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Carlos P. Romulo
Romulo in 1949
President of the United Nations General Assembly
In office
September 20, 1949 – June 30, 1950
Preceded byH. V. Evatt
Succeeded byNasrollah Entezam
Secretary/Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
1968 – January 1984
PresidentFerdinand Marcos
Preceded byNarciso Ramos
Succeeded byManuel Collantes (Acting)
In office
PresidentDiosdado Macapagal
Preceded bySalvador P. Lopez
Succeeded byMauro Mendez
In office
May 11, 1950 – 1951
PresidentElpidio Quirino
Preceded byFelino Neri
Succeeded byJoaquín Miguel Elizalde
Secretary of Instruction and Information/Education
In office
December 30, 1965 – December 16, 1967
PresidentFerdinand Marcos
Preceded byAlejandro Roces
Succeeded byOnofre Corpuz (Acting)
In office
October 1944 – February 1945
PresidentSergio Osmeña
Preceded bySergio Osmeña
Succeeded byMaximo Kalaw
Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States
In office
September 1955 – February 1962
PresidentRamon Magsaysay
Carlos P. Garcia
Diosdado Macapagal
Preceded byJoaquín Miguel Elizalde
Succeeded byEmilio Abello
In office
January 1952 – May, 1953
PresidentElpidio Quirino
Preceded byJoaquín Miguel Elizalde
Succeeded byJoaquín Miguel Elizalde
Resident Commissioner of the Philippines
In office
August 10, 1944 – July 4, 1946
PresidentSergio Osmeña
Preceded byJoaquín Miguel Elizalde
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Secretary of Information and Public Relations
In office
PresidentManuel L. Quezon
Sergio Osmeña
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa
In office
June 12, 1978 – September 16, 1983
ConstituencyRegion IV
11th President of the University of the Philippines
In office
Preceded byVicente Sinco
Succeeded bySalvador P. Lopez
Personal details
Carlos Peña Romulo

(1898-01-14)January 14, 1898
Camiling, Tarlac, Captaincy General of the Philippines
DiedDecember 15, 1985(1985-12-15) (aged 87)
Manila, Philippines
Resting placeLibingan ng mga Bayani
Metro Manila, Philippines
Political partyKBL (1978–1985)
Other political
Nacionalista (before 1946; 1957–1978)
Democratic (1953–1957)
Liberal (1946–1953)
Spouse(s)Virginia Llamas
Beth Day
RelationsAlberto Romulo (nephew)
Roman Romulo (grandnephew)
Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (grandniece)
Alma materUniversity of the Philippines Manila
Columbia University
OccupationDiplomat, author, statesman, soldier
AwardsSee below
Military service
Allegiance Philippines
Branch/serviceArmed Forces of the Philippines (Reserve)
commissioned to United States Army
Rank Major General
Battles/warsWorld War II

Carlos Peña Romulo Sr. QSC GCS CLH NA GCrM GCrGH KGCR (January 14, 1899 – December 15, 1985) was a Filipino diplomat, statesman, soldier, journalist and author. He was a reporter at the age of 16, a newspaper editor by 20, and a publisher at 32. He was a co-founder of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, a general in the US Army and the Philippine Army, university president, and president of the United Nations General Assembly.

He has been named as one of the Philippines's national artists in literature, and was the recipient of many other honors and honorary degrees.

Romulo believed in anti-colonialism and internationalism, as well as held Pro-American, anti-communist, anti-fascist, and economically and politically liberal beliefs.[1]

Early career

Romulo (far right) on a stamp featuring the "Founders of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines". Stamp for the National Boy Scout Movement's 50th Anniversary, October 28, 1987

Carlos Romulo was born in Tayabas City on January 14, 1899.[1] His parents were Pangasinense. His father fought against the US in the Philippine-American War.[1] His father transitioned to working for the US government in the Philippines after the war, rising through the ranks as town councilor, mayor, and eventually the governor of Tarlac province.[1]

He studied at the Camiling Central Elementary School during his basic education.

