Last Updated on 04/06/2019 by Luisito Batongbakal Jr.
Have you ever wondered how Philippine presidents spent their leisure time?
Although one can only imagine the number of responsibilities expected of them, Philippine presidents definitely had their fair share of life’s precious moments.
Call it some “me” time, these rare encounters truly capture the softer sides of men who maneuvered the country’s history. And we actually have vintage photos to prove it. From a president in swimsuit to a leader playing his favorite sports, these rare photos only prove that Philippine presidents did not only play poker to unwind.
So let’s now travel back in time and uncloak the presidents who once made a mark in Philippine history. Here are 11 vintage photos showing past (and present) Filipino leaders like you’ve never seen them before:
Table of Contents
- 1. Emilio Aguinaldo with his son, Emilio Jr. (1906).
- 2. Manuel L. Quezon partying while wearing a funny hat.
- 3. Jose P. Laurel doing one of his favorite hobbies: playing the violin.
- 4. Manuel Roxas playing golf at Malacañang park.
- 5. Elpidio Quirino being cool in the pool.
- 6. Ramon Magsaysay showing off his dance skills (late 1940s).
- 7. Carlos P. Gracia thinking hard during a chess match.
- 8. Diosdado Macapagal enjoying carom billiards.
- 9. Two Marcoses sharing a sweet father-and-son moment.
- 10. Breakfast with the Aquinos at Times Street.
- 11. Christmas with young Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
1. Emilio Aguinaldo with his son, Emilio Jr. (1906).
Interesting fact: Emilio Aguinaldo, known in history as the first and youngest Filipino president, was also the only leader to have outlived his successors and reached the ripe age of 94.
On his first marriage with Hilaria del Rosario, Aguinaldo sired five children including Emilio Jr. (see photo above). On July 2, 1923, Emilio Aguinaldo Jr. entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point but failed to graduate. [Image source: Flickr]
2. Manuel L. Quezon partying while wearing a funny hat.
Interesting fact: The fascinating “party hat” above is only a glimpse of MLQ’s unique fashion statement during his time. He was actually one of the first leaders to promote the wearing of barong on special occasions. And he did it in a very creative way.
During his inauguration, for instance, President Quezon was photographed wearing a barong with both Philippine and American flags embroidered in it. He also frequently wore the same attire when attending parties, making him stand out among guests clad in traditional black tie. [Image source: National Historical Commission]
3. Jose P. Laurel doing one of his favorite hobbies: playing the violin.
Interesting fact: Jose P. Laurel, President of the Second Republic, was a terrific golfer and even played the sports before he entered Malacañang. But according to Filemon V. Tutay in his 1949 article entitled “Presidents At Play”, Laurel also loved playing violin when indoors.
As an amateur, Laurel reserved his performance only to his friends who, in turn, were impressed by how well he played the instrument. [Image source: Presidential Museum and Library’s Official Tumblr Page]
4. Manuel Roxas playing golf at Malacañang park.
Interesting fact: Another avid golfer, the late President Roxas was the one who ordered the establishment of the small 9-hole golf course at Malacañang park. He did it out of convenience as both Wack Wack and Caloocan were too far from his office. When playing either alone or with companions, Roxas was always accompanied by an aide who would follow him with an umbrella.
Although he was relatively poor at playing golf compared to other past presidents, Roxas was a terrific poker player and also succeeded in truck gardening. [Image source: Presidential Museum and Library’s Official Tumblr Page]
5. Elpidio Quirino being cool in the pool.
Interesting fact: Back when reduction of office hours during summer was a common practice, Elpidio Quirino, the second president of the Independent Republic of the Philippines, spent his spare time dipping in the pool.
In the photo above, the late president is shown wearing a classic bathing suit (left) before plunging himself into the swimming pool in Bahay Pangarap (right). He usually went to swimming at least once a week accompanied by one of the Malacañang physicians.
Aside from swimming, Quirino also loved playing poker and golf. [Image source: Presidential Museum and Library’s Official Tumblr Page]
6. Ramon Magsaysay showing off his dance skills (late 1940s).
Interesting fact: In April 1948, then Congressman Ramon “Monching” Magsaysay was appointed by President Manuel Roxas to lead the lobbying of Rogers Bill in Washington. The bill, which would give medical benefits to Filipino veterans, was then successfully lobbied at the exact same time when Magsaysay learned how to dance.
According to an anecdote written by Manuel F. Martinez, the late president enrolled at Washington’s Arthur Murray Studios to avail of its seven-hour course. Immediately after his return to the Philippines, he joined a public dance in Castillejos to show off his new skills, with no less than his wife, Luz Banzon, as his partner (see photo above). [Image source: Presidential Museum and Library’s Official Tumblr Page]
7. Carlos P. Gracia thinking hard during a chess match.
Interesting fact: The eight president of the Philippines, Carlos P. Garcia was a lover of nature. According to his grandson Jose Carlos Garcia Campos, the former president spent most of his time gardening and taking care of animals after his stint in Malacañang.
Aside from gardening, the late president Garcia also loved playing chess, especially with his professor friends from U.P. [Image source: Presidential Museum and Library’s Official Tumblr Page]
8. Diosdado Macapagal enjoying carom billiards.
Interesting fact: Just like Carlos P. Garcia and Noynoy Aquino, the late President Diosdado Macapagal was also fond of playing billiards. In the photo above, Macapagal is shown having a friendly match with Lieutenant Azarcon.
Interestingly, the game they’re playing was a carom or carambole billiards, one that is played in pocketless tables. As the name suggests, a player scores in carom billiards by striking both the opponent’s cue and object balls with one’s own cue ball. [Image source: Presidential Museum and Library’s Official Tumblr Page]
9. Two Marcoses sharing a sweet father-and-son moment.
Interesting fact: When he was young, Bongbong Marcos had a brief career as a child actor when he starred in his father’s true-to-life story entitled “Iginuhit ng Tadhana”.
The said film, which was released exactly before the 1965 elections, starred Vilma Santos as Imee Marcos, Luis Gonzales as Ferdinand, Gloria Romero as Imelda and Bongbong as himself. [Image source: Presidential Museum and Library’s Official Tumblr Page]
10. Breakfast with the Aquinos at Times Street.
From left to right: Viel, Cory, Ninoy, Ballsy, Noynoy and Pinky. (Source – Ninoy: Ideals & Ideologies 1932-1983)
Interesting fact: According to Cory, Ninoy, although not demonstrative, expresses his love through gifts and love letters. In fact, for her 21st birthday, Cory received from Ninoy a portrait of her done by no less than Fernando Amorsolo. It was too expensive that the painting cost Ninoy two months’ salary.
11. Christmas with young Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Interesting fact: In the photo above, Diosdado Macapagal Jr. is shown while inspecting Christmas gifts in the presence of the young Gloria Macapagal, Arturo Macapagal, and First Lady Evangeline M. Macapagal. [Image source: Presidential Museum and Library’s Official Tumblr Page]