Today, September 9, marks the 137th birth anniversary of Sergio Osmeña, President of the Commonwealth, political patriarch of Cebu, and one of the greatest Filipino nationalists. The Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planing Office (PCDSPO) commemorate his life by publishing online excerpts of the Sergio Osmeña Memorial Lectures series contained in Sergio Osmeña: The Enduring Legacy, published by the Cebu Newspaper Workers Foundation (CENEWOF). To learn more about Don Sergio, the fourth President of the Philippines and the second President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, visit his official profile here on the Presidential Museum and Library—which includes a short biography, information about his Cabinet, and election results.


Sergio Osmeña: The Enduring Legacy, edited by Resil B. Mojares, collects lectures presented at the annual Sergio Osmeña Memorial Lectures that the Cebu Newspaper Workers Foundation (CENEWOF) has sponsored in Cebu City since 1981. CENEWOF has graciously allowed the publication of the following speeches and lectures on President Osmeña, on the Presidential Museum and Library website:

The First Gentleman of the Philippines,” by Carlos P. Romulo.

Quezon was, as we all remember, a meteor in Philippine skies, tracing a fiery path to its extinction; Osmeña, on the other hand, was a steady light. Where one was flashy and mercurial, the other was unassuming and patient. Both knew their people well, but each took different themes of the Filipino character with which to present his case. Where Quezon was always playing to the audience, grandstanding, putting on a display of precocity and endearing himself to a public that demanded to be entertained by the political circus, Osmeña maintained the image of the sage-leader, the figure of the father and elder, speaking softly, and if necessary removing himself from the limelight to stand in the shadows, in order to preserve unity and prevent the splitting up of the party into ineffective factions… The Filipino public looks kindly at such quiet heroes as Osmeña, but quickly forgets them. For this reason we owe a debt to this man, for history is bound to give him his just due.

Don Sergio Osmeña Sr.: People’s Educator and Mentor,” by Sotero H. Laurel.

At the heart of Don Sergio’s philosophy of education was the moral regeneration of the people to be achieved and realized by teachers who would inculcate in our youth the virtues of honesty, honor and self-respect, the habits of toil, industry, and perseverance, the attributes of loyalty, respect for elders, self-reliance, initiative and imagination, and, not least, a hierarchy of values that would place honor above gold, and country above self.

Sergio Osmeña: Statesman and Public Servant,” by Arturo M. Tolentino.

In the different stages of the life of every nation, great men are born, not for their generation alone, but for all times, to serve as guiding inspirations for future generations. Their lives become living fountains of eternal truth and undying lessons for those who would care to pause and drink of their refreshing waters. In the course of time, they may be forgotten as mortal individuals, but the ideals and the things they stood for and represented in life will survive and remain with deathless freshness in the memory of their people. To the Filipinos, such a man is Sergio Osmeña, beloved Don Sergio, later in life known as the Grand Old Man of Cebu.

A Tribute to a Rare Brand of Leadership,” by Jovito R. Salonga.

This man’s greatest achievement was not so much in helping attain the dream of Philippine political or economic independence as in providing the country with an enduring example of the ideal kind of leadership that our country needs today—a leadership characterized by selfless love for country, a total commitment to the people’s welfare by placing the people’s interests above his personal political ambitions, and a quiet dignity and grace which his contemporaries must have interpreted as a lack of “fire in his belly.”

Imperatives of a Moral Government: The Osmeña Legacy,” by Marcelo B. Fernan.

As we pursue today the tasks of building the edifice of a new nation, it is fitting that we take to heart the very message of President Osmeña’s legacy to the nation—a legacy of imperatives for good government; a government aware and able to fulfill its moral responsibilities of securing and preserving national freedom, human dignity, social justice and popular welfare; sustaining the integrity of our democratic institutions so that the Filipino will ever be the master of his own destiny; and imbued with a firm vision of leadership that refuses to shirk before the challenges of moral and ethical incorruptibility, statesmanship, competent stewardship of the nation’s affairs, and the supreme sacrifice of self in service to the nation and our people.

Osmeña’s is the Only Authentic Independence Declaration,” by Vicente Albano Pacis.

