It is quite difficult to accept the mortal passing of a great man knowing that if he is physically present he is always there either as a dear friend, as a caring father, or as a highly respected statesman - to give a helping hand or a well-thought advice to resolve whatever problems we bring to his personal attention be it on the local community level or international arena in economics, politics or world peace. Yes, we dearly miss the physical presence of a great national hero, a fellow Lubenian and fellow descendant of Rajah Lakandula and Rajah Sulaiman. Destined as we are to cross the Great Beyond, we can only pray that our beloved Cong Dadong may rest in peace forever and that he may live in our memory as he did so much for our country.
Diosdado P. Macapagal, fifth president of the Philippine Republic and known as "Champion of the Common Man" was born to the couple Urbano Macapagal and Romana Pangan on September 28, 1910 in barrio San Nicolas of Lubao, Pampanga. He graduated valedictorian at Lubao Elementary School and salutatorian at Pampanga High School in San Fernando.
He attended the University of the Philippines to complete his pre-law course and as a scholar and protйgй of Governor Honorio Ventura , he finished his law degree at the University of Santo Tomas and topped the bar examinations in 1936. He also earned the degree of Doctor of Laws and Doctor of Economics. He joined the law firm Ross, Lawrence, Selp and Carrasco and was elected president of the Philippine Lawyers Association. He was also a law and economics professor and worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs as Assistant Secretary on legal affairs and treaties. In 1949 he was elected as representative of the first district of Pampanga and was consistently chosen by the Congressional Press Club as one of the ten outstanding congressmen during his tenure.
In 1957, the Filipino people elected Diosdado Macapagal to the vice presidency of the land. However, the Nacionalista administration of President Carlos P. Garcia. did not make use of his expertise in the executive branch of the government. Hence, it gave him the opportunity to travel the archipelago and assessed the needs of the Filipino people.
On November 14, 1961, Cong Dadong defeated the reelectionist President Carlos P. Garcia on the issue of corruption and economic policy change. President Macapagal lifted foreign exchange controls to stabilize the value of the peso. He navigated the passage of the Land Reform Law sponsored by Congresswoman Juanita L. Nepomuceno which freed many poor peasants from the slavery of tenancy, campaigned against graft and corruption and promoted regional cooperation among Asian nations. He changed the date of Philippine Independence from July 4 to June 12 to give significance to the Declaration of Philippine Independence by President Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898 and filed the claim to Sabah on June 22, 1962. He also implemented many economic policies to bolster the growth of Philippine agriculture, manufacturing industries and trade . Coming out of retirement from public service, he ran for Constitutional Convention Delegate and was eventually elected as President of the 1971-1972 Constitutional Convention.
Paraphrasing Senate President Ernesto Maceda, " A mans character is found in the quality of his offsprings and here too, Cong Dadong passes the test with flying colors. His children, Cielo, Arturo, Gloria and Diosdado Jr., a former Undersecretary of Finance continue to impress us with their commitment to serve, their unquestionable integrity and their common humanity". Following their fathers public service legacy, Cielo Macapagal-Salgado, who has a doctorate degree in Economics was a two-term vice governor of Pampanga and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a Ph D in Economics topped the 1995 senatorial election and she was elected Vice President of the Philippines in the May, 1998 national election.
With his faithful wife, the former Dr. Eva Macaraeg of Pangasinan at his hospital bedside, Cong Dadong joined his Creator on April 21, 1997. President Fidel Ramos said that His Excellency, President Macapagal set an exacting standard of personal integrity, intelligence and dedication to public service by which his successors have continued to be judged.
About the authors:
Andro and Tess Z. Camiling are conscientious students and researchers of Kapampangan history, language and culture. They wrote "The Province of Pampanga and Its People" and other articles including "Malay Relation With Kapampangan Language and Culture" and the history of the towns of Apalit, Lubao, Masantol, Mexico, Minalin, San Fernando and Santo Tomas. Andro is a native Pampangan based in Southern California where he is employed as an accounting/financial director at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and practices his CPA profession as a management and tax consultant for small businesses. His wife, the co-author of this article, the former Tess Manalansan Zuniga of Lubao, Pampanga is a public school teacher in Pasadena, California.
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