Elpidio Quirino was born on November 16, 1890, in the small city of Vigan, on Luzon Island in the Philippines. His father, Don Mariano Quirino, was a warden at a provincial jail. His mother was Dona Gregoria Mendoza Rivera Quirino. Young Elpidio graduated from elementary school in nearby Caoayan. Advanced beyond his years, Elpidio became a barrio (rural village) teacher while studying at Vigan High School.
Elpidio Quirino moved to Manila and graduated from Manila High School in 1911 and then passed the civil service exam. He entered law school at the University of the Philippines, graduating in 1915, and served as secretary to Senate President Manuel Quezon, where he began his rise through the Philippine government. In 1919, he was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives. In 1925, he was elected to the Philippine Senate and was quickly given Senate committee appointments.