Born to a family of modest means in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Elpidio Quirino was a self-made man of firm determination and burning ambition. While studying in Vigan High School, the young Elpidio taught in Barrio Caparia-an of the adjacent town of Caoayan. He earned enough to finance his transfer to Manila High School, after which he continued to work while studying Law at the University of the Philippines. He was one of the topnotchers of the Bar Examinations of 1915.
He began his career as law clerk of the Philippine Commission, before he caught the eye of rising politician Manuel L. Quezon, who became his mentor in life and politics. He served in various capacities: as congressman, senator, cabinet secretary before being elected as Vice President to President Manuel A. Roxas in 1946. When Roxas died of a heart attack in 1948, Quirino took over, andwas elected to his own term the following year. Faced with the difficulties of a war-torn and newly independent republic, Quirino laid the foundations of our nation, and the rebuilding from the ashes of war.
Born during the decade of the Philippine Revolution, Elpidio’s life parallels the story of the nation from revolution against the Spanishand war against the Americans, to commonwealth under America, war with the Japanese, to liberation and eventual independence. At every stage of that story, Elpidio had an important role to play.
His story has been laid aside, forgotten by our young. It is a story worth retelling and remembering.
The story of Elpidio Quirino is a one of hope and inspiration, hatred and forgiveness, challenge and triumph. His life and career bear the hallmarks of his cardinal values: tolerance, goodwill and love.