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Manuel L. Quezon

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Manuel L. Quezon

Manuel L. Quezon
2nd President of the Philippines
1st President of the Commonwealth
In office
November 15, 1935 – August 1, 1944
Vice President Sergio Osmeña
Preceded by Abolished (Last title held by Emilio Aguinaldo)
Succeeded by José P. Laurel (de facto)
1st President of the Senate of the Philippines
In office
August 29, 1916 – November 15, 1935
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Manuel Roxas
Senator of the Philippines from the 5th Senatorial District
In office
October 16, 1916 – November 15, 1935
Served with:
Vicente Ilustre (1916–1919)
Antero Soriano (1919–1925)
José P. Laurel (1925–1931)
Claro M. Recto (1931–1935)
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
Secretary of National Defense
In office
July 16, 1941 – December 10, 1941
President Himself
Preceded by Teofilo Sison
Succeeded by Jorge B. Vargas
Resident Commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Philippine Islands
In office
November 23, 1909 – October 15, 1916
Serving with Benito Legarda
and Manuel Earnshaw
Preceded by Pablo Ocampo
Succeeded by Teodoro R. Yangco
Majority Leader of the Philippine House of Representatives
In office
October 16, 1907 – November 23, 1909
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by Alberto Barreto
As Majority Leader of the Philippine Assembly
Member of the Philippine Assembly from Tayabas' 1st District
In office
October 16, 1907 – October 16, 1916
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by Filemon Perez
Governor of Tayabas
In office
Personal details
Born Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina
(1878-08-19)August 19, 1878
Baler, El Principe, Captaincy General of the Philippines
(now Baler, Aurora, Philippines)
Died August 1, 1944(1944-08-01) (aged 65)
Saranac Lake, New York, United States
Resting place Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City, Philippines
Nationality Filipino
Political party Nacionalista Party
Other political
Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Aurora Aragón
Relations Manuel L. Quezon III (grandson)
Children Ma. Aurora Quezon
Maria Zeneida Quezon-Avanceña
Manuel L. Quezon, Jr.
Luisa Corazon Paz Quezon
Alma mater Colegio de San Juan de Letran
University of Santo Tomas
Profession Lawyer, Soldier, Politician
Religion Roman Catholicism
Military service
Allegiance  Philippines
Service/branch Philippine Revolutionary Army
Philippine Commonwealth Army
Years of service 1899–1900
Rank Major Major (1899–1900)
Battles/wars Philippine–American War
World War II
* Philippines Campaign (1941–1942)
* Japanese Occupation of the Philippines (1942-1945)

Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina (August 19, 1878 – August 1, 1944) served as president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944. He was the first Filipino to head a government of the Philippines (as opposed to other historical states), and is considered to have been the second president of the Philippines, after Emilio Aguinaldo (1897–1901).

Quezon 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. 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.

In 2015 the Board of The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation approved a posthumously bestowal of the Wallenberg Medal upon President Quezón and to the people of the Philippines for having reached-out, between 1937 and 1941, to the victims of the Holocaust. President Benigno Aquino III, and María Zeneida Quezón Avanceña, who is 94 years old and daughter of the former President, were duly informed about this recognition.


  • Early life careers 1
  • Congressional career 2
    • House of Representatives 2.1
    • Senate 2.2
  • Personal life 3
  • Presidency 4
    • First term (1935–1941) 4.1
    • Administration and cabinet 4.2
      • Appointments 1935–1941 4.2.1
    • Supreme Court appointments 4.3
      • Government reorganization 4.3.1
      • Social justice program 4.3.2
      • Economy 4.3.3
      • Agrarian reform 4.3.4
      • Educational reforms 4.3.5
      • Women's suffrage 4.3.6
      • National language 4.3.7
      • Council of State 4.3.8
      • 1938 midterm election 4.3.9
      • 1939 plebiscite 4.3.10
      • Third official language 4.3.11
      • 1940 plebiscite 4.3.12
      • 1941 presidential election 4.3.13
    • Second term (1941–1944) 4.4
      • War Cabinet 1941–1944 4.4.1
      • Jewish refugees 4.4.2
      • Government-in-exile 4.4.3
      • Talks of Post-war Philippines 4.4.4
      • Quezon-Osmeña Impasse 4.4.5
      • Death 4.4.6
  • Electoral history 5
  • Honor 6
  • Legacy 7
  • Portrayal in Media 8
  • Recording of speech 9
  • References 10
  • Notes 11
  • External links 12

Early life careers

Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina

Quezón, was born in Baler in the district of El Príncipe[1] (now Baler, Aurora). His parents were Lucio Quezón (died 1898) and María Dolores Molina (June 7, 1840 – 1893), both of whom were Spanish-Mestizos. 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. [2] 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 them, 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.[3] 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,[4] 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 (treasurer) 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 rules as well as the chairman also 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.


