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Saturday
May 25th
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Philippine Presidential Wit and Humor PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Philippine Presidency
Saturday, 12 May 2007 12:52

Today's topic is the Philippine Presidential exercise of wit and humor. Nope, today we shall not discuss the jokes about the Filipino Presidents. Today we shall not talk about the countless Erap jokes and the gags or quips about the presidential errors or omissions. We shall talk about some of the Presidents' witty and/or humorous remarks or conduct.


Today's piece is just the first of an occasional series. Readers are invited to send in their stories about the exercise of wit or humor by Filipino Presidents.

President Aguinaldo's Humor

As a student of serious Filipino history, I came across one historical tidbit that was probably the first time that a Filipino President made known his command of wit and humor. On April 1, 1901, then Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the president of the First Filipino Republic (1898-1901), issued a proclamation accepting the sovereignty of the United States. The Americans did not realize it that President Aguinaldo was making a fool of their sovereignty. The captured Filipino President chose to accept American supremacy on April Fool's Day.

An Anecdote about President Quezon

My father, Dominador S. Reyes, told me an incident about then Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon that happened during his visit to the capitol town of Masbate. As President Quezon walked down the gangplank of a naval vessel, a captain of then Philippine Constabulary (PC) Company in Masbate Province saluted him. (The PC provincial commander was usually a major. But he was indisposed and, hence, the next in rank, the captain, represented him in welcoming the Chief Executive.) President Quezon saluted him back and told him, "At ease, major, at ease."

The captain blurted out, "Mr. President, I am just a captain."

All the dignitaries looked at President Quezon and then at the captain's uniform. Everybody noticed that indeed he was a mere captain. "Well, well," Mr. Quezon said, "the President is always right." Then he turned to his aide-de-camp and said, "Prepare an on-the-spot promotion to the rank of major for this fine gentleman and officer."

An Anecdote about President Magsaysay

There was this story about a conference called by then President Ramon Magsaysay with the congressional leaders. President Magsaysay complained about the rising prices of prime commodities. He said that the secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry attributed the increase to the law of supply and demand. At this point, a senator suggested that he could file a bill that would repeal the said law.

President Magsaysay looked at the senator and with a twinkle in his eyes said, "Why don't you insert it as a rider in the bill filed by another solon that would outlaw typhoons?"

First of Several Anecdotes about President Marcos

Ferdinand E. Marcos was probably the best President when it came to the exercise of wit and humor.

Once Mr. Marcos received a telephone call from then Prime Minister Cesar Virata, who was also chairman of the Board of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP). Mr. Virata wanted to know what President Marcos would advise regarding the loan application of a presidential in-law.

Prime Minister Virata said that there was a pending application from a firm controlled by the said in-law of Mr. Marcos. The application was for the LBP to finance the acquisition of several ocean-going cargo vessels.

Mr. Virata asked the President what should he do with the loan application. President Marcos said that the LBP should reject it. Mr. Virata asked what reason could he cite in rejecting it. Mr. Marcos said that it would be easy. He told Mr. Virata to explain to this presidential in-law that the bank was engaged in the business of financing land acquisition, as its name was the Land Bank. Then Mr. Marcos said, "Tell him that he is applying for a loan to purchase vessels that must sail on the ocean and have nothing to do with land."

Later that day Prime Minister Virata reported back to President Marcos. He told the Chief Executive that his in-law did not complain at all about the denial of the loan application. The presidential in-law accepted the reason for the loan rejection as reasonable enough. # # #



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