President Forever? Quezon and the Presidency (Part 2)

This series generally devoted to one question: Did Quezon envision to be President of the Philippines for life? See the first part of the President Forever series by clicking here.


[Note: The President Forever title is adapted from the computer game series President Forever, a United States election simulation, first released as President Forever 2008 + Primaries in October 2006.]


The motivation of Quezon

American occupation of the Philippines, resulting to the dissolution of Aguinaldo’s army, ended Quezon’s military career. Quezon then took into mind how to continue the struggle for the country with his soldier days now at a dead end. He decided to accept the offer by Judge Linebarger to be fiscal or prosecuting attorney in Mindoro in 1904. Quezon told himself upon thinking of the offer, “This position, which is being unexpectedly offered to me may be the starting point set by fate for a greater service that I may render to my people in their work of self-redemption.” This position may not be an elected position, but this began Quezon’s government service, which eventually led to his election as Governor of Tayabas (now, Quezon Province) in 1905. This also marked the beginning of Quezon being a political leader.

According to Wolfenstein, “Political leaders are, of course, political men.” The political man, as discussed in the past section, had this aim for power and authority. This was nurtured by a competition with the father. Since there is a continuity of motivation from childhood to adult life, it can therefore be said that this drive and the sense of rivalry continued. On Quezon’s case, as with the political men like him, saw an arena to continue aiming higher in politics. A formulation by Harold Lasswell, first published in 1930 in his Psychopathology and politics, provided a generalization on political men:
Private motives displaced onto public objects and rationalized in terms of public interest result in political man.
Quezon, following this formulation, would seem not to be only concerned for the struggle for the country’s eventual “self-redemption”. This will only be the part of public objects and rationalized in terms of public interest. He must have been concerned with something else, the private motive part of the formulation. The stage of his life as a revolucionario (revolutionary), according to Erik Erikson’s stages of psycho-social development, is the stage when he asks what he could be. Quezon might have seen an answer already when he was serving as an army soldier. This was cut short, however, as said earlier. Thus, he resorted to politics. In this arena he will fight until his death in 1944. Here he had seen what he could be, and later on, following Erikson’s stages, how his life would count. These natural questions that needed answers motivated Quezon. This gave him a new arena of competition, but it must be noted that this is not his only motivation. Erikson’s stages do not require the overcoming of a person of his psycho-social crises in every stage. There are always chances that a person does not emerge successful at all.

Aiming higher as a need for Quezon?

It had been normally asked among pre-school and elementary students what they wanted to be. This want forms the backbone of what they aim for in the future. The question lies behind this is: Why do you want to become like that? The rivalry with the father answers only a part of the question. If we follow only this formula, then Quezon wanted to be a soldier just to emulate his father, and he used the concept of struggling for freedom to rationalize this act. He could just have stopped at that, since his father is dead, putting an end to the rivalry. He could have quietly earned a fortune as a lawyer in Manila. However, he shifted to the political arena.

An interpretation of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In Abraham Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation, this want takes a different form. It is revealed that the drive to aim higher is indeed a need. In this theory, Maslow presents a hierarchy of needs that fuels human motivation. The lowest, most basic of these needs was physiological. This level is concerned with the biological requirements of a person like food, water and air. Unlike Erikson’s stages that does not require to satisfy the current stage to move on to the next stage, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs requires that the lower level be satisfied first before moving up to the following level. Thus, whenever a person’s physiological needs are met, other “higher” needs develop. There are five levels in this hierarchy, in order from lowest to highest: physiological, safety (property, employment), love (friends, family), esteem (self-esteem, self-confidence, achievement), and self-actualization (problem solving, righteousness, creativity).

In Quezon’s case, at the time he fought in the Revolution and began to serve in the colonial government, he was into meeting his esteem needs. As a revolutionary, he wanted to be a national military hero. As an emerging politician (he worked his way to become Resident Commissioner in 1909), he again wanted to a hero. That is, a hero of the people for bringing greater self-government, and eventually, independence for the Philippines. It can be seen that he went on a quest to make some achievement of his own. This stage also acted as his litmus test for meeting the highest need: self-actualization.

Quezon’s political ascent cannot be said as a meteoric rise, unlike the aforementioned rivalry with his father. He rose in the ranks in a careful manner, putting his aims in a realistic context. This he most likely learned from his revolutionary days. At that time, he asked President Aguinaldo to put him in the front lines, of which the president consented. He must have been embarrassed that he was promoted from lieutenant to captain without being in the battlefield. All he did was office work, since he was a member of the Presidential Guard. Convinced of his ability and courage, he thought this would be the beginning of his road to becoming a national military hero. However, when the bullets came in, he prepared for his own retreat. Only a sense of humiliation, as warned by his superior Colonel Leysan, made him stood ground. A number of famed heroes had gained their fame in a single battle. Aguinaldo himself had his own spurs in the double battle of Binakayan and Dalahican. Quezon cannot repeat this incident once more if he wanted to go on to and meet the pinnacle in the hierarchy of needs, which is self-actualization. He knew there could be no instant achievement in his case. This is his motivation, the need to aim higher.


Want to continue this series? Read the final part of the President Forever series.

See the references by clicking here.


[Disclaimer: While some content may offend or cause disagreement with some readers, it must first be taken to mind that the author does not have access to the entire Quezon fountain of sources. Therefore, whatever analyses and conclusions made here are made as adequate as possible and are only built from the available evidences, sources and theories the author has access. Also, since only few editing, mainly grammatical, was made since this series was first written in 2012, then it is yet to be subjected to change. Any correction is welcome, but copying without permission is being frowned upon, since this blog is not under any Creative Commons Attribution. Thank you for reading the Young Filipino Historian.]
President Forever? Quezon and the Presidency (Part 2) President Forever? Quezon and the Presidency (Part 2) Reviewed by Al Raposas on Saturday, October 04, 2014 Rating: 5

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