The history of the Nacionalista Party is essentially the story of the Filipino people's search for national identity, liberty, equality, justice, and human dignity in the modern era since the turn of the century.

Groping for Nationality
The first recorded act of native heroism in a feat of arms against foreign invaders was that of the chieftain Lapu-Lapu in Mactan on April 27, 1521. But at that time what is now known as the Republic of the Philippines consisted of widely scattered strings of human settlements known as barangays (or balangais) mainly located along the fertile coasts and on lowland plains, and for the most part unaware of each other's existence.

A school of historians identified with the philosopher Benedetto Croce whose Filipino spokesman was the late Teodoro Agoncillo believes that history is meaningful only as it relates to the conscious search for human liberty. Thus there is a tendency to gloss over the first three centuries of Spanish rule as a largely inert and passive era when foreign rulers, in spite of themselves and obeying a necessity of their own, were accomplishing the administrative consolidation of a vast archipelago with several million people without as yet a distinctive national feeling.

The Historical Setting for the Rise of the NP
This thesis marks the beginning of Philippine history from the Filipino national sentiment and the quest for liberty clearly stirred in the last half of the nineteenth century. In 1872, the arbitrary watermark in the year of the Cavite Mutiny was the heroism of the martyred priests Gomez, Burgos and Zamora, collectively known as GomBurZa.

GomBurZa, to whom Jose Rizal dedicated his first novel, Noli me Tangere, was the precursor of the Propaganda Movement which included Rizal himself, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Juan and Antonio Luna, Graciano Lopez Jaena, and Mariano Ponce. They were mainly exiles in Europe, who sought to advance the Filipilino cause with the printed word, especially the Barcelona-based journal, La Solidaridad. The movement ploughed the soil and sowed the seeds that germinated into Asia's first independent democratic republic in 1898. The Philippine revolutionary forces defeated Spain in the battlefield (except in Manila) but could not prevail against the brash newcomer on the world scene, the United State of America, with its "manifest destiny" rolling inexorably westward across the Pacific.

Federalists and Nationalists
By 1901 the Americans had begun in earnest the establishment of a new civil government in the Philippines. The Filipino ilustrados who served the First Philippine Republic established in Malolos, Bulacan in January 1899 had split into two factions: between those who, like Pardo de Tavera, Cayetano Arellano, Pedro Paterno and Felipe Buencamino believed in the intermediate restoration of peace and civil order under a benevolent American rule, and those who, like Apolinario Mabini, Paciano Rizal, Artemio Ricarte and Pablo Ocampo were called the "intransigents" and believed in continuing the struggle for "immediate and complete independence" even under American occupation. A s early as 1900, the first American Civil Governor General William Howard Taft started recruiting Filipino sympathizers and prompted them to form the Federalista Party. Pro-independence parties were not permitted until Governor General Henry C. Ide lifted the ban in 1906, on the eve of the formation of the first Philippine Legislature, otherwise known as the Philippine Assembly.

The Birth of the Nacionalista Party

On March 12, 1906, the Partido Independista and the Union Nacionalista merged to pursue more effectively the common goal of "immediate, absolute and complete independence." In this decisive meeting at Lacoste St. (now Ongpin) in Manila were Sergio Osmeña, Manuel L. Quezon, Rafael Palma, Rafael Del Pan, Teodoro Sandiko, Isauro Gabaldon, Fernando Ma. Guerrero, Leon Ma. Guerrero, Justo Lukban, Macario Adriatico, Jose Vales, Galicano Apacible, Jose dela Viña, Francisco Liongson, and Vicente Miranda.

For a year, these players moved for the unification of the Filipinos and rallying them under one banner. The formal reckoning date for the final formation of the Nacionalista Party was April 29, 1907, when all the various pro-independence parties unite to form the Nacionalista Party to contest the seats in the first Philippine Assembly.

1907: The First Victory
In the elections held in July 1907, the newly organized Nacionalista Party running on a platform of peaceful struggle for independence swamped its Federalista (now Progresista) opponents, winning 58 out of 80 seats, leaving 22 seats to the Progresistas and the rest to the independents. This Nacionalista Party victory decisively relegated the American-supported Federalista party thereafter into minority role in the Philippine politics. (The latter-day Democratas descended directly from the Federalista Party of 1901). Of the Nacionalistas elected, the most prominent were Sergio Osmeña of Cebu, Manuel L. Quezon of Tayabas, Pablo Ocampo of Manila, and Jayme de Veyra of Leyte. Of the Progresista winners, the most prominent was Vicente Singson Encarnacion of Ilocos Sur. Osmeña, editor of a nationalist newspaper in Cebu, was elected Speaker of the Philippine Assembly upon its inauguration on October 16, 1907. Quezon, a colonel of the Philippine Revolution under General Tomas Mascardo and a lawyer from Tayabas, became his close collaborator and ultimately, his foremost rival.

