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Claro M. Recto (1890-1960) was a Philippine nationalist leader and president of the 1934 constitutional convention. He was one of the most vocal advocates of Philippine political and social autonomy.
Claro M. Recto was born in Tiaong, Tayabas, on Feb. 8, 1890. He worked for a bachelor of arts at the Ateneo de Manila and finished a master of laws degree at the
Framing of the  Constitution
In 1924 Recto went to the
In 1931 Recto was elected to the Senate on the platform of the Democrata party. He acted as minority floor leader for 3 years. In 1934 he became majority floor leader and president pro tempore of the Senate. He subsequently resigned his Senate seat when President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him as associate justice of the Supreme Court. Recto left the Supreme Court in 1941 and was elected anew as senator. In 1949 he was reelected on the Nacionalista party ticket. In 1957 he ran for president but was defeated.
Apart from his numerous legal treatises and literary works in Spanish, Recto is noted for his staunch nationalist stand on questions regarding political sovereignty and economic independence.
World War II and Rehabilitation
Recto served in the wartime Cabinet of José Laurel during the Japanese occupation and was subsequently arrested and tried for collaboration. He wrote a defense and explanation of his position in Three Years of Enemy Occupation (1946), which convincingly presented the case of the "patriotic" conduct of the Filipino elite during World War II. Recto fought his legal battle in court and was acquitted.
On April 9, 1949, Recto opened his attack against the unfair impositions of the
A Radical Gadfly
Recto's wit, irony, and sharp analytic powers exposed the duplicity of the diplomatic agreements with the
In perspective, Recto revived the tradition of the radical dissenter fighting against feudal backwardness, clericofascist authoritarianism, and neocolonial mentality and imperialism. He strove to reawaken the consciousness of the Filipinos to the greatness of their revolutionary heritage and emphasized the need to transform the character of the national life by reaffirming their solidarity as a sovereign, free people.
Recto was preparing to launch his Filipinist crusade in the tradition of the Propaganda Movement of the 1880s when he died of a heart ailment in
For Recto's ideas and attitudes see his own books, Three Years of Enemy Occupation: The Issue of Political Collaboration in the Philippines (1946); My Crusade (1955); and Recto Reader, edited by Renato Constantino (1965). The best biographical account from a nationalistic sociocultural point of view is Constantino's The Making of a Filipino: Story of Philippine Colonial Politics (1969). For other information about Recto's career consult Hernando J. Abaya, The Untold Philippine Story (1967). For a thoughtful appraisal of Recto's progressive tendencies by a young intellectual see José Maria Sison, Recto and the National Democratic Struggle (1969).
Arcellana, Emerenciana Yuvienco, Recto, nationalist,
Arcellana, Emerenciana Yuvienco, The social and political thought of Claro Mayo Recto,
Claro M. Recto, 1890-1990: a centenary tribute of the Civil Liberties Union, Quezon City: Karrel, 1990?
Claro Mayo Recto (February 8, 1890 Tiáong, Tayabas - October 2, 1960 Rome, Italy) was a Filipino politician, jurist, poet and one of the foremost statesmen of his generation. He is remembered mainly for his nationalism, for "the impact of his patriotic convictions on modern political thought".
He was born in Tiáong, Tayabas (now known as Quezon province) of educated, upper middle-class parents, namely Claro Recto [Sr.] of Rosario, Batangas, and Marcela Mayo of Lipa, Batangas. He studied Latin at the Instituto de Rizal in Lipa, Batangas from 1900 to 1901. Further schooling was at the Colegio del Sagrado Corazón of Don Sebastián Virrey. He moved to
Claro M. Recto launched his political career as a legal adviser to the first Philippine Senate in 1916. In 1919, he was elected representative from the second district of Batangas. He served as minority floor leader for several years until 1925. His grasp of parliamentary procedures won him the accolades of friends and adversaries alike.
He traveled to the
Recto found the world of academia restrictive and soporific. Although he still engaged in the practice of law, he resigned from his teaching job in 1931 and reentered politics when he ran and won a senate seat and was subsequently elected its majority floor leader in 1934.
He was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1935 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As a jurist he held his own in famous debates even against the U.S. Attorney General with whom he waged a war of words on the question of ownership of military bases in the
He presided over the assembly that drafted the Philippine Constitution in 1934-35, which was in accordance with the provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie Act and a preliminary step to independence and self-governance after a 10-year transitional period. The Tydings-McDuffie Act was created in response to the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act which, through the urging of Quezon, was rejected by the Philippine Senate. The original bill would have allowed the indefinite retention of
Together with then-Senate President Manuel L. Quezon (who eventually was elected first president of the commonwealth), Recto personally presented the Commonwealth Constitution to U.S. President Roosevelt. The consensus among many political scholars of today judges the 1935 Constitution as the best-written Philippine charter ever. Its author was mainly Claro M. Recto.
