JOSE S. ESCALER
(1885 - 1927)
The versatility of Jose Escaler, lawyer
and scholar, was attested to by Teodoro M. Kalaw. He said that "Escaler
was a many-sided spirit, real
polygraph. He knew everything and studied everything seriously.
Escaler was born in Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga on January 19, 1885, to a
wealthy couple, Manuel Escaler and Sabina Sioco. He was the eldest of six
children. After his early education in his hometown, Jose came to Manila and
studied at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran during the years 1895-1897. He finished the segunda enseñanza at the top
of the class. He also obtained the
highest honors upon graduating with a
Bachelor of Arts degree at the Liceo de Manila in 1903. Two years after, he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws
degree from the Escuela de Derecho where he outshone his other classmates with
his superior inteligence and achievements.
The eminent Rafael Palma, who was
Jose's teacher during his first year in law studies, was impressed, moreover,
by Escaler's ability to learn, on his own initiative, more than what his
teachers could give him.
To complete his liberal education, he went abroad and reaped more
academic laurels. In the United States, he enrolled at Yale and graduated in
1907 with two degrees, a Master of Laws magna cum laude, (an honor unawarded
for more than ten years) and a Master of
He was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity, Cosmopolitan Club,
Anthropology Club, Political Science Club, Weyland Club and Graduate Club. While
in the.United States, Escaler specialized in sociology, and in constitutional
and comparative law.
From the United States he proceeded to England, France, Germany where he
specialized in jurisprudence. At Oxford in he was a member of the Lindoln Society, Blackstone Society,
and the American Club. Here, he did graduate work in law and in economics, and
later, had the privilege of completing it in the sity of Berhn, for the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws.
After his studies abroad he returned to
the Philigpines, took the bar examinations and passed, and practiced law. As a
lawyer, Escaler became known for his refusal to handle cases which he thought
were not entitled to just claims in the courts of justice. He served the
government in various positions. Starting as a law clerk in the Philippine
Assembly from Janaury 2, 1913 to July 1, 1914, he later became the city
attorney of Manila. On June 19, 1916, he became the first assistant director of
the Bureau of Education, his being Filipino notwithstanding. Then he was
appointed assistant and later acting Secretary ofJustice.
From December 28, 1918 to June 14, 1919,
during the absence of Ignacio Villamor, president of the University of the
Philippines, Escaler served in the former's stead. He had been, previously,
from 1910 to 1915, a member of the U.P. Board of Regents. There had been a time
when he served as curator in diplomacy at Yale University, vice-president of
the Association of Lecturers, member of the Institute of Criminal Law and
Criminology, and lecturer on Evidence in the Escuela de Derecho. In all these
noble positions, he was able to prove his worth Enthusiastic interest in business and belief in a progressive
Philippines through economic development drove him to enter the busines and
industrial fields. At one time, he was vice-president of Philippine Oil
Products, vice-president of the Chamber of Agriculture, director of the
Germinal Cigar Factory, Cooperative Agricola and Walayan Trading.
He invested in several business
enterprises. In 1913, he was one of the founders of the Pampanga Sugar
Development Company established in his hometown and was its general manager
from 1924 to 1926. During the critical periods of this company, he demonstrated
his leadership and organizational skill by overcoming great difficulties. He
advanced the idea that industrial development must be simultaneous wifh the
agricultural progress of the country.
He also involved himself in various
He was a member of the Philippine
Orphanage Association and also of the Sixth Philippine Agricultural Congress.
Jose was married to Aurora Ocampo on June
26, 1915. They had seven children: Ernesto, Alicia, Elisa, Jose Jr., Federico,
Vivian, and Manuel.
He was in France when he died On February
17, I 927.