20 Facts About the "Oldest" in the Philippines
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20 Facts About the "Oldest" in the Philippines

Cebu City is considered as the oldest city in the country, as this was the site of the earliest European settlement established by Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565. The Baclayon Church in Bohol is considered as the oldest stone church in the Philippines. But some historians disagree, claiming that San Agustin Church in Manila deserves the title


I went to Cebu City last weekend to visit some friends and some reunion activities there in Mactan Seafront and I found out that Cebu City is the oldest city in the country. So from there, I started to do a research on some of the “oldest” in the country.

Here are the 20 facts about the “oldest” in the Philippines:

Oldest Steel Church

Despite the discrepancies in the dates of its founding, the San Sebastian Church is the only steel church in Asia built in the late 18th century. It should have celebrated its centennial around 1991. Yet, it seems that not even the Catholic administration paid any interest in its historical significance or in the fact that it was Alexander Gustave Eiffel who designed it.

Image Credit     San Sebastian Church

Oldest Restaurant

New Toho Food Center (1888, 422 Tomas Pinpin Street, Binondo, Manila) Five Chinese friends set this up in Binondo, Manila, where the restaurant still stands, in a newer structure also on Tomas Pinpin (formerly San Jacinto) Street which was built after a fire razed the wooden building back in 1984. That explains the slight change in the name. It used to be called the Toho Antigua Panciteria.

Oldest Province

Aklan, originally known as Minuro it Akean, is considered as the oldest province in the country and believed to have been established as early as 1213 by settlers from Borneo. Its first ruler was Datu Dinagandan. In 1399, Datu Kalantiaw grabbed the throne. In 1433, Kalantiaw III formulated a set of laws that is known today as the Code of Kalantiaw.

 Image Credit    Aklan Province

Oldest Town

Unisan, Quezon could be the oldest town in the Philippines. The people of Unisan claimed that their town is now 481 years old, having been established in 1521, the same year that Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines. All other towns in the country were established not earlier than 1565, when Spain formally occupied the Philippines as a colony.

A Malayan queen named Ladya reportedly founded Calilayan, the old name of the town. In 1876, Calilayan was renamed Unisan which was derived from the Latin word uni-sancti, meaning "holy saint". (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Oldest City

Cebu City is considered as the oldest city in the country, as this was the site of the earliest European settlement established by Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez De Legazpi in 1565.

Oldest Fort

The first Spanish settlement in the country, Villa del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus, was located inside Fort San Pedro in Cebu City. The fort's construction began in 1565.

Image Credit  

Oldest Street

Calle Colon in Cebu City is considered as the oldest street in the country. Named after explorer Christopher Columbus, Calle Colon was first constructed in 1565 by men of Miguel Lopez De Legazpi.

Image Credit 

Oldest Stone Church

The Baclayon Church in Bohol is considered as the oldest stone church in the Philippines. But some historians disagree, claiming that San Agustin Church in Manila deserves the title.

Image Credit    Baclayon Church

Image Credit    San Agustin Church

Church historians claim that the cornerstones of San Agustin Church were laid as early as 1571, 25 years before Baclayon Church was built in 1596. But most people believe the title should be kept by the latter, since it is situated in the island first occupied by the troops of Miguel Lopez De Legazpi, the country's first Spanish governor general.

Bohol was where a friendship was sealed with blood between Chieftain Rajah Sikatuna and Legazpi. The event is known today as ''The Blood Compact.''

Oldest Hospital

The San Lazaro Hospital could be the oldest hospital in the country. According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the San Lazaro hospital was established in 1578; Enfermeria de Naga, 1583; and Hospital de San Juan de Dios, 1596.

 Image Credit     San Lazaro Hospital

Oldest Church Bell

The oldest church bell in the country is said to be the one found in Camalaniugan, Cagayan. That bell was reportedly forged in 1595.

Image Credit    

Oldest Bridge

The Jones Bridge, formerly known as Puente de Espana, was first built in 1701. It was rebuilt by the Americans in 1916 and renamed after Atkinson Jones.

Image Credit    

Image Credit  

Oldest University

The University of San Carlos (U.S.C.) in Cebu City is considered as the oldest school in the country and in Asia. Formerly known as the Colegio de San Ildefonso, it was founded by the Spanish Jesuits on August 1, 1595. This makes the Cebu-based university older than the University of Santo Tomas (1611) in Manila and Harvard University (1636) in the United States.

