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
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
1905, he went to
While studying law in 1909 at the
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
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
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
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
was the unanimous choice of the delegates as president of the 1934
Constitutional Convention. On
stayed on the bench from
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.
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
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