Manila Central Post Office
The Manila Central Post Office at night
General information
Architectural styleNeoclassical
AddressLiwasang Bonifacio, Magallanes Drive, Ermita, Manila
Current tenantsPhilippine Postal Corporation
Construction started1926
CompletedFebruary 1928
OwnerGovernment of the Philippines
Design and construction
National Historical Landmarks
Official nameManila Central Post Office Building
TypeBuilding, government institution
RegionNational Capital Region
Marker DateJune 2, 1994

The Manila Central Post Office, often called the Post Office Building, is the main postal office of Manila, which also serves as the headquarters of the Philippine Postal Corporation. It also houses the main mail sorting-distribution operations of the Philippines.

It is located along the banks of the Pasig River in Lawton, Ermita and lies at the northern end of Liwasang Bonifacio. Its location along the Pasig was a part of the Burnham Plan of Manila for easy water transportation of mails. Its central location with converging avenues made the building readily accessible from all sides.[1]

The original building was designed by Juan M. Arellano, Tomás Mapúa, and Ralph Doane in neoclassical style.[2] However, it was severely damaged in World War II during the Battle of Manila and was subsequently rebuilt in 1946 while retaining most of its original design.[2]

Before midnight on May 21, 2023, the building was severely damaged by a massive fire that started in the basement and spread throughout its floors.[3]


The post office, circa pre-1930
An aerial view of the post office, 1932

Manila's first post office was established in 1767. During the early years of the American occupation, the Philippine Commission created the Bureau of Posts, which later became the Philippine Postal Corporation, through Act No. 462 issued on September 15, 1902.

The current building was designed by Juan M. Arellano, Tomás Mapúa and Ralph Doane in neoclassical style.[2] The construction of the building began on 1926 under the supervision of the architecture firm of Pedro Siochi and Company.

From August 2, 1920, up to January 9, 1922, the foundation was laid out. The work was put on hold because of the scarcity of funds but was reported to be 56% complete towards the end of the year. The plans on completing the post office building was made public on November 28, 1927, but the awarding of the project happened a year after in 1928.[4] The completion of the building was continued in February 1928.[5]

World War II

The post office building (center) under attack by U.S. troops, 26 February 1945

The post office was severely damaged in World War II during the Battle of Manila, after it suffered heavy artillery bombardment and saw fierce room-to-room fighting between the Americans and Japanese, who converted the edifice into a fortress by heavily barricading the rooms with sandbags and barbed wires.[6]

The building was a key property for the Japanese as it was earthquake-proof and built with heavily reinforced concrete, making it impervious to direct artillery, tank, and anti-tank fire.[7] On February 19-21, 1945, the post office was hit by artillery fire from the Americans as they bombarded it, and the assault set its interior ablaze. On February 22, the Americans were able to enter the post office through a window and eliminated the Japanese who retreated to the basement. The capture of the post office enabled the Americans to advance their plan in retaking Intramuros from the Japanese.[6]


The building was subsequently rebuilt in 1946, retaining most of its original design.[2]

In the 2000s, there were negotiations between the Philippine government and the Sino Group, which owns the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore, to convert the Post Office building into a five-star hotel. However, then-Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon said the plan fell through due to political instability in the Philippines at the time.[8] Sino Group expressed renewed interest in the project in 2012 but did not push through.[9] A subsequent designation of the area as a heritage zone later ensured that no other structure could be established in the area aside from the post office.[8]

After the Philippine Postal Corporation was placed under the direct supervision of the Office of the President, the building housed a modern and efficient look with its mechanized automatic letter-sorting machine, new Postal Code system, airmail, motorized letter carriers and other facilities.[10]

In 2018, the National Museum of the Philippines declared the Manila Post Office building as an "important cultural property" (ICP), meaning that it had "exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance to the Philippines", allowing it to receive government funding for its protection, conservation and restoration.[11]

2023 fire

The post office building after the May 2023 fire
The facade, seen from Escolta Ferry station after the 2023 fire

On May 21, a massive fire hit the Post Office late in the night and was declared under control more than seven hours after it erupted. The Manila Fire Station said the fire started past 11 pm Philippine Standard Time (PST) in the General Services Office located in the building's basement and spread throughout the building.[3][12] A subsequent investigation traced the exact source of the fire to a self-discharging car battery in the room.[13]