Quezón returned to Manila in 1916 to be elected into the Philippine Senate as Senator and later elected by his peers as Senate President, serving continuously until 1935 (19 years), becoming the longest serving. He headed the first Independent Mission to the U.S. Congress in 1919 and secured the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Independence Law in 1934. In 1922, Quezón became the leader of the Nacionalista Party alliance[5]

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 (died 1923) and Manuel L. "Nonong" Quezón, Jr. (1926–1998). His adopted 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.


Presidential styles of
Manuel L. Quezon
Reference style His Excellency[6]
Spoken style Your Excellency
Alternative style Mr. President

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 1937 Chrysler Airflow (restored by Alfred Motorworks & Alfred Nobel R. Peres), at Baler, Aurora[2].

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.[7]

Administration and cabinet

Appointments 1935–1941

President Manuel L. Quezón 1935–1941
Vice President Sergio Osmeña 1935–1941
Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce Benigno Aquino 1938–1940
Rafael Alunan, Sr. 1940–1941
Secretary of Public Instruction Sergio Osmeña November 15, 1935 – April 18, 1939
Jorge Bocobo April 19, 1939 – January 22, 1941
Secretary of Finance Elpidio Quirino November 15, 1935 – February 18, 1936
Antonio de las Alas February 18, 1936 – November 15, 1938
Manuel Roxas November 26, 1938 – August 28, 1941
Serafin Marabut August 28, 1941 – December 29, 1941
Secretary of the Interior Elpidio Quirino 1935–1938
Rafael Alunan 1938–1940
Secretary of Justice José Yulo November 15, 1935–November 1938
José Abad Santos December 5, 1938 – July 16, 1941
Commissioner of Justice Teofilo Sison July 18, 1941-November 1941
Secretary of Public Works
and Communications
Mariano Jesús Cuenco
Secretary of National Defense Teofilo Sison 1939–1941
Serafin Marabut 1941
Basilio Valdes December 23, 1941
Secretary of Labor José Avelino 1935–1938
Sotero Baluyut 1938–1941
Secretary to the President Jorge B. Vargas 1935–1941
Auditor-General Jaime Hernández 1935–1941
Commissioner of the Budget Serafin Marabut 1935–1941
Commissioner of Civil Service José Gil 1935–1941
Resident Commissioner of the Philippines
to the United States Congress
Quintin Paredes 1935–1938
Joaquín Miguel Elizalde 1938–1941

Supreme Court appointments

President Quezón 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 José P. Laurel were among Quezón'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.

Government reorganization

To meet the demands of the newly established government set-up and in compliance with the provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie law, as well as the requirements of the Constitution, government bodies.[8] To this effect, he established the Government Survey Board to study the existing institutions and in the light of the changed circumstances, make the necessary recommendations.[8]

Early results were seen with the revamping of the Executive Department. Offices and bureaus were either merged with one another or outrightly abolished. Some new ones, however, were created.[8] President Quezón ordered the transfer of the Philippine Constabulary from the Department of Interior, to the Department of Finance. Among the changes in the Executive Departments by way of modification in functions or new responsibilities, were those of the National Defense, Agriculture and Commerce, Public Works and Communications, and Health and Public Welfare.[8]

In keeping with other exigencies posed by the Constitution, new offices and boards were created either by Executive Order or by appropriate legislative action.[8] Among these were the Council of National Defense, the Board of National Relief, the Mindanao and Sulu Commission, and the Civil Service Board of Appeals.[8]

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.[8]

Thus, a court of Industrial Relations was established to mediate disputes, under certain conditions, minimizing the inconveniences of the strikes and lockouts. A minimum wage law was enacted, as well as a law providing for an eight-hour work day and a tenancy law for the Filipino farmers. Another measure was the creation of the position of Public Defender to help poor litigants in their court suits.[8]

