1st Edition

Remodelling to Prepare for Independence The Philippine Commonwealth, Decolonisation, Cities and Public Works, c. 1935–46

By Ian Morley Copyright 2024
    290 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Remodelling to Prepare for Independence: The Philippine Commonwealth, Decolonisation, Cities and Public Works, c. 1935–46 illuminates the implications of the USA’s final phase of colonial rule in the Philippine Islands. It explores the Filipino side of decolonisation and the management of the built environment in the years immediately prior to self-rule.

    This book shakes off the collaboration vs. resistance paradigm that empire histories generally follow and consequently yields an original vantage point to comprehend transition within an Asian society in the years immediately prior to, during, and after World War Two. This will not only deepen insight of the American Empire, but also grants the opportunity to tie Philippine political-cultural change to the global history of urban planning’s advancement. Accordingly, it opens a new window to rethink Filipino ethno-history and societal evolution, alongside the opportunity to compare the Philippines with other nations that undertook planning projects as part of their decolonisation process and early-postcolonial advancement. The book utilises theoretical frames in order to help creatively excavate the era 1935–46 for the purpose of not just revealing what public works occurred, but to also uncover what those projects meant to the Commonwealth Government, the BPW’s staff, and the public who benefitted from public works projects.

    The book will be relevant to students and researchers of Urban History, Asian and American (Empire) History, and Imperial and Colonial Studies. Architects, planners, and members of the public who are interested in the form and meaning of urban environments designed/constructed in the past will also find the publication to be of great interest.

    List of Illustrations

    List of Tables


    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Reshaping the Nation and Public Works: A Précis

    Social Evolution, Foreign Influences, and Modernity in Philippine Cities, 1935-46

    A Political and Philosophical Watershed: The Philippine Constitution, 1935

    The Evolution of the Colonial-Built Fabric in the Philippines, 18981935


    The Structure of the Book

    Chapter 2: A New Capital City for a New Nation

    The Constitution Convention and the Nature of the 1935 Constitution

    Quezon City: A Distinct City for an Evolving Country

    Planning Evolution in Quezon City: The 1941 and 1949 Plans

    The Park and Road Systems, and the Creation of Neighbourhood Units

    Public Buildings and Architectural Modernism  


    Chapter 3: Manila and the Provinces

    Beyond Quezon City: Urban Planning During the Age of the Commonwealth  

    Manila’s Development and Antonio Toledo’s Professional Footprint

    The Return to, and Advancement of, Daniel Burnham’s Plan for Manila

    Renewing Manila: The Built Fabric and Fire

    Planning in the Provinces

    Housing and Planning in the Provinces

    Chapter 4: The Japanese Occupation

    Japan, the Philippines, the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, and Pan-Asianism      

    The Japanese Occupation and the Evaluation of the Philippine-Built Fabric 

    Governing the Towns and Cities

    Rebooting The Pensionados Program

    Neighbourhood Associations

    The Challenge and Opportunity Aligned to Post-War Rebirth         

    Chapter 5: National Independence, Post-War Reconstruction, Urban Betterment and Planning

    A New Nation Looking Forward, Hesitantly

    The Planning of Roads

    Planning for New Housing Districts

    New Rulings and the Problem of Their Implementation





    Ian Morley is an Associate Professor based in the Department of History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. A graduate of the Centre for Urban History, Leicester University, UK, and the School of Architectural Studies, University of Sheffield, UK, he has published widely on the American colonial urban environment in the Philippines. The former book review editor for Urban Morphology: Journal of the International Seminar on Urban Form, he is currently the Vice President of the International Planning History Society. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Royal Asiatic Society, and Royal Society of Arts.