Claro M. Recto, poet-writer, barrister, parliamentarian, jurist and statesman said: “Filipinism, nationalism: this is my unconquerable faith and my burning hope.”
was born in Tiaong, Tayabas (now Quezon) province on
Claro obtained his elementary education in Tiaong, then he transferred to Lipa where he studied Latin in the Instituto de Rizal of Dr. Hugo Latorre from 1900 to 1901. Later he enrolled at the Colegio del Sagrado Corazon of Don Sebastian Virrey.
1905, he went to
While studying law in 1909 at the
He maintained his scholarship in U.S.T. and obtained in the regular examinations given for each academic year the grade in excellent in all subjects. In 1913, he graduated and took the bar examinations the same year. In civil law, he got a grade of 90% but only 41% in civil procedure, so he was disqualified. He re-enrolled at the U.S.T., received his Masters of laws and took the bar examinations again.
The award-winning one-act comedy, La ruta de Damasco (1913), followed by Solo entre las sombras (1917) established his reputation as a dramatist.
He entered the government service in 1913, when he was appointed as secretary to Vicente Ilustre of the Philippine Commission. In 1916 he served as a legal adviser to the first Philippine Senate.
In 1919 the Royal Academy of Spanish Language accepted him as a member, but his interest is shifting to politics. He ran as a Democrata and won a seat in the House of Representatives for the third district of Batangas. He became the minority floor leader. He was re-elected in 1922, and 1925.
went with the then President Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmena to
In 1928, he temporarily retired from active politics and dedicated himself to his law practice. He formed the law office of Francisco, Recto and Lualhati. By this time, he was on his second marriage.
the 1931 elections, he won a seat in the Senate for the fifth senatorial
district comprising the provinces of Batangas, Tayabas,
He defeated the Quezon-government supported incumbent, Jose p. Laurel of Tanauan. He again served as minority floor leader for three years. But he was one with Quezon in rejecting the Hare-Hawes Cutting Law which he said “imposed styranglehold on our economic life. And tramples on our national dignity.” He changed parties and served as majority floor leader and president protempore of the Senate.
was the unanimous choice of the delegates as president of the 1934
Constitutional Convention. On
stayed on the bench from
In 1941 he ran for the Senate and garnered the highest number of votes among the 24 elected senators. He was appointed Commissioner of Education, Health and Public Welfare (1942-43) and later, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (1943-44) in the Laurel War Cabinet. Accused of collaboration with the Japanese, he was detained by the United Forces of the Diliman, then in Iwahig, and from thence, was sent to Muntinglupa. He was charged with treason. He pleaded not guilty and proved that he had connections with the underground movement. In the course of the preparation of his defense, he published two books, Three Years of Enemy Occupation and The Law of Belligerent Occupation. When President Roxas Issued the amnesty proclamation to the “collaborators, “he did not take advantage of it and instead worked for and got an acquital from the People’s Court.
He was again elected senator in the fraudulent 1949 elections. Initially he was not among the eight senatorial candidates who were declared elected. He filed an election protest with the Senate Electoral Tribunal and won two years after.
1955, he ran as liberal party “guest candidate” for senator and won the sixth
slot. Two years after, his bid for the presidency of the
He was chosen by the Philippines Free Press as one of the greatest Filipinos during the last half century. He received the Doctor of Laws honoris causa, University of Manila, 1936; Doctor of Laws honoris causa, Arellano University, 1949; Doctor of Humanities honories causa, University of the Philippines, 1960.
Senator Recto was survived by his widow Dona Aurora Reyes, sons Jose Maria and Rafael, and daughters Maria Clara ( Mrs. Jack Warner ), Chitang ( Mrs. Faustino Zamora ), and Chona ( Mrs. Hans Casten ).