Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Day is celebrated on March 17. Ramon Magsaysay was the seventh President of the Philippines, serving from 1953 until he died in 1957. In the Philippines, the Magsaysay name is synonymous with charity, justice, integrity, and incorruptibility. Filipinos so greatly revere him that the nation introduced the Ramon Magsaysay Award after his death — considered the ‘Nobel Prize of Asia.’ Magsaysay’s track record as a politician, civil servant, and humanitarian is well known to all Filipinos. He is credited with bringing peace, law, and order during the Cold War era.
History of Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Day
Ramon Magsaysay was born on August 31, 1907. In 1927, he joined the University of the Philippines, where he studied engineering. Later, he transferred to the Institute of Commerce at ‘José Rizal’ College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in commerce. Magsaysay worked as a car mechanic before joining the motor pool of the Philippine Army during World War II. After the war, the U.S. Army appointed him as the military governor of Zambales. In 1946, he was elected as a congressman under the Liberal Party, serving two terms until 1950. These years were his first taste of politics. Unlike most Filipino political leaders of Spanish ancestry, Magsaysay was of Malay descent.President Elpidio Quirino appointed Magsaysay to Secretary of National Defense, a position the former army officer used to reform the Philippine military and suppress the Communist-led Hukbalahap Rebellion. Offering parole, homesteads, and medical treatment to former rebels encouraged their surrender. Magsaysay built schools, hospitals, farmhouses, and other facilities through the Economic Development Corps. Thanks to these efforts, he became popular with the Filipino people, gaining a reputation for honesty and integrity. In 1953, the Nacionalista Party chose him as their presidential candidate, defeating the incumbent Quirino.Magsaysay did his best to reform the Philippines, but he was frustrated by a conservative congress that served the interests of the wealthy. He couldn’t pass land reform legislation, and the government under him was indifferent to the plight of peasant Filipinos. The people still loved him, and he maintained his reputation of incorruptibility until his untimely death in a plane crash on March 17, 1957. In 1966, President Ferdinand Marcos passed Proclamation No. 15, declaring March 17 as Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Day.
Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Day timeline
Magsaysay is born in Zambales province to Exequiel Magsaysay and Perfecta del Fierro.
Magsaysay is appointed military governor of his home province.
Magsaysay beats the incumbent Elpidio Quirino to become President of the Philippines.
Ramon Magsaysay dies in a plane crash.
Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Day FAQs
What makes Ramon Magsaysay famous?
Ramon Magsaysay is best known for defeating the Communist-led Hukbalahap party.
How did President Magsaysay try to solve the Hukbalahap problem?
Magsaysay incorporated civil resettlement projects with his military campaign, with the formation of the Economic Development Corps (EDCOR).
Why is Magsaysay called the champion of the masses?
He was “Champion of the Masses” because of his advocacy for fairness and justice.
How to Observe Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Day
Read the Magsaysay Credo
The Magsaysay Credo was written in 1956. It outlines Magsaysay’s political and personal beliefs and the approach he believed worked best to serve the Filipino people.
Follow his example
Magsaysay devoted his life to serving the poor and disenfranchised. Emulate him by helping those around you. Aid can be volunteer work, youth mentorship, or something simple like buying groceries for a struggling family.
Donate to the MAGSY Fund
The MAGSY Fund of the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation supports projects and programs like workshops, seminars, and exchange programs. Your contributions will help the organization prepare the next generation of servant leaders.
5 Facts About Ramon Magsaysay
He was a resistance fighter
For three years, Ramon Magsaysay fought in the Western Luzon Guerilla Forces, playing a vital role in routing the Japanese from the Zambales coast before the arrival of U.S. forces in 1945.
Driving for a living
While studying engineering at the University of the Philippines, Magsaysay worked as a chauffeur to support himself.
His experience in the transport industry
Magsaysay once worked as a general manager for a transportation company in Manila.
He was an army major
On February 8, 1946, Magsaysay was discharged from the Philippine Army with the rank of Major.
A massive send-off
An estimated five million people attended Magsaysay’s funeral, a testament to his popularity as a leader.
Why Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Day is Important
A symbol of justice and hope
The Filipino people adored Magsaysay. In a country teeming with wealthy and corrupt politicians who only cared about preserving their interests, Magsaysay took an interest in the peasant and the ordinary citizen.
Magsaysay was the son of a blacksmith and school teacher. Despite his humble background, he rose to the highest institution of power in the Philippines, achieving great things. His life is an inspiration for the ordinary person.
The power of forgiveness
Magsaysay was a master of turning enemies into friends. He showed the Hukbalahap movement amnesty when they surrendered, instead of crushing them brutally as most military leaders would have done. Though he had been at loggerheads with the Nacionalistas during his political career as a Liberal, he accepted to join their party as their presidential candidate.
Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Day dates