Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ilocano Presidents - Ramon Magsaysay

Ramon Magsaysay is best remembered of his simplicity and humility, and his concern to the Filipino masses of their importance and dignity.

He was born on August 31, 1907 in Iba, Zambales to Exequiel Magsaysay and Perfecta del Fierro.

He took pre-law in the University of the Philippines but later shifted to engineering, working as a chauffeur to support himself. Due to illness, he did not finish the course. Eventually, he enrolled in Jose Rizal College and took Commerce. He graduated in 1931 and started immediately working in Try Tran Bus Company in Manila. At the time the company was losing money, but after Magsaysay had introduced new working methods and had taken measures against corrupt employees, the company started to be profitable and he became the general manager. He first met his future wife, Luz Banzon, at the office of Try Tran, when she was picking up the payment for a bus company that her father had sold to Try Tran. They married on June 10, 1933.

During World War II, he joined the motor pool of the 31st Infantry Division of the Army as a captain. He later formed the Western Luzon Guerilla Forces against the Japanese. He still maintained the rank of a Captain when the American forces liberated the Philippines in early 1945 although he commanded by then 12,000 men. He had refused to promote himself, but the American command made him a Major. At the end of the war he was appointed Military Governor of Zambales, inaugurated on February 4, 1945.

He entered politics and was elected to the Philippine House of Congress on April 23 1946. He was chosen by Pres. Roxas to head the Philippine Committee on Guerilla Affairs in Washington, D.C. to secure the passage of the Roger's Bill, that gave benefits to Filipino veterans. He was re-elected as a congressman on 1949.

During the administration of Pres. Quirino, Magsaysay was appointed as the Secretary of National Defense to deal with the communist guerillas. He used his knowledge in guerilla warfare and waged the most succesful anti-guerilla campaign. His methods included the utilizing the soldiers to outreach the outlying, provincial communities. It was during his term as Defense secretary that the military gained respect from the people.

Due to his good performance, he was convinced by many to run for presidency to continue his fight against the communist and to established a government for the people. He ran in 1953 against incumbent Quirino and overwhelmingly won. He wore Barong Tagalog during his inauguration, a first for a Filipino president.

As president, he was a close friend and supporter of the United States and a vocal spokesman against communism during the Cold War. He led the foundation of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization also known as the Manila Pact of 1954, that aimed to defend South East Asia, South Asia and the Southwestern Pacific from communism. He was also known for his integrity and strength of character.

During his term, he made Malacañáng Palace literally a "house of the people", opening its gates to the public. He believed the importance of the common Filipino people and their right to live in liberty and happiness. Thus he earned the title, "Champion of the Masses".

His term was aborted with his death. During his return from an official visit in Cebu, his plane crashed in Mt. Manunggal on March 17, 1957. During his burial on March 22, 1957, an estimated 2 million people attended.

As a legacy, the Ramon Magsaysay Award was formed in his honor. This is the Asian equivalent of the prestigious Nobel Prize. Many towns were named after him. These are the towns in Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, and Davao del Sur.

Ramon Magsaysay - an Ilocano pride. His great spirit, his shown dedication to the Filipino people, and his example of high quality leadership will continue as an inspiration.

Ilocano Presidents -Elpidio Quirino

Elpidio Quirino was the sixth president of the Philippines, the second of the third republic.

Born on November 16, 1890 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur to Mariano Quirino And Gregoria Rivera. He spent his childhood in Aringay, La Union. He entered Vigan High School and later transferred to Manila and worked as junior computer in the Bureau of Lands and as a property clerk in the Manila police department. He graduated from Manila High School in 1911 and also passed the civil service examination first grade.

He obtained his law degree in University of the Philippines in 1915. He was elected as a congressman from 1919 to 1925, then as a senator from 1925 to 1931. He then became as Secretary of Finance and Secretary of the Interior of the Commonwealth Government. He was a member of the Philippine Independence mission to Washington, D.C., for the passing of the Tydings-McDuffie Act in the US Congress that set the date of Philippine indepence in 1945.

When World War II broke, he became a guerilla leader and was captured by the Japanese and imprisoned him. He suffered the execution of his wife, and three of his five children.

After the Philippine liberation, he continued his public service. He became Senate President Pro-Tempore and later elected as vice-president in 1946. Quirino became president on April 17, 1948, two days after the death of Manuel Roxas and continued the latter's unexpired term. The next year, he became a president in his own right by winning the presidential election.

His administration faced a serious threat by the communists Huks. He declared amnesty to the Huks and made some negotiation with the leader. The negotiation broke when the Huks was not satisfied of their demand of reforms.

Another problems his administration faced was the economy, poverty and declining credibility of the government. He constructed progrmas to resolved these. The Quirino-Foster Agreement in 1950 provided $200 million loan to the country from the United States. He also introduced the policy of economic nationalism to promote local products. To boost agriculture, his government created the Agricultural Credit Cooperative Financing Administration (ACCFA) which extended loans to farmers and facilitated agricultural equipments. To restore the faith of the people to the government, he conducted weekly broadcast at Malacañang to inform the people of the activities of the government. To help the poor and the needy, the President's Action Committee on Social Amelioration (PACSA) was created. The government also approved the Minimum Wage Law who set the daily wage of laborers, teachers and other public employees.

He ran for re-election in 1953, but lossed to Ramon Magsaysay.

He retired to private life after his loss. He died of heart attack in February 29, 1958.

As a legacy, the formed province carved out from Nueva Vizcaya was named after him. Towns in Ilocos Sur, Isabela and Sultan Kudarat (Pres. Quirino) is also his namesake.