The Nacionalistas ran on a platform rejecting the policy of "American tutelage" under President William McKinley Instructions of April 7, 1900, on the ground that "the Filipino is as good as, if not better, than the American." On August 11, 1907 the victorious party staged a rally at the Luneta during which demonstrators, "marching up and down by the thousands, pausing before several buildings occupied by the Americans, raised the emblem of the Filipino revolutionary forces and then tore down, trampled on and burned the American flag." The American community rose in outrage. The Philippine Commission was obliged to pass the "Flag Law," which forbade the public display of the Katipunan flag.

(It may be noted that in 1914, the leading radicals of the Nacionalista Party led by Teodoro Sandiko of Bulacan, a member of the Philippine Assembly, formed a third force, the Partido Democrata Nacional, some of whom openly urged the resumption of armed struggle for independence.)

Splits and Reconciliations
From 1907 onwards, the Nacionalista Party dominated Philippine politics, its supremacy challenged time and again not only by minority parties but also by factions within it that had become critical of its policies.

The solidarity of the party was first broken in 1922 when Manuel L. Quezon challenged Osmeña on the issue of collective leadership, which he advocated as opposed to what he described as Osmeña's unipersonal leadership. From that struggle Quezon emerged the victor, remaining as the President of the Senate, with Osmeña as Senate President of Pro-Tempore. Manuel A. Roxas succeeded Osmeña as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

In 1924, Quezon and Osmeña reconciled and joined forces in what was denominated the Partido Nacionalista Consolidado against the threat of an emerging opposition from the Democrata Party. The reunited Nacionalista Party dominated the political scene until the second break-up when the members polarized into Pros and Antis in 1934.

Going for Independence
The Pros were led by Osmeña and Roxas, who together had succeed in procuring the enactment by the United States Congress of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act, which promised eventual independence to the Philippines.

Some of the main provisions of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act, were:

1. A transition period of 10 years, during which the following limitations of duty-free imports from the Philippines into the United States would be in effect: 800,000 tons of crude sugar; 50,000 tons of refined sugar; 200,000 tons of coconut oil and 3,000,000 pounds of cordage;

2. A quota of 50 immigrants a year would allow the Philippines;

3. A graduated export tax (from 5 to 25 per cent) of Philippine exports to the US would commence the 6th year of the Commonwealth, the proceeds being used to pay off Philippine government bonds;

4. The Philippine legislature must approve the independence bill and the Philippine people must approve the Constitution of the Philippine Commonwealth before either went into effect.

Quezon, who headed the Antis, succeeded in having the measure rejected by the people. He argued that some of the provisions were not to the best interest of the Philippines. Subsequently he secured the approval of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, in March 1934 by the Philippine Assembly.

The Tydings-McDuffie Act provided for the ultimate settlement of the military bases issue and the review of the naval bases issue on terms satisfactory to both the US and the government of the Philippine islands.

In the interest of party unity, and facing the heady prospect of independence, Quezon and Osmeña once again reconciled to be elected President and Vice-President, respectively, of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935.

World War II
With all these policies in place, the Commonwealth government was sadly interrupted by the Japanese invasion which begun with a surprise raid at the Amercan Naval Base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 (Dce. 8, 1941 in the Philippines). This was followed by the bombing of Clark Airbase in Pampanga, Nichols Airbase in Manila and other major military establishments in the Philippines.

With the vanguard of the Japanese Imperial army rapidly advancing towards Manila, Quezon and his Cabinet, on the advise of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, were evacuated to Corregidor and eventually went into exile in the United States mainland. But before leaving, Quezon reorganized his Cabinet by designating Chief Associate Justice Jose P. Laurel as Acting Chief Justice and concurrent Justice Secretary, and Executive Secretary Jorge Vargas as Mayor of the newly-created local government unit, Greater Manila.

Laurel was to have accompanied Quezon to Corregidor, but, at the last minute, Quezon changed his mind and took along Justice Jose Abad Santos instead. Laurel, at first, refused to be left behind, reasoning that he would rather run to the hills and fight the Japanese. But Quezon was adamant, insisting that someone has to be left behind to deal with the Japanese and mitigate the harshness of the Japanese occupation. To Quezon, that man was Laurel. He then instructed Laurel and Vargas to fully cooperate with the Japanese, saying "Do what they ask you to do, except one thing- do not take oath of allegiance to Japan."

Through the sponsorship of the Japanese authorities, a unicameral assembly was created. Laurel was elected President of the National Assembly during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines from 1943-1945.

Laurel had initially wanted to go in exile with Quezon wary that he would be seen as a collaborator, but the latter insisted he stayed on saying, "someone has to protect the people from the Japanese". Laurel took this mandate seriously as he staked his life to prevent the enemy command from conscripting the Filipino youth into the Japanese Army.

Before his presidency of the puppet government, Laurel was an achiever in many fields, as legislator, jurist, writer and administrator in the pre-war struggle for independence. Politically, he was a Nacionalista. Professionally, he rose from mere Clerk to Secretary of the Interior in 1923, at age 31. He was elected Senator of the Fifth District in 1925 and served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1934, where he was nominated Presiding Officer. In 1936 he was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon in 1941.

