Advanced happy birthday to the late Great Old Man of Cebu and the country’s fourth president under the Commonwealth government! Next week, we’ll be celebrating the birth of Sergio Osmeña, one of the country’s former presidents and a fellow Cebuano. Let’s get to know a local who played a vital role in national history.
He was definitely a man that Cebu could be proud of. His stellar track record included being the founder of the Nacionalista Party, was Vice President to former President Manuel L. Quezon, and took over the presidency after Quezon’s untimely death in 1944. That’s not the only history he shared with Quezon. They also went to school together in high school in Manila, studying in San Juan de Letran College, and later went to the same university, University of Santo Tomas, where they studied law. They both placed in the top 10 passers in the bar examinations in 1903, Quezon in 4th and Osmeña in 2nd.
Prior to that, he was also a courier and a journalist under General Emilio Aguinaldo. He went on to found a short-lived newspaper, El Nuevo Día. A year after he passed his bar exams (and ranked among the top!), he became the youngest governor of Cebu at just 25. Initially he was appointed and in the elections two years later, won and remained to continue serving the province as governor.
Although he was entitled to having his own security team as do all former presidents, he turned down the privilege, preferring to live out a simple life.
Sergio Osmeña Was An Illegitimate Child
Despite his achievements, his past began with mystery and scandal. He was born on the 9th of September to his unwed mother in 1878. It was never confirmed who his father was but it’s believed to be Don Pedro Lee Gotiaoco, a leader in the Chinese community and the ancestor of several prominent Chinese families whose names are well known in society today as founders of several conglomerates - Gokongwei, the name behind JG Summit Holdings; Sy-Gaisano, known more for their several lines of shopping malls; Gotianuy, owners of the University of Cebu; and the Gotianun, founders of Filinvest and Eastwest bank.
Business tycoon, John L. Gokongwei, Jr. said he could not confirm if in fact his family shares relations with the late president but admitted he has seen documents that prove that his great-grandfather had financed Osmeña’s education. Osmeña’s life may not have begun ideally but as we study his life, we see a man of resilience who never let society and his family’s past get in the way of his success.
Photo credits: Wikipedia