Gerry and Ninoy's ancestry and political origins by Esteban B. Salonga
Gerry Roxas' father, Manuel Acuña Roxas, was born on January 1, 1892 in Capiz (now Roxas City) to Gerardo Roxas, Sr. and Rosario Acuña. Don Gerardo was mortally wounded by a guardia civil barely seven months before Manuel's birth, at the height of the Propaganda Movement. Though there is little historical detail on the actual circumstances of Don Gerardo's death, we can only surmise that he may have been involved in that popular liberalizing movement commenced in 1872 that would eventually lead to the Philippine Revolution of 1896. The liberalizing movement in Filipinas had been viciously crushed by the frayles of the religious orders with the executions of the three martyr priests, Gomez, Burgos and Zamora in the Cavite Mutiny of 1872. The executions ushered in a greater oppression by the Spanish regime primarily against the secular priests and their civilian sympathizers who were marked as filibusteros (subversives) and subjected to intimidation, imprisonment or exile to the Marianas. After the death of Don Gerardo, Manuel and his elder brother Mamerto were raised by his mother and their maternal grandfather, Don Eleuterio Acuña. The Acuña's were prominent ilustrado who
dominated Capiz local politics, electing town mayors, governors, and congressmen since 1907.
On the other hand, Ninoy's father, Benigno Quiambao Aquino was born to Don Servillano Aquino and Guadalupe Quiambao on September 3, 1894 at the Quiambao plantation in Hacienda Murcia, (now a part of Concepcion town) in Tarlac. Don Servillano (fondly called Mianong by family and tenants) joined the Katipunan in 1896 and was appointed capitán municipal in January 1897. At the Cry of Balintawak, Don Servillano joined the army of Gen. Francisco Makabulos in actions that forced the transfer of the Spanish provincial garrison from Concepcion, Tarlac to Dagupan, Pangasinan. With the rank of major in the Makabulos army, Don Mianong's exploits in Pampanga and Tarlac gained him a reputation equal to the daring of Gregorio Del Pilar. In October of 1897, Gen. Makabulos and Major Aquino were summoned to Biak-na-Bato by General Emilio Aguinaldo to join the deliberations of the first revolutionary assembly. On November 1, they were among those who signed the provisional constitution of Biak-na-Bato which established the First Philippine Republic. On that day, they cast their ballots in the first national election in Philippine history, electing General Emilio Aguinaldo as President and Mariano Trías as vice-president. Meanwhile, the Spanish counter-offensive against the revolutionary forces had intensified by the time that Makabulos and Aquino had returned to Tarlac, and the Makabulos army was now on the run. The armies of Tarlac were eventually crushed at Sinukuan, on Mt. Arayat, and Major Aquino 2
escaped with a small band, but was subsequently captured and thrown into Fort Santiago. By December 1897, Major Servillano Aquino was sentenced to death by firing squad. Providentially, the Pact of Biak-na-Bato that ended hostilities with Spain was signed by Gen. Aguinaldo on December 14-15, 1897, automatically staying the execution of all condemned revolutionaries, sparing the life of Don Mianong who was subsequently released. Major Aquino eventually joined Aguinaldo in exile in Hong Kong, and stayed with the company of loyal partisans there until they all returned in the summer of 1898, at the encouragement of Admiral Dewey who had by then snatched Manila Bay from the Spanish. Back in Cavite, Aguinaldo promoted Major Aquino to full colonel and ordered him to rejoin Gen. Makabulos to assist in capturing the Spanish garrison in Tarlac which at that time numbered 2000 men at arms. Aquino arrived in Concepcion just in time to reorganize an army of 150 armed men with more than a thousand unarmed men who constituted the bolo brigades. Aware of the coming attack, the Spanish forces concentrated in the capital town of Tarlac. The siege of Tarlac commenced on June 3, 1898 and lasted 38 days after which the victorious Col. Aquino would report capturing 2,150 rifles and 70 revolvers, together with plenty of ammunition. By December 1898, the new Philippine Republic (led mainly from the ilustrado and rural principalia) had been 6 months established in Central Luzon and Col. Servillano Aquino served as military Governor of Tarlac. At that time a peasant army called the Guardia de Honor (denounced by the Spanish as tulisanes) had been waging a simultaneous war of liberation against the landowners, who were by now the established officialdom all over Luzon. In the last days of 1898, a contemporary report states: â€œthe Guardias swooped down in the dead of night and killed the town president of Murcia, the father-in-law of Servillano Aquino, then military governor of Tarlac, including the governor's wife who was pregnant and was staying with her father.