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The brains of Osmeña Sr. and the heart of Magsaysay

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - April 6, 2021 - 12:00am

If we are looking for a great president in 2022, we should learn from our experiences, and need to look back at the qualities of our 16 presidents from Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo to Rodrigo Duterte. If we continue to ignore the bitter lessons of our history, we shall be condemned to repeat the grandiose mistakes of our forefathers.

The first president, Aguinaldo, did not have any formal education or military training. He rose to become general and president at age 28 because he was the son of a rich ilustrado family in Cavite, and he was a daring, courageous, and very charismatic leader. But he caused the death of two great Filipinos, Andres Bonifacio and Gen. Antonio Luna. He ran for president against Manuel L. Quezon or MLQ in 1935 but was defeated resoundingly. MLQ was brilliant, aggressive, and nationalistic. He was a passionate advocate for Philippine independence, social justice, and the one who advocated for Tagalog to be our national language. He should have been succeeded by our Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. when Quezon died while in office. But the Japanese invaded us and installed Jose P. Laurel as third president. He was very brilliant too, a former congressman, senator, delegate to the Constitutional Convention and Supreme Court associate justice. He was the father of Vice President Doy Laurel and Senator Sotero Laurel.

President Osmeña was the fourth, he should have been the third president. But he was very laid-back, too meek and lacking the passion and aggressiveness of Quezon. He was, however, very brainy and honest, humble and low-key. Osmeña was defeated by Manuel Roxas who was very much younger but very assertive. Roxas was defeated by Osmeña in a clean NP party convention, He bolted NP and founded the LP and won by a few thousand votes in the narrowest margin in all of history. Elpidio Quirino, the vice president, took over when Roxas died in office. The Quirino administration was too besmirched by graft and in no time, his own defense secretary, Ramon Magsaysay or RM, bolted the LP, became the NP standard bearer and won over his boss. RM, a very honest, humble, and compassionate man, died in a plane crash in Cebu at the age of 49. He was the most beloved president until today.

Bohol's pride from Talibon, Carlos P. Garcia, former congressman, senator, and vice president was married to Inday Lilang Dimataga from Lapu-Lapu City. He was also very honest and very hardworking but was also fun-loving. He was an expert ballroom dancer who could dance the tango and cha-cha. He was also a master of chess. He was a Visayan poet, orator, and singer. Garcia was defeated by his vice president, an LP, Disodado Macapagal, who was also defeated by a former LP turned NP, Ferdinand  Marcos. Marcos destroyed the two-party system after he founded the behemoth, KBL or Kilusang Bagong Lipunan. Marcos stayed in office for 20 years. Cory Aquino was too honest but he was surrounded by vultures and predators. FVR had many shady deals but remained clean in official records. Erap was the greatest mistake but he gave hope to the poor. He drank too much, had too many women and was not ready to govern a nation of 100 million people.

GMA was too brilliant for our own good, and she was mired with too many controversies. Pinoy was the laziest and most inept, and was too vindictive. He over-delegated and he refused to assume command responsibility. And President Duterte's ways are too frank and many times needlessly indecent in his acts and words, and high-handed and overbearing. As a provinciano, many Filipinos applauded his orientation to action, but he will have a lot of explaining to do later about human rights issues. To me, the greatest president was MLQ and the most inspiring was RM. The most honest were Osmeña and Garcia. But the most popular were RM, Erap, and Cory. I will go for the brains of Quezon and the heart of Magsaysay. Can we find the one with this caliber?

EMILIO AGUINALDO
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