Press Release
April 18, 2012

Senator Vicente C. Sotto III
135th Birth Anniversary of the late Sen. Vicente Yap Sotto

Cebu City
April 18, 2012

(Acknowledgment of Guests)

I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Cebu City Government and the Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission for the honor given us, the Sotto family, for the commemoration of the 135th birth anniversary of my grandfather, the late Senator Vicente Yap Sotto of Cebu. This tribute that you are giving to my grandfather today is something that we will always cherish.

Lolo Vicente is a man of politics, letters and the arts.

In politics, he was a man of principles. He was not known to waver from his stand and follow the winds where the powers wanted him to be. He was his own man. It didn't matter to him whether it was a President he tangled with, for as long as he felt that his stand was in the best interest of the Cebuanos and the Filipinos as a whole.

His political contemporaries include Manuel L. Quezon, Sergio Osmena, Vicente Rama, Nicolas Rafols, Paulino Gullas, Buenaventura Rodriquez, Natalio Bacalso, Vicente Ranudo, and Filemon Sotto, my granduncle. With their counterparts in Manila, and using their pen and gift of oratory, they were the vanguards in the struggle for independence for our country, first from Spain and later from America.

In the field of letters, grandfather was in love with oratory and the written word. He championed press freedom, and authored Republic Act No. 53, passed in 1946 when he was a senator, now known as the Sotto Law or Press Freedom Law. This short act protects journalists from being compelled to name their sources, a great help in allowing journalists to pursue their profession without any hindrance and harassment from their subjects. I have filed a bill in the Senate to expand this freedom to include the new world of cyberspace and journalism in the modern world of the internet.

He was a tri-lingual writer, having written with equal ease and facility in Cebuano, Spanish and English at the turn of the century. He published La Justicia and El Nacional in Spanish. In English, he published The Philippine Republic and later The Independent. For Ang Suga (The Lamp), which he published on June 16, 1901, he became known as the "Father of Cebuano Literature."

Lolo Vicente wrote the first ever short story in Cebuano, entitled "Maming," which was published in the maiden issue of Ang Suga. He also wrote, directed and produced the first Cebuano play, "Elena," which was first performed at Teatro Junquera on May 18, 1902.

In the arts, music was my Lolo Vicente's refuge. From the chaos of politics, the antagonism of journalism, Lolo Vicente's spirit can soar in the chords of his music.

The duty of the young and the living is to remember, as we do today. With Lolo Vicente, we recall the men and women of a time long gone, when politics was the passion of the kind-hearted, the brave, and the gentleman. Those were times when debates were about issues, like independence and liberty, and politicians did not go down to the level of the vulgar and the ill-mannered. Lolo Vicente serves as our inspiration of those days of old, with a fervent wish and prayer that, by some stroke of luck and faith, may return to this noble land.

Thank you for celebrating with us the birthday of Vicente Yap Sotto, senator of the Republic.

Someone said before: "If you want to live after death - plant a tree, write a book, or sire a son." With today's ceremonies, one can add other ways of living longer than your life - "Leave a good name in politics, journalism and the arts."

Thank you again to the City Government of Cebu for this honor. It is much appreciated. Daghang salamat, ug maayong buntag kaninyong tanan. MARAMING SALAMAT PO.

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