Ramón Magsaysay (rämōn´ mägsī´sī), 1907–57, president of the Philippines (1953–57). When the Japanese invaded the Philippines (1941), he joined the army and was commissioned a captain. A guerrilla leader throughout the Japanese occupation, he was named (1945) military governor of Zambales province by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. While serving in the Philippine Congress (1946–50), Magsaysay presented a plan for subduing the Hukbalahap (Huk) guerrillas, which led to his appointment as secretary of national defense by President Elpidio Quirino. He reformed the army, captured the top members of the Communist party, and fought the Huks, combining strong military action with a land resettlement program. After a dispute with President Quirino, however, Magsaysay resigned from his post (1953). He left the ruling Liberal party and ran for president on the Nationalist ticket, defeating Quirino by a large majority. As president, he cooperated closely with the United States and pursued a program of land and governmental reform. He was favored to win reelection to a second term, but died in an airplane crash (1957) before the voting began.
See biographies by C. Quirino (2d. ed. 1964) and M. M. Gray (1965).