In his service during the war, Laurel eloquently maintained that: "forced collaboration is not collaboration and voluntary collaboration as a means of national survival should not be taken as treason." After the Liberation, he was again elected Senator, a title he carried until his death in November 6, 1952.

NPs and LPs Rotate the Power
In 1944 Osmeña succeeded Q uezon, who died in the United States, as president of the government-in-exile. Osmeña returned to Manila in 1945, and plans went forward to inaugurate the independent Republic of the Philippines. Manuel Roxas challenged the elderly Osmeña for the presidency and split from the Nacionalista Party to form the Liberal Wing. Roxas won the election of April 1946 and became the first President of the new republic, with Elpidio Quirino as vice president.

On July 4, 1946, after decades of struggle and lobbying, the Republic of the Philippines was finally formally proclaimed. Also in 1946, this Liberal wing of the Nacionalista Party, which he led, assumed a new identity as the Liberal Party. This event marked the third split of the Nacionalista Party.

After the war, the Philippines faced growing tensions between landowners and the rural poor. The Hukbalahap (or the "Huks") was a powerful guerrilla force during the war with strong rural-based support. The organization was mostly composed of radicalized peasantry who held many grievances against agrarian warlords. With such grievances, the Hukbalahap continued to exist beyond the war. In March 1948, President Roxas declared the Hukbalahap to be an illegal organization and stepped up counter insurgency measures.

Vice President Quirino succeeded Roxas when the latter died in April 1948. He went on to win the presidency in the 1949. When the Huk insurgency intensified to the point of threatening the stability of the Philippine government, Quirino appointed Ramon Magsaysay as Secretary of National Defense.

Magsaysay had gained visibility as an able guerrilla leader during World War II and then served two terms in the Philippine legislature. He crushed the Huk resistance, using solutions such as tenancy reform to erode the rural support base of the Huks. He won the hearths of the peasants by offering land and tools to those who came over to government side and insisting that the army units treat t he people with respect. He initiated the training of the Philippine Armed Forces with the help from the United States, which considers the Huks as threat to the stability of the Philippines. He dismissed corrupt and incompetent army officials. He emphasized mobility and flexibility in combat operations against the guerrillas. In 1950 police forces captured the core of the Huk leadership. Those who surrendered were offered amnesty. The insurgency effectively ended in May 1954 with the surrender of Luis Taruc to the young Benigno Aquino, Jr.

Thus, Magsaysay, a native of Iba, Zambales, was the idol of the masses, champion of democracy, and was a freedom fighter. Although Magsaysay was a Liberal, the Nacionalista Party successfully backed him for president against Quirino in the 1953 elections. Unfortunately, Magsaysay died during this term, at the age of 50 years old when his airplane crashed at Mt. Manunggal in Cebu early morning of March 17, 1957, he was succeeded by vice president Carlos P. Garcia, a Nacionalista from Talibon, Bohol.

Garcia's administration (1957-1961) was anchored in his austerity program. It was also noted for its Filipino first policy - an attempt to boost economic independence.

From 1946, control of the government shifted between the Liberal party and the Nacionalista Party. The Liberal Party led the nation during the administration of President Roxas (1946-48) and of President Quirino (1948-53).

Control of the government, however, passed to the Nacionalista Party during the terms of President Magsaysay (1953-57) and President Garcia (1957-61).

In the 1961 presidential elections, the Liberal Party once again emerged as the party in power during the term of President Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65). But the Nacionalista Party once more reasserted itself as the party in power when Ferdinand Marcos became President in 1965. The party also carried Marcos to a second term in 1969.

Mr. Nacionalista
Throughout this time, the Nacionalista Party was nurtured and brought back into the limelight by Eulogio "Amang" Rodriguez.

Amang was born in Montalban, Rizal. He started his career in politics as a Democrata or a member of the opposition party, and not until there was a general realignment of parties due to the divisive struggle over the approval of the Independence Law in 1933, did he switch to the majority or the Nacionalista Party, to which he remained faithful until the day of his death three decades later. He nursed the party during its darkest hours, and steered it successfully through he political reefs and typhoons that rocked the local scene, thus earning for him the sobriquet "Mr. Nacionalista". Unlike many others in his time, he did not switch parties for personal convenience.

As a legislator, Amang always supported measures improving the lot of common man, for he knew that the upgrading of the masses was the best way of retaining democracy in the country. Many were sometimes politically at odds with him, but they always found him to be a reasonable opponent who played clean in a game known for its mendacity and unprincipled moves. A man of integrity, he played fair even with his opponents, and he can even be generous in victory.

Rodriguez was Municipal President of Montalban, Rizal from 1906-1916; became Governor of Rizal in June 1916; and was re-elected in June 1922. He was appointed Mayor of Manila by Governor General Leonard Wood on July 23, 1923, and later served as Representative of Nueva Viscaya District from February 1924 to May 1925. He became representative of the second district of Rizal in 1925 and was re-elected in 1931 and 1934. He was also appointed Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce by Governor Frank Murphy on July, 1934, re-appointed by President Quezon on January 1940, serving as such until August 28, 1941. After his resignation as Mayor of Manila, he campaigned for a seat in the Senate and was elected senator in 1941. On May 20, 1953, he was elected Senate President, a position he occupied for the next ten years, until the young Ferdinand Marcos unseated him in 1962. This marked changes both in the Party and in the general political climate of the country.

