General Emilio F. Aguinaldo (March 22, 1869 - February 6, 1964). He was 29 years old when he became Chief of State, first as head of the dictatorship he thought should be established upon his return to Cavite in May 1898 from voluntary exile in Hongkong, and then a month later as President of the Revolutionary Government that Apolinario Mabini had persuaded him should instead be instituted.
Aguinaldo’s presidential term formally began in 1898 and ended on April 1, 1901, when he took an oath of allegiance to the United States a week after his capture in Palanan, Isabela. His term also featured the setting up of the Malolos Republic, which has its own Congress, Constitution, and national and local officialdom -- proving Filipinos also had the capacity to build.
Aguinaldo is best remembered for the proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898, in Kawit, Cavite.

Manuel L. Quezon (August 19, 1878 - August 1, 1944). He won the elections held in September 1935 to choose the head of the Commonwealth Government. It was a government made possible by the Tydings-McDuffie Law, which Quezon secured from the U.S.
Quezon had emerged as the acknowledged leader of Philippine politics and possessed the kind of background and experience that appealed to Filipinos. He had a bachelor of arts degree, studied law, and landed fourth place in the 1903 Bar examinations. He served in the revolution, fighting in Tarlac, Pampanga, and Bataan, and ended up with the rank of major. He was appointed provincial fiscal of Mindoro and Tayabas, his home province. He was elected governor of Tayabas in 1905 and in 1907, first assemblyman from the province to the First Philippine National Assembly. In 1909, he was appointed resident commissioner to the U.S. and when he finished his term after eight years, he returned to the Philippines to become President of the Philippine Senate, created by the Jones Law. He was also top man of the ruling Nacionalista Party.
Quezon’s term (1935 - 1944), though chiefly known for making Pilipino the national language, tried to solve nagging problems inherited from the Spanish and American administrations. He directed his main efforts to bring about political stability, build up national defense against the threat of Japanese militarism, and strengthen an economy that was extremely dependent upon the U.S. He was also remembered for taking executive and legislative actions to implement his “social justice” program aimed at the underprivileged.
The Commonwealth Government was interrupted by the Japanese invasion of 1941. Quezon and his government were forced to go into exile in the U.S. He died on August 1, 1944, in New York.

Jose P. Laurel (March 9, 1891 - November 5, 1959). He was elected by the National Assembly as President of the Republic on September 25, 1943 and inducted on October 14, 1943. This unicameral assembly was created through the sponsorship of the Japanese authorities.
Laurel’s controversial Presidency during the Japanese Occupation (1943 - 1945) overshadowed his achievements as legislator, jurist, writer, and administrator in the pre-war struggle for independence. As an elected senator and later delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he distinguished himself for his advocacy of women’s suffrage and his sponsorship of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution. He also became an associate justice of the Supreme Court.

Sergio Osmena (September 9, 1878 - October 19, 1961). He was elected Vice President of the Philippines in 1935 and succeeded Quezon to the Presidency in-exile.
Osmena was a notable figure in the struggle for independence. A lawyer, he espoused the cause of independence through peaceful means as editor of the Cebu newspaper El Nuevo Dia (New Day), which he founded in 1900. He served as fiscal of Cebu and Negros Oriental. He was appointed governor of Cebu in 1904 and elected to the same post in 1906. In 1907, he was elected as representative of Cebu and later became speaker of the first Philippine Assembly. In 1922, he was elected as senator. He headed important government missions to the U. S.
Osmena returned to the Philippines on October 20, 1944, together with Gen. Douglas MacArthur. In February 1945, he took the reins of government.

