President Forever? Quezon and the Presidency (Final)

This series generally devoted to one question: Did Quezon envision to be President of the Philippines for life? See the second 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.]

Quezon aiming for the highest

According to Maslow,
Even if all these needs are satisfied (referring to the four lower needs), we may still often expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual is doing what he is fitted for. A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization.
In the case of Quezon, a politician must do politics. He never stopped to realize his realistic aims in this arena. All these political aims were, of course, centered upon the “work for self-redemption” that he fought for during the Revolution. Lasswell’s formulation of a political man is now completed in the person of Quezon, as we have presented in the previous sections. However, this political man’s drive for self-actualization had periodic stops.

Reasons for these periodic stops, which first occurred in 1917 when he announced he was quitting politics for good, can be traced back to Maslow’s theory. At around this time, Quezon was diagnosed with tuberculosis. This illness struck Quezon’s most basic level of needs, that of physiological. As said earlier in this paper, if the lower level in the hierarchy of needs is not met, then the motivation to pursue the higher needs will collapse. Also, in the preceding year (1916), he already met his realistic aim to bring in greater self-government to the Philippines as Resident Commissioner with the Jones Law. Also known as the Philippine Autonomy Law, this achievement of his made Manila assemble the largest demonstration ever organized for anyone in the archipelago. Quezon himself admitted that it was the most thrilling moment of his life at the time. Apparently, his mission would have seemed to be over.

That is, if the fact that tuberculosis can be treated is overlooked. By Quezon’s time, though a vaccine was not yet fully developed, treatment for tuberculosis was available. This method, known as the pneumothorax or plombage technique, made the lungs “rest” from the infecting bacteria and allows the lesions cause by it to heal. Of course it also required the person infected to rest himself in a suitable environment during the treatment. Optimistic as he is, now that he knew his illness could be treated, Quezon saw hope that he can still continue his pursuit for self-actualization once more. This optimistic view will then hold on until his dying days.

Governor General Leonard Wood, 1919
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
After resigning from the Resident Commissioner post, he went on to the Senate, becoming that institution’s president. Quezon carried with him another struggle, now that of achieving independence. Lasswell’s formulation can again be seen at work in this scenario. It was perhaps at this time did Quezon begin to ponder of aiming to become President of an independent, or at least autonomous, Philippines. There were now calls to directly elect a Filipino governor general. Around 1923, during the controversy with Governor General Leonard Wood, he said to a close friend,
   Independence will be granted us eventually, don’t worry about it, but it will come by our taking advantage of some great opportunity in the future, by our grabbing that opportunity by the hair when it comes. I assure you it will come. Notice how we obtained the Jones Law. I grabbed it from the American Congress by taking advantage of one such opportunity. The same thing will happen again with independence, believe me.
He is now the archipelago’s hero. He must have guessed as early as this time that the top position of an independent, or at least autonomous, Philippines is waiting for him to be taken, but the stage was not yet set. Despite being more careful now in his actions, it can be noted that he grabbed the opportunity in a lightning fast manner, as with the Jones Law. His attitude during the revolutionary days, a result of his rivalry with his father, did not leave him completely. There is continuity, as said earlier.

Quezon: President Forever?

The political attitude and style he developed from his youth persisted for the rest of his political career. He had the drive to aim higher, and eventually, for the highest. When independence almost came in the form of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Bill (later Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act) without him being the hero of the day, he maneuvered things to his favor. The result was the Tydings-McDuffie Law, and with it he emerged as the President of the Commonwealth in 1935. Quezon, as said earlier, already saw that the one who brings independence will become the hero in the archipelago. According to Teodoro Agoncillo, Quezon’s battle to reject the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Bill lay in the fact that it was brought by the Osmena-Roxas faction. Provided that Quezon guessed right on a hero coming out of an independence bill (as he usually is correct), Osmena might press the advantage and become President of the Commonwealth. At the best, he would become Osmena’s Vice President. In favor to Quezon, he won in this political game against Osmena. Meanwhile, Nick Joaquin recognizes the great heart displayed by Osmena for he had accepted the vice presidential slot to unite the major Filipino political forces. Perhaps Osmena was also thinking of his political future. Since the Commonwealth period shall last for ten years, yet the President shall serve for only six, then he may run in 1941 and be the first President of the independent Philippines. Whatever the agenda was for both men, neither of them would be the first President of the newly independent republic for Roxas eventually wins out in 1946. That is another story.

President Manuel Luis M. Quezon, November 1942
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
As President of the Commonwealth, he was given a non-renewable six-year term. He even advocated this move, and to ensure that the new Constitution bears provisions that he wanted, he pushed someone from his faction to be President of the Constitutional Convention. It was Claro M. Recto. Recto, in his speech on Quezon’s 75th birth anniversary in 1953, relates Quezon’s “perfect accord” to a single six-year term for the President. He turned down Quezon when, after being influenced by some politicians to make the Presidency able for reelection, the latter wanted him to lend influence to a Constitutional amendment.

Perhaps Quezon again saw there is again room to aim higher. Maslow’s theory applies once more here, as can be inferred from what is already mentioned: “to become everything that one is capable of becoming.” The Commonwealth would still be considered autonomy under the United States, whatever the liberties were provided to the Philippines by that time. Thus, he wanted to be President of an independent Philippines, having the reasoning already stated in the earlier sections. He believes he is the only one capable of managing the country in that time of crisis. To do it, he hoped to continue serving as President as long as he could, until the Philippines becomes independent, how much sick he is becoming as the years go by, although, it seems that Navarro may have stretched Quezon’s aspiration to stay in power too much by putting in to the 1950s. Probably the best way to describe Quezon’s drive was a quote from Bejamin Disraeli: “Life is too short to be little.”

President Sergio Osmena, far left, returns to the Philippines
with General Douglas MacArthur in October of 1944
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
However, with the current political situation; it is natural that Osmena will succeed Quezon. In the event that Quezon dies within his new four-year term, which actually happened on August 1, 1944 at age 65, Osmena will take over, and all he needed to do was virtually nothing. The former even envied the latter's health (Osmena, though only a month younger than Quezon, died in 1961 at the age of 83). Quezon never saw his optimistic hopes to fruition this time. And at this time as well, he never saw the Philippines again. According to Quirino, Quezon may have died anyway had he seen with his own eyes the destruction wrought by war in the country he had helped built as President since 1935. Finally, on July 17, 1946, Quezon returns to the Philippines, now fallen and never lived to see the independence he had so long fought. A politician of great political sense for his time, though fallen asleep, yet forever immortalized in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

The recent 20 peso bill of the Philippines,
part of the New Generation Currency series
Quezon first appeared in Philippine money in 1951
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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[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 (Final) President Forever? Quezon and the Presidency (Final) Reviewed by Al Raposas on Tuesday, October 07, 2014 Rating: 5

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