WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT RM
by Dr. Augusto V. de Viana
He set the example not only for government officials and functionaries to
follow but for the nation as a whole to emulate. He impressed upon the bureaucracy
that government of!ces is not for enrichment and self aggrandizement but for
service to the people, especially to the lowly folk in line with his famous dictum,
those who have less in life should have more in law.
To the common man Magsaysay.s most unforgettable trait is his
approachability. Wherever he went, he was mobbed by crowds and it was an
ordinary sight for him to entertain each one.s problem, small or big, from a distraught
mother asking for aid to get medicine to a tenant-farmer seeking justice in a land
In his speeches especially at gatherings in the provinces, Magsaysay
would stress that the government exists for the people and not the other way
around. .without the people there will be no government, no President, wala ako,.
he liked to say.
-Conrado F. Estrella, .Remember Magsaysay,. Manila Daily Bulletin, August
.Ramon Magsaysay was the idol of the masses, and half-a-million
countrymen cheered him as he took his oath of of!ce as the third President of
the Republic of the Philippines in the grandstand by Manila Bay on December 30,
Offered a Cadillac for the ride to Malacañang, he chose instead a borrowed
Ford convertible with its top down. The crowd clutched him as it followed the car;
his shirt was in tatters when he reached Malacañang.
Former Senator Manuel Manahan, who had been in the car, recounts that
RM reappeared after having changed his shirt and asked, .Where are the people?.
When the security chief explained that he had locked the palace doors, President
Magsaysay ordered angrily, Open all gates and doors. You have no authority to
bar the people from me..
Continues Sen. Manahan: Magsaysay taught us how a freely elected
president could work in a troubled nation like the Philippines. Above all, he
showed us how grandly we Filipinos can respond, given the chance, to dynamic,
democratic and incorruptible leadership..
Writes Sen. Manahan, .To a nation weary of corruption, Magsaysay
seemed like a man from another planet.#.
-Leonor Orosa Goquinco Ramon Magsaysay: The Guy and President,
The Philippine Star, August 26, 1990.
RM heard that a tenant farmer, Hermogenes Antonio, had been beaten
up by his landlord. Annoyed by the inaction of his subordinate, RM himself drove
off to Barrio Bantug, Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, 90 miles from Manila. He had the guilty
hacendero put on trial and the court had the culprit jailed for three months.
After RM.s visit villagers began volunteering information on the
Huk’s (Hukbong Magpapalaya sa Bayan, which replaced the anti-Japanese
HUKBALAHAP of World War II) activities. After his socio-economic activities had
been implemented, Huk leader Luis Taruc surrendered saying, I no longer have
any reason to continue fighting. Most of what I have been fighting for is now being
-Sen. Manuel Manahan as quoted by Leonor Orosa Goquinco .Ramon
Magsaysay: The Guy and President,. The Philippine Star, August 26, 1990.
-Where historically government has been regarded as a remote,
exploitative and repressive institution identified with colonial power under the
Spanish rule, or with a grudgingly attentive elite, RM.s success in bringing the
government closer to the people cannot be overestimated.
-Dr. Jose Abueva, former UP President, as quoted by Guillermo S. Santos,
Magsaysay – his place in History and Living Memorials, Manila Daily Bulletin,
August 29, 1989.
.He was a bright glorious meteor across Philippine skies, dispelling gloom,
bringing faith, hope and charity into his countrymen’s hearts..
Sen. Cipriano Primicias, as quoted by Leonor Orosa Goquinco in “Ramon
Magsaysay: The Guy and President,” The Philippine Star, August 26, 1990.
RM has been faulted in many ways. But two criticisms have pursued
him in his lifetime and after. RM his critics say, has been impulsive and impatient
which resulted in some embarrassing situations. The more serious one is that he
is a puppet of the US; worked closely with the Americans. The former is a minor
one; the latter is a serious matter. But I tend to be partial to RM on the latter,
unlike many of Lenin’s useful fools and xenophobic nationalists. who have not
forgiven him for his collaboration with the Americans. RM is a native of Zambales,
where a major US naval facility, the biggest of any outside of the continental US-
existed in his lifetime and, in all probability, led him to take the side of freedom
and democracy as a guerrilla during the dark side of World War II. Besides in my
view as a concerned nationalist, the question of the US military and naval bases
will be removed and on what terms- are settled in our, repeat, our, interests; but
these will have to consider and take into account the imperatives and geopolitics,
global military strategy and imponderables of history. (The US military and naval
bases have been removed after 1992 following the disapproval of the US Bases
Agreement by the Philippine Senate in 1991- ed)
-Guillermo S. Santos, Magsaysay- His Place in History and Living Memorials,
Manila Bulletin, August 30, 1989.