He was born in Iligan, Lanao Province (now Lanao del Norte) on March 7, 1903 to Guillermo Cabili and Efifania H. Lluisma.
He studied at Iligan Primary School, (1911–1915) and Iligan
Elementary School (1915–1918). He enrolled in four different schools to
complete his secondary education from 1919 to 1923; the Zamboanga
Provincial High School (1919–1920), Cebu High School (1920–1921),
Silliman Institute (1921–1922), and Cebu Provincial High School
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of the
Philippines – Cebu in 1925, then pursued a law course at the Visayan
Institute, also in Cebu, from 1925 to 1927. He transferred to the
Philippine College of Law, where he completed his Bachelor of Laws
degree in 1929. After he graduated, he was made instructor in the
College of Law and Liberal Arts of the Visayan Institute from 1929 to
During his early years of school, he was brilliant as a student,
distinguishing himself as an orator when he won the Osmeña Medal in an
oratorical contest. He also won the first prize Jocson Medal in an
annual debate in the Philippine Law School.
He was a sinatur of the Advertiser and later member of the staff of
Cebu's The Freeman from 1924 to 1926. He was a correspondent of the
National News Service between 1930 and 1932; and again from 1933 up to
his election to the First National Assembly; and as a Lanao
correspondent for the DMIM papers and the Graphic.
After he passed the bar examinations, he practiced law in his home province.
In 1934, he was appointed Justice of the Peace of the 17th Municipal District of Lanao and Acting Justice of the Peace of Dansalan,
Lanao. In the same year, he became a delegate to the Constitutional
Convention. He was the only delegate that did not sign the 1935
Philippine Constitution, which was ratified on February 8, 1935.
In the 1935 general elections, he was elected assemblyman for his
district in the First National Assembly. He served on the committees on
agriculture, codes, franchises, provincial and municipal government,
national language, public instruction, Mindanao and special provinces,
appropriations, civil service, and public lands.
In 1938, he was reelected to the Second National Assembly. He was
later designated to chairmanship of the Committee on Privileges and
member of the committees on agriculture, appropriations, forest,
Mindanao and Special provinces, and national companies.
He was part of the guerrilla resistance movement during the Japanese occupation.
He had a short stint as Secretary of National Defense from February 27 to July 11, 1945 under Sergio Osmeña. He was later elected to the Senate in 1946 placing on Top 12. He was reelected in 1949 and served until 1955