Sunday, March 09, 2008


Have you ever wondered what caused the demise of some of our former Presidents? I myself never wondered until I became an MD. I mean, come on, all they ask you to remember in school is the date of death, except maybe for some who had controversial or extraordinary causes of death.

Like for example, Pres. Marcos, whom we all know, suffered from an auto-immune disease Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, or Lupus to you. Or that president who died in a helicopter crash -- Macapagal? or Magsaysay? I get totally confused because the pnemonic I used in Elementary is that this president's surname starts with M for crash in a Mountain. What I failed to note is that, we have 2 presidents whose surname starts with M!

So, as remedy, why don't I try to give you a rundown of the CODs (causes of death) of our deceased Presidents. Most from reliable sources, some, from not-so-reliable sources. So please, correct me if you find anything amiss.

Let's start with the president of the First Republic, Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo, who died of coronary thrombosis in Veteran's Memorial Hospital in February 6, 1964, at the age of 95, according to Wikipedia and Geocities. Pardon my sources please. I couldn't find more scholarly- sounding sources.

Next would be Pres. Manuel L. Quezon, where the famous Quezon City was named after, died of Tuberculosis in August 1, 1944, in Saranac Lake, New York. He was buried 3x because he was primarily buried in Washington DC then reinterred twice! His body was finally settled in Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

President Jose P. Laurel died of heart attack (I am assuming this means Myocardial Infarction) and cerebrovascular disease in Lourdes Hospital in November 6, 1959 at the age of 68. When they say heart attack, do they mean MI (myocardial infarction)? I guess.

President Sergio Osmena, our 4th President, died in October 19, 1961 in Veteran's Memorial Hospital, at the age of 83. He's the second president who died in this hospital. Cause of death: I cannot find any information on this. But as of the posting of this blog, I am still looking.

President Manuel Roxas died of heart failure in Clark, Pampanga in April 15, 1948.

Our 6th president, Pres. Elpidio Quirino died of heart attack in February 29, 1959, in Novaliches, Quezon City.

Finally, I have a chance to clear my previous confusion. It was President Ramon Magsaysay who died of plane crash in Mount Manungga, Asturias, Cebu Province in 17 March 1957, at age 49.

Our 8th president, Pres. Carlos P. Garcia died in June 14, 1971, Quezon City of heart failure at the age of 75.

Pres. Diosdado Macapagal died only recently, relative to the other former presidents, in April 21, 1997 at Makati Medical Center, due to heart failure.

President Ferdinand P. Marcos' cause of death would be the most and well known since this former President had a debilitating disease, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. He was on dialysis for a long time and even had a kidney transplant. In fact, the first time Malacanang Palace was opened to the public after he was ousted, the dialysis machine that he used were on display. New York Times gives a full detail of his death here. He died at September 28, 1989 (Pacific time) at St. Francis Medical Center in Hawaii, due primarily to kidney failure and its complications.

It would be quite interesting to note that the later the date of death, the more specific the information are on the causes of death of our past Presidents. This would have to mean that our either our medical records are improving or the medical field in general is.

For trivia buffs out there: Only Pres. Quezon died of an infectious disease; seven died of cardiovascular causes; 1 in a plane crash (Pres. Magsaysay), 1 of autoimmune disease (Pres. Marcos) and 2 others, unknown to the author.

I guess, even for Presidents, statistics do apply. Cardiovascular diseases would still be the leading cause of mortality, even in our history.


dr_clairebear said...

kawawa naman si Quezon, namatay sa TB. :(

nonetheless, it's appalling to know that people still die of TB in the era of DOTS. if Quezon had lived to see DOTS, nabuhay kaya siya?

MerryCherry said...

I'm sure he would have made it if there was DOTS then.

Here in the barrio, it's amazing how DOTS saves a lot of lives. Although, it still has a lot of loopholes, that's why, I doubt if we'll be TB free by 2010 (that's part of the millenium dev't goals of the current administration).

Bone MD said...

Doc Che, this is a very interesting post! You will keep the politicians, lawmakers and revolutionary strategist up front knowing these presidential killers!

Well done research, pardon my pundits in the first ed, but I really did smile writing my intro and comments for this post!

Keep blogging!

Prudence said...

Re: 2010 TB Free Philippines, I also highly doubt that. I work in a clinic that caters to applicants of industrial centers. I think in a day of clinic, I get to see 3-4 people having TB. Unfortunate for them because that would mean not being hired, but it does reflect the situation that the country is far from being TB free.