Sergio Osmeña Sr.

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To read this article in Filipino, see Sergio Osmeña.

Sergio Suico Osmeña (9 September 1878 – 19 October 1961) was a politician who served as the fourth president of the Philippines and the second president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, holding office from 1944 to 1946. He was vice president under President Manuel L. Quezon for two consecutive terms, and rose to the presidency upon Quezon's death in 1944. He was a founder of the Nacionalista Party.

Osmeña was the patriarch of the prominent Osmeña family of Cebu, which includes his son Sergio Osmeña Jr. (former senator) and grandsons Sergio Osmeña III (former senator), John Osmeña (former senator), Lito Osmeña (former Cebu governor), and Tomas Osmeña (former Cebu City mayor).

Early Life and Education

A Chinese-mestizo, Sergio Suico Osmeña was born on September 9, 1878 in Cebu to Juana Osmeña y Suico, who was 14 years old when she gave birth to him. His father, to whom his mother was not married, is often referred to using only the surname Sanson, his identity having been kept secret within the family. Osmeña received his elementary education at the University of San Carlos and graduated in 1892. He continued his education in Manila, studying at Colegio de San Juan de Letran, where he first met Manuel L. Quezon, a classmate of his. He took up law at the University of Santo Tomas and was second place in the bar examination in 1903.


Osmeña served on the war staff of General Emilio Aguinaldo as a courier and journalist. In 1900, he founded the Cebu newspaper El Nuevo Día, which lasted three years.

Osmeña practiced law and worked as a newspaper editor before involving himself in local politics, starting out as a councillor.

In 1904, the American colonial administration appointed him governor of Cebu. Two years later he was elected governor of Cebu. While governor, he ran for election to the first Philippine Assembly of 1907 and was elected speaker of that body. Osmeña was only 29 and already the highest-ranking Filipino official.

He and another provincial politician, Manuel L. Quezon of Tayabas, set up the Nacionalista Party as a foil to the Partido Federalista of Manila-based politicians. The two would engage in a rivalry for political dominance ever since.

Osmeña was elected an assemblyman in 1907, and remained a member of the lower house until 1922. He was the country's vice president for two consecutive terms during the Commonwealth of the Philippines.

He, along with Manuel Roxas, went to the US in 1933 to secure the passage of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Independence Bill, which was superseded by the Tydings-McDuffie Act in March 1934.

Osmeña was elected vice-president of the Commonwealth in 1935, with Quezon as president. They were inaugurated on November 15, 1935. They were reelected in 1941.  When the Commonwealth government relocated to the US in exile, Osmeña went with Quezon.


Osmeña became president of the Commonwealth on Quezon's death in 1944 and was sworn in by Associate Justice Robert Jackson in Washington, D.C He returned to the Philippines the same year with General Douglas MacArthur and the liberation forces. After the war, Osmeña restored the Commonwealth government and the various executive departments. He continued the fight for Philippine independence.

In the presidential election of 1946, Osmeña refused to campaign, saying that the Filipino people knew of his record of 40 years of honest and faithful service. Nevertheless, he was defeated by Manuel Roxas, who won 54 percent of the vote and became the first president of the independent Republic of the Philippines.

War Cabinet 1944-45

On August 8, 1944, President Osmeña issued Executive Order 15-W reorganizing and consolidating the executive departments of the Commonwealth government. The reorganization of the government after it was reestablished on Philippine soil was undertaken with Executive Order No. 27 February 27, 1945.

Cabinet and Judicial Appointments 1945-46

Executive Order No. 27, February 27, 1945 was issued upon the restoration of civilian authority to the government of the Commonwealth, and members of the new cabinet appointed on March 8, 1945. Subsequent renaming and mergers of departments have separate listings.


After his defeat in the election, Osmeña retired to his home in Cebu. He died at the age of 83 on October 19, 1961 at the Veteran's Memorial Hospital in Quezon City. He is buried in the Manila North Cemetery.


  • “Sergio Osmeña”. Encyclopedia Britannica. July 11, 2020
  • “Sergio Osmeña”. Malacañan Palace Presidential Museum & Library



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