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Diosdado Macapagal

In office
December 30, 1961 – December 30, 1965
Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez
Preceded by Carlos Garcia
Succeeded by Ferdinand Marcos

In office
December 30, 1957 – December 30, 1961
President Carlos Garcia
Preceded by Carlos Garcia
Succeeded by Emmanuel Pelaez

Member of the House of Representatives from Pampanga's 1st district
In office
Preceded by Amado Yuzon
Succeeded by Francisco Nepomuceno

Born September 28, 1910(1910-09-28)
Lubao, Philippines
Died April 21, 1997 (aged 86)
Makati City, Philippines
Political party Liberal Party
Spouse(s) Purita de la Rosa (1938–1943)
Eva Macaraeg (1946–1996)
Children Cielo
Alma mater University of the Philippines
University of Santo Tomas
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholicism

Diosdado Pangan Macapagal (September 28, 1910 – April 21, 1997) was the 9th President of the Philippines, serving from 1961 to 1965, and the 6th Vice President of the Philippines, serving from 1957 to 1961. He is labeled as the Poor boy from Lubao, Champion of the Common Man and The Incorruptible.

Macapagal graduated from the University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas, after which he worked as a lawyer for the government. He first won election in 1949 to the House of Representatives, representing a district in his home province of Pampanga. In 1957 he became vice president in the administration of President Carlos P. Garcia, and in 1961 he defeated Garcia's re-election bid for the presidency.

As President, Macapagal worked to suppress graft and corruption and to stimulate the Philippine economy. He introduced the country's first land reform law, placed the peso on the free currency exchange market, and liberalized foreign exchange and import controls. Many of his reforms, however, were crippled by a Congress dominated by the rival Nacionalista Party. He is also known for shifting the country's independence day from July 4 to June 12, commemorating the day Filipino patriots declared independence from Spain in 1898. His re-election bid was defeated in 1965 by Ferdinand Marcos, whose subsequent authoritarian rule lasted 20 years.

Diosdado Macapagal is of royal blood due to descent from their great-great-grandfather: Don Juan Macapagal (A prince of Tondo) who was a great-grandson of the last reigning Rajah of Selurong, Rajah Lakandula[1]. His daughter, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is the current president of the Philippines.


Early life


Diosdado Macapagal was born on September 28, 1910 in Lubao, Pampanga, the second of four children in a poor family.[2] His father, Urbano Macapagal, was a poet who wrote in the local dialect, and his mother, Romana Pangan Macapagal, was a schoolteacher who taught catechism.[3] The family earned extra income by raising pigs and accommodating boarders in their home.[3] Due to his roots in poverty, Macapagal would later become affectionately known as the "Poor boy from Lubao".[4]

Macapagal excelled in his studies at local public schools, graduating valedictorian at Lubao Elementary School, and salutatorian at Pampanga High School.[5] He finished his pre-law course at the University of the Philippines, then enrolled at Philippine Law School in 1932, studying on a scholarship and supporting himself with a part-time job as an accountant.[3][5] While in law school, he gained prominence as an orator and debater.[5] However, he was forced to quit schooling after two years due to poor health and a lack of money.[3]

Returning to Pampanga, he joined boyhood friend Rogelio de la Rosa in producing and starring in Tagalog operettas patterned after classic Spanish zarzuelas.[3] It was during this period that he married his friend's sister, Purita de la Rosa.[3] He had two children with De la Rosa, Cielo and Arturo.[4]

Macapagal raised enough money to continue his studies at the University of Santo Tomas.[3] He also gained the assistance of philanthropist Honorio Ventura, the Secretary of the Interior at the time, who financed his education.[6] After receiving his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1936, he was admitted to the bar, topping the 1936 bar examination with a score of 89.95%.[5] He later returned to his alma mater to take up graduate studies and earn a Master of Laws degree in 1941, a Doctor of Civil Law degree in 1947, and a Ph.D. in Economics in 1957.[5]

Early career

After passing the bar examination, Macapagal was invited to join an American law firm as a practicing attourney, a particular honor for a Filipino at the time.[7] He was assigned as a legal assistant to President Manuel L. Quezon in Malacañang Palace.[5] During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II, Macapagal continued working in Malacañang Palace as an assistant to President Jose P. Laurel, while secretly aiding the anti-Japanese resistance.[5]