â€? The governor's three children: Gonzalo (born 1893), Benigno (1894) and Amando (1896), were safely hidden in a tapayan by their grandmother Lorenza.â€? The three boys would subsequently be cared for by Don Servillano's married sisters in Angeles. By January of 1899, Don Mianong, still in grief at the loss of his wife, was enrolled at Gen. Antonio Luna's officers' school in Malolos when hostilities with the Americans inevitably broke out. Major Aquino was assigned to a key role in Luna's audacious battle-plan to retake Caloocan and seize Manila from the advancing American. The battle of Manila was a concerted attack by the full force of the new Republican army, involving all the armies of the Tagalog-Pampango region. Despite Luna's well-planned strategy and the courageous determination of the Filipino regulars and thousands of the bolowielding sandatahan, the battle was ultimately lost due to the infamous failure of the Cavite Viejo regiment under Captain Pedro Janolino to 3
participate in the attack at its most critical juncture. The loss disheartened the remaining battalions and by March, American reinforcements had arrived and an offensive into Bulacan and Pampanga was launched. Major Aquino was at the forefront of the Republic's defensive line in Bulacan until he was shot in an audacious counter-attack at Sitio Lagundi, in Mexico town and taken to a hospital in Angeles. When he recovered he rejoined Aguinaldo in Tarlac where the Republic's capital had moved, even as the Americans advanced swiftly on Angeles. Aquino was raised in rank to brigadier general, and appointed Deputy for Samar in the Congress that reconvened in Tarlac on July 14 to elect its new officers. For the next three months the Republic would hold out in Tarlac as the annual monsoon rains discouraged the Americans from carrying on the offensive. Republican troops under Gens. Makabulos, Aquino and Hizon continued to raid American positions around Angeles until the rains ceased and Gen. Arthur MacArthur gamely resumed the offensive, on land and sea, intending to surround and trap Gen. Aguinaldo in Tarlac. By November 10, at the Concepcion-Bamban road, MacArthur came face to face with Gen. Makabulos with 400 men, and Gen. Aquino with 1,200 rifles. For two days in the pouring rain, a furious rearguard defense kept MacArthur at bay as Aguinaldo quietly slipped out of Tarlac town and relocated the Republic's capital to Dagupan. In the face of 4,000 Americans, the Filipino's valiant defense finally broke, and Aquino and Makabulos retreated to Tarlac. After this fierce engagement, the rest of Pampanga would fall quickly to the Americans. Aquino retreated to his lair at Sinukuan on Mt. Arayat and his army would eventually be decimated there. Gen. Aquino would once more escape capture with a remnant of his troops to carry on a guerrilla war until he eventually came down and surrendered in September 1900. Gen. Aquino was not granted the amnesty accorded to other officers of the Republic since he was charged with the murder of an American prisoner allegedly killed during his last stand at Sinukuan. For the young Benigno (by then aged 8), it would be almost five years since he had last seen his father, then waiting to be executed for rebellion by the Spaniards in Fort Santiago. This time he would see his father in Bilibid prison, proudly wearing his traje de tigre (striped prison garb) as he once more stood convicted and sentenced to death, this time by the Americans, for murder. His older brother Gonzalo remembers their being brought to Malaca単an by their father's American lawyer to plead for their father's life before Governor William Howard Taft, who graciously promised to do what he could for them, after which the Governor General handed them each a dollar. In March of 1904, long after his fellow revolutionaries had been released, 4
Secretary Taft would recommend the pardon and release of Gen. Servillano Aquino on the ground of reasonable doubt as to his guilt. Five years after the Republic fell in Tarlac, Don Mianong would finally come home from the wars.
