Don Vicente Yap Sotto, father of Cebuano journalism, language and literature
CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal (The Freeman) - April 17, 2017 - 12:00am

The Father of Cebuano journalism, language, and literature was born on April 18, 1877, making 2017 as his 140th birth anniversary. Born to an ordinary couple with extraordinary dream for their children. Marcelino Legaspi Sotto was a "kargador" while his wife, Pascuala Yap was a puso vendor in Carbon. But with frugality and diligence they became the rising merchants of Cebu with the Old Parian as their residence. The Sotto couple itched in Philippine history of producing the only siblings who both became newspapermen, lawyers, congressmen, and senators.

Don Vicente Yap Sotto published "La Justicia," the 1st Filipino newspaper of Cebu when he was only 21 years old, its maiden issue was on March 31, 1899. Thereafter he published the "La Nacional,"a Spanish language weekly. Don Vicente fought for what he wrote and championed Philippine press freedom as he was arrested on September 16, 1899 at the age of 22 by the Americans, imprisoned at Cell No. 6 of Fort San Pedro. When he became a senator after World War II he authored Republic Act 53 or the Press Freedom Law attributed to him as the "Sotto Law" that protects journalists, editors, and reporters from divulging the source of his information.

It was on June 16, 1901 that Don Vicente launched the first newspaper in Cebuano. He named it "Ang Suga." A daughter born on February 21, 1919 named her after his beloved newspaper and grew up to become a famous doctor, city councilor, and a writer of "The Freeman."In "Ang Suga," Don Vicente wrote the first short story in Cebuano entitled "Maming." It was on January 1, 1902 that the first Cebuano stage play was presented entitled "Ang Paghigugma s aYutang Natawhan." It was produced and directed by Don Vicente.

Don Vicente's prominence in journalism, language, and literature was his ticket to politics. He was elected councilor, congressman and senator. Don Vicente while on exile won as the President of the Municipality of  Cebu on the election held on November 5, 1907. The electors of Cebu voted Sotto with 650 votes, Martin Llorente (brother of Governor Julio Llorente, a street in Cebu City is named after him) with 483 votes and Timoteo Castro with 9 votes.

Judge AdoplhWislizenus of the Court of First Instance of Cebu declared that the votes earned by Sotto were illegal as the latter was ineligible to run as he was a convicted felon. Ironically, Martin Llorente was installed as the Municipal President of Cebu. Sotto's entire slate won, his Vice President, Francisco Veloso Arias and the members of the council were however dismissed and replaced by Governor Dionisio Jakosalem. The Supreme Court on January 12, 1909 declared that the ruling of the lower court unseating Vicente was null and void.

Don Vicente died on May 25, 1950 but his legacy continues with his grandson and namesake, Vicente III, the country's most senior Senator, presently Majority Floor Leader (first elected in 1992) and a great grandson, Gian Carlo, a Councilor of Quezon City and married a Cebuana, Joy Woolbright, the daughter of Eddie Woolbright, the Builder of Beverly Hills, Cebu City.They have a child named as Vicente IV.

attypauloaminal@yahoo.com

DON VICENTE YAP SOTTO
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