Jose Alejandrino proved his love of country and great heroism as an engineer and general in the revolutionary army of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. Considered an early Filipino chemical engineer, he was born to a wealthy couple from Arayat, Pampanga on December 1, 1870 in Binondo, Manila. His brother, Col. Joaquin Alejandrino, also rendered military service during the Philippine Revolution, assisting Gen. Manuel Tinio.
General Alejandrino obtained his education both here and abroad, initially at the Ateneo Municipal and, thereafter, at the University of Santo Tomas, where he acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree. He pursued his studies in Spain and at the University of Ghent in Belgium, where he distinguished himself and brought honor to his country through his superior academic performance. Edilberto Evangelista, another Filipino engineer who served in the revolutionary army, was his schoolmate in Ghent. In July 1895, he graduated with a degree in chemical engineering.
While in Spain, Alejandrino became an active member of the Propaganda Movement, which strove to secure political reforms in the Philippines from the Spanish government. Together with Eduardo Lete and Dominador Gomez, he joined the editorial staff of La Solidaridad, the mouthpiece of the Propagandists. When the Propagandists decided to hold an election for the leadership of the Filipino community in Spain, two partisan groups emerged. One, in support of Marcelo H. del Pilar, was led by Antonio Luna and included Dominador Gomez, Salvador V. del Rosario and Mariano Ponce. The other group, composed of M. Salvador, Galicano Apacible, B. Roxas and Alejandrino himself, supported Rizal, who eventually won the presidency but gave it up in favor of Del Pilar. Alejandrino and Rizal, who were close friends, were together when the latter had El Filibusterismo, his great sequel to Noli Me Tangere, published. It was Alejandrino bought the manuscript to the printing press.
On November 21,1896, several months after the Philippine Revolution broke out, Alejandrino accompanied by Feliciano Jocson, journeyed to Kawit , Cavite to seek a meeting with General Aguinaldo. Evangelista his old schoolmate at the University of Ghent, had proposed that he acquired the much-needed arms for the revolutionaries from either China or Japan. Alejandrino offered to undertake the dangerous mission. When Aguinaldo accepted his offer, he proceeded to Hong Kong, where he help organized the Revolutionary Council along with Felipe Agoncillo, Jose Basa, and Mariano Ponce. Much later he became part of the group in Hong Kong Committee, which included Agoncillo and Galicano Apacible who staunchly advocated independence, as opposed to the circle led by Jose Basa and Doroteo Cortes, who were for annexing the country to the United States.
From Hong Kong, however, was able to dispatch to the revolutionaries in the Philippines only dynamites and rifle pistons. Thus, in February 1897, he left Hong Kong for Japan, to try to aquifer more weapons and supplies.
In 1898, he served in the Malolos Congress that was first convoked on September 15 by the revolutionary government. He became a member of two crucial committees - the committee on budget, and the committee to draft the Constitution. On September 26, he was given the position of director of agriculture and industry of the revolutionary administration. Later, he was designated chief of the engineers of the army by President Aguinaldo.
When the Philippine-American War erupted, he affiliated with Gen. Antonio Luna and his troops. Subsequently, as chief engineer, he directed the building of trenches in several areas, including Bulacan and Caloocan.
He rose to the position of brigadier-general, and served as acting Secretary of War. He was also appointed commanding general of the military operations in Central Luzon (in place of Gen.
Pantaleon Garcia), and military governor of Pampanga, replacing Gen. Maximino Hizon, who had earlier been caught by the enemy. By then the beleaguered government of Aguinaldo had been continuously hounded by the pursuing American forces and pushed backed to Tarlac.
In September 1899, he headed the three- man commission charged with releasing 13 American prisoners and holding talks with General Otis, the commanding general of the American army in the Philippines, on the suspension of hostilities. Lt. Col. Ramon Soriano and Maj. Evaristo Ortiz assisted General Alejandrino. Later he also conferred with Gen. Arthur McArthur, who had replaced Otis as chief of the American forces. The two talked on the brutal, dehumanizing abuse of Filipino civilians by American soldiers. Meanwhile, the revolutionaries' struggle was being debilitated by cowardly Filipinos whom Alejandrino excoriated for treacherously collaborating with the Americans.
In May 1901, after much suffering and the tragic loss of countless comrades in the field, General Alejandrino surrendered, in Arayat, to General Funston. The latter initially refused his offer to surrender and, instead, had him placed under arrest, demanding that he present a certain American Negro, named Fagan, who was wanted for desertion. Although he resisted Funston's demand, Alejandrino was released the next day.
In August of the same year, Alejandrino accepted from Gov. William H. Taft the position of second city engineer of Manila, but discharged his duties for not more than a year. He retired to lead a farmer's life until 1923, when he was designated senator for Sulu and Mindanao by Gov. Gen, Leonard Wood. In 1934, he was elected representative of Pampanga's second district to the Constitutional Convention. He was a member of the Partido Democrata Nacional, which counted among its members Claro M. Recto and Juan Sumulong. He was also one of the founders of the Pan-Orientalist Society.
La Senda del Sacrificio, General Alejandrino's account of the Philippine Revolution against Spain and the Philippine-American War, tells of the noble revolutionaries and the lonely wars, both great and small, that they fought in order to attain the ever-elusive but exalted goal of national freedom. General Alejandrino was among those noble revolutionaries. He died on June 1, 1951.
Larkin, John A. The Pampangans, Colonial Society in a Philippine Province, University of California Press, 1972.
Gwekoh, Sol. “Hall of Fame,” Manila Times, 1965-1966.
Cornejo, M.R. Commonwealth Directory of the Philippines, 1939.