Manuel Luis Quezón y Molina (August 19, 1878 – August 1, 1944) was 2nd and the first Filipino president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines under U.S. colonial rule in the first half of the 20th century, serving from 1935 to 1944.
Quezón is considered by most Filipinos to have been the second President of the Philippines, after Emilio Aguinaldo. He has the distinction of being the first Senate President elected to the presidency, the first president elected through a national election, and the first incumbent to secure re-election (for a partial second term, later extended, due to amendments to the 1935 Constitution). He is known as the “Father of the National Language”.
During his presidency, Quezón tackled the problem of landless peasants in the countryside. Other major decisions include reorganisation of the islands military defence, approval of recommendation for government reorganisation, promotion of settlement and development in Mindanao, tackling foreign strangle-hold on Philippine trade and commerce, proposals for land reform and the tackling of graft and corruption within the government. Quezón established an exiled government in the US with the outbreak of the war and the threat of Japanese invasion. During his exile in the US, Manuel Quezón died of tuberculosis in Saranac Lake, New York.
Quezón, was born in Baler, Tayabas (now Aurora). His Spanish mestizo parents were Lucio Quezón and María Dolores Molina. His father was a primary grade school teacher from Paco, Manila, and also a retired Sergeant in the Spanish colonial army, while his mother was a primary grade school teacher in their hometown. During the Philippine-American War he was an ayuda-de-campo to Emilio Aguinaldo. He rose to the rank of Major and fought in the Bataan sector during the retreat and surrender in 1901.
He received his primary education from his mother and school teacher in their home town and tutors, and later boarded at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he completed secondary school. In 1898, his father Lucio and brother Pedro were ambushed and killed by armed men while on their way home to Baler from Nueva Ecija, because of their loyalty to the Spanish government. He cut short his law studies at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila in 1899 to participate in the struggle for independence against the United States, led by Emilio Aguinaldo. After Aguinaldo surrendered in 1901, however, Quezón returned to the university and passed the bar examinations in 1903, placing fourth. He worked for a time as a clerk and surveyor, entering government service as an appointed fiscal for Mindoro and later Tayabas. He became a councilor and was elected governor of Tayabas in 1906 as an independent. In 1907, he was elected to the first Philippine Assembly, where he served as majority floor leader and chairman of the committee on appropriations. From 1909–1916, he served as one of the Philippines’ two resident commissioners to the U.S. House of Representatives, lobbying for the passage of the Philippine Autonomy Act or Jones Law.