Catalino Macaraig Jr.

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Catalino Tiacho Macaraig Jr.
Catalino Macaraig, Jr.JPG
Catalino Macaraig Jr., A.B. and LL.B., University of the Philippines, 1952 (Photo from U.P.’s Philippinensian 1952 yearbook)
Executive Secretary
In office
September 17, 1987 – December 14, 1990
President Corazon Aquino
Preceded by Joker Arroyo
Succeeded by Oscar Orbos
Personal details
Born (1927-11-05)November 5, 1927
Manila, Philippine Islands
Died November 16, 2003(2003-11-16) (aged 76)
Spouse(s) Araceli Villareal Andaya
Children 6
Alma mater University of the Philippines

Catalino Tiacho Macaraig Jr. (November 5, 1927 – November 16, 2003) capped three decades of a life of public service and integrity as the longest-serving (from September 17, 1987 to December 14, 1990) Executive Secretary of President Corazon C. Aquino.

Personal life[edit]

Macaraig was born in Santa Cruz, Manila, Philippines on November 5, 1927 to Catalino Macaraig and Ignacia Tiacho Macaraig. His only sibling was a younger sister, Gloria, born in 1932.

Macaraig, called Taling by his family and Mac by his friends, was a product of the Philippine public school system from his elementary to his university years: Santa Ana Elementary School, Araullo High School, Arellano High School (where he graduated in 1946), and the University of the Philippines (U.P.), where he graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.).[citation needed]

While at U.P., Macaraig was a member of Upsilon Sigma Phi,[citation needed] the oldest Greek-letter fraternity in Asia. He was also a member of the U.P. Vanguards,[1] the university’s Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit and the pioneer of the ROTC in the Philippines. He was into athletics as a member of the U.P. varsity weight-lifting team and the U.P. Law swimming team.

After he obtained his law degree and passed the Philippine bar exams in 1952, Macaraig left for the United States and earned a Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) in 1954 from the University of Michigan Law School,[2] where he specialized in International Law and Public Administration.

Macaraig also received awards from his alma maters in later years. Among these awards were the Most Distinguished Alumnus Award (Sunburst Order – Golden Class) of the Arellano (Manila North) High School in 1977[3] and the Upsilonian Noble and Outstanding (UNO) Award, the highest recognition conferred on Upsilonians.[4]

On December 18, 1955, he married Araceli (Celi) Villareal Andaya (Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of the Philippines (U.P.), 1952; Master of Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, 1954), a native of Mambusao, Capiz. Their six children are Marissa, Miriam, Mel, Monina, Mynardo and Muriel—all graduates of U.P., holders of law or master's degrees, and noted in their respective fields.

Professional life[edit]

Soon after returning to the Philippines in 1954, Macaraig began a career in government when he joined the Department of Justice as Judicial Supervisor in the Judiciary Division. In the 1960s, he rose through the ranks in a succession of positions: special attorney, prosecution division, chief legal officer, law division, and chief of the technical staff. At this time, he also held concurrent positions as Director of the Bureau of Prisons from 1966 to 1967, Member and later Chairman of the Board of Pardons and Parole from 1962 to 1970, Chairman of the Appeals Committee for Motion Pictures, and Chairman of the Interim Board of Censors for Motion Pictures.[5]

Macaraig also got involved in teaching as a Professorial Lecturer in the U.P. College of Law, teaching different subjects in the evenings for almost a decade beginning in 1963. He was one of the incorporators of the U.P. Law Alumni Association in 1973, and later served as Vice-President of the U.P. Law Alumni Foundation.

In 1970, he was invited to join the Philippine judiciary as District Judge of the Court of First Instance of Laguna and San Pablo City, and he was appointed Undersecretary of Justice in April 1971.

