This article is about the Philippine president. For other uses, see Quezon (disambiguation).
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Quezon and the second or maternal family name is Molina.
Manuel L. Quezon
|2ndPresident of the Philippines|
November 15, 1935 – August 1, 1944
|Vice President||Sergio Osmeña, Sr.|
(Last title held by Emilio Aguinaldo) as (President of the Philippines)
Frank Murphyas (Governor-General of the Philippines)
|Succeeded by||José P. Laurel, Sr. (de facto)|
|1stPresident of the Senate of the Philippines|
August 29, 1916 – November 15, 1935
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Manuel Roxas|
|Senator of the Philippines from the 5th Senatorial District|
October 16, 1916 – November 15, 1935
Vicente Ilustre (1916–1919)
Antero Soriano (1919–1925)
José P. Laurel(1925–1931)
Claro M. Recto(1931–1935)
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|Secretary of National Defense|
July 16, 1941 – December 10, 1941
|Preceded by||Teofilo Sison|
|Succeeded by||Jorge B. Vargas|
|Resident Commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Philippine Islands|
November 23, 1909 – October 15, 1916
Serving with Benito Legarda
and Manuel Earnshaw
|Preceded by||Pablo Ocampo|
|Succeeded by||Teodoro R. Yangco|
|Majority Leader of the Philippine House of Representatives|
October 16, 1907 – November 23, 1909
|Preceded by||Position Established|
|Succeeded by||Alberto Barreto|
As Majority Leader of the Philippine Assembly
|Member of the Philippine Assembly from Tayabas' 1st District|
October 16, 1907 – October 16, 1916
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Filemon Perez|
|Governor of Tayabas|
|Born||Manuel Luís Quezon Molina|
(1878-08-19)August 19, 1878
Baler, El Principe, Captaincy General of the Philippines
(now Baler, Aurora, Philippines)
|Died||August 1, 1944(1944-08-01) (aged 65)|
Saranac Lake, New York, United States
|Resting place||Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City, Philippines|
|Political party||Nacionalista Party|
|Relations||Manuel L. Quezon III (grandson)|
|Children||Ma. Aurora Quezon|
Maria Zeneida Quezon-Avanceña
Manuel L. Quezon, Jr.
Luisa Corazon Paz Quezon
|Alma mater||Colegio de San Juan de Letran|
University of Santo Tomas
|Profession||Lawyer, soldier, politician|
|Service/branch||Philippine Revolutionary Army|
Philippine Commonwealth Army
|Years of service||1899–1900|
World War II
* Philippines Campaign (1941–1942)
* Japanese Occupation of the Philippines (1942–1945)
Manuel L. Quezon (born Manuel Luís Quezon y Molina; August 19, 1878 – August 1, 1944) was a Filipino statesman, soldier, and politician who served as president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944. He was the first Filipino to head a government of the entire Philippines (as opposed to the government of previous Philippine states), and is considered to have been the second president of the Philippines, after Emilio Aguinaldo (1899–1901).
During his presidency, Quezon tackled the problem of landless peasants in the countryside. His other major decisions include the reorganization of the islands' military defense, approval of a recommendation for government reorganization, the promotion of settlement and development in Mindanao, dealing with the foreign stranglehold on Philippine trade and commerce, proposals for land reform, and opposing graft and corruption within the government. He established a government-in-exile in the U.S. with the outbreak of the war and the threat of Japanese invasion.
It was during his exile in the U.S. that he died of tuberculosis at Saranac Lake, New York. He was buried in the Arlington National Cemetery until the end of World War II, when his remains were moved to Manila. His final resting place is the Quezon Memorial Circle.
In 2015, the Board of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation approved a posthumously bestowal of the Wallenberg Medal upon President Quezon and to the people of the Philippines for having reached-out, between 1937 and 1941, to the victims of the Holocaust. President Benigno Aquino III, and then 94-year-old María Zeneida Quezon Avanceña, who is the daughter of the former President, were duly informed about this recognition.
Early life and careers
Quezon, was born in Baler in the district of El Príncipe (now Baler, Aurora). His parents were Lucio Quezon (died 1898) and María Dolores Molina (June 7, 1840 – 1893), both of whom were Spanish mestizo, respectively, with distant ethnic Tagalog origins. His father was a primary grade school teacher from Paco, Manila and a retired Sergeant of the Spanish colonial army, while his mother was a primary grade school teacher in their hometown.
Although both his parents must have contributed to his education, he received most of his primary education from the public school established by the Spanish government in his village, as part of the establishment of the free public education system in the Philippines, as he himself testified during his speech delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States during the discussion of Jones Bill, in 1914. He later boarded at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he completed secondary school.