The Party Under Martial Law
During the 21-year administration of Marcos (1965-86), radical changes occurred in the equation of political parties, Senator Gil J. Puyat,Jr., President of the Nacionalista Party, went on leave to campaign for his re-election to the Senate for a 4th term. Senate President Pro-Tempore Jose Roy, a high ranking official of the party, was chosen by the Nacionalista Party Central Committee Acting Party President, and continued in that capacity after the imposition of martial law in 1972 until his death in 1985.

After his re-election as President in 1969, Ferdinand Marcos's rule was under fire. Political critics and insurgents both rallied against his policies. Before the elections of 1973, mounting violence and political unrest ruled. Rallies were held almost regularly, and politicians were bickering left and right.

On Sept. 21, 1972, Marcos declared Presidential Decree 1081, known as Martial Law. The writ of Habeas Corpus was suspended and Marcos's opponents and critics were arrested and/or disappeared.

Marcos, who had originally been a Liberal but was propelled into the presidency by the Nacionalista Party, wanted to create a new party and eliminate the two-party system. It was Speaker Jose B. Laurel who suggested that instead of organizing a regular political party as originally proposed by President Marcos, which would mean the annihilation of the two major parties before martial law - - the Liberal Party and Nacionalista Party - - a movement or an umbrella organization would suffice. Thus an umbrella organization known as the Kilusan Bagong Lipunan (KBL) was formed in a caucus held in Malacañang and attended by various political leaders. President Marcos, however, later converted this movement, into a regular political party.

With the KBL in place, the Nacionalista Party went into a political hibernation during the martial regime.

In March 1980, upon the end of Martial Law, KBL had become the ruling party, and other parties were being formed. Senator Puyat resumed the Presidency of the Party upon the strong representation of high officials of the Party including the Vice-President Fernando Lopez, Speaker Jose B. Laurel Jr., Senator Ambrocio Padilla, Senator Mamintal Tamano, Senator Dominador Aytona, Senator Gerardo Roxas, Congressman Ismael Veloso, Governor Cipriano Primicias, and others. As his first official act, President Puyat issued Executive Order No.1, Series of 1980, invoking Section 37 of the Rules of the Party which authorized him to create an "Ad Hoc Committee which shall have full power and authority to reorganize and revitalize the Party on a nationwide basis. "The Ad Hoc Committee had the following members: Hon. Fernando Lopez, Hon. J. Laurel Jr., Hon. Jose Roy, Hon. Domocao Alonto, and Hon. Dominador Aytona.

On March 29, 1980, Speaker Laurel was unanimously elected Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee upon the nomination of Vice-President Lopez.

Assemblyman Salvador "Doy" H. Laurel was appointed "Interim Secretary and Finance Officer until the Ad Hoc Committee shall have set up the committees and agencies it may see fit to create, to achieve its purposes."

As Nacionalista Party President, Puyat realized the need to expand the Ad Hoc Committee, and subsequently issued Executive No. 2, Series of 1980, increasing the membership of the Ad Hoc Committee and Empowering the Committee "to negotiate, conclude and sign agreements, including coalitions and other similar arrangements with other political organizations and groups."

The following were included as members of the Ad Hoc Committee: Edmundo B. Cea, Salvador P. Lopez, Ambrosia Padilla, Cipriano Primicias, Jr., Decoroso Rosales, Mamintal Tamano, Ismael Veloso, Marcelino R. Veloso, Leroy Brown.

The revitalization and strengthening of the Nacionalista Party suffered a setback when the Party President, Senate President Gil Puyat passed away on March 22, 1981 of a massive heart attack while recuperating from flu at his seaside resort in Nasugbu, Batangas. The task of revitalizing the party was then pursued by the Ad Hoc Committee.

On May 11, 1981, the Nacionalista Party National Directorate was convened at the Club Filipino to hear the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the revitalization of the Party, and to elect the regular officers of the Party.

Speaker Laurel reported that Party members were organized in every province and city to supervise the various provincial and city chapters of the Party. The country was divided into 14 Regions headed by Acting Regional Chairmen, namely, Region I - Ilocos Region - Ex-Gov. Damoso Samonte; Region I-A - Pangasinan - Sen. Ambrosio Padilla; Region II - Cagayan Valley - Cong. Benjamin Ligot; Region III - Central Luzon - Gov. Alejandro Galang and Gov. Rafael Lazatin as acting Vice-Chairman; Region IV - Southern Tagalog - Assemblyman Salvador H. Laurel with Cong. Manuel S. Enverga as Vice-Chairman; Region V - Bicol Region - Senator Edmundo B. Cea with Atty. Dominador Reyes as Vice-Chairman; Region VI - Western Visayas - Vice-Pres. Fernando Lopez; Region VII - Central Visayas - Senator Rene Espina; Region VIII - Eastern Visayas _ Senator Decoroso Rosales with Cong. Marcelino R. Veloso as acting Vice-Chairman; Region IX - Western Mindanao - Cong. Indanan Anni; Region X - Northeastern Mindanao - Mr. Jose O. Paloma; Region XI - Southeastern Mindanao - Cong. Ismael L. Veloso with Hon. Dominador Carillo and Mayor Hilario de Pedro as Acting Vice-Chairmen.