In 1943, Macapagal lost his first wife, Purita de la Rosa, to malnutrition due to the deprivations of the war.[5] In 1946 he married Evangelina Macaraeg, with whom he had two children, Gloria and Diosdado Jr.[4]

After the war, Macapagal worked as an assistant attorney with the one of the largest law firms in the country, Ross, Lawrence, Selph and Carrascoso.[5] With the establishment of the independent Republic of the Philippines in 1946, he rejoined government service when President Manuel Roxas appointed him to the Department of Foreign Affairs as the head of its legal division.[4] In 1948, President Elpidio Quirino appointed Macapagal as chief negotiator in the successful transfer of the Turtle Islands in the Sulu Sea from the United Kingdom to the Philippines.[5] That same year, he was assigned as second secretary to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C.[4] In 1949, he was elevated to the position of Counselor on Legal Affairs and Treaties, at the time the fourth highest post in the Philippine Foreign Office.[8]

House of Representatives

On the urging of local political leaders of Pampanga province, President Quirino recalled Macapagal from his position in Washington to run for a seat in the House of Representatives representing the 1st District of Pampanga.[9] The district's incumbent Representative, Amado Yuzon, was a friend of Macapagal, but was opposed by the administration due to his support by communist groups.[9] After a campaign which Macapagal described as cordial and free of personal attacks, he won a landslide victory in the 1949 election.[9] He also won re-election in the 1953 election, and served as Representative in the 2nd and 3rd Congress.

At the start of legislative sessions in 1950, the members of the House of Representatives elected Macapagal as Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and he was given several important foreign assignments.[8] He was a Philippine delegate to the United Nations General Assembly multiple times, notably distinguishing himself in debates over Communist aggression with Andrei Vishinsky and Jacob Malik of the Soviet Union.[8] He took part in negotiations for the US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty, the Laurel-Langley Agreement, and the Japanese Peace Treaty.[5] He also authored the Foreign Service Act, which reorganized and strengthened the Philippine foreign service.[4]

As a Representative, Macapagal authored and sponsored several laws of socio-economic importance, particularly aimed at benefiting the rural areas and the poor. Among legislation Macapagal promoted was the Minimum Wage Law, Rural Health Law, Rural Bank Law, the Law on Barrio Councils, the Barrio Industrialization Law, and a law nationalizing the rice and corn industries.[5] He was consistently selected by the Congressional Press Club as one of the Ten Outstanding Congressmen during his tenure.[5] In his second term, he was named Most Outstanding lawmaker of the Philippine 3rd Congress.[5]

Vice Presidency

In the 1957 general election, the Liberal Party drafted Representative Macapagal to run for Vice President of the Philippines as the running-mate of Jose Yulo, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. Macapagal's nomination was particularly boosted by Liberal Party President Eugenio Perez, who insisted that the party's vice presidential nominee have a clean record of integrity and honesty.[9] While Yulo was defeated by Carlos P. Garcia of the Nacionalista Party, Macapagal was elected Vice President in an upset victory, defeating the Nacionalista candidate, Jose Laurel, Jr., by over 8 percentage points. A month after the election, he was also chosen as the head of the Liberal Party.[6]

As the first ever Philippine vice president to be elected from a rival party of the president, Macapagal served out his four-year vice presidential term as a leader of the opposition. The ruling party refused to give him a Cabinet position in the Garcia administration, which was a break from tradition.[5] He was only offered a position in the Cabinet on the condition that he switch allegiance to the ruling Nationalista Party, but he declined the offer and instead played the role of critic to the administration's policies and performance.[4] This allowed him to capitalize on the increasing unpopularity of the Garcia administration. Assigned to performing only ceremonial duties as vice president, he spent his time making frequent trips to the countryside to acquaint himself with voters and to promote the image of the Liberal Party.[4]


Diosdado Macapagal was inaugurated as the 9th President of the Philippines on December 30, 1961 at the Quirino Grandstand, Manila.