In 1899, Quezon left his law studies at the University of Santo Tomas to join the independence movement. During the Philippine–American War he was an aide-de-camp to Emilio Aguinaldo. He rose to the rank of Major and fought in the Bataan sector. However, after surrendering in 1900 wherein he made his first break in the American press, Quezon returned to the university and passed the bar examinations in 1903, achieving fourth place.
He worked for a time as a clerk and surveyor, entering government service as an appointed fiscal (treasurer) for Mindoro and later Tayabas. He became a councilor and was elected governor of Tayabas in 1906 after a hard-fought election.
House of Representatives
In 1907, he was elected to the first Philippine Assembly – later became the House of Representatives – where he served as majority floor leader and chairman of the committee on rules as well as the chairman also of the committee on appropriations. From 1909 to 1916, he served as one of the Philippines' two resident commissioners to the U.S. House of Representatives, lobbying for the passage of the Philippine Autonomy Act or Jones Law.
Quezon returned to Manila in 1916 to be elected into the Philippine Senate as Senator and later elected by his peers as Senate President, serving continuously until 1935 (19 years), becoming the longest serving. He headed the first Independent Mission to the U.S. Congress in 1919 and secured the passage of the Tydings–McDuffie Act in 1934. In 1922, Quezon became the leader of the Nacionalista Party alliance.
Quezon was married to his first cousin, Aurora Aragón Quezon, on December 17, 1918. The couple had four children: María Aurora "Baby" Quezon (September 23, 1919 – April 28, 1949), María Zeneida "Nini" Quezon-Avancena (born 1921), Luisa Corazón Paz "Nenita" Quezon (February 17, 1924 – December 14, 1924) and Manuel L. "Nonong" Quezon, Jr. (June 23, 1926 – September 18, 1998). His adopted grandson, Manuel L. "Manolo" Quezon III (born May 30, 1970), a prominent writer and current undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, was named after him.
First term (1935–1941)
In 1935, Quezon won the Philippines' first national presidential election under the banner of the Nacionalista Party. He obtained nearly 68% of the vote against his two main rivals, Emilio Aguinaldo and Gregorio Aglipay. Quezon was inaugurated in November 1935. He is recognized as the second President of the Philippines. However, in January 2008, House Representative Rodolfo Valencia of Oriental Mindoro filed a bill seeking instead to declare General Miguel Malvar as the second Philippine President, having directly succeeded Aguinaldo in 1901.
Administration and cabinet
|President||Manuel L. Quezon||1935–1941|
|Vice President||Sergio Osmeña||1935–1941|
|Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce||Benigno Aquino||1938–1940|
|Rafael Alunan, Sr.||1940–1941|
|Secretary of Public Instruction||Sergio Osmeña||November 15, 1935 – April 18, 1939|
|Jorge Bocobo||April 19, 1939 – January 22, 1941|
|Secretary of Finance||Elpidio Quirino||November 15, 1935 – February 18, 1936|
|Antonio de las Alas||February 18, 1936 – November 15, 1938|
|Manuel Roxas||November 26, 1938 – August 28, 1941|
|Serafin Marabut||August 28, 1941 – December 29, 1941|
|Secretary of the Interior||Elpidio Quirino||1935–1938|
|Secretary of Justice||José Yulo||November 15, 1935 – November 1938|
|José Abad Santos||December 5, 1938 – July 16, 1941|
|Commissioner of Justice||Teofilo Sison||July 18, 1941 – November 1941|
|Secretary of Public Works|
|Mariano Jesús Cuenco|
|Secretary of National Defense||Teofilo Sison||1939–1941|
|Basilio Valdes||December 23, 1941|
|Secretary of Labor||José Avelino||1935–1938|
|Secretary to the President||Jorge B. Vargas||1935–1941|
|Commissioner of the Budget||Serafin Marabut||1935–1941|
|Commissioner of Civil Service||José Gil||1935–1941|
|Resident Commissioner of the Philippines|
to the United States Congress
|Joaquín Miguel Elizalde||1938–1941|
Supreme Court appointments
President Quezon was given the power under the reorganization act, to appoint the first all-Filipino Philippines in 1935. From 1901 to 1935, although a Filipino was always appointed chief justice, the majority of the members of the Supreme Court were Americans. Complete Filipinization was achieved only with the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935. Claro M. Recto and José P. Laurel were among Quezon's first appointees to replace the American justices. The membership in the Supreme Court increased to 11: a chief justice and ten associate justices, who sat en banc or in two divisions of five members each.
To meet the demands of the newly established government set-up and in compliance with the provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, as well as the requirements of the Constitution, President Quezon, true to his pledge of "More Government and less politics", initiated a reorganization of the government bodies. To this effect, he established the Government Survey Board to study the existing institutions and in the light of the changed circumstances, make the necessary recommendations.
