Honor: The Legacy of Jose Abad Santos

HONOR: THE LEGACY OF JOSE ABAD SANTOS documentary Film Summary+ Review+additional facts

We see his face on the 1000 peso bill and roads named after him. But do we really know who Jose Abad Santos is? Do we really know why he is considered as a hero?


HONOR is a documentary film about the life of Jose Abad Santos. Written and directed by Bani Logrono. It has also a book named HONOR written by Desiree AnnCua Benipayo. The documentary film contains the testimonies of Jose Abad Santos’s descendants, World War II historians, articles from Pepito (JAS son) and reenactment of His life and death.

Jose Abad Santos was the 7th of 10 children of Don Vicente and Dona Toribia Abad Santos. He was the brother of Pedro Abad Santos, leader of the Socialist Party of the Philippines, also the one who made a great impact on Jose’s perspectives regarding the society. Despite that, they both had different principles, Pedro was a socialist.

Meanwhile, Jose studied law and entered politics. He soon became the Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme court. While doing his job, he refused to receive bribe saying that it could not change his decision. He was also known as a man who stood on what he believes. A man who had a clean background and remained uncorrupt.

Japan invaded the Philippines, that time the president was Manuel L. Quezon. He refused to go with the president to escape for his safety and chose to have remained in the Philippines. Because of that, he was appointed as an acting President. Amidst the chaos and bombing, he stayed behind and did his job, to serve the country. He was soon captured in Cebu along with his son, Pepito. The Japanese asked him numerous times to collaborate with them and he also refused them numerous times.

That time, some government officials in the country joined the Japanese in exchange for safety, comfort, and power. Jose Abad Santos did the opposite and remained honorable until his last breath. He was told that he would be executed if he refused to guarantee allegiance with them. He died honorably by choosing to be executed than betray his own country.


The documentary film that focuses on Jose Abad Santos’ life and death, not just these two but also his legacy made a huge impact especially when it comes to my verdict about the government officials, thinking that integrity and honor were not in their vocabulary.

It has shown me the fact that there were once who exercised his principles in the midst of life and death. Someone who chose to die for his country and unbelievably took that as an opportunity rather than misery. He did not complain nor question, he died for his country without reservations.

The documentary film is a must-see for every Filipino especially the millennial. Inarguably high recommended, because the story was never really told in detail. It includes photos, excerpts from Pepito’s articles and vintage films of World War II that testified the detail of Jose Abad Santos’ life.

Most Filipinos did not know Jose Abad Santos and the saddest part is they are more interested in their idols than knowing the reasons why he is considered as a hero and why there are schools and roads named after him. The first step to discover the depth of our history is to go to the nearest library to look for a history book or pay attention to your history teacher. The small act of eagerness could lead you to a big discovery.

Let us preserve our history by reading books, watching films and keep on remembering them. Let us imitate the virtues and principles of our heroes. In that case, they may be dead, but their memories won’t.


1. Jose Abad Santos was born on February 19, 1886, in San Fernando, Pampanga.
2. His father, Don Vicente, is fond of Tagalog nicknames that’s why he was also known as ‘Sengseng’.
3. He became the courier for the Katipunan at the age of 10. His parents were hesitant at first, but they eventually realized that their children were meant for bigger roles.
4. Sengseng was quiet, diligent and studious. He learned to speak English fluently at the age of 16 and eventually taught his Father.
5. During American rule, Jose Abad Santos was chosen to be part of ‘The Pensionados’ wherein the government would provide everything for their education and sent them in America to study for their chosen field and career.
6. Most Filipinos who studied in America were colonized and did think highly of themselves. But, Jose remained humble and knew that his heart is in the Philippines. He married Amanda Abad Santos, a Filipina.
7. Before he died, he once had a deep conversation with his son, Pepito saying that if they (Japanese military) would allow them to go back to Manila, He would own a farm and live privately. But the Japanese military asked him again to join them in which he firmly refused and chose to be executed.
8. The two Japanese armies behind Jose Abad Santos’ death were not punished and so as the government officials who joined the Japanese Empire.
9. Last May 1, marked the 76th death anniversary of Jose Abad Santos.
10. Many top historians considered him as the greatest hero of World War II in the Philippines, who died honorably.


By: Nephi Tangalin