The First Filipino

Mayor of Manila


  The first civilian mayor of Manila, Arsenio Cruz Herrera was born in Tondo on December 14, 1863 to Tomas Cruz and Ambrosia Herrera. He first studied in a school directed by Fortunato Jacinto. After receiving his bachiller en artes degree from the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in 1880, he enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas, where he earned his licentiate in canon law in 1889 and licentiate in jurisprudence in 1892. At UST, he supported himself as a working student, or capista, assigned at the library of the university.


Nothing is known about his activities during the first phase of the Philippine Revolution, except that he was said to have advised General Maximo Hizon on the capture of the town of Angeles in Pampanga. Upon the return of Emilio Aguinaldo from exile in Hong Kong and the resumption of he revolution, he volunteered his services to the cause. Together with Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, Felipe Buencamino, and others, he became an adviser of Aguinaldo.


Cruz Herrera was offered the position of director of war in the revolutionary cabinet. When he refused, the post of director went to Antonio Luna. He, however, accepted the position of public instruction. It was through his initiative, as such that the revolutionary government established in 1899 The Universidad Cientifico-Literaria de Filipinas, where he taught law. He was also active in the management of the official organ of the government, El Heraldo de la Revolucion.


Cruz Herrera was elected to the Malolos Congress, representing Manila, and became a member of the commission-with Felipe Calderon, Joaquin Gonzales, and Jose Infante-that drafted the Malolos Constitution. When the capital of the revolutionary government was moved to Tarlac during the Filipino-American War, Cruz Herrera was named deputy fiscal in the Audiencia of Tarlac.


Realizing the futility of the armed struggle against the superior enemy forces, Cruz Herrera opted to cooperate with Americans in 1900. Along with others, he organized the Federal Party. On August 7, 1901, Governor William Howard Taft appointed him as presiding officer of the municipal council of the city of Manila. With the establishment of American civil government over the island, Cruz Herrera became the first civilian mayor of Manila.


Cruz Herrera ran during the elections for the First Philippine Assembly in 1907 under the recognized Federal Party, which he renamed Progressive Party, but lost. The candidates of the Nacionalistas Party won in the majority in the elections. In 1912, he joined the Nacionalistas and ran in the next elections for the Nacional Assembly. He was elected assemblyman, representing the first district of Rizal. He moved to the Democrata Party on April 2, 1914.


Before he entered politics, Cruz Herrera had a lucrative law practice, which before he started after his graduation from UST. He also taught law at the Academia de Leyes.


Cruz Herrera was married twice. On September 9, 1888, he married Julita Alejandrino, sister of the great revolutionary general, Jose Alejandrino, by whom he had eight children: Jose, Rosario, Miguel, Concepcion, Augustin, Natividad, Augusto, and Emmanuela. After the death of his first wife on March 4, 1912, he married Bernarda Sastre, widow of Manuel Gonzales.


Cruz Herrera died at the age of 54 on April 8, 1917.




Encoded by:

Liezl T. Desingano


Cavite State University