Early results were seen with the revamping of the Executive Department. Offices and bureaus were either merged with one another or outrightly abolished. Some new ones, however, were created. President Quezon ordered the transfer of the Philippine Constabulary from the Department of Interior, to the Department of Finance. Among the changes in the Executive Departments by way of modification in functions or new responsibilities, were those of the National Defense, Agriculture and Commerce, Public Works and Communications, and Health and Public Welfare.
In keeping with other exigencies posed by the Constitution, new offices and boards were created either by Executive Order or by appropriate legislative action. Among these were the Council of National Defense, the Board of National Relief, the Mindanao and Sulu Commission, and the Civil Service Board of Appeals.
Social justice program
Pledged to improve the lot of the Philippine working class and seeking the inspiration from the social doctrines of Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI, aside from the authoritative treatises of the world's leading sociologists, President Quezon started a vigorous program of social justice, which he traduced into reality through appropriate executive measures and legislation obtained from the National Assembly.
Thus, a court of Industrial Relations was established to mediate disputes, under certain conditions, minimizing the inconveniences of the strikes and lockouts. A minimum wage law was enacted, as well as a law providing for an eight-hour work day and a tenancy law for the Filipino farmers. Another measure was the creation of the position of Public Defender to help poor litigants in their court suits.
Commonwealth Act No. 20 authorized Quezon to institute expropriation proceedings and/or acquire large landed estates to re-sell them at nominal cost and under easy terms to tenants thereon, thus enabling them to possess a lot and a home of their own. It was by virtue of this law that the Buenavista estate was acquired by the Commonwealth Government. Quezon also launched a cooperative system of agriculture among the owners of the subdivided estates in order to alleviate their situation and to provide them greater earnings.
In all these, Quezon showed an earnest desire to follow the constitutional mandate on the promotion of social justice.
Upon the creation of the Commonwealth, the economic condition of the nation was stable and promising. With foreign trade reaching a peak of four hundred million pesos, the upward trend in business was accentuated and assumed the aspect of a boom. Exports crops were generally good and, with the exception of tobacco, they were all in high demand in foreign trade markets. Indeed, the value of the Philippine exports reached an all high of 320,896,000 pesos, the highest since 1929.
On the other hand, government revenues amounted to 76,675,000 pesos in 1936, as compared with the 1935 revenue of 65,000,000 pesos. Even the government companies, with the exception of the Manila Railroad, managed to earn profits. Gold production increased about 37% and iron nearly 100%, while cement production augmented by some 14%.
Notwithstanding this prosperous situation, the government had to meet certain economic problems besetting the country. For this purpose, the National Economic Council was created. This body advised the government in economic and financial questions, including promotion of industries, diversification of crops and enterprises, tariffs, taxation, and formulation of an economic program in the preparation for the future independent Republic of the Philippines.
Again, a law reorganized the National Development Company; the National Rice and Corn Company (NARIC) was created and was given a capital of four million pesos.
Upon the recommendation of the National Economic Council, agricultural colonies were established in the country, especially in Koronadal, Malig, and other appropriate sites in Mindanao. The government, moreover, offered facilities of every sort to encourage migration and settlement in those places. The Agricultural and Industrial Bank was established to aid small farmers with convenient loans on easy terms. Attention was also devoted to soil survey, as well as to the proper disposition of lands of the public domain. These steps and measures held much promise for improved economic welfare.
See also: Land reform in the Philippines
When the Commonwealth Government was established, President Quezon implemented the Rice Share Tenancy Act of 1933. The purpose of this act was to regulate the share-tenancy contracts by establishing minimum standards. Primarily, the Act provided for better tenant-landlord relationship, a 50–50 sharing of the crop, regulation of interest to 10% per agricultural year, and a safeguard against arbitrary dismissal by the landlord. However, because of one major flaw of this law, no petition for the Rice Share Tenancy Act was ever presented.
The major flaw of this law was that it could be used only when the majority of municipal councils in a province petitioned for it. Since landowners usually controlled such councils, no province ever asked that the law be applied. Therefore, Quezon ordered that the act be mandatory in all Central Luzon provinces. However, contracts were good for only one year. By simply refusing to renew their contract, landlords were able to eject tenants. As a result, peasant organizations clamored in vain for a law that would make the contract automatically renewable for as long as the tenants fulfilled their obligations.
In 1936, this Act was amended to get rid of its loophole, but the landlords made its application relative and not absolute. Consequently, it was never carried out in spite of its good intentions. In fact, by 1939, thousands of peasants in Central Luzon were being threatened with wholesale eviction.