Image Credit 

The old Semenario-Colegio de San Carlos de Cebu in Martires St. (now M.J. Cuenco Avenue) near Plaza Independencia

San Carlos University

Image Credit    

The University of Santo Tomas, however, contests this title. Formerly known as the Colegio de Nuestra Señora Del Rosario, U.S.T. was the first school, which got a university status in 1645. U.S.C. became a university in 1948. UST also claimed that the original U.S.C. was closed in 1769 as a result of the expulsion of the Jesuits. It reopened in 1783 under a new name and ownership. But the USC officials stick to their claim. The university observed its 400th foundation day on August 21, 1995. (I was in third year high school at U.S.T. Education High School)

Oldest Vocational School

The Don Honorio Ventura College of Arts and Trades (DHVCAT) in Bacolor, Pampanga is said to be the oldest vocational school in Asia. Augustinian Friar Juan Zita and civic leader Don Felino Gil established the vocational school on November 4, 1861.

Oldest Company

Ayala Corp., one of the largest conglomerates in the country, is also the oldest existing company around. It was established in 1834 by sugar barons Domingo Roxas and Antonio de Ayala. It was later renamed as Casa Ayala, then as Ayala y Compania and recently as Ayala Corp.

Image Credit  

Oldest Bank

In 1881, Domingo Roxas, an ancestor of the Ayala family, became one of the first directors of Banco Español-Filipino De Isabel II, which was founded by virtue of a royal decree issued by Queen Isabel II. The bank issued the country's first currency notes the following year. Considered as the first private commercial bank in the country, the bank came to be known as the Bank of Philippine Islands in 1912. The oldest savings bank was Monte de Piedad, which was established in 1882.

Image Credit   

Oldest Military Supply Shop

The oldest military supply shop in the country was said to be Alfredo Roensch and Co.

Oldest Rizal Monument

What can be considered as the oldest  in the country is a 20-foot metal structure standing at a park in Daet, Camarines Norte. Its construction reportedly began on December 30, 1898 and was finished in February 1899. In comparison, the Rizal monument at the former Luneta Park was built in 1912.

 Image Credit       Rizal monument in Luneta Park

Oldest Vice

The earliest vice among native Filipinos, according to historians, was the chewing of betel nut or "nganga". It was said that Filipinos had been chewing betel nut for 3,000 years.

Image Credit     Nganga (Betel Nut)

Oldest Insurance Firm

Insular Life Insurance Company was established on November 26, 1910, becoming the oldest insurance agency in the country.

Image Credit   Insular Life Insurance

Oldest Epics

In a 1962 study, E. Arsenio Manuel said the country had at least 19 epics, which were passed to the present generation from our early ancestors through oral chanting. Among these so-called ethno epics were 13 epics among pagan Filipinos, 2 among Christian Filipinos, and 4 among Muslim Filipinos. These included the Ilocano epic Lam-ang, Manuvu's Tuwaang, Sulod's Hinilawod and Maranaw's Bantugan.

Many thanks to Mr. Robert Lim for sharing some of our old pictorials and albums.


Main sources of information include Zoilo Galang's Encyclopedia of the Philippines and Julio Silverio's Diksyunaryo ng mga Unang Pinoy.


All images from Google Image

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Comments (20)

There's that steel church again !

Nice information.

Exceptional presentation! Twitter time!


Ranked #1 in Philippines

@Dee, @Sourav, @James, and @charlene thanks for the read & comments, highly appreciated.

Good info and great presentation.

Ranked #1 in Philippines

Dear all, thanks for the read, votes and comments.


Very informative. Well researched.

Very interesting! I learned something new today. Love your pictures. Thanks Vote up!

Ranked #1 in Philippines

Thanks Donata, it take a while to revisit, much appreciated.

I've been to Cebu a couple of times, and haven't visited some of those places yet. I'am sure I am going to added them to my list.

Ranked #1 in Philippines

Thanks Gerard.


Please correct your item on the code of kalantiao in panay...

it was a hoax!


pls correct your item on the code of kalantiao - it

was a hoax.


omg! the university of san carlos never claimed to be the oldest university! it is the ust.... usc was not a university yet in 1595!


oldest bank - 1851 not 1881


Santisima Trinidad de Mayor in Malolos City the oldest Image in the Philippines enero 10 1500


Ranked #1 in Philippines

Thanks for the added insights guys, just revisited.

Oldest insurance company is Sun Life of Canada Philippines. 120 years in the Philippines and 150 years in the world!
Hello, Sun Life of Canada Philippines is the oldest in the Philippines with 120 years here in PH and 150 all over the world.