Sunday, April 26, 2009


Sergio Osmeña

Sergio Osmeña (September 9, 1878 – October 19, 1961) was the second President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. He was Vice President under Manuel L. Quezon, and rose to the presidency upon Quezon's death in 1944. He was a founder of Nacionalista Party.

Osmeña is the patriarch of the prominent Osmeña family, which includes his son (former Senator Sergio Osmeña, Jr.) and his grandsons (Senators Sergio Osmeña III and John Henry Osmeña), ex-Governor (Lito Osmeña and Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña). His great-grandson, Tomas's son Miguel, is a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. His great great grandson, Christian Osmena, is a student at the University of California, Berkeley.

Early life and career

Osmeña was born in Cebu to Juana Osmeña y Suico. Juana was only 14 years old when she gave birth to him. Owing to the circumstances of his birth, the identity of his father had been a closely guarded family secret. Though an illegitimate child — Juana never married his father — he didn't allow this aspect to affect his standing in society. The Osmeñas, a rich and prominent clan with vast business interests in Cebu, slowly warmed up to him as he established himself as a prominent figure in local society.

He took his elementary education in the University of San Carlos and graduated in 1892. Osmeña continued his education in Manila, studying in San Juan de Letran College where he first met Manuel L. Quezon, a classmate of his. He took up law at the University of Santo Tomas and was second place in the bar examination in 1903.

Osmeña served on the war staff of General Emilio Aguinaldo as a courier and journalist. In 1900, he founded the Cebu newspaper, El Nuevo Día which lasted for three years.

On April 10, 1901, he married Estefania Chiong Veloso, with whom he had six children, namely, Vicente, Edilberto, Nicasio, Milagros, Emilio, Teodoro, Jose, and Sergio, Jr. In 1920, two years after the death of his first wife, Osmeña married Esperanza Limjap, and had three more children, namely, Ramon, Rosalina, and Victor.

Early Political career

In 1904, the American colonial administration appointed him governor of Cebu. Two years later he was elected governor of Cebu. While governor, he ran for election to the first Philippine Assembly of 1907 and was elected Speaker of that body. Osmeña was only 29 and already the highest-ranking Filipino official.

He and another provincial politician, Manuel L. Quezon of Tayabas, set up the Nacionalista Party as a foil to the Partido Federalista of Manila-based politicians. The two would engage in a rivalry for political dominance ever since.

Osmeña was elected an assemblyman, in 1907, and remained a member of the lower house until 1922. He was the country's vice president for two consecutive terms under the Philippine Commonwealth.

He went to the US, in 1933, to secure passage of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Independence Bill which was superseded by the Tydings-McDuffie Act in March 1934.


Osmeña was elected as vice-president of the Commonwealth in 1935, with Quezon as president. He was re-elected in 1941. When the Commonwealth government relocated in the US in exile, Osmeña went with Quezon.


Osmeña became president of the Commonwealth on Quezon's death in 1944. He returned to the Philippines the same year with General Douglas MacArthur and the liberation forces. After the war, Osmeña restored the Commonwealth government and the various executive departments. He continued the fight for Philippine independence.

For the presidential election of 1946, Osmeña refused to campaign, saying that the Filipino people knew of his record of 40 years of honest and faithful service. Nevertheless, he was defeated by Manuel Roxas, who won 54 percent of the vote and became the first president of the independent Republic of the Philippines.

War Cabinet 1944-45

On August 8, 1944, President Osmeña issued Executive Order 15-W reorganizing and consolidating the Executive Departments of the Commonwealth government. The reorganization of the government after it was reestablished on Philippine soil was undertaken with Executive Order No. 27, February 27, 1945.

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