In the 1953 and 1955 elections, Recto denounced the influence and coercion of the Church on voters' decisions—the
He served as Commissioner of Education (1942-43), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1943-44), and Cultural Envoy with the rank of Ambassador on a cultural mission to Europe and
Claro M. Recto is considered light-years ahead of his time. He foresaw the demands of a fast-moving global economy which his nation is incapable to meet even to this day. In a memorable speech on the eve of the 1957 presidential election where he raced against then Vice President Carlos Garcia, he petitioned all sectors of society, and like Rizal, implored the youth:
In his speech "Our Mendicant Foreign Policy", delivered before the 1951 graduates at the University of the
Recto was dubbed by the media as the "Radical Gadfly" and the "Great Dissenter". He was considered the nemesis of President Magsaysay's government, disputing him on a number of fundamental issues, including the Philippine relations with the Chiang Kai-shek government, the grant of more bases to the
Without his steerage of the Partida Democrata, the party experienced its eventual demise; he founded a second, the Nationalist Citizens Party which espoused neutrality in foreign relations and advocated economic independence from American interests. In that same 1957 election speech, he further said:
I call upon my countrymen to remember that we have not always been so low and so ignoble, that our nationalist revolution of 1896 was indeed the first blow struck against an imperialist power and that the words and deeds of Rizal, Bonifacio, Del Pilar and Mabini once stirred the hearts of liberty-loving men all over Asia. Our national salvation lies first in reasserting the ideals of our heroes in their fight for emancipation, and second in changing the course of our economic efforts by giving emphasis to nationalist industrialization.
Recto sponsored the Rizal bill together with fellow senator Jose Laurel. The bill would require all high schools and colleges to include in their curricula a course in the study of Rizal's literary works, mainly the Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, to provide an in-depth study of nationalism and the shaping of national character invoked in these two novels. Although it met strong opposition from a contingent of Catholic groups because of the books' virulent attack on the Church and their perceived anti-clericalism, the bill was passed and approved on December 6, 1956 and became R.A. 1425 known as Rizal Law. Today there are many, especially among college and university students, who are calling for a repeal or revision of this law, questioning its essentiality to a high school and college diploma and its relevance to modern-day Filipino life.
The Spanish language was where he was reared and schooled. Alongside Tagalog, it was Recto's mother tongue, although he was equally adept in English. His initial fame was as a poet while a student at the University of Santo Tomás when he published a book Bajos Los Cocoteros (Under the Coconut Trees, 1911), a collection of his poems in Spanish. A staff writer of El Ideal, and later La Vanguardia, he wrote a daily column, Primares Cuartillas (First Sheets), under the nom de plume Aristeo Hilario. They were prose and numerous poems of satirical pieces. Some of his work still grace the classic poetry anthologies of the Hispanic world.
Among the plays that he authored were La Ruta de Damasco (The Route to Damascus, 1918), and Solo entre las Sombras (Alone among the Shadows, 1917), which were lauded not only in the
In 1929, his article Monroismo Asiático (Asiatic Monroism) was published, validating his repute as a political satirist. In what was claimed as a commendable study in polemics, he proferred his arguments and defenses in a debate with Dean Máximo Kálaw of the University of the
His eloquence and facility with the Spanish language were recognized throughout the Hispanic world. The Enciclopedia Universal says of him: Recto, more than a politician and lawyer, is a Spanish writer, and that among those of his race (he is pure Tagalog on both sides), there is not and there has been no one who has surpassed him in the mastery of the language of his country's former sovereign.
Claro M. Recto is considered the "finest mind of his generation". Through his speeches and writings, he was able to mold the mind of his Filipino contemporaries and succeeding generations, a skill "only excelled by Rizal's".
He left a mark on the patriotic climate of his time and a lasting legacy to those who succeeded him. Such icons of nationalism as Lorenzo Tanada, Jose Diokno, Renato Constantino, Jovito Salonga, refer to him as a mentor and forerunner.
Teodoro M. Locsín of the Philippines Free Press, defines Recto's genius, thus:
"Recto is not a good speaker, no. He will arouse no mob. But heaven help the one whose pretensions he chooses to demolish. His sentences march like ordered battalions against the inmost citadel of the man's arguments, and reduce them to rubble; meanwhile his reservations stand like armed sentries against the most silent approach and every attempt at encirclement by the adversary. The reduction to absurdity of Nacionalista senator Zulueta's conception of sound foreign policy was a shattering experience, the skill that goes into the cutting of a diamond went into the work of demolition. There was no slip of the hand, no flaw in the tool. All was delicately, perfectly done... Recto cannot defend the indefensible, but what can be defended, he will see to it that it will not be taken."
His critics claim that Recto's brilliance is overshadowed by his inability to capture nationwide acceptance. He could have been an exceptional leader, perhaps a great president, but his appeal was limited to the intellectual elite and the nationalist minority of his time.
In the same article, political editorialist, Manuel L. Quezon III, laments this fact:
"Recto's leadership was the curious kind that only finds fulfillment from being at the periphery of power, and not from being its fulcrum. It was the best occupation suited to the satirist that he was. His success at the polls would be limited, his ability to mold the minds of his contemporaries was only excelled by Rizal's...But he was admired for his intellect and his dogged determination to never let the opposition be bereft of a champion, still his opposition was flawed. For it was one that never bothered to transform itself into an opposition capable of taking power."