The desire of Quezon to placate both landlords and tenants pleased neither. By the early 1940s, thousands of tenants in Central Luzon were ejected from their farmlands and the rural conflict was more acute than ever.
Indeed, during the Commonwealth period, agrarian problems persisted. This motivated the government to incorporate a cardinal principle on social justice in the 1935 Constitution. Dictated by the social justice program of the government, expropriation of landed estates and other landholdings commenced. Likewise, the National Land Settlement Administration (NLSA) began an orderly settlement of public agricultural lands. At the outbreak of the Second World War, major settlement areas containing more than 65,000 hectares were already established.
Turning his attention to the matter of education in the country, President Quezon by virtue of Executive Order No. 19, dated February 19, 1936, created the National Council of Education, with Rafael Palma, former President of the University of the Philippines, as its first chairman. Funds retained from the early approved Residence Certificate Law were devoted to the maintenance of the public schools all over the nation and the opening of many more to meet the needs of the young people. Indeed, by this time there were already 6,511 primary schools; 1,039 intermediate schools; 133 secondary and special schools; and five junior colleges. The total number of pupils enrolled was 1,262,353, who were placed under the charge of 28,485 schools teachers. That year's appropriation for public education amounted to 14,566,850 pesos. The private institutions of learning, for their part, accommodated more than ninety seven thousand students, thus considerably aiding the government in solving the annual school crisis. To implement the pertinent constitutional provision, the Office of Adult Education was also created.
President Quezon initiated women's suffrage in the Philippines during the Commonwealth Era. As a result of the prolonged debate between the proponents of women's suffrage and their opponents, the Constitution finally provided that the issue be resolved by the women themselves in a plebiscite. If no less than 300,000 of them were to affirmatively vote in favor of the grant within two years, it would be deemed granted the country's women. Complying with this mandate, the government ordered a plebiscite to be held for the purpose on April 3, 1937.
Following a rather vigorous campaign, on the day of the plebiscite, the turnout of female voters was impressive. The affirmative votes numbered 447,725, as against 44,307 who opposed the grant.
Another constitutional provision to be implemented by President Quezon's administration dealt with the question of The Philippines' national language. Following a year's study, the Institute of the National Language – established in 1936 – recommended that Tagalog be adopted as the basis for the national language. The proposal was well received, considering that the Director – the first to be appointed – at the time, Jaime C. de Veyra, was an ethnic Visayan.
On December 1937, Quezon issued a proclamation approving the constitution made by the Institute and declaring that the adoption of the national language would take place two years hence. With the presidential approval, the Institute of National Language started to work on a grammar and dictionary of the language.
Council of State
In 1938, President Quezon enlarged the composition of the Council of State through Executive Order No. 44. This highest of advisory bodies to the President was henceforth to be composed of the President, the Vice-President, Senate President, House Speaker, Senate President pro tempore, House Speaker pro tempore, Majority Floor leader of both chambers of Congress, former Presidents of the Philippines, and some three to five prominent citizens.
1938 midterm election
Main article: Philippine legislative election, 1938
The Elections for the Second National Assembly were held on November 8, 1938, under a new law that allowed block voting which favored the governing Nacionalista Party. As expected, all the 98 seats of the National Assembly went to the Nacionalistas. José Yulo who was Quezon's Secretary of Justice from 1934 to 1938 was elected Speaker.
The Second National Assembly embarked on passing legislation strengthening the economy. Unfortunately the cloud of the Second World War loomed over the horizon. Certain laws passed by the First National Assembly were modified or repealed to meet existing realities. A controversial immigration law that set an annual limit of 50 immigrants per country which affected mostly Chinese and Japanese nationals escaping the Sino-Japanese War was passed in 1940. Since the law bordered on foreign relations it required the approval of the U.S. President which was nevertheless obtained. When the result of the 1939 census was published, the National Assembly updated the apportionment of legislative districts, which became the basis for the 1941 elections.
On August 7, 1939, the United States Congress enacted a law embodying the recommendations submitted by the Joint Preparatory Commission on Philippine Affairs. Because the new law required an amendment of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution, a plebiscite was held on August 24, 1939. The amendment was carried by 1,339,453 votes against 49,633.
Third official language
Quezon established the Institute of National Language (INL) to create a national language for the country. On December 30, 1937, President Quezon, through Executive order No. 134, officially declared Tagalog as the basis of the national language of the Philippines. The national language was compulsorily taught in schools for the 1940-1941 academic year. The National Assembly later enacted Law No. 570 raising the national language elaborated by the institute to the status of official language of the Philippines, at par with English and Spanish, effective July 4, 1946, upon the establishment of the Philippine Republic.
