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Jose Abad Santos Day – March 7, 2023

Jose Abad Santos Day in the Philippines is observed on May 7 each year. The day commemorates Jose Abad Santos, a former Chief Justice of the Philippines during the second world war era. Santos demonstrated uncommon patriotism and bravery for his home nation. He rejected an invitation to flee the country and refused to cooperate with the Japanese during his capture, which eventually led to his execution. Santos is featured on the one thousand peso bill alongside two other heroes for his martyrdom and resistance against the Japanese occupation of World War II.

History of Jose Abad Santos Day

On August 21, 2000, the Philippine Congress declared May 7 as a special non-working holiday in the province of Pampanga to honor the supreme martyr and hero, Jose Abad Santos. All schools, religious institutions, civic organizations, provincial and municipal communities, and individual citizens are required to observe this day with the appropriate ceremonies.

Santos was born on February 19, 1886. He was raised in Pampanga during the Philippine Revolution against Spain. He was part of the first generation of Filipinos sent to study at American universities. After graduating with a law degree, Santos took up the position of legal counsel for the Philippine National Bank and the Manila Railroad Company. He continued to rapidly rise through the ranks. On December 24, 1941, Santos was appointed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

In March 1942, Santos displayed steadfast patriotism when he was invited by President Manuel Quezon to leave with him to the United States as a result of a rapidly advancing Japanese invasion. However, Santos declined, preferring to remain in the Philippines. Before he departed for the United States on March 17, 1942, Quezon appointed Santos as the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Santos and his son were captured by the Japanese in Cebu on April 11, 1942. In his capture, Abad further demonstrated personal integrity and loyalty to his nation by refusing to cooperate with the Japanese. He showed bravery and self-sacrifice even when threatened with death.

On May 2, 1942, Santos was executed by the Japanese forces after being held in confinement for two days.

Jose Abad Santos Day timeline

1919
Santos Drafts By-laws and the Constitution

Santos creates the by-laws and the constitution of the Philippine Women's University, the country, and Asia's first private non-sectarian women's institute of higher learning.

1941
Santos Becomes Chief Justice

Santos becomes Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on December 24.

1942
Santos is Appointed Acting President

On March 17, President Quezon appoints Santos as the Acting President and the Acting Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

1942
Santos and His Son are Captured

On April 11, Santos, his son, Col. Benito Valeriano, and two enlisted men are captured by the Japanese in Cebu.

Jose Abad Santos Day FAQs

What were Jose Abad Santos’ last words?

Santos’ parting words to his son were, “Do not cry, Pepito, show to these people that you are brave. It is an honor to die for one’s country. Not everybody has that chance.”

How did Jose Abad Santos die?

Santos was executed at 2:00 p.m., on May 2, 1942, under a coconut tree near a riverbank. He refused to be blindfolded and rejected the cigarette offered to him.

What is Jose Abad Santos’ family tree?

Santos was born on February 19, 1886, in San Fernando, Pampanga, to Vicente Abad Santos and Toribia Basco. His brother Pedro later emerged as a socialist leader during the Commonwealth era.

How to Observe Jose Abad Santos Day

  1. Visit the Jose Abad Santos monument

    The monument is more than a tourist attraction. It is a significant piece of history that will surely inspire Filipinos to remember and relive the heroic deeds of the former Chief Justice. Visit the historic monument along Jose Abad Santos Avenue, in the City of San Fernando, or at the Capitol Grounds.

  2. Read up on Santos’ history

    In 2018, the Philippine World War II Memorial Foundation launched a book titled “Honor: The Legacy of Jose Abad Santos.” It is written by Desiree Ann Cua Benipayo.

  3. Attend ceremonies

    Commemorative programs sometimes hosted by provincial governments also highlight wreath-laying ceremonies in front of Santos’ monument on the Capitol Grounds. Government officials of Pampanga participate in the unveiling of the historical monument of Jose Abad Santos in the City of San Fernando.

5 Important Facts About Jose Abad Santos

  1. May 7 is not the date Santos died

    Though previously thought to be May 7, from the testimony of Pepito, Santos was executed on May 2, 1942.

  2. Santos was a Methodist and Freemason

    Santos worshiped at Central United Methodist Church and was a member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity.

  3. Santos’ remains were never found

    After the war, several efforts were made to find the place where he was buried but they failed.

  4. Santos was appointed Secretary of Justice

    President Manuel Quezon appointed Santos as Secretary of Justice three consecutive times.

  5. Santos had a nickname

    His nickname was “Sengseng.”

Why Jose Abad Santos Day is Important

  1. We remember Santos for his heroism and patriotism

    In his life and career, Santos set an example of personal integrity, patriotism, and self-sacrifice to the cause of human freedom. An exemplary legacy the present and future generations of Filipinos will continue to admire and emulate.

  2. It instills a sense of service

    Jose Abad Santos Day inspires Filipino youths to live the ideals that Jose Abad Santos lived and died for. It encourages all citizens of the Philippines to follow his example of loyal and patriotic service to the country and humanity.

  3. It honors Filipino war heroes and martyrs

    Beginning in 1991, the martyrs Santos, Brigadier General Vicente Lim, and Josefa Llanes Escoda, who were killed by the Japanese Army during the Second World War were commemorated on the banknote of the Philippines. Josefa Llanes Escoda was the founder of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines

Jose Abad Santos Day dates

YearDateDay
2023March 7Tuesday
2024March 7Thursday
2025March 7Friday
2026March 7Saturday
2027March 7Sunday

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