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DNA test results identify Sergio Osmeña's father, end speculation

National Library of the Philippines (distributed by Philippine Presidential Museum and Library) via Wikipedia

The Osmeña family put an end to more than a century of speculation over the identity of Don Sergio Osmeña, Sr.'s father with the announcement on June 2, 2023 of the paternity test results showing a 100% match between the DNA samples taken from male descendants of the Osmeña and Sanson clans.

The results, announced by forensic genealogist Todd Sales Lucero, debunked rumors that Chinese immigrant Pedro Lee Singson Gotiaoco sired Osmeña. Gotiaoco, who became one of the wealthiest and most prominent Chinese in Cebu in the late 19th century, was the forefather of the Gokongwei, Gotianuy (Go), Gotianun, and Gaisano families.

Osmeña, known as Cebu's Grand Old Man, was born out of wedlock to Juana Suico Osmeña on September 9, 1878. He served as governor of Cebu, congressman, senator and vice president of the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines before he was installed as the nation's fourth President following the death of then-President Manuel L. Quezon.

Maria Lourdes Bernardo, who traces her female Osmeña lineage through Don Sergio's first child, said her aunt Annabelle "Annie" Osmeña Aboitiz had always wanted to determine the identity of their grandfather's father. Aboitiz, sister of the late senator John Henry Osmeña and Cebu governor Emilio Mario Osmeña, is the oldest living grandchild of Osmeña.

In an event aired live over YouTube and Facebook on June 2, Lucero said the DNA test results showed that Osmeña's father was most likely Don Antonio Sanson, a wealthy Chinese mestizo who frequently traveled between his residence in the then-affluent Parian district in Cebu City and his vast landholdings in the town of Borbon. Sanson was also a juez de paz, or justice of the peace, in Borbon.

Lucero said Sanson either got married thrice or had three wives. He had only one known child, a daughter, and his direct descendants have yet to be identified.

The earliest reference to Sanson as Osmeña's father was made in a newspaper article written by journalist and politician Vicente Sotto on January 14, 1934. Another article in 1961 also named Sanson as Osmeña's father.

Lucero said they commissioned a local laboratory affiliated with EasyDNA to conduct a Y-chromosome test, which determines lineage in males through many generations. DNA samples were taken from former Cebu City mayor Tomas R. Osmeña for the Osmeña family, a descendant of Gotiaoco who asked not to be named, and a direct male descendant of a male first cousin of Antonio Sanson.

The results showed a 100% match between the Osmeña and Sanson DNA samples, clearly indicating that the donors "are most likely from the same male lineage," Lucero said.

The Osmeña and Gotiaoco DNA samples, on the other hand, matched only in 9 out of 23 genetic markers. This clearly indicates a non-genetic connection in the paternal line, Lucero said. The fact that they have nine matches means that they came from the same family centuries ago, but not in the recent 200 years, Lucero added. (MVI/Ventures Cebu)

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