Educated in Bulacan, he went to work there as a teacher . Later, whilst based in Manila, he entered the civil service and by 1928 had risen to a high position with the Senate Staff. He became a member of the Nacionalista Party and a close associate of Manuel L. Quezon but this came to an end in 1930 when he joined a wildcat strike by teachers in the capital, causing Quezon to demand his resignation. Ramos did so but became a figure of anti-Quezon agitation, setting up a Tagalog language newspaper Sakdal which gained a wide circulation in rural areas .
Ramos reconstituted his followers as the Sakdalista movement. Gaining as many as 20,000 members the group launched an attempted uprising in May 1935 but this was quickly crushed and Ramos went into exile in Japan .
Ramos returned to Manila on August 28 1938 onboard the German ship Gneisenau . He became leader of the Ganap Party which contested the 1941 elections (although Ramos himself was imprisoned during the vote) . During the Japanese occupation this group became part of the KALIBAPI governning coalition, whilst Ramos formed the Makapili, a militant youth movement that aimed to limit the power of José P. Laurel and oprovide soldiers for Japan . The followers of Ramos and his ally Artemio Ricarte were eventually armed by the Japanese in December 1944 by which time the Americans had already landed .