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.[8]

In all these, Quezon showed an earnest desire to follow the constitutional mandate on the promotion of social justice.[8]


Upon the advent of the Commonwealth, the economic condition of our nation was fortunately stable and promising.[8] 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 exception 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.[8]

Manuel Quezon 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 exception of the Manila Railroad, managed to earn profits. Gold production increased about 37% and iron nearly 100%, while cement production augmented by some 14%.[8]

Not withstanding this prosperous situation,[8] 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. 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.[8]

Again, a law reorganized the National Development Company; the National Rice and Corn Company (NARIC) was created and was given a capital of four million pesos.[8]

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.[8]

Agrarian reform

When the Commonwealth Government was established, President Quezón implemented the Rice Share Tenancy Act of 1933.[9] The purpose of this act was to regulate the share-tenancy contracts by establishing minimum standards.[9] 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.[9] However, because of one major flaw of this law, no petition for the Rice Share Tenancy Act was ever presented.[9]

The major flaw of this law was that it could be used only when the majority of

Legal offices
Preceded by
Pablo Ocampo
Member of the House of Representatives from the Philippines' At-large district
Succeeded by
Teodoro R. Yangco
Political offices
New office President of the Senate
Succeeded by
Gil Montilla
as Speaker of the National Assembly
Preceded by
Emilio Aguinaldo
as president of the Republic of the Philippines
President of the Philippines
November 15, 1935 – August 1, 1944
Succeeded by
José P. Laurel
as president of the Republic of the Philippines
  • Cantor Joseph Cysner: From Zbaszyn to Manila.Bonnie Harris,
  • Future of the Philippines : interviews with Manuel QuezonOnline E-book of by Edward Price Bell, The Chicago Daily News Co., 1925
  • Discursos del Hon. Manuel L. Quezon, comissionado residente de Filipinas, pronunciados en la cámara de representantes de la discusión del Bill Jones (26, Septiembre-14, Octubre, 1914)Online E-book of , published in Manila, 1915
  • Manuel L. Quezon on the Presidential Museum and Library

External links

  1. ^ National Historical Commission of the Philippines. "History of Baler". National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Retrieved 2012-03-09. When military district of El Príncipe was created in 1856, Baler became its capital...On June 12, 1902 a civil government was established, moving the district of El Príncipe away from the administrative jurisdiction of Nueva Ecija...and placing it under the jurisdiction of Tayabas Province. 
  2. ^ Quezón, Manuel Luis (1915), "Escuelas públicas durante el régimen español" [Public schools during the Spanish regime], ]Asamblea Filipina, Tercera Legislatura, Tercer Período de Sesiones, Documento N.o 4042-A 87, Discursos del Hon. Manuel L. Quezón, comisionado residente de Filipinas, Pronunciados en la Cámara de representantes de los Estados Unidos con motivo de la discusión del Bill Jones, 26, septiembre-14, octubre, 1914 [Philippine Assembly, Third Legislature, Third Session, Document No.4042-A 87 Speeches of Honorable Manuel L. Quezón, Philippine resident commissioner, delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States during the discussion of Jones Bill, 26 September-14 October 1914 (in Spanish), Manila, Philippines: Bureau of Printing, p. 35, archived from the original on July 18, 2010, retrieved July 24, 2010, ...there were public schools in the Philippines long before the American occupation, and, in fact, I have been educated in one of these schools, even though my hometown is such a small town, isolated in the mountains of the Northeastern part of the island of Luzon. (Spanish). [...había escuelas públicas en Filipinas mucho antes de la ocupación americana, y que, de hecho, yo me había educado en una de esas escuelas, aunque mi pueblo natal es un pueblo tan pequeño, aislado en las montañas de la parte Noreste de la isla de Luzón.] 
  3. ^ Office of History and Preservation, United States Congress. (n.d.). Quezón, Manuel Luis, (1878–1944). Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved September 30, 2010.
  4. ^ Reyes, Pedrito (1953). Pictorial History of the Philippines. 
  5. ^ ÊáÀěɔ
  6. ^ "Official Program Aquino Inaugural (Excerpts)". 
  7. ^ Maricel Cruz (January 2, 2008). "Lawmaker: History wrong on Gen. Malvar". Archived from the original on 6 April 2008. Retrieved May 2, 2008. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Molina, Antonio. The Philippines: Through the centuries. Manila: University of Sto. Tomas Cooperative, 1961. Print.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Manapat, Carlos, et al. Economics, Taxation, and Agrarian Reform. Quezon City: C&E Pub., 2010.Print.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Molina, Antonio. The Philippines: Through the centuries. Manila: University of Sto. Tomas Cooperative, 1961. Print.
  11. ^ "Block voting – Philippine Daily Inquirer". Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  12. ^ Commonweatlh Act (CA) No. 494 amended CA 444 "Eight Hour Law" authorizing the President to suspend the law.
  13. ^ Immigration Act of 1940 (CA No. 613), Sec. 13. Accessed on April 13, 2007
  14. ^ Evacuation flights may be identified at the site by searching for Quezon
  15. ^ 1st Lt William Haddock Campbell, USAAF, received the DSC for his role as co-pilot in the evacuation of the Philippine president from the Philippines, as reported in a local Chicago newspaper, The Garfieldian, 1 April 1943 edition.
  16. ^ "The Miami News - Google News Archive Search". 
  17. ^ "Picture of commemorative coin". Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  18. ^ "Talumpati: Gemmel L. Dizon". Retrieved June 26, 2010. 


