The gobernadorcillo was the leader of a town or pueblo. In a coastal town, the gobernadorcillo functioned as a port captain and his appointment was through an exclusive nomination provided by the Spanish law. His term of office lasted for two years, the position of a gobernadorcillo was honorary and mandatory in order to afford him those valid exemptions signified in the Philippine law. At the end of his term he would enter and form part of the principalía. This mayor, who was at the same time Justice of the Peace, in 1893, the Maura law was passed with the aim of making the municipal governments in the Philippine Islands more effective and autonomous. The gobernadocillo was elected from among the ranks of the principalía by twelve senior Cabezas de Barangay and he was the primus inter pares of the cabezas of a Confederation of Barangays that made up a municipality. The electors had to choose three candidates who were to compose a list, called terna and it was a requirement that the respective place of each nominee in the terna be indicated. It is to be noted that the candidates must be able to speak, read, if anyone was elected who did not possess these qualifications, the election would be considered null and void. The same requirements were demanded in the election of officers of justice in the municipalities, the election of a gobernadorcillo was by ballot. It was authorized by a notary and presided over by the provincial chief, the priest of the town may be present if he wishes, to express what opinions he may consider fitting, but for no other purpose. The sealed envelopes containing the results in provinces near Manila were sent to superior offices of the government in the capital. From the terna, the Governor General appointed the gobernadorcillo, taking into consideration the report of the president of the election, in distant territories, the chief of each province appointed the nominee who got the highest vote. Among the local leaders in Spanish Philippines, the gobernadorcillos and Filipino officials of justice received the greatest consideration from the Spanish crown officials, the colonial officials were under obligation to show them the honor corresponding to their respective duties. They were allowed to be seated in the houses of the Spanish provincial governors and they were not to be left standing. It was not permitted for Spanish parish priests to treat these Filipino nobles with less consideration, on the day on which the gobernadorcillo would take on government duties, his town would hold a grand celebration. On holy days the town officials would go to the church, the principalía and cuadrilleros formed two lines in front of the gobernadorcillo. After the mass, they would go to the parish rectory to pay their respects to the parish priest. Then, they would return to the tribunal in the same order, the gobernadorcillo was always accompanied by an alguacil or policia whenever he went about the streets of his town
Extant record in the National Archives in Manila showing the 1855 election results in the province of Iloilo. This page shows the names of the gobernadorcillos elected by the principalía of Ajuy, Banate, and Barotac Viejo.
Abbreviated coat of arms of the Spanish monarch at the entrance of Fort Santiago in Manila (reconstruction).
Principalía of Leganes, Iloilo c. 1880, in formal marching formation on a special occasion.