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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Manuel S. Rojas

Born in Cavite City on the 5th day of August, 1908, Manuel Sipriaso Rojas nicknamed "Aling", was the second child of Honorio Rojas, a Chinese meztiso from Cavite City and Maria Sipriaso of Kawit ,Cavite.

As a child, he studied elementary and highschool (Cavite High School) in Cavite City. He finished his Bachelor of Laws degree from the Philippine Law School in 1932 and passed the bar exams the same year. Two years thereafter, he went to the United States for further studies. He took up business and finance at the Wharton School of Business and his Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Before he returned to his native Cavite, he first travelled all over the world.

Upon his return, he worked briefly at the Philippine National Bank. Later, he resigned and entered the mining stock brokerage as an active partner and trader. He also became a practicing lawyer in Cavite City. He met and then married Placida Villanueva, a school teacher from Bulacan and had 3 children, Ma.Theresa, Honorio and Manuelita.

When he decided to embark on a career in politics, his parents surely had the financial capacity to back him up. The Rojases were a "landed"family owning several parcels of land in Silang, Tagaytay, Dasmarinas, Imus and Cavite City. Aside from that, they also owned some movie houses, the most famous one being the Perla Theater in San Roque, Cavite City.

In 1932, he tasted his first political victory by being elected councilor of Cavite City. In 1939, he won as Assemblyman for the lone district of the whole province of Cavite for the Second National Assembly in the year 1938 to 1941. He served on the Committee on Appointments, the Ways and Means Committee and the Committee on Public Works, Reorganization, Landed Estates and Fishing Industries. As Assemblyman, he authored the law creating the City of Cavite from a municipality when he introduced the bill at the Second National Assembly . It became known as Commonwealth Act No. 547-The Charter of Cavite City, approved on September 7, 1940. This earned him the title ,"Ama ng Lungsod ng Kabite" (Father of Cavite City). In 1946, President Roxas appointed him mayor of Cavite City. In 1949 ,he resigned and ran as Representative of Cavite Province. He won after  he contested the fraud  committed by the opposition.

Elections for mayor of Cavite City in 1971 proved to be fateful for Manuel S.Rojas. He bested his opponents in this election and was sworn to office on January 1, 1972. Barely a month after, on February 25, 1972, he was ambushed and killed by heavily armed men while he was going to Bo.Panapaan, Bacoor, Cavite at 12 noon. His driver, Jaime Yap, was also killed.
He was dead at 64. Cavite City was stunned by his violent and untimely demise. Several arrests were made and some men were sent to jail. But the mastermind was never really determined and never caught. By a cruel stroke of fate, 10 years after his death, his wife Placida was also murdered when a robber entered their home and tortured and killed her.

But good men and women are hard to kill for they are not forgotten. After his death, the San Roque Elementary School built in 1911, was renamed Manuel S.Rojas Elementary School in honor of the slain mayor. Even the promenade at the back of Cavite City Hall was named Paseo de Rojas ,also in his honor. Up to this day, Cavitenos still speak of him with respect and fond affection. The bullet only wasted his body. It failed to extinguish the luster of his name and his memory.

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