  • McArthur, Douglas (1964). Reminiscences. 
  • Quezón, Manuel L. (1946). The Good Fight. 


President Quezón delivered a speech entitled "Message to My People" in English and in Spanish. According to Gemmel L. Dizón III, the speech was "recorded in the 1920s, when he was first diagnosed with tuberculosis and assumed he didn't have much longer to live."[18]

Recording of speech

Portrayal in Media

Philippine 20 peso bill with a portrait of Manuel L. Quezon.



 Summary of the November 11, 1941 Philippine presidential election results
Candidate Party Results
Votes %
Manuel L. Quezon Nacionalista 1,340,320 81.78%
Juan Sumulong Popular Front 298,608 18.22%
Hilario Moncado Modernist
Totals 1,638,928 100.00%
 Summary of the September 16, 1935 Philippine presidential election results
Candidate Party Results
Votes %
Manuel L. Quezon Nacionalista 695,332 67.99%
Emilio Aguinaldo National Socialist 179,349 17.54%
Gregorio Aglipay Republican 148,010 14.47%
Pascual Racuyal Independent 158 0.00%
Valid votes 1,021,445 98.89%
Votes cast 1,022,547 63.91%
Registered voters 1,600,000 100.00%

Electoral history

Quezón suffered from tuberculosis and spent his last years in hospitals, such as at a Miami Beach Army hospital in April, 1944.[16] That summer, he was at 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 City within the monument at the Quezon Memorial Circle on August 19, 1979.


After the meeting, however, Vice-President Osmeña approached the President and broached his plan to ask the American Congress to suspend the constitutional provisions for presidential succession until after the Philippines should have been liberated. This legal way out was agreeable to President Quezon and the members of his Cabinet. Proper steps were taken to carry out the proposal. Sponsored by Senator Tydings and Congressman Bell, the pertinent Resolution was unanimously approved by the Senate on a voice vote and passed the House of Representatives by the a vote of 181 to 107 on November 10, 1943.[10]

A cabinet meeting was then convened by President Quezon. Aside from Quezon and Osmeña, others present in this momentous meeting were the resident Commissioner Joaquin Elizalde, Brig. Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, and his cabinet secretaries, Andres Soriano and Jaime Hernandez. Following a spirited discussion, the Cabinet supported Elizalde's opinion favoring the decision, and announced his plan to retire in California.[10]

By 1943, the Philippine Government-in-exile was faced with a serious crisis.[10] According to the 1935 Constitution, the official term of President Quezon was to expire on December 30, 1943 and Vice-President Sergio Osmeña would automatically succeed him in the Presidency. This eventuality was brought to the attention of President Quezon by Osmeña himself, who wrote the former to this effect. Aside from replying to this letter informing Vice-President Osmeña that it would not be wise and prudent to effect any such change under the circumstances, President Quezon issued a press release along the same line. Osmeña then requested the opinion of U.S. Attorney General Homer Cummings, who upheld Osmeña's view as more in keeping with the law. Quezon, however, remained adamant. He accordingly sought President Roosevelt's decision. The latter choose to remain aloof from the controversy, suggesting instead that the Philippine officials themselves solve the impasse.[10]

