Metro Manila Film Festival took over. In 1991, Manila Film Festival resumed in June while Metro Manila Film Festival continue to be done in December. The best Manila film in 1991 was "Kailangan Ka Magiging Akin" followed by "Cordora" in 1992 and "Dolzura: Dahil Mahal Kita" in 1993.

International arena:

One of the more prominent places in the world became sister city with Manila - Taipei, Taiwan. It was realized on October 12, 1966.[16] Villegas, who came to Taipei for the Junior Chamber International Conference, received a gold key from Taipei Mayor Henry Kao on April 28, 1965.[17]

On October 20, 1966, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson visited the Philippines. Mayor Villegas presented the city seal embossed on a 3-inch diameter gold coin as a gift. He delivered his entire dedication to President Johnson, not in English, but, in Tagalog. He insisted on public dedications to be done in Tagalog and to invite foreigners to learn to love our language as we[who?] do.

In 1967, Mayor Villegas ran for reelection. He won by a landslide with 163,363 votes which is greater than all the votes of his opponents combined. Pablo V. Ocampo ended up with 117,488 votes, Salvador L. Marino with 17,342 votes, Artur V. Samaniego with 131 votes, Blandino P. Buan with 92 votes, and Pilipino Balingit with 11 votes. However, his running mate Vice Mayor Astorga lost on a slim margin with 78,648 votes to NP candidate Felicisimo R. Cabigao who garnered 79,437 votes.

Twenty Councilors were elected. FIRST District Councilors were Martin B. Isidro, Gemiliano Lopez, Jr., Cesar T. Lucero Jr., Ben Rubio Ronquillo, and Jose M. Sembrano. SECOND District Councilors were Apolonio V. Gener, Ambrosio L. Lorenzo Jr., Alfonso V. Mendoza Jr., Hermogenes Pablo, and Francis P. Yuseco. THIRD District Councilors were Danilo Lacuna, Carlos Loyzaga, Mariano M. Magsalin, Eduardo Quintos Jr., and Avelina V. Villacorta. FOURTH District Jose S. Brillantes, Manuel Isip, Gonzalo Puyat III, Manuel Uy Jr., and Jose Pete Villanueva.

On May 1967, Villegas had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to welcome the first 21 faculty instructors and over 300 students to the newly constructed building of the first free University in Asia, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). He appointed Carlos Moran Sison to serve as Chairman and Benito F. Reyes to serve as President and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Regents of PLM. The other members of the Board of Regents include Emilio Abello, Roman F. Lorenzo, Jose S. Roldan, Primo L. Tongko, Fructuoso R. Yanson, and Secretary-Treasurer Jose F. Sugay. The founding faculty members of PLM were Bayani Alcala, Violeta V. Arbizo, Rustica C. Carpio, Virsely de la Cruz, Amancio S. Donatao, Anacleta Encarnacion, Elvira P. Gajo, Rosario L. Genciana, Amadeo T. Gonzales, Benjamin L. Intal, Alicia H. Kahayon, Patricia M. Melendres, Valentina B. Patacsil, Virginia R. Reyes, Emilio M. del Rosario, Forcefina L. Seludo, Nita V. L. Soliven, Eugenia L. Tayao, Syvilia A. Topacio, Primo L. Tongko, and Gregorio T. Velasquez.

In 1968, Villegas published the "Dahong Alaala" (Remembrance Publication) which declares his "Libre'ng Pilipino" platform.

He affirmed "Being beholden to no one except the people of Manila, I regard myself as fully free to act at all times in accordance with their interests. In the coming four years, the public interest shall be my sole guide and I pray that I shall not be found wanting in the courage to uphold public welfare even in the face of criticism and at the price of unpopularity ..."

On February 10, 1968, Villegas inaugurated Benito F. Reyes, PhD, LHD, LittD, DO as the founding President of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (University of the City of Manila).

A school song was needed to celebrate and solidify the spirit of the PLM community, so Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas, Mayor of Manila, worked on creating a PLM university hymn in 1968. The lyrics were composed in 1968 by Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas, Mayor of Manila, and was presented to the Board of Regents in Maharnilad (official name of the famous Manila City Hall) for approval and adoption. Villegas commissioned Maestro Felipe Padilla de Leon to compose the melody, harmony, and rhythm to compliment the poem entitled "Pamantasan Mahal". So the poem turned into a song that the PLM Board of Regents adopted which the students, faculty, and staff sang during the morning flag raising.