Romulo became a professor of English at the University of the Philippines in 1923. Simultaneously, Romulo served as the secretary to the president of the Senate of the Philippines, Manuel Quezon.

During the 1930s, Romulo became the publisher and editor of The Philippines Herald, and one of his reporters was Yay Panlilio. On October 31, 1936, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) was given a legislative charter under Commonwealth Act No. 111.[2][3] Romulo served as one of the vice presidents of the organization.

At the start of World War II, Romulo, a major, served as an aide to General Douglas MacArthur.[4][5] He was one of the last men evacuated from the Philippines before the surrender of US Forces to the invading Japanese, as illness had prevented him from departing with MacArthur, finally leaving from Del Monte Airfield on Mindanao on April 25.[6] Active in propaganda efforts, particularly through the lecture circuit, after reaching the United States, he became a member of President Quezon's War Cabinet, being appointed Secretary of Information in 1943. He reached the rank of general by the end of the war.[4][5]

Romulo supported Philippine independence.[1] As the US had promised Philippine independence in the Jones Act of 1916, Romulo believed that independence was inevitable.[1] Romulo tended to portray American imperialism in a favorable light compared to European imperialism.[1]

Diplomatic career

Romulo served eight Philippine presidents, from Manuel L. Quezon to Ferdinand Marcos, as the secretary of foreign affairs of the Philippines and as the country's representative to the United States and to the United Nations (UN). He also served as the resident commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives during the Commonwealth era. In addition, he served also as the secretary of education in President Diosdado P. Macapagal's and President Ferdinand E. Marcos's cabinet through 1962 to 1968.[7][8]

Resident commissioner

Romulo served as resident commissioner of the Philippines to the United States Congress from 1944 to 1946. This was the title of the non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for lands taken in the Spanish–American War, and as such, he is the only member of the U.S. Congress to end his tenure via a legal secession from the union.

United Nations

In his career in the UN, Romulo was a strong advocate of human rights, freedom, and decolonization. In 1948, at the third UN General Assembly in Paris, France, he strongly disagreed with a proposal made by the Soviet delegation headed by Andrei Vishinsky, who challenged his credentials by insulting him with this quote: "You are just a little man from a little country." In return, Romulo replied, "It is the duty of the little Davids of this world to fling the pebbles of truth in the eyes of the blustering Goliaths and force them to behave!", leaving Vishinsky with nothing left to do but sit down.

Palestine partition plan

In the days preceding the UN General Assembly vote on the Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947, Romulo stated "We hold that the issue is primarily moral. The issue is whether the United Nations should accept responsibility for the enforcement of a policy which is clearly repugnant to the valid nationalist aspirations of the people of Palestine. The Philippines Government holds that the United Nations ought not to accept such responsibility." Thus, he clearly intended to oppose the partition plan, or at most abstain in the vote. However, pressure on the Philippines government from Washington led to Romulo being recalled, and was replaced by a Philippines representative who voted in favor of the partition plan.[citation needed]

President of the UN General Assembly

Romulo served as the president of the fourth session of UN General Assembly from 1949 to 1950—the first Asian to hold the position—and served as president of the UN Security Council four times, twice in 1957, 1980 and 1981.[9] He had served with General MacArthur in the Pacific, and became the first non-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in Correspondence in 1942. The Pulitzer Prize website states that Carlos P. Romulo was awarded "for his observations and forecasts of Far Eastern developments during a tour of the trouble centers from Hong Kong to Batavia".[10]

Campaign for secretary-general

See also: 1953 United Nations Secretary-General selection

Romulo ran for the office of UN secretary-general in the 1953 selection. He fell two votes short of the required seven-vote majority in the Security Council, finishing second to Lester B. Pearson of Canada. His ambitions were further dashed by negative votes from France and the Soviet Union, both of whom were permanent members with veto power.[11] The Security Council eventually settled on a dark horse candidate and selected Dag Hammarskjöld to be UN secretary-general.