In the relative peace that followed Don Mianong's release, Benigno resumed his education at the San Juan de Letran in Manila where he excelled in philosophy and oratory, reaping honors in debates against the boys at Ateneo Municipal. Benigno and his brothers graduated with their bachelors of arts in 1908. Benigno continued studies at Universidad de Santo Tomas for his degree in Law. He successfully passed the bar examination the year after and became a lawyer in 1913, at the age of 18. He eventually married Maria Urquico (daughter of a wealthy Tarlac rice trader), and put up his professional shingle in the town of Tarlac where he lived with his wife just across the public market. As a wedding gift, Don Mianong turned over the 1,200 hectare Hacienda Tinang to Benigno, and with capital provided by his brother-in-law Manuel Urquico, Benigno rebuilt the old sugar mill and planted sugar. Benigno and Maria eventually moved to Hacienda Tinang and settled in, with Benigno commuting from the hacienda into town daily to carry on his legal practice. Manuel Roxas received his basic education in the public schools of Capiz and Manila, graduating with highest honors at Manila High School (now Araullo High School) in 1909. He entered the newly established University of the Philippines, and was elected class President and President of the Student Council. He eventually obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1913, and graduated valedictorian. He topped the first bar examinations the next year with a grade of 92%. I vividly recall reading his bar examination answers when I took the bar examinations in 1944. I was deeply impressed by the style and content of his answers. Manuel Roxas began his professional career as provincial fiscal of Capiz soon after he passed the bar, during which time he was taken under the wing of the incumbent governor Don Jose Cortes Altavas. In 1916 the Jones Law reorganized the national government into a bi-cameral legislature, with Filipinos now qualified for election to both the Senate (which had replaced the Philippine Commission) and Congress (replacing the unicameral Assembly). Manuel Roxas was appointed member of the municipal council of Capiz in 1917 when Gov. Altavas was elected Senator for the 7 th District, comprising the provinces of Capiz and Iloilo. Two year later, with the help of Sen. Altavas, Roxas was elected Governor of Capiz in 1919, assuming his mentor's office at the age of 27. It would be difficult to chronicle the political development of the generation of Manuel Roxas and Benigno Aquino during the American occupation without seeing Quezon and Osme単a as the focal point, for they 5
were the older generation of Filipino leaders who participated in the establishment of the foundations of a democratic republican government in the image of the United States of America. As early as 1900, in the towns “pacified” by the US army, the military government had cautiously allowed local elections. Here the elected town presidentes and vice-presidentes and members of the municipal councils were either pro-American or remained loyal to the nationalist Revolution. Due to the restricted suffrage requirements, the elected and those who elected them were all from the local elite. And despite the required oath of loyalty to the US, which the nationalists took as a matter of expediency, the elections until 1902 were largely dominated by the local Katipunan chapters. Provincial governments were later organized, but the governors were appointed by the American military governor. The enactment of the Philippine Bill of 1902 created the Philippine Commission to exercise the powers of civil government in the Philippine Islands and provided that the first provincial governors were to be appointed but specified their term to end in February 1902, after which the new provincial governors would be elected. Starting in that year, most of the Filipino governors were elected by the vice-presidentes and members of the municipal council who had been elected in the towns of the province. These officials met as a body in convention and elected the provincial governor. In 1903, outside the Moro Province and the “unpacified” provinces where American army officers were appointed, there were 27 Filipino governors altogether, appointed or elected. A majority of the Filipino governors were prominent personalities from the Propaganda movement in Europe, former officers of the Revolutionary army or former delegates to the Malolos Congress. In the 1904 and 1906 elections more governors from the ilustrado class and officers and delegates of the Malolos Republic were elected, including two new governors who would dominate Filipino national politics until the onset of World War II, Sergio Osmeña of Cebu and Manuel L. Quezon of Tayabas. Born in Cebu City on September 9, 1878 to Juana Osmeña y Suico, Sergio Osmeña started his primary education under the tutelage of Martin Medalla and later, Manuel Logarta, a lawyer and owner of a boarding school, before he enrolled at the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos. After graduating valedictorian from San Carlos College, his parents sent him to Manila and he enrolled at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he worked as a capista in between his studies until he finished his Bachelor of Arts in 1894. Together with Manuel L. Quezon, a fellow capista in Letran who became his friend, he studied Law at the University of Santo Tomas. At the height of the revolution that started in 1896, schools in Manila closed and forced the students to return to their homes. Osmeña went back to Cebu.
