Posted by: Elmer Brabante | February 25, 2011

Cayetano S. Arellano, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

                                       CAYETANO S. ARELLANO (1847-1920)

First Filipino Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Arellano was born on 2 March 1847 in Orion, Bataan to Don Servando Arellano, a Spaniard, and Crisfora Lonzon, a native of Bataan. At a young age, Arellano was brought to San Juan de Letran as houseboy of the College (en calidad de famulo) and later a protégé of a Dominican friar who was in charge of the Parish of Binondo.


He finished his elementary and secondary at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, and enrolled in the University of Santo Tomas, where he finished his Bachelor of Philosophy in 1862, his Bachelor of Theology in 1867, and Bachelor of Laws in 1876. After passing the Bar Examinations, he was offered to teach Civil Law in the said University. 

In 1887, Arellano won a seat in the Manila City Council, which he served until 1889 with the concurrent post as member of the Council of Administration. In 1893, he was  appointed member of the first Provincial Convention in Manila, wherein the provisions of the Maura Law, which he himself drafted, was discussed. In 1895, he was appointed Magistrado Suplente of the Audiencia Territorial of Manila and later as member of the Consultative Assembly. He never took part if the revolution that erupted in 1896. 

At the onset of the American regime, General Elwell Otis, who became Military Governor, requested Arellano to help in the organization of the courts of Justice and helped draft the Mercantile Law, the Code of Criminal Procedures, revision of marriage law and the measures governing the organization of the municipal government. 

When the Philippine Commission Act 136 dated 11 June 1901 established the Supreme Court, Arellano was appointed its first Chief Justice. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to represent both the United States and the Philippines in the International Congress of Jurists at St. Louis. In the same year, the Yale University conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). He received the same honor from the University of the Philippines in 1914. 

On 23 December 1920, Arellano passed away, leaving his wife, Rosa Berna, and their only daughter, Asuncion.

See the National Historical Institute and the Supreme Court eLibrary for more of CJ Cayetano’s profile.


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