Monday, February 11, 2013

Jose Abad Santos. A Filipino Hero.

"Do not cry, Pepito, show to these people that you are brave. It is an honor to die for one's country. Not everybody has that chance."

Those were the last words of a man to his son, about to be executed during the Japanese occupation here in the Philippines. He was the acting President of the Philippines before his capture and his refusal to cooperate earned him martyrdom for the country. His name is Jose Abad Santos.

His face has been immortalized in the 1,000 pesos bill along with 2 other heroes, but his story isn't known to many. Abad Santos was a man who achieved great things in a time of relative peace. He wasn't just a lawyer, but rose to the ranks to becoming the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. His patriotism is just like all the other heroes who died for the country, unparalleled.

Before his execution, he was with President Quezon on Corregidor, but they both evacuated to the Visayas region. Quezon moved to Australia and Abad Santos choose to be left in the country. It was during these times that he was appointed as the acting President of the Commonwealth Philippines, in addition to his duties as Chief Justice and Secretary of Finance, Agriculture, and Commerce. Later on he was captured at Cebu, interrogated and tried to be recruited by the Japanese.

Left to right, Jose Avelino (Secretary of Labor), Benigno S. Aquino Sr. (Secretary of Agriculture), Rafael Alunan (Secretary of the Interior), Quezon, Manuel Roxas (Secretary of Finance), Jose Abad Santos (Secretary of Justice) and Jorge Bocobo (Secretary of Public Instruction).

Some time after his capture, the order of his execution has been sent out. He was charged with the burning of Cebu City, the authorization of issuing emergency bank notes, and his refusal to ask General Roxas' surrender. The execution was carried out in Malabang, Lanao del Norte. His grave was shown to his son Pepito who was with him all throughout, but after the war, his grave was never found.

He was killed by the Japanese because he stood his ground for his country. He had full authority over what's left of the Philippines and on his capture, it was like catching the president himself. Abad Santos choose honor and death over a life of shame. He even saw dying for the country as an opportunity. Such was his patriotism, such was his heroism during those times of war. Just like our national hero, Jose Rizal, he was calm upon receiving the news until the end.