Osmeña served briefly in the revolution of 1896. He joined the revolutionary army in Cebu under General Juan Climaco. The General sent him to Luzon in order to seek the instructions of General Emilio Aguinaldo regarding their revolutionary activities. While on this mission, Osmeña experienced the dangers of crossing enemy lines, following Aguinaldo as he retreated from Manila all the way to Benguet from where Pedro Paterno sent him to deliver presidential circulars for General Miguel Malvar in Batangas. Upon returning to Cebu, he established the newspaper, El Nuevo Dia, with Jaime de Veyra and Rafael Palma as his assistants. In 1903, Osmeña placed second in the bar examinations and began his career in law as legal adviser to Governor Juan Climaco. Soon after, he was appointed fiscal of Cebu and Negros Oriental. In 1906, Osmeña was elected governor of Cebu, replacing his political mentor, Gen. Juan Climaco. Manuel Luis Quezon was born in the small town of Baler in the province of Tayabas to Lucio Quezon and Maria Dolores Molina. Manuel Luis Quezon was educated at an early age learning Spanish at the age of five and Latin, religion, geography, and Spanish grammar by age seven. Quezon had finished a Bachelor of Arts degree with the highest honors at age 16 at the Colegio of San Juan de Letran. He went on to study law and jurisprudence at the University of Santo Tomas but was interrupted when he joined the Philippine Revolution. Gen. Servillano Aquino would recall in his memoirs that upon his capture by the Americans in 1900, he was briefly detained in a house on Calle Anda with Manuel Quezon, who he described as “another officer of the revolution, who had come to Manila to continue his law studies but found himself being arrested by the Americans and taken before the Provost Marshall.” Quezon in his own memoirs recalls that after being brought before the Provost Marshall he was “conducted to a big house which during the Spanish regime was occupied by the Civil Governor of Manila. It was now the stopping place for the leaders, civilian and military alike, and intransigent chiefs of the Revolution. Mabini, the greatest character of his time and many times the prime minister of Aguinaldo, had hallowed its walls. Two Filipino generals were the unwilling guests in the house. One day, the two generals were taken out, Gen. Diokno to his own house and Gen. Aquino to Bilibid Prison. The latter had been court-martialed and sentenced to death for the alleged murder of an American prisoner. However, his sentence was commuted by the President of the United States to life imprisonment.” Quezon was released after the capture and surrender of Emilio Aguinaldo and returned to his law studies In 1905, Manuel Quezon ran for governor of Tayabas and served two years before being elected representative to the newly established Philippine 7
Assembly. In 1909, the National Assembly appointed him Resident Commissioner to the US Congress, where he was tasked to advance the cause of immediate, complete and absolute independence. While entitled to speak, he was not allowed to vote, in the sessions of the US House of Representatives. Quezon returned to Manila in 1916, ran for senator of the third senatorial district, and was elected into the Philippine Senate without even campaigning. Two years later he was elected Senate president. For Benigno Aquino, the plunge into politics in 1919 was an audacity. Not yet 25 years of age and a rebel Nacionalista, he was pitted against the top man of the party in the second legislative district of Tarlac. Jose Espinosa was the incumbent representative and fourth governor of Tarlac, a 45-year old veteran politico everyone considered headed for even bigger things. In the June 1919 elections Benigno Aquino defeated Jose Espinosa by a landslide, a historical upset in Tarlac politics. In October 16, 1919, when Benigno Aquino assumed his seat at the House of Representatives he was 25 years old, the lawful minimum age for Representative, though when he was elected in June he was three months shy of 25. But since no one questioned his age, he did not have the underage troubles that would twice afflict his son, Ninoy. Early in Benigno Aquino's first term, he attracted the attention of Speaker Sergio Osmeña, who was credited as having “discovered” the rookie representative. “From the Speakers rostrum, Osmeña could see the lithe figure of a young man, barely 25, discussing issues like a finished parliamentarian with seasoned members of the local legislature. Eagerly the great Filipino leader listened to the pronouncements of the youthful Tarlac solon on various subjects of national importance. Here was a young man he told himself at the time, who could fittingly take his seat among the leaders of the nation or some day carry on the work of the aged leaders.” 1 Early on, Aquino aligned himself with Osmeña, who promptly put him to good use. When the party saw the need to create a budget commission (to wrest the budget role from the American in Malacañan) Aquino was chosen to cosponsor the measure with Mariano Leuterio and Miguel Cuenco (both wellknown Osmeña lieutenants). He was then only two months a solon. But the legislation that would most define his first term was the bill creating the Independence Commission, for which Aquino proposed a permanent annual outlay of the princely sum One Million Pesos. In the hottest sessions of that Congress, Aquino led the “patriotic” debates that culminated in victory for its sponsors, and sealed his reputation as an “irreconcilable” independista. In the following year, as a result of a new party platform, Speaker Osmeña and Senate President Quezon would strip themselves of their powers in favor of a “steering committee” (a five-man body in the House, a threeman group in the Senate) to end, said Quezon, “a one-man rule in each 1
Newspaper write-up quoted in a 1940 brochure of the Dept. of Agriculture & Commerce.
