Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Joaquin Miguel “Mike” Elizalde of the Philippines served as a Resident Commissioner in the House. His resignation in 1944 came two years before the Philippines gained independence from the United States.
On this date, the Resident Commissioner from the Philippines, Joaquin Miguel “Mike” Elizalde
, resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives following the death of his political benefactor, Philippine President Manuel Quezon
. Born on August 2, 1896, in the capital city of Manila, Elizalde studied in Europe before returning to the Philippines where he subsequently built a business empire. As a result of his success, President Quezon selected Elizalde as an economic adviser in 1937. One year later, Quezon appointed Elizalde Resident Commissioner to the United States. During his tenure in Washington, Elizalde worked to protect the islands’ economy in the run-up to independence scheduled for 1946. He also advocated for Filipinos living and working in America, particularly on the West Coast and in Hawaii. In 1939, the Resident Commissioner’s office intervened on behalf of 6,000 Filipino asparagus pickers in California who went on strike to protest wage cuts. Elizalde managed to restore their salaries and won plaudits for his efforts. During World War II, Elizalde served as an adviser to President Quezon and his cabinet, all of whom fled to the United States when the Japanese military occupied the Philippines. The crisis of war and the arrival of Quezon’s government-in-exile in early 1942 funneled much of Elizalde’s attention to constructing a diplomatic apparatus in the United States. Elizalde oversaw the purchase of a mansion along Massachusetts Avenue’s Embassy Row in November 1941. As the hub of the Philippine mission in the United States, Elizalde ran it like an embassy. After the Philippines became an independent nation in 1946, Elizalde became the Philippines’ first ambassador to the United States. He died in Washington, DC, on February 9, 1965.