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Diosdado Macapagal (September 28, 1910 – April 21, 1997)

Was the 9th President of the Philippines, serving from 1961 to 1965, and the 6th
Vice President, serving from 1957 to 1961. He is sometimes referred to as the Poor Boy
from Lubao, Champion of the Common Man and The Incorruptible. His daughter, Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo served as president of the Philippines from 2001-2010.

Macapagal graduated from the University of the Philippines and University of

Santo Tomas, after which he worked as a lawyer for the government. He first won
election in 1949 to the House of Representatives, representing a district in his home
province of Pampanga. In 1957 he became vice president in the administration of
President Carlos P. Garcia, and in 1961 he defeated Garcia's re-election bid for the

As President, Macapagal worked to suppress graft and corruption and to stimulate

the Philippine economy. He introduced the country's first land reform law, placed the
peso on the free currency exchange market, and liberalized foreign exchange and import
controls. Many of his reforms, however, were crippled by a Congress dominated by the
rival Nacionalista Party. He is also known for shifting the country's independence day
from July 4 to June 12, commemorating the day Filipino patriots declared independence
from Spain in 1898. His re-election bid was defeated in 1965 by Ferdinand Marcos,
whose subsequent authoritarian rule lasted 20 years.

Diosdado Macapagal is a descendant of Don Juan Macapagal (a prince of Tondo)

who was a great-grandson of the last reigning Rajah of Selurong, Rajah Lakandula.

Early life


Diosdado Macapagal was born on September 28, 1910 in Lubao, Pampanga, the
second of four children in a poor family.His father, Urbano Macapagal, was a poet who
wrote in the local dialect, and his mother, Romana Pangan Macapagal, was a
schoolteacher who taught catechism.The family earned extra income by raising pigs and
accommodating boarders in their home. Due to his roots in poverty, Macapagal would
later become affectionately known as the "Poor boy from Lubao".

Macapagal excelled in his studies at local public schools, graduating valedictorian

at Lubao Elementary School, and salutatorian at Pampanga High School.He finished his
pre-law course at the University of the Philippines, then enrolled at Philippine Law
School in 1932, studying on a scholarship and supporting himself with a part-time job as
an accountant.While in law school, he gained prominence as an orator and
debater.However, he was forced to quit schooling after two years due to poor health and a
lack of money.

Returning to Pampanga, he joined boyhood friend Rogelio de la Rosa in

producing and starring in Tagalog operettas patterned after classic Spanish zarzuelas. It
was during this period that he married his friend's sister, Purita de la Rosa. He had two
children with De la Rosa, Cielo and Arturo.

Macapagal raised enough money to continue his studies at the University of Santo
Tomas. He also gained the assistance of philanthropist Honorio Ventura, the Secretary of
the Interior at the time, who financed his education. After receiving his Bachelor of Laws
degree in 1936, he was admitted to the bar, topping the 1936 bar examination with a
score of 89.95%.He later returned to his alma mater to take up graduate studies and earn a
Master of Laws degree in 1941, a Doctor of Civil Law degree in 1947, and a Ph.D. in
Economics in 1957.

Early career

After passing the bar examination, Macapagal was invited to join an American
law firm as a practicing attorney, a particular honor for a Filipino at the time.He was
assigned as a legal assistant to President Manuel L. Quezon in Malacañang Palace during
the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II, Macapagal continued
working in Malacañang Palace as an assistant to President Jose P. Laurel, while secretly
aiding the anti-Japanese resistance.

In 1943, Macapagal lost his first wife, Purita de la Rosa, to malnutrition due to the
deprivations of the war. In 1946 he married Evangelina Macaraeg, with whom he had two
children, Gloria and Diosdado Jr.

After the war, Macapagal worked as an assistant attorney with the one of the largest law
firms in the country, Ross, Lawrence, Selph and Carrascoso. With the establishment of
the independent Republic of the Philippines in 1946, he rejoined government service
when President Manuel Roxas appointed him to the Department of Foreign Affairs as the
head of its legal division. In 1948, President Elpidio Quirino appointed Macapagal as
chief negotiator in the successful transfer of the Turtle Islands in the Sulu Sea from the
United Kingdom to the Philippines. That same year, he was assigned as second secretary
to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C.In 1949, he was elevated to the position of
Counselor on Legal Affairs and Treaties, at the time the fourth highest post in the
Philippine Foreign Office.


In the 1961 presidential election, Macapagal ran against Garcia's re-election bid,
promising an end to corruption and appealing to the electorate as a common man from
humble beginnings. He defeated the incumbent president with a 55% to 45% margin. His
inauguration as the president of the Phillipines took place on December 30, 1961.

Post- Presidency and Death

Macapagal announced his retirement from politics following his 1965 loss to
Marcos. In 1971, he was elected president of the constitutional convention that drafted
what became the 1973 constitution. The manner in which the charter was ratified and
later modified led him to later question its legitimacy. In 1979, he formed the National
Union for Liberation as a political party to oppose the Marcos regime.

Following the restoration of democracy in 1986, Macapagal took on the role of

elder statesman, and was a member of the Philippine Council of State.[5] He also served as
honorary chairman of the National Centennial Commission, and chairman of the board of
CAP Life, among others.

In his retirement, Macapagal devoted much of his time to reading and writing.[5]
He published his presidential memoir, authored several books about government and
economics, and wrote a weekly column for the Manila Bulletin newspaper.

Diosdado Macapagal died of heart failure, pneumonia and renal complications at

the Makati Medical Center on April 21, 1997. He is buried at the Libingan ng mga