house.”2 At the end of 1921 Benigno Aquino was elected into the steering committee, becoming one of the most powerful men in government, the committee having assumed the vast powers formerly exclusive to the Speaker and the Senate President. Despite their act of mutual renunciation, Quezon and Osmeña would eventually part ways, with Quezon breaking away from the Nacionalistas in February 18, 1922 to form his own party, the Colectivista. Both camps then girded themselves for the elections in June, which would be so closely fought as to allow the largely unregarded Democratas to effectively win the conflict. In the 1922 polls, re-electionist Aquino led a field of five candidates in his district, once more overwhelming Jose Espinosa, trying to make a comeback. Osmeña carrying their feud into Quezon's bastion, ran for the Senate and won. But neither Osmena's Nacionalistas nor Quezon's Colectivistas had won a decisive majority, while the Democratas had surprisingly increased their number of seats. Quezon however had a trump, the holdover senators, who were just enough to ensure him the Senate chair, even if the Nacionalistas and the Democratas joined forces. In the House of Representatives it was even more contentious. All three parties had won an almost equal handful of seats, the Democratas having made amazing gains in the 1922 polls. The forces of the three parties were so well balanced that none would have the control. Actually, Osmeña had suffered heavily. His closest lieutenants, like Rafael Alunan, had not been returned to the House; even his campaign manager, Mariano Leuterio, had lost. Of his top leaders in the previous House, only Aquino had survived. But the real test of strength for Osmeña and Quezon would be the election of the Speaker. Aquino and Mariano Quenco were the Nacionalista candidates; the Democratas had Claro M. Recto; while Quezon was putting up his new protegé, a former governor of Capiz, the brilliant neophyte representative for Capiz, Manuel A. Roxas. When the Legislature opened in October, the Democratas were titillating both camps, reportedly egged on by the local Americans and the governor general himself, assuming that neither side would win without coalescing with the Democratas. In the first balloting, Aquino was clearly out of the race, but neither Roxas, Recto or Cuenco could muster the necessary majority for an outright win. After three more deadlocks, and realizing that a coalition was inevitable, Osmena swallowed his pride and coalesced with the Colectivistas, rather than with the Democratas whom he suspected were being used as a tool by the Americans. That evening of October 26, 1922 Manuel Roxas was elected Speaker. It was a turning point in the career of the Grand Old Man of the Nacionalistas. 2
Manila Times, Dec. 21, 1921.
