Diosdado Macapagal Biography

(Former President of the Philippines)

Birthday: September 28, 1910 (Libra)

Born In: Lubao, Pampanga, Philippine Islands

Diosdado Macapagal was a Filipino leader who served as the ninth President of the Philippines from 1961 to 1965 and the sixth Vice-President from 1957 and 1961. He was also a Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from Pampanga's 1st District from 1949 to 1957 and helmed the Constitutional Convention of 1970. Originally from Lubao, Pampanga, Macapagal became a government lawyer after obtaining degrees from the University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas. He was covertly involved in the anti-Japanese resistance during the Allied liberation against the Japanese and was an important figure in the Philippine foreign service before joining politics. During his tenure as the President of the Philippines, numerous efforts were launched to weed out corruption in the government, but many of these initiatives were hindered by a Congress controlled by the rival Nacionalista Party. In the later years of his life, Macapagal performed the duties of a seasoned statesman. He was also an accomplished poet and made a significant contribution to the Philippine literature.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Diosdado Pangan Macapagal

Died At Age: 86


Spouse/Ex-: Eva Macaraeg (m. 1946 ⁠–⁠ 1997), Purita de la Rosa (m. 1938; died 1943)

father: Urbano Macapagal

mother: Romana Pangan Macapagal

children: Arturo Macapagal, Cielo Macapagal-Salgado, Diosdado Macapagal Jr., Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Born Country: Philippines

Presidents Political Leaders

Died on: April 21, 1997

place of death: Makati Medical Center, Makati, Philippines

Cause of Death: Pneumonia

Notable Alumni: University Of The Philippines

More Facts

education: University of the Philippines, Pampanga High School, Philippine Law School, University of the Philippines Manila, University of Santo Tomas, University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law

awards: Order of Isabella the Catholic‎

  • 1

    What are Diosdado Macapagal's significant contributions to the Philippines?

    Diosdado Macapagal is best known for initiating the declaration of June 12 as the Philippines' Independence Day, as well as for implementing various economic reforms during his presidency.

  • 2

    How did Diosdado Macapagal improve the educational system in the Philippines?

    Diosdado Macapagal implemented the Education Act of 1963, which expanded the country's educational system by increasing public school funds and establishing a nationwide network of colleges and universities.

  • 3

    What was Diosdado Macapagal's stance on foreign relations during his presidency?

    Diosdado Macapagal focused on strengthening the Philippines' relationships with other countries, particularly the United States, while also advocating for a more independent foreign policy.

  • 4

    How did Diosdado Macapagal address land reform in the Philippines?

    Diosdado Macapagal passed the Agricultural Land Reform Code in 1963, which aimed to improve the lives of farmers by redistributing agricultural lands to tenant farmers and providing them with support services.

  • 5

    What economic policies did Diosdado Macapagal implement to boost the Philippine economy?

    Diosdado Macapagal introduced various economic programs, such as the Five-Year Socioeconomic Program, aimed at promoting industrialization, agricultural development, and economic stability in the Philippines.

