Remembering President Manuel Luis Quezon
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - August 18, 2019 - 12:00am

The whole nation remembers President Manuel Luis Quezon today. He had a colorful personality, eloquent like Marcos and at times abrasive like Duterte. He loved women as Erap did, but loved his country more like no other. He prefers Filipinos like Garcia did, and was an articulate, passionate diplomat like Macapagal. He was a forceful Spanish-speaking and English-speaking statesman, but promoted Pilipino as our national language. He accomplished a lot in a limited time.

Today is the 141st birth anniversary of President Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina, best remembered for his famous quote “I prefer a government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by the Americans”. The man to whom our own Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. deferred and made sacrifices. Quezon Province, Quezon City, the MLQ University, and many bridges, avenues and buildings were named after him. His entire life and career was spent in the service of our country and people. Because of MLQ, Israel welcomes Filipinos today without a visa. He helped the Jews when they were persecuted during Hitler's holocaust.

MLQ's immediate predecessor, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was the rich and powerful kingpin of Cavite, the founder of Magdalo (the rival faction of Magdiwang, led by Andres Bonifacio) and the undisputed leader of the revolution against Spain. Aguinaldo ran against Quezon on September 16, 1935, in the first ever national elections of the Philippine Commonwealth. MLQ won with 68% of the total votes, against Aguinaldo's less than 18%, and Gregorio Aglipay's less than 15%. MLQ's vice president, our own Don Sergio Osmeña Sr., got almost 90% of the votes. MLQ and Osmeña were classmates in UST Law. In the 1903 Bar, Osmeña placed and MLQ fourth.

In the 1941 elections, MLQ got 82% against Sumulong while Osmeña was elected almost unopposed with more votes than MLQ. On December 31, 1943, MLQ’s term supposedly expired and Osmeña should have taken over. For the sake of unity and because of the Japanese occupation, Osmeña allowed MLQ to hold over until he died of TB in Saranac Lake, New York, on August 1, 1944. Osmeña finally took over. Quezon was known for his advocacy for land reform, the development of Mindanao, the promotion of our national language, woman's suffrage, and reorganizing the government.

MLQ respected Cebuanos a lot because of his close friendship and political alliance with Osmeña. In 1935, MLQ appointed Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco as secretary of Public Works and Communications. In 1941, he named Osmeña as secretary of Public Instruction, Public Health and Social Welfare (combining Education, Health, and Social Welfare). He also named Manuel Roxas executive secretary and Carlos P. Romulo as secretary of Information and Public Relations. One of MLQ’s talents was his keen ability of choosing the best Filipinos for positions of leadership and public service.

MLQ was a son of two public school teachers. His father, Lucio, was a Chinese mestizo, formerly a guardia civil, and his mother, Ma Dolores, was a Spanish mestiza. MLQ was good-looking and was linked to many women. He married his first cousin Aurora Aragon in whose honor the province of Aurora (where Baler, MLQ's hometown, is located) was named. MLQ had four children, and his only surviving heir, Manolo Quezon is a writer of note. MLQ was a great president.

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