Manuel L. Quezon
Manuel Luis Quezon was the first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.He became Tayabas province governor before being elected member of representative in the year 1907. In 1909, he was chosen commissioner for the Philippines, entitled to speak, but not vote, in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his years in Washington, he fought for a quick grant of liberty by the U.S., which transpired in 1935. His vice president then was Sergio Osmena.
Schorlars describe his leadership as forcefull and vigorous. He was often referred to as the "Star of Baler" and has always been an inspiration and guiding ideal of many of the Filipinos.
Life and Education
Quezon was born in Balerin the province known then as Tayabas, on August 19, 1878. His parents were Lucio Quezon and Maria Dolores Molina.He was married to Aurora Aragon, they been gifted with 4 children.
During his childhood, he displayed intelligence and leadership qualities. He was always at the top of his class and finish his studies with majors. He took his secondary education in Colegio de San Juan de Letran (1892) where he also finished bachelor of arts in 1894. He took up bachelor of laws in the University of Sto. Tomas and became a lawyer in 1903, where he was in 4th place in the bar examination.
He was a Major in Philippine Army (1898-1901). Spanish abuses and cruelty to Filipinos made Quezon decide to join the forces of General Emilio Aguinaldo. He went to the mountains and joined warfare of Emilio Aguinaldo against the Spanish.
When the Americans came, Quezon found himself fighting against the Americans, the new conquerors. He was captured, he decided to pursue his studies until he finished his law.
Positions Held and Public Life
His career began in Mindoro where he served as a provincial fiscal, he also became fiscal of Tayabas. He resigned from his post, feeling that he could serve the country as practicing lawyer. In legislative post, he became municipal councilor of Tayabas in 1906, after he ran for governor and won (1906-1907). He was a member and Majority floor leader of the first Philippine Assembly and also became chairman on Committee onAppropriations (1907-1909). He was elected as the first president of the Senate (August 29,1916 - November 15, 1935). He also elected senator of the Fifth Senatorial District.
Being the First President of the COmmonwealth
In the year 1935, Manuel L. Quezon was elected first pesident of the Philippine Commonwealth. As the president he was very strong factor in the peaceful adjustments between the US and the Philippines.
One of the great things and policies he implemented is his saying "more government and less politics". He created a body, the Government Survey Board to lay down reforms on the administration of the country.
It was his plan to effect changes in the three branches of the government, to extend the civil service rulls to all offices, agencies or branches of the government, to classify and standardize government positions and to appoint American advisers on education, taxation, military affairs and others.After seeing the plight of the common people, he spearheaded social justice. He said "Social Justice means justice for all, laborers, and employers, the poor and the rich alike."
To protect the country from invasion, the National Assembly passed the National Defence Act. The Philippine Army was establish to train, organize and maintain an army that will protect the country from hostility.
After thirty five years of English language taught in the school, he prepared the creation of the Institute of National Language. On December 30, 1937, through executive Order No. 134, the president proclaimed Tagalog as the basis of national language.It is one of the greatest things, modern society attributed to him.
He improved trade and commerce then. The Philippines continued to export products that the country had been exporting before the Commonwealth. His administration retained American interest in improving transportation and communication. Road and bridges were constructed to make transportation faster and more efficient.
His administration was committed not only to social justice but also to economic enrichment. He endorsed the creation of the National Economic Council whose primary duty was to be an adviser of Government on economic and financial problems, including the promotions of industries, diversification of agricultural products.
Public welfare was not the least neglected by his administration. Relief agencies and health centers were strengthened to upgrade the health and welfare of the people.
Other reforms were: granting of women suffrage; the upgrading of census, encourage of arts and letters.
Outbreak of the Second World War
He was elected to the position in 1941 and was to take his second oath of office on December 31, 1941 when the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor on December 8, thus starting the war. Quezon was forced to take his oath of office in the tunnel of Malinta in Corregidor where the Philippine Government was temporarily housed.
When Manila fell into Japanese hands, Pres. Quezon stayed with Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Corregidor. From there, when the situation became unbearable, he and some government officials evacuated to Australia and eventually proceeded to the US.
He stayed in the US while the country was under the Japanese regime with Jose P. Laurel acting president, as appointed by Japanese.
The Americans were soon back and driving away the Japanese from the Philippines and other Asian countries they had conquered. Meanwhile, President Quezon was confined at an army hospital in Washington, DC because of lingering illness, tuberculosis. He died on August 1, 1944.
An Able Leader and Statesman
Quezon is one of the ablest leaders the Philippines has ever had. Among his greatest achievements were the creation of many government offices and executives departments, the development of the National Language, the establishment of a more independent judiciary and his work towards Philippine Independence which was actually granted by the Americans on July 4, 1946.
To Quezon is attributed the statement “I would rather have government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by Americans.”
Quezon was married to Aurora Aragon Quezon by whom he had three children – Ma. Aurora (Baby), Zenaida (Nini) and Manuel Jr. (Nonong).
Considered as the “Father of Philippine Independence,” Manuel Luis Quezon now belongs to the ages.
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