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Diosdado Pangan Macapagal (September 28, 1910 April 21, 1997) was

the ninth President of the Philippines, serving from 1961 to 1965, and the sixth VicePresident, serving from 1957 to 1961. He also served as a member of the House of
Representatives, and headed the Constitutional Convention of 1970. He is the father
of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was the fourteenth President of the Philippines from
2001 to 2010.
A native of Lubao, Pampanga, 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 under
the rule of President Carlos P. Garca, whom he defeated in the 1961 polls.
Diosdado Macapagal was also a reputed poet in the Spanish language, though his poetic
oeuvre was eclipsed by his political biography.
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 observance of
Independence Day from July 4 to June 12, commemorating the day President Emilio
Aguinaldo unilaterally declared the independence of the First Philippine Republic from
the Spanish Empire in 1898. He stood for re-election in 1965, and was defeated
by Ferdinand Marcos, who subsequently ruled for 21 years.
Under Marcos, Macapagal was elected president of the Constitutional Convention which
would later draft what became the 1973 Constitution, though the manner in which the
charter was ratified and modified led him to later question its legitimacy. He died of heart
failure, pneumonia, and renal complications, in 1997, at the age of 86.

Diosdado Macapagal was born on September 28, 1910, in Lubao, Pampanga, the third of
four children in a poor family.[1] His father, Urbano Macapagal, was a poet who wrote in
the local Pampangan language, and his mother, Romana Pangan Macapagal, was a
schoolteacher who taught catechism.[2] He is a distant descendant of Don Juan
Macapagal, a prince of Tondo, who was a great-grandson of the last reigning Lakan of
theKingdom of Tondo, Lakan Dula.[3] The family earned extra income by raising pigs and
accommodating boarders in their home.[2] Due to his roots in poverty, Macapagal would
later become affectionately known as the "Poor boy from Lubao".[4] Diosdado Macapagal

was also a reputed poet in the Spanish language although his poet work was eclipsed by
his political biography.
Diosdado P. Macapagal Facts
Diosdado P. Macapagal (1910-1997) was the fifth president of the Republic of the
Philippines. He was instrumental in initiating and executing the Land Reform Code,
which was designed to solve the centuries-old land tenancy problem, the principal
cause of the Communist guerrilla movement in central Luzon.
Diosdado Macapagal was born on Sept. 28, 1910, the son of poor tenant farmers. In 1929
he entered the University of the Philippines, where he received an associate in arts degree
in 1932. Meanwhile he worked part time with the Bureau of Lands.
Macapagal was constantly forced to interrupt his schooling for lack of funds. His brotherin-law Rogelio de la Rosa, with whom he acted in and produced Tagalog operettas,
helped him continue his education. Macapagal entered the University of Santo Tomas in
Manila, receiving his bachelor of laws degree in 1936, his master of laws degree in 1941,
and doctor of laws degree in 1947. He also received a doctorate in economics in 1957.
Early Career and Government Service
In 1941 Macapagal worked as legal assistant to President Quezon and as professor of law
in the University of Santo Tomas. A claim is made that he served as an intelligence agent
for the guerrillas during the Japanese occupation, but this period of his life has not been
well documented.
In 1946 Macapagal served as assistant and then as chief of the legal division in the
Department of Foreign Affairs. In 1948 he was second secretary to the Philippine
embassy in Washington and in 1949 became counselor on legal affairs and treatises in the
Department of Foreign Affairs. In 1949 he was elected representative of the first district
of Pampanga Province on the ticket of the Liberal party. In 1953 he was the only Liberal
party member to win reelection.
Macapagal attained worldwide distinction in 1951, when, as chairman of the Philippine
UN delegation, he conducted a debate with Soviet foreign minister Andrei Vishinsky. In
November 1957 Macapagal was elected vice president, receiving 116,940 more votes
than the total received by the elected president, Carlos P. Garcia. In December Macapagal
became the titular head of the Liberal party. In spite of his rank as vice president and
because he belonged to the opposition party, Macapagal was treated as a complete
outsider; he was barred from Cabinet meetings and was assigned routine ceremonial

