JUAN SUMULONG

(1874 - 1942)

 

 

   Juan Sumulong was the brain of the opposition during ascendancy of Manuel L. Quezon. He was born in Antipolo, Rizal on December   27, 1874 to Policarpio Sumulong, a tenant farmer who became Capitan Municipal Arcadia Marquez.

 

  After finishing hi s elementary education in hi s hometown, he went to Manila and enrolled at the San Juan de Letran C0llege He walked from Tondo   to Intramuros. As he did not have enough for his board and room, he help his landlady prepared food for breakfast peddled, after school in he mornings, her homemade cigars. He also did his laundry. During rainy days, He wore wooden clogs, and only upon reaching school would he his leather shoes, which he carried, wrapped in paper. He completed his Bachelor of Arts nevertheless.

 

           He then took up law   at the University of Santo Tomas.  When the Revolution against Spain broke out, he joined the revolutionists with headquarters in Morong Province (now Rizal). After the restoration of peace following the Filipino-American War, he served as a private secretary to the Filipino civil governor of Morong Province with headquarters in Antipolo. In a meeting held at the Pasig church on June 5, 1901 to discuss the fusion of Morong and some towns within Manila, councilor Sumulong spoke in favor such a union. It was ultimately approved and the new province was named Rizal.

 

   He became the journalist, joining La Patria as a reporter and becoming its city editor after three months. He analyzed the political situations for La Democracia of which he was the editor for a long time.

 

   After passing the bar examinations in 1901, he practiced law and at the same time taught   Constitutional Law at the Escuela De Derecho. One of the firt cases he handled was the boundary dispute between Antipolo and the neighboring town of Cainta. He won the case for his hometown. He and Rafael Palma also successfully defended the newspaper El Renacimiento in a libel suit filed by some American Constabulary officials. The paper exposed the abuses committed by the military of officers against the peaceful citizens of Cavite in the concentration camp n Bacoor. It was the first case that the American government lost. In June 1902, this two young lawyers secured from Governor William Howard Taft, the pardon of Isabelo delos Reyes who was accused of “conspiracy “ in organizing a labor union which staged the first organized strike n the Phil.. He was made Judge of the Court of First Instance in 1906 and of the Court of Land Registration in 1908. He was also a member of the Phil. Commission f room 1909-1913. He could have been in the Supreme Court had he accepted the offer to him made by U.S.  Pres. Taft.

 

    In 1904, while he was in the United State as member Honorary Commissioned to the St. Louis Exposition, he published in an American journal the independence aspiration of the Filipinos, realizing the inadvisability of the stage hood plan.

 

   Sumulong was vice –president of the Partido Nacional Progresista that was organized on   Jan.02, 1907. The new political party aimed to achieve Phil. Independence by progressive stages. He ran as its candidate for a seat in the first Phil. Assembly in the July 30 elections, but lost to the Nacionalista Party candidate. Again, he ran for, and lost, the position of senator for the fourth district in the 1916 General Elections.

 

   Because of the overwhelming Nacionalista victories in the 1916 election, the minority groups, Sumulong’s progresista’s and the Partido Democrata  Nacional of Teodoro Sandiko , merge in  Aug. 1917 to form the Democrata Party. In 1919, Sumulong became the President of this party.

 

   Sumulong was an “effective public speaker with a high reputation for intellectual capacity and integrity “according to Claro M. Recto. But he lost his Senatorial bid in 1923   because of an alleged defect in the party platform. In 1925, he was elcted finally to a six year term as senator for the fourth district, composed of Manila, Rizal, Laguna and Bataan.

 

   As senator, he had his famous debate with Senate President Manuel L. Quezon on the amendments to the Corporation Law. He also voiced out his vehement opposition to the enactment of the Belo Act, giving the Governor-General a yearly appropriation fund for military and technical advisers known as Belo Boys. He authored the law creating the gasoline tax and law regarding the books of accounts to keep the merchants, especially by Chinese.

 

  From 1930 to 1931, he was in the United States a member of Philippines Independence Missions. When the first Philippine Independence Act, known as the Hare-Hawes Cutting Act was enacted by he US Congress, he decided to oppose its acceptance by the Filipino people mainly because of its provision that even after Philippine independence, the United States will continue the exercise the sovereignty over US Military reservation in the Philippines. Quezon, Aguinaldo, Recto and many others opposed HHC Act and they became known as the Antis. Osmena, Roxas, and others favoring it became known as the Pros.

 

Due to poor health, he resigned from the presidency of the Democrata Party on the eve of the election on June 2, 1931 his resignation led to dissolution of the party.

 

  In the election of June 5, 1934, he ran as the candidate of the Antis, for Senator of the fourth senatorial district. He won and the Antis became the party in power. On Aug. 18, the Nacionalista and Democrata “Antis” fused in a new political party called Partido Nacionlista Democrata with Quezon as the president and Sumulong as the third vice-president. The coalition in 1935 of this party and the opposition party of Osmena was bitterly denounced by Sumulong in his manifest called After the Coalition, the Deluge. He believes that the political representation was imbalance and that the coalition would lead to an oligarchy and to the development of a revolutionary opposition. This was already evident, he warned, in the growth of Communism and Sakdalism. The Sakdal uprising in May 1935 lent credence Sumulong warnings.

 

  Sumulong, who long before Quezon adopted of the “social justice”, broke up with the latter and continued keeping alive an opposition.

 

  In 1941, he ran against Quezon for the Presidency in spite of his failing health. Two weeks before the elections, he fell ill and was forced to stay in bed until his death on January 9, 1942. Several hours before his death, he told Jorge Bocobo and Jose Fabella that he and his party would not join in his formation of a Japanese-sponsored government.

 

  He married to a distant cousin, Maria Salome Sumulong. They had eleven children, four of whom died, the seven surviving being Lumen, Demetria, Paz, Juan Jr., Belen and Francisco.         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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