Main article: Philippine constitutional plebiscites, 1940
Coincident with the local elections for the 1940, another plebiscite was held this time to ratify the proposed amendments to the Constitution regarding the restoration of the bicameral legislature, the presidential term, which was to be fixed at four years with one re-election; and the establishment of an independent Commission on Elections. With the Nacionalista Party, which had proposed said amendment in their convention, working hard under the leadership of its party president, Speaker Jose Yulo, the amendments were overwhelmingly ratified by the electorate. Speaker Yulo and Assemblyman Dominador Tan traveled to the United States to obtain President Franklin D. Roosevelt's approval, which was given on December 2, 1940. Two days later President Quezon proclaimed the amendments.
Main article: Philippine presidential election, 1941
Quezon had originally been barred by the Philippine constitution from seeking re-election. However, in 1940, constitutional amendments were ratified allowing him to seek re-election for a fresh term ending in 1943. In the 1941 presidential elections, Quezon was re-elected over former SenatorJuan Sumulong with nearly 82% of the vote.
Second term (1941–1944)
War Cabinet 1941–1944
The outbreak of World War II and the Japanese invasion resulted in periodic and drastic changes to the government structure. Executive Order 390, December 22, 1941 abolished the Department of the Interior and established a new line of succession. Executive Order 396, December 24, 1941 further reorganized and grouped the cabinet, with the functions of Secretary of Justice assigned to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
|President||Manuel L. Quezon||1941–1944 (extended, 1943)|
|Vice President||Sergio Osmeña||1941–1944 (extended, 1943)|
|Secretary of Finance||José Abad Santos||December 30, 1941 – March 26, 1942|
|Secretary of Justice||José Abad Santos||March 26, 1942– May 2, 1942|
|Secretary of Finance, Agriculture, and Commerce||Andrés Soriano||March 26, 1942 – July 31, 1944|
|Secretary of National Defense, Public Works, Communications and Labor||Basilio Valdes||December 23, 1941 – August 1, 1944|
|Secretary of Public Instruction, Health, and Public Welfare||Sergio Osmeña||December 24, 1941 – August 1, 1944|
|Secretary to the President||Manuel Roxas||December 24, 1941– March 26, 1942|
|Arturo Rotor||June 13, 1942– August 1, 1944|
|Secretary to the Cabinet||Manuel Nieto||May 19, 1944 – August 1, 1944|
|Secretary without Portfolio||Andrés Soriano||March 2–26, 1942|
|Treasurer of the Philippines||Andrés Soriano||February 19, 1942 – March 26, 1942|
|Manuel Roxas||March 26, 1942 – May 8, 1942|
|Auditor-General||Jaime Hernández||December 30, 1941 – August 1, 1944|
|Resident Commissioner of the Philippines to the United States Congress||Joaquín Miguel Elizalde||December 30, 1941 – August 1, 1944 (given cabinet rank, May, 1942)|
|Secretary of Information and Public Relations||Carlos P. Rómulo||1943–1944|
The Sixth Annual Report of the United States High Commission to the Philippine Island to the President and Congress of the United States, Covering the Fiscal Year July 1, 1941 to June 30, 1942 Washington D.C. October 20, 1942
Executive Orders of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Manila, Bureau of Printing 1945
In a notable humanitarian act, Quezon, in cooperation with United States High CommissionerPaul V. McNutt, facilitated the entry into the Philippines of Jewish refugees fleeing fascist regimes in Europe. Quezon was also instrumental in promoting a project to resettle the refugees in Mindanao while taking on critics who were convinced by fascist propaganda that Jewish settlement is a threat to the country.
After the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II, he evacuated to Corregidor, where he was formally inaugurated for his second term, then the Visayas and Mindanao, and upon the invitation of the US government, was further evacuated to Australia and then to the United States, where he established the Commonwealth government in exile with headquarters in Washington, D.C.. There, he served as a member of the Pacific War Council, signed the declaration of the United Nations against the Axis Powers, and wrote his autobiography (The Good Fight, 1946).
To carry on the government duties in exile, President Quezon hired the entire floor of one of the wing of the Shoreham Hotel to accommodate his family and his office. On the other hand, the offices of the government were established at the quarters of the Philippine Resident Commissioner, Joaquin Elizalde. The latter was made a member of President's wartime Cabinet. Others likewise appointed were Brigadier-General Carlos P. Romulo, as Secretary of the Department of Information and Public Relations, and Jaime Hernandez as Auditor General.
On June 2, 1942, President Quezon addressed the United States House of Representatives, impressing upon them the vital necessity of relieving the Philippine front. Before the Senate, later, the Philippine President reiterated the same message and urged the senators to adopt the slogan "Remember Bataan". Despite his precarious state of health, President Quezon roamed the States to deliver timely and rousing speeches calculated to keep the Philippine war uppermost in the minds of the American nation.
