RAMON MAGSAYSAY: Role Model For The Youth

by xiaochua

To commemorate the 105th birthday of President Ramon Magsaysay, I am reposting an essay I wrote when I was fourteen years old.  It placed third in the high school division of the very first Ramon Magsaysay Essay Writing Contest in 1998.  Encoded from the typewritten original with minimal revision:

Xiao Chua and THE “GUY,” 31 August 2011, Cultural Center of the Philippines


Michael Charleston “Xiao” B. Chua

What can a late president give to the young people of today?  What does Ramon Magsaysay mean to the youth?

Ramon Magsaysay, the man who said “Those who have less in life should have more in law” was born on August 31, 1907 in Iba, Zambales:  the first president to be born in the 20th century.  Because of poverty, he worked as a jeepney driver and finished his studies of commerce by his hardwork.  But his real love is engineering so he became a mechanic.  His triumph in politics came from his records of being a guerilla fighter in World War II.  He was elected Congressman and was appointed Secretary of National Defense.  He succeeded in tho surrender of the rebel group “Huk” or “Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan” (People’s Liberation Army).  In 1953, he was elected as the Third President of the Third Republic of thePhilippines.

President and Mrs. Ramon Magsaysay and Family (Courtesy of http://www.zambalesforum.org/rodelramos)

My grandmother, Mrs. Ma. Constancia Chua, told me two anecdotes she know about Ramon Magsaysay.

When he was still a Defense Secretary, he was going to Malacañang to have a meeting with then president Elpidio Quirino.  Aboard his car with wife, Luz Banzon-Magsaysay, and driver, Kosme, they suddenly stopped in the middle of the night.  Magsaysay asked the driver what happened. The driver answered “Nasiraan po tayo!”  Luz became nervous. “This place is dangerous” she said.  Magsaysay calmed her down.  Kosme tried his best to fix the car but he cannot start it.  “I know how to fix car engines, but I cannot fix this one” he admitted to Magsaysay.  So the latter went outside the car, pushed up the sleeves of his barong tagalog and he started fixing the car.

“What are you doing?”  Luz asked her husband.  He answered “Don’t you remember? I’m a mechanic!”

“We understand that Ramon. But your clothes will be dirty.”  Luz said. “She’s right sir!”  Kosme added, “Just tell me how and I’ll do it.”

Magsaysay answered, “I’m used to dirt, and I’m a worker too.”

Both Luz and Kosme were amazed [with] what he is doing. He is not shy to do humble things even if he has a high position in the government.

After some moments, the car started.  He fixed his clothes and went back inside the car like nothing happened.

“Let’s go, Kosme” he said, “The president is waiting.”

Another anecdote is about the violation of traffic rules committed by his driver, Kosme.

“Slow down a bit, Kosme, we’ll be charged of overspeeding!”  The president told his driver. The driver answered “yes” but he didn’t listen to him.  Kosme proceeded to the intersection and he ignored the red light so the police chased the car.  The car was forced to stop.  Kosme talked to the policeman, the latter asked the license of the former.

“I’m in a hurry chief,” Kosme said.

“The law is the law, and you broke it, here’s your ticket,” the policeman said. “Claim your ticket [at] the fiscal’s office.”  But Kosme answered, “Don’t you know my passenger?”

The policeman inspected the plate number, Number one, and he immediately looked inside the car.  “My goodness! Pardon me Mr. President.”  The policeman told Magsaysay. “You can now proceed.”

“Oh no, sargeant,” Maysaysay said. “You said awhile ago that the law is the law.  And in that principle I do believe.  While I am the president, the law applies to everyone, there is equality.  Please give us the necessary ticket.”

And the policeman issued the ticket.  Kosme scratched his head.

Ramon Magsaysay was a popular president.  The people loved him, and his jingle is much awaited in the radio:

“That is why, that is why, you would hear the people cry

Our democracy will die, Kung wala si Magsaysay

Mambo Mambo Magsaysay, Mabu Mabu Mabuhay

Our democracy will die, Kung wala si Magsaysay”

Magsaysay is called “The Champion of the Common Man.”  My Lola Ching said, “He is the kindest president I know.”  He socialized with the man on the street, with the commuters in a bus, with the common “tao.”  The proof of his being “The Man of the Masses” is he opened Malacañang and the Office of the President to the people.  Two or three times a week he listens personally to the problems of the people.  A character that must be possessed by every government official.

When there are state functions or there are some foreign visitors.  “My husband wants to serve them local dishes and local wines.”  Mrs. Luz Banzon-Magsaysay once said in a T.V. special, “He always supports and promote local products.  The curtains in our house must be locally made,” she said.

Magsaysay meets the press informally in the open-air balcony of Malacanang. Nestor Mata, a journalist said, “In our press conferences, we can feel the breeze of the Pasig River.”  Magsaysay, being considerate, knows the need of fresh air of every man. This also indicates his love of nature.

But the role of Malacañang as the palace of the common man ended on March 17, 1957 when the Presidential plane “Pinatubo” crashed on Mt. Manunggal, Cebu leaving the nation a dead champion.

“I cried when I heard the news” my Lola Ching said. “I was shocked and I cannot think of it.”  Magsaysayts body was laid in state in Malacañang, and even in death, his greatness increase[d].  People from all walks of life paid their last respects from his wake in Malacañang to his burial in theNorth Cemetery.  His funeral was attended by thousands of people.

Magsaysay means something to the youth of today and that is his great legacy, the legacy of his character.  He loves his work, he loves the law, he loves nature, he loves the people and he loves his nation.  A legacy of love that must [be instilled] in the hearts of every young people.  Truly, Ramon Magsaysay is the role model for the youth.

People’s Journal, 18 October 1998

Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17 October 1998