However, one possible explanation as to why Recto was never able to capture full national acceptance was because he dared strongly oppose the national security interests of the United States in the Philippines, as when he campaigned against the
Recto was married to Doña Aurora Reyes, with whom he had two sons. He had four children in his first marriage with Doña Angeles Silos.
- A realistic economic policy for the Philippines. Speech delivered at the Philippine Columbian Association, Sept. 26, 1956. ISBN B0007KCFEM
- On the
Question, 1955 ISBN B0007JI5DI Formosa
- United States-Philippine Relations, 1935-1960. Alicia Benitez, ed.
, 1964. Universityof Hawaii
- Three years of enemy occupation: The issue of political collaboration in the Philippines. Filipiniana series, 1985 Filipiana reprint. ISBN B0007K1JRG
- Our trade relations with the United States, 1954 ISBN B0007K8LS6
- The evil of religious test in a democracy, 1960 ISBN B0007K4Y8W
- Solo entre las sombres: Drama en un acto y en prosa, 1917; reprinted 1999 ISBN 971-555-306-0
- Asiatic monroeism and other essays: Articles of debate, 1930 ISBN B0008A5354
- The law of belligerent occupation and the effect of the change of sovereignty on the commonwealth treason law: With particular reference to the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, 1946
- Our lingering colonial complex, a speech before the Baguio Press Association, 1951
- The Quirino junket: an Objective Appraisal, 1949 ISBN B0007K4A7W
- The Philippine survival: Nationalist essays by Claro M. Recto, 1982
- Claro Recto on our Constitution, Constitutional Amendments and the Constitutional Convention of 1991
- Our mendicant foreign policy, a speech at the commencement exercises, University of the
, 1951 Philippines
- The Recto Valedictory, a collection of 10 never-delivered speeches, with English translations by Nick Joaquin, 1985
-   Vintage Recto: Memorable speeches and writings, edited by Renato Constantino, 1986
- Recto Reader: Excerpts from the Speeches of Claro M. Recto. edited by Renato Constantino, 1965 ISBN B0006E72Z6
- The relevant Recto, by Renato Constantino, 1986
- Dissent on Philippine Society; the Filipino elite; Recto's Second Demise, by Renato Constantino, 1972
- The Relevance of Recto Today: A review of Philippine-American and other relations, by Emerenciana Avellana
- Recto and the National Democratic Struggle: a re-appraisal, by Jose Sison, 1969
- Claro M. Recto, 1890-1990: A Centenary tribute of the Civil Liberties Union, 1990
- The Crisis of a Republic by Teodoro Agoncillo, University of the
PhilippinesPress, . Quezon City
- White Love, Surveillance and Nationalist Resistance in the
United StatesColonization of the by Vince Rafael Philippines
- The Star-Entangled Banner: One Hundred Years of
Americain the by Sharon Delmondo, 2004 Philippines
- Nationalism: a summons to greatness by Lorenzo M. Tañada; edited by Ileana Maramag, 1965
- Cory Aquino: Person of the Century by Manuel L. Quezon III,
Free Press, December 30, 1999. Philippines
- ^ The
Times Internet Edition (2006-02-10). Remembering Claro M. Recto. Press release. http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2006/feb/10/yehey/opinion/20060210opi5.html. Retrieved on 2007-08-29. Manila
- ^ Luzadas, Jose. "THE UNEXPLAINED: OKR's Failure to Support Recto and Laurel in Rizal Bill". Order of the Knights of Rizal. http://www.RizalCanada.org/Pages/PermanentPages/ArticleRizalBill.html. Retrieved on 2007-08-29
- ^ a b c d Quezon, eManuel III (1999-12-30). "Cory Aquino: Person of the Century". Archives: Articles/Columns. Quezon.ph. http://www.quezon.ph/thecolumn.php?which=9. Retrieved on 2007-08-29.
- ^ The Worst Book of 2002. Review of The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, by Max Boot. 2003 Retrieved March 17, 2009, from http://www.main.nc.us/books/books.cgi?theworstbookof2002.
- ^ Simbulan, Roland. Covert Operations and the CIA's Hidden History in the
. 18 Aug. 2000. Retrieved March 17, 2009, from http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/filipinas/doc/cia.html. Philippines
- ^ The Worst Book of 2002. Review of The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, by Max Boot. 2003. Retrieved on March 17, 2009, from http://www.main.nc.us/books/books.cgi?theworstbookof2002.
- ^ Simbulan, Roland. Covert Operations and the CIA's Hidden History in the
. 18 August 2000. Retrieved on March 17, 2009, from http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/filipinas/doc/cia.html. Philippines
- http://www.los-indios-bravos.com/english/eng_proj_10.html A note on Recto's play by Nick Joaquin
- http://www.magandamagazine.org/06/institutional5.html the institutional invisibility of American imperialism, the
and Filipino Americans Philippines