Macaraig was a member of the following entities at one time or another during his work in the government’s executive branch: Dangerous Drugs Board, Council for the Welfare of Children, Human Settlements Regulatory Commission, Presidential Action Committee on Land Problems, Committee on Negotiated Contracts, Technical Staff for the Philippine Military Bases Panel and the North Borneo Claim, U.P. Law Center’s Revised Administrative Code Project and Special Committee Symposium on the Treatment of Offenders, and Constitutional Revision Project.[6]

On September 21, 1972, Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared Martial Law in the Philippines. In 1978, the Philippine’s form of government was converted from presidential to parliamentary; hence, the Department of Justice became the Ministry of Justice, while Macaraig became a Deputy Minister of Justice. Macaraig stayed on in government because he believed that honest public servants and career officials should not abandon the ship of state, even if it was being steered by a corrupt and abusive leader.[citation needed]

Macaraig was appointed Minister of Justice from January to July 1979, but he was soon demoted to Deputy Minister as a result of policy differences with Marcos. These increasing disagreements made his remaining in government untenable, so he retired in January 1980.

Private sector[edit]

Following Macaraig's resignation from government work, he was hired by Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., a publicly listed and premier Philippine company. From 1980 to 1987, Macaraig held various positions in Lepanto and its subsidiaries: Director and Senior Vice-President of Lepanto; Director and President of Insular Lumber Co. (Phils.), Inc.; Director and Vice-President of Manila Mining Corporation, Shipside Inc., Diamond Drilling Corporation of the Philippines, Diaboart Products Philippines, Philippine Fire and Marine Insurance Corporation, and Lepanto Investment and Development Corporation.

Return to government[edit]

In 1986, the EDSA Revolution began, resulting in Ferdinand Marcos being deposed and replaced by Corazon C. Aquino as President of the republic. By March 1987, President Aquino had drafted Macaraig into her cabinet as Deputy Executive Secretary. Macaraig had been highly recommended by Aquino’s first Executive Secretary, Joker Arroyo.[7]

In September 1987, President Aquino reorganized her Cabinet after a coup attempt against her administration. She replaced Joker Arroyo with Macaraig as Executive Secretary.[8]

In Philippine government, the position of Executive Secretary is "the most important office under the Chief Executive and is considered a department in itself. The Executive Secretary—often referred to as the "Little President"—handles the official relations of the President with all other department and instrumentalities of the government. He holds a very vital position. He is often called upon to represent the person of the president in official acts and ceremonies. He also acts as the head of the bureaus and offices not under any departments of the government and placed under the supervision of the Office of the President." [9]

Macaraig was President Aquino’s longest-serving among her five Executive Secretaries during her six-year term.[10] In his over three years as Executive Secretary, Macaraig was regarded as one of Aquino’s Cabinet secretaries who diligently and with integrity fulfilled their duties to the office, the president, and the country, such that he was considered by some people to be a hero.[11][12][13][14]

Despite concurrently holding top posts in the country’s biggest corporations at one time or another (among these, he was Chairman of Philippine National Oil Company, Philippine Airlines and Philippine National Bank), Macaraig never took advantage of his positions for personal gain.[citation needed]

President Corazon C. Aquino bestows the Philippine Legion of Honor on outgoing Executive Secretary Catalino Macaraig Jr., as Mrs. Araceli A. Macaraig assists her (photo from Macaraig family archives)

On December 26, 1990, shortly after Macaraig stepped down as Executive Secretary, President Aquino conferred upon him one of the highest awards her office could bestow, the Philippine Legion of Honor, Degree of Commander. President Aquino’s citation includes the following:

"In recognition for his outstanding and meritorious services rendered to the Republic of the Philippine in the span of thirty years, culminating in his three-year tenure as Executive Secretary of the Office of the President. For his steadfast leadership and action at the time of grave danger to our democratic institutions where he successfully, courageously, and quietly coordinated the task of saving the republic…For his exemplary efforts and zeal, and for pursuing the national interest and ensuring that the presidency and the people are served, foregoing credit for himself…For a record of honesty and integrity worthy of emulation."


Private life and retirement[edit]

Macaraig later returned to work for the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company until he retired in 1997 at the age of 70.

