The Grand Old Man of Cebu
2nd President of the Commonwealth
Sergio Osmeña, Sr. was born on the 9th of September, 1878 in Cebu City.
He had his first schooling at the defunct Seminary of San Carlos of this City taking Humanities at the age of 11 years. In 1894, he
graduated in his studies as a valedictorian on the same year. The young
student was granted the title of Bachelor of Arts in the Colegio de San
Juan de Letran.
his Bachelor of Arts, he enrolled in the University of Sto. Tomas for
his Philosophy and Law. Returning to Cebu, he founded his periodical El
Nuevo Dia in 1900 until it closed in 1902 for economic reasons.
He had only a
year to practice law in Cebu from 1903 to 1904, after which in April
1904, he was designated Acting Governor of the province in the absence
of the then Gov. Juan Climaco. July 25 saw him as provincial Fiscal of
Cebu and Negros Oriental until 10, 1906. February 5 of the same year, he
had his first taste of politics as governor-elect of Cebu. Thus starting
on this point, his political star began to shine. It was more so when,
in Manila, in the convention of provincial governors, he was appointed
president of the assembly. He was a fighter for peace and order, even
traveled in the islands for this cause with Gov. Gen. James F. Smith. He
was instrumental in making Leyte a peaceful province.
from then on, entered the National scene politically as representative
of the second district of Cebu in the 1907 elections. Consequently, in
October 16, 1907, he was elected first speaker of the Philippine
assembly. A very much inspired man and imbued with the spirit of
Nationalism, he was thick in the fight for inependence being the author
of the Phrase Immediate Independence which was embedded in the platform
of the Partido Nacionalista of which he was one of its founders. The man
who was destined to lead his people was four times re-elected as
representative of the second district of Cebu. Thus, in 1916 saw him
still at the Helm of the Congress being elected as speaker of the
newly-inaugurated House of Representatives.
In 1916, under
the Jones Law, Don Sergio was responsible for the reorganization of the
Executive department and of the economic and political set-up in the
government. He authored a bill, creating the Council of State, vested
with the function to coordinate the power of the National Government in
The year 1918
still saw the phase of the consistent movement of nationalism, as on
this year, the Philippine Legislature recommended the creation of the
Commission on Independence in the United States. Thus, the first
Filipino Mission headed by Pres. Quezon left for the United States on
the 23rd of February, 1919. In 1922 representing the House of
Representatives, Osmeña headed the Parliamentary Mission to the United
By June of the
same year, he was elected senator for the 10th district of Cebu.
In 1923, he
was appointed Vice-President of the Partido-Nacionalista Consolidado.
Again in 1924, he was a member of the 3rd Filipino mission of the United
States. Then in October 1925, he was designated in the representation of
the Legislative, as special envoy to lead a group with other Filipino
delegates to the 33 interparliamentary conference in Washington DC.
National Election in June of 1928, he was re-elected for the 10th
Senatorial District of Cebu. He was subsequently designated as senate
protempore of that body.
1929, the University of Sto. Tomas conferred him with (Honoris Causa)
the title of Doctor of Laws. In Oct. 1930, the following year, the same
title was conferred to him by the University of the Philippines.
In Oct. 1931,
the Senate president appointed him as senate Protempore and as such, he
became the leader of the majority group. On the same year in December, n
the part of the Senate, he was to lead a legislative Independence
mission to the United States. Roxas was at that time, speaker of the
House. He was in US until May, 1933 when he had to return to the
Philippines bringing with him the Hare Haves Cutting Law (the
1933, he was designated President of the Nacionalista Democrata Party, a
pro-Independence party. In the election in June 1934, he was again
re-elected as Senator of the 10th Senatorial District of Cebu. By June
of 1933, he was nominated to the vice presidency of the commonwealth of
the coaliced Nacionalista-Democrata party. In July of the same year, he
accepted the nomination. On the 17th of September, 1935, he was elected
vice-president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. On the 15th of
November 1935, he became a member of the cabinet and was appointed by
President Quezon as Undersecretary of Public Instruction. This same
designation became permanent in 1936.
