Today in Philippine History, May 8, 1878, Dionisio Jakosalem was born in Dumanjug, Cebu

Sunday April 14, 2013 () Last updated May 07, 2016 08:56:50

Dionisio Jakosalem   
Dionisio Jakosalem (credit:   

On May 8, 1878, Dionisio Jakosalem, a writer, a lawyer, Governor, and the first Filipino to hold a cabinet post during the American regime, was born in Dumanjug, Cebu to Alfonso Jakosalem and Apolonia Abella, who both belonged to hardworking families.

After finishing his primera enseñanza at the Dumanjug town school, he went to Cebu where he enrolled in the College of San Carlos – he was a classmate of Sergio Osmeña – there to complete his segunda enseñanza. He continued his studies at the University of Santo Tomas, where he received his bachiller en artes and licenciado en jurisprudencia. He was admitted to the Philippine bar in 1907.

His public career started in 1900, when he was appointed municipal secretary of his hometown. In 1903, he was appointed justice of the peace of Cebu. He resigned this post when he was elected to the municipal council of Cebu in 1904. In 1906, he was elected to the provincial board. When the provincial governor, Sergio Osmeña was elected to the Philippine Assembly, he was appointed to the position. Serving the unexpired term. In November 1907, he himself was elected governor. He ran under the Nacionalista banner. He was reelected as such in November 1909. In the convention of provincial governors held in 1910, he was chosen president.

Today in Philippine History, May 8, 1878, Dionisio Jakosalem was born in Dumanjug, Cebu

The construction of roads and public buildings marked his administration as governor of Cebu. He is credited with having linked the southern and northern parts of the province with roads.

He rested for a while after the expiration of his term in October 1912. On February 1, 1913, he was appointed acting provincial fiscal, a position he filled until the end of the year.

In 1917, his achievements as a public servant were given due recognition. On January 18 of that year, he was made a member of the first cabinet under the regime of the Jones Law with his appointment as secretary of commerce and communications by Gov. Gen. Francis Burton Harrison. He was the first Filipino to serve in that capacity. In 1919, he was named member of the first Philippine independence mission to the United States.

Dionisio Jakosalem   
The Philippine Cabinet (undated photo). (L-R) Galicano Apacible, Victorino Mapa, Charles Yueter, Francis Burton Harrison, Rafael Palma, Alberto Barreto, and Dionisio Jakosalem (Photo credit: A guide book on the Philippine question, Teodoro M. Kalaw, 1919).   

He resigned as secretary on October 3, 1922, although the then Governor-general, Leonard Wood, wanted to retain him in his cabinet. Later, he was offered another cabinet portfolio by Governor-general Stimson, but he declined. He preferred to give others a chance to prove their worth and serve the people.

During his stint in the cabinet, Jakosalem was able to avert a crisis in the supply of rice, precipitated by World War I, by dealing firmly with profiteers. As secretary, he advocated the adoption of a definite national water policy and a general road construction program, as well as the creation of an insurance fund for the benefit of employees and laborers in times of illness, accidents and old age. He also endorsed the passage of a law regulating strikes and lockouts, the creation of a board of conciliation and arbitration, and the fixing of the working hours in all business and industrial establishments. Jakosalem did not look with favor on the introduction of large foreign capital into the country. He believed that foreign investments should be reasonable enough to develop its natural resources without, however, endangering the national interest.

After retiring from public service, he practiced law in Cebu, served as administrator of the Hospicio de San Jose de Barili, which was founded by Benita and Pedro Cui. He also joined the faculty of the Visayan Institute, where he later became dean of the college of law.

Dionisio Jakosalem was also a member of the Rosicrucian Order of America, a theosophist, a good chess player, a marksman, billiard aficionado, a violinist who could execute compositions of Grier.

Jakosalem was married to the former Generosa Teves. They had four children – Salud, Silvano, Maria and Epifania. Other accounts (especially WiliPilipinas) claim that Jakosalem had five children, namely: Salud, Silvano, Maria, Epifania, and Fernando. did not mention Maria but listed an unnamed "Private Profile" as one of the children and the other 4 children listed by WikiPilipinas.

He died of blood poisoning from pyorrhea on July 1, 1931 at the age of 53.


  1. Baba, Ma. Gloria Amasa . Historical Landmark in Cebu City: Their Educational Values (a thesis), presented to the Graduate School of Cebu Normal University, Cebu City, 1998.
  2. Manuel, E. Arsenio .Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume 1. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955.


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