Childhood & Early Life
Born on September 28, 1910, in Lubao, Pampanga, Philippine Islands, Diosdado Macapagal was the middle of five children of Urbano Macapagal y Romero and Romana Pangan Macapagal.
His father was a poet who composed poems in the local Pampangan language. The family was impoverished and ran a boarding house out of their home for extra income. They also had a sty. Because of such background, Macapagal received the moniker the "Poor boy from Lubao".
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Education & Early Career
Diosdado Macapagal was an exceptional student. He was a valedictorian at Lubao Elementary School and salutatorian at Pampanga High School and obtained a pre-law degree from the University of the Philippines.
In 1932, he started attending Philippine Law School, where he demonstrated his skills as an orator and debater. During this period, he worked as an accountant to support himself. However, he had to drop out because of poor health and financial reasons after two years. Eventually, he acquired enough money to go back to school and enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas.
In 1936, Macapagal earned a Bachelor of Law degree and subsequently joined the bar. He obtained a Master of Laws degree in 1941, a Doctor of Civil Law degree in 1947, and a PhD in Economics in 1957.
He came first at the 1936 bar examination with a score of 89.95% and was later appointed legal assistant to President Manuel L. Quezon in Malacañang Palace. After Japan occupied the Philippines, he helped the anti-Japanese resistance in secret during the Allied liberation against the Japanese.
Following the creation of the independent Republic of the Philippines in 1946, he held various important portfolios in the foreign service of the country. In 1949, he was promoted to serve as a Counsellor on Legal Affairs and Treaties.
Initial Years In Politics
In 1949, on the request of President Elpidio Quirino, Diosdado Macapagal returned from Washington, USA to successfully contest for the House of Representative seat from 1st District of Pampanga as a Liberal Party candidate. He was re-elected in the 1953 election, holding the seat for eight years in total in the Second and Third Congress.
During his time in Congress, he was made Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and accomplished various crucial diplomatic tasks, including serving multiple terms as a Philippine delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. His work as a Representative predominantly revolved around the betterment of the condition of the poor and rural areas. He wrote and endorsed several vital socio-economic bills.
In 1957, Macapagal became the Vice-President of the Philippines. His election was unprecedented in the sense that there had not been a VP from a rival party than that of the President in the history of the country before him. However, he was not allowed to join the Carlos P. Garcia administration by the ruling party and spent his four-year term as the leader of the opposition.
President of the Philippines
Diosdado Macapagal defeated Garcia in the 1961 presidential election and took office as the ninth President of the Philippines on December 30, 1961. Former public servant Emmanuel Pelaez served as his VP.
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During his presidency, several legislations were signed into law, including an Act to implement the Agricultural Land Reform Code and the Minimum Wage Law. He is particularly known for changing the country's observance of Independence Day from July 4 to June 12.
He took several measures to remove graft and corruption from the government and improve the country’s economy. Among them were putting the peso on the free currency-exchange market, actively supporting exports, and introducing several steps to reduce income tax evasion. The last was proving to be a serious problem for the Philippines, as the wealthiest families of the country often found various loopholes to avoid paying taxes.
His efforts to usher in these reforms were drastically affected by a House of Representatives and Senate controlled by the opposition, the Nacionalista Party. Macapagal sought re-election in 1965 but was defeated by Ferdinand Marcos. A former fellow member of the Liberal Party, Marcos changed alliance and joined the Nacionalistas after failing to secure the Liberal nomination because of Macapagal’s re-election bid.
Later Years
After losing the presidential election, Macapagal declared that he was leaving politics. In 1971, he was appointed President of the Constitutional Convention that authored what ultimately became the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines. The Philippines was witnessing severe political turmoil during this period, as Marcos had introduced martial law in the country in 1972 and was ruling as a dictator.
As the constitution was sanctioned and edited in dubious circumstances, Macapagal later expressed his doubts about its validity. In 1979, he set up a political party named the National Union for Liberation to conglomerate his followers for the resistance against the Marcos government.
After Marcos was deposed and democracy was brought back in 1986, Macapagal assumed the duties of an elder statesman and served as a member of the Philippine Council of State.
Diosdado Macapagal spent much of his retirement reading and writing. He was a regular contributor to the Manila Bulletin newspaper and wrote several books, including ‘A Stone for the Edifice: Memoirs of a President’ (1968). His autobiography, ‘From Nipa Hut to Presidential Palace’, was published posthumously in 2002.
Macapagal wrote poems in Chinese and Spanish languages. However, his poetry is overshadowed by his political achievements.
Diosdado Macapagal was awarded the Gawad Mabini, Grand Cross (GcrM) in 1994.
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Facts About Diosdado Macapagal

Diosdado Macapagal was known for his frugality and simplicity, often choosing to dine at carinderias (local eateries) instead of fancy restaurants during his presidency.

Macapagal was a prolific writer and poet, having authored several books and collections of poems throughout his life.

He was the first Philippine president to have come from a poor family, highlighting his humble beginnings and dedication to serving the people.

Macapagal was an avid chess player and often played friendly matches with friends and colleagues, showcasing his strategic thinking and intellectual prowess.

Despite his busy schedule as president, Macapagal always made time to spend with his family, emphasizing the importance of balancing work and personal life.

Family & Personal Life
Diosdado Macapagal married twice in his life. His first wife was Purita (née de la Rosa), to whom he was married from 1938 until her death in 1943. Purita was the sister of the Philippine Senator and Macapagal’s close friend Rogelio de la Rosa. Macapagal fathered two children with her: Cielo Macapagal-Salgado and Arturo Macapagal.
On May 5, 1946, he exchanged wedding vows with Dr. Evangelina Macaraeg a renowned physician of her time. They had two children together: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Diosdado Macapagal, Jr.
Death & Legacy
On April 21, 1997, Diosdado Macapagal passed away due to heart failure, pneumonia, and renal complications at the Makati Medical Center. He was 86 years old at the time. He is interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
About four years after his death, his daughter, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, became the 14th President of the Philippines, serving from 2001 to 2010. On September 28, 2009, she was present at the opening of the President Diosdado Macapagal Museum and Library, situated in Lubao.
To celebrate the hundredth anniversary of his birth, President Benigno S. Aquino III made September 28, 2010, a special non-working holiday in Pampanga, Macapagal’s native province.

See the events in life of Diosdado Macapagal in Chronological Order

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