Note: This is a reprint of my article series posted in my old blog site.

The President of the Philippines resides in the Spanish-era building called the Malacañang Palace. As the official seat of power, it is the aspiring presidentiables' main goal. As the 2010 Presidential Elections is counting down, presidential candidates have already unveiled their plans as to how they will serve the country if they are elected as president.

Malacañang at the turn of the century
It is interesting to note that the etymology of Malacañang comes from the Tagalog phrase "may lakan diyan" (there is a nobleman there) because of the fact that Manila was once a powerful sultanate ruled by Rajah Sulayman, Rajah Matanda and Rajah Lakandula. But throughout its history, the palace was the official residence of the Spanish governor-generals that governed the archipelago.

Malacañang was built in 1802 as a summer residence for Spanish aristocrat Luis Rocha but it was later sold and eventually became a temporary residence for the governor-generals. But in 1869, a powerful earthquake has destroyed the Palacio del Gobernador and so Malacañang became the new home of the highest official in the land. Former Spanish governor-general of Puerto Rico Rafael Echague y Bermingham became the first Spanish governor to occupy the palace.

During the American period, Malacañang became the official residence of the American governor-generals and William Howard Taft became the first one to reside in the palace. What makes it more interesting is that Taft is the only person to have reside both at Malacañang and the White House during his term as governor-general and U.S. president respectively. It was Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon became the first Filipino resident of the palace in 1935.

After the war, Malacañang has been expanded and undergone series of renovations. It has become more spacious and luxurious. During President Corazon Aquino's administration, the government made the distinction between "Malacañan Palace", official residence of the president, and "Malacañang", office of the president.

But to reside there, one has to win the presidential election. It has been a long road ever since as many aspiring politicians tried to be president while some tried to be president for good.

Aguinaldo and Quezon during Flag Day, June 12, 1941
In the history of the presidential elections, the road to power was still going to Malolos, Bulacan as the Spanish still ruled the islands. An on 1899, Emilio Aguinaldo became the president of the first Philippine republic eventhough he had dictatorial powers. At the time, there was no ballot count and the election was more of a raising of hands. It may be disputed that the so-called election may have been rigged or it was a sham all along as it was the case of the earlier election wherein the faction of Andres Bonifacio were nearly voted out from power. Bonifacio and his brothers were eventually executed as they were put in trump-up charges of treason and sedition.

President: Emilio Aguinaldo (1899–1901)
Vice-President: Mariano Trias (1897)
Prime Minister: Apolinario Mabini (January 21 - May 7, 1899) / Pedro Paterno (May 7 - November 13, 1899)

Due to the growing clamor for Philippine independence, the Americans decided to give the Filipinos a chance for self-governance by the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines (though the country will be governed by Filipinos, the Americans are still controlling foreign affairs and the treasury) with the enactment of the Tydings-McDuffie Act. Just like Puerto Rico, the Philippines is still an American territory and literally a semi-independent nation that still flies the Stars and Stripes.

And on September 15, 1935, the Philippines had its first ever presidential election with a race that pitted Senate President Manuel L. Quezon, former revolutionary "President" Emilio Aguinaldo and Iglesia Filipina Indepediente founder and supreme bishop Gregorio Aglipay.

It was an overwhelming victory for Quezon as he outvoted both Aguinaldo and Aglipay. Quezon's running mate, future president Sergio Osmeña also won via a landslide against two virtual unknown candidates.


Candidate Party Votes  %
Manuel Luis Quezon Coalicion Nacionalista 695,332 67.99%
Emilio Aguinaldo National Socialist Party 179,349 17.54%
Gregorio Aglipay Republican Party 148,010 14.47%


Candidate Party Votes  %
Sergio Osmeña Coalicion Nacionalista 812,352 86.91%
Raymundo Melliza Independent 70,899 7.59%
Norberto Nabong Independent 51,443 5.50%

On the eve of the Second World War, the Philippines had its second presidential elections on November 11, 1941. With war clouds looming, Japanese-American relations are in a precariously low point and that such developments have serious implications in Philippine politics. President Quezon is gunning for a new term and it seems he has the presidency on the bag already. There was a rising opposition by the right-wing Popular Front, which had the tandem of Juan Sumulong and Emilio Javier. The Quezon-Osmeña tandem proved too much as they routed their Popular Front counterparts.


Candidate Party Votes  %
Manuel Luis Quezon Nacionalista Party 1,340,320 81.78%
Juan Sumulong Popular Front 298,608 18.22%


Candidate Party Votes  %
Sergio Osmeña Nacionalista Party 1,445,897 92.10%
Emilio Javier Popular Front 124,035 7.90%

Unfortunately, the war has forced President Quezon and most of his cabinet to go into exile in the United States. And throughout the war, Quezon serve as president from overseas while the Philippines is under Japanese occupation. The KALIBAPI (Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod ng Bagong Pilipinas) was the only party allowed by the Japanese. Jose P. Laurel became the president of the puppet government in 1943.

President Sergio Osmeña returned home to run for the presidency for the first time. He only became president when President Quezon died in 1944.

On April 23, 1946, the Philippines held its third presidential elections, which showcased the matchup of the Partido Nacionalista of President Osmeña and the upstart Partido Liberal led by former Nacionalista Senator Manuel Roxas. But a third party entered, the Partido Modernista had the Hilario Moncado-Luis Salvador tandem.

Interestingly, President Osmeña tried to prevent the split in the Partido Nacionalista by offering Senator Roxas the position of Philippine Regent Commissioner to the United States but the latter turned down the offer.

The results of the elections was a very close one and some think that it may have gone either way because of the confusion brought about by the party split and allegations of electoral fraud.

The election was generally peaceful and orderly except in some places where passions ran high, especially in the province of Pampanga. According to the controversial decision of the Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives on Meliton Soliman vs. Luis Taruc, Pampanga was under the terroristic clutches and control of the Hukbalahaps.So terrorized were the people of Arayat, at one time, 200 persons abandoned their homes, their work, and their food, all their belongings in a mass evacuation to the poblacion due to fear and terror.

A total of 2,218,847 voters went to the polls to elect their President and Vice President who was to be the Commonwealth's last and the Republic's first.


Candidate Party Votes  %
Manuel Roxas Liberal Wing of Nacionalista 1,333,392 54.94%
Sergio Osmeña Nacionalista Party 1,129,996 45.71%
Hilario Moncado Partido Modernista 8,538 0.35%


Candidate Party Votes  %
Elpidio Quirino Liberal Wing of Nacionalista 1,161,725 52.36%
Eulogio Rodriguez Nacionalista Party 1,051,243 47.38%
Luis Salvador Partido Modernista 5,879 0.26%

I would like to point out, the early case of the "United Cebu Vote" became apparent in this election as Osmeña got 15,569 votes over Roxas' 8,759 even though both are Visayans. Unfortunately it was not enough to guarantee an Osmeña victory.

Actually, the schism of the once powerful Partido Nacionalista, the political machine that dominated the pre-war politics), is one of the reason why Osmeña lost.

An on July 4, 1946, representatives of the United States of America and of the Republic of the Philippines signed a Treaty of General relations between the two governments. The treaty provided for the recognition of the independence of the Republic of the Philippines as of July 4, 1946, and the relinquishment of American sovereignty over the Philippine Islands.

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{picture#} JP Canonigo is a historian, professional blogger and copywriter, online content specialist, copywriter, video game junkie, sports fanatic and jack-of-all trades. {facebook#} {twitter#} {google#}
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