Pamantasan, Pamantasang Mahal Nagpupugay kami't nag-aalay Ng Pag-ibig, taos na paggalang Sa patnubay ng aming isipan.
Karunungang tungo'y kaunlaran Hinuhubog kaming kabataan Maging Pilipinong mero'ng dangal Puso'y tigib ng kadakilaan.
Pamantasang Lungsod ng Maynila Kaming lahat dito'y iyong punla Tutuparin pangarap mo't nasa Pamantasan kami'y nanunumpa. Pamantasan kami'y nanunumpa.


On January 31, 1969, the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center (ONM), which Villegas pushed to be built since he assumed office as Mayor in 1962,[10] was finally completed and inaugurated. It provided free health care, free vitamins, free child delivery, free surgery and free hospitalization to poor citizens of Manila.

In 1969, Villegas succeeded on relocating in one week the squatters from the Intramuros area. This act proved that he was tougher than his predecessor Lacson when it comes to facing a possible turnover squatter votes.[1] He provided free electricity, free water, and property tax exemption to relocated squatters who won by lottery free and clear title to condominium units in newly constructed buildings. No government official before him and after him was able to replicate his feat.[citation needed]

In 1970, Villegas implemented closure plans on foreign-owned retail stores in the city, in accordance to the Retail Trade Nationalization Law, affected 3,288 Chinese, 59 Indian, and 56 American stores.[1] He insisted on having Filipinos own majority interest in foreign-owned stores or else they will be closed. He said that he is mandated to enforce the rights of Filipinos, not the foreigners.

Summary of political career[edit]

Villegas won the Vice Mayor race in 1959 and became Manila Mayor when Lacson died in 1962 with over one year left on his term. In 1963, he ran for reelection under the Liberal Party (LP) banner and won against Nacionalista Party (NP) Congressman Roberto Oca. In 1967, he ran again for reelection and won against NP Congressman Pablo Ocampo. His victory along with his party council members in Manila was the only major victory enjoyed by the Liberal Party (LP) in 1967. All of the LP senatorial candidates except for Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino were defeated by the opposing Nacionalista Party (NP) due to President Marcos' tactics of "goons, guns, and gold" in winning elections.

In 1971, then Congressman Ramon Bagatsing was chosen by the Liberal Party to run for Manila Mayor. Vice-Mayor Felicisimo Cabigao remained NP's bet for mayor. Villegas was left without a party. He formed the Libre'ng Pilipino Party (LPP) to run for reelection as Mayor. He selected journalist J.V. Cruz to be his running mate for Vice Mayor. All the polls show Villegas leading up to the day prior to the election. On the day of the 1971 local election, Villegas lost to Bagatsing.

Death and legacy[edit]

After losing in the 1971 local mayoralty elections to then Manila Congressman Ramon Bagatsing, Villegas and his entire family emigrated to the United States.

Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas, wife Lydia Villegas at Manila Airport as they wait to board for San Francisco, California, USA in 1971 accompanied by Lt. Pete Ramos

From 1971-1972, they lived in San Jose, California. From 1972-1974, they lived in Woodside, California. From 1974-1975, they lived in Hillsborough, California where they developed the Sunburst Park Estates mansions with one street named after Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal. From 1975-1980, they lived at Villa Lydia atop Corte Madre mountains of Portola Valley, California overlooking the San Francisco Airport and the Bay. After 1980, they left the Bay Area, relocated and retired in Reno, Nevada.[5]

He remained in Reno, Nevada until his death on November 16, 1984.[18] His coffin was exhumed from Reno cemetery and flown to the Philippines in October 1997. Memorial ceremony was held in Manila City Hall. Eulogies by the Villegas family, Mayor Alfredo Lim and Senator Blas Ople were given. Villegas body was finally laid to rest in a plot located along the rotunda of Manila North Cemetery.[5] The tomb of U.S. Governor-General of the Philippines in the early 1900s Francis Burton Harrison can be found next to Villegas's tomb in the Manila North Cemetery.[19]

During his term as Mayor of Manila, Villegas was locally known as Yeba, which most people thought was simply a meaningless cheer like Yehey, Yahoo, or Hooray.[1] YEBA actually meant "Young, Executive, Brilliant Administrator" which was inscribed in a plaque awarded to him by the Alumni association of Far Eastern University.[11] He usually ended his correspondence to public officials with "Yeba!" in lieu of his previous letter closing phrases, "May you always be a young, executive, brilliant administrator!" He then resorted to using "Yeba" as a campaign whoop in his public speeches where it meant "YEs, hindi BA?" (Yes, isn't it so?) after he delivers his point of persuasion to the spectators. In response, the audience shouted "YEBA" which meant "YEs, BAkit hindi!" (Of course, why not!), as an expression of cheerful agreement.[5]

