EDs Note: The Davao Historical Society Foundation, Inc. published a special millennium edition of the Davao Historical Journal entitled Davao Historical Progress (2001). We take the liberty in publishing excerpts of the book every Saturday in the run up to March 1, the city’s foundation anniversary.)
IN 1937 the capital town of Davao was converted into a chartered city, now the City of Davao. Davao City as it is known today was once a part of one Davao Province before it was divided into three different provinces in 1967. The formal inauguration of Davao as a city was on March 1, 1937 although its charter (referred to as the Commonwealth Act No. 51) was approved by the Philippine Assembly and signed into law by President Manuel Quezon on October 16, 1936. Hon. Romualdo C. Quimpo, the first elected assemblyman from Davao is responsible in “creating” Davao into a city which was originally the old municipality of Davao combined with the municipal district of Guianga.
Davao City under its charter was under the administration of a mayor appointed by the President of the Commonwealth with the approval of the Commission on Appointments. The City Council was the legislative body composed of the mayor who was the presiding officer, the city engineer and the city treasurer as ex-officio members, and five councilors, two of whom were appointed by the president with the consent of the Commission of Appointments and be elected by popular vote.
The Davao City Council then was composed of Santiago Artiaga as mayor and presiding officer, Manuel Zabat (acting City Engineer) and Jose Elayda (City Treasurer) as ex-officio members and the five city councilors-Jose Ebro, Antonio Habana, Jr., Isidro Bastida, Alberto Zamora and Cesar Sotto. On November 14, 1937 there was an election and the first three councilors elected were Manuel Cabaguio, Isidro Bastida and Donato Endriga.
Mayor Artiaga served as mayor up to 1939 when he was transferred to Bukidnon as governor. The next mayor of Davao City was Hon. Agustin Alvarez who served in 1940. Next to him was Mayor Pantaleon Pelayo, Sr., who served up to the time World War II broke out and Davao City was bombed by the Japanese on December 8, 1941. (To be continued)