During his retirement years, Macaraig was a gentleman farmer, and had regular reunions with his friends, but his favorite and treasured role was as a doting grandfather to 12 grandchildren: Alyo, Aric, Jodie, Mirava, Kitkat, Mica, Jao, Jac, Jamie, Willis, Juancho, and Theo.[citation needed]

Health and death[edit]

Macaraig was physically active throughout his life. As a youth, he used to swim across the then-pristine Pasig River. Later, he engaged regularly in sports, such as swimming, golf, badminton and pelota. However, Macaraig was a juvenile diabetic and a smoker. These conditions led to several illnesses, including heart and kidney problems. He weathered many operations, and endured regular dialysis sessions toward the end of his life. After his 76th birthday on November 5, 2003, Macaraig underwent a second cataract operation, then was confined at the National Kidney Institute (NKI) for an emergency vascular operation. Shortly after he was discharged from the NKI, he suffered cardiac arrest and died on November 16, 2003.

U.P. Law scholarship[edit]

Shortly after Macaraig’s death, his family and friends established the Catalino T. Macaraig Jr. Scholarship in the U.P. College of Law for the tuition support of a law student, preferably one employed in the executive or judicial branches.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ UP Vanguard Fraternity:
  2. ^ University of Michigan Law School, Student Profile, Class of 1954:
  3. ^ Arellano (Manila North) Alumni Association, Past Awardees and Past Presidents:
  4. ^ Upsilon UNO Awards:
  5. ^ Information from the Curriculum Vitae of Catalino Macaraig Jr. submitted on October 30, 1987 to the Commission on Appointments of the Philippine Congress.
  6. ^ "Proposed Revision of Article VIII of the Constitution: The Judicial Department." Paper written by Catalino Macaraig Jr., Lourdes T. San Diego, and Vicente V. Mendoza, submitted to the U.P. Law Center as part of the study in constitutional reform published by the U.P. Law Center in 1970.
  7. ^ "Two more cabinet men", Manila Standard, March 24, 1987:,3216685
  8. ^ Aquino, Under Pressure, Removes Her Closest Adviser", New York Times, September 18, 1987:
  9. ^ Office of the Executive Secretary:
  10. ^ The Aquino Management of the Presidency by the Presidential Management Staff, June 1992, p. 7.
  11. ^ "Catalino Macaraig Jr.: a hero" by Elfren Sicangco Cruz, BusinessWorld, November 25, 2003: "In the early morning of Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003, a Filipino hero passed away. His name was Catalino Macaraig Jr. The most common definition of the word "hero" finds its roots in Greek mythology and refers to a man of superhuman qualities, favored by the gods – a demigod. But the same word describes a person noted for nobility, courage and outstanding achievements. These were qualities Catalino Macaraig Jr. possessed in abundance."
  12. ^ The Aquino Management of the Presidency by the Presidential Management Staff, June 1992, p. 8: "Each of the five Executive Secretaries had distinct personalities and management styles which, nevertheless, proved appropriate to the period in which they served…Catalino Macaraig was a low-key pencil pusher who unobtrusively pursued the President's agenda with least controversy."
  13. ^ "Why We Fail to Eradicate Corruption" by William M. Esposo, Philippine Star, May 17, 2009: "In our contemporary history, Cory Aquino was just about the most diligent president in trying to maintain an honest government. This is easily seen in the way she chose her people, especially those who worked directly under her. Ping de Jesus, Elfren Cruz, Chito Sobrepeña, Catalino Macaraig, Adolf Azcuna—to name a few—held some of the most coveted posts in the Office of the President and left public office with their reputations intact."
  14. ^ "Thank You, Tita Cory" by Alfred A. Yuson, Philippine Star, August 9, 2009: "Thank you for the decent, honest men such as Rene Saguisag, Adolf Azcuna, Catalino Macaraig, Alran Bengzon, Ping de Jesus, Frank Drilon, Butch Abad, Bobby Tañada, Elfren Cruz, Raffy Alunan and many more like them who served with you."
  15. ^ Excerpts from the citation engraved on the plaque accompanying a medal for Philippine Legion of Honor conferred by Corazon C. Aquino, President of the Republic of the Philippines upon Catalino Macaraig Jr. in Manila on December 26, 1990.
  16. ^ University of the Philippines, Law Complex, Scholarships: