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Anecdotes about Manuel L. Quezon

Collated by Renato Perdon
Sydney, Australia
February 17, 2015


Treating media practitioner

‘President Quezon once said to me with a smile: ‘I like your paper; it’s no sycophant. I encourage you to continue hitting my administration hard. It’s one way of making me work harder for our people.’ – Ex-Senator Felimon Sotto.
On Filipinos’ love of country
In one event, he said ‘I want our people to know that the Philippines is their country, that it is the only country that God has given them, that they must keep it for themselves and for their children, that they must live for it, and if necessary, die for it.’ – Arsenio Lacson, Mayor of Manila.

On social justice

In one of his pronouncement on 19 February 1938 he said: ‘When I proclaim social justice, I mean justice, not love, not generosity, nor charity, but plain justice. I am not asking the rich to give charity to the poor. I am asking them to do justice to the poor, while; I want the poor to recognise the rights of the rich.’ –  Chief Justice Ricardo Paras

Love Filipino food

A group of Filipino friends was invited by President Quezon for lunch on board the ‘Casiana’. Advance notice was given the steward who hastily prepared a good menu.

The table set, the President and guests took their places around the dining table. The President, seeing the courses before him, instead of beginning to eat, asked for the steward. The guests, with due respect likewise refrained from commencing lunch and with great interest, waited for what was likely to happen, viewed from the President’s behaviour.

‘When do you think we are, Americans?’ the President bawled at the steward as the latter approached.

Without waiting for an answer, the President continued, ‘Now, don’t just stand there give us ‘itlog na maalat’ (seasoned eggs) with tomatoes, adobos and sinigang. And hurry.’ – Sergio R. Mistica, Health-Aide of MLQ.
Quezon, a leader by example
In Baguio after an official function, President Quezon and his aide-de-camp Major Jalandoni left the occasion at 12:30am. On reaching the summer house, the President feeling hungry, instructed Major Jalandoni to look for the cook and boys in the garage. The major found nobody in the garage.

‘Never mind. Do you know how to cook?’ asked the President of the major.

‘Yes, Sir, I am a soldier’, replied the aide. And so Major Jalandoni started to build the fire in the stove. The President in turn prepared the boiled rice for frying. Both the two were working with their dinner jackets still on.  Major Jalandoni searched the refrigerator for viands. He found there were still some fresh fish to fry, which he took out.

‘Not fish, Jalandoni, eggs. Do you know how to fry eggs?’

‘Yes, sir’, replied the aide.

‘Never mind, I will do it’, ventured the President which he did, after which both of them got their own plates and silver serving themselves buffet style. After the repast Major Jalandoni started to clear the table but the President stopped him and told him to leave them on the table and go to sleep. Then both retired. -  Sergio R. Mistica, Health-Aide of MLQ.

Awareness of his looks

President Quezon was conscious that, except for his height, he did not look Filipino, and he was delighted when he saw that his child Nonong was a ‘moreno’.

‘He said to Doña Aurora: ‘Hija, it’s good the boy is dark; if he should enter politics, nobody will call him a Kastila.’ – Quijano de Manila

Love of coffee

Quezon would start guzzling coffee as soon as he woke up – which was usually at around five dawn – and he didn’t like to guzzle his coffee alone. His usual coffee companion was Don Tomas Morato, a close friend since boyhood, and for years Don Tomas rose before five in the morning to go to Malacañang and have coffee with the President.

‘One morning there was a typhoon and it looked as if Don Tomas would not show up. Quezon called him up to say that the coffee was waiting.

‘But Manolo, there’s a big storm!’

‘You, a sailor and the son of a ship caption, afraid of a storm?’

Don Tomas abandoned his warm bed with a sigh, put on some clothes and braved the hurricane and flood to have a cup of coffee at five in the morning with ‘el señor presidente’. – Quijano de Manila.

Love struck Quezon

When Quezon was serving ‘juez instructor’ from 1897-1898, he and his sister stayed in the house in Nueva Ecija own by Mrs. Francesca Palacio who is now 75 years old. She still remembers how great was the town poeple’s love  and respect for their ‘juez instructor’. She also remembers that she used to take his dinner to his office and sing for him while he ate.

Mrs. Palacio recalls the day Quezon left  on horseback for Bogabong, Nueva Ecija, to vist his sweetheat there, a pretty young girl whom he called ‘Mariang Bogabong’. When he returned the following day, his face, arms, and legs were covered with bruises. He had tried to elope with his sweetheart, with her parents in hot pursuit. The girl, who was on another horse, lost her way and was left behind. Her parents caught up with her and brought her home. That was the last time the young impetuous Quezon saw his ‘Mariang bogabong’. – Isidro C. Greogiro, Aliaga, Nueva Ecija.
Sharpshooter President
While I was shooting my last picture, a deer appeared in the distance. I woke him up by touching his leg. The President woke up and I pointed to him the deer I saw. The President, said, ‘Vitug, just watch.’ I said, ‘yes, sir.’

He fired his gun and hit the deer. ‘See’, he said, ‘I told you I can shoot. Come on.’ He walked forward as I was shooting pictures from behind him. When he reached his prey. I heard him shout his favourite invective again.

‘What happened sir?’, I asked. ‘This damn thing’, he said, is ‘tied up.’ He laughed. ‘Well, anyhow, take a picture just the same.’’ – Honesto Vitug, Malacañang photographer

The Bicol Express Extension

Quezon and a group of close friends boarded the train from the Tutuban station for the Bicol Region one evening. Early the next morning the party arrived at Ragay, Camarines Sur, and transferred to a ferryboat to Aloneros to take the connecting train.

The President made inspection trips to government projects and delivered a few speeches in Naga City. On our return to Manila, the President thought of constructing the continuation of the line from Manila to Legaspi which would pass through mountains.

Soon a bill was introduced to the Legislature by the President. The construction began. The day came when the President was to inaugurate the project. A large group of invited quests from the American community as well as government officials and prominent persons were present, High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, Jose Paez, Alejandro Roces, Sr. and many others were among those present. Quezon drove the golden nail symbolizing that the line had been connected and that an express train to Bicol could run straight up to Legaspi. At noon of the same day the train met at Tagkawayan, Quezon, one for Legaspi and the other for Manila. Thus the Bicol Express made the daily trip to Bicolandia. – Honesto Vitug, Malacañang photographer.

Source: ‘Quezon: Thoughts and Anecdotes about him and his fights’ by Juan F. Rivera, published on the occasion of birth centenary of MLQ by Kayumanggi Press, 1979

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