In that same Directorate meeting, the regular officers of the Party were elected, namely Speaker Laurel, President; Senator Aytona, Executive Vice-Counsel; and Mr. Marcelino Balatbat, Treasurer.

Meanwhile, Senator Roy maintained that he was the President of the Nacionalista Party invoking a special resolution of the Nacionalista Party Central Committee (Junta) designating him as the President of the Party. This led to the birth of the Laurel Wing and the Roy Wing of the Nacionalista Party, marking the fourth split in the ranks of the Party.

The Roy Wing of the Nacionalista Party fielded Secretary of Defense Alejo Santos of Bulacan (now deceased), for President against President Marcos, after failing to entice Doy Laurel to run, in the presidential elections of 1981. Former Information Minister Francisco Tatad was the party's secretary general and campaign manager. As expected, Secretary Santos lost pathetically to President Marcos, polling less than 10 percent of the votes. But this boldness and sacrifice imparted to the strong-man President a color of democratic legitimacy.

When Senator Roy died in 1985, people thought that the Roy Wing of the Nacionalista Party would be extinguished with his death. It turned out, however, that the political lieutenants of the Roy Wing would maintain its identity.

The man who claimed to be his executive vice president, Governor Rafael Palmares of Iloilo, assumed the presidency and entered into a coalition with the KBL in the 1986 presidential "snap" elections.

The Post-EDSA Era
The Nacionalistas, therefore, were split between the KBL's Marcos-Tolentino ticket and the UNIDO's Aquino-Laurel team in that election. In the last week of February, 1986, a military revolt led by Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and General Fidel T. Ramos and backed up by "People's Power" at EDSA, forced the departure of President Ferdinand Marcos and his family, leaving the KBL, most of whose leaders originally came from the Nacionalista Party, orphaned and bewildered. Corazon Aquino, with Doy Laurel as her vice president, proclaimed a revolutionary government with the so-called "Freedom Constitution" or Proclamation No. 3. The Batasang Pambansa was abolished. The elected governors and mayors of provinces, cities and towns were replaced arbitrarily with Officers in Charge (OICs). On April 15, 1986, some forty members of the abolished Batasang Pambansa formed the Partido Nacionalista ng Pilipinas (PNP) under the leadership of former Labor Minister Blas F. Ople to fill the need for an opposition party to fiscalize the new government.

Ople was elected president with vice presidents: J. Antonio Leviste and Zosimo Jesus Paredes, Luzon; Regalado Maambong, Visayas; Celso Palma, Mindanao. Arturo Brion was secretary general with Antonio Roman, Salvador P. Bigay, Adelino Sitoy as deputies, Jose Reynaldo Morente, treasurer, and Ruperto C. Gaite, auditor. Other key leaders were Arturo V. Barbero, Teodulo C. Natividad, Vicente Alberto, Emilio Macias II, Kimal Salacop and B. Macabando.

When the decision was taken to form the Constitution Commission to draft a new charter that would restore democratic institutions, the PNP was invited to name the four members of the opposition. These were Ople, Natividad, Maambong and Rustico de los Reyes Jr. who all served with distinction in the Con-Con.

Subsequently the Roy Wing of the Nacionalista Party under Palmares as president and Renato Cayetano as secretary general regrouped as the new Nacionalista Party, acknowledging Secretary Enrile as their inspiration and symbol. The Palmares-Cayetano group challenged before the Commission on Elections the right of the Ople group to use the name "Nacionalista" but the dispute was amicably settled before the PNP could file its counter-petition.

Grand Alliance For Democracy
Following the ratification of the new Constitution on Feb. 2, 1987, and the call for the first congressional elections under the new Constitution, especially the senatorial contest, various opposition parties agreed to form an umbrella group they called "Grand Alliance for Democracy." Vicente G. Puyat was elected chairman. Federated into GAD were the following parties or elements claiming to speak for them or segments thereof: the Nacionalista Party, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, the Partido Nacionalista ng Pilipinas, the Liberal Party (Kalaw Wing), the Mindanao Alliance, the Muslim Federal Party and the Christian Social Democracy Party. Out of 24 senatorial candidates, two who were declared Nacionalistas won: Juan Ponce Enrile and Joseph Estrada. Estrada, shortly after assuming his seat, took his oath as a Liberal under Jovito Salonga, the Senate President. Enrile, as the sole opposition member, is also the minority floor leader.

