Mary Ejercito

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Doña Mary Ejército
Born María Marcelo
(1905-05-02)May 2, 1905
Malate, Manila, Philippine Islands
Died January 13, 2009(2009-01-13) (aged 103)
San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines
Nationality Filipino
Other names Mary Ejército
Doña Mary
Occupation housewife
Spouse(s) Emilio Ejercito (m. 1926; wid. 1977)[1]
Children 10 (inc. Joseph and George Sr.)

María "Mary" Marcelo-Ejército (also known as Doña Mary; May 2, 1905[2] – January 13, 2009) was the mother of Joseph Ejército Estrada, the thirteenth President of the Philippines. Her ailing health was cited as among the reasons for the withdrawal of the appeal of the former President from his conviction for criminal plunder charges in 2007; Estrada was immediately pardoned by his successor, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.


María Marcelo finished her secondary schooling at the Colégio de Sta. Rosa, and enrolled at the University of the Philippines Faculty of Music, where she received a diploma in piano.[3]

Marriage and children[edit]

She met Emilio Ejército, Sr. (1898-1977), an engineer who became the first Sanitary Engineer of the City of Manila.[3] They were married on June 13, 1926 in Singalong, Manila.[1] Together they had ten children: Pilarica, Emilio Jr. Paulie, Patrocinio, Antonio, Connie, Marita, the President Estrada, the actor George Estregan (Jorge) and Jesús (Jesse).[citation needed] In 1998, Ejército received the "Uliráng Ina" ('Exemplary Mother') award from the Philippines’ Elderly Persons Foundation. In that same year, she attended the Presidential inauguration of her son, Joseph, on 30 June at Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan.

Presidential mother[edit]

During her son's rule, Ejército kept a low profile. She reportedly advised her son to be cautious of the influence wielded by his close friends.[4] During President Estrada's impeachment trial, news of the political crisis was deliberately withheld from her, but after receiving information of the proceedings she advised her son thusly: "It's more than high time you change. The people are angry now."[5]

Health problems[edit]

Ejército's health began to decline during her son's six-year incarceration; the ousted President would occasionally be granted furloughs to visit his ailing mother.[6] In 2007, Ejercito was confined at the San Juan Medical Center, and rumours spread that she was near death.[7] On September 12, 2007, Estrada was convicted by the Sandiganbayan (a special appellate collegial court) of plunder charges and sentenced to reclusión perpetua. One month later, he withdrew his appeal and instead sought for a presidential pardon. Among the reasons cited for the request, which was granted, was Ejército's "delicate condition".[8]

On May 2, 2008, Ejército celebrated her 103rd birthday from her sickbed. She had been confined to hospital and attached to an artificial respirator since August 2007[6] and would remain so until death.[9]

On December 12, 2008, a spokesperson for former President Estrada reported that Ejército was in critical condition and needed resuscitation,[10] but her physicians announced later that day that her condition had since stabilised.[11]


Ejército died on January 13, 2009 from a heart seizure and stomach aneurysm.[9] Former President Estrada and his five surviving siblings Pilarica, Paulino, Pat, Marita, and Jesús,[12] were at her side when she died, as were several grandchildren.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Philippines, Manila Civil Registration, 1899-1994," images, FamilySearch (,129694401,130976501 : accessed 02 May 2014), Marriage Certificates > 1926 > May, #79568-83765 > image 83 of 1017; citing Civil Registry Office, City Hall of Manila.
  2. ^ Sheryll Mundo (2008-05-02). "Doña Mary Ejercito celebrates 103rd birthday". ABS-CBN News Online. Retrieved 2008-05-03. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b Brenda P. Tuazon (2008-05-02). "Doña Mary celebrates 103rd birthday today". Manila Bulletin. 
  4. ^ Juan L. Mercado (2006-11-16). "Truth on the Scaffold". Indepth Views. Visayan Daily Star. Archived from the original on 2007-06-11. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  5. ^ Anthony Spaeth (2000-11-27). "Eye of the Storm". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  6. ^ a b Jocelyn Uy (2008-05-02). "Estrada’s mother turns 103". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-05-02. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  7. ^ Jocelyn Uy (2007-09-10). "Estrada sees 102-yr-old mother in hospital bed". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-02-22. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  8. ^ "Erap withdraws appeal, asks for presidential pardon - DOJ". GMA News. 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  9. ^ a b c "Estrada's mother, Doña Mary Ejercito, passes away at 103". GMANews.TV. 2009-01-13. Archived from the original on 2009-08-12. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  10. ^ Thea Alberto & DJ Yap (2008-12-12). "Estrada won’t be at rally, mom falls ill". Archived from the original on 2008-12-14. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  11. ^ "Erap's 103-yr-old mom in hospital, is stable". GMANews.TV. 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2008-12-11. 
  12. ^ Marichu Villanueva & Jose Rodel Clapano (2009-01-14). "Erap's Mom Passes Away at 103". Philippine Star. Retrieved 2009-01-14.