“The ones who are worthy to be free are those who are smart and ready to suffer, those who were designated to fight for the said freedom even if it will cause him death.”
Manuel L. Quezon, the first Commonwealth President, was born on August 19, 1878 in the town of Baler in the province formerly called Tayabas (now called Quezon in honor of the first Commonwealth president). His parents were Lucio Quezon and Maria Dolores Molina.
Manuel was raised by a priest, the parish priest of Baler – Fr. Teodoro Fernandez. Father Teodoro Fernandez taught Manuel religion, geography, history and Latin. When Father Fernandez went to Manila, he brought Manuel with him. While in Manila, Manuel worked as a messenger and kitchen helper, while studying at San Juan de Letran College. They were poor but Manuel dreamed of finishing his studies. He came to know Fr. Tamayo of the University of the Philippines. He show fondness to Manuel and allowed him to study at the university for free. As payment, he served at the university. Throughout his time studying in Manila, Manuel continues to serve in the university. His father is already happy with this fate of Manuel. When his father pays him a last visit, Manuel can’t forget his last advice. “Son” said his father, “I’m going home in two hours. I won’t say a lot. Just always remember no matter how far you will go in life, do not forget that you came from a poor clan and that you belong to the poor. Do not forsake poverty. May God bless you! That was the last conversation of the father and son and never went to see each other again. During the revolution Quezon joined Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s troop. However, when he learned that Gen. Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans, he decided to find a job instead. He was fortunate to land a job in a Manila bank named Monte de Piedad. He was able to pursue his studies until he became a fully fledged lawyer.
Quezon first serve the government in 1904. He was appointed as fiscal of Mindoro with a salary of one thousand one hundred pesos (P1, 800) a year. After six months, he was transferred to his native home province and served as a legal counsel of the poor and the oppressed. Quezon was elected as governor of Tayabas province in 1905. His main objective is to prove that the Philippines is capable of being an independent sovereign country. He let officials and leaders of every town and cities freely perform their duties in their respective jurisdiction.
After two years, Quezon was elected to Philippine Assembly. At the end of the assembly in Congress, Quezon left the country. He visited Japan, Berlin, London, and United States. He became a frequent Philippine Resident Commissioner in United States. He began living in America on December 24, 1909. Upon his stay in United States, Quezon always reiterated his wish of freeing the Filipinos. In one of his speech, he told this to the listening Americans.
“If I had to choose for the fate of my country, I would choose to be miserable but free than rich but under the rule of another country.”
Quezon wanted through a law imposing the freedom of the Philippines or a law that America will promise to allow the Filipinos to rule and govern an independent government in the Philippines.This results to the creation of the Jones Law. The Jones Law imposes the freeing of the Philippines once Filipinos can have a formidable government. After the successful Jones Law, Quezon resigned as a commissioner to United States. He return to the Philippines and ran for the senatorial race. He won and became the Senate president on October 16, 1916. As the first president of the Commonwealth, he was sworn into office on November 15, 1935. The important legacy of President Quezon for the Philippines is his Code of Citizenship.
1. Trust God who assigned the fate of countries and its people.
2. Love your country because this is your home, a shelter of your love, source of your happiness and manly nature.
3. Respect the Constitution that declares your powerful will. It was created for your security and for your own good. Obey the law and try to implement it for the citizens and government officials.
4. Pay your taxes voluntarily and wholeheartedly on time. Remember citizenship possesses not only rights but requires responsibility and accountability.
5. Maintain a peaceful, honest and orderly election and follow the consensus.
6. Love and respect your parents. It is your duty to serve them well and be grateful.
7. Give worth to your honor as you value your life. A decent respectable humble living is more important than wealthy without honor.
8. Be honest in thoughts, and in actions. Be just, benevolent but honorable in dealing.
9. Have a frugal but orderly living. Don’t be lavish or pretentious. Be simple in dressing up and modest in your ways.
10. Be worthy of the honorable civilization of the nation. Respect the memories of our heroes. They live and die in an honorable fulfillment of duty.
11. Be hardworking. Don’t be ashamed of hard sweating for a job. Hard work is the road to a convenient living and adds wealth to our nation.
12. Be dependent on your ability to progress and happiness. Don’t lose hope immediately. Be patient for the success of your goals.
13. Perform wholeheartedly your duties. The job barely done is much worse than a job not yet started. Don’t wait for tomorrow what you can do now.
14. Contribute and help for the progress of the community and social justice. No man lives on his own, with his family alone. You are a part of a society which you owe responsibility and accountability.
15. Make it a habit of patronizing our local products.
16. Utilize and put to good use our natural resources. These are our wealth that cannot be separated from us. Don’t sell your citizenship.
Aurora Aragon became his wife and it bore him four children namely Maria Aurora, Maria Zenaida, Luisa Corazon Paz and Manuel. President Quezon’s love for his country is incomparable but his love of his family is also admirable. President Quezon once wrote a letter to his wife and it says
“I am saddened by the fact that I don’t spend much of my life to you and our children, especially you are the one who gave me enough strength to perform my duty to our motherland. Forgive me for my shortcomings. My love for you has never changed and will never be. My heart and my life are reserved for you. Your goodness will be unequalled as your spouse. You are the source of my happiness. At this moment, you must believe what I say because all of it came from the depths of my soul. Pray for me, my children pray for me. I am kissing you and calling God for all of us. If this is the end, I will wait for you in the serenity of heaven. I will not forget to guide you and through the intercession of the Almighty God, will save you from all evil.
Manuel L. Quezon died of tuberculosis at Saranac Lake, New York on August 1, 1944.