Ramon Magsaysay – Seventh President
He was elected President under the banner of the Nacionalista Party.
In the Election of 1953, Magsaysay was decisively elected president over the incumbent Elpidio Quirino.
He was sworn into office wearing the Barong Tagalog, a first by a Philippine president. As president, he was a close friend and supporter of the United States and a vocal spokesman against communism during the Cold War.
He led the foundation of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization also known as the Manila Pact of 1954, which aimed to defeat communist-Marxist movements in South East Asia and the Southwestern Pacific.
During his term, he made Malacalang Palace literally a “house of the people”, opening its gates to the public. One example of his integrity followed a demonstration flight aboard a new plane belonging to the Philippines Air Force (PAF).
President Magsaysay asked what the operating costs per hour were for that type of aircraft, then wrote a personal check to the PAF, covering the cost of his flight. On March 16, 1957 Magsaysay left Manila for Cebu City where he spoke at three educational institutions.
That same night, at about 1 a.m., he boarded the presidential plane “Mt. Pinatubo”, a C-47, heading back to Manila.
In the early morning hours of March 17, his plane was reported missing.
It was late in the afternoon that day that newspapers reported that the airplane had crashed (plane crash) on Mt. Manunggal in Cebu and that 25 of the 26 passengers and crew aboard were killed.
Only newspaperman Nestor Mata survived.
Vice President Carlos P. Garcia, who was on an official visit to Australia at the time, assumed the presidency to serve out the last eight months of Magsaysay’s term.