August 31, 1907
MANILA, Aug. 31 — On August 31, 1907, Ramon Magsaysay, seventh President of the Philippines, hailed by his countrymen as the "Champion of the Masses," was born in Iba, Zambales from a blacksmith father and a schoolteacher mother.
Magsaysay graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Commerce at the age of 25. By working as jeepney driver and mechanic during the day, he was so-called most endeared president who reached out to Filipinos even in remote barrios.
It was Magsaysay who opened Malacanang Palace to the people and declared that it was the palace of the people.
As president, he led a simple life — not showy or materialistic. He did not buy a new car or have Malacanang renovated or even acquire properties for himself, citing people living in great deprivation.
Elected president of the Philippines in November 1953, with campaign slogan "Magsaysay is my guy" capitalized on his charismatic leadership. He created the President's Complaint Action Committee as his action line for assisting the masses where people found the courage to air their complaints as he allowed them to send telegrams to the PCAC free of charge.
Magsaysay broke down large estates and acquired land settlements for the people. Greater protection for tenants was provided for by the Agricultural Tenancy Act of 1954. The prices of consumer goods were lowered.
Notably, it was during Magsaysay's presidency that the Huk threat finally came to an end with the surrender of Luis Taruc.
In line with his position as America's staunch friend in Asia, Magsaysay was the chief sponsor — a move that would lead to the formation of the South East Asia Treaty (SEATO) Organization.
His active coordination with the Japanese government led to the Reparation Agreement, obligating the Japanese government to pay $ 550 million as reparation for war damages in the Philippines.
Magsaysay did not finish his term as president when his plane crashed in Cebu on March 17, 1957 after speaking before an educational institution in Cebu. He died at the age of 49.
Gravesite of President Magsaysay is at the Manila North Cemetery. (PNA)