BiographyRamón del Fierro Magsaysay, of mixed Tagalog and Ilocano descent, was born in Iba, Zambales on August 31, 1907 to Exequiel Magsaysay y de los Santos (April 18, 1874 in San Marcelino, Zambales – January 24, 1969 in ), a blacksmith, and Perfecta del Fierro y Quimson (April 18, 1886 in Castillejos, Zambales – May 5, 1981 in ), a schoolteacher. He spent his grade school life somewhere in Castillejos and his high school life at Zambales Academy in San Narciso, Zambales. After college, Magsaysay entered the in 1927, where he enrolled in a pre-medical course. He first worked as a chauffeur to support himself as he studied engineering; and later, he transferred to the Institute of Commerce at José Rizal College (now José Rizal University) from 1928 to 1932, where he received a Bachelor's degree, baccalaureate in commerce. He then worked as an automobile mechanic for the Florida bus company and shop superintendent.
Career during World War IIAt the outbreak of World War II, he joined the motor pool of the 31st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. When Bataan surrendered in 1942, Magsaysay escaped to the hills, narrowly evading Japanese arrest on at least four occasions. There he organised the Western Luzon Guerrilla Forces, and was commissioned captain on April 5, 1942. For three years, Magsaysay operated under Col. Merrill's famed guerrilla outfit & saw action at Sawang, San Marcelino, Zambales, first as a supply officer codenamed ''Chow'' and later as commander of a 10,000-strong force. Magsaysay was among those instrumental in clearing the Zambales coast of the Japanese prior to the landing of American forces together with the Philippine Commonwealth troops on January 29, 1944.
FamilyHe was married to Luz Magsaysay (''née'' Banzon) on June 16, 1933 and they had three children: Teresita "Sita" (1934–1979), Milagros "Mila" (b. 1936) and Ramón Magsaysay, Jr., Ramón "Jun" Banzon-Magsaysay, Jr. (b. 1938). Other Relatives Several of Magsaysay's relatives became prominent public figures in their own right: *Ramón Magsaysay, Jr., Ramón "Jun" Banzon-Magsaysay, Jr., son; former Congressman and Senator *Genaro Magsaysay, brother; former Senator *Vicente Magsaysay, nephew; Former Governor of Zambales *JB Magsaysay, grandnephew; actor, politician, and businessman *Antonio M. Díaz, Antonio M. Díaz, nephew; Congressman and Assemblyman of Zambales *Anita Magsaysay-Ho, cousin; painter *Doris Magsaysay-Ho, niece; shipping executive
House of RepresentativesOn April 22, 1946, Magsaysay, encouraged by his fellow ex-guerrillas, was elected under the Liberal Party"Ramon Magsaysay." Microsoft Student 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008. to the Philippine House of Representatives. In 1948, President Manuel Roxas chose Magsaysay to go to Washington, D.C. as Chairman of the Committee on Guerrilla Affairs, to help to secure passage of the Rogers Veterans Bill, giving benefits to Philippine veterans. In the so-called 1949 Philippine general election, "dirty election" of 1949, he was re-elected to a second term in the House of Representatives. During both terms, he was Chairman of the House National Defense Committee.
Secretary of National DefenseIn early August 1950, he offered President a plan to fight the Communist guerrillas, using his own experiences in guerrilla warfare during World War II. After some hesitation, Quirino realized that there was no alternative and appointed Magsaysay Secretary of National Defence on August 31, 1950. He intensified the campaign against the Hukbalahap guerrillas. This success was due in part to the unconventional methods he took up from a former advertising expert and CIA agent, Colonel Edward Lansdale. In the counterinsurgency the two utilized deployed soldiers distributing relief goods and other forms of aid to outlying, provincial communities. Prior to Magsaysay's appointment as Defense Secretary, rural citizens perceived the Philippine Army with apathy and distrust. However, Magsaysay's term enhanced the Army's image, earning them respect and admiration. In June 1952, Magsaysay made a goodwill tour to the United States and Mexico. He visited New York City, New York, Washington, D.C. (with a medical check-up at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Walter Reed Hospital) and Mexico City, where he spoke at the Annual Convention of Lions International. By 1953, President Quirino thought the threat of the Huks was under control and Secretary Magsaysay was becoming too weak. Magsaysay met with interference and obstruction from the President and his advisers, in fears they might be unseated at the next presidential election. Although Magsaysay had at that time no intention to run, he was urged from many sides and finally was convinced that the only way to continue his fight against communism, and for a government for the people, was to be elected president, ousting the corrupt administration that, in his opinion, had caused the rise of the communist guerrillas by bad administration. He resigned his post as defense secretary on February 28, 1953, and became the presidential candidate of the , disputing the nomination with Senator Camilo Osías at the Nacionalista national convention.