Osmena would never be forgiven by his discarded candidate, Cuenco, whose resentment would grow into a clan feud with the Osmeñas. Another recalcitrant would be Aquino who would refuse to sign the instrument of coalition, ever the independista, he preferred the role of genuine opposition in the minority, rather than reduce it to impotence by joining Quezon. Though he steadfastly refused to sign the coalition pact, not even the dominant Colectivistas could afford to ignore him. He was elected chairman of the House steering committee. The year 1922 ended with Quezon at last on top, head of the majority coalition, President of the Senate, master of the House through Roxas, and undisputed head of Filipino participation in the insular government. In his three terms in the House (1919-1928) Benigno Aquino was chairman of the powerful steering committee. And from his second term he was also majority floor leader, but the speakership naturally eluded him, since he was elusive to the Quezon faction. On the other hand, through most of the next three terms of the House (1922-1934) Manuel A. Roxas was undisputed Speaker of the House, except for a putative challenge by Benigno Aquino at the start of his third term in 1925. At that time there were already signs that the Quezon-Osmena coalition (by then called the Consolidado) was loosening. The Osmeñistas were chafing under an alliance which, in every election they were expected to harken to “their master's voice” and agree to support a single candidate. The largely Visayan Osmeñistas called themselves the “Ortodoxos,” thereby implying that Don Manuel's Nacionalistas were hereticos. Aquino's announcement of his candidacy for Speaker was not surprising, considering his independista reputation, though still a shock to his colleagues. He was eventually prevailed upon to withdraw and Roxas was reelected to Speaker. But his challenge made Aquino more suspect to the Quezonistas and an effort was made to dislodge him from the steering committee and stop his reelection to majority leader. Subsequently, a suspicious clamor arose to appoint Aquino as Philippine Independence Commissioner to Washington DC, presumably to “kick him up” and away from the party. Aquino partisans denounced it as simple “revenge.” And though the idea was popular, it was obviously absurd as Aquino, like his mentor Osmena was a devoted Spanish speaker, and rarely spoke English, although he was familiar with it. Many independistas considered the porposed appointment appealing due to his irreconcilable commitment to “immediate, complete and absolute independence,” but the Quezonistas may have relented and actively opposed his appointment, probably realizing that such a determined independista, even with no English, might succeed in accomplishing in Washington what Nacionalistas were supposed to accomplish, though they were clearly of two minds about it. In fact, Aquino 10
would repeatedly accuse the Nacionalistas of “abandoning the cause of immediate independence for the uncertain proposition of autonomy.” Be that as it may, the move fizzled out and Aquino spent his last term actively challenging Quezon's control of the House as he survived several attempts to oust him from the house leadership. By the end of his last term he was already preparing to run for the Senate. In the year 1928, Aquino became a widower in March, and a senator in June. His wife Maria died of cancer after lingering for three years. A devoted mother, she had quietly spent their twelve years of marriage in the background, taking care of their four children: Antonio, Servillano, Milagros, and Erlinda. From his bailiwick he ran for senator of the third senatorial district comprised of Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Bulacan. He swept the heartland. He had been underage when he ran for the House; when seated in the Senate he was, at 34, one of the youngest members. But in the organization of committees he was assigned the most powerful ones, finance, appropriations, corporations, agriculture industry-- and was made chairman of the committee on Mindanao and the special provinces. A curiosity of this period was Aquino's growing closeness to Quezon, who seemed to have won him over finally, and seemed to be grooming him, along with Speaker Manuel Roxas, for preeminence. Senator Aquino was elected majority floor leader. In 1930, when Quezon was mostly out of the country (and in perilous health) he left Aquino as acting president of the Senate. Later Aquino would be appointed to the Council of State which was the link between the Legislature and Malacañan. It looked as though the mantle of inheritance was being dangled before both Manuel Roxas in the House and Benigno Aquino in the Senate. At the end of that year, as his political career crested, the young senator would spring another surprise. Now two years a widower, he would marry his third cousin, Aurora Aquino, who was 16 years his junior. By 1930 the Filipino masses, as well as the educated, had become impatient over the independence question, and were clamoring for its final resolution. After two decades of the Nacionalista rule, the “national aspiration” for complete and absolute independence was still no more than campaign rhetoric. The opposition Democratas were hooting that the matter should be taken from the hands of the politicians. After all, the Depression was causing hard economic times in the US, and the US industrialists were beginning to protest the preferential importation of sugar and coconut oil from the Islands. The time was certainly ripe to bring the campaign for the abolition of the colony to its finish. In 1932 Quezon would send yet another independence mission to Washington. Not expecting any results from this umpteenth mission, he 11
