Press Release
August 19, 2011


A strongman and a democratic leader are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and is exactly what the Philippines need now, argued the eminent writer and columnist Amando Doronila during the launch of a new book, Manuel Luis Quezon.

The book is the latest project of Senator Edgardo J. Angara, who coauthored it with the respected author Sonia Ner. The book was launched earlier this week in time for Quezon's 133rd birth anniversary today.

Doronila said that Baler-born Quezon is more than the father of Philippine Independence--he is the indisputable founding father of the Filipino nation, in the same way George Washington is the father of the United States and Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore.

"Great men are great because they stamp their personality--their vision, their style of leadership, as well as their faults and human flaws--on the template of nation building," he explained. "Quezon was such leader. He forged the architecture of the Commonwealth government and the institutions that underpinned it in his own image. The commonwealth was his mirror image."

Doronila said that Quezon dominated the political arena of his time, earning admiration from allies and critics, no matter how bright, brilliant or promising they were, because of his charismatic energy and volcanic temper.

"Let there be no mistake about it. Quezon ran the Commonwealth autocratically. He was our first authoritarian leader, but he delivered results and did not leave a legacy of corruption and looting of the nation's resources and wealth," he explained.

In fact, Doronila asserted that Quezon stayed well within the democratic boundaries of the 1935 Constitution, which provided the legal basis for the Commonwealth government, despite his acknowledged authoritarian tendencies.

"Filipinos clamor for a strong and decisive leader. There's a need for someone who will say, 'This is what I want'. No one is doing that," said Doronila.

Angara, the other famous son of Baler, Aurora, agreed that Quezon was a president like no one the country has ever had. "I am convinced that Quezon gave life to our national hero Jose Rizal's ideals of nationhood, social justice, a national language, and the promise of youth. He transformed these into reality and made them part and parcel of our nation today."

He said that Quezon steered the country through a very tumultuous period, displaying the exceptional capability to remain firmly in command in spite of his own physical illness, tuberculosis. "He was a strong leader through peace and war. He strived to engender predictability and security in spite of the prevailing uncertainties of the time. We need that kind of leadership that President Quezon displayed�and we need it now."

Ms. Nini Quezon-Avanceña, the daughter of Quezon, thanked Angara and Ner for reviving the memory of his father and his legacy especially for the young generation. She was accompanied by his sons, Nolo and Ricky Avanceña. "People think of someone who has died a national hero as not human and alive. But you were able to present a more human picture of my father which will be very good for the young today who do not know him."

The book is literally a vivid portrayal of Quezon through rare photos and memorabilia unearthed by Angara and Ner. The authors decided to create a highly pictorial book to appeal to a predominantly visual generation, but they coupled the photos with substantive captions to support the short essays that introduce the chapters of the book.

The small book launch was witnessed by an esteemed group of artists, writers, patrons of the arts, and members of the diplomatic corps. Among those present were National Artists for Literature F. Sionil Jose and Virgilio Almario; Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara; Mexican Ambassador Tomas Javier Calvillo Unna; Maria Molina, deputy head of mission of the Spanish embassy in Manila; historian Dr. Ambeth Ocampo; and author Jose Maria Cariño.

Also in attendance were columnists Neal H. Cruz, Wilson Lee Flores, Carmen Pedrosa, Joanna Mae Ramirez, Christine Dayrit; editor Doreen Yu; publisher Ninez Cacho-Olivares; writer Hannah Torregoza; and curator Marian Roces.

Angara and Ner have previously collaborated on the books Baler and Mapping the Philippines. They are working on an accompanying book on Aurora Aragon Quezon and a monumental book on the Galleon Trade.

News Latest News Feed