The fire was placed on general alarm, the highest alarm level, at 5:54 am, the following day,[14] which required the assistance of all available firetrucks in Metro Manila.[15] Over 80 firetrucks arrived at the scene.[16] Firefighters said the light materials inside the building, such as letters and parcels, contributed to the intensity of the fire.[12] The fire was completely put out more than 30 hours after it started, at 6:33 am on the morning of May 23.[17]

The edifice was completely gutted, with Postmaster General Luis Carlos saying that "from the basement to the ground floor all the way up to the fifth floor; the structure was still there, but the ceiling had fallen down."[18] He also said letters, parcels and the postal agency's entire stamp collection were likely destroyed, but clarified that only the mail service in Manila was affected by the fire.[15] He admitted that the building had no water sprinklers, citing its age.[12] The Philippine Statistics Authority later confirmed that some national IDs for delivery in the capital were affected.[15]

The internal wooden structure of the building was burned all the way from the basement to the third floor.[19] Fifteen people, mostly firefighters, were injured, while the amount of damage was estimated to be worth around 300 million.[14][17][20]

In the aftermath of the fire, the Philippine Postal Corporation said it was transferring the central office's operations to the Foreign Surface Mail Distribution Center in Port Area, Manila,[12][21] while the business mails service for private corporations was to be moved to the Central Mail Exchange Center in Pasay, near Ninoy Aquino International Airport.[15]

The Manila city government said that the building will be restored[22] and allayed fears that a new building will be built in its place.[23] The National Commission for Culture and the Arts vowed to assist with the restoration.[24] Senator Robin Padilla and members of the House of Representatives Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts called for a legislative inquiry into the incident.[25][26] On 31 May, the Philippine Senate set up a special committee to oversee its rehabilitation.[27]

The building was inspected by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Cultural Heritage on June 8 to assess the structure's integrity before restoration can begin.[28] Inocencio Agoilo, a postman who works at the Post Office, said that restoration may take three to five years.[29] Cleaning of the building began almost five months after the fire, in late October.[30]

Post-fire restoration

In December 2023, a memorandum was signed between the Philippine Postal Corporation, the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA) and Pacific Paint Philippines, Inc. to provide the essential expertise towards the restoration of the building.[31]

The Department of Tourism released an initial of ₱15 million for pre-restoration work.[32]


Corner detail of the Post Office Building

The Manila Post Office was strategically located by Daniel Burnham at the foot of Jones Bridge because of two reasons. First was that the Pasig River could be used conveniently as an easy route for delivering mail and secondly, the post office could be accessible from all sides including Quiapo, Binondo, Malate, and Ermita.

Considered to be Juan Arellano's magnum opus, it was designed in the neoclassical style that expressed order and balance. The costs of its construction was worth one million pesos. Fronting the huge, rectangular volume are the 16 Ionic pillars lined that are lined up above the steps just before entering the lobby.[33] The main body of the building is capped by a recessed rectangular attic storey and flanked and buttressed by two semi-circular wings. Inside, the main lobby has subsidiary halls at each end housed under the semi-circular spaces roofed with domes.[10]

In popular culture

The building and its surroundings were a popular location for the shooting of local films and television serials, such as:

The building was also subjected to a paranormal investigation in the 2021 Halloween special of the news magazine program Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho, having been claimed by employees to be haunted by ghosts and poltergeists, some of which were believed to be that of Japanese soldiers from the Second World War.[37]

The building was depicted in the Philippine Postal Corporation's "Stamps on Stamps" series released in November 2023.[38]