himself did not go to Washington, but sent instead Sen. Osmena and Speaker Manuel Roxas (the OSROX mission). Despite the fact that a Republican congress was still in control and had traditionally rejected independence for its colony, two pending Independence bills: the Hare bill in the House, and the Hawes-Cutting Bill in the Senate provided for a fixed 10-year period for transition to Philippine independence. When both bills appeared to be making real progress, Quezon was aghast, simply because he did not want Osmena and Roxas to take the glory of being the fathers of Philippine freedom. He ordered them to come home, but they refused. Quezon posited every kind of objection, yet they refused to come home. Indeed, they even invited Quezon to join them, but he refused. It would have been too humiliating to share in their glory. Instead, Quezon decided to send his “most trusted emissary,” Mr. Aquino. It is said that the Aquino star started to rise even faster when just before the 1931 elections. Speaker Roxas started a buy-native movement called Bagong Katipunan, that made Quezon suspect that his protege was striking out on his own, probably at the instigation of Osmeña. At any rate, when Don Manuel wanted the Hare-Hawes-Cutting bill and the OSROX mission stopped, he turned to Benigno Aquino to do it. Obviously, Quezon believed his “understanding” with Aquino to be so perfect he could safely send the senator to fight his original patron, Osmena. In fact, many a political pundit in Manila would ask if Aquino had replaced Roxas as heir apparent? It was on Aquino's sea voyage to the US that he received the news of the birth of his son Benigno Jr. “Ninoy,” who would later claim that he too was born in a time of great crisis. In an effort to prevent a successful Osrox mission, Quezon used Aquino to employ a series of deceptions and confusing schemes at each turn of the US legislative process in order to obstruct the passage of any Independence bill in which he was not an active participant. However, by the Christmas of 1932 the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Law was passed. When Quezon subsequently lobbied to have President Hoover veto the legislation, Aquino was already fully in support of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting law and actively worked with Sen. Osmena and Speaker Roxas to campaign the US Congress to override the presidential veto. Quezon was utterly bereaved; first Roxas, now Aquino, had turned against him, both captured by his eternal antagonist, Osmena. Both houses of congress overrode the Hoover veto and the HHC became law, subject to the approval of the Filipino people. A raging Quezon denounced the law, as “un-Christian.” Most un-Christian, certainly, to his friends the sugar barons, the fiercest enemy of the independence law. In March of 1933, they all came home to campaign for the ratification of the independence bill. Aquino found himself campaigning for the bill (“Pro”) against the Nacionalistas (the “Anti”) whom Quezon had rallied on the ground that the HHC did not provide immediate, complete and absolute 12
independence. His intention was to have the Philippine Senate reject this law so he could return to the US congress to secure his own independence law, without Osmena, Roxas and Aquino. To that end Quezon devised a coup in both houses of the Philippine legislature, removing Osmena as president pro tem in the senate, Roxas as Speaker of the house, Pedro Paterno and Benigno Aquino as majority leaders in the House and Senate. On October 6, by a vote of fifteen to four the Senate “declined to accept the Act.” Since Quezon had earlier said that he would “vote against the law even if the entire Filipino people should favor it,” thus did one man decide for the nation this “delicate, serious and transcendental” question. The next year Quezon would go to Washington and come back with news of great joy: he had succeeded in winning an independence that was not immediate, complete or absolute either. His prize, the Tydings-McDuffie was so identical to Hare-Hawes-Cutting that no one could spot any distinction between them at all, except that Quezon brought this one home. And it would be Quezon who would force the sugar barons to swallow the bitter independence pill, as only he could do it. Osmena, Roxas and Aquino had no problem ratifying this law as they would still take the credit for forcing Quezon's hand. It would be in the course of this great debate that Benigno Aquino would coin the now hackneyed phrase, almost treasonable then, when he accused Quezon of “acting as a tool of American imperialism here.” With the approval of Tydings-McDuffie, its provisions provided for recognition of independence and withdrawal of American sovereignty after a ten-year transition period following the inauguration of the government that would be organized under a new constitution to be drafted by a constitutional convention. The constitutional convention started work on July 24, 1934. Quezon as senate president, opened the ceremonies with exactly 200 delegates answering the roll call. Jose P. Laurel was elected chairman of the convention. Quezon yielded the chair to Laurel who called for nominations for permanent president of the convention. Claro M. Recto of Batangas was nominated and elected. The convention completed its work on February 8, 1935, when the final draft was adopted. In Recto's valedictory that evening he made special acknowledgment of the exceptional work of the “Seven Wise Men” who wrote the draft as presented to the assembly: Filemon Sotto and Manuel Briones of Cebu, Manuel Roxas of Capiz, Vicente Singson Encarnacion of Ilocos Sur, Miguel Cuaderno of Bataan, Norberto Romualdez of Leyte, and Conrado Benitez of Laguna. In the September 1935 polls under the new Commonwealth government, Quezon was elected president with Sergio Osmeña as vice-president. Manuel Roxas was elected Assemblyman for Capiz in the unicameral National 13
