The Law of the Sea

Arturo M. Tolentino: I wish people will remember me for The Law of the Sea

Tolentino's First Attempt at Entering Politics

My father told me:

My entering politics was something completely unexpected. I had always been interested in public affairs and tried to express myself, my own views and opinion on public questions but without any interest in becoming a political candidate. However, I have helped found – the Young Philippines, it was involved in politics and actually field some candidates in 1940. 1940 was election year for local officials, for mayor and councilors and so on. The young Philippines wanted me to run for councilor in the city of Manila. We were all very young so we though we thought our party could start with councilors. But I really did not want to be a candidate, so I made a promise that I felt certain I did not have to implement.

Campaign Poster

At that time, prior to 1940 local election, we were just a new and young organization that had aligned itself on the side of the opposition. So, I made this promise. I said, “ if the opposition candidate win by even a single majority in the municipal council of four, then I will agree to run as congressional candidate in the 1941 election. I honestly never expected the opposition to win, but somehow it did…..by a majority of one. So I have to keep my word. The following year, I stood as Y P’s Manila candidate. Of course I lost. As we were such a small party but that is how I got into politics.

Personally, I feel that I won my first election. The winner a veteran politician, got in according to official result by only 200 votes so I did not feel cheated. It was just that I was sure there had been misinterpretation of the law in this case. You see, at that time there was a specific law on voting procedures. Consequently, there were votes for me that had not been counted by the inspectors at the polls. I knew that if we were to open the ballots in only five polling places, I would be shown the winner.

Alas, the real and final outcome of that election would never be known because on December 8, 1941 the Japanese started the Pacific war by bombing Manila, airports in the Philippines as well as Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. In January 1942 Manila was an “Open City” and prepared for Japanese occupation.