US President Harry Truman and Philippine President Elpidio Quirino meet at the Oval Office on September 13, 1951.
US President Harry Truman (left) and Philippine President Elpidio Quirino (middle) meet at the Oval Office on September 13, 1951.

Many of us know that Elpidio Quirino served as the sixth President of the Philippines from 1948 to 1953. Before his presidential administration, he also served as the country’s vice president and handled various posts in the government. These include positions like interior secretary, foreign affairs secretary, and finance secretary.

One thing that’s quite unique amid Quirino out-of-the-blue passing was the day of his death when he succumbed to a heart attack at age 65 on February 29 in the leap year of 1956 at his summer residence at the hill peak that overlooks the picturesque view of La Mesa dam and reservoir in Barangay Greater Lagro, Novaliches, Quezon City.

As the vice president during the administration of Manuel Roxas, Quirino assumed the presidency when the latter died on April 17, 1948. Quirino got his full four-year term when he won the presidential election in 1949. He sought reelection in 1953 but defeated by Ramon Magsaysay.

Quirino’s six-year presidency aimed for post-war reconstruction including economic and infrastructure, focusing on mitigating the sufferings of indigent families, helping the farmers market their crops to save them from loan sharks, and strengthening the rural banking system of the Philippines to facilitate credit utilities in rural areas. It was during his administration when the Philippines’ Central Bank was established.

Diplomacy was his political domain, impressing foreign heads of states and world statesmen from American, European, and Asian countries. He negotiated a multitude of treaties and agreements with different nations, as well as discussed common problems of peace and security in the Asian region.

Before his presidency, he also served as a congressman and a senator. He was a known member of the Philippine independence commission sent to Washington DC, which secured the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Act by the American Congress. He was also a member of the convention that wrote the draft of the 1935 Constitution.

After his defeat, Quirino retired from politics due to his poor health. He spent the rest of his life in peace at the La Mesa dam.

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