Victorino M. Mapa was an ex officio member of the Estado Federal de Bisayas, with capital in Cabatuan, Iloilo.
Sonza - Estado Federal de Bisayas Meeting, Feb 17 1899
Crane - Estado Federal de Bisayas Meeting, Mar 15 1899
Crane - Estado Federal de Bisayas Meeting, Jun 2 1899

Chief Justice of the Philippines
Tenure: July 01, 1920 - October 31, 1921
Appointed by: William Mckinley
Place of Birth: Kalibo

By Demy P. Sonza

ON THE roster of great Ilonggos there are a few who were not born in Iloilo. One was Ruperto Montinola who was born in Bago, Negros Occidental of parents from Jaro, Iloilo. Another was Victorino Mapa, the subject of this tribute. He was born in Kalibo, Aklan, on February 25,1855, to well-to-do merchant parents from Iloilo. Mapa died on April 12,1927, after serving his country in many distinguished ways.

His parents, Placido Mapa and Eleuteria Montano, brought up Victorino in Iloilo, where he first studied in a local private school. Then, he was sent to the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Manila for his secondary course. Moving on to the Universidad de Sto. Tomas, he obtained the degree of bachelor of laws and jurisprudence at the age of 25. After passing the bar in 1881, he came back to Iloilo to practice his legal profession. He also married Gorgonia Jamora who later played an important role in the feminist movement in the Philippines.

The government availed of Mapa's services by appointing him register of deeds of Iloilo. After Queen Regent Maria Cristina elevated the capital town of Iloilo to the status of a city in 1890, Mapa was drawn to go into politics. He was first elected vice mayor and then from 1893 to 1895, he served as mayor of Iloilo, which at the time was the second most important city in the country, next to Manila.

Highly respected by the Spanish authorities, Mapa was named member of the Council of Reforms by Governor General Diego de los Rios in the hope of keeping the Visayas from joining the second phase of the Philippine Revolution that broke out in Luzon in the middle of 1898. But when the Ilonggos launched the Revolution in the province in October of the year, Mapa threw his full support to the libertarian struggle. He eventually served as the president of the Tribunal of Justice of the Federal State of the Visayas, as the regional revolutionary government was called.

After the Philippine-American War, and upon the establishment of the civil government under the Americans, Victorino Mapa was appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court on August 8,1901. He served remarkably well in that position for thirteen years, until October 20,1913, when he was named secretary of the Department of Finance and Justice. When Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano retired in June 1920, Mapa was recalled to the Supreme Court as chief justice. However, failing health forced him to retire on October 21,1921. But before he left the Supreme Court, the University of the Philippines conferred on him the Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

In 1922, the Philippine Legislature wanted to pass a bill giving him a P12,000 annual pension. When he learned about it, Mapa refused to receive the pension. To him, the offer was "honorable... of moral significance" and "constitutes a high distinction of unestimable value," but "the services rendered... as a public functionary have already been duly rewarded with the salaries received."

Three days after his death, on April 15,1927, the Supreme Court of the Philippines adopted a resolution extolling Victorino Mapa's service to the country. The resolution reads in part :
"He served... in many responsible positions in all of which he conducted himself with distinction, disinterestedness , and with unyielding honor and dignity. He possessed a saintly calmness of temperament with an unblemished and holy character, with sane views upon all questions of sociology and statecraft, with a soul aflame, with a desire to do equal justice that the poor might enjoy all the rights, opportunities, privileges and advantages of the most rich and powerful in the state. His learning was not excelled by his sagacity. He was acute in his perceptions and wise in his deliberations. He was a most erudite prince of men. His treatment of his associates, as well as members of the bar, was always marked with unequalled kingly deportment."
It was reported that Mapa penned with utmost care some 643 decisions of the Supreme Court. A most noteworthy record, indeed.

Chief Justice.Mapa did not want to accept the offer of a pension from the Philippine Legislature in 1922, but on October 27,1929 when the saintly magistrate was no longer around, the legislators passed Act No. 3581 changing the name of Calle Buenavista in the District of Sta. Mesa in Manila to Victorino Mapa Street. A public hiogh school in San Miguel, Manila, that was founded in 1923, is also named after him. And a major street in downtown Iloilo City also carries Mapa's illustrations name.

Praise the Lord our God for the exemplary life of Victorino Mapa. Long live his memory.

By Demy P. Sonza
Oct 16 2022
28 Days to November 15, My 70th, Platinum Anniversary in Writing

Chief Justice Victorino Mapa
Tenure: July 01, 1920 - October 31, 1921
Appointed by: William Mckinley

Birthdate: February 25, 1852
Died: April 12, 1927

Place of Birth: Kalibo, Capiz


Bachelor of Arts, University of Santo Tomas (at the age of 13)
Bachelor of Philosophy, Bachelor of Laws & Jurisprudence, University of Santo Tomas, 1877
Admitted to the Bar in 1881
Doctor of Law, University of the Philippines, 1921

Professional Career:
Register of Deeds of Iloilo
Vice-Mayor, Iloilo
Member, Reform Council
President, Revolutionary Tribunal of Justice in Panay Island
Ex-Officio Counselor, Federal Government for the Visayas
Chairman, Peace Committee, 1900
Associate Justice, Supreme Court, June 17 1901 October 30, 1913
Secretary of Finance & Justice, 1913
Secretary of Justice, 1916 (under the Jones Law)
Chief Justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines, April 23, 1920

Source: Presidential Museum and Library PH

Estado Federal de Bisayas Meeting, Cabatuan Iloilo, Mar 15 1899
Estado Federal de Bisayas Meeting, Cabatuan Iloilo, Jun 2 1899