Jose Abad Santos received his MA in Law from the George Washington University in 1909, one of the first generation of pensionados or government scholars. He became Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court in 1941 and served briefly as Acting President in 1942, as President Quezon left for the U.S., until his death at the hands of Japanese soldiers. His heroic martyrdom—as he is led away by the soldiers, he tells his son Pepito to be brave and that it is a privilege to die for one’s country—is recounted in numerous books.


Photo credit: Courtesy of the Special Collections Research Center, The Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, The George Washington University.

Along with Chief Justice Abad Santos, former Senator Helena Benitez is also a GWU graduate. Her portrait is on display at the ground floor of the School of Education and Human Development together with those of other distinguished alumni.

Further information

George Washington University. 2121 I St. NW, Washington, DC. Website: www.gwu.edu. From 1884 to 1910, the Law School‘s address was 1733 H Street, between 14th and 15th Streets. That site is now occupied by the Woodward Building, built in 1911. The Law School moved several times afterwards and is currently located at 2000 H Street, NW.


Catalogue of the Columbian College in the District of Columbia (1909); Philippine Women’s University (PWU) website; GWU Archives; personal correspondence with Gertie Tirona; the GW and Foggy Bottom Encyclopedia website; and the GWU Law School website.

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