Jose “Lito” Atienza was born in San Andres Bukid on the 10th day of August 1941, just a few months before the outbreak of World War II. His father, Jose Atienza, Sr., was a distinguished public servant who had served three Philippine presidents. He finished elementary and secondary education at the Ateneo de Manila, and took up Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture at the University of Santo Tomas . Atienza’s interest in urban planning and community development springs from his formal training in Architecture.
As a young man, Atienza organized the Democratic Youth Movement in 1968. He survived the infamous Plaza Miranda bombing in 1972, and was jailed twice for exposing human rights abuses under Martial Law. Reflecting his concern for under- represented sectors of society, he founded the Mahal Ko si Lolo, Mahal Ko si Lola foundation in 1976, a model for today’s Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA). In 1984, he founded the Kababaihan ng Maynila, a women’s livelihood organization. He was elected to the Batasang Pambansa in 1984, and appointed General Manager of the National Housing Authority in 1988, during which he promoted low cost housing for teachers and for policemen.
Lito Atienza was elected Vice-Mayor in 1992 and served in that capacity for two terms. He provided socio-civic services to the people of Manila such as the Home for the Angels, a child care center for abandoned and abused infants.
After serving as Acting Mayor when former Mayor Alfredo Lim resigned to run for President in 1998, Atienza was elected Mayor of Manila the same year. Mayor Atienza took his oath of office on June 24, 1998 coinciding with the 427th anniversary of the founding of the City of Manila. One of the primary accomplishments of his administration is the restoration of Manila as the business and cultural capital of the Philippines.
After serving three years as father of the city, Atienza was able to achieve his goal in reviving Manila. He got re-elected last May 2001; serve his second term as the Mayor of the City of Manila.