Carlos P. Garcia

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To read this article in Filipino, see Carlos P. Garcia.

Carlos Polistico Garcia (4 November 1896 – 14 June 1971) was a politician who served as the eighth president of the Philippines, holding office from 1957 until 1961. Being the incumbent vice president, Garcia assumed the presidency after the death of Ramon Magsaysay in an air disaster in March 1957. Garcia’s administration was known for its "Filipino first" policy, which put the interests of the Filipino people above those of foreigners and of the ruling party. Having served as a congressman, provincial governor and senator before becoming vice president and president, Garcia was also a teacher, poet and lawyer.

Early life and career

Carlos P. Garcia was born in Talibon, Bohol to Policronio Garcia and Ambrosia Polistico, both of whom were natives of Bangued, Abra. Growing up, he was exposed to politics, with his father serving as a municipal mayor for four terms.

Garcia acquired his primary education in his native Talibon, then received his secondary education at Cebu Provincial High School. He briefly took law courses at Silliman University in Dumaguete City. He then studied at Philippine Law School and earned his degree in 1923. He was among the top 10 in the 1923 bar examination.

Rather than practice law right away, he worked as a teacher for two years at Bohol Provincial High School. He became famous for his poetry in Bohol, where he earned the nickname "Prince of Visayan Poets" and the "Bard from Bohol".

He started his political career in 1925, scoring an impressive victory running for representative of the third district of Bohol. He was elected for another term and served until 1931. In 1933, he successfully ran for governor of Bohol, serving in this capacity until 1941. He ran in the 1941 senatorial election and won; however, due to the advent of World War II, he did not assume office until 1945, when the war had ended and congress had reconvened. He was reelected senator in 1946 and 1951, finishing his last term in 1953.

Vice Presidency

Garcia was the running mate of Ramon Magsaysay in the presidential elections of 1953. He was appointed secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs by President Ramon Magsaysay for four years, concurrently serving as vice president.


Garcia assumed the presidency after Ramon Magsaysay died in a plane crash on March 17,1957. He was reelected later in the same year, in the Philippine general election of 1957, for a full term.

During his administration, he acted on the Bohlen-Serrano Agreement, which shortened the lease of the US bases from 99 years to 25 years and made it renewable every five years. He also championed a “Filipino first” policy, for which he would be known. This policy heavily favored Filipino businessmen over foreign investors. He was also responsible for changes in retail trade, which greatly affected Chinese businessmen in the country.

At the end of his second term, he ran for reelection in the Philippine general election, in November 1961, but was defeated by Diosdado Macapagal, who had served as vice president under him but belonged to the opposing Liberal Party. In the Philippines, the president and the vice president are elected separately.


After his failed reelection bid, Garcia retired to private life in Tagbilaran City, Bohol. On June 1, 1971, Garcia was elected delegate of the 1971 Constitutional Convention and chosen as its president. However, he died of a heart attack on June 14, 1971 at the age of 74 in his house on Bohol Avenue (now Sgt. Esguerra Avenue) in Quezon City.

Being the only Bohol native thus far to be elected president of the Philippines, Garcia is symbolized by the lone star on the Bohol provincial flag.




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