Elpidio Quirino, patriot, statesman–a very good president


MANY people who know about Elpidio Rivera Quirino, who was born on November 16, 1890 and would have been celebrating his 125th birthday today if he had not died on February 29, 1956, think of him only as a politician who became the sixth President of the Philippines.

The late President Quirino was much more than just a politician–especially much more than the kind of politicians we have in our country today.

He was a statesman. And a simple definition of “statesman” is a “political leader who is disinterestedly promoting the public good.” Another definition of a statesman is “one versed in the principles or art of good government” and is “a wise, skillful, and respected political leader.” Apo Pidiong, which was how his fellow Ilocanos called him, certainly more than just fit those definitions.

There is an incorrect general impression of President Quirino that he was a bad president.
This is in the minds of most of those who only know the shrill anti-Quirino accounts in Philippine and American newspapers. These wrong accounts came out in the 1950s. In the last half of his term, the Quirino presidency was being actively undermined by the American Central Intelligence Agency and its agents’ friends in the Philippine oligarchy–businessmen, sugar bloc leaders, politicians and some of the media. Why? Because, contrary to the anti-Quirino propaganda, Apo Pidiong was actually standing up to the Americans and was a nationalist.

He said a truth about himself that our current president cannot: “While I recognize the United States as a great builder in the Philippines, I have never surrendered the sovereignty, much less the dignity and future of our country.”

In the 1953 presidential elections, in which Quirino was running for re-election, his main challenger was his decamped former Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay. Everybody, except the most ignorant of political goings-on, knew that Magsaysay was the US candidate and had American experts in political-intrigue, media spin and psychological warfare working for the campaign to replace Pres. Quirino in Malacañang.

Fabricated tales

It was ironic that some of the Filipino nationalists in Philippine media, because they were under orders from the pillars of the Philippine plutocracy who also owned the newspapers and radio stations, became co-workers of the CIA in assassinating the reputation of President Quirino.

They were the ones who merrily fabricated tales about Pres. Quirino’s alleged profligacy and therefore his expensive lifestyle requiring corrupt intakes of public funds. This was the opposite of the simple man that Pres. Qurino was.

The most enduring of these ignominious falsehoods are those of Pres. Quirino allegedly sleeping on a golden four-poster and using a golden chamber pot. The columnists who invented these reports were nationalists who in their hearts and secret conversations loathed Magsaysay for being the CIA-boy. They finally confessed they wrote lies to slander Mr. Quirino. Unfortunately, and proving Goebbels right, many commentators today–using the most easily accessible references — prolong the currency of the false tales against Pres. Quirino.

A lawyer, Elpidio R. Quirino entered politics after being a schoolteacher in his barrio. He was 29 years old when he was elected congressman representing his Ilocos Sur district. From that time to the end of his term as president of the Philippines in 1953, he served with patriotism as a statesman.

He served ably as a Cabinet member to Presidents Quezon and Roxas in many portfolios, most notably in foreign affairs but also in education, finance and other departments. He began the work to professionalize the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He initiated the creation of the Social Security System. As president, he balanced the budget and presided over the first years of the post-war rehabilitation of the Philippines. He managed the economy and it achieved GDP growth rates of 9 percent.

He of course cooperated with the United States in fighting Communism and had peace talks with the rebel Hukbalahap (which presaged the New People’s Army). He initiated serious land reform. He facilitated the granting of asylum to thousands of White Russians fleeing the Soviet Union.

As early as 1937 and 1946, he sought recognition of Philippine sovereignty over the Spratlys and he began the studies and efforts, which later President Diosdado Macapagal pursued, to enforce Filipino rights through the Sultan of Sulu, over Sabah.

We urge readers to go visit the Ayala Museum and learn more about this president, who loved and served our country truly well, from the exhibition “Defining Quirino.” It is on until Saturday November 28.


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  1. The problem is we still have citizenry who are gullible and can easily be manipulated by bias media…then we will end up again electing a wrong leader!!

  2. Ako man ang paniwala ko ay hindi magandang Presidente ng Pilipinas si Apo Quirino.

    Ngayon alam ko ang totoo. Akala namin ay totoo ang GOLDEN ARINOLA.



  3. Vladimir Olivares on

    Indeed, President Quirino achieved more for this country than any post war President. His housing projects from Project 1 to Project 8 provided homes for the poor and middle class during his term.

  4. Edgar G. Festin on

    Fantastic, concise, truthful editorial about a really good Filipino president. It was also ironic that, while the nationalist senator and statesman Claro M. Recto, a quiet practicing Catholic who went to Mass and Holy Communion daily!, criticized Mr. Quirino because he, with the late President Roxas allowed passage of the US-required Parity Rights and the Bell Agreement, ended up also admitti8ng that Mr. Quirino had been standing up to America and opposed Ramon Magsaysay’s CIA-sponsored campaign for the presidency in 1953.

  5. And if it wasn’t for Quirino and his import control, the peso would have devalued to its lowest ebb. Quirino was indeed a builder of the nation. Magsaysay like Cory was a disaster.

    • laguatanlawzen.com on

      Butch fully agree with you. The declineof our peso strength started from the Magsaysay era. HE WAS a US puppet. But Cory was the worst and it became even more worst when her son ABNOY became President. Perhaps, it would take 3 generations or so for the PH to save herself from further drowning in the quagmire of irreversible poverty. Now, the PH is going to the dogs.

    • Yes Butch as a 13 year old boy, I believed in the jingle of President Elpidio R. Quirino the he was ” THE BUILDER OF THE NATION ” and that he was. I also believed that Pres. Elpidio R. Quirino was the most HONEST AND SO FAR THE BEST PRESIDENT WE EVER HAD, UP TO THE PRESENT.
      He was charged falsely by newspapers and radios through the instant of CIA in the 1954 election of;
      1) He bought a KING SIZE BED for P1,500 but did not mentioned that President Quirino bought the bed at the National Belivid Prison to help the prisoners and also promote his ” BUY FILIPINO FIRST POLICY “. He was also charged falsely by PLUTOCRACY, Oligarch and Politicians, with the help of the CIA of buying a ” GOLDEN ARINOLA ” FOR P500. President Quirino left the ” KING SIZE BED and GOLDEN ARINOLA ” IN MALACANANG when Magsaysay took over as president.
      2) He was also charged of favoring his brother, Judge Antonio Quirino, who set up the first Philippine Television DZAQ which was later sold to, I believed , Chronicle Broadcasting Networks, owned by the Lopez Brothers.
      3) He was charged of building a ” mansion ” at Forest Hill, Novaliches a suburb far then from Manila. This was an ordinary house compared to any and all the presidents we had and smaller than the house of Pnoy in Times Street, Q,C. and not comparable to the house of children of presidents and relatives and even to present politicians.
      I believe and knew this as my late father was an Undersecretary who served and emulate President Elpidio R. Quirino and live also an honest life.