By Beting Laygo Dolor | Contributing Editor
When then Sen. Sergio “Serge” Osmena III ran for re-election in the last senatorial polls, he suffered a surprising loss. He blamed himself for being over-confident, to the point that he did not even bother to actively campaign to keep his seat.
Such over-confidence was understandable considering that the Osmena name (or brand) is known to almost all Filipinos.
This is because the Osmena clan of Cebu has been around since the post-World War II decades. Almost always, an Osmena has been in power as mayor of Cebu City, governor of Cebu province, or member of the House of Representatives for any of the many districts of Cebu.
For the May 2019 elections, Serge Osmena is attempting a political comeback of sorts. He is running for his old Senate seat but may again be showing signs of the over-confidence that doomed his previous campaign.
Although he was welcomed by both the administration and the opposition, Serge Osmena is running as an independent.
He believes that the Osmena name can bring him back to the Senate since he lost in 2016 by not campaigning at all but still placing 14th, just outside the winning circle of 12. This time, by devoting serious time to a national campaign, he feels that he can very likely pull it off.
“I have to campaign harder,” he said when asked if his hiatus from the upper chamber of Congress would be a hindrance to his planned comeback.
While saying that he wants to help President Duterte, Serge admitted that he would likely draw the ire of the chief executive if he wins since he plans to abolish the TRAIN Law, a priority bill of the President.
He hopes to succeed where his cousin John Osmena failed two decades ago, to mount a political comeback. John won multiple senate terms, disappeared for a while to engage in business, then tried to win back the favor of the electorate.
Considered as the political patriarch of the Osmena clan is Sergio Osmena Sr., who served as Philippine president in exile after President Manual Quezon died in the US at the height of World War II.
At that time, however, the Philippines also had another president during the Japanese occupation in the person of President Jose Laurel.
Upon his return to the Philippines after World War II, Sergio set up a political dynasty that has lasted to this day, arguably the most well-known dynasty in the country.
His son Sergio “Serging” Osmena Jr. ran for president in 1969 against President Ferdinand Marcos. Serging never conceded defeat, claiming that he had been “extrapolated” out of victory up to his dying breath.
Decades later, Serging’s brother Lito Osmena also ran for president, billing himself as the ‘Promdi’ – a play on words from the phrase ‘from the’ province – candidate.
Lito Osmena is best known for turning the province into the Philippines’ number one tourist destination. Under his governorship, he launched a worldwide marketing campaign selling Cebu not as an island of the Philippines but as “an island in the Pacific.”
Lito Osmena’s bid to become president failed because he did not have the funds or the backers to mount a nationwide campaign.
Serge Osmena never attempted to run for president. He only went for the vice-presidency when Manila Mayor Fred Lim ran for the country’s top post.
Meanwhile, his brother Tomas Osmena is the incumbent mayor of their home turf of Cebu City and is expected to win re-election easily.
Incidentally, Serge’s US-based daughter Cristina Osmena recently tried her hand at politics, running during last year’s mid-term elections. She ran for a congressional seat in California as a Republican but lost.
For all their failures and successes in national politics, one thing remains certain: the Osmena clan will remain a powerful force in Cebuano politics for the foreseeable future.