‘Schizo’ destiny-A A +A
Saturday, September 7, 2013
FEW things are harder to put up with than annoyance of good example.” Mark Twain’s remark is apt for September 9. That’d be 135h birthday of Sergio Osmeña. As 4th Philippine president, he led a war-shattered country into a new republic..
President Osmeña once prohibited Sergio Jr. from accepting honoraria for lecturing at UP. Did his grandson inherit that "delicadeza"?
As Cebu mayor, Tomas turned a blind eye to 183 summary executions by faceless vigilantes. UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston slammed the salvaging. So, did Cardinal Ricardo Vidal.
A spineless regional Ombudsman hasn’t resolved charges over two donated Dodge Charger 2009 vehicles. Dolled up as police cars, topped by “wang-wangs, these were “not given to the city,” former congressman Osmeña claims. They were “gifts.”
The anti-graft law bars officials from accepting gifts. But “there’s a police officer inside when the cars are used,” Osmena protested. Hastily, he had them repainted.” Got a problem with that?” Osmeña fumed.
Yes. His ancestor’s ethical sense would never tolerate a bogus police car. But "mules boast their ancestors were horses.”
Is Don Sergio just a line-etched image on the P50 bill today? Or is the man who was journalist, bar topnotcher, legislator to wartime exiled president relevant?
Bando Osmeña city councilors will praise him Monday. Tuesday, it will be business as usual. They’ll gut the Cebu Investments Promotion Center. Or any project that rival Mayor Mike Rama proposes.
Is this schizophrenia destiny? “People will not look forward to posterity who never look back to their ancestors,” Edmund Burke wrote.
As Japanese invaders rampaged in World War II, President Manuel Quezon, Osmeña and Gen. Douglas MacArthur slipped into Cagayan de Oro.
They were to be evacuated to Australia. MacArthur blew a fuse on seeing the shabby B-17 that landed midnight at Del Monte airport, recalls William Manchester in his book: “American Ceasar.”
The “decrepit aircraft” would endanger the party, he cabled the US Secretary of State. “I could not undertake such responsibility.”
He demanded the three best planes.” The cable worked and two of three new B-17s flew in.
Midnight, “we drove to where two Fortresses were waiting” recalls unpublished memoirs of Manuel Quezon Jr.
“We were in one plane and Vice-President Osmeña in the other...My father and mother sat on a mattress on the floor... Osmeña’s Fortress did not land after us. My father announced that we would not continue until the vice-president arrived…Next day, the DC-5 returned followed by the missing Fortress.. Finally, Don Sergio was able to continue with us, to Adelaide.”
One of Don Sergio’s finest moments came during Washington exile. Ailing Quezon’s term would lapse 30 December 1943. President Franklin Roosevelt stayed aloof from this “local issue” over Quezon’s reluctance to step down.
Osmeña offered a way out: US Congress suspend succession, until after the occupation ended. Congress agreed on 1O November. He gave up his own ambitions to ensure unity. After restoring the Commonwealth, Don Sergio refused to campaign in 1946, saying: Filipinos knew his record.
Like Winston Churchill after the war, he misread our fickleness. Manuel Roxas won 54 percent of the vote. Without rancor, Osmeña retired in Cebu.
We still recall the silvered haired statesman taking afternoon walks without bodyguards. He died October 1961, aged 83.
Ang kasingkasing nga matarung, dili mahadlok bisan liti ang madungog, a Cebuano proverb says.”The upright heart does not fear even if it thunders.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 08, 2013.