Talks of post-war Philippines
On the occasion of his first birthday celebration in the United States, Manuel Quezon broadcast a radio message to the Philippine residents in Hawaii, who contributed to the celebration by purchasing four million pesos worth of World War II bonds. Further showing the Philippine government's cooperation with the war effort, Quezon officially offered the U.S. Army a Philippine infantry regiment, which was authorized by the U.S. Department of War to train in California. He also had the Philippine government acquire Elizalde's yacht, which, renamed Bataan and totally manned by the Philippine officers and crew, was donated to the United States for use in the war.
Early in November 1942, Quezon held conferences with President Roosevelt to work out a plan for the creation of a joint commission to study the economic conditions of post-war Philippines. Eighteen months later, the United States Congress would pass an Act creating the Philippine Rehabilitation Commission as an outcome of such talks between the two Presidents.
By 1943, the Philippine Government-in-exile was faced with a serious crisis. According to the 1935 Constitution, the official term of President Quezon was to expire on December 30, 1943 and Vice-President Sergio Osmeña would automatically succeed him in the Presidency. This eventuality was brought to the attention of President Quezon by Osmeña himself, who wrote the former to this effect. Aside from replying to this letter informing Vice-President Osmeña that it would not be wise and prudent to effect any such change under the circumstances, President Quezon issued a press release along the same line. Osmeña then requested the opinion of U.S. Attorney GeneralHomer Cummings, who upheld Osmeña's view as more in keeping with the law. Quezon, however, remained adamant. He accordingly sought President Roosevelt's decision. The latter choose to remain aloof from the controversy, suggesting instead that the Philippine officials themselves solve the impasse.
A cabinet meeting was then convened by President Quezon. Aside from Quezon and Osmeña, others present in this momentous meeting were the resident Commissioner Joaquin Elizalde, Brig. Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, and his cabinet secretaries, Andres Soriano and Jaime Hernandez. Following a spirited discussion, the Cabinet supported Elizalde's opinion favoring the decision, and announced his plan to retire in California.
After the meeting, however, Vice-President Osmeña approached the President and broached his plan to ask the American Congress to suspend the constitutional provisions for presidential succession until after the Philippines should have been liberated. This legal way out was agreeable to President Quezon and the members of his Cabinet. Proper steps were taken to carry out the proposal. Sponsored by Senator Tydings and Congressman Bell, the pertinent Resolution was unanimously approved by the Senate on a voice vote and passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 181 to 107 on November 10, 1943.
Quezon suffered from tuberculosis and spent his last years in hospitals, such as at a Miami Beach Army hospital in April, 1944. That summer, he was at a "cure cottage" in Saranac Lake, New York, where he died on August 1, 1944. He was initially buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His body was later carried by the USS Princeton and re-interred in Manila at the Manila North Cemetery on July 17, 1946 before being moved to Quezon City within the monument at the Quezon Memorial Circle on August 19, 1979.
For more interesting stories, please check out our latest book, “FilipiKnow: Amazing Facts & Figures Every Pinoy Must Know.”
Other than the national heroes, perhaps no other figure in Philippine history receives as much reverence as Manuel Quezon. Loved by his supporters, criticised yet begrudgingly admired by his rivals, Quezon undoubtedly stands as a Filipino leader of the highest caliber.
What better way then, as tribute to the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth, than to know more about his life, warts and all (he was human after all). Read on and get to know the man whose name would be forever etched in the annals of Philippine history (along with countless streets and buildings).
Table of Contents
15. He was a bright but lazy student.
“Bright but lazy” best described Quezon during his schoolboy years, which was ironic since both of his parents were elementary teachers. In fact, Quezon was known to his classmates and teachers as the “gulerato” or bluffer.
To his credit, Quezon had to work at various odd jobs when he resumed his study of law after the Philippine Revolution ended.
14. He adopted someone’s name into his own.
The “Antonio” in Manuel Luis Quezon Antonio y Molina came from someone who happened to be his benefactor. This Antonio was responsible for feeding and housing Quezon during the time when he was still struggling to make ends meet. For his generosity, a grateful Quezon adopted the former’s name as his own.
13. He made his wife cry with a prank.
Courting his future wife Aurora, a young Manuel Quezon decided to put her love for him to the test one day.
Going to her house, he wore orange blossoms around his neck which Aurora noticed and asked why. He then answered nonchalantly that he had just been married. Right then and there, Quezon realized that Aurora really loved him when she burst out in tears. They eloped in Hong Kong in 1918.
