I believe above all that a man should be true to himself. I believe a man should be prepared at all times to sacrifice everything for his convictions. Twice during my life I have been called upon to make this kind of sacrifice. After Pearl Harbor, the Philippines was invaded by Japan. I had never been a soldier. I was a journalist. But something impelled me to enlist.
I was attached to General MacArthur’s staff and went with him first to Bataan and later to Corregidor. In Corregidor, I was placed in charge of the broadcast called the Voice of Freedom. The Japanese reacted violently to the broadcast. I learned that a prize had been put on my head, and worse that they had gone after my wife and four sons who had been left behind in the occupied territory. I suffered indescribable torment, worrying about my loved ones. I wanted to go back to Manila at whatever cost. But I was ordered to proceed to Australia on the eve of the fall of Bataan.
From Australia, I was sent on to the United States, where I continued to make the Voice of Freedom heard, regardless of the consequences to my family. I did not see them again until after the liberation of my country by the American forces under General MacArthur, aided by the Filipino guerillas who had carried on a vigorous resistance during the more than three years of enemy occupation.
The second time I was called upon to make a considerable sacrifice for my convictions was during the 1953 national elections in the Philippines. I had never been a politician, but having become convinced that I should do everything I could to help effect a change of government in my country, I resigned as Ambassador to the United States and permanent representative to the United Nations in order to enter the field against the incumbent president. I founded a third party, the Democratic Party, and accepted the nomination for president. I started a vigorous campaign to awaken the Filipino people to the need for a change in administration.
Midway in the campaign, it became apparent that the two opposition parties might lose the election if they remained divided, but had an excellent chance to win if they would present a united front. I made the painful decision to withdraw my candidacy. After withdrawing my own candidacy, I was the campaign manager of Mr. Ramón Magsaysay and campaigned up and down the land for him. I could not have worked harder if I had been the candidate myself.
Magsaysay won by a landslide. The temptation was strong for all those who had worked for him to share in the rewards of victory. I was convinced, however, that the first duty of everyone who had helped to bring about a change of government was to give the new president a completely free hand in making appointments to keep positions in his administration. Immediately after the elections, I left for the United States.
As I look back, I see this pattern of action and renunciation repeated over and over again in my life—in things great and small, in war and in peace. Some may call this a credo of self-sacrifice. I prefer to describe it as being true to one’s self, no matter what the cost.
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