Posted on Wednesday, 9th September 2009 by All Philippines

Sergio Osmeña Sr.

Today, September 9, is the birthday of the 2nd President of the Philippine Commonwealth and the 3rd President of the Philippines, former President Sergio Osmeña.

Sergio Osmeña was born on September 9, 1878 in Cebu to Juana Suico Osmeña. Juana was part of the rich Osmeña clan that owns businesses and lands in Cebu. She gave birth to Sergio when she was only 14. The identity of Sergio’s father was never revealed by Juana or any member of the Osmeña’s at that time, probably to avoid the scandal that they might have faced in the eyes of the Spanish era Cebu society.

Even though Sergio was an illegitimate child, in an old Philippine society where being born illegitimate was considered a sin and a curse, this hindrance did not stop him from pursuing his dreams and aspirations. He finished his elementary education in the University of San Carlos in Cebu (the oldest school established in the Philippines) graduating in 1892. He then travelled to Manila to continue his education enrolling in Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he got acquainted with another future prominent Philippine icon, President Manuel Luis Quezon. After finishing his secondary education in Letran, Sergio pursued a law degree in University of Santo Tomas and eventually placing 2nd overall in the 1903 bar examination.

Young Sergio Osmeña also served under revolutionary General and former President Emilio Aguinaldo during the Philippine-American War as a war staff. During this time, he created and founded the Cebu-based propaganda newspaper, El Nuevo Dia, but it only lasted for three years. He married his first wife Estefania Chiong Veloso, on April 10, 1901. In 1918, Estefania died and Sergio re-married again, this time to Esperanza Limjap, their marriage was held two years after Estefania’s death, in 1920.

Sergio Osmeña was first thrust in the political limelight when he was appointed by the colonial American administration as governor of Cebu in 1904. Two years after his appointment, a local election was held and he retained his Cebu gubernatorial seat winning with a landslide vote. He pursued and won a legislative post in the first Philippine Assembly election in 1907 and was voted as its Speaker. He continued to be a part of the Philippine Assembly until 1922. In 1933 he went to the United States to represent the Philippines in the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act, the first law that was passed in the United States which aims to end the American colony in the Philippines. In the first national Philippine presidential election in 1935, Sergio was elected vice-president of the Philippine Commonwealth and his long-time friend and Nacionalista party mate, Manuel Luis Quezon, as president. In the 1941 Philippine presidential election, both Osmeña and Quezon retained the vice-presidential and presidential seat respectively.

During the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines in World War II, the Philippine Commonwealth administration was evacuated by the allied forces and transferred its base of operations in the U.S. mainland. With this development, Sergio Osmeña accompanied Manuel Quezon to the United States and established a Philippine Commonwealth government-in-exile. Sergio was promoted to the presidency when Manuel Quezon succumbed to tuberculosis and died in the U.S. in 1944.
Together with General Douglas MacArthur and the liberating allied forces, President Sergio Osmeña returned to the Philippines landing on the Leyte shore, on October 20, 1944. After securing the premises of Japanese forces, General MacArthur transferred the Philippine power of authority to President Osmeña.

After the war, with the re-establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth back in its homeland, the last Philippine Commonwealth election was held on April 23, 1946. President Osmeña run for re-election but lost to incumbent Senate president Manuel Roxas.

Sergio Osmeña lived a quiet life after his defeat to President Roxas, eventually settling down in his hometown of Cebu. He died of cancer and liver failure on October 19, 1961 at the age of 83. Both Sergio and his wife Esperanza, who died in 1978, are permanently entombed in the historical Manila North Cemetery.

Sergio Osmeña is the scion of the prominent Osmeña political clan of Cebu. His son Sergio Osmeña Jr. was a former Philippine senator. Grandsons Sergio Osmeña III and John Henry Osmeña were also former members of the Philippine senate. He is also the grandfather of ex-Cebu governor and former Presidential aspirant Lito Osmeña and the current mayor of the city of Cebu, Tomas Osmeña.


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Posted in Philippine History, Philippine Icons | Comments (3)

3 Responses to “President Sergio Osmeña Sr.”

  1. AnnaHopn Says:

    Where are you from? Is it a secret? :)
    Have a nice day

  2. Bayani Santos Jr. Says:

    After Sergio Osmena, Sr., why has not one Cebuano politico equalled Osmena Sr., as a nationally-respected statesman?

    My grandmother has repeatedly extolled the nobility of this great Cebuano Filipino, recalling to us how he refused to campaign, confident that Filipinos were aware of his contributions.

    Asked if he could work for “backpay” of Filipino veterans, he gave his honest reply: ‘I cannot give you the moon.”

    Asked if he would pursue the Japanese government’s promotion of the national language after the Japanese occupation, he said: “No backward step shall be taken with regard to the national language.”

    Not one Cebuano politician of the present has gained such national esteem and respect as this elder statesman.

    Most of Cebuano politicos we have today are not only a shame to this country, but more so to this Province that gave us President Osmena and Lapu Lapu.

  3. Bayani Santos Jr. Says:

    Dear Ms AnnaHopn:

    No secrets for me. I am a professor of English, Spanish, Filipino, and Journalism at the Manuel L. Quezon University, Manila. You may reach me at my wireless number 0063(2) 7829537. My email address is

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