12. He was a gifted pianist.
One of Quezon’s lesser-known talents involved his mastery of the piano, as evidenced by the time he single-handedly taught a trans-Atlantic ship’s orchestra how to play the Philippine national anthem.
The orchestra had just finished playing the Polish national anthem but didn’t know the Philippine one. Quezon—although not having played the piano for years—taught it to them by tapping out the tune with just one finger, amazing his co-passengers which included the Polish piano great Jan Paderewski.
Coincidentally, the remains of Quezon and Paderewski would be later placed side-by-side in Arlington Cemetery.
11. He was a brilliant lawyer.
Even if he never became president, Manuel Quezon would still probably have prospered as a lawyer.
After landing fourth-place in the bar exams, Quezon established his law office in his home province of Tayabas where he earned $500 per month. However, he gave up his lucrative private practice and became a local prosecuting attorney for $75.
He achieved national fame for prosecuting—and winning—a much-publicized case against prominent American lawyer Francis Berry who was accused of illicit land transactions. At the time, it was unheard of for a Filipino to prosecute an American.
Quezon himself would credit the publicity generated by this case for allowing him to win the governorship of Tayabas in 1906, a stepping stone towards his involvement in national politics.
10. He initially refused to learn English.
An officer in the Philippine Revolution and subsequent Philippine-American War, Quezon, like many of the Filipinos, felt betrayed by the Americans whom they considered to be allies against the Spanish, so much so that he refused to learn English after the rebellion died down.
The turning point came when an American general named Harry Bandholtz befriended him and even offered to pay him to learn English. Although Quezon stopped taking lessons when Bandholtz was assigned elsewhere, he again studied the language when he became Philippine Commissioner in Washington in 1909, becoming proficient in a relatively short amount of time.
9. He almost fought two duels…twice.
Due to his fiery personality and propensity for scathing remarks, it’s no wonder Quezon had his fair share of altercations, including nearly fighting two duels in his lifetime.
The first one stemmed from an incident wherein Quezon, then a delegate to the first Philippine Assembly in 1908, was informed of a newspaper article criticizing him. Carrying the newspaper, he rushed into the press office and stuffed it into the editor’s mouth. The editor—a man named Salazar—then challenged Quezon to a duel, to which the latter replied “to hell with you and your duel,” and then went into the office’s backroom where he told the pressmen not to work for such “scoundrels.”
The next day, a repentant Quezon found himself the target of all newspapers. However, he was offered solace by Governor General Smith who, being a temperamental Irishman, noted that being criticized by the press was better than being ignored by them.
The second came from political rival Dominador Gomez, an assemblyman and nephew of Mariano Gomez (one of the priests in Gomburza) whose character Quezon criticized before the US Senate. Gomez—himself a fiery rhetorican—challenged Quezon to duel which they scheduled sometime in 1915. Thankfully, it was called off after a mutual friend succeeded in calming them down.
8. He was a talented card player.
Quezon also had a penchant for the game of cards. According to some accounts, he was reputedly one of the best poker players in his lifetime.
Later on, he took up the game of bridge which quickly became his favorite pastime. In fact, one of his regular partners in card games was Dwight Eisenhower who was also known as the “Bridge Wizard of Manila.”
7. He made his own clothes.
By now, we know that Manuel Quezon liked to dress in style. However, he didn’t just stop at wearing elegant clothes; he actually made his own.
Quezon designed an outfit that could be described as a “semi-uniform of high russet riding breeches, a soft white shirt, and a high-buttoned military tunic with a high collar.” On the other hand, he didn’t always dress to the nines; when receiving visitors at his home, he was said to wear just an open polo shirt. Other times, he received them wearing a barong tagalog, which he claimed felt very comfortable.
6. He was an incorrigible playboy.
Way back in his youth, Quezon already had the makings of a Don Juan.
It is said that some time after he received his college degree in Manila and went back to his hometown, he had a romance with the mistress of a local priest with whom he had a quarrel with. During the same period, he also had a dalliance with the girl of a Spanish civil guard officer whom he subsequently assaulted, earning him prison time.
Even marriage could not supposedly extinguish his love for the fairer sex. The late president Diosdado Macapagal recounted that while working as a staff at Malacañang Palace, he would often hear Aurora shouting and searching for her husband, not knowing that Quezon was with a paramour onboard a yacht out at sea.
Quezon also joked that he used to have a moustache but had to shave it because it “tickled the girls too much.”
5. He paid MacArthur $500,000.
One huge controversy that erupted during World War II involved Quezon giving American general Douglas MacArthur $500,000.
Although the official statement said that it was “in recognition of outstanding service to the Commonwealth of the Philippines,” much has been speculated as to the real nature of the payment, as well as its significance.
