President Ramon F. Magsaysay 54th Death Anniversary
Today we commemorate the 54th Death Anniversary of President Ramon F. Magsaysay who was popularly referred to as the “Man of the Masses” or “Champion of the Common Man” because he opened Malacañang Palace to the people and gave equal treatment to the peasants and farmers and politicians and their ladies.
President Ramon del Fiero Magsaysay was elected President under the banner of Nacionalista Party on December 30, 1953. He was the third President of the Republic of the Philippines until his demise in a plane crash on March 17, 1957. He was born on August 31, 1907 in Iba, Zambales to Exequiel Magsaysay and Perfecta del Fiero. He studied engineering at the University of the Philippines but later transferred to Jose Rizal College where he finished his degree in Commerce in 1933. He worked as a bus mechanic and later on was promoted to branch manager.
After the war, Magsaysay was named military Governor of Zambales by General Douglas McArthur on February 4, 1945. He was elected as Congressman of Zambales under the Liberal Party on April 23, 1946, and reelected on November 8, 1949. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights which accorded benefits to Filipino war veterans was passed in the United States Congress during his time. President Elpidio R. Quirino appointed him as Secretary of National Defense on August 31, 1950 to deal with the threat of the Huk rebellion. He was remembered for encouraging the Huk to surrender by offering medical treatment, parole and homesteads in the Mindanao jungle. He resigned as Defense Secretary on February 28, 1953 as his radical measures angered some people within the government.
Magsaysay won the Presidential election in 1953 against President Elpidio R. Quirino. His administration had the solid support of both Houses of Congress. His administration was for the people. He was popular to the masses, the friend of the common people. He opened Malacañang Palace to the people. He mingled, talked and ate with the barrio people. He was a man of integrity, honest and sincere. He used the Filipino language and wore the barong Tagalog even on state functions.
On March 17, 1957, President Ramon F. Magsaysay had speaking engagements at three universities in Cebu before local war veterans and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
On his flight back to Manila, C-47 that he boarded crashed at Mt. Manungal, Cebu. He died at the age of 49. As we commemorate President Ramon F. Magsaysay’s 54th Death Anniversary, may his kind of leadership inspire the leaders of our present generation.