In Oct. 13,
1938, he was appointed by the President of the Philippines to head a
special economic mission to the US to work on matters recommended by the
joint preparatory committee regarding Filipino-American relations. With
this mission were: Hon. Antonio de las Alas, Secretary of Finance, Mr.
Benito Razon, Adviser of the President on matters of commerce and Dr.
Jose S. Reyes of the University of the Philippines as adviser. The
mission left Manila on the 17th of October in 1939, bringing with it the
Kocialskouski Law which amended the Tydings-McDuffie Law.
August 1941, on which he was nominated for the vice presidency of the
Philippine Commonwealth by the Nacionalista Party and got re-elected to
the vice-presidency of the Philippines on Nov. 11, 1941.
second World War took place in 1941 in which the Philippines got
involved, Osmeña was appointed by the president , as member of the war
cabinet and at the same time in charge of the Department of Public
Instruction and of Health.
In view of the
rapid advance of the Japanese groups to the capital, Manila was hereby
declared an open city and the commonwealth government had to evacuate to
Corregidor. Together with the President were the vice president and the
war cabinet which left Manila at two o’ clock in the afternoon of Dec.
24, 1941 on board the “Mayon” and arrived at the island fortress at
4:00 the same afternoon. There, at the island was at once established,
the central government. Thus established, the president and the
vice-president were inaugurated at the presence of the high commissioner
of the United States, Mr. Sayre and also Gen. Mac Arthur.
the Vice-president ordered the destruction of all paper money and had
all the gold reserves loaded in a submarine to be taken to the United
situation of the Corregidor became unbearable because of constant
bombing by the enemy, Pres. Quezon , vice-president Osmeña and the war
cabinet had to leave on board a submarine at 10:30 on the night of Feb.
20, 1942. On board a PT boat and then from Mindanao, they left for
Australia by plane arriving there on the 30th of March.
On April 19,
1942, the three of them again sailed for the US on board Pres. Coolidge
which was converted into a military transport arriving at San Francisco
on the 18th of May and then to Washington DC.
DC, due to the failing health of Pres. Quezon, vice-president Osmeña
had to assume the various functions of the President. He attended many
reunions of the council of war in the Pacific. On Sept. 15, 1943, Pres
Quezon appointed Osmeña as chairman of the Post-war Planning Board and
on Nov 9 of the same year, in the name of the Philippine government,
Osmeña signed the agreement with the US Relief and Rehabilitation
Administration at the White House.
Upon the death
of Pres Quezon on August 1, 1944 at Saranac Lake, New York, Vice
President Osmeña assumed the Presidency in Washington, DC, after having
been duly sworn in before Ho. Robert H. Jackson, Justice of the Supreme
Court of the United States.
Washington DC on the 3rd of Oct, 1944 for the Philippines and arrived at
New Guinea on the 7th of October, proceeding to Leyte on board a boat
arriving here on the 20th of October of the same year.
On Jan. 7,
1945, he had left Tacloban, Leyte for the United States and arrived in
Washington DC on the 14th of Jan., 1945.
By the 29th of
January 1945, he had to leave Washington DC bound for the Philippines,
arriving in Lingayen, Pangasinan on the third of Feb on the same year.
In Dagupan, Pangasinan, he was met by his wife and children. They
proceeded to Tarlac.
On the 27th of
Feb., he left for Manila from Tarlac to celebrate the re-establishment
of the commonwealth which was to take place the same day at the Malacañang.
marriage to Estefania Veloso, the following children were born: Vicente,
Micasio, Milagros, Teodoro, Jose, and Sergio, Jr.
And with his
second marriage to Esperanza Limjap, the following children were born:
Ramon, Rosalina, and Victor.
The grand old
man of Cebu departed for the great beyond on October 19, 1961 in Manila,
leaving a void in the hearts of his beloved Cebuanos and to the people
of the Philippines as a whole.