Ambassador to the United States

From January 1952 to May 1953, Romulo became the second former member of the Congress to become the ambassador to the United States from a foreign country, following Joaquín M. Elizalde, who had been his immediate predecessor in both posts. He later served as ambassador again from September 1955 to February 1962.[12]

Return to the Philippines

Philippine presidential aspiration

Romulo returned to the Philippines and was a candidate for the nomination as the presidential candidate for the Liberal Party, but lost at the party convention to the incumbent president, Elpidio Quirino. Quirino had agreed to a secret ballot at the convention, but after the convention opened, he demanded an open roll-call voting, leaving the delegates no choice but to support Quirino, the candidate of the party machine. Feeling betrayed, Romulo left the Liberal Party and became national campaign manager of Ramon Magsaysay, the candidate of the opposing Nacionalista Party, who won the election in 1953.

Romulo, portrait by Soshana, oil on canvas, 1945
Ang Paglulunsad Memorial, Lingayen, Pangasinan. Carlos P. Romulo launched on January 10, 1945, Philippine and Pacific troops to liberate Luzon

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Romulo served as the Philippines' secretary (minister from 1973 to 1984) of foreign affairs under President Elpidio Quirino from 1950 to 1952, under President Diosdado Macapagal from 1963 to 1964, and under President Ferdinand Marcos from 1968 to 1984. In April 1955, he led the Philippines' delegation to the Asian-African Conference at Bandung, Indonesia.

Resignation from the Marcos cabinet

Romulo supported President Ferdinand Marcos through most of his presidency. However, he resigned in 1983, soon after the assassination of Benigno Aquino, citing poor health. Gregorio Brillantes interviewed Romulo in 1984, and Romulo said he resigned "heartsick" because of the assassination of Aquino, whom he considered a "friend", and the resulting freefall of the Philippines' economy and international reputation.[13]

According to Romulo's wife, Beth Day Romulo, the Marcos administration had asked him to sign an advertisement that the administration was planning to place in the New York Times and other major international dailies. Romulo refused to sign the advertisement and instead resigned.[14]


Romulo died, aged 87, in Manila on December 15, 1985, and was buried in the Heroes' Cemetery (Libingan ng mga Bayani) at Fort Bonifacio, Metro Manila. He was honored as "one of the truly great statesmen of the 20th century".[15] In 1980, he was extolled by UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim as "Mr. United Nations" for his valuable services to the UN and his dedication to freedom and world peace.

Published books

Romulo, in all, wrote and published 22 books, including The United (novel), I Walked with Heroes (autobiography), I Saw the Fall of the Philippines, Mother America, and I See the Philippines Rise (war-time memoirs). In 1982, he was proclaimed a National Artist for Literature of the Philippines, in recognition of his contributions to Philippine Literature.


National Honors

Military Medals (Philippines)

Military Medals (Foreign)

Foreign Honors

Awards and recognitions

Gen. Romulo (3d from R), as President of the United Nations General Assembly, talks with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru

Romulo is perhaps among the most decorated Filipinos in history. He has been awarded 72 honorary degrees from different international institutions and universities and 144 awards and decorations from foreign countries:

Anecdotes from Beth Romulo through Reader's Digest (June 1989)

At the third UN General Assembly, held in Paris in 1948, the USSR's deputy foreign minister, Andrei Vyshinsky, 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 Romulo, "to fling the pebbles of truth in the eyes of the blustering Goliaths and force them to behave!"

During his meeting with Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Marshal Tito welcomed Gen. Romulo with drinks and cigars, to which the general kindly refused. Their conversation went as follows:

Tito: "Do you drink?"

Romulo: "No, I don't."

Tito: "Do you smoke?"

Romulo: "No, thank you."

Tito: "What do you do then?"

Romulo: "I etcetera."

At this, Marshal Tito was tickled by his reply and loudly exclaimed around the room, "I etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!"

