It's the Right Thing to Do

Abhorred by the actions of the Nazis, one leader in a distant southwestern Asian archipelago opened the doors of his country to Jews needing to flee their homelands, and saved the lives of approximately 1,200 Jewish people. Former Filipino President Manuel Quezon also donated 7.5 hectares of his own personal country estate in Marinika as a working farm for the Jewish people to have meaningful work upon entry to the Philippines, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Abhorred by the actions of the Nazis, one leader in a distant southwestern Asian archipelago opened the doors of his country to Jews needing to flee their homelands, and saved the lives of approximately 1,200 Jewish people. Former Filipino President Manuel Quezon also donated 7.5 hectares of his own personal country estate in Marinika as a working farm for the Jewish people to have meaningful work upon entry to the Philippines, the Jerusalem Post reported.

“Quezon, like most Filipinos, was Catholic and yet he developed an affinity for Jews because he felt that there was a sense of symbolic brotherhood between Filipinos and Jews,” recalled Sharon Delmendo, a historian. “As the Filipinos were recipients of racial discrimination and bigotry on the part of many Americans at that time, the Jews were similarly recipients of bigotry by the Nazis.”

The Philippines would have been delighted to accept more Jewish refugees fleeing Europe for their very lives, but the Japanese invasion of the Philippine Islands hindered efforts to accept more Jews. Furthermore, Quezon did extend visas to upwards of 10,000 Jewish people in Germany and Austria, but such a few number made the trip to such a faraway land.

"My father applied to the Philippines but didn’t know at all where it was, what it was, all he knew was that it was somewhere in the Pacific,” stated Ralph Preiss, Holocaust survivor who took refuge under Quezon’s invitation to asylum in the Philippines. “So he looked up his encyclopedia, which was published in 1898, and he read that this was set of 7,000 discovered by Magellan, it’s under the Spanish Crown, Spanish was the national language, so naturally, we immediately started studying Spanish.”

“It is my hope, and indeed my expectation, that the people of the Philippines will have in the future every reason to be glad that when the time of need came, their country was willing to extend a hand of welcome,” Quezon spoke about the event years later.

Written by Erin Parfet