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First Session of the Philippine Assembly, October 16, 1907

PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS

October 19, 1907, Saturday

The first session in the Marble Hall

Marked by an Admirable Degree of Conservatism Unexpected by Public and Officials

Sergio Osmeña Elected Speaker

The fact that Wednesday had been proclaimed a legal holiday by the commission did not hinder the enthusiastic newly made assemblymen from holding their first marble hall session at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Surprised, to say the least, were those who had gathered to watch the beginning of the first legislative body ever constituted for an Oriental people under a republican government. They had expected the secretary of war to be on hand to lend them a guiding hand, but having started them on their way at the inaugural ceremonies in the morning and having proclaimed the Philippine assembly as duly constituted by authority of the President of the United States he left to recover a moment from his previous labors.

There was nothing to do but to get to business and Member Quezon forthwith rose to name Nicolas Jalandoni as interim secretary.

The next question was the appointment of a speaker and it was suggested that this section from the act of congress be read. Upon Member de Veyra’s suggestion only the more important parts of this section were read. Some discussion followed as to just what the law was and whether, as the assembly was a ruling body, it was necessary to have it read. The language in which it should be read then came up and a lengthy discussion followed in which it was finally decided that the law carried with it no real method.

The name of Sergio Osmeña, member from Cebu, was then mentioned and loud and prolonged applause followed. For want of a second Member Pineda’s motion that a vote be secret went to the ground and when Member Juan Villamor stated that the very applause was certainly the sense of the members’ wishes Osmeña was literally cheered into his new position.

Member Dominador Gomez, silent up to now, even to taking a nap during the proceedings at the opera house, rose to the occasion and in all of his oratorical eloquence eulogized Osmeña to the very pinnacle of all that could be desired in a model speaker and legislator. We said that the unanimous vote and the circumstances surrounding it were an event in the history of the Filipino people; that Osmeña was the choice of the Nationalists and of the Progresistas and that the action of Member Paterno’s in retiring from his position as candidate for the speaker’s chair was worthy of note in the records of the Assembly.

• • •

Secretary Taft’s Speech At Opening Of Assembly

At eight o’clock Wednesday morning the doors of the Grand Opera House were thrown open and many of the seats were soon filled by those who had been anxiously waiting to get inside and avoid the jam that seemed sure to follow. The auditorium rapidly filled and by 9 o’clock the ground floor seats and all of the boxes were all filled. The first officials to arrive were the provincial governors who marched in shortly after 9 o’clock and took their seats at the rear of the stage. They were followed by Bishop Barlin, who was to pronounce the prayer at the opening of the Assembly.

Next came the consular corps who took their seats in the front row of orchestra chairs, immediately behind the Assembly seats. The assemblymen-elect then entered and took possession of the special chairs which had been arranged in two sections facing each other.

In the meantime the photographers of the great event were busy arranging their instruments. Foremost among these was Robert Lee Dunn, representative of Collier’s Weekly, who is traveling with the Taft party. Mr. Dunn uses a small instrument, an Eastman 7 x 5 film kodak, but it is fitted with a special lens and Mr. Dunn’s ability in this line secures excellent pictures for his illustrated articles.

The last to enter the crowded building was the Secretary of War and his party who took their places on the stage as noted above.

The Governor General opened the ceremonies by reading the past act of the government leading up to the great day and closed his address by introducing Secretary Taft.

The secretary consumed fifty minutes in the reading of a long but comprehensive speech and after he had finished Executive Secretary Fergusson read it in Spanish.

Then followed the reading of the roll call in which it was found that there were only 79 members present. Francisco Alvarez, of the third district, Camarines, was the absent one. Secretary Taft then duly opened the assembly and at the conclusion of the act Bishop Barlin pronounced the invocation on the new body and upon the nation which made its being possible.

Secretary Taft then took the floor, as there was yet not organization of the body, and asked for any motions which the members might care to make. Sergio Osmeña moved for the adjournment until 5 o’clock that afternoon, when they should meet in the marble hall.

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