  1. ^ Moore, Charles (1921). "Daniel Burnham: Planner of Cities". Houghton Mifflin and Co., Boston and New York.
  2. ^ a b c d Philippine Postal Corporation – History Archived December 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "Fire hits Manila Central Post Office". Manila Bulletin. May 22, 2023.
  4. ^ Wood, Leonard (1925). Annual report of the Governor General of the Philippine Islands. Washington D.C.: Washington G.P.O.
  5. ^ Alarcon, Norma (2008). The Imperial Tapestry: American Colonial Architecture in the Philippines. Manila: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. p. 140. ISBN 978-971-506-474-3.
  6. ^ a b Alabaso, Kevin (May 25, 2023). "78 years ago: The Battle at Manila Central Post Office". ABS-CBN News.
  7. ^ United States Army in World War II.: The war in the Pacific. Historical Division, Department of the Army. 1963.
  8. ^ a b "FACT CHECK: No hotel and mall bids for Manila Central Post Office site". Rappler. May 27, 2023.
  9. ^ "Foreign group eyes turning Philpost bldg into hotel". ABS-CBN. March 1, 2012.
  10. ^ a b de la Torre, Visitacion (1981). Landmarks of Manila: 1571–1930. Makati: Filipinas Foundation, Inc. p. 13.
  11. ^ "Manila Post Office Building declared 'important cultural property'". CNN Philippines. November 24, 2018. Archived from the original on January 9, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d "Fire razes decades-old Manila Central Post Office". Rappler. May 22, 2023.
  13. ^ "Fire in Manila Central Post Office 'accidental in nature': BFP". ABS-CBN News. June 6, 2023.
  14. ^ a b "Fire razes Manila Central Post Office". CNN Philippines. May 22, 2023. Archived from the original on May 21, 2023.
  15. ^ a b c d de Guzman, Karen (May 22, 2023). "Fire guts Manila Central Post Office". ABS-CBN News.
  16. ^ Gulla, Vivienne (May 22, 2023). "Manila Central Post Office fire leaves 11 injured, P300M damage". ABS-CBN News.
  17. ^ a b Rita, Joviland (May 23, 2023). "Manila Central Post Office fire declared out after more than 30 hours". GMA.
  18. ^ "Fire Guts Manila's Historic Post Office Building". New York Times. May 22, 2023.
  19. ^ Magramo, Kathleen (May 22, 2023). "Inferno tears through Manila's historic Central Post Office". CNN.
  20. ^ Rita, Joviland (May 22, 2023). "BFP: 7 hurt, P300M worth of damage in Manila Central Post Office fire". GMA.
  21. ^ "Sorting mails at Philpost office in Port Area". ABS-CBN News. May 23, 2023. Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  22. ^ Caliwan, Christopher Lloyd; Patinio, Ferdinand (May 22, 2023). "No new building to rise on site of fire-hit Manila Post Office". Philippine News Agency. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  23. ^ Patinio, Ferdinand; Caliwan, Christopher Lloyd (May 22, 2023). "No new building to rise on site of fire-hit Manila Post Office". Philippine News Agency. Archived from the original on May 22, 2023. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  24. ^ "NCCA saddened by Manila Post Office fire, vows to help in restoration". ABS-CBN News. May 22, 2023. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  25. ^ Bordey, Hana (May 22, 2023). "Senate inquiry into Manila Central Post Office fire sought". GMA News. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  26. ^ Cruz, RG (May 23, 2023). "Lawmakers seek probe on Manila Central Post Office fire". ABS-CBN News.
  27. ^ Locus, Sundy (May 31, 2023). "Senate creates special committee for Manila Central Post Office restoration". GMA News.
  28. ^ Manabat, Johnson (June 8, 2023). "Nasunog na Manila Central Post Office, ininspeksyon na" (in Tagalog). ABS-CBN News.
  29. ^ Boiser, Abby (July 23, 2023). "Hopes still up gutted Manila Central Post Office can again stand and deliver".
  30. ^ "Cleaning of fire-hit Post Office building begins". Philippine News Agency. October 26, 2023. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
  31. ^ "Architects and heritage experts unite to rebuild the iconic Manila Central Post Office". PIA. December 12, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  32. ^ Cruz, Moises (January 27, 2024). "DoT: P15M for Manila Post Office pre-restoration work". The Manila Times. Retrieved January 28, 2024.
  33. ^ Lico, Gerard (2008). Arkitekturang Filipino: A History of Architecture and Urbanism in the Philippines. Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press. p. 310. ISBN 978-971-542-579-7.
  34. ^ a b Madarang, Catalina Ricci (May 25, 2023). "More than history: Remembering movies shot inside the Manila Central Post Office". InterAksyon.
  35. ^ a b "Regine Velasquez movie among titles that filmed at Manila Central Post Office". ABS-CBN. May 24, 2023.
  36. ^ "Filmed at Manila Post Office, this series to serve as reminder of what once was". ABS-CBN. May 23, 2023.
  37. ^ "Hauntings at the Manila Post Office: 6 staff members recall their hair-raising experiences". GMA News. October 31, 2021.
  38. ^ "PHLPost launches stamps featuring Manila Central Post Office and more". ABS-CBN. November 13, 2023.

14°35′44″N 120°58′45″E / 14.5955°N 120.9791°E / 14.5955; 120.9791