It was said that no other Chief of State of the country had set his ambitions on the Presidency, and prepared for the job with greater faith and dedication from boyhood than President Diosdado Macapagal.
On December 30, 1961, Macapagal was inaugurated as the fifth President of the Philippine Republic. In his inaugural address his foremost promise was to bring about a “new era of peace and prosperity”.
Diosdado’s Birth and Early Life Story
He was born on September 28, 1910 in Barrio San Nicolas, Lubao, Pampanga. It is said that he was born to poverty, having to work hard and early in life for a living and an education.
Despite the hardship, however, he managed to be consistent topnotcher in his studies. He cropped the first place in the 1936 bar examinations.
Already a holder of a doctorate in civil law, he also worked for a doctorate in economics to prepare him to cope with the age-old problems of the country.
He was self-supporting student most of the time while he was in school, but his scholarly distinction is well known. The awards he won while a student include the following: valedictorian in high school, meritissimus in law and economics, bar topnotcher, gold medal for execellence in oratory and debate.
Due to this distinguished scholarship and brilliance, and equally notable career record followed. He started as a clerk at the Bureau of Lands, rising to become legal assistant at Malacanang; holding various positions at the Department of Foreign Affairs. He was elected congressman in the first district of Pampanga in 1949, then reelected in 1953. He was always chosen one of the ten best Congressmen by the press. He was chosen best solon in the Third Congress. He was vice president of the Philippines from 1957 to 1963, the year he was elected President of the Philippines.
What he has achieved
Among President Macapagal’s achievements as the highest official of the country are the following: The enactment of Congress, upon his recommendation o the Agricultural Land Reform Code, which he signed into law; The propagation of the Filipino language. For the first time it was used in passports, diplomatic credentials, diplomas, traffic signs and stamps; Independence Day was moved from July 4 to June 12, the day first President Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed it in Kawit, Cavite.
It was president Macapagal’s concept of a MAPHILINDO federation binding Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesian that paved the way for the present Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN now is the most dynamic, fastest growing economic region in the world.
When the dispute over Sabah intensified in the sixties, President Macapagal’s leadership can be credited for steering the country clear of war. At the time the Philippines had a leading economy and a relatively strong army. But the president exercised prudence and resolved the issue in a statesmanly and peaceful way.
Mr. Macapagal was also ahead of his time when as a legislator, and later President, he batted for land and reform, against the wished o the landlord-dominated legislature. He never forgot his humble origins and wanted to see the majority of his countrymen improve their plight.
He also went against the tide when he liberalized imports immediately after winning the presidency in 1962. Being, a doctor of economics, he realized that to industrialized and stimulate exports, Filipino production had to have more access to imported raw materials.
He strove to crack down on cartels which monopolizes the acquisition of import licenses. For him, protectionism had its limits and local entrepreneur must not be pampered but must be energized by competition.
In his public career, President Macapagal was widely respected for two great qualities: an incorruptible integrity and an abiding concern for the common people. The late President Ramon Magsaysay himself said of Macapagal: “ I like Dadong because he is honest and a man of the masses.” And from the late Manila Mayor Arsenio lacson, this was heard “Macapagal is an incorruptibly honest official.”
President Macapagal was married to Dr. Evangeline Macaraeg Macapagal of Binalonan, Pangasinan, by whom he had two children, Maria Gloria and Diosdado, Jr. He had two children by previous marriage, Maria Cielo and Arturo.
Even after his term as President of the Philippines, Diosdado Macapagal continued as a reversed figure and moral authority. That is because he and his family had maintained their integrity, dignity, and respect for law and the constitution.
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