The Early Years
The Philippine National Bank was established as a government-owned banking institution on July 22, 1916 with headquarters in the old Masonic Temple along Escolta, Manila. Its primary mandate was to provide financial services to Philippine industry and agriculture and support the government's economic development effort. World War I, then raging in Europe, generated huge demand for the country's major exports namely: sugar, copra, coconut oil, Manila hemp and tobacco. However, not much was being done to develop the industries that produced these sought-after crops since access to credit facilities was limited then. To solve this problem, Henderson Martin, Vice Governor of the Philippines, together with Mr. Miguel Cuaderno (who later became Central Bank governor) drafted the charter for a national bank.
In February 4, 1916, Public Act 2612 was passed by the Philippine legislature providing for the establishment of the PNB to replace the small P1 million government-owned Agricultural Bank. PNB's first head office was the Masonic Temple along Escolta, the then "Wall Street of the Philippines" in the bustling district of Sta. Cruz in Manila. An American, H. Parker Willis, was its first president.
"The First Universal Bank in the country"
With PNB's establishment, Filipinos found a bank of their own. PNB was authorized to grant short and long-term loans to agriculture and industry. The Filipino farmers then could avail of loans with interest between 8% to 10% per annum. PNB was also authorized to receive deposits, open foreign credits and rediscount bills. It was also given the special power to issue circulating notes. As such, PNB functioned as the de facto Central Bank of the country until 1949.
On July 24, 1916, PNB established its first branch in Iloilo.
In 1917, PNB marked its entry in the field of international banking when it opened its New York Branch. The following year, it established five more domestic branches and another...