Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Filipino Martyr: ALEJO S. SANTOS

(1911 – 1984)
Bulacan World War II
Alejo S. Santos was born on July 11, 1911 in Bustos, Bulacan. His father was Pedro de los
Santos, a farmer who worked as a foreman in the Angat River project. He was married to Juanita
Garcia of Baliwag, Bulacan.
Santos was an education graduate of the University of the Philippines. In 1934, he joined
the Manila Police Department. In 1941, he attended the United States Army anti – aircraft school.
Prior to the outbreak of World War II, he was a captain of the 1st battalion, 31st infantry of
the US – Filipino Armed Forces. On the eve of the Japanese invasion of the country, his outfit was
deployed against the enemy. Pitifully outgunned and underpracticed, it ended up on Bataan,
where it was routed by the Japanese forces.
It was in Bataan that all organized Filipino – American resistance to the Japanese
juggernaut ceased. Santos, whose nom de guerre was Mang Pepe, however, however, was spared
the ignominy of a soldier’s surrender with the fall of Bataan by managing to escape.
He found his way back to his hometown in Bustos, Bulacan.
As elsewhere, atrocities committed by the Japanese against the populace has created a
furnace of hatred targeted against them.
The town mayor, Alfredo Cruz Erana, asked him id he was disposed to surrender. If so,
Erana would accompany him to Malolos, if not, he would join him in the underground movement.
Santos declared that he would go to the mountains to organize a guerilla movement. Erana offered
him his house as a temporary refuge.
It was not long before the resistance movement spread from Bustos to other towns in
Bulacan. A great number of the province’s educated men took part in Santos’ growing outfit, which
was named Bulacan Military Area. Prominent among the recruits was Agustin C. Fabian, prewar
editor of the weekly Graphic. By the end of 1944, the BMA, which had its headquarters in Victoria
Hills, had eight regiments: M. Ponce, Mountain, Biyak-na-Bato, Valenzuela, Republic, Buenavista,
Kakarong and Batute.
The BMA was under the overall command of Lieutenant Edwin Ramsey, an American
regular cavalry officer. Ramsey’s entire command, the East Central Luzon Guerilla Area, practiced
discipline since the Japanese army was not its only enemy. Other guerilla units sometimes fought
one another.
After the war, Santos was awarded 13 military medals and five civilian decorations. He
was appointed Bulacan military governor for 1945 – 1946. Two years later, Ramon Magsaysay
commended him as the best provincial executive. The Foreign Correspondents Association of the
Philippines bestowed on him a plaque of distinction for his efforts in community development.
Santos was elected to Congress twice in 1946 and in 1953. He served as defense secretary
under President Garcia, from 1959 to 1961. Before that, he was Bulacan provincial governor for
two terms, beginning in 1951. That same year, he was hospitalized when a bullet pierced his neck
after an encounter with several HUK rebels.
Two non-political positions he held were those of chairman of the board of directors of the
Philippine Veterans Bank, and director of the Bureau of Prisons for four years from 1967 to 1971.
Santos was only Filipino WWII soldier to be conferred the rank of brigadier-general by the
American government.
In 1978, Santos, then 69-years-old, ran against President Marcos as a candidate of a
decimated and, in effect, non-existent opposition – and expectedly lost lopsidedly
Santos died on February 18, 1984. Until his death, he was commander of the American
Legion, Philippine department, and head of such organizations as MacArthur’s Memorial, Bulacan
Military Area Association, and Council for World Freedom.
His family owned the Mt. Banawe Hospital in Quezon City. He left behind his wife
Juanita, sons Reynaldo, Edgardo, Revenal and Lamberto, and daughter’s Liberty, Caidy and
A Philippine National Police camp in Bulacan is named after him
Agoncillo, Teodoro. The Fateful Years: 1941 – 1945. Quezon City: Garcia Publishing. 1965.
Bulletin Today, February 20, 1984
Quirino, Carlos. Filipinos at War. Philippines: Vera – Reyes, Incorporated. 1981.
Times Journal, February 19, 1984.

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