(1896 - 1971)
Fourth President of the
P. Garcia was a teacher, poet, orator, lawyer, and politician par excellence
who became the fourth president of the Philippine Republic.
Before he entered politics,
Garcia was known as “Prince of Visayan Poets” and the “Bard from
The son of
Policarpio Garcia and Ambrosia Polistico, who were both natives of Bangued,
Abra, he was born on
He acquired his
elementary education in Talibon and took his secondary course at the
Garcia was a recipient of
the four-year Malcolm Law Scholarship, which he had won through his excellence
in oration and debate. Instead of practicing law right away, he taught for two
years at the
In the local elections of
1931, Garcia ran for governor of
But the Japanese invasion
in World War II prevented the elected government from reigning. Confronted by
the war, the nationalist Garcia joined the guerilla movement, thus drawing the
ire of the Japanese imperial forces. When the civilian government in
Garcia ran for senator in
the first post war national elections and regained his former post. In the 1953
presidential elections, he was the running mate of Ramon Magsaysay, who
eventually won as President. Magsaysay appointed Garcia, his Vice-President, as
concurrent Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
In the Presidential
election in November of that year, Garcia ran against Jose Yulo, Manuel
Manahan, Claro M. Recto, and Antonio Quinine. He won over Yulo, his closest
opponent, by 600,000 votes, and thus stayed on as President.
For articulating his
administration’s “Filipino First” policy, which put the interests of the
Filipino people above those of foreigners and of the ruling party, he became
popular. It reinstated the original ideas, which also made the late President
Manuel Quezon and Vice-President Sergio Osmeña close to the people.
In 1961, faced by the
so-called “White Paper” disseminated by
Senator Eulogio “Amang” Rodriquez, President Garcia lost his reelection bid to
the rising political leader from Pampanga, Diosdado Macapagal.
From 1961 – 1971, he lived
as a private citizen in
Aside from the presidency,
Garcia held other public offices namely: Member of the Philippine Commission
that negotiated the rehabilitation and war damage claims against Japan in 1945;
delegate to World Conference in San Francisco that drafted the Charter of the
United Nations in1945; delegate to the South East Asia Conference in Baguio,
1950; representative to the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference, Dublin,
Ireland, 1950; chairman of the Philippine delegation to the Geneva Conference
for Korean Unification, 1954; presiding officer of the Southeast Asia Treaty
Organization (SEATO) Conference in Manila in 1954 which yielded the Pacific
Charter; held of Philippine envoys to the SEATO talks held in Pakistan, in
1956, and in Canberra in 1957; and vice-president of the Nacionalista Party
directorate, 1947, and executive vice-president , 1954 – 1971.
Garcia’s death created a
void in Philippine politics, for he was the only president to institute a
“Filipino First” policy.
At the time of his death, Garcia was survived by his wife, Leonila
(Inday) Dimataga-Garcia, a pharmacist and native of Opon,