Sunday, April 10, 2011

168. ESPERANZA ESCOLAR LIMJAP-OSMEÑA: From a Carnival Princess to the Country’s First Lady

FROM A FIRST PRINCESS TO A FIRST LADY. Esperanza Escolar Limjap, from the nationalist Limjap family, was in the royal court of the 1915 Carnival Queen. She eventually became the First Lady of the Philippines by becoming the 2nd wife of Pres. Sergio Osmena.

Seven years after the first Carnival of 1908, the national fair had established itself as a grand event of eminence, due not just to the spectacles, but also in part to the prominent, high-profile personalities who participated actively in the Carnival festivities. One of the most ardent supporters were members of the wealthy Filipino-Chinese Limjap family, led by the family patriarch, Mariano Limjap and his wife, Maria Escolar.

It is to be remembered that the very first Carnival Queen of 1908 was Leonarda Limjap, an elder daughter of the Limjap couple. She, however, had to abdicate her throne in favor of a family trip to Japan. Pura Villanueva stepped in to assume the queenship of the very 1st Carnival. Perhaps to make up for that inconvenience, the Limjaps gamely joined the winner’s royal court of honor in the next few years.

First to make her appearance as a princess of the 1915 Carnival Queen, Concepcion Medina, was 19 year old Esperanza Escolar Limjap. Born in 1896, Esperanza , aside from Leonarda, had two other sisters—Felisa and Paciencia, and two younger brothers, Jose and Francisco, who would both marry Carnival Queens. Jose or Perico was wed to Catalina Apacible (1923 Queen) while Francisco was the King Consort of the 1926 winner, Socorro Henson. The Limjap sisters were popular high society figures due to the status of their family, who were also held in esteem for their strong nationalist bent—Mariano was known to have lent his financial support for the Philippine Revolution.

Just five years after her Carnival stint, Esperanza would meet and marry Sen. Sergio Osmeña, a widower who had previously lost his first wife two years before, Estefania Chiong Veloso. Osmeña had been tirelessly working for Philippine independence ever since he launched his political career, becoming a Speaker of the House of the 1907 Philippine Assembly. The promised independence was delayed by the World War II and the Japanese Occupation. Upon the death of Pres. Manuel Luis Quezon, Osmeña ascended the presidency of the Philippine government-in-exile in the United States—making Esperanza the fourth First Lady of the land.

She remained in the Philippines, however, all throughout the dark days of the World War II. She was a First Lady for just two years, while rearing her children Victor, Ramon and Rosalina. Esperanza Limjap-Osmeña, the beautiful lady-in-waiting of the 1915 Carnival court who became a First Lady, died in 1978 at age 82 years old.

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