In the 1961 presidential election, Macapagal ran against Garcia's re-election bid, promising an end to corruption and appealing to the electorate as a common man from humble beginnings.[3] He defeated the incumbent president with a 55% to 45% margin.[4] His inauguration as president took place on December 30, 1961.

Economic policy

In his inaugural address, Macapagal promised a socio-economic program anchored on "a return to free and private enterprise", placing economic development in the hands of private entrepreneurs with minimal government interference.[4]

Twenty days after the inauguration, exchange controls were lifted and the Philippine peso was allowed to float on the free currency exchange market. The currency controls were initially adopted by the administration of Elpidio Quirino as a temporary measure, but continued to be adopted by succeeding administrations. The peso devalued from P2.64 to the US dollar, and stabilized at P3.80 to the dollar, supported by a $300 million stabilization fund from the International Monetary Fund.[4]

Further reform efforts by Macapagal were blocked by the Nacionalistas, who dominated the House of Representatives and the Senate at that time. Nonetheless, Macapagal was able to achieve steady economic progress, and annual GDP growth averaged at 5.15% for 1962-65.[4]

Land reform

Among the most significant achievements of Macapagal as president were the abolition of tenancy and accompanying land reform program in the Agricultural Land Reform Code of 1963. The law was a significant advance over previous legislation, despite numerous amendments imposed by Congress, which was dominated by the rival Nacionalista Party.[4] The law abolished share tenancy on rice and corn farmlands, and established a leasehold system in which farmers paid fixed rentals to landlords, rather than a percentage of the harvest.[4]

Anti-corruption drive

One of Macapagal's major campaign pledges had been to clean out the government corruption that had proliferated under former President Garcia.[10]

The administration's campaign against corruption was tested by Harry Stonehill, an American expatriate with a $50-million business empire in the Philippines.[10] Stonehill was accused of tax evasion, smuggling, misdeclaration of imports, and corruption of public officials.[10] Three months into his presidency, Macapagal filed deportation proceedings against Stonehill, though rumors persisted that Stonehill was connected to members of Macapagal's own cabinet.[10] Two cabinet members submitted their resignation due to their association with Stonehill, though not accused of any particular wrongdoing.[10] In August 1961, Macapagal ordered Stonehill's immediate deportation from the country and had him declared persona non grata, despite an ongoing congressional investigation into his activities.[10] Though some members of Congress were displeased that Stonehill was not fully prosecuted, Macapagal reasoned that Stonehill's continuing presence was a distraction that had a corroding influence on national morale.[4]

The administration also openly feuded with Filipino businessmen Fernando Lopez and Eugenio Lopez, brothers who had controlling interests in several large businesses.[4] The administration alluded to the brothers as "Filipino Stonehills who build and maintain business empires through political power, including the corruption of politicians and other officials".[11] In the 1965 election, the Lopezes threw their support behind Macapagal's rival, Ferdinand Marcos, with Fernando as Marcos' running mate.[11]

Independence Day

Governor Gedeon G. Quijano of Misamis Occidental with President Macapagal

Macapagal appealed to nationalist sentiments by shifting the commemoration of Philippine independence day. In June 1962, he signed a proclamation which moved the observation of the nation's independence from July 4, the date when the country was granted independence from the United States in 1946, to June 12, the date when Filipino patriots declared independence from Spain in 1898.[4] The change became permanent in 1964 with the signing of Republic Act No. 4166.[12] Macapagal later admitted to journalist Stanley Karnow: "When I was in the diplomatic corps, I noticed that nobody came to our receptions on the Fourth of July, but went to the American Embassy instead. So, to compete, I decided we needed a different holiday."[7]

1965 presidential campaign

Towards the end of his term, Macapagal decided to seek re-election to continue seeking reforms which he claimed were stifled by a "dominant and uncooperative opposition" in Congress.[4] With Senate President Ferdinand Marcos, a fellow member of the Liberal Party, unable to win his party's nomination due to Macapagal's re-election bid, Marcos switched allegiance to the rival Nacionalista Party to oppose Macapagal.[4]

Among the issues raised against the incumbent administration were graft and corruption, rise in consumer goods, and persisting peace and order issues.[4] Macapagal was defeated by Marcos in the November 1965 polls.


