This event was a first in Asia. This event marked a crucial milestone for a region that was lorded by Western powers at the time. Some of the colonial powers even expressed their concern over the event's impact on the peoples of the region. Time Magazine reported that the British voiced displeasure over this development because it could signal the demise of the white man's rule over that part of the world. The event I'm referring to is the subject of the following newsreel from 1935 that reported on the inauguration of Manuel Luis Quezon as President of the new Philippine Commonwealth.
President Quezon's inauguration was held at the steps of the neoclassic Legislative Building on November 15, 1935. As can be seen from the video, the occasion was graced by then US Vice President John Nance Garner (1868-1967) who served under Franklin Delano Roosevelt from 1933 to 1941. According to Time, Mr. Garner led a party of 17 senators, 26 representatives, and 34 American newspapermen. Secretary of War George Henry Dern (1872-1936) also attended the event as President Roosevelt's personal representative. It was estimated that about 15,000 official guests were on hand to witness history being made.
Mr. Quezon was sworn in to a six-year term by Justice Ramon Avancena (1872-1957) who was then Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court. The 1935 Constitution, which the Filipino people had approved in a plebiscite held in May that same year, called for the election of a President to a single six-year term with no reelection. It also called for a unicameral National Assembly. These provisions were however changed later that same decade (1939-40) when the Constitution was amended to allow for a bicameral Congress and to allow a President to govern for a maximum of two four-year terms.
One can see from the video that it was a very well attended affair. It was estimated that about a quarter of a million people attended the ceremonies marking the inauguration of the President and the birth of the Commonwealth. It is to be noted too that President Quezon's inaugural ceremonies were held on the steps of the Legislative Building and not at the Luneta Grandstand as succeeding Presidents have done since 1946. I am assuming that the decision to hold the inaugural ceremonies at the steps of the Legislative Building was patterned after the American tradition of holding Presidential inaugurations at the steps of the US Capitol Building.
The Legislative Building stands at the corner of Taft Avenue and P. Burgos Street. Thus, I'm assuming that the impressive military parades shown on the newsreel were held on P. Burgos Street. It can also be seen from the joyous and excited attitude of the crowd that the move towards independence enjoyed broad popular support.
The newsreel also briefly showed President Quezon's son, Manuel L. Quezon, Jr. (1926-1998), standing attentively and smartly dressed in an aide-de-camp's uniform. Unfortunately, due to the age of the film, it was quite difficult for me to identify the elegantly dressed couple MLQ Jr. stood next to.
I don't mean to deviate from the historical significance of this newsreel but there is one last observation regarding its content. It can be observed from the video that as President Quezon took his oath of office, one of the microphones that stood before him prominently showed the call letters KZRM. Quite a bit of historic information can be derived from the call letters on that microphone stand.
Note that this was the 1930s, a period before the birth of television broadcasting. Thus, all events of historic or national importance were broadcast over radio. Unlike today where call letters of radio stations in the Philippines begin with the letter "D", it is to be noted that during the pre-war years, specifically from 1924 through 1947, the call letters of radio stations in the Philippines began with the letters "KZ". This designation was in accordance with the radio broadcast laws of the US which applied to our country being an American colony.
KZRM was one of six major radio stations that operated in Manila during the pre-war years. The others were KZEG, KZIB, KZRC, KZRF, and KZRH. KZRM was owned and operated by the Radio Corporation of the Philippines (which later became known as RCPI) and began broadcasting in 1928. The Radio Corporation of the Philippines was then a fully-owned subsidiary of the Radio Corporation of America, or more popularly known to radio and music enthusiasts as RCA.
Of the six stations mentioned, KZRH, owned and operated by the Manila Broadcasting Company is the only one that is still around to this day. This radio station began operations in 1939 atop the Heacock Building in Escolta and is now known to Filipino listeners by its call letters DZRH.
It was at a 1947 International Telecommunications Union conference held in Atlantic City, New Jersey where the radio call letters for the Philippines were changed to begin with the letter "D". Radio stations that broadcast from Manila were assigned call letters that begin with "DZ"; radio stations in Luzon were assigned the letters "DW"; Visayan stations got "DY"; and Mindanao stations were assigned "DX".
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this newsreel. Though it runs for less than a minute, it still manages to provide us with a wealth of historical information about our beloved country.