Manuel A. Roxas (January 1, 1892 - April 15, 1948). He was popularly known as the “First President of the Third Republic.” He won the elections by a slim margin. He was inaugurated on July 4, 1946, the day the U.S. government granted political independence to its colony.
Roxas was born in Capiz (now Roxas City), studied law at UP and graduated with honors in 1913. He topped the Bar examinations in the same year, was employed as private secretary to Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano, and taught law in 1915-1916.
His political career started when he was appointed as a member of the Capiz municipal council. In 1919, he was elected as governor of Capiz. He was elected as congressman in 1922, and in 1935, he was chosen as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He was elected as a senator in 1941 and eventually became Senate president.
The short-lived Roxas administration (1946 - 1948) embarked on a course that resulted in what were considered as his greatest achievements, namely: the ratification of the Bell Trade Act; the inclusion of the Parity Amendment in the Constitution; and the signing of the 1947 Military Bases Agreement.
Roxas was not able to complete his presidential term; he died from a heart attack at Clark Air base on April 15, 1948.

Elpidio Quirino (November 16, 1890 - February 28, 1956). Being the Vice President, he took over the Presidency after Roxas’ death. And, he managed to retain the position after winning over Laurel in the infamous fraud-tainted 1949 elections.
Quirino was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, finished law studies at UP in 1915, and hurdled the Bar examinations in the same year. His political career started with his election as a representative of Ilocos Sur in 1919, then as a senator in 1925, and again reelected in 1931. President Quezon appointed him as secretary of finance and then secretary of the interior in the Commonwealth Government. As Roxas’ Vice President, he served concurrently first as secretary of finance and later as secretary of foreign affairs.
The Quirino administration (1948 - 1953) focused on two objectives: 1) to regain faith and confidence in the government; and 2) to restore peace and order. He was more successful in the second objective – breaking the back of the Hukbalahap Movement in Central Luzon. In addition, he was credited with sponsoring the growth of industrial ventures, expanding irrigation, improving the road system, and setting up the Central Bank and rural banking. It was also during his term that the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty was approved on August 30, 1951.

Ramon Magsaysay (August 31, 1907 - March 17, 1957). He was largely famous for his success in the peace campaign. He defeated Quirino in the 1953 presidential elections by an unprecedented margin of votes.
Popularly known as “the guy,” Magsaysay was born in Iba, Zambales. He took up mechanical engineering at UP but ended up with a commerce degree from Jose Rizal College. He took a job as a mechanic in the bus company Try-Tran and rose to become its branch manager. He attained fame as an able guerilla leader in World War II and was subsequently named by MacArthur as military governor of Zambales during the liberation. He was elected twice as a congressman after the war. He was instrumental in having the U.S. Congress pass the G.I. Bill of Rights, which accorded benefits to the Filipino war veterans. But his national prominence resulted from being appointed defense secretary in the Quirino administration, successfully fighting the Huks, and for being the friend of the common tao.
Many regard Magsaysay as the President whose heart truly bled for the common man. He toured the barrios, opened up Malacanang to the public, solicited and acted upon their complaints, built artesian wells and roads. He had Congress pass the Agricultural Tenancy Act of 1954, providing greater protection to tenants.
Death came to Magsaysay when his plane crashed at Mount Pinatubo in the early morning of March 17, 1957.

Carlos P. Garcia (November 4, 1896 - June 1, 1971). He presided over the eight months of Magsaysay’s remaining term and went on to win the 1957 elections, “the noisiest and the most expensive in Philippine history.”
Garcia hailed from Talibon, Bohol. He finished his law studies at the Philippine Law School in Manila. He passed the Bar examinations and was among the top ten.
His election as Bohol representative to the National Assemblly in 1952 marked his entry into Philippine politics and public service – one of the longest ever. He was again reelected as a representative. In 1931, he started the first of this three terms as governor of Bohol. In 1941, he was elected as a senator, but it was only in 1945 that he took office because of World War II. He was again reelected as a senator and in 1953, he became Vice President to Magsaysay. He was appointed in a concurrent capacity as secretary of foreign affairs.
Garcia’s administration (1957 - 1961) was anchored in his austerity program. It was also noted for its Filipino First policy – an attempt to boost economic independence.