1951 Padilla incidentWhen news reached Magsaysay that his political ally Moises Padilla was being tortured by men of provincial governor Rafael Lacson, he rushed to Negros Occidental, but was too late. He was then informed that Padilla's body was drenched in blood, pierced by fourteen bullets, and was positioned on a police bench in the town plaza. Magsaysay himself carried Padilla's corpse with his bare hands and delivered it to the morgue, and the next day, news clips showed pictures of him doing so. A privileged speech by Senator Nene Pimentel delivered at the Senate, August 2001. Magsaysay even used this event during his 1953 Philippine general election, presidential campaign in 1953. The trial against Lacson started in January 1952; Magsaysay and his men presented enough evidence to convict Lacson and his 26 men for murder. In August 1954, Judge Eduardo Enríquez ruled the men were guilty and Lacson, his 22 men and three other mayors of Negros Occidental municipalities were condemned to the electric chair.
Presidential election of 1953Presidential elections were held on November 10, 1953 in the Philippines. Incumbent President lost his opportunity for a second full term as President of the Philippines to former Defense Secretary Magsaysay. His running mate, Senate of the Philippines, Senator José Yulo lost to Senate of the Philippines, Senator Carlos P. García. Vice President of the Philippines, Vice President Fernando López did not run for re-election. This was the first time that an elected Philippine President did not come from the Senate of the Philippines, Senate. Moreover, Magsaysay began the practice in the Philippines of "campaign jingles" during elections, for one of his inclinations and hobbies was dancing. The United States Government, including the Central Intelligence Agency, had strong influence on the 1953 election, and candidates in the election fiercely competed with each other for U.S. support.Tharoor, Ishaan (October 13, 2016)
PresidencyIn the 1953 Philippine general election, election of 1953, Magsaysay was decisively elected president over the incumbent . He was sworn into office wearing the ''Barong Tagalog'', a first by a Philippine President. He was then called "Mambo Magsaysay". As President, he was a close friend and supporter of the United States and a vocal spokesman against communism during the Cold War. He led the foundation of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, also known as the Manila Pact of 1954, that aimed to defeat communist-Marxist movements in Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Southwestern Pacific. During his term, he made Malacañan Palace, Malacañang literally a "house of the people", opening its gates to the public. One example of his integrity followed a demonstration flight aboard a new plane belonging to the Philippine Air Force (PAF): President Magsaysay asked what the operating costs per hour were for that type of aircraft, then wrote a personal check to the PAF, covering the cost of his flight. He restored the people's trust in the military and in the government. Magsaysay's administration was considered one of the cleanest and most corruption-free in modern Philippine history; his rule is often cited as the Philippines's "Golden Years". Trade and industry flourished, the Philippine military was at its prime, and the country gained international recognition in sports, culture, and foreign affairs. The Philippines placed second on a ranking of Asia's clean and well-governed countries.
=Presidential Inauguration Day= Ushering a new era in Philippine government, President Magsaysay placed emphasis upon service to the people by bringing the government closer to the former.Molina, Antonio. ''The Philippines: Through the centuries''. Manila: University of Sto. Tomas Cooperative, 1961. Print. This was symbolically seen when, on inauguration day, President Magsaysay ordered the gates of Malacañan Palace be opened to the general public, who were allowed to freely visit all parts of the Palace complex. Later, this was regulated to allow weekly visitation. True to his electoral promise, President Magsaysay created the Presidential Complaints and Action Committee. This body immediately proceeded to hear grievances and recommend remedial action. Headed by soft-spoken, but active and tireless, Manuel Manahan, this committee would come to hear nearly 60,000 complaints in a year, of which more than 30,000 would be settled by direct action and a little more than 25,000 would be referred to government agencies for appropriate follow-up. This new entity, composed of youthful personnel, all loyal to the President, proved to be a highly successful morale booster restoring the people's confidence in their own government. He appointed Zotico "Tex" Paderanga Carrillo, his Close Aide and Secretary 1953, as PCAC Chief for Mindanao and Sulu. He became a close friend to the president because of his charisma to the common people of Mindanao. Zotico was a local journalist and an esteemed writer from a prominent family on Camiguin, (then sub-province of Misamis Oriental), Zotico become a depository of complaints and an eye of the president in the region his diplomatic skills became a passage for the government, moro and the rebels to hear the real situation in every city and municipalities. with his zero corruption mandate he recognized a turn of achievement of Zotico that made him his ''compadrazgo, compadre'' when Zotico named his fifth child after the President when he won the Election in 1953, even making the President godfather to the boy. President Magsaysay also personally visited Mindanao several times because of this friendship, becoming the first President to visit Camiguin, where he was warmly received by thousands of people who waited for his arrival. Magsaysay was also the first President to regularly wear the ''Barong Tagalog'' as his working wear and on state occasions. He set an example of humility by insisting that he be addressed "Mr. President" and not the customary "Your Excellency". (Ryan A. Gragasin)
=Agrarian reform= To amplify and stabilize the functions of the Economic Development Corps (EDCOR), President Magsaysay worked for the establishment of the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA). This body took over from the EDCOR and helped in the giving some sixty-five thousand acres to three thousand indigent families for settlement purposes. Again, it allocated some other twenty-five thousand to a little more than one thousand five hundred landless families, who subsequently became farmers. As further aid to the rural people, the president established the Agricultural Credit and Cooperative Financing Administration (ACCFA). The idea was for this entity to make available rural credits. Records show that it did grant, in this wise, almost ten million dollars. This administration body next devoted its attention to cooperative marketing. Along this line of help to the rural areas, President Magsaysay initiated in all earnestness the artesian wells campaign. A group-movement known as the Liberty Wells Association was formed and in record time managed to raise a considerable sum for the construction of as many artesian wells as possible. The socio-economic value of the same could not be gainsaid and the people were profuse in their gratitude. Finally, vast irrigation projects, as well as enhancement of the Ambuklao Power plant and other similar ones, went a long way towards bringing to reality the rural improvement program advocated by President Magsaysay. President Magsaysay enacted the following laws as part of his Agrarian Reform Program: * Republic Act No. 1160 of 1954 – Abolished the LASEDECO and established the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) to resettle dissidents and landless farmers. It was particularly aimed at rebel returnees providing home lots and farmlands in Palawan and Mindanao. * Republic Act No. 1199 (Agricultural Tenancy Act of 1954) – governed the relationship between landowners and tenant farmers by organizing share-tenancy and leasehold system. The law provided the security of tenure of tenants. It also created the Court of Agrarian Relations. * Republic Act No. 1400 (Land Reform Act of 1955) – Created the Land Tenure Administration (LTA) which was responsible for the acquisition and distribution of large tenanted rice and corn lands over 200 hectares for individuals and 600 hectares for corporations. * Republic Act No. 821 (Creation of Agricultural Credit Cooperative Financing Administration) – Provided small farmers and share tenants loans with low interest rates of six to eight percent.
=HUKBALAHAP= In early 1954, Benigno Aquino, Jr. was appointed by President Magsaysay to act as his personal emissary to Luis Taruc, leader of the rebel group, Hukbalahap. Also in 1954, Lt. Col. Laureño Maraña, the former head of Force X of the 16th PC Company, assumed command of the 7th BCT, which had become one of the most mobile striking forces of the Philippine ground forces against the Huks, from Colonel Valeriano. Force X employed psychological warfare through combat intelligence and infiltration that relied on secrecy in planning, training, and execution of attack. The lessons learned from Force X and Nenita were combined in the 7th BCT. With the all out anti-dissidence campaigns against the Huks, they numbered less than 2,000 by 1954 and without the protection and support of local supporters, active Huk resistance no longer presented a serious threat to Philippine security. From February to mid-September 1954, the largest anti-Huk operation, "Operation Thunder-Lightning" was conducted that resulted in Taruc's surrender on May 17. Further cleanup operations of the remaining guerrillas lasted throughout 1955, cutting their number to less than 1,000 by year's end.
=SEATO= The administration of President Magsaysay was active in the fight against the expansion of communism in Asia. He made the Philippines a member of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), which was established in Manila on September 8, 1954 during the "Manila Conference". Members of SEATO were alarmed at the possible victory of North Vietnam over South Vietnam, which could spread communist ideology to other countries in the region. The possibility that a communist state can influence or cause other countries to adopt the same system of government is called the domino theory.Grace Estela C. Mateo: Philippine Civilization – History and Government, 2006 The active coordination of the Magsaysay administration with the Japanese government led to the Reparation Agreement. This was an agreement between the two countries, obligating the Japanese government to pay $550 million as reparation for war damages to the Philippines.
=Defense Council= Taking the advantage of the presence of U.S. Secretary John Foster Dulles in to attend the SEATO Conference, the Philippine government took steps to broach with him the establishment of a Joint Defense Council. Vice-President and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Carlos P. García held the opportune conversations with Secretary Dulles for this purpose. Agreement was reached thereon and the first meeting of the Joint United States–Philippines Defense Council was held in Manila following the end of the Manila Conference. Thus were the terms of the Mutual Defense Pact between the Philippines and the United States duly implemented.
=Laurel-Langley Agreement= , 1955. ''Clockwise, from top left:'' Senator Edmundo Cea, Former President José P. Laurel Sr., Senator Primicias, Senate President Eulogio Rodriguez, Eulogio A. Rodríguez, Sr., President Ramón F. Magsaysay, & House Speaker José B. Laurel, Jr. The Magsaysay administration negotiated the Laurel-Langley Agreement which was a trade agreement between the Philippines and the United States which was signed in 1955 and expired in 1974. Although it proved deficient, the final agreement satisfied nearly all of the diverse Filipino economic interests. While some have seen the Laurel-Langley agreement as a continuation of the 1946 trade act, José P. Laurel and other Philippine leaders recognized that the agreement substantially gave the country greater freedom to industrialize while continuing to receive privileged access to US markets. The agreement replaced the unpopular Bell Trade Act, which tied the economy of the Philippines to that of United States.
=Bandung Conference= Billed as an all-Oriental meet to promote Afro-Asian economic and cultural cooperation and to oppose colonialism or neocolonialism by either the United States or the Soviet Union in the Cold War, or any other imperialistic nations, the Asian–African Conference was held in Bandung, Java in April 1955, upon invitation extended by the Prime Ministers of India, Pakistan, Burma, Ceylon, and Indonesia. This summit is commonly known as the Bandung Conference. Although, at first, the Magsaysay Government seemed reluctant to send any delegation. Later, however, upon advise of Ambassador Carlos P. Rómulo, it was decided to have the Philippines participate in the conference. Rómulo was asked to head the Philippine delegation. At the very outset indications were to the effect that the conference would promote the cause of neutralism as a third position in the current cold war between the capitalist bloc and the communist group. John Kotelawala, Prime Minister of Ceylon, however, broke the ice against neutralism. He was immediately joined by Rómulo, who categorically stated that his delegation believed that "a puppet is a puppet", no matter whether under a Western Power or an Oriental state. At one time in the course of the conference, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru acidly spoke against the SEATO. Quick to draw, Ambassador Rómulo delivered a stinging, eloquent retort that prompted Prime Minister Nehru to publicly apologize to the Philippine delegation. Records had it that the Philippine delegation ably represented the interests of the Philippines and, in the ultimate analysis, succeeded in turning the Bandung Conference into a victory against the plans of its socialist and neutralist delegates.
=Reparation agreement= Following the reservations made by Ambassador Rómulo, on the Philippines' behalf, upon signing the Japanese Peace Treaty in San Francisco, California, San Francisco on September 8, 1951, for several years of series of negotiations were conducted by the Philippine government and that of Japan. In the face of adamant claims of the Japanese government that it found impossible to meet the demand for the payment of eight billion dollars by the way of reparations, President Magsaysay, during a so-called "cooling off" period, sent a Philippine Reparations Survey Committee, headed by Finance Secretary Jaime Hernández, to Japan for an "on the spot" study of that country's possibilities. When the Committee reported that Japan was in a position to pay, Ambassador Felino Neri, appointed chief negotiator, went to Tokyo. On May 31, 1955, Ambassador Neri reached a compromise agreement with Japanese Minister Takazaki, the main terms of which consisted in the following: The Japanese government would pay eight hundred million dollars as reparations. Payment was to be made in this wise: Twenty million dollars would be paid in cash in Philippine currency; thirty million dollars, in services; five million dollars, in capital goods; and two hundred and fifty million dollars, in long-term industrial loans. On August 12, 1955, President Magsaysay informed the Japanese government, through Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama, that the Philippines accepted the Neri-Takazaki agreement. In view of political developments in Japan, the Japanese Prime Minister could only inform the Philippine government of the Japanese acceptance of said agreement on March 15, 1956. The official Reparations agreement between the two government was finally signed at Malacañan Palace on May 9, 1956, thus bringing to a rather satisfactory conclusion this long drawn controversy between the two countries.
DeathMagsaysay's term, which was to end on December 30, 1957, was cut short by a plane crash. On March 16, 1957, Magsaysay left Manila for Cebu City where he spoke at three educational institutions. That same night, at about 1 am, he boarded the presidential plane "Mt. Pinatubo", a C-47 Skytrain, C-47, heading back to . In the early morning hours of March 17, the plane was reported missing. By late afternoon, newspapers had reported the airplane had crashed on Mt. Manunggal in Cebu, and that 36 of the 56 aboard were killed. The actual number on board was 25, including Magsaysay. Only newspaperman Néstor Mata survived. Carlos P. Garcia, Vice-President Carlos García, who was on an official visit to Australia at the time, returned to Manila and acceded to the presidency to serve out the remaining eight months of Magsaysay's term. An estimated 2 million people attended Magsaysay's state funeral on March 22, 1957. He was posthumously referred to as the "Champion of the Masses" and "Defender of Democracy".
HonorsNational Honors *: Quezon Service Cross - posthumous (July 4, 1957) *: Order of the Golden Heart, Member - posthumous (March 17, 1958) Foreign Honors *: Knight Grand Cordon(Special Class) of The Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant (April 1955) *: Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Cambodia (January 1956)
See also* President of the Philippines * Ramon Magsaysay Award * Ramon Magsaysay, Jr.