Old Legislative Building (Manila)

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Old Legislative Building
Dating Gusali ng Batasan
Building with neoclassical architecture
The Legislative Building during the 1930s
Old Legislative Building (Manila) is located in Metro Manila
Old Legislative 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 Legislative Building (also known as the Old Congress Building) is a building located along Padre Burgos Avenue in Ermita, Manila, Philippines. Currently, it houses the National Art Gallery of the National Museum of the Philippines. From 1926 to 1972, and briefly from 1987 to 1997, the building was home to various legislative bodies of the Philippine government.


The central façade of the Legislative Building ca. 1940
SEATO member states' leaders at the Congress Building in 1966. 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 Bureau of Public Works (precursor of the Department of Public Works and Highways) Consulting Architect Ralph Harrington Doane[1] 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.[2] 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.[2] The building therefore became known as the Legislative Building. The Second Regular Session of the 7th Philippine Legislature was formally opened on the inauguration of the building on July 16, 1926 in the presence of Governor-General Leonard Wood, then Senate President Manuel L. Quezon, House Speaker Manuel Roxas, and Colonel Carmi A. Thompson, envoy of President Calvin Coolidge of the United States.[1] It was concurrently the headquarters of the National Library from 1928 to 1944.

In 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was proclaimed, and the inauguration 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 in February 1945.[1] Most of the structure was beyond repair, except for the still-standing central portion.[3] With the inauguration of the Republic of the Philippines in 1946, the building was reconstructed to be the home of Congress. It was rebuilt by the U.S. Philippine War Damage Corporation to the same dimensions but with less interior and exterior ornamentation.[1] Reconstruction began in 1949, while the Congress moved back the same year. The two wings of the building were completed in 1950.[3] 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, on the fourth floor, the Ombudsman on the third floor, the National Museum on the second floor, and the Sandiganbayan on the ground floor.[1] 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 former office of the Prime Minister was took as the Office of the Vice-President.

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).[2] A marker commemorating the declaration was unveiled on October 29, 2010.[2]

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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