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Sergio Osmena, Sr.

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 four-page daily.

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 years.

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 rejected measure.

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 at Leyte.

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.