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Pres.Manuel L.
President Manuel L.
Quezon prepares for his inaugural address.

Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina (August 19, 1878 in Balermarker, Tayabasmarker, Philippinesmarker – August 1, 1944 in Saranac Lakemarker, New Yorkmarker, United Statesmarker) 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".

Early life and career

Quezon, was born in Balermarker, Tayabasmarker (now Auroramarker). His Spanish Mestizo parents were Lucio Quezon and Maria Dolores Molina. During the Philippine-American War he was an ayuda-de-campo to Emilio Aguinaldo. He rose to the rank of Major and fought in the Bataanmarker sector during the retreat and surrender in 1901.

He received his primary education from his mother and school teacher in their home town and tutors (his father from Paco, Manilamarker, was a Sergeant in the Spanish Army), and later boarded at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he completed secondary school. After the war, he completed Law at the University of Santo Tomasmarker and passed the bar examinations in 1903, placing fourth. He worked for a time as a clerk and surveyor, entering government service as an appointed fiscal for Mindoro and later Tayabas. He became a councilor and was elected governor of Tayabas in 1906 as an independent. In 1907, he was elected to the first Philippine Assembly, where he served as majority floor leader and chairman of the committee on appropriations. From 1909–1916, 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.

Senate presidency and independence missions

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.

While in the United States, he personally met Napoleon Hill and was inspired to continue seeking the Independence of the Philippines.


First Term (1935-1941)

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 Mindoromarker filed a bill seeking instead to declare General Miguel Malvar as the second Philippine President, having directly succeeded Aguinaldo in 1901.

Administration, cabinet, and Supreme Court appointments 1935–1941

President Quezon 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 Jose P. Laurel were among Quezon'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.

President Manuel L. Quezon 1935–1941
Vice President Sergio Osmeña 1935–1941
Secretary of Public Instruction Sergio Osmeña 1935–1940
Jorge Bocobo 1940–1941
Secretary of Public Works and Communications Mariano Jesús Cuenco
Secretary of Justice Jose Yulo 1935–1938
Jose Abad Santos 1938–1941
Secretary of National Defensemarker Teofilo Sison 1939–1941
Basilio Valdes December 23, 1941
Secretary of Financemarker Elpidio Quirino 1935–1936
Antonio de las Alas 1936–1938
Manuel Roxas 1938–1941
Serafin Marabut 1941
Secretary of the Interior Elpidio Quirino 1935–1938
Rafael Alunan 1938–1940
Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce Benigno Aquino 1935–1940
Rafael Alunan 1940–1941
Secretary of Labor Jose Avelino 1935–1938
Sotero Baluyut 1938–1941
Secretary to the President Jorge B. Vargas 1935–1941
Auditor-General Jaime Hernandez 1935–1941
Commissioner of the Budget Serafin Marabut 1935–1941
Commissioner of Civil Service Jose Gil 1935–1941
Resident Commissioner Quintin Paredes 1935–1938
Joaquin Elizalde 1938–1941

Women's Suffrage

President Quezon initiated Women's Suffrage in the Philippinesmarker during the Commonwealth Era. 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 favour of the grant within two years 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.

Following a rather vigorous campaign, on the day of the plebiscite, the turn out of women was impressive. The affirmative votes numbered 447, 725, as against 44, 307 who opposed the grant.

National Language

Another constitutional provision to be implemented by President Quezon's administration dealt with the question of our national language. Following a year's sturdy, the Institute of the National Language - established on 1936 - recomended that Tagalog be adopted as the basis for our national language. The Proposal was well received, considering that the Director - the first to be appointed - at the time Jaime C. de Veyra, a Visayan.

On December 1937, President Quezon issued a proclamation approving the constitution made by the Institute and declaring that the adoptation of the nationald language would take place two years hence. With the presidential approval, the Insititute of National Langueage started to work on a grammar and dictionary of the language.

Second Term (1941-1944)

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 Mindanaomarker.


President Quezon, with some of his family members, are welcomed in Washington, D.C. by President Roosevelt
the Japanesemarker invasion of the Philippines during World War II he evacuated to Corregidormarker, then the Visayasmarker and Mindanao, and upon the invitation of the US government, 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 (Good Fight, 1946).

War cabinet 1941–1944

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 Philippines.

President Manuel L. Quezon 1941–1944 (extended, 1943)
Vice President Sergio Osmeña 1941–1944 (extended, 1943)
Secretary of Justice and Finance Jose Abad Santos December 24, 1941 – March 26, 1942
Secretary of Justice Jose Abad Santos March 26, 1942– May, 1942
Secretary of Finance, Agriculture, and Commerce Andres Soriano March 26, 1942 – July 31, 1944
Secretary of National Defense, Public Works, Communications and Labor Basilio Valdes December 24, 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– May, 1942
Arturo Rotor May, 1942– August 1, 1944
Secretary to the Cabinet Manuel Nieto 1May 19, 1944
Secretary without Portfolio Andres Soriano March 2–26, 1942
Treasurer of the Philippines Andres Soriano February 19, 1942 – March 26, 1942
Manuel Roxas March 26, 1942 – May 8, 1942
Auditor-General Jaime Hernandez December 30, 1941 – August 1, 1944
Resident Commissioner Joaquin Elizalde December 30, 1941 – August 1, 1944 (given cabinet rank, May, 1942)
Secretary of Information and Public Relations Carlos P. Romulo 1943–1944


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

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


Quezon suffered from tuberculosis and spent his last years in a "cure cottage" in Saranac Lakemarker, New Yorkmarker, where he died on August 1, 1944. He was initially buried in Arlington National Cemeterymarker. His body was later carried by the USS Princeton and re-interred in Manilamarker at the Manila North Cemeterymarker before being moved to Quezon Citymarker within the monument at the Quezon Memorial Circlemarker.

Personal Life

Quezon was married to his first cousin, Aurora Aragón Quezon, and had four children: María Aurora "Baby" Quezon (1919–1949), María Zeneida "Nini" Quezon-Avancena (born 1921), Luisa Corazón Paz "Nenita" Quezon (1923–1923) and Manuel L. "Nonong" Quezon, Jr. (1926–1998). His grandson, Manuel L. "Manolo" Quezon III (born 1970), a prominent writer and political pundit, was named after him.

In their column on the pronunciation of names, The Literary Digest wrote "The President and his wife pronounce the name keh'-zon. The pronunciation keh-son', although widely heard in the Philippine Islands, is incorrect." (Charles Earle Funk, What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)


Tomb of President Manuel Quezon, inside Quezon Memorial, Quezon City.

"My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins."

"Social Justice is far more beneficial when applied as a matter of sentiment, and not of law."

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.”

"Pray for me so that I can return to the Philippines. I feel so weak that I'm afraid I cannot make it"

"I'd rather be called "Quezon the Letranite" than "Quezon the President"."

Death and legacy



  1. According to Valencia, "General Malvar took over the revolutionary government after General Emilio Aguinaldo, first President of the Republic, was captured on March 23, 1901, and [was] exiled in Hong Kong by the American colonial government—since he was next in command.
  2. Antonio Molino: The Philippines through the Centuries (Volume two), 1961
  3. Antonio Molino: The Philippines through the Centuries (Volume two), 1961
  4. Antonio Molino: The Philippines through the Centuries (Volume two), 1961

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