Don Vicente Rama’s life, struggles, pains, and victories
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - February 22, 2020 - 12:00am

Cebu City is celebrating its 83rd charter anniversary this Monday. We should recall how Don Vicente Rama fought alone and painfully to push for the charter’s approval against tremendous odds, including the opposition of Cebu's much revered Don Sergio Osmeña Sr.

I had to rush from Dumanjug where I conducted a two-day training of local government officials on leadership and development. I left noon yesterday and endured grueling traffic just to be in the venue at 3 p.m. I don’t really know how the Cebu City council decided to choose me to give this year's annual Don Vicente Rama memorial lecture in the USP conference hall. I feel so unworthy and humbled. I have a sneaking suspicion my former student in the college of law, Vice Mayor Mike Rama, was instrumental in this. He knows I am a fervent admirer of three Don Vicentes; Don Vicente Gullas, Don Vicente Sotto, and Don Vicente Rama.

Don Vicente Rama was a son of a very strong woman, Engelberta Rama, whose business acumen and excellent people and human relations skills enabled Don Vicente to study in Manila at a time when only the prominent Cebuanos like the Sottos, Gullases, and Osmeñas could afford this. Don Vicente was really a writer by heart. At 15, he started writing, and in no time, put up his own paper, the Nueva Fuerza, or Bag-ong Kusog. His prolific writings made him popular in the Visayas and Mindanao. He was a fearless commentator and essayist. His writing style was lucid, succinct, yet not discoursive. He connected well with his readers and built a reputation of credibility, and independence of judgment.

It was his fame in journalism and literature that brought him to politics. He ran and won in the old district of Cebu, now the first district, composed of Minglanilla, San Fernando, Carcar, Naga, and Talisay. His victory was futile because, upon the complaint of his powerful opponent, he was ousted on the ground of lack of residence. But he fought back and was reinstated. He ran again and supposedly lost by 50 votes. He protested. Congress recounted the ballots, resulting his victory by a plurality of 61 votes. He was also later elected as congressman representing the fourth district (now partly the second) Sibonga, Argao, Alcoy and Dalaguete.

Perhaps, his greatest victory was when he was elected senator in 1941. He was one of the delegates to the Nacionalista Party Convention in Manila. There were four Cebuanos nominated; Don Filemon Sotto, Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco, Don Manuel Briones, and himself. By the secret support of President Manuel Quezon, (and perhaps Don Sergio too), Rama and Cuenco were chosen to be in the NP ticket. Rama won, to his great surprise. The winners were all millionaires, Don Claro M. Recto, Don Manuel Roxas, Don Quintin Paredes, Don Jose Yulo, and a non-millionaire, Don Vicente, who became a millionaire too because he got more than a million votes, in 1941 when the total number of voters was less than two million.

Vice Mayor Rama might be more handsome than his grandfather, but his lolo sired no less than 13 children; eight boys and five girls. Two of his sons were Dr. Osmundo Rama, Cebu governor; and Napoleon Rama, the best Free Press writer I knew, and the father of Mike and Annabelle Rama. Mike faces the tremendous challenge of how to live up to the great achievements of his illustrious lolo. Tomorrow, this column will continue this dissertation.

josephusbjimenez@gmail.com

VICENTE RAMA
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