In the House of Representative, some 19 opposition members were elected, a significant number of them from the Nacionalista Party but a majority from the KBL. Most of the KBL members, however, are also professed Nacionalistas.

The Two-Party System
On January 5, 1988, President Aquino signed into law Republic Act 6646, otherwise known as the electoral reform law, which was expressly passed by Congress to cover the first local elections on Jan. 18, 1988. The law, consistent with the constitutional choice of a President form of government, clearly titled the electoral system back to a familiar two-party mold, granting primary election watchers with some of the true powers of election inspectors exclusively to a ruling coalition and a dominant opposition coalition. In the implementing COMELEC resolution, issued just before the elections, Laban and the GAD were specifically designated as the ruling coalition and the dominant opposition coalition, respectively, because the Omnibus Election Code pegs such ratings of parties to the most recent electoral performance.

The reality, however, was that it was the Nacionalista Party that fielded up to 98 percent of all the opposition candidates covered by the GAD's electoral franchise under RA 6646. The Nacionalista Party put up complete tickets nationwide for all local-offices, from councilor to governor and city or municipal mayor. In the Jan. 18, 1988 elections, and it was to these candidates and their campaign manager that the GAD certificates of authority were distributed through the Nacionalista Party headquarters.

It is necessary to note this, because although six out of seven original parties that formed GAD into a federation for the specific and limited purpose of contesting the first congressional elections had withdrawn from it, there is an attempt to claim a patent on GAD as still potentially a useful political trademark. The COMELEC, when it writes its next implementing resolution for RA 6646 for the next elections, can clearly see that the Nacionalista Party has to be the acknowledged dominant opposition party. Without the Nacionalista Party's nationwide reach and pervasive grassroots presence, GAD is left as a historic relic and those who genuinely revere it for the sacrifices it has made for Philippine democracy should cease exploiting the name.

This Nacionalista Party that put up complete nationwide tickets for local elections in the January 1988 elections was the Enrile-Rodriguez-Ople group, with former Governor Isidro Rodriguez of Rizal as the party president, Ople as the secretary general, and Alfonso Reyno, Alejandro Fider and Renato Cayetano as deputy secretaries general.

What's in a Name?
The group initially led by Rodriguez and Enrile had earlier met at what was billed as a National Directorate conference on November 14, 1986 at the Club Filipino. Rodriguez, son of the late Amang Rodriguez, former President of the Nacionalista Party, was one of the prime movers; others were Palmares, Cayetano, Antonio Gatuslao, Romeo Jalosjos, Peter Sabido, Jose Zubiri, and Manuel Collantes. This prompted the Rabaya faction which also claimed to represent the Roy Wing to file a petition with the Commission on Elections questioning the use of the name "Nacionalista Party" by the group, now expanded with the entry of the PNP, and the legitimacy of Rodriguez and Ople as party president and secretary general, respectively. The COMELEC, in a recent ruling, refused to make a conclusive finding or resolution of the dispute. The dispute over the use of the party name, however, is expected to become moot and academic after the National Convention of the Nacionalista Party succeeds in unifying all the elements of the Nacionalista Party.

The Reunion
To strengthen the unification efforts, the political leaders opposed to the present regime representing all functions within the Nacionalista party, agreed to revitalize the party in the "Nacionalista Party Reunion Meeting" held at the Hotel Intercontinental on March 9, 1989. To carry out this task Speaker Laurel was appointed "Interim President " of the party in a Manifesto signed by the following leaders; Hon. Juan Ponce Enrile, Hon. Isidro Rodriguez, Hon. Blas F. Ople, Hon. Homobono A. Adasa, Hon. Dominador Aytona, Hon. Constancio Castaneda, Hon. Frisco San Juan, Hon. Alfonso Roy, Jr., Hon. Vic Rabaya, Vicente G. Puyat, Hon. Rafael Palmares, Vice-President Salvador H. Laurel, former Senator and Secretary of foreign Affairs Arturo M. Tolentino, and Congressman Jose A. Roño, among others.

The Manifesto declared that the National Convention would be convened to elect the regular officers of the Party, promulgate a platform and approved a national agenda of the Nacionalista Party.

Pursuant to said Manifesto, the National Convention was held on May 21, 1989 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). In this historic reunion, they all agreed to merge their forces under the aegis of the Party, forgetting their past differences and discarding their individual labels. As a result, Doy Laurel came out as the President of the revitalized Nacionalista Party, with Blas Ople as the Executive Vice President, and Juan Ponce-Enrile as Secretary General.

Keeping the Flame Alive
Salvador H. Laurel, was born into a political family whose nationalism and integrity are unquestioned. He is the son of former President Jose P. Laurel and grandson to Judge Sotero Laurel, Secretary of the Interior in General Aguinaldo's time and was one of the pillars of the Malolos Constitution.

Doy, as he is fondly called studied higher law, earning a Master's Degree and later a Doctorate in Judicial Science at Yale, after which he practiced and taught law to sustain his family.

