Was Morato first Mayor of Quezon City?

In ABS-CBNNEWS.COM, Manuel L. Morato argues his father, Tomas Morato, was the first mayor of Quezon City.

Since our family has been asked its views on the matter, the following may be useful:


There have been queries concerning the Quezon family’s views about Mr. Manuel L. Morato’s recent letter to the editor, published in TODAY newspaper, in which Mr. Morato has sought to clarification as to whether or not his father, Tomas Morato, was the first mayor of Quezon City or not. Mr. Morato asserts his father was indeed the first mayor. He bases this assertion both on documentary evidence and logic.

The documentary evidence is the appointment paper of his father, signed by President Quezon and countersigned by Jorge B. Vargas, Secretary to the President, dated October 12, 1939, the day the City Charter (a Commonwealth Act sponsored by Ramon Mitra, Sr. and Narciso Ramos) was signed. The argument, based on logic that Mr. Morato makes is contained in his letter: “while waiting for my father to arrive from Quezon province, President Quezon made himself officer in charge [of Quezon City] for a few days, but never designated himself as mayor of the city. Being a temporary caretaker of a city does not make one the mayor, I think.” Tomas Morato, at the time Quezon City was established, was serving as Mayor of Calauag, Tayabas (now Quezon Province).

In view of Mr. Morato’s letter, and his desire to set the historical record straight, the following observations may be useful.

1. In any historical controversy, documentary evidence is essential to resolve the question. The appointment paper of Tomas Morato speaks for itself. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the document should be presumed genuine. Since the document is dated the same day Quezon City was established, the only question is whether Tomas Morato had already resigned from his previous position by that date, or was given some time to do so, before he could legally assume his new duties as mayor of Quezon City. A letter, or record, of resignation from the position of Mayor of Calauan, would be useful in further firming up the Morato chronology, but is not essential: since there is a document that says Morato was appointed mayor the same day Quezon City was created, that makes him the first mayor.

2. When the President of the Philippines assumes a position subordinate to his office, he holds the position in a concurrent, and not unique capacity. That is why, for example, even though President Elpidio Quirino retained the portfolio of Secretary of Foreign Affairs after he became president, his service as Secretary of Foreign Affairs is only dated from the time he (Quirino, serving as Vice-President) was appointed as such by President Roxas until the date Roxas died, when Quirino became president. If a President, when holding a cabinet portfolio, is not listed as in the roster of those who held that portfolio, the same would logically apply to an administratively much inferior position, such as mayor. A president does not sign any papers appointing himself to a cabinet position in part because that position is an extension of his office; a president would not appoint himself to an even lower office for this reason, and also because a superior cannot demote himself by assuming another position. Mr. Morato is thinking logically when he argues that President Quezon acted as officer-in-charge of Quezon City, pending the assumption of duty of his appointee, Tomas Morato.

3. Based on the above points, it would therefore be correct to state that Tomas Morato was appointed the first mayor of Quezon City, but that for a short period of time, based on Manuel Morato’s own chronology of events, President Quezon acted as officer-in-charge of the city named after him, until his hand-picked appointee could assume his duties.

I have referred Mr. Manuel L. Morato’s arguments, and my views as expressed in the points above, to my aunt, Mrs. Zeneida Quezon-Avancena, and she has expressed her agreement with these observations.

(sgd.) Manuel L. Quezon III

Manuel L. Quezon III.

3 thoughts on “Was Morato first Mayor of Quezon City?

  1. Dear Sir Is the Manuel L. Morato the author of Rizal’s biographie Filipino doctor and Patriote? Do you know how I can contact him?

  2. History or Historiography? That is the question….

    I believe there is no political controversy at all, as the creation of the city of Quezon was not even politicial but pragmatic and practical. What should be brought up in the History of any civilized nation are not the controversies regarding Political nor Administrative Law (in those times incipient at best and even non-pexistent) or aprioristic nor a posteriori “tsismis” to incite the population into divisional confusion – that precisely is not History!

    Nini Quezon may just agree with me that: the important fact the issue brings to collation is: the confidence, trust and great friendship between the First Pres. of the Republic of the Philippines, Manuel L. Quezon and my father, Tomas B (Bernabeu) Morató – a dear friend, almost a brother, entrusting to a dear friend – almost a brother in return – the position to my father, and not whom of them was first nor second, nor last.

    History which only teases the mind of readers to conflict, confusion and Machiavelian division may not even be History at all and definitely never the modern concept of “Historiography” which takes into account all the Aristotelian “mediate and inmediate” causes, objective &/or subjective, that prompted Pres. Quezon to appoint my father as Mayor of Quezon City: a trusted friend, almost a brother.

    In conclusion: Nini Quezon may surely agree with me that: Historiography should enfasize the higher values of friendship and trust Pres, Quezon placed in my father….and not the infantile disquisition of: who was first Mayor of Quezon City. The categorical imperative is not who was first or the last, but “why” was my father entrusted by Pres. Quezon to be the Mayor of Quezon City?

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