Sunday, April 26, 2009


Manuel Luis Quezon

Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina (August 19, 1878 in Baler, Tayabas, Philippines – August 1, 1944 in Saranac Lake, New York, United States) was the first Filipino president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines under U.S. occupation rule in the early period of the 20th century. He is also considered by most Filipinos to have been the second President, after Emilio Aguinaldo (whose administration did not receive international recognition at the time and is not considered the first Philippine president by the United States). He has the distinction of being the first Senate President elected to the presidency, the first president elected through a national election, and was also the first incumbent to secure re-election (for a partial second term, later extended, due to amendments to the 1935 Constitution). He is known as the "Father of the National Language".

Early life and career

Quezon, was born in Baler, Tayabas (now found at Aurora). His parents were Lucio Quezon and Maria Dolores Molina. While serving as aide-de-camp to Emilio Aguinaldo (he had been a Lieutenant, then a Major, in the Bataan sector during the retreat and surrender in 1901), he fought with Filipino nationalists in the Philippine-American War.

He received his primary education from his mother and school teacher in their home town) and tutors (his father from Paco, Manila, was a Sergeant in the Spanish Army), and later boarded at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he completed secondary school. After the war, he completed Law at the University of Santo Tomas and passed the bar examinations in 1903, placing fourth. He worked for a time as a clerk and surveyor, entering government service as an appointed fiscal for Mindoro and later Tayabas. He became a councilor and was elected governor of Tayabas in 1906 as an independent. In 1907, he was elected to the first Philippine Assembly, where he served as majority floor leader and chairman of the committee on appropriations. From 1909-1916, 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.

Senate presidency and independence missions

He was elected senator in 1916 and became Senate President, serving continuously until 1935 (19 years). He headed the first Independence Mission to the U.S. Congress in 1919, and brought home the Tydings-McDuffie Independence Law in 1934.

While in the United States, he personally met Napoleon Hill and was inspired to continue seeking the Independence of the Philippines.


In 1935 Quezon won the Philippine's 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 Bishop Gregorio Aglipay. Quezon was inaugurated in November, 1935. He is recognized as the second President of the Philippines. However, in January 2008, Congressman 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.

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 Senator Juan Sumulong with nearly 82% of the vote.

In a notable humanitarian act, Quezon, in cooperation with United States High Commissioner Paul 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.

Administration, cabinet, and Supreme Court appointments 1935-1941

President Quezon was given the power under the reorganization act, to appoint the first all-Filipino Supreme Court of the 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 Jose 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.

• Ramon Avanceña – 1935 (Chief Justice) – 1935-1941
• Jose Abad Santos – 1935
• Claro M. Recto 1935 – 1936
• Jose P. Laurel – 1935
• Jose Abad Santos (Chief Justice) – 1941-1942


After the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II he evacuated to Corregidor, 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 (Good Fight, 1946).

Quezon suffered from tuberculosis and spent his last years in 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 before being moved to Quezon City within the monument at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

Quezon was married to his first cousin, Aurora Aragón Quezon, and had four children: María Aurora "Baby" Quezon (1919-1949), María Zeneida "Nini" Quezon-Avancena (1921-), Luisa Corazón Paz "Nenita" Quezon (1923-1923) and Manuel L. "Nonong" Quezon, Jr. (1926-1998). His grandson, Manuel L. "Manolo" Quezon III (1970-), a prominent writer and political pundit, was named after him.

In their column on the pronunciation of names, The Literary Digest wrote "The President and his wife pronounce the name keh'-zon. The pronunciation keh-son', although widely heard in the Philippine Islands, is incorrect." (Charles Earle Funk, What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)

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 Philippines.


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


Tomb of President Manuel Quezon, inside Quezon Memorial, Quezon City.

"My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins."

"Social Justice is far more beneficial when applied as a matter of sentiment, and not of law."

“I would rather have a country run like hell by Filipinos than a country run like heaven by the Americans, because however bad a Filipino government might be, it can always be improved.”

"Pray for me so that I can return to the Philippines. I feel so weak that I'm afraid I cannot make it"

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