Above: the Official Gazette’s banner commemorating the birth anniversary of President Osmeña, fittingly catching him in a truly notable act: casting his ballot in the first postwar presidential election, one in which the first turnover of power from one party to another would take place.
Above: President Osmeña’s official portrait, by Fernando Amorsolo. Below: in the Presidential Museum and Library website you can read the biographical details of the President’s life and career, and see his cabinet appointments and other information.
I. Speaker and Senate President Pro Tempore
Patricio Abinales, in an an essay from 2000, points out that Osmeña’s generation created the Philippines as we know it today, as both a political entity, and one with its own traditions and characteristics of politics and public opinion:
Below: Osmeña as first Speaker of the First Philippine Assembly. His election marked a shift in generational leadership away from the veterans of the Malolos Republic. Among the effects of this shift: the decision not to adopt the rules of procedure of the Spanish Cortes, and instead, those of the United States Congress, marking the end of an evolution towards European and instead, the adoption of American institutions.
The Philippines Free Press has a contemporary account of the inaugural session of the First Philippine Assembly.
From 1907 to 1922, Osmeña was the paramount leader; thereafter, the Nacionalista Party would split twice on the question of leadership. In 1933, the Party split once more, and the issues and personalities of the time were chronicled by the Free Press:
For the 1935 elections, however, Osmeña moved for a coalition between the two wings of the party, making for a formidable team.
Below: the start of autonomy, November 14, 1935. Frank Murphy takes his oath as first American High Commissioner, setting the stage for the inauguration of the Commonwealth the next day.
Vice-President Osmeña served as the first Filipino Secretary of Public Instruction (today’s Department of Education). Prior to 1935, the position had been reserved for the Vice-Governor General, always an American.
As Vice-President, he played an important role and this contemporary account in the Free Press looks into some of the issues and problems he was called upon to help address:
Above: (original caption) After 1946 U.S. under no obligation to defend Philippines, Senate Committee told. Washington, D.C., Feb. 21. When independence is granted the Philippines in 1946 the United States will be absolved from defending the islands from foreign aggression, general Charles Burnett, Chief of the War Department Bureau of Insular Affairs, told the Senate Territories and Insular Affairs Committee today. As Philippine Vice President Sergio Osmena, right, and his two aides, Benito Razon and Camilo Osias listen intently Gen. Burnett stated “the policy of the War Department is to get out of the Philippines after independence,” 2-21-39
Above: (original caption) Delay in Philippine liberty seen in arrival here of Vice President. Washington, D.C., Nov. 17. Serious consideration by the Administration of delaying the date of Independence for the Philippines was indicted today when Vice President Sergio Osmena arrived here with members of a Special Economic Commission. The Commission will confer with President Roosevelt and other government officials during their stay. Here we see J.M. Elizalde, left, Resident Philippine Commissioner, and John W. Hausserman, right, Philippine Gold King, greeting the Vice President on his arrival 2-21-39
Below: the outcome of the 1939 Joint Preparatory Committee on Philippine Independence:
Below: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes congratulates President Osmeña after he took his oath of office, August 1, 1944.
Below: President Osmeña with his War Cabinet: Front row; left to right: Jaime Hernandez, Secretary of Finance; President Sergio Osmeña; Colonel Carlos P. Romulo, Resident Commissioner and Secretary of Information. Back row, left to right: Colonel Mariano A. Eraña, Judge Advocate General of the Army of the Philippines in charge of the Department of Justice, Labor, and Welfare; Dr. Arturo B. Rotor, Secretary to the President; [Col. Manuel Nieto, Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce]; Ismael Mathay, Budget and Finance Commissioner; Colonel Alejandro Melchor, Under Secretary of National Defense representing General Basilio Valdes, the Secretary of National Defense
Below: President Osmeña’s inaugural address, unique in that, heading a government-in-exile, it was primarily addressed to his Cabinet, and more than a week after he succeeded into office.
The grim ceremony in Malacañan Palace where the Commonweath government was restored, February, 1945.
President Osmeña convenes his first regular Cabinet, February 1945, in the Council of State Room in the Executive Building. In this room, the other two presidents who also succeeded into office -Elpidio Quirino and Carlos P. Garcia- would take their oaths of office in 1948 and 1957.
President and Mrs. Osmeña outside the Executive Office Building (now Kalayaan Hall). The devastation of World War II led many officials to adopt military khaki as the only affordable alternative.
The difficulties of the Japanese Occupation and the postwar situation were spelled out by President Osmeña in his State of the Nation Address for 1945:
Below: President and Mrs. Osmeña and one of their daughters stroll along the Pasig Riverbank; behind them is the San Miguel Brewery, now the New Executive Building.
The dire straits of the government are spelled out in the 1945 Budget Message to Congress:
Below: the famous Free Press cover cartoon of the first postwar election:
Teodoro M. Locsin’s powerful essay on the political and personal virtues of President Osmeña.
In May, 1946, President Osmeña departs Malacañan Palace, accompanied by President-Elect Manuel Roxas, the first handover of power from one party to another; to symbolize the constitutional and peaceful transition, Osmeña attended his successor’s inaugural; this would not happen again until 1992, when President Corazon C. Aquino attended her successor’s inaugural, also to symbolize the importance of the first constitutional handover of power since 1965.
IV. Elder Statesman: and other readings