Extemporaneous address of President Quirino upon arriving at the Manila International Airport

Extemporaneous address
His Excellency Elpidio Quirino
President of the Philippines
Upon arriving at the Manila International Airport

[Delivered on September 7, 1953]

Fellow Countrymen:

My tongue is almost arrested in my endeavor to rush my heart direct to you with the deepest gratitude I now feel because of this huge demonstration which has brought us together here in this spot with friendship, goodwill, and kindness. (Applause)

I left, several times in the past, in different capacities, and returned on several occasions during these trips with a successful mission accomplished. But never before have I been accorded such a tribute that I am now receiving at this moment. I am humbled to the extreme to acknowledge this tribute. Compared to the past, perhaps this is a different atmosphere, because of the different missions that prompted me to leave the country.

But the particular difference today, and this is perhaps the reason whv, is this genuine and eloquent manifestation of your esteem.

I have been reported as dead and now I am coming back alive. (Applause) I think somebody reported that I was dying, some said that I was dyeing my hair …. (laughter) I don’t believe that any single white hair has been added during my three months confinement in bed. But there is something which has transpired in my heart and soul, as the result of the difficulties, the vicissitudes and ordeals which I had to go through, and that is, that I was granted a new feeling, a new resolve with the new lease on life that I now have, and I want to dedicate the remaining years of my life to the welfare of the nation and the people. (Applause)

I have had an opportunity, both here and in Baltimore, not only to study this question; namely, for the Philippines to strengthen and foster the long standing beneficial results of our relationships with the United States, but also to observe from afar the relative position of our beloved country in the face of the changing world conditions.

The present lull in the armed conflict in Korea pending the conference now being held in New York to settle differences of the participating nations in that armed conflict is portentous of unexpected developments. In some countries, there are expressions of premature skepticism regarding the results of that conference. But what I did observe, is that while they are preparing to settle this most important question in this part of the Pacific, the great powers have not ceased to make preparations for any untoward eventuality.

The Philippines, therefore, should not be lulled into a complacency that may be disastrous to us if we neglect to defend and protect the institutions we have established and which are now the source of our happiness and prosperity. In my resolve, therefore, upon returning to your fold, I made up my mind to so conduct myself that the democracy which we have established here shall continue to exist and to struggle hard to the last, drop of our blood to preserve such institutions which I know will be the perpetual source of our happiness, prosperity, and glory. (Mabuhay!)

I was not very much worried about my health. I was more worried about the health of the nation. I left the Philippines still stirring with local partisan conflict. I made up my mind that during my absence, I should not convert any portion of the territory of any country where I might be into a battlefield for my political struggles. Whenever I found myself on foreign soil, I therefore refused to talk about political issues that are now occupying my mind. Now that I am here, you can do as you please. (Applause) You can call me a dead man, you can call me a dying man, you can call me a man that has already been liquidated,— anything that you want—as long as you give me a chance to give you a good comeback. (Applause)

And I tell you, my friends, we are still struggling to preserve this nation. No nation in the world today has played the role that we have played, considering our insignificance in territory, in population, and in wealth. The great strides that we have made in politics as well as in the economic field, in our determination to make the last sacrifice in defense of democracy, is the object of admiration of the whole world.

I want you to bear in mind that instead of these internal political struggles that are now raging in the country, sowing confusion instead of coalition (laughter) among all elements against the administration, there should be a combination of all the elements to uphold and defend the institutions that we have established. I, for one, am ready for the sacrifice, but I think it is too late for me to withdraw. (Laughter) We may just as well play the game until it is finished, bearing in mind our great responsibility, that this administration—this administration and this government and this people, and these institutions we have established—do not belong to any particular party or group. My friends, in this resolve, I am one and all with you that we should maintain the tranquility and the peace of-mind of the country while we grapple for positions that are now being prematurely ‘distributed as part of the spoils system of the combination of business and politics. (Applause and laughter)

Fellow countrymen and friends, please accept my deepest gratitude for the eloquent and genuine manifestation of your esteem. I shall endeavor during the remaining years of my life to justify it and to make myself fully deserving of the kindnesses which you have showered upon me, especially during the period most critical to my life, when I was reported dead.

To me, this is a day of resurrection. (Applause) And with me, I want you all to be resurrected. (Applause) May God bless you all and may you always be kind to the country we all love.. Thank you very much. (Applause)

Source: University of the Philippines, College of Law Library

Quirino, E. (1953). Extemporaneous Address of President Quirino upon arriving at the Manila International Airport. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, 49(9), 3830-3832.