Was it a bribe to allow Quezon to leave the US or was it his way of practicing “utang na loob?” Did the money influence MacArthur to liberate the Philippines? Historians have been debating those points up until now.
4. He tried to secure a neutrality pact with the Japanese.
Even before World War II began, Quezon was already mindful of the Japanese intent to invade the Philippines due to its natural resources. So in June 1938, he secretly went to Tokyo to negotiate a neutrality pact.
Of course, word of his secret trip got out and irked General MacArthur who had been selected by Quezon to beef up the islands’ defenses. The incident soured the two men’s relationship for a time.
When war did break out, Quezon repeatedly expressed his frustrations at the lack of American support in the Philippines and its policy of assisting Britain first. He was known to have uttered “Que demonio! How typical of America to writhe in anguish at the fate of a distant cousin, Europe, while a daughter, the Philippines, is being raped in the back room!”
During those times he also thought of pleading the US for independence so that the Philippines could at least announce neutrality and end the war.
In spite of his taste for high-class clothes and foreign junkets, the Castilian Quezon was truly a president for the masses. Numerous stories and anecdotes have been attributed to him dropping in unannounced on government offices to conduct surprise inspections. He was also known to mingle and eat lunch with common folk and listen to their problems.
Twice, he ordered the immediate release of two inmates, one of whom was sentenced to serve a month in prison for urinating in public. The other one, a cart driver living on 15 cents a day, was convicted for making bombs. Regarding his crime Quezon quipped, “No wonder you are a bomb-thrower, no one can live on fifteen cents a day” and had him released.
Quezon’s empathy for the masses stemmed from his own experience; coming from a family that was not really well-off but had enough to go by, Quezon—just like his wife—connected with the plight of the lower classes. During his private practice, he worked for the poor pro bono while placing exorbitant fees on his wealthy clients. In fact, he considered himself to be “almost a communist.”
2. He was a bureaucrat’s worst nightmare.
Aside from making unannounced inspections, Quezon’s legendary impulsiveness dictated that he wanted the job done immediately, or else.
A story goes that Quezon once threatened a group of legislators who weren’t doing their work quickly that he would send a personal letter to the newspapers condemning them as incompetent.
And if Quezon did not like the work done, a fiery admonishment on the hapless target was sure to follow, along with a generous serving of his favorite curse word “pun—a.”
1. He was a bonafide statesman.
Although he was a superb politician, Quezon realized the importance of a united government and people in its struggle for independence, so he did his very best to be as non-partisan as possible.
He hated nepotism; once, he expelled his own nephew along with the latter’s army cadet group after they had been convicted of hazing, ignoring his wife’s pleas for mercy and stating that it should serve as a lesson to everyone in the military.
The nephew and his fellow cadets were eventually allowed their commissions—but only after serving a year-and-a-half as privates. When the same nephew had been assigned to guard the Palace and Quezon discovered that his wife had been feeding him in the kitchen, he ordered her to stop or else feed the rest of the guards as well—all two hundred of them.
He also one-upped his wealthy patrons who had sponsored his campaign for presidency and who apparently wanted concessions. After winning the elections, he called them for a meeting, gave his thanks, and stated that he did not expect them to ask for any favors since they were far too honorable to engage something as dirty as bribery.
Suffice to say, those in attendance were too dumbfounded to say anything.
Did you know?
Manuel Quezon also played a major role in saving more than a thousand Jews. Read on and find out how the Philippine president helped the Jewish people in their darkest moments…
About the Author: When he isn’t deploring the sad state of Philippine politics, Marcus Vaflor likes to skulk around the Internet for new bits of information which he can weave into a somewhat-average list you might still enjoy.
Doronila, A. (2011). Manuel Luis Quezon—a strongman Filipinos need. Philippine Daily Inquirer. [online] Available at: http://opinion.inquirer.net/10215/manuel-luis-quezon%E2%80%94a-strongman-filipinos-need [Accessed 12 Aug. 2014].
Flores, W. (2002). Sex, Lies & Public Service. The Philippine Star. [online] Available at: http://www.philstar.com/sunday-life/173399/sex-lies-public-service [Accessed 12 Aug. 2014].
Gunther, J. (1939). Inside Asia. 1st ed. Harper & Brothers.
Holland, M. (2001). Eisenhower Between the Wars: The Making of a General and Statesman. 1st ed. Greenwood Publishing Group, p.61.
Warren, J. (1980). $500,000 from Philippine leader may have influenced MacArthur. The Ledger, [online] p.12A. Available at: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1346&dat=19800130&id=u4EsAAAAIBAJ&sjid=0_oDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6968,4861484 [Accessed 12 Aug. 2014].
Featured image courtesy of “Manuel Luis Quezon” by Edgardo J. Angara and Sonia P. Ner.