IGNACIO VILLAMOR

(1863 - 1933)

 

 

  Ignacio Villamor was born on February 1, 1863, in Bangued,Abra, to Florencio Villamor and Wenceslawa Borbon.

 

  His family was so hard up to that he had virtually no time to play games with other children in the neighborhood. He had to work daily and help his parents cultivate their little farm. At the age of ten, his father died so his widowed mother had to lean more on him.

 

  When he first told his mother he wanted to go to school, she dissuaded him because the school was behind the mountains and he was too young to be away.

 

  With the help of his uncle Escolastico Borbon, his mother was finally able to send him to the public school of his town under the guidance of a good teacher, Mariano Torrijos. Afterwards, he attended a grammar school in the same town for two years under Juan Valera. Then he was sent to the seminary of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, to continue his studies.

 

  Desirous of advancing further, he solves to go to Manila. The financial problem cropped up again. His uncle Escolastico once more comes to his aid. He was given P 20. The trip from the Ilocos to Manila was by sea, and he paid P 12 for the passage on the boat. With what was left, he manages to enroll in the San Juan de Letran College. He worked as a houseboy of Yeyong, an old bachelor, and Nora Ponsa, his spinster sister, on San Marcelino Street. Later, he lived in the College of San Juan de Letran as capista.

 

  In 1885 he completed his Bachelor of Arts, after which he took up law in the University of Santo Tomas, finishing in 1893 and capping his studies with a master of laws degree in 1894. He married Maria Flores of Manila in 1894.

 

  He had his first experience as a teacher at the college of San Juan de Letran, where he tutored the boarding students and reviewed them for classroom examination.

 

  A co-founder of the Universidad Literaria de Filpinas,he also established the Colegio de San Antonio de Padua  and the Liceo de Manila.

In the deliberations of the Malolos Congress to which he was elected member, he took active part I farming the Philippine Republic’s educational policies.

 

  He joined the government in 1901 as prosecuting attorney of Pangasinan. He was appointed Judge of the Sixth Judicial District in 1902; Attorney General in 1907; and Chief of the Executive Bureau, the first Filipino to occupy this important position.

 

  In 1915 he became the first Filipino President of the University of the Philippines, succeeding the American educator, Murray Bartlett.

 

  Under him UP became the “ the crown of the public school systems and the center of education, where Philippine culture inspired by the Spanish civilization and strengthened by the vigorous spirit of the American nation flourished “.

 

  In 1918, he became the director of the Bureau of Census. Two years later, (1920), he was named associate justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, a position which he held until his retirement.

 

As a jurist, he achieved national and international fame because of his profound legal scholarship and his humane philosophy of law. The Spanish Royal Academy of Legislature and Jurisprudence made him an honory member, the first Filipino jurist thus recognized.

 

  A painstaking author, he wrote Criminality in the Philippine Islands, Commentaries on the Election Law, Election Frauds and Their Remedies, Japan’s Educational Development, Slavery in the Philippines, Industrious Men, Ancient Filipino Writing, and The University of Santo Tomas in Her Third Century.

 

He had little concern for material wealth but was so proud of his library that he referred with pride to his books as “my fincas and my haciendas.”

 

  As a father, he took the deepest interest in the affairs of his home and was most happy when surrounded by his wife and children.

 

  A few months prior to his death, he expressed his wish to have the cap and gown he had worn in 1893, when he received from the university of Santo Tomas the degree of Licentiate in Laws placed on his coffin. On the morning of May 21, 1933, while hearing Mass with his family, he suddenly collapsed. On May 23 at 6:15 p.m., surrounded by his wife and four children, he passed away peacefully.

 

 

 

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