To ease the plight of indigent litigants, he established the Citizen's Legal Assistance Committee (CLAC) of the Philippine Bar Association. He traveled all over the country to exhort the best lawyers to organize free legal aid chapters in each town and province, earning the "Lawyer of the Year Award" in 1967 for extending free legal aid to the poor but deserving litigants.

For the young Laurel, there was the gnawing realization that even though the indigents could get a lawyer's service for free, the law itself did not help them enough to afford the high cost of justice. It was then that he decided to run for the Senate in order to carry on his crusade to bring justice to the poor through appropriate legislation.

He won as a Nacionalista Senator and took his oath in January 22, 1968. In the Senate, he fought for all kinds of reforms, penal, judicial and land reform. He even pushed for government reorganization and community development. But in keeping with his campaign promises, his priority bills were those that would be enacted as Republic Act 6033, 6034, 6035, 6036 and 6127 popularly known as "Justice for the Poor Laws" or simply Laurel Laws. His work as a senator and as a lawyer has earned his plaudits both here and abroad.

In 1978 when Marcos put up the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) to replace the two-party system. Doy ran for the interim Batasang Pambansa as a Nacionalista under the KBL umbrella.

On December 22, 1979, Marcos decided to renege to his promise and ruled that the KBL was a political party. A local elections on January 30, 1980, barely six weeks away. Doy was able to put up a complete slate with men who believed in his cause in the province of Batangas where Jose Laurel V ran as governor and Sotero Olfato in his hometown Tanauan. After a dramatic turn of events where the Batangueños stood for what they thought was right against the Marcos regime dramatized by three thousand people with torches and singing Bayan Muna stopped truckloads of soldiers from taking away ballot boxes. With Doy as their leader the opposition won in Batangas. It was the only province with a Nacionalista Governor. Tanauan Town registered a 100 % victory as well.

Towards the beginning of the 80's Doy had grown more and more disgusted with the country's worsening conditions under Martial Law. He decided to organize the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO) as the opposition to Marcos' KBL. During the 1984 elections Doy was able to filled in 183 candidates for all the elective seats in the Batasan. UNIDO won 59 seats!

During the snap elections that Marcos called in 1985, Doy was unanimously nominated standard bearer of the opposition against the dictator. UNIDO was in high spirits and geared for the final battle. To solidify the opposition, Doy after seeking Divine guidance agreed to run as Vice President to Ninoy's widow, Cory Aquino. In they end the opposition triumped, only to be thwarted by the KBL which declared Marcos and Tolentino the winners. People Power 1 followed and Cory and Doy took their oath as President and Vice President of the Philippines in Club Filipino on February 25. Doy was concurrently Foreign Minister and by her Proclamation No. 1 Prime Minister. A month later the position of Prime Minister was abolished. A month later the Vice President found himself eased out of Malacañang's inner circle and was an outsider. In September 1988, he resigned as Foreign Minister due to fundamental difference with Cory.

When Cory's term ended Doy geared up for the presidential election in 1992. Since then, he worked silently to keep the Nacionalista Party alive.

Presidential Elections Of 1992
With a renewed fervor for the seeming restoration of democracy, the 1992 elections brought out the most number of candidates for the country's top post. Political personalities like former Senator Salvador H. Laurel, Businessman and Marcos crony Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr., Imelda Marcos (widow of Ferdinand), former Gen. Fidel V. Ramos (a key figure in the EDSA Revolution of 1986), political veterans Jovito Salonga and Ramon Mitra, and former Judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago all vied for the presidency.

Laurel, was nominated by the Nacionalista Party to run for President. He appointed Eva Estrada-Kalaw as his vice-presidential partner.

Another Nacionalista Party member, Danding, who was back in the Philippines in 1991 after a five-year exile with deposed-dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos since 1986, did not let this stop his bid for the presidency. As if to bounce right back into the political arena, Danding promptly created the Nacionalist People's Coalition (NPC) as an opposition party. Joining him in this new opposition party was Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile.

Danding placed a respectable 3rd in the election. Political analysts say he would have won if the opposition weren't split between him and Marcos's widow, considering that Ramos's victory posed a slim margin over Santiago (who placed second) and Danding.

This was the last time, Nacionalista Party fielded candidates for the top two posts. Since then, the party has been in a sort of hiatus from the political arena. Much of the familiar names identified with the party have since lived up to the "Butterfly Politics" of transferring from one party to another. Veterans and analysts all indicate that a return to the two-party system will definitely put a semblance of organization in Philippine Politics and return the focus on issues rather than the personalities.

Reviving the Grand Old Party
Needing new blood for the party, Doy Laurel sought to woo new members among the elected officials. One such prospect was businessman-turned-politician Manuel B. Villar, Jr. Born in Moriones, Tondo, Villar sold shrimps and fish in Divisoria market to contribute to the family income and support his studies as well as those of his seven siblings. He completed his Bachelor and Master's Degree in Business Administration in the University of the Philippines.

