August 1, 1944: The Death of a President

On one of the upper floors of this building, the old Philippine Chancery, the following scene took place exactly 73 years ago today, according to Carlos Romulo:

“On the morning of August first, the President’s chief of staff General Valdes, called me from Saranac to tell me that the President has just died.

I went directly to the room of Vice President Osmena to report Quezon’s death. I knockedĀ on the door. When he opened it, I said, “Good morning, Mr. President.”

Osmena looked startled. “Que pasa?”

“I have just received the news from Saranac. President Quezon has died.”

Osmena had been reading when I arrived and he still had on his glasses. Now he took them off, wiped them slowly and walked over to the window and looked out. Tears were running down his cheeks. “Please call the War Department and ask for a plane so I can fly to Saranac and pay my respects.”

I got on the phone at once to our liaisonin the War Department. He conferred with Secretary Stimson and then got back to me. “No, Osmena cannot go to Saranac now. He must be sworn in first. Your country has no president.” ”

–from The Philippine Presidents: Memoirs of Carlos P. Romulo with Beth Day Romulo (New Day 1988)

Photo: Personal collection.

Chancery

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