Dionisio Abella Jakosalem (8 May 1878 – 1 July 1931) was a lawyer and a governor of Cebu. He was the first Filipino to become a member of the official cabinet during the American regime. He was also part of the first Philippine Independence Mission which was sent to the United States under the leadership of former president Manuel L. Quezon.
Early Life and Education
Jakosalem was born in Dumanjug, Cebu to Alfonso Jakosalem and Apolonia Abella. He gained his early education from the town’s school and went to Cebu to enroll in the College of San Carlos, where he studied from 1889 to 1894. In the same college, he became a classmate of Sergio Osmeña. Then he was sent to Manila to study in the University of Santo Tomas where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1894 and his degree in Bachelor of Laws after.
As Governor of Cebu
Jakosalem began his career in public service in 1900 as the municipal secretary of Dumanjug. In 1903, he was appointed justice of the peace in Cebu, a post he held only for a year as he was elected to the municipal council in 1904.
Jakosalem’s former classmate, Sergio Osmeña, who was already governor of Cebu, encouraged him to pursue a political career. In 1906, Jakosalem thus ran for the position of provincial board member and was elected. However, when Osmeña was elected to the Philippine Assembly in 1907, he was appointed to continue the former governor’s term. In November 1907, he ran for governorship of the province under the Nacionalista party and won. He was reelected to the same position in 1909. In 1910, provincial governors elected him as president of their federation.
As governor, Jakosalem was responsible for many of the province’s infrastructural improvements. He supervised the building public structures and roads which connected the southern and northern parts of the province. His term of office expired in October 1912 but he was appointed on 1 February 1913 as acting provincial fiscal. He held the said post for only a year.
As Cabinet Secretary
On 18 January 1917, Jakosalem was appointed secretary of commerce and communications by Gov. Gen. Francis. B. Harrison. He therefore became the first Filipino cabinet member during the American regime.
As secretary of commerce and communications, Jakosalem managed to prevent a rice crisis brought about by World War I by preventing profiteers from taking advantage of the situation. In 1919, he was sent to the United States as a member of the first Philippine Independence mission under the presidency of Manuel L. Quezon.
During his term as cabinet secretary, Jakosalem supported the following advocacies:
- adoption of a definite national water policy
- an insurance fund for workers
- general road construction program
- passage of a law regulating strikes and lockouts
- creation of a board of conciliation and arbitration
- fixing of work hours in all industries, shops, and factories
Family and Personal Life
Jakosalem married Generosa Teves, a niece of siblings Benigna Cui and Pedro Cui who founded the Hospicio de San José de Barili. The union produced four children, namely: Salud, Silvano, Maria, Fernando and Epifania.
After his retirement from public service, Jakosalem practiced law in Cebu. Among the prominent Cebuano personalites became his apprentices were Sotero Cabahug, Manuel Briones, and Paulino Gullas. He also taught in the Visayan Institute where he later became dean of the college of law.
Jakosalem was a musician who played the violin and appeared in public performances. He was a chess master, a marksman, and a billiards aficionado. He was also a theosophist and was a member of the Rosicrucian Order of America.
Jakosalem served faithfully as administrator of the Hospicio de San José de Barili until his death in 1931. He died of blood poisoning from pyorrhoea at the age of fifty-three.
- Manuel, E. Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biography, Volume 1. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955.
- “Dionisio A. Jakosalem.” National Historical Institute. (Accessed 26 January 2010).