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Ex-President Macapagal’s birth centenary celebration set on Tuesday

By Zorayda S. Tecson

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Sept. 27 — The 100th birth anniversary of the late former President Diosdado P. Macapagal will be commemorated on Tuesday (Sept. 28) with various activities lined up to highlight the meaningful celebration on the grand occasion of the province’s most distinguished and revered son.

To give the Kapampangans the opportunity to remember the life of the country's ninth President, Malacañang has declared Sept. 28 a non-working holiday in Pampanga through Proclamation No. 35.

The whole-day celebration will kick off with a wreath- laying ceremony at the bust of Macapagal located in front of the Pampanga provincial capitol here at 7 a.m.

To be led by Governor Lilia G. Pineda, officials from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and other local executives, the wreath-laying rites will be followed by a motorcade from this city going to Macapagal’s birth place in Lubao town where a concelebrated mass will take place at 8 a.m.

The late President's daughter, likewise a former President and now Pampanga Second District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, will be the guest of honor in the ceremonial program to be highlighted with the presentation of commemorative stamps and the signing of the deed of donation of the Diosdado Macapagal Museum and Library.

The day-long activities will be capped with the unveiling of the Pampanga High School (PHS) marker where Macapagal graduated as class salutatorian.

Mass will also be offered for Macapagal at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. This will be followed by wreath-laying rites to be led by the officials and representatives of the NHCP and City Government of Taguig with Climate Change Commission Vice Chairman Heherson T. Alvarez and Ms. Cielo Macapagal-Salgado as guests of honor.

Fondly called the “Poor Boy from Lubao,” Macapagal was the country’s ninth president who served from 1961 to 1965.

The son of Urbano Macapagal and Romana Pangan from Barangay San Nicolas in Lubao, Macapagal was gifted with extraordinary intellect and determination which paved the way for him to achieve his dreams.

Despite being poor, he graduated valedictorian at Lubao Elementary School and salutatorian at Pampanga High School in San Fernando City.

He finished his pre-law course at the University of the Philippines, and bachelor's degree in law at the University of Santo Tomas.

He was the topnotcher in the 1936 Bar examinations and also earned the degree of Doctor of Laws and Doctor of Economics.

Macapagal taught law and economics and worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs as Assistant Secretary on Legal Affairs and Treaties.

He was elected as representative of the first district of Pampanga in 1949.

Macapagal authored and sponsored several laws benefiting the rural areas and the poor such as the Minimum Wage Law, Rural Health Law, Rural Bank Law which earned him the title “Champion of the Common Man.”

Because of his pro-poor program, he was elected as Vice President in 1957. He ran for the presidency on November 14, 1961 and defeated then President Carlos P. Garcia.

Among the significant legacies of Macapagal are changing the date of Philippine Independence from July 4 to June 12 which is the day when the Philippine Independence was declared by General Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898 in Kawit, Cavite; the Philippines’ claim of Sabah in 1962 and Agricultural Land Reform Code of 1963.

He retired from government service after his term of office as president.

However, his heart, being really in public service, Macapagal ran as a Constitutional Convention delegate and was elected as President of the 1971 Constitutional Convention.

Macapagal died on April 21, 1997 and was interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. (PNA)

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