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144th birth anniv PRTEL AVIV, 19 AUGUST 2022 – The Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel joins the nation in celebrating the 144th birth anniversary of former President Manuel L. Quezon. 

Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina was born on 19 August 1878 in the town of Baler in what was then Tayabas Province (now Aurora Province). He fought during the Philippine Revolution against Spain. Under American rule, he led efforts to pass the 1934 Tydings-Mcduffie Act which established the Commonwealth of the Philippines and set independence by 1945. After being elected as the first president of the Commonwealth, he spearheaded preparations for self-rule, promoted rural settlement and development, and established a national language as well as a new national capital. President Quezon led the country during the tumultuous years of World War II, eventually passing away due to tuberculosis while in exile in America.

 

Today, the late president is fondly remembered by Filipinos and Israelis for his Open Door Policy for European Jews in the late 1930s. While most countries refused European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution, the Philippines opened its doors and offered them a safe haven.

 

President Quezon lobbied the United States government to allow the Jews refuge in the Philippines. Anticipating the arrival of up to 100,000 refugees, President Quezon offered his own land in Marikina, a suburb of Manila, for a housing facility, and set aside a vast tract of agricultural land in the southern island of Mindanao that could accommodate as many as 35,000 Jewish settlers. The U.S. government, however, only allowed the issuance of 10,000 visas. Unfortunately, World War II broke out and the arrival of Jews in the Philippines came to a stop. Only about 1,300 Jews were able to reach the Philippines. These refugees, most of whom settled in Manila, refer to themselves fondly as “Manilaners” to this day. 

 

Through the Balai Quezon, a library and cultural center established in 2019, the Philippine Embassy continues to promote greater awareness and recognition of the story, history, and meaning of President Quezon’s selfless act, as well as the important role it plays for Philippines-Israel relations. END

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