“I’D RATHER have a government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by Americans!” were the fighting words of the highly nationalistic Manuel Luis Molina Quezon in a speech delivered at the Ateneo de Manila during an oratorical contest on “Civil Liberty.”
Manuel Quezon was born to a “chinoy” father from Parian and a mestiza mother from Baler, Tayabas.*
The Dominicans figured prominently in his education: high school years in Letran and law studies at the venerable University of Sto. Tomas. However, his studies got cut short when he fought alongside Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo as aide-de-camp with the rank of major during the Phil-American War.
At the end of the war, Quezon resumed and finished his studies. Later, he placed fourth in the bar exam. Although ambitious, the young lawyer did not hesitate to start at the bottom of the ladder: serving as clerk, surveyor, and treasurer in Mindoro. Returning to Baler, he flung his hat into the political ring, serving as councilor, governor, congressman, and later, senator.
Against all odds, he bested in the presidential race of 1935 a formidable array of opponents, including Emilio Aguinaldo himself, Gregorio Aglipay (a former Catholic priest) and Pascual Racuyal. Four years later, he got reelected to serve a second term as president of the Philippine Commonwealth.
Quick-witted, he faced several challenges in argumentation. Once an archrival argued that motion is impossible, and he proceeded to cite one of Zeno’s paradox, namely, for a body to move in space, it has to cross an infinite number of points in limited or finite amount of time. When his opponent smugly rested his case, Quezon -- known for his temper as a mestizo-espanol -- swiftly cocked his fist which landed smack on his tormentor’s nose, demolishing the argument against motion “handily.”
*N.B. The mother was the daughter of Padre Jose Urbina de Esparragoza, the Spanish parish priest of Baler, Tayabas (now Quezon Province)