What I've Learned

"He who has less in life should have more in law."—Ramon Magsaysay

The original People's President on youth, nationalism, and his concern for the common man.
IMAGE National Library of The Philippines via Presidential Library and Museum
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The following are excerpted from former President Ramon Magsaysay Sr.'s speeches, statements, remarks, and messages retrieved from the Official Gazette of The Republic of The Philippines; as well as from the Magsaysay Credo.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED
Ramon Magsaysay Sr. (1907-1957)
Seventh President of The Republic of The Philippines

I believe that government starts at the bottom, and moves upward, for government exists for the welfare of the masses of the nation.

He who has less in life should have more in law.

The little man is fundamentally entitled to a little bit more food in his stomach, a little more cloth on his back, and a little more roof over his head.

A high and unwavering sense of morality should pervade all spheres of governmental activity.

The pulse of government should be strong and steady, and the men at the helm imbued with missionary zeal.

"If popular judgment is to be sound and constructive, the foundation of fact upon which it is based must be accurate and as comprehensive as possible."

The President should set the example of a big heart, an honest mind, sound instincts, the virtue of healthy impatience, and an abiding love for the common man.

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There is a certain impatience in youth which is really nothing more than their energy eager to be put to use. Young people want action, and if they would listen to words, they must be words that lead to action.

Poverty and unemployment are not the causes of communism; but they are conditions which make it easy for that ideology to thrive.

It has been said that wars are fought in the classrooms and the campuses of universities long before they are fought on the battlefield. I can vouch from my experience in fighting the communists that this is true.

You do not have to be anti-American or anti-foreign in order to be resoundingly pro-Filipino.

Man is not a mere creature of the State, but it is for him that the State exists.

What is good for the common man is good for the whole country. Every policy of our administration has therefore been directed to his welfare. We have anchored our national destiny to the common man.

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If popular judgment is to be sound and constructive, the foundation of fact upon which it is based must be accurate and as comprehensive as possible.

No matter how well-educated a man may be, he will not be a credit to the nation unless he also possesses civic spirit.

While being torn between nationalism and internationalism, we shall find sure anchorage on the old-time teachings of patriotism. They are direct and simple: love of our motherland, of our people, of our traditions, and of our achievements.

If only the time and energy spent by our people in barber shops and coffee shops on political discussions were channeled into gardening, poultry, or handicraft, our country certainly would gain more by it. We have too little time for nation building, and we spend too much for political campaigns.

I am one of those who feel at times that we exaggerate the importance of politics.

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I see no real patriotic or constructive contribution from those who resurrect buried enemies or revive dead issues, from those who sneer at the worth or validity of our national institutions or culture, from those who try to imprison us behind a wall of suspicion, distrust, and hatred of the outside world, from those who would have us follow a policy of cynical expediency.

Honest and fearless criticism should be welcomed as a healthy manifestation of democracy, but we should insist that it be presented soberly, based upon evidence, and accompanied by a constructive alternative.

The use of the freedom of expression, orally or in writing even only for its own sake, is of course a legitimate activity of democratic citizens. But I venture to state that its use in this manner should only be the beginning and not the end, the early stage but not the final consummation of civic conscience and responsibility.

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There cannot be democracy without journalism. No modern government in a modern country has been able to exist long without a public press. This is as true in the dictatorships which use the press as a medium of propaganda, as in the democracies which need the press as a medium of fair and accurate information.

Democracy becomes meaningless if it fails to satisfy the primary needs of the common man, if it cannot give him freedom from fear and on which a strong republic can be built.

No nation desiring a rising standard of living for its people is economically independent. Skills, finances and markets—only with these can a nation’s own wealth be turned into a better life for its people. Where they are lacking, they must be sought by friendly cooperation.

In a world as divided as ours, we are faced at every turn with a choice and a decision—and each decision may affect the lives and fortunes of men for generations to come. It is necessary that we should be able to deal adequately with such issues; to see through half-truths and evasions; to recognize the deliberate lies and falsehoods by men of ill-will and little faith. Education must provide the answer.

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"It is my firm belief that the final test of whether we shall have succeeded or failed will depend ultimately on how well or badly we had fared in bringing progress to the vast majority of our people who live in the farms and barrios."

Manuel Quezon was a realist. He knew the weakness of his people, and he knew their strength. He knew the power that lay in the Filipino passion for freedom, but he knew also that there was danger to that freedom in our habits of political and sectional rivalry, in personal ambition and pride.

Respect for basic human rights must continue to be one of our prime concerns. We must live up to our pledge to act as guardians of the dignity and worth of the individual.

The past generation clings jealously to its values and condemns the present for any change. The present generation stoutly defends its values as the peak of aspiration. Both forget that they are merely temporary custodians of what really belongs to the future.

Women have held the highest offices with distinction and competence. Our women voters now number almost as many as the men, and they certainly need not yield to the men in earnestness of purpose with which they take their political responsibilities. There is not the slightest doubt that the women will continue to grow as a potent political force in this country.

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It is my firm belief that the final test of whether we shall have succeeded or failed will depend ultimately on how well or badly we had fared in bringing progress to the vast majority of our people who live in the farms and barrios.

The world of today is complex, and the forces which influence the lives of our people move at a faster pace. Our decisions must be made more quickly and must be based on facts rather than emotion.

We Filipinos have the reputation of being swayed easily by emotion and sentiment. I believe, however, that we are also capable of being practical when the problem is big enough to call for serious consideration.

I grew up as a worker and I know the problems of the humblest working man. It seems to me I can say honestly that I have brought to the administration of government the perspective of the worker.

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My concern for the common man is not merely sentimental or emotional. It is a hard fact that a nation cannot survive without the safe foundation of a prosperous and contented majority of its citizens.

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