Quezon-Osmeña Impasse

Early in November 1942, 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.[10]

On the occasion of his first birthday celebration in the United States, Manuel Quezon broadcast a radio message to the Philippine residents in Hawaii, who contributed to the celebration by purchasing four million pesos worth of World War II bonds.[10] Further showing the Philippine government's cooperation with the war effort, 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.[10]

Washington, D.C. Representatives of 26 United Nations at Flag day ceremonies in the White House to reaffirm their pact. Seated, left to right: Francisco Castillo Najera, Ambassador of Mexico; President Roosevelt; Manuel Quezon, President of the Philippine Islands; and Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

Talks of Post-war Philippines

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.[10]

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.[10]

After the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II[14] 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,[15] 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).[10]

President Quezón, with some of his family members, are welcomed in Washington, D.C. by President Roosevelt.


In a notable humanitarian act, Quezón, in cooperation with United States High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, facilitated the entry into the Philippines of Jewish refugees fleeing fascist regimes in Europe. Quezón was also instrumental in promoting a project to resettle the refugees in Mindanao.

Jewish refugees

Executive Orders of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Manila, Bureau of Printing 1945

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


President Manuel L. Quezón 1941–1944 (extended, 1943)
Vice President Sergio Osmeña 1941–1944 (extended, 1943)
Secretary of Finance José Abad Santos December 30, 1941 – March 26, 1942
Secretary of Justice José Abad Santos March 26, 1942– May 2, 1942
Secretary of Finance, Agriculture, and Commerce Andrés Soriano March 26, 1942 – July 31, 1944
Secretary of National Defense, Public Works, Communications and Labor Basilio Valdes December 23, 1941 – August 1, 1944
Secretary of Public Instruction, Health, and Public Welfare Sergio Osmeña December 24, 1941 – August 1, 1944
Secretary to the President Manuel Roxas December 24, 1941– March 26, 1942
Arturo Rotor June 13, 1942– August 1, 1944
Secretary to the Cabinet Manuel Nieto May 19, 1944 - August 1, 1944
Secretary without Portfolio Andrés Soriano March 2–26, 1942
Treasurer of the Philippines Andrés Soriano February 19, 1942 – March 26, 1942
Manuel Roxas March 26, 1942 – May 8, 1942
Auditor-General Jaime Hernández (Filipino) December 30, 1941 – August 1, 1944
Resident Commissioner of the Philippines to the United States Congress Joaquín Miguel Elizalde December 30, 1941 – August 1, 1944 (given cabinet rank, May, 1942)
Secretary of Information and Public Relations Carlos P. Rómulo 1943–1944

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 Supreme Court of the Philippines.

War Cabinet 1941–1944

Second term (1941–1944)

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.

1941 presidential election

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 party 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.

1940 plebiscite

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.[10]

C.A. Dewitt and Manuel Quezón.

Third official language

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.[10]

1939 plebiscite

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.[12] A controversial immigration law that set an annual limit of 50 immigrants per country which[13] 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.

The Elections for the Second National Assembly were held on November 8, 1938, under a new law that allowed block voting[11] 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.

1938 midterm election

In 1938, President Quezón enlarged the composition of the Council of State through Executive Order No. 44.[10] 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.[10]

Council of State

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.[10]

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.

National language

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.[10]

Quezon broadcasting to his countrymen in Manila, from Washington, D.C., April 5. For the first 25 minutes on air, Quezon discussed women's suffrage and urged that the 10-year independence program be limited to a shorter period, 4/5/1937.

President Quezón initiated women's suffrage in the Philippines during the Commonwealth Era.[10] 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.

Women's suffrage

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.[8] 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.[8] 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 also created.[8]

Educational reforms

Indeed, during the Commonwealth period, agrarian problems persisted.[9] 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.[9]

The desire of Quezón to placate both landlords and tenants pleased neither. By the early 1940s, thousands of tenants in Central Luzon were ejected from their farmlands and the rural conflict was more acute than ever.[9]

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.[9]


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