Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Carlos P. Romulo

My niece asked me to research the life of Carlos P. Romulo for her class assignment. I said that he is the first Filipino to be a Secretary General of the United Nations, (to which I found out later I was wrong) that’s it, because that is what I know of him. My niece then asked me a very innocent question, “United Nation? So he is Mr. Philippines there, when was that?” I smiled. I know I had to research more, so I could give a very definite answer to my niece. So on a very hot Saturday, I went to my old house (since PLDT have not approved the transfer of my phone and DSL) to do research.

Born Carlos Peña Romulo on January 14, 1899 in Camiling Tarlac. He is a son of a former Governor and was married twice. He was a diplomat, politician, soldier, journalist and writer. He held several positions in different newspaper and publications. He graduated from University of the Philippines – Bachelor of Arts (1918); and Master of Arts from Columbia University (1921). He had 82 honorary degrees from different international institution and universities such as Notre Dame University (1935); Rolins College (1946); University of Athens Greece (1948) and Harvard University (1950).

He served eight Presidents of the Philippines from Manuel L. Quezon to Ferdinand Marcos either as a member of the cabinet or as the country’s representative to the United States and United Nations.

He was the first Asian to win Pulitzer Prize in 1942. He wrote 18 books; The United, I walked with Heroes, I Saw the Fall of the Philippines, among others.

Among notable anecdotes on him:
At the third UN General Assembly, held in Paris in 1948, the USSR’s deputy foreign minister, Andrei Vishinsky, sneered at Romulo and challenged his credentials: “You are just a little man from a little country.” “It is the duty of the little Davids of this world,” cried Rómulo, “to fling the pebbles of truth in the eyes of the blustering Goliaths and force them to behave!”

When the UN official seal, which depicts the world, was being selected, Romy looked it over and demanded, “where is the Philippines?” “It’s too small to include,” explained US Senator Warren Austin, who headed the committee. “If we put in the Philippines it would be no more than a dot.” “I want that dot!” Romy insisted. Today, if you look at the UN seal, you will find a tiny dot between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.

In later years, Romulo told another story himself about a meeting with MacArthur and other tall American generals who disparaged his physical stature. "Gentlemen," he declared, "When you say something like that, you make me feel like a dime among nickels."

In 1945 Rómulo acted as Philippine delegate to the United Nations Organization Conference in San Francisco. He was Philippine ambassador to the United Nations from 1946 to 1954. He distinguished himself as the first Asian to become president of the UN General Assembly (Fourth Session, Sept. 20, 1949). In 1950-1951 Rómulo acted as secretary of foreign affairs of the Philippine Republic and, from 1952 on (with some interruptions), as Philippine ambassador to the United States. He was a candidate for the position of United Nations Secretary-General in 1953, but did not win.

In 1980, he was extolled by United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim as "Mr. United Nations" for his valuable services to the United Nations and his dedication to freedom and world peace. He died at the age of 86 on December 15, 1985 and was buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery.
Source: Wikipedia, Panitikan.net, Answers.com, Un.org

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