Re­mem­ber Sotto’s legacy, youth told

Young Ce­buanos have been urged to re­mem­ber Don Vicente Yap Sotto’s, fa­ther of Ce­buano jour­nal­ism, lan­guage and lit­er­a­ture, con­tri­bu­tions to Cebu in time for the com­mem­o­ra­tion of his 140th birth an­niver­sary yes­ter­day.

The Freeman - - NEWS - — Nova Val­izado, CNU In­tern/KBQ

Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardlo La­bella said mil­len­ni­als should learn by heart and trea­sure Sotto’s heroic ser­vice for Cebu.

"It is my hope that we can con­tinue to cel­e­brate it (Vicente Sotto Day) ev­ery year so that the young peo­ple and the gen­er­a­tions to come would be re­minded that once upon a time, there lived a Ce­buano who was able to fight against colo­nial­ism — not by force or re­bel­lion, but through the use of his pen,” he said in yes­ter­day’s com­mem­o­ra­tion speech.

One of the most no­table was Sotto’s ef­forts in pen­ning the Repub­lic Act 53 or the Press Free­dom Law, also known as the Sotto Law, which pro­tects jour­nal­ists, editors, and re­porters from di­vulging the sources of their in­for­ma­tion. It was en­acted in 1946, La­bella said.

At­tor­ney Paul Oam­i­nal, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Se­na­tor Vicente Sotto III, also re­counted the ac­com­plish­ments of the late Sotto.

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.

Sotto was one of the fore­run­ners of Ce­buano lit­er­a­ture, paving the way for the use of ver­nac­u­lar lan­guage in the rad­i­cal ex­pres­sion of na­tion­al­ism and sec­u­lar­ism.

Sotto also pub­lished "La Jus­ti­cia," the first Filipino news­pa­per of Cebu; "La Na­cional," a Span­ish lan­guage weekly; and "Ang Suga," the first news­pa­per in Ce­buano. He also pi­o­neered the "Mod­ern Ce­buano Theater" with his "Ang Paghigugma sa Yu­tang Natawhan."

He was born on April 18, 1877.

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 Ado­plh Wis­lizenus 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.

Mary Ann Simetara, a teacher from Lahug El­e­men­tary School, said they have learned more about Sotto’s life and legacy through yes­ter­day’s event.

"For us teach­ers, the in­for­ma­tion we got from the event can be used in our class­rooms es­pe­cially that we teach Aral­ing Pan­lipunan. It is part of our sub­ject to learn the his­tory of the Philip­pines and our heroes’ per­sonal back­ground," she said.

The com­mem­o­ra­tion held at the Rizal Li­brary was at­tended by the fam­ily’s sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing some City Hall of­fi­cials and em­ploy­ees and ed­u­ca­tors.

The an­nual event, which started in 2011, aimed to rem­i­nisce and rec­og­nize Sotto’s sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions in the fields of jour­nal­ism, lit­er­a­ture and pol­i­tics.


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