‘President’ Pascual Racuyal
Some readers thought my last column on madness in 19th-century Philippines was a veiled reference to some of the characters who recently filed their certificate of candidacy for president, vice president and senator at the Commission on Elections in Intramuros, Manila. While people have come to associate the “nuisance candidate” with a veteran at the Comelec like Ely Pamatong, we should all remember Pascual Racuyal and his relentless quest for the presidency.
Racuyal made history by vainly challenging all presidents from Manuel L. Quezon in the Commonwealth elections of 1935 to Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino in the 1986 snap election. He was declared a nuisance candidate only in the 1986 election even if he signed his certificate of candidacy with a quill, using his own blood as ink. One of his campaign promises in 1969 and 1986 was that he would govern via remote control or satellite, whatever that meant.
In 1969 the Manila Times reported on Racuyal challenging President Marcos and Sen. Sergio Osmeña to a 12-hour debate in Plaza Miranda. Ignored, he then threatened to deliver a six-hour speech in Plaza Miranda, which promised to be the longest in modern Philippine history! It was also reported that when the election returns from Rizal province came in, Racuyal actually placed third after Marcos and Osmeña with “79 solid votes.”
In 1952 he invited Ramon Magsaysay, Arsenio Lacson, Lorenzo Tañada and Trinidad Legarda to be his running mate as vice president. Naturally, all of them refused, with Lacson describing Racuyal in glowing terms: “strictly fiction, utterly fantastic, and incredible.” Indeed, “incredible” is the only word that can describe Racuyal’s 10-point platform as follows:
“1. Application of naturo-therapy to solve the Huk problem. 2. Introduction of Racuyal’s standard calendar of 30 days a month, 13 months a year, which if found imperfect could be corrected by an international conference of astronomers. 3. Adoption of Jehovah for the 13th day of each month. No name for the 13th month supplied. 4. Construction of a system of plastic roads throughout Mindanao. 5. Abolition of floods in Central Luzon through a top secret system of dikes. 6. Institution of a new monetary system with fire-proof, water-proof and counterfeit-proof plastic currency. 7. Establishment of the seat of the UN Assembly in Baguio City. 8. Use of an algebraic-geometric detection code for rooting out graft and corruption in government. 9. Resort to surprise blitzkrieg helicopter raids all over the Philippines led by himself to combat racketeers, gangsters, etc. 10. To solve the recurrent Mayor-City Council disputes, he suggested abolition of the Municipal Council.”
Racuyal said that as president, he would travel all over the Philippines and leave his vice president, Lacson, in Malacañang. His style of governance would be to visit every corner of the Philippines and send confidential reports to Manila with his recommendations. He provided a sample to the press on July 16, 1953, which reads:
“During my short stay in Baguio City I found the roads very clean, climate was cool, the people were peaceful, no mosquitoes and dew flies, many leaves of cabbages were attacked by worms, Everlasting flowers and pine trees abundant. Locations of City Hall and Baguio City Hospital good, the City beginning 7.00 p.m. quiet. The inhabitants used to wake up often early in the morning to begin the real battle for existence. The front City Market very nice to look at, concrete while the back sections composed of barong-barong not pleasant to the eyes of tourists.
“Recommendations: 1. Barong barong constructions should be replaced with concrete ones in the market; 2. A MOUNTAIN UNIVERSITY should be constructed for National Leadership training; 3. The Hanging Garden at the Burnham Park should be constructed; 4. Public Speech park with nice platform should be constructed for political candidates; 5. Highway reflectors should be constructed to avoid accidents; 6. Mobile unit patrols should be organized; 7. There should be Sunday concerts; 8. Swimming pools diluted with chemicals (germicides) should be constructed; 9. There should be basketball, volleyball, tennis, boxing and indoor baseball and skating tournaments.
“Please note that MENTAL DEVIATION IS AN ASSET TO AN INDIVIDUAL.
“Baguio City is the best place for the future seat of the United Nations or for the WORLD GOVERNMENT.
“I admire the action of the Chief of Police giving punishments to members of the Police Force who have been charged with sleeping on duty, etc. And I admire also the initiative work of the Hon. Provincial Governor to round up the Igorot beggars in the City of Manila and have them sent back to Baguio City with free transportation for the simple reason of dignity.”
Racuyal has gone down in history as an eccentric or a crackpot best ignored or committed to a mental hospital. But then he could also be seen as a Don Quijote tilting at the windmills of modern Philippine politics. Very little is known about him aside from his birth in Cebu in 1911 and his death in Bulacan in 2004, and I cannot wait for the eminent historian Resil Mojares to publish his essay on the man who could very well have been the best Philippine president we never had.
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