Carlos Quirino

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Carlos Lozada Quirino (14 January 1910-20 May 1999) was a prominent historian and writer. He is a National Artist for Historical Literature. He was also the first Filipino correspondent for the United Press Institute.

Early Life

Quirino was born on January 14, 1910. His father was Berlin-educated doctor Jose A. Quirino, a pioneering gynecologist who figured in the first documented fatal car accident in 1913. His mother was Dolores Lozada, who was the granddaughter of Ramon Lozada, who was brought in from Spain to head the Banda Militar, the Spanish military band.

He was educated in De La Salle elementary and high school. At the age of 17, he took up undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and finished journalism in 1931. In 1935 he wrote his first biography on Manuel L. Quezon, entitled Man of Destiny. He submitted the first English-language biography of the national hero to the 1938 National Rizal Biography contest. He placed 2nd place after Rafael Palma's entry La Biografia de Jose Rizal and bested Asuncion Lopez Bantug's entry Jose Rizal: A Portrait of the Flower of Our Race. In 1937 the then Secretary of Interior Elpidio Quirino, who was also his uncle, invited him to be his assistant. Elpidio financed the young man's study of law. He passed the bar in 1940, the same year that he won first place as the National Rifle Champion of the Philippines.

Before World War II broke out he enlisted in the Philippine Army as a second lieutenant. With the Japanese invasion he joined the guerrilla forces, was captured and participated at the Bataan Death March. He escaped in Pampanga and went underground. He spied on the enemy and passed on information to the resistance movement.

Post-war Years

With the establishment of the Philippine Republic, he became aide-de-camp of Vice-President Elpidio Quirino until his uncle's presidency in 1948 after the untimely death of then President Manuel A. Roxas. In 1953 he joined the camp of President Ramon Magsaysay to become the head of the No Dollar Imports bureau at the Port Area of Manila. He took his oath on December 10, 1955 given by the Finance Secretary Oscar Ledesma. He resumed his prodigious writing career, researching topics as diverse as Damian Domingo, Philippine maps and old books, and the Spanish heritage in the Philippines.

He was appointed Director of the National Library in 1961 by President Diosdado Macapagal as recommended by Alejandro Roces, then the Secretary of the Department of Education. His scholarship caught the attention of Col. Joseph McMicking of the Ayala Group, who set up the beginnings of Filipinas Foundation. He was then commissioned to write the Zobel, Ayala and Roxas family histories and the history of the Bank of the Philippine Islands. Afterwards, painter Fernando Zobel thought up of setting up a diorama museum patterned after the Cuenca Museum of Spain, where he lived part-time. The exhibits were created on the 9th floor of the Insular Life building under Quirino's supervision. Quirino, aided by a panel of scholars, selected key events in Philippine history to represent. He hired the draftsmen of Botong Francisco's studio, one of them the young Tam Austria who later became a sought-after artist. He also hired the carvers of Paete, Laguna, to make the actual diorama figures.

The diorama exhibit became the major exhibit of what is now known as the Ayala Museum. Quirino was the first director of the museum.

He was also commissioned to write the family history of Danding Cojuangco. This was followed by similar projects for the Vicente Madrigal family.


Carlos Quirino was one of the pioneers of the genre of historical literature in English. He was also renowned for his many biographies of important Filipinos. In particular, he is known for having written one of the earliest biographies in English of Jose Rizal, entitled, The Great Malayan. His books and articles covered and captured many aspects of Philippine history and culture. In 1997, President Fidel V. Ramos added historical literature as a new category in the National Artist Awards and Quirino was its first recipient.

His pathbreaking books on cartography ''Philippine Cartography'' (1959) and ''Maps and Views of Old Maynila'' are still considered as the best books on the subject. His other books include ''Quezon, Man of Destiny, Magsaysay of the Philippines, Lives of the Philippine Presidents, The History of Philippine Sugar Industry, Filipinos at War: The Fight for Freedom from Mactan to EDSA. He was the brains behind the monumental Filipiniana Book Guild, a 28-volume project dedicated to publishing classic Philippine books. He also contributed as an editor to the landmark 10-volume ''Filipino Heritage: The Making of a Nation.''




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