The Magsaysay boom
March 7, 1953
THE Philippines is going wild about Ramon Magsaysay.
Newspaper correspondents’ reports, numerous telegrams and letters of congratulation have been endlessly pouring into Manila, hailing Magsaysay’s resignation from the Quirino cabinet. Magsaysay-for-President clubs are daily mushrooming in provincial capitals, chartered cities and municipalities, while labor, school, civic, social and youth organizations continue to vie with each other in endorsing Magsaysay’s candidacy for the highest position within the gift of the Filipino people. Even some of the Huks—whom Magsaysay and the armed forces of the Philippines tried hard to subdue during the two and a half years that he was secretary of national defense—have made known their Magsaysay-for-President stand.
There is no parallel in our political history to the case of Magsaysay. No Filipino official has as yet resigned from a government job and received so much spontaneous commendation as has this man from Zambales. In fact, no public official in our country has severed his connection with the government and been the recipient of so much praise for a job well done.
The simple explanation of the current Magsaysay-inspired rejoicing must be that the Filipino people as a whole, are fundamentally sound and that they know a good, faithful, and patriotic public servant when they see one. It is more than apparent that in Ramon Magsaysay they have seen one.
It is doubtful if any administration has received so much public condemnation for tolerance of official crookedness, corruption, inefficiency, and incompetence as the present. But despite the general damnation that has come from the people, Magsaysay (who was with the same administration for a long time) has been singled out as a shining exception. And rightly so. For during his time in office, not once was his name mentioned in the same breath with venality, abuse of power and other cardinal sins associated with many a Filipino public official today.
Magsaysay left the Quirino cabinet because life with Quirino had become a series of frustrations. Magsaysay said that he sought public confidence as his highest reward for the services he had rendered. But he realized that such confidence could not be won if he continued serving under the Quirino regime. Many people sincerely subscribe to this view.
Despite efforts were made this week to win back Magsaysay to the fold of the Liberal Party. Liberals who fear their party’s collapse now that Magsaysay—the party’s chief redeeming feature—is out, and won over by the Nacionalistas, this week planned and schemed to woo back the ex-defense secretary. But all attempts have proved futile. Senator Tomas Cabili, chief LP negotiator, has given up the idea of ever getting Magsaysay back. In a moment of despair, Cabili said this week: “They (referring to his fellow Liberals) have ignored the handwriting on the wall…and now, when it is too late, there is feverish effort to reach for a solution….”
Meanwhile, the Magsaysay boom keeps increasing. To try to stop it would be tantamount to the old story of sweeping back the ocean with a broom.