Carlos P. Garcia
AS the fourth president of the Philippine Republic, Carlos P. Garcia was a worthy successor of Ramon Magsaysay.
Childhood and Studies
Carlos was born on November 4, 1896 in Talibun, Bohol to Polistico Garcia, the town Mayor and four consecutive terms, and Ambrosia Polistico, from whom he had his early education. He obtained his elementary education from the Talibun Elementary School and his high school education from the Cebu High School.
For his college education, he went to Siliman University in Dumaguete and the Philippine Law School. His biographers include the following as his recreational activities: swimming, reading, and playing chess. His favourite books are on philosophy, poetry, history and economics; and his favourite authors are Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Plato, Aristotle, Cervantes, Ingersol, Vargas and Villa.
Carlos Garcia was a well-travelled man, not neglecting to see the Philippine first. He had been able to go the US, England, Ireland, France, Switzerland and other European countries and to Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan.
His Public Life and Career
With his political roots, since his father was in politics for most of his childhood, Carlos was drawn to public service. Soon after his law licensure, he was elected to several positions, ranging from Congressman to Senator. His political career was interrupted by the war, after which he ran for senator and won.
Other positions held by Garcia before the presidency were: chairman of the Philippine Delegation to Korean Unification, and delegate to other world conferences. He was elected Vice President of the Philippines in 1953 and concurrently appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs. He also served as governor of Bohol for three consecutive terms.
Carlos Garcia assumed the presidency on the unexpected death of President Ramon Magsaysay. On his own, without help from foreign powers, he won the presidency during the November 1957 elections and was President until 1961.
All throughout his life, Garcia advocated an enlightened form of nationalism which showed itself in a love off all things Filipino. As a legislator and later as Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Vince President, and throughout his presidency, he advocated the “Filipino First” policy. This put the interest of the Filipino people above those of foreigners in the country.
His nationalism also showed itself when he ensured that the goods of the earth, its resources and heritage, would be reserved of the country, Filipinos would prevail, for the are “masters in their own land and custodians of their national patrimony”.
These ideas, of course, were not unique with Carlos P. Garcia for they were also the ideals of President Manuel L. Quezon, President Sergio Osmena and his other predecessors in the highest office of the land.
It was under Garcia’s vice-presidency and secretaryship of Foreign Affairs under President Magsaysay when the Laurel-Langley Agreement was signed. It set a deadline for the end of parity for Americans and a definite year for the termination of the lease on the bases.
His Policies and Agendas
As President of the country, Garcia continued the good policies of the late Magsaysay, and also implemented his own local and foreign policies.
Among his achievement were: strengthening of democracy in the country. Always fair and never vengeful, President Garcia respected human rights including freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of religion.
He maintained free elections.; Revival of the Filipino culture. President encouraged artistic endeavors, the world tours of the Bayanihan Dancers, and other fold dance troops, art contest, literary contest. He sponsored the annual Republic Cultural Heritage Awards for Filipinos scientists, artists, musicians, writers and historians; Adoption of the “Filipino First” policy to promote Filipino participation in business; Fostering international goodwill and friendship by the state visits to Japan, the US, South Vietnam and Malaysia; Creation of Dr. Jose P. Rizal Centennial Commission to supervise the compilation of Dr. Jose Rizal’s work and the celebration of centennial activities.
President Garcia lost his bid for the re-election in 1961, and vice president Diosdado Macapagal, running as Liberal Party presidential candidate, won at the polls with his teammate Senator Emmanuel Pelaez.
President Garcia, married to Leonila Dimataga Garcia, had only one daughter, Erlinda.
From 1961 to 1971, Mr. Garcia lived as well loved private citizen in Bohol. He was elected to the Constitutional Convention of 1971. His fellow delegates elected him President of the Assembly on June 11, 1971. Unfortunately, he suffered a heart attack three days later. Thus, ended the life of brilliant poet-politician, a protector of Filipino interests, a lover of democracy, a great president loved and respected by the people for his friendliness, eloquence, gentleness and integrity.
* His life's story as briefly told in this biography (talambuhay) of Carlos P. Garcia should be read by many.
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