In his first major business venture, he succeeded in making a 10,000 capital small enterprise into the fastest growing and biggest mass housing in the Philippines which provided affordable and decent housing for the common Filipino and gave jobs to a thousand Filipino workers. Up to now, Manny Villar still dreams to help and inspire Filipinos to fulfill their dreams thru hard work and determination (Sipag at Tiyaga).

Manny Villar had been the Speaker of the House of Congress, the youngest to hold the post. He won the Las Piñas Congressional seat in 1992, 1995 and 1998. Under his leadership, more than 1,000 bills were passed. Among them are bills that: provide protection to small farmers and fishermen; increase benefits for the so-called neglected sectors (disabled, senior citizens, war veterans, etc.) and provide livelihood to ordinary citizens.

His brand of dynamic and principled leadership was instrumental in sending the impeachment articles against then President Joseph Estrada to the Senate for investigation in November 13, 2000. He was elected Senator in May 2001 and served as Senate President Pro-tempore and Chairman, Committee on Agriculture during his first year, he now chairs the Committee on Finance and the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Doy first approached Villar in 2001. The latter was hesitant, but Doy was not daunted. Knowing that Villar could help bring the party back to its feet, Doy would not let up. Finally, in Villar's visit to the ailing President of the Party in November 6, 2003, Manny Villar swore in as a member of the Nacionalista Party at Doy's home in California.

In December 2003, an Interim Executive Committee was constituted by Doy where Villar was designated Chairman. The objective was to hasten the nationwide reorganization and revitalization of the party; recruitment of members and review of the existing party rules and, when ready, call a National Assembly. The members were, Former Ambassador Jose Macario Laurel IV, Senator Ralph G. Recto, Former Assemblyman Atty. Homobono A. Adaza, Atty. Ramon M. Maronilla, Mr. Ramon S. Orosa, Atty. Edilberto Bravo, Mr. Exequiel Garcia, Congresswoman Cynthia Villar, Atty. Jose Oliveros, Congressman James J. Gordon, Atty. Rhaegee B. Tamaña, Talisay City Mayor Eduardo R. Gullas, and Vice Governor of Batangas Peter P. Laurel. A series of meetings were held at the Penthouse of the Pacific Place Bldg., Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

A couple of months later, Villar once again got a call from Doy. The latter was apologetic and was clearly giving instructions about keeping the party alive. Somehow, in his last days, Doy Laurel's mind was filled with the need to make it known that the Nacionalista Party has to be revived. Doy finally gave in to his Lymphoma on February 4, 2004.

On February 11, 2004, in a gathering of loyal Nacionalistas, the Interim Executive Committee was dissolved and Villar was elected President of the Party. In his acceptance speech, Villar reiterated the need to infuse new blood into the party, to involve the youth and to push for the return of the two-party system.

Since then, Villar has been rallying Nacionalistas to a more proactive role in the party and in the country's administration. He opened the membership to men and women who want to come back to the fold and invited new members at the same time.

No political Party in Philippine history has done more to shape the modern Filipino nation or advance the cause of its freedom and general welfare than the Nacionalista Party. In contemporary terms, this party alone could claim to present the continuity of the nation's political history, especially history as the search for a national identity and liberty.

This is still the party of Quezon and Osmeña, Laurel and Recto, Magsaysay and Garcia, the only one with truly deep roots in both the soil and the psyche of the Filipino people. But today its sights are trained on the problems and prospects of a nation and society vastly more complex, in a more independent but also more dangerous world. These problems call for the resources of leadership, experience, imagination and patriotism that only the Nacionalista Party can provide. It is time to recapture the party's --and the nation's-greatness through a new generation of highly motivated Nacionalista leaders.

Why Nacionalista?
The principles on which the Nacionalista Party stands were hewn by the heroes of the revolution. It was the Nacionalista Party that carried the on an unflagging campaign for Philippine Independence. Through the years, blood, sweat and tears stained the hands that held up the banner of freedom.

Ang bayan higit sa lahat is not a mere moniker nor a tag line. It is a battlecry and a reminder for those who wish to serve, not to gain power, but to genuinely serve the Filipino people. The Nacionalista Party is a party of change. In the tradition of Apolinario Mabini's "social regeneration" and Manuel L. Quezon's "social justice", the Nacionalista Party has always stood for social change and economic reform, on the side of the masses, the workers, the poor and the dispossessed.

In the annals of the Nation, the Nacionalista Party is the historic champion of civil liberties and of the rights of the people. It is the party that has always upheld the rule of law and the principles that ours is not a government of men but of laws.

The Nacionalista Party is the party of the New Filipino. We translate into habits the idea of national independence-a morality worthy of an independent society. We are distinguished by love of action and challenge, by a belief in a dynamic and purposeful life. We confront responsibilities and we are ashamed to evade them. We believe in the ethic of work and salvation through work.

No matter how recent events may blur them, these ideals remain deep in the perspective of history. At a time of great challenges to our freedom arising from a deeply troubled world, the rich wisdom of our past counsels keep our trust in the hands of a party, tried and true, the great party of nationalism and social justice. The Nacionalista Party.