Assembly, and served as Finance Minister in the cabinet. Benigno Aquino was elected Assemblyman from the second district of Tarlac and served as chairman of the Commission of Appointments, even though he still belonged to the intransigent minority wing of the reunited Nacionalista party. In 1938 Benigno Aquino had been persuaded by the reunited party not to run that year, and instead be the party campaign manager for the 1938 national elections. Having accepted the offer, he undertook the job with gusto. Aquino toured the whole country in five months, settling intra-party intramurals, getting votes of confidence in Cagayan to pick the candidates there, now proclaiming candidates in the South, now disciplining party rebels in Samar and Leyte who might endanger his official candidates. A Manila daily would observe: â€œNational Campaign Manager Aquino exercises vast powers as 'trouble shooter' for his party. His suggestions unless overruled by President Quezon will stand insofar as the party is concerned.â€?3 In 1938, Aquino was the party machine, so efficient that, of the 124 Nacionalista candidates who ran for the Assembly that year, only five were rebel candidates, which he thought was still five too many. His efforts proved to be an all-time record: his party swept every single one of the 98 Assembly contests that year. Quezon publicly congratulated him and, three weeks after the polls, appointed him to the cabinet, as secretary of agriculture and commerce. Soon after his appointment, Quezon would draft him to campaign for the amendment of the constitution that would alter the presidential tenure from a three-year term with one reelection to a single six-year term without reelection. Considering the amendment as a party cause, Aquino carried it out with the same zeal that he had invested in the 1938 polls. During the campaign for the amendments, which would make Quezon eligible for reelection in 1941, a clear impression was given that Don Manuel would not seek reelection, and that the Quezon-Osmena team would skip the 1941 polls, preferring to wait until 1945 to run for elections in the new Republic. So, for the younger men, 1941 loomed as their chance for the top postions. Speaker Yulo began to be talked of as a presidential candidate. This was instantly countered by a Roxas-Aquino ticket.4 These two former rivals, Roxas and Aquino, since the Hare-Hawes-Cutting campaigns, had grown closer to each other. They had become compadres; had set-up a joint mining corporation; and become partners in a law firm. Each was fondly called tito (uncle) by the others children. If they worked so fervently for Mr. Quezon's amendments, it may have been on the understanding that they could try for the top posts in 1941. But no sooner was the vote for the amendments in, than Quezon's candidacy for the 1941 polls was being launched. 3 4
Bulletin, 29 June 1938. Tribune, October 13, 1939. The team mate most mentioned for Yulo was Quentin Paredes, another Quezon protege. With Roxas and Aquino were Rafael Alunan, Quenco, Bocobo, and Avelino. Yulo was then Party President and Chairman of the National Executive Committee, while Paredes was Party vice-president. Both blocs were formidable and the rivalry split the party into two blocs.
In 1941 Benigno Aquino resigned from his post as Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce to return to active politics. He ran for the restored bicameral Legislature (two houses again) and for the sixth time in his life won the seat he ran for. Representante Aquino once more, he was being touted â€œthe future Speakerâ€? for the reelected President Quezon, and reelected Vice President Sergio Osmena. Assemblyman Manuel Roxas had ran for the Senate and won. History, however, intervened before Aquino could wield the Speakers gavel. On December 8 would come the news that Pearl Harbor had been bombed .
Bibliography: Joaquin, Nick. The Aquinos of Tarlac. 1983. Cacho Hermanos, Mandaluyong, Philippines. Corpuz, Onofre D. The Roots of the Filipino People Vol. II. 1989. Aklahi Foundation, Inc. Q.C. Philippines. Pipeline. The Daily Tribune. 04/28/2009.http://www.tribune.net.ph/commentary/20090428com3.html The Philippines: No Holds Barred. Time Magazine. Feb. 4, 1946. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,776579,00.html Wikipedia. Manuel Roxas: Early Life and Career. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuel_Roxas (as well as for Quezon, Osmena, Quirino, Philippine Independence Commission, Philippine Commission, Resident Commissioners) Dela Cruz, Al F., Jan. 11, 2008. Sen. Jose Cortez Altavas Baleten-on Par Excellence. http://www.scribd.com/doc/13622464/Senator-Jose-Cortes-Altavas Philippine History. http://www.philippine-history.org/