The Grand Old Man of Cebu, Sergio Osmeña, was born on
September 9, 1878. Fondly called Serging, he finished his secondary
course in the Seminary College of San Carlos where he obtained
sobresaliente in practically all his subjects. He then went to Manila
and studied at Letran, where he first met Manuel Quezon.
His law studies at the University of Santo Tomas were
interrupted by the armed conflicts between Spain and America. However,
when peace was restored the students were allowed by the Supreme Court
to take the bar examinations of 1903. Osmeña's 95.66% average
placed him on the second spot.
With the advent of the Revolution against Spain,
Osmeña, with the financial backing of his father-in-law, put up
a Spanish newspaper, El Nuevo Dia, in Cebu City to promote nationalism.
His friends Rafael Palma and Jaime de Veyra helped him edit the
Osmeña was ushered into politics at the early age of 25
when in 1904 Governor General Wright appointed him Acting Provincial
Governor of the province of Cebu for the duration of Governor Juan
Climaco's absence. Upon the governor's return, Osmeña was
appointed Provincial Fiscal (district attorney) for the province of
Cebu and later, of Negros Oriental.
Two years later he was elected governor of Cebu. In 1907 he
was elected delegate to the first Philippine National Assembly and
became its speaker, making him the highest Filipino official in the
Philippine Government. He was speaker of the National Assembly for 15
Osmeña founded the Partido Nacionalista Collectivista
in 1922. For reasons of political necessity, Osmeña and Quezon
agreed on a coalition under the name “Partido Nacionalista
Consolidado”, which was formalized on August 11, 1923 Osmeña
willingly subordinated his political ambition to the interests of the
party for the greater welfare of the nation.
Osmeña headed several missions to the United States to
argue for Philippine independence. In 1933 he went to Washington, D.C.
and secured passage of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting independence bill, but
Quezon had the law rejected by the Philippine legislature due to the
provision to retain US military bases after independence. Quezon then
left for the United States and secured the approval of the
Tydings-McDuffie Law, which was practically a reenactment of the
With Quezon as president, Osmeña was elected
vice-president; they were inaugurated on November 15, 1935. Re-elected
in 1941, he remained vice president during the Japanese occupation when
the government was in exile. In an act of self-abnegation Osmeña
agreed to the extension of Quezon's term for the duration of the war,
as provided for in a US congressional resolution.
On the death of President Manuel Quezon in 1943, Osmeña
succeeded to the presidency and took his oath of office on the same day
before Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson of the United States Supreme
Court. As the new head of the Philippine Commonwealth-in-exile,
Osmeña was invited to be with Gen. MacArthur during the landing
When the liberation campaign came to an end, specially after
the unconditional surrender of Japan, Osmeña faced a formidable
job of reconstruction with all the energy, wisdom and dedication of
which he was capable.
Osmeña was defeated by Manuel Roxas in the elections
held on April 23, 1946.When he was convinced of the results of the
elections, he willingly conceded defeat and with his characteristic
sportsmanship and unalloyed devotion to democratic processes,
accompanied the new President-elect to the Luneta for the inaugural
ceremonies shortly before noon on May 28, 1946.
Osmeña then retired to his home in Cebu, where he spent
the remaining years of his life until his death on October 19, 1961.
Surviving him were his children by his first wife, Estefania Chiong
Veloso and by his second wife, Esperanza Limjap, whom he married in
1920 after the death of the first.