Saturday, August 8, 2015

Manuel Luis Molina Quezon

President Quezon (1942)
Manuel L. Quezon y Molina was born 1878 in Baler, Tayabas (now Quezon Province) to Lucio Quezon and Maria Molina, both school teachers, in the island of Luzon, the Philippines, which at that time was under Spanish rule for over 300 years.

Quezon went to college in Manila and went on to study law at the University of Santo Tomas. His studies were cut short because he dropped out to join the struggle for his country's independence which by then was under the control of the United States.

He stopped to join the revolutionary forces led by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo during the height of the Spanish-American War.

After General Aguinaldo surrendered to the Americans at the end of the war in 1901, Manuel went back to law school to finish his degree at UST.

In 1903, Quezon passed the bar and set up a law practice in his hometown. He later gave up his private practice and joined politics.

He was elected provincial governor and served two terms. In 1907 he was elected as a representative to the newly established Philippine Assembly.

Philippine Independence

Quezon went on to serve as Resident Commissioner to the U.S. in Washington, D.C. (1909-1916). In 1916 he co-sponsored and played a major role in obtaining the passage of the Jones Act, which gave the Filipinos the power to legislate for themselves (subject to veto by the American Governor-General).

He then resigned his position and returned to the Philippines, a hero.

In 1916 Quezon was elected to the newly formed Philippine Senate.

Quezon fought for the Tydings-McDuffie Law in 1934, otherwise known as the Philippine Independence Act. This law provided for Philippine independence in 1946.

President of the Philippines

In 1935, Quezon was elected as the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth government. (General Aguinaldo is generally acknowledged as the first president of the Philippine Republic in 1899).Quezon was reelected president in 1941 until the Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor and occupied Manila at the other side of the Pacific on the same day.

President Quezon and his cabinet fled the country and set up a government in exile at Washington in May 1942.

Quezon was most famous (or infamous) for his attack on the racist policies of Governor Leonard Wood and his declaration that he preferred "a government run like hell by Filipinos to one run like heaven by Americans." (be careful what you wish for, you just might get it)

Little Known Fact

Quezon, of course is no saint, like everyone else he has his faults but he did a few great things.

But what he was nonetheless less famous for and one which Steven Spielberg should really be seriously considering making a movie out of is on how he was instrumental in giving safe passages to over 1,300 Jews who were desperately trying to escape the holocaust from the late 1930s to 1941 when no other nation on earth was willing to take them in.

Quezon's List

His is a story much like how Oskar Schindler did it (ala Schindler's List) only there is so much more drama, action and suspense as the Jews they saved didn't only have to escape the Nazis in Europe but also the Japanese forces while in the Far East.

And it was very interesting how they managed to do it. Read the story on how they did it here:  CNN: How the Philippines saved 1,200+ Jews during the Holocaust.

This untold story was first recounted by Frank Ephraim in his book, Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror (University of Illinois Press, 2003), based mostly on his own eyewitness account as a child who was one of 1,300 Jewish refugees who arrived in Manila in 1939. Source: AsianWeek

Manuel Quezon donated his own land in Marikina (now a part of Quezon City) to give to these Jewish migrants to build a group home to call their own.

In 2012, there was a documentary made about the story of these holocaust survivors.

Jewish Rescue in the Philippines

Hard not get teary eyed watching that excerpt but still a Hollywood movie would give their story the global impact it so much deserves. There are only a few of these survivors who are still alive today and we need to hear their story before they pass on from this earth.

