|First Lady of the Philippines|
December 30, 1953 – March 17, 1957
|Preceded by||Victoria Quirino-Delgado|
|Succeeded by||Leonila Garcia|
|Born||July 25, 1915|
|Died||August 17, 2004(aged 89)|
|Children||Teresita (b. 1934)
Milagros (b. 1936)
Ramon Jr. (b. 1938)
A native of Balanga, Bataan, Magsaysay was devoted to her family, relatives and friends. She and Ramon had three children: Teresita Magsaysay (b. 1934), Milagros "Mila" Banzon Magsaysay (b. 1936) and Ramon "Jun" B. Magsaysay, Jr. (b. 1938).
As the President's consort, Magsaysay was active in many socio-civic programs especially with the Philippine National Red Cross, of which she was honorary Chairwoman for several years. She is remembered as one of the most admired First Ladies and distinguished herself for her warmth and simplicity.
Magsaysay was widowed at 41 years old when President Magsaysay died in an aeroplane crash in 1957, three years and two months into his rule, making it was one of the shortest presidential terms in Philippine history. She dedicated herself to the preservation of her husband’s memory and led a simple life that was true to her husband’s legacy. Magsaysay herself died on August 17, 2004.
Wife of New Philippine President Serves With Grace Mrs. Magsaysay Is a Homemaker By a staff writer of the Christian Science Monitor Manila, P. I.
Ramon Magsaysay, new President of the Philippines has been described as “a man of the people.” In the same high sense Luz Banzon Magsaysay, First Lady of the Philippines is a woman of the people.
Beautiful Malacañang Palace, the residence of the president, where they now live, is more magnificent a home than the new First Lady really desires, although she presides at official functions with the grace and dignity which come of culture and refinement plus a warm love and concern for others.
For many years before her husband ever thought of being president, Mrs. Magsaysay worked beside him, giving support and aid in everything he undertook. During World War II when he was fighting with the guerrillas, he would be gone for long periods when she had no idea where he was nor as to his safety, but she carried on with a courage and serenity which her friends are characteristic of her.
President Magsaysay remarked after his election that he believed this experience prepared her for the work she did during his campaign when she was his greatest helper. Unlike many American wives who accompany their husbands and make campaign speeches for them, Mrs. Magsaysay stayed home. There she made it her duty to meet the hundreds of people who came long distances to see her husband.
With infinite patience and kindly consideration she talked to these people, answered their questions and when they gathered on the grounds of her home waiting for his return – remaining sometimes overnight or longer – she cooked meals for them. Sometimes there were so many poor there that she was obliged to call in women friends to help her prepare the quantities of food required to provide for them.
Responsibilities not only include family but grow beyond
Mrs. Magsaysay grants that she has a little more than the average citizen’s interest in politics because of her husband’s public service first as a member of Congress from Zambales, and now as President of his country, but she has never actively engaged in politics on her own initiative. “And I have never made a political speech in my life.” She adds with a smile.
“I have always felt that the best way I could help my husband,” Mrs. Magsaysay explained, “was to make things easier for him by so taking care of the household and our family that he didn’t have to worry about them, handling social engagements and other commitments which he didn’t have time to attend to, and by entertaining women political leaders and supporters.”
As First Lady she is no different from the gentle freedom-loving women of Bataan that she was before her husband’s election, except that her responsibilities have grown. There are still the needs of the family to be looked after – they have three teenage children, Teresita, Milagros and Ramon, Jr. “The children have to be seen off to school,” she says, “I must see to it that they keep up with their studies. I plan the meals for the family and generally supervise the running of the Malacañang household. In other words, I am occupied with the same thousand and one things that mothers all over must take care of.
But in addition to this, she tries to relieve the President of part of his rigorous schedule by receiving those visitors whose problems she can handle without having them brought to him personally and by attending functions and ceremonies where his presence is not essential.
Magsaysays keep their simple, modest pattern of living
The night after his inauguration instead of a great ball, the Magsaysays had a dinner at the President’s palace with five intimate friends as guests. Mrs. Magsaysay wore, instead of the exquisitely embroidered piña gown in which she had appeared at the inaugural ceremonies, a simple black and white cotton dress lighted with sequins and made with short full skirt and low neck. It was in keeping with the modest, simple pattern of life which the Magsaysays wish to retain within the framework of official obligations.
But whatever the First Lady wears is enhanced by her own natural beauty – shining black hair, intelligent, warm brown eyes, flawless complexion, and grace of movement. Her dainty feet always trip along in the smartest of shoes.
The inaugural day had been one of heavy demands both on her and the President. It had been exceedingly warm, and the grounds of the palace were crowded with people who wanted to catch a glimpse of the new President and his family and if possible to touch him.
The dinner that evening was served on one of the porches surrounding the reception rooms, with lights shining on the river and revealing the constant flow of large and small lavender water lilies moving swiftly by to the ocean. The President sat with his back to all of Manila outside the porch and across the park, with his smiling, happy wife across the table from him. Uppermost in their thoughts were their aims and desires for the people of their country.
Luz Magsaysay shares with her husband the purpose to bring about as many improvements for the country as possible. They hope to have an artesian well, good schools and hospitals in every barrio. At present sanitary conditions are in great need of improvement for people in many areas in the Philippines drink, cook and bathe in the polluted water.
Mr. Fix-It When the family car needed special attention
Luz Banzon’s marriage to Ramon Magsaysay was the culmination of a story-book romance. Mrs. Magsaysay’s father was owner of what she describes as a “modest transportation company” which operated buses on the Bataan-Manila route within the province of Zambales. She was one of nine children and life in Bataan before World War II, was quiet, easy-paced and un-eventful. She finished her elementary education there, studying and helping around the house, and in 1924 was sent to Manila and enrolled in a girl’s school as a boarder. She finished high school there in 1932.
It was in connection with the sale of her father’s firm to the Try-Tran Company of Manila where Mr. Magsaysay was then working as shop superintendent that she met him. She and her sister went to the company’s office to collect one of the payments due on the sale. There he saw her and, as he later confessed, thought quickly of some way to introduce himself.
When their business was transacted, he stepped up and offered to take them back to school in the office car. They gratefully accepted. About a week later he appeared at the school to call, posing as a relative to get past the stern scrutiny of the matron. Luz was greatly surprised when the “relative” who was announced as a caller turned out to be the kind man at the Try-Tran office. After that, visits became more frequent and gifts of candy and flowers came regularly to the school.
“When I went home to Bataan on summer vacations,” his wife recalls, “he kept up his visits, sometimes arriving in Balanga from Manila so early in the morning he had to wait at a friend’s house for my family and me to begin the day. Like most young men everywhere when they are paying court, he was very kind to my parents and sisters and brothers and won the old folks’ hearts by being helpful, especially when our car was in trouble. “He would repair and fix it like new – for he really was very good with machines – and would earn my parents’ admiration.” The courtship lasted two years and then they were married at Lourdes church in the Walled City, Manila June 10, 1933 with little idea that 20 years later theirs would be the First Family of the islands.
- Flor, Lina (1957). Mrs. Luz B. Magsaysay: Constant Light and The Private Life of the Former First Lady.
- THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, BOSTON, TUESDAY, MARCH 16, 1954
Victoria Syquia Quirino
|First Lady of the Philippines