City of Manila

remembering “the Guy”

August 31 marks the birth anniversary of one of the most popular and well-loved presidents the Philippines ever had. We are talking about “the Guy” himself, Ramon Magsaysay who served as president from 1953-1957.

His life and achievements have been immortalized; some may say they are a stuff of legend. I guess it is a testament to how much admired and well-loved was Magsaysay that until now his campaign theme song still resonates among the people who still suffer the same problems and are still hoping for the same ideals as was the case in 1953, the year Magsaysay ran and won as president.

Thus when news broke out about his sudden death on March 17, 1957, you can imagine the massive outpouring of grief over a leader considered to be “the idol of the masses.” To date, no president has enjoyed such popularity and adulation as that of Ramon Magsaysay. It would be no surprise that a month later, the idea of honoring his legacy was set in a place when the US-based philantrophic organization the Rockefeller Brothers Fund with some help from the Philippine government established the Ramon Magsaysay Award to recognize individuals or groups in Asia who espouse integrity in government, courageous public service, and pragmatic idealism in a democratic society.

The awards are administered by its namesake foundation which since 1967 has made its home along Roxas Boulevard’s Manila Bay view. The architecture of this building with its concrete beams reminds one of a house on stilts, a common type of housing seen in our bahay kubo as well as those houses found in our seaside communities. It’s 18 storeys high and was designed by the architectural firm of Alfredo J. Luz, who himself is the architect of the World Health Organization building along UN Avenue in Manila.

The Center also hosts the Asian Library which I heard has an impressive collection, not to mention a great deal of Ramon Magsaysay memorabilia. Too bad the library was closed the time I visited the place a few days. Hopefully I could go back and check out what a place dedicated to a figure so admired as Ramon Magsaysay has to offer.

the Magsaysay credo

acknowledgements as well to the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation website.

© The Urban Roamer

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