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Sergio Osmeña

Sergio Osmeña, Filipino statesman, founder of the Nationalista Party (Partido Nacionalista) and 4th president of the Philippines (1944 to 1946), was born in Cebu City on September 9, 1878. Before completing his law studies at the University of Santo Tomas in 1903, he served the Philippine Revolution of 1896 as a courier for its leader, Emilio Aguinaldo. He was married to the former Esperanza Limjap.

Osmeña was also a notable figure in the struggle for independence. He supported the struggle through peaceful means as editor of the Cebu's Spanish newspaper "El Nuevo Dia" (New Day), which he founded in 1890. In 1904 the U.S. colonial administration appointed him governor of the province of Cebu and fiscal (district attorney) for the provinces of Cebu and Negros Oriental. Two years later he was elected governor of Cebu.

In 1907 he was elected delegate to the Philippine National Assembly and consequently became speaker of the House of Representatives in 1916. Osmeña founded the Nationalista Party, which came to dominate Philippine political life. He remained leader of the Nationalistas until 1921, when he was succeeded by Manuel Quezon, who had joined him in a coalition.

Osmeña and Quezon championed independence on several missions to the United States. Their most serious dispute occurred over the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Independence Act of the U.S. Congress in 1933. Quezon differed with Osmeña over the bill's provision to retain U.S. military bases after independence.

Because Osmeña had negotiated its provisions in his absence, Quezon blocked its ratification in the Philippines. The bill was vetoed by the Philippine Assembly and Quezon obtained in its place the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934, with essentially identical provisions except that it made the Philippines a commonwealth with a large measure of independence.

Nevertheless, Osmeña, was elected vice president of the Commonwealth in 1935, with Quezon as president. He loyally followed President Quezon into wartime exile in Washington, D.C. in 1942. Osmeña became president when Quezon died on August 1, 1944, and returned to the Philippines with the party of Gen. Douglas MacArthur which landed in Leyte on October 20, 1944.

Osmeña served as president until the elections of April 23, 1946, when he was defeated by Manuel Roxas, who became the first president of the independent Republic of the Philippines. Osmeña refused to campaign for his re-election, saying that the people knew about his record of 40 years of honest and faithful service. Apparently, this was not good enough for the Filipino people. Having lost the election, he retired quietly to Cebu and died in Manila on October 19, 1961.

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