Jose Gutierrez David was born in Bacolor on 19 January 1891, from the union of Mateo Gutierrez Ubaldo and Gabriela David, youngest in a brood of 9 (4 brothers, 4 sisters). His father was one of the signatories of the historic Malolos Constitution, signed on 29 November 1896. Raised in San Fernando, the young Jose studied his caton and cartilla at home, then entered the school of Don Modesto Joaquin, the most prestigious in the province. He grew up amidst a very cultured milieu: his father had an ardent interest in zarzuelas while brother Amado composed music for these plays. Often, their spacious house served as rehearsal halls for zarzuela productions. It was no wonder then that Jose showed his literary flair at an early age, writing poems often dedicated to his sweetheart, Concepcion Roque. His first ever published poem, written at 17, was dedicated to her --“Tuqui Ka Baculud” (Come to Bacolor) , appearing in the March 1908 issue of Ing Bandila (The Flag). After his graduation from Pampanga High School in 1912, he married Concepcion with whom he had 7 children, all college graduates: Perla (my Imang Perling) Jose Jr., Leonardo, Felicitas, Amaury, Alice and Irma.
In 1914, as a journalist, he teamed up with playwright Juan Crisostomo Soto to edit “Ing Balen” (The Town) and “E Mangabiran” (The Impartial), both noted Kapampangan papers. He also wrote plays like “Migdusang e Micasala” (The Guiltless Sufferer) and “Ing Independencia” (The Independence).
Jose completed his law degree at the Escuela de Derecho in Manila, emerging first in his class in 1915. After passing the bar the next year, he began his law practice and proved to be an outstanding trial lawyer, but opted to join the judicial court system of San Fernando as Auxiliary Justice of the Peace from 1918-20. He then entered the political arena by becoming a councilor for 10 years.
In 1933, he was named Director of the Pampanga Carnival. The next year, he ran and won in an election to determine Pampanga’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Just like his father before him, he was one of the original signers of the 1935 Philippine Constitution. He then accepted the offer of Secretary of Justice Jose Yulo to become a Judge of the Court of the First Instance. Appointed by Manuel L. Quezon, he was assigned to different districts such as Baguio, Cavite and Manila. His next stints were as Judge of the Court of First Instance in Manila (appointed by Sergio Osmeña), Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals (1946, by Manuel Roxas), Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals (1956, by Ramon Magsaysay) and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1959, by Carlos P. Garcia), a position he held until his 1961 retirement.
He also served as Chairman of the Philippine Bar Examination in 1960 , a member of Pampanga Masonic Lodge 48 and Board of Censors for Philippine Motion Pictures from 1962 to 1964. The pioneering graduate of Pampanga High headed the 1962 Golden Jubilee Homecoming as Chairman of the Executive Committee, which gave the Most Outstanding Alumni Award to then Pres. Diosdado Macapagal. Jose Gutierrez David passed away on 27 March 1977 in Quezon City. It is but fitting that his last poem, “Misan Pa” (Once More) was dedicated to his beloved Concepcion.
(15 March 2003)