9 Facts You Need to Know about President Sergio Osmeña

The 9th of September, since 1990, has been a day dedicated to the fourth President of the Philippines, Sergio Osmeña Sr. 

President Osmeña is one of our underrated Founding Fathers. His popularity and part in Philippine Politics have been overshadowed by more charismatic personalities.

There's more about Sergio Osmeña Sr. that's part of our History. To celebrate Osmeña Day, we came up with some interesting things about him.

Here are 9 facts that you probably didn't know about him. 

1. He was born illegitimate

Sergio Osmeña's mother, Juana, came from a wealthy Cebuano family with Chinese heritage. Don Sergio's grandfather was Severino Osmeña who owned vast tracts of land and was a prominent merchant in Cebu's Parian district. Don Severino's second marriage to Paula Suico produced two daughters, Juana and Filomena. When he died, his second family did not sufficiently inherit from his wealth. Thus, Doña Paula ran a gambling house catering to the wealthy Cebuanos. This is where Don Sergio was raised by his mother. 

The identity of his father is a well-kept secret. Born in 1878, the circumstances of his birth could have marked him for life. Coming from a supportive family, he was able to succeed and his legacy continues up to this day. 

2. Estudyante Blues

His student life started in Colegio de San Carlos in Cebu. He then transferred to Manila and went first to Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he met his lifelong friend and political adversary, Manuel Luis Quezon. He was also friends with Vicente Madrigal, Juan Sumulong, and Emilio Jacinto (Andres Bonifacio's trusted advisor in the Katipunan). Osmeña also attended the University of Santo Tomas for his Law degree.

3. The English Teacher

Sergio Osmeña was taught English by Josephine Bracken.

After joining the staff of General Emilio Aguinaldo during the Philippine-American War, he returned to Cebu. At this time, Josephine Bracken, Jose Rizal's paramour, was living in Cebu and married to a Cebuano, Vicente Abad who owned the Abad Bicycle Store. Bracken was giving English and German lessons in her residence. 

4. Life in Cebu

For most of his life, Osmeña spent years living in Manila and traveling to the United States of America. But as the first President who hailed from the Visayas particularly Cebu, his heart and soul was forever etched in Sugbo. 

Osmeña's first foray in Public Service was being appointed Acting Governor of Cebu, and then Provincial Fiscal. In 1906, he was elected Cebu Governor. He also founded the newspaper, El Nuevo Dia in 1900.

5. National Politics

Osmeña, Manuel Quezon, and Rafael Palma established the Partido Nacionalista in 1907; It has become the oldest political party in the Philippines. He was elected by the National Assembly as its First Speaker in 1907.

He was elected to the Senate in 1922. He became Quezon's Vice President during the 1935 Commonwealth election. He served as Vice President until 1944. 

6. His Excellency the President

Osmeña became a Wartime President upon the death of Quezon during their exile in the U.S.A. He joined Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the Leyte Landing which saw the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese Forces. 

In his two years as president, he didn't have a Vice President to serve with him. 

He, unfortunately, lost his only bid for the Presidency against Manuel Roxas.

7. Friends and Rivals

As described by his contemporaries, President Osmeña was level-headed. He could even calm down the highly-charged Quezon. 

Born in the same year (1878), and even went to the same schools, Osmeña and Quezon were always pitted against each other but they were longstanding friends. Politically, they eventually agreed on an impasse in the 1930s during the Commonwealth era. 

An older Quezon and Osmeña

His eulogy for Quezon showed how much he respected him, "To the Filipinos, President Quezon's demise is a severe blow...His death will be taken in the Philippines as another terrible ordeal visited upon a nation already so sorely tried by a brutal invasion, and only Filipino courage and fortitude can blunt the poignant sorrow of so irreparable a loss."

Another political ally who became a rival was Manuel Roxas. The OsRox Mission which brought home the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Independence Bill was spearheaded by Osmeña and Roxas. 

Triumphant return of the OsRox Mission

Months before the 1946 elections, Roxas and other party members left the Nacionalistas to start their own which was the Liberal Party. Osmeña refused to campaign stating that his decades-long public service should serve as a statement of his remarkable commitment to the country. Roxas won and became the last Commonwealth President and the first President of the Third Republic. 

8. Family Life

Sergio Osmeña was married twice and had a total of 13 children. 

He was first married in 1901 to Estefania Chiong Veloso. Together, they had 10 children. Sadly, Estefania died in 1918.

His second marriage was in 1920 to Esperanza Limjap and they had 3 children. 

9. The Osmeña Legacy

Every time you open your wallet and take out a fifty peso bill, the image of Sergio Osmeña stares at you. A statue at the National Museum of the Philippines (the former Legislative Building) honors his Senate and Congressional stint. 

In his hometown of Cebu, the Fuente Osmeña rotunda and the Osmeña Presidential Museum on Jones Avenue are a constant reminder of his presence.

His children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren continue to dominate Cebuano Politics. Even a socialite granddaughter, Minnie, notoriously added to the Osmeña legacy due to a confrontation with a wife of a former Indonesian President.

President Sergio Osmeña died on October 19, 1961, at the Veterans Memorial Hospital and was buried in the Manila North Cemetery. 


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Mike Bannister said…
great info and truly not widely known. Great work
Elisha said…
Mas nakilala ko sya ngayon, Dapat ganito ang laman ng mga local politics news eh. Mas positibo ang mas nakakaenganya basahin.