Villegas is remembered for creating new Filipino terms, like Maharnilad (City Hall), Gatpuno (Mayor), Bulwagan (Hall), Lagusnilad (overpass and underpass in front of Manila city hall.[1] He also created romantic terms like Gining (First Lady) and Mahay (MA-hal kong habang bu-HAY) to refer to his lovely wife Lydia which his friends and close friends heard quite often.[5]

His government program entitled Libre'ng Pilipino, gave free basic City Hall services to Manila's citizens, such as free health services and free treatment in the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center. His program even included free marriage licenses and free textbooks.[1] He also provided tuition-free public education from elementary school through high school like Manila Science School (Agham) to college like University of the City of Manila (PLM).

In his honor, the Manila Mayor's office have been renamed from Bulwagan Katipunan to Bulwagan Gatpuno Antonio Villegas. Even the street of Manila City Hall was renamed from Arroceros to Gatpuno Antonio Villegas street. These were done during the first term of office (1992–1995) by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim who served as a precinct commander under Mayor Villegas. In his honor, a school bearing his name, Antonio J. Villegas Vocational High School (AJVVHS_, located in Tondo, Manila), was established in 1994.[20]

Also in his honor, an award in the Metro Manila Film Festival bearing his name, the Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Awards, was given to the best film that best portrays Philippine culture and Filipino people to the world.[21] In an effort to promote Philippine films, he banned the showing of foreign films at movie houses during the Manila Film Festival from June 14 through June 24 (birthday of Manila).[5] In order to instill national pride and prevent vagrants from sleeping in movie theaters, Villegas started the tradition of playing the national anthem at the beginning of each film showings.[5] Despite criticism from smokers and cigarette manufacturers, Villegas was adamant in banning smoking from movie theaters. In that effort, he delivered his poetic verse which is displayed on movie screens right after the national anthem. It reads: "Hindi po nais namin kayo'ng pigilin, pero ang usok ay masamang hangin." This translates to "Not that we wish to restrain you, but smoke is foul air (stench)." [11]

As a proud example of one who rose above poverty by being the best he can be through excellence in education and public service with his Libre'ng Pilipino (Liberated Filipino) program that gives the poor an equal chance to prosper - Mayor Villegas shares his best wishes to all residents and visitors of Manila with his 12-word maxim inscribed on the murals of Bulwagang Villegas in the mayor's office of Manila City Hall.[5]

Magmunit lumikha nang maging dakila. Manulay sa diwa ng tunay na laya! In other words, "Strive to create in order to be great. Excel with your esprit to celebrate your true liberty!"


  • Manila, 1962: Mayor Antonio J. Villegas reports (1963)
  • Building a better Manila (1963)
  • Manila: Its Needs and Resources (1966)
  • Dahong Alaala (1968)
  • To end the reign of misery and strife ... Libre'ng Pilipino (1971)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Joaquin, Nick (1990). Manila,My Manila. Vera-Reyes, Inc. 
  2. ^ University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. McGeorge School of Law "UOP McGeorge School of Law". 
  3. ^ a b Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. ng Lungsod ng Maynila "Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila". 
  4. ^ Harvard Law School. Law School "Harvard Law School". 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Villegas, Antonio Jr. YEBA: Young, Executive, Brilliant Administrator. unpublished. 
  6. ^ "Antonio Villegas". Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  7. ^ "Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila: 42 years of existence". 2007-07-14. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  8. ^ "PLM University Profile". Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  9. ^ "DepEd-Manila wants Manila Science HS to be renamed as Pres. Cory High School". Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  10. ^ a b "THE OSPITAL NG MAYNILA STORY". Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  11. ^ a b c Macabenta, Greg (June 2006). Filipinas Magazine (2006 Achievement Awards): 44–46. 
  12. ^ "MANILA CITY LIBRARY (MAIN)". Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  13. ^ DeLeon, Felipe. "biography". wikipilipinas. Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "Subsidize movie industry – Lito Atienza". 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  15. ^ "Film Academy of the Philippines". Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  16. ^ "THE 46 SISTER-CITIES OF TAIPEI". Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  17. ^ "Manila Mayor: Manila And Taipei To Become Sister Cities". 1965-05-02. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  18. ^ "Villegas vs CA". Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  20. ^ "Antonio J. Villegas Vocational High School (Official Page)". Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  21. ^ "Metro Manila Film Festival". Retrieved 2012-01-10.