duties. Consequently, Macapagal denounced the graft and corruption in the Garcia
administration and toured the country campaigning for the next election.
On Jan. 21, 1961, Macapagal was chosen as Liberal party candidate for president.
Rallying the masses in the villages and towns, he elaborated a familiar motif in his
speeches: "I come from the poorLet me reap for you the harvest of the poor. Let us
break the chain of poverty"
Performance as President
Macapagal became president on Nov. 14, 1961, defeating Garcia. In his inaugural
statement he declared: "I shall be president not only of the rich but more so of the poor.
We must help bridge the wide gap between the poor man and the man of wealth, not by
pulling down the rich to his level as Communism desires, but by raising the poor towards
the more abundant life." With his naivetand paternalistic attitude, Macapagal vowed to
open Malakanyang Palace, the presidential residence, to all the citizens. He canceled the
inaugural ball and issued a decree forbidding any member of his family or of his wife's to
participate in any business deals with the government. He dismissed corrupt officials and
started court action against those who could not explain their sudden acquisition of
wealth. He changed the date that Filipinos celebrate their independence to June 12 from
July 4. In 1898, Filipino revolutionaries had declared independence from Spain on June
12; July 4 was the date the Philippines were declared independent by the United States
after World War II.
Macapagal aimed to restore morality to public life by concentrating on the elevation of
the living standard of the masses. Addressing Congress in 1962, he formulated the
objectives of his socioeconomic programs as, first, the immediate restoration of economic
stability; second, the alleviation of the common man's plight; and third, the establishment
of a "dynamic basis for future growth." Unfortunately, Macapagal's friends in the
oligarchy and the privileged minority in Congress and business soon began parading their
lavish wealth in conspicuous parties, junkets, and anomalous deals.
On Jan. 21, 1962, Macapagal abolished the economic controls that had been in operation
since 1948. He devalued the Philippine peso by setting its value according to the
prevailing free market rate instead of by government direction. He lifted foreign
exchange controls and reduced tariff rates on essential consumer goods. Seeking to
remedy the problem of unemployment, he took steps to decentralize the economy and at
the same time encourage commerce and industry in the provinces. He also proposed
decentralization in government by investing greater power in provincial and local
governments as a step essential to the growth of democratic institutions. He also
suggested the establishment of eight regional legislatures with power to levy taxes.
Land Reform Program
To ameliorate the plight of the Filipino peasant in the face of vast population growth,
Macapagal instituted a public land clearance program to make new farmlands available
for immediate use. The product of his concern for the impoverished majority was the

Land Reform Code of Aug. 8, 1963, which sought to replace the abusive and unjust
tenancy system inherited from colonial times by the leasehold system, affording full
government protection to the leaseholder. The positive result obtained in 1966
demonstrated the value of the land reform program in materially improving the local
living conditions of the rural poor.
Foreign Policy
Macapagal's foreign policy displayed an eccentric course. On the one hand, he affirmed
that he would never recognize Communist China despite what the United States or other
nations might decide. On the other, he criticized in May 1962 the United States support of
Laos neutralists as "a species of sophistry that can only weaken the defense of the free
In June 1962 Macapagal registered a claim of Philippine sovereignty over British North
Borneo (Sabah). In July he proposed the establishment of a greater Malayan
confederation which would supersede the British-sponsored plan for the Federation of
Malaysia. This would be a step toward ultimate establishment of a Pan-Asian Union.
Macapagal initiated the Manila Accord of July 31, 1963, signed by himself, President
Sukarno of Indonesia, and Abdul Rahman of Malaya; on August 6 the three chiefs of state
issued the Manila Declaration toward the establishment of Maphilindo, designed to set up
closer ties between the three countries in their collective fight against neocolonialism.
This plan broke up with the formation on Aug. 1, 1964, of the Federation of Malaysia by
the Malayan and British governments.
Although Macapagal prided himself in being the "conscience of the common man," he
failed in preventing his administration from being wrecked by the Stonehill scandal of
1962, which revealed massive government corruption and racketeering that involved
almost the whole bureaucracy and Congress. Despite Macapagal's so-called
incorruptibility, he failed to solve decisively the major social and economic problems of
the nation. He lost his bid for re-election in 1965 to Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled for the
next 20 years. However, Macapagal's political legacy lives on in his daughters, both of
whom followed him into politics: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a Filipino senator, and
Cielo Macapagal-Salgado is vice-governor of Pampanga, her father's home province.
Macapagal also had two sons, Arturo and Diosdado, Jr.
He died in Manila on April 21, 1997 of heart failure. He was 86.
Further Reading on Diosdado P. Macapagal
The only official biography of Macapagal in print is Quentin J.Reynolds and Geoffrey
Bocca, Macapagal, the Incorruptible (1965). For a just estimate of Macapagal's
administration see Teodoro A. Agoncillo and Oscar Alfonso, A Short History of the
Filipino People (1969).