On June 19, 1908, as the legislative session that had begun with the inauguration of the Philippine Assembly on October 16, 1907, was closing, Speaker Osmeña stood inspired at the rostrum of the Assembly’s session hall in the Ayuntamiento in Intramuros, and delivered an address that concluded with the Filipinos’ only constitutional, democratic, and authentic Declaration of Independence. This Declaration was, in many respects, more timely and more meaningful—and certainly more fruitful than the previous nationalist declarations made by the ill-fated Andres Bonifacio and General Aguinaldo. It was the only one that had a democratic and constitutional basis, like the Declaration of Thomas Jefferson, and the only one that directly resulted in permanent national independence, like that of Jefferson.


President Osmeña’s only State of the Nation Address, June 9, 1945:

So I say to every Filipino and to all other elements in our state, that the die is cast. Our course is straight and inflexible. We are going forward to the achievement of our national aspiration. […] Let us get together in one mighty effort. Let us set aside selfish considerations and forget petty differences. Only in unity can there be strength. To the experienced, I turn for advice. From the youth of the land, I ask for its enthusiasm and energies. My faith in our people is unbounded. Over the ruins of our cities and barrios we shall build anew. In this most crucial hour of our history, I look forward to our destiny unafraid, confident that, God willing, ours will be a happy, progressive and prosperous land.

Acceptance speech delivered at the Nacionalista Party convention, 1946:

On the eve of independence we are called upon to lift a country of 18,000,000 people from the misery of a cruel war. Our towns are wrecked, our fields devastated, and thousands of citizens have been killed. We must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and minister to the sick. We must attend to the widows and orphans of our martyrs of freedom. Our highways must be repaired, homes and farms rebuilt, industries rehabilitated, and opportunities for decent existence created. Above all the Nationalist Party must help restore to our people a vigorous faith in their future, and give them the assurance of a better life for all democratic institutions depend upon an enlightened citizenry.

Emphasis, however, shall be shifted from purely academic instruction to vocational and technical training. Our progress of industrialization and scientific agriculture calls for more and more Filipinos with this kind of training.

We should always be grateful for the works of our Army, our guerrillas, our volunteer guards, our bolo battalions, and all the other components of our resistance movement. I have made representations to the Government of the United States. for the redemption of guerrilla notes which were issued under proper authority. I shall work for the grant of pensions and other benefits to veterans.

The cornerstone of our foreign policy will be the maintenance of friendly relations with the United States. We are bound to her by the strong ties of gratitude and of mutual sacrifice for common ideals. It will be our sacred duty to preserve the principles of individual freedom, government of laws, and progressive democracy which make up our priceless heritage from our long and fruitful association with America.

Fellow Nationalists, I accept your nomination in all humility. Under the victorious banner of our Party, we march onward once more toward the final goal of independence, in search of national fulfillment within the framework of a happier humanity.

Speech delivered for the 1946 Presidential Campaign. President Osmeña delivered the following speech at Plaza Miranda for the 1946 presidential campaign. Learn more about Plaza Miranda as the country’s foremost public, political square.

If the campaign has been a bitter one, it was not I who made it so. I have added no fuel to the fires of facetiousness. I have tried to set an example of silent, uncomplaining, unremitting work. And for that reason there have been those who said I was bed-ridden, ill, too weak even to talk!

I must admit that certain things have truly sickened my heart – the appalling havoc wrought by the enemy in our cities and towns, the devastation of our countryside, the death of so many of our best men in the resistance movement, the loss of our late beloved President Quezon. There was also the sorrow of the unexpected division among our people at this time when unity was so desperately needed.

And so I am here before you, to see me, to listen to me. Probably my hair is grayer than it was a year ago, but I assure you that this was not because of worry about the elections, but rather because of my grave responsibilities and preoccupations concerning our country, so rashly imperiled by the big ambitions of small men.

I have not come to you to promise you the moon… It would be dishonest for me to vie with those who have promised you more than any man, even the chief executive of a country, could not carry out. It would be childish of you to believe me if I made such false and empty promises.

I promise this, and also that we shall remain friends and allies of America – that great and most enlightened nation of all time, to which we owe our liberties, our very lives.

I promise to stand by the Common Man of the land, to dedicate my energies to the betterment of his lot, so that he may enjoy that other freedom the late great President Roosevelt called the freedom from want.

I call on every citizen to think straight and to realize what his vote will mean, both here and abroad.

Published in “Philippine Parties and Politics: A Historical Study of National Experience in Democracy” by Dapen Liang, Ph. D.