Open Doors Monument

October 2014, Tel Aviv, State of Israel featured the Open Door Monument as one of its attractions in its official city brochure-map for tourists.  This monument was unveiled on 21 June 2009 at Rishon Lezion’s Holocaust Memorial Park by then Secretary of Tourism Joseph H. Durano, along with Minister for Improvement of Government Services and Member of the Knesset Michael Eitan and Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Zur.  
The marker honors the Philippines' humanitarian act of saving the Jews fleeing the Holocaust in Europe through President Manuel L. Quezon’s “open doors” policy in 1939.  At a time when Jews were refused admission by most countries, the Philippines opened its doors to them, allowing the issuance of 10,000 visas of which 1,300 Jewish refugees reached the Philippines.  The Open Doors Monument also symbolizes the strong and enduring friendship between the Philippines and Israel, the Philippines being the only Asian country who voted in favor of UN Resolution 181 concerning the creation of the State of Israel in 1947. Source:

Video: 1935, Inauguration of Manuel L. Quezon, President of the Philippine Commonwealth

Manuel Quezon died August 1st 1944, a year before the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese and two years from Philippine independence in 1946. In fact the Philippines is the largest and most important U.S. colony (commonwealth, territory, property) to break away from the U.S.A., declare independence and become a sovereign nation. Five U.S. territories still remain today: Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Marianas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (plus a few small islands, atolls, reefs, banks).Two non-stateside territories have since became U.S. states, Alaska and Hawaii.

Quezon's Accomplishments

1. Establishment of minimum wage, 1936
2. Gave an order to establish a national language, 1937
3. Pushed for the establishment of a city to become the future capital of the country, replacing Manila, 1938
4. Liberation of the Philippines, 1946
5. A systematized form of government, 1946

And many more, but what every Filipino should be made aware of is that President Quezon (like Jose Rizal) believed in the Filipino. Quezon, like all other Filipino nationalists before him fought hard for Philippine independence. He envisioned a strong Filipino nation governed by Filipinos. Quezon had a list of civic and ethical duties that he prescribed to be taught in Philippine schools to develop moral character, personal discipline, civic conscience and to teach the duties of citizenship.

Quezon's Dream

80 years later, his country should have been a much stronger and united nation. Today, although the Philippines have a national language unlike most former Spanish colonies, 100 million Filipinos speak 13 major languages and over 100 regional languages. And although majority of Filipinos are Roman Catholic, the Philippines is home to dozens of other religions which help to segregate the population.

But it's never too late. The U.S.A. took about a hundred years to become a strong nation, the Philippines still have time to do the same.

Quezon's Code of Citizenship and Ethics (1939)

1. Have faith in Divine Providence that guides the destinies of men and nations.

2. Love your country for it is the home of your people, the seat of your affections, and the source of your happiness and well-being. Its defense is your primary duty. Be ready at all times to sacrifice and die for it if necessary.

3. Respect the Constitution which is the expression of your sovereign will. The government is your government. It has been established for your safety and welfare. Obey the laws and see that they are observed by all and that public officials comply with their duties.

4. Pay your taxes willingly and promptly. Citizenship implies not only rights but also obligations.

5. Safeguard the purity of suffrage and abide by the decisions of the majority.

6. Love and respect your parents. It is your duty to serve them gratefully and well.

7. Value your honor as you value your life. Poverty with honor is preferable to wealth with dishonor.

8. Be truthful and be honest in thought and in action. Be just and charitable, courteous but dignified in your dealings with your fellow men.

9. Lead a clean and frugal life. Do not indulge in frivolity or pretense. Be simple in your dress and modest in your behavior.

10. Live up to the noble traditions of our people. Venerate the memory of our heroes. Their lives point the way to duty and honor.

11. Be industrious. Be not afraid or ashamed to do manual labor. Productive toil is conducive to economic security and adds to the wealth of the nation.

12. Rely on your own efforts for your progress and happiness. Be not easily discouraged. Persevere in the pursuit of your legitimate ambitions.

13. Do your work cheerfully, thoroughly, and well. Work badly done is worse than work undone. Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today.

14. Contribute to the welfare of your community and promote social justice. You do not live for yourselves and your families alone. You are a part of society to which you owe definite responsibilities.

15. Cultivate the habit of using goods made in the Philippines. Patronize the products and trades of your countrymen.

16. Use and develop our natural resources and conserve them for posterity. They are the inalienable heritage of our people. Do not traffic with your citizenship.

Follow these and it's hard to go wrong.

Further Reading: 
1946 World's Fair Plan At Quezon City
1941/1949 Master Plan For Quezon City

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