Diosdado Macapagal (September 28, 1910). He defeated Garcia in the presidential elections of November 14, 1961.
Mapacagal – who styled himself as the “poor boy” from Lubao (Pampanga) – completed pre-law and Associate in Arts at UP; however, he was a law graduate of the University of Santo Tomas. He was the topnotcher of the Bar examinations in 1935. He then entered into a private law practice, teaching law at the side. In 1946, he was appointed Chief of the Legal Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and was eventually sent to the Philippine Embassy in Washington as Second Secretary.
In 1949, he was elected as the congressman of the first district of Pampanga and reelected in 1953. In 1958, he was elected as Vice President of the Philippines.
Macapagal’s administration (1961 - 1965) is best remembered for resetting the date of the celebration of Philippine Independence Day – from July 4 when the U.S. turned over the reins of government in 1946 to the more correct date of June 12 when Aguinaldo declared independence in 1898. This single act overshadowed the other distinguishing features of his administration, namely: the promotion of the stability of the Philippine currency; the initiation of a socioeconomic program aimed at the betterment of the poor; efforts to combat misdeeds in government, and the launching of his version of agrarian reform.

Ferdinand E. Marcos (September 11, 1917 - September 28, 1989). He defeated Macapagal in the 1965 presidential elections. And the two-decade era of Marcos (1965 - 1986) began.
Marcos was born in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. He was a consistent scholar, took up Law at UP, and graduated cum laude in 1939. At 19, he was charged with the murder of a political enemy of his father. Thrown in jail, he reviewed for the nearing Bar examinations and topped it. Defeated at a lower court, he argued his own case in an appeal before the Supreme Court and won an acquittal. He joined the guerilla forces at the outbreak of war.
Marcos entered politics with an eye to eventually capturing the presidency. In his maiden campaign in 1949, he said: “Elect me your congressman now and I’ll give you an Ilokano President in 20 years.” He won that election and was returned thrice to Congress as Ilocos Norte’s congressman. In 1959, he was elected to the Philippine Senate and in 1963, he became its president. Completing the presidential term in 1969, he won a reelection . In 1972, he declared martial law. The rest is history.

Corazon C. Aquino (January 25, 1933). President from 1986 to 1992, she is associated with the EDSA Revolt.
No one could have imagined that Cory Aquino would become a president of the Philippines. Although she was born to the landed class in Tarlac, her background was so disparate from the patterns that cut presidential figures. In 1946, her family left for the U.S. and she enrolled at Ravenhill Academy in Philadelphia. She finished her junior and senior years at Notre Dame College in New York. In 1949, she entered Mount Saint Vincent College also in New York where she finished a Bachelor of Arts course, major in French .
In 1953, she returned to the Philippines to take up law at the Far Eastern University. But, the following year, she met and married Benigno Ninoy Aquino. Subsequently, she became content to live in her husband’s shadow and took the role of wife and mother to her five children. However, Ninoy’s assassination in 1983 swept aside this role and catapulted her to the top position of the country after the tumultuous events which followed the EDSA revolution in February 1986.
She refused to run for reelection in the 1992 presidential elections; but instead endorsed and worked very hard for her chosen candidate – Fidel V. Ramos.

Fidel V. Ramos ((March 18, 1928). He was the military hero of the February 1986 Philippine People Power Revolution and victor of the first multiparty presidential elections in 1992, thus becoming the 12th President of the Republic of the Philippines.
Ramos was born on March 18, 1928, and grew up in Lingayen, Pangasinan. His father - Narciso Ramos - was a lawyer, a crusading journalist, a five-term legislator of the House of Representatives, and later, secretary of foreign affairs.
The Ramos administration has anchored its governance on the philosophy of “People Empowerment” as the engine to operationalize economic growth, social equity, and national solidarity. It is focusing on a five-point program: peace and stability; economic growth and sustainable development; energy and power generation; environmental protection; and a streamline democracy.
The six-year term of Ramos (1992 - 1998) is looked upon with much hope and optimism not only because of his clear vision of the future but also because of his hands-on leadership style in meeting the challenges faced by the country. Because of his leadership, the Philippines is expected to attain full political stability, sustained economic development and social justice by the turn of the 21st century.