Manuel Luis Quezón y Molina (August 19, 1878 – August 1, 1944) served as president of the Commonwealth of the Philippinesfrom 1935 to 1944. He was the first Filipino to head a government of the Philippines (as opposed to other historical states), and is considered by most Filipinos to have been the second president of the Philippines, after Emilio Aguinaldo (1897–1901). Quezón was the first Senate president elected to the presidency, the first president elected through a national election and 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”. During his presidency, Quezón tackled the problem of landless peasants in the countryside.
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Other major decisions include reorganization of the islands’ military defense, approval of recommendation for government reorganization, 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 an exiled government 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 City Memorial Circle. Early life and career
Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina
Quezón, was born in Baler in the district of El Príncipe (which later became Baler, Tayabas, now Baler, Aurora). His Spanish parents were Lucio Quezón and María Dolores Molina. 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 1898, his father Lucio and his brother Pedro were ambushed and killed by armed men while on their way home to Baler from Nueva Ecija. Some historians believe they were murdered by bandits who also robbed their money, while others believe the killings could have been related to their loyalty to the Spanish government. In 1899, Quezón cut short his law studies at the University of Santo Tomás in Manila to participate in the struggle for independence against the United States, led by Emilio Aguinaldo. During the Philippine-American War he was an ayuda-de-campo 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, Quezón 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 for Mindoro and later Tayabas. He became a councilor and was elected governor of Tayabas in 1906 after a hard-fought election. Congressional career
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 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. Senate
Quezón returned to Manila in 1916 to be elected into the Philippine Senate and later became Senate President, serving continuously until 1935 (19 years). He headed the first Independent Mission to the U. S. Congress in 1919 and secured the passage of theTydings-McDuffie Independence Law in 1934. In 1922, Quezón became the leader of the Nacionalista Party. alliance Personal life
Quezón was married to his first cousin, Aurora Aragón Quezón, on December 17, 1918. The couple had four children: María Aurora “ Baby” Quezón (1919–1949), María Zeneida “ Nini” Quezón-Avancena (born 1921), Luisa Corazón Paz “ Nenita” Quezón (1923–1923) and Manuel L. “ Nonong” Quezón, Jr. (1926–1998). His grandson, Manuel L. “ Manolo” Quezón III (born 1970), a prominent writer and current undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, was named after him. First Term (1935–1941)
First inauguration of Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon at the steps of the Legislative Building in Manila on November 15, 1935. Official car of Quezón, a 1937Chrysler Airflow (restored by Alfred Motorworks & Alfred Nobel R. Peres), atBaler, Aurora. In 1935, Quezón 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. Quezón 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. Social justice program
Pledged to improve the lot of the Philippine working class and seeking the inspiration from the social doctrines of Leo XIII and 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 by law to take cognizance disputes, under certain conditions, minimizing in this wise the inconveniences of the strikes and lockouts. A minimum wage law was enacted, as well as a law providing for a maximum of eight hours daily work and a tenancy law for the Filipino farmers.
Another effective measure was the creation of the position of Public Defenders to help indigent 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. Economy
Upon the advent of the Commonwealth, the economic condition of our nation was fortunately 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 exemption of tobacco, they were all in excellent 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. President Manuel L. Quezón signing documents.
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 exemption 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 and which, if attended to, might jeopardize the very prosperity then being enjoyed. For this purpose, the National Economic Council was created by law. 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 contemplation of the future independent Republic of the Philippines.
Again, a law reorganized the National Development Company; the National Rice and Corn Company (NARIC) was created by law 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 our economic welfare. Agrarian reform
When the Commonwealth Government was established, President Quezón 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, Quezón 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 Quezón to placate both landlords and tenants pleased either.
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. Educational reforms
Turning his attention to the matter of education in the country, President Quezón 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 likewise created. Women’s suffrage
President Quezón 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. Quezon broadcasting to his countrymen in Manila, from Washington, D. C., April 5. For the first 25 minutes on air, Quezon discussedwomen’s suffrage and urged that the 10-year independence program be limited to a shorter period, 4/5/1937. 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. National language
Another constitutional provision to be implemented by President Quezón’s administration dealt with the question of The Philippines’ national language. Following a year’s study, the Institute of the National Language – established on 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, Quezón 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 Quezón 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, 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. Jose Yulo who was Quezón’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. 1939 plebiscite
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
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C. A. Dewitt and Manuel Quezón.
On April 1, 1940, President Quezón officially authorized the printing and publication of the grammar and dictionary prepared by the Institute of the National Language. Likewise, the Chief Executive decreed that the national language was to be compulsorily taught in all the schools during the forthcoming academic term. For its part, the National Assembly 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. 1940 plebiscite
Main article: Philippine constitutional plebiscite, 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 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. 1941 presidential election
Main article: Philippine presidential election, 1941
Quezón 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, Quezón was re-elected over
former Senator Juan Sumulong with nearly 82% of the vote. Second term (1941–1944)
President Quezón, with some of his family members, are welcomed in Washington, D. C. by President Roosevelt. 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
Washington, D. C. Representatives of 26 United Nations at Flag day ceremonies in the White House to reaffirm their pact. Seated, left to right: Dr. Francisco Castillo Najera, Ambassador of Mexico; President Roosevelt; Manuel Quezon, President of the Philippine Islands; and Secretary of State Cordell Hull. On the occasion of his first birthday celebration in the United Philippines States, President Quezon broadcast as 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, President 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, President 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. Death
Quezón 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 on July 17, 1946 before being moved to Quezon Citywithin the monument at the Quezon Memorial Circle on August 19, 1979.