Manuel L. Quezon, First President

The first Filipino president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines under American rule. He was president of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944. For advocating Filipino-language amendments to the 1935 Constitution, he is known as the "Father of the National Language."


Born August 19, 1878.

Birthplace: Baler, Tayabas Province (now named Quezon Province)

 Picture of Filipino president Manuel Quezon

Short Biography of Manuel Quezon

Resident Commissioner of the Philippine Islands who later became president of the islands in 1935, a position he held until his death in exile in 1944.

He was educated in public schools. He studied law at the University of Santo Tomas and served in the Philippine Army.

After military service, he turned to politics. Elected as a Resident Commissioner to the 61st Congress (1909–1911), Quezon lobbied Congress for immediate independence for the Philippines. He also advocated greater participation of Filipinos in the colonial government.

In his maiden speech to Congress, Quezon submitted a petition requesting Philippine sovereignty. He asked Members to support legislation that endorsed Philippine independence. One of those acts was the Philippine Autonomy Act.

Sponsored by William Jones of Virginia, the  Philippine Autonomy Act officially committed the United States toward granting independence to the Philippines. The act also ensured broader autonomy for Filipinos within the colonial government.

Toward the end of his service in the House, Quezon remarked, “I came with a mandate to work for the immediate independence of the Philippine Islands…to the best of my ability, I have done everything I could to carry out that mandate.”

After resigning from Congress, Quezon served in the Philippine senate from 1916 to 1935. He was elected president of the commonwealth in 1935. Forced to flee to the United States because of the Japanese takeover of the Philippines in 1942, Quezon died in exile on August 1, 1944. He died from tuberculosis in Saranac Lake, New York His body was initially buried at Arlington National Cemetery in the United States before being moved to the Manila North Cemetery in the Philippines.