JUAN M. ELIZALDE
(1902 – 1944)
War Hero and Industrialist
One of the four Elizalde brothers who pioneered in business and internationally known
sports in the Philippines, Juan M. Elizalde was born in Manila on February 3, 1902 to Joaquin J.
Elizalde and Carmen Diaz Moreau. He acquired his education in Spain, the United States, and
England. After his studies abroad, he returned home to join his father and brothers in the
management and supervision of Elizalde & Company, Incorporated, the family firm, which was
engaged in commercial and industrial activities.
Established by his father in 1854 as the Ynchausti Compania, the firm began as a ship
chandlery store along the banks of the Pasig River.
The growth and expansion of Elizalde and Company, Inc. was largely due to the business
acumen and able leadership of its founders, particularly Juan Elizalde, who was its vice president.
He was also the vice – president of the Anakan Lumber Company, and director of the following
companies: Central Azucarera de Sara – Ajuy, Metropolitan Insurance Company and National
Development Company. Married to a Californian, Janice Meritt, he was a “model employer who
saw to it that his thousands of employees in the varied and extensive business interest of his family
lived comfortably, decently, and contentedly.”
When the Second World War broke out, Elizalde, a captain in the reserve corps of the
Philippine Army, led a small but brave group of Filipino guerillas known as the “28 Men of Fort
Santiago.” This underground resistance movement, whose operation he personally supervised and
financed, worked closely inside enemy territory to provide the commander of the United States
Forces in the Far east (USAFFE), General Douglas MacArthur, daily reports of Japanese defenses
and troop movements in the Philippines. The Japanese placed it under close surveillance through
a counter – espionage group.
In early February 1944, Elizalde, along with the rest of the “28 Men of Fort Santiago,” was
arrested. They were confined in the dungeons of Fort Santiago in Manila. Elizalde pleaded with
the Japanese to have his companions freed, saying that as the leader of the group, he alone should
be punished. He told them that he was solely responsible for the sinking of 38 Japanese warships.
His admission and pleas in behalf of his comrades went for naught. They were taken to the
Chinese Cemetery compound, where they were beheaded on August 29 – 30, 1944.
For his heroic wartime exploits, particularly as leader of the “28 Men of Fort Santiago,”
Elizalde posthumously received the Distinguished Conduct Star Medal.
Cornejo, M.R. Commonwealth Directory of the Philippines. Manila,1939.
Hartendorp , A.V.H. Japanese Occupation of the Philippines Volumes 1 and 2. Manila: