“I would rather have a country run like hell by Filipinos than a country run like heaven by the Americans, because however bad a Filipino government might be, it can always be improved.”
Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina (Born: August 19, 1878 in Baler, Tayabas, Philippines – Death: August 1, 1944 in Saranac Lake, New York, United States) was the first Filipino president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines under U.S. colonial rule in the first half of the 20th century. He is considered by most Filipinos to have been the second President of the Philippines, after Emilio Aguinaldo. He has the distinction of being 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.”
He was elected senator in 1916 and became Senate President, serving continuously until 1935 (19 years). He headed the first Independent Mission to the U.S. Congress in 1919 and securing passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Independence Law in 1934.
In 1935 Quezon won the Philippine’s 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 Bishop Gregorio Aglipay. Quezon was inaugurated in November 1935. He is recognized as the second President of the Philippines. However, in January 2008, Congressman 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.
Quezon 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, Quezon was re-elected over former Senator Juan Sumulong with nearly 82% of the vote. In a notable humanitarian act, Quezon, in cooperation with United States High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, facilitated the entry into the Philippines of Jewish refugees fleeing fascist regimes in Europe. Quezon was also instrumental in promoting a project to resettle the refugees in Mindanao.
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