Romulo was a dapper little man (barely five feet four inches in shoes). When they waded in at Leyte beach in October 1944, and the word went out that General MacArthur was waist deep, one of Romulo's journalist friends cabled, "If MacArthur was in water waist deep, Romulo must have drowned!"

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."


Carlos P. Romulo at the Clark Air Base (1979)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Reeves, Mark (2023), Manela, Erez; Streets-Salter, Heather (eds.), "Carlos Romulo, Rotary Internationalism, and Conservative Anticolonialism", The Anticolonial Transnational: Imaginaries, Mobilities, and Networks in the Struggle against Empire, Cambridge University Press, pp. 89–108, doi:10.1017/9781009359115.006, ISBN 978-1-009-35912-2
  2. ^ Boy Scouts of the Philippines (1996). Diamond Jubilee Yearbook: Boy Scouts of the Philippines, 1936–1996. Manila, Philippines. ISBN 971-91769-0-3.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. ^ "The Birth of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines". Boy Scouts of the Philippines. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Kaminski 2016.
  5. ^ a b Panlilio 2010, pp. 12–13, 128, 292, 297.
  6. ^ Shores & Cull 1993, p. 143.
  7. ^ "General Carlos P. Romulo". University of the Philippines – Reserve Officers' Training Corps. Archived from the original on September 19, 2011. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  8. ^ "Curriculum Vitae". General Carlos P. Romulo. Carlos P. Romulo Foundation. Archived from the original on September 2, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  9. ^ "Interview with: Carlos Romulo". United Nations Oral History. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  10. ^ "Carlos P. Romulo of Philippines Herald". The Pulitzer Prizes. Archived from the original on June 16, 2017. Retrieved June 16, 2021.
  11. ^ Hamilton, Thomas J. (March 13, 1953). "Soviet Veto Blocks Pearson U.N. Boom; Romulo Also Fails". The New York Times. p. 1.
  12. ^ "Embassy of the Philippines, Washington, D.C." Embassy of the Philippines, Washington, D.C. Archived from the original on October 30, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  13. ^ Brillantes, Gregorio (January 1, 1986). "The Twilight of the General". National Midweek. Vol. 1, no. 9.
  14. ^ Romulo 2015.
  15. ^ Pace, Eric (December 16, 1985). "Carlos P. Romulo of Philippines Dies". The New York Times. sec. B, p. 18. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  16. ^ "Gawad Mabini". Official Gazette. Archived from the original on May 23, 2022.
  17. ^ a b "Roster of Recipients of Presidential Awards". Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  18. ^ "Our Story". Knights of Rizal. Archived from the original on June 15, 2021.
  19. ^ "Extemporaneous Remarks of President Marcos on the conferment of the Bayani ng Bagong Republika on General Carlos P. Romulo, outgoing Minister of Foreign Affairs". Official Gazette. January 14, 1984.
  20. ^ "Интерес и спремност за даљим разовојем сарадње". Borba (in Serbo-Croatian): 2. August 27, 1974.
  21. ^ "Nomination Archive". The Nobel Prize. April 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2022.


  • Kaminski, Theresa (2016). Angels of the Underground: The American Women Who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II. New York, New York: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-992824-8.
  • Panlilio, Yay (2010) [1950]. Cruz, Denise (ed.). The Crucible: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-4682-7.
  • Romulo, Beth (June 1989). "Unforgettable Carlos P. Romulo". Reader's Digest.
  • Romulo, Beth Day (2015). The Writer, the Lover and the Diplomat: Life with Carlos P. Romulo. Mandaluyong City: Anvil Publishing. ISBN 9789712731433.
  • Shores, Christopher; Cull, Brian (1993). Bloody Shambles. Vol. 2: The Defence of Sumatra to the Fall of Burma. With Yasuho Izawa. London: Grub Street. ISBN 0-948817-67-4.
  • Zaide, Gregorio F. (1984). Philippine History and Government. National Bookstore Printing Press.