Grave of Diosdado Macapagal at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Macapagal announced his retirement from politics following his 1965 loss to Marcos. In 1971, he was elected president of the constitutional convention that drafted what became the 1973 constitution.[5] The manner in which the charter was ratified and later modified led him to later question its legitimacy.[5] In 1979, he formed the National Union for Liberation as a political party to oppose the Marcos regime.[5]

Following the restoration of democracy in 1986, Macapagal took on the role of elder statesman, and was a member of the Philippine Council of State.[5] He also served as honorary chairman of the National Centennial Commission, and chairman of the board of CAP Life, among others.[5]

In his retirement, Macapagal devoted much of his time to reading and writing.[5] He published his presidential memoir, authored several books about government and economics, and wrote a weekly column for the Manila Bulletin newspaper.[5]

Diosdado Macapagal died of heart failure, pneumonia and renal complications at the Makati Medical Center on April 21, 1997. He is buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.[5]

Electoral history

Vice Presidential election, 1957[4]:

Presidential election, 1961[4]:

Presidential election, 1965[4]:


  • Speeches of President Diosdado Macapagal. Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1961.
  • New Hope for the Common Man: Speeches and Statements of President Diosdado Macapagal. Manila: Malacanang Press Office, 1962.
  • Five Year Integrated Socio-economic Program for the Philippines. Manila: [s.n.], 1963.
  • Fullness of Freedom: Speeches and Statements of President Diosdado Macapagal. Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1965.
  • An Asian looks at South America. Quezon City: Mac Publishing House, 1966.
  • The Philippines Turns East. Quezon City: Mac Publishing House, 1966.
  • A Stone for the Edifice: Memoirs of a President. Quezon City: Mac Publishing House, 1968.
  • A New Constitution for the Philippines. Quezon City: Mac Publishing House, 1970.
  • Democracy in the Philippines. Manila: [s.n.], 1976.
  • Constitutional Democracy in the World. Manila: Santo Tomas University Press, 1993.
  • From Nipa Hut to Presidential Palace: Autobiography of President Diosdado P. Macapagal. Quezon City: Philippine Academy for Continuing Education and Research, 2002.

See also

Named after Diosdado Macapagal:


  1. ^ "The Houses of Lakandula, Matanda, and Solayman (1571-1898): Genealogy and Group Identity". Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society 18. 1990.
  2. ^ "Diosdado Macapagal biography". The Macapagals. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Common Man's President". Time. 1961-11-24.,9171,828848,00.html. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Malaya, J. Eduardo; Jonathan E. Malaya (2004). So Help Us God: The Presidents of the Philippines and Their Inaugural Addresses. Manila: Anvil. pp. 200–214. ISBN 9712714861. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "Diosdado Macapagal". Malacañang Museum. Office of the President of the Philippines. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Diosdado Macapagal". Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  7. ^ a b Karnow, Stanley (1989). In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines. New York: Ballantine Books. pp. 362–365. ISBN 0-345-32816-7. 
  8. ^ a b c Macapagal, Diosdado (1966). "About the Author". The Philippines Turns East. Quezon City: Mac Publishing House. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Diosdado Macapagal autobiography". The Macapagals. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f "The Philippines: Smoke in Manila". Time. 1962-08-10.,9171,873686,00.html. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  11. ^ a b "Building a Strong Republic". Philippine Information Agency. 2003. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  12. ^ "Republic Act No. 4166". 1964-08-04. Retrieved 5 August 2009. 

External links

Assembly seats
Preceded by
Amado Yuzon
Member of the House of Representatives from Pampanga's 1st district
Succeeded by
Francisco Nepomuceno
Political offices
Preceded by
Carlos Garcia
Vice President of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Emmanuel Pelaez
President of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Ferdinand Marcos
Party political offices
Preceded by
Eugenio Perez
President of the Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Ferdinand Marcos


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Diosdado Pangan Macapagal (September 28, 1910April 21, 1997) was the 9th President of the Philippines, serving from 1961 to 1965, and the 6th Vice President of the Philippines, serving from 1957 to 1961.


  • I have sat at the sumptuous tables of power, but I have not run away with the silverware.

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