A Pinoy war hero in America - A Voice From America
- by Ernie D.Delfin () - March 26, 2000 - 12:00am


With his wife Concepcion Dualan, a pharmacist from Cavite, Commodore

Ramon Alcaraz started the Commodore Drug Stores in Metro Manila which soon became a chain of drugstores. In California, their business acumen proved invaluable in their real estate business, which prospered in less than 25 years.

Amid his comfortable retirement and self-exile in California, Commodore Alcaraz was a key player as the chief military adviser to the Movement of Free Philippines, founded by the late Raul Manglapus here in the US with the primary objective of toppling the regime of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos to bring freedom and democracy back to the people. Many times and in various locations, the Commodore met with Ninoy Aquino and Raul Manglapus as well as many advocates for democracy in the US to plan strategies to help the oppositionists against Marcos. He was one of the handful of Filipinos in the US who saw Ninoy Aquino before his last plane trip to the Philippines that fateful day in August 1983.

To this day, he still tries to be an active political activist to bring about some reforms to the military establishment. Asked about the proudest moment in his military career, he told this writer that it was when a Congressional investigation vindicated him in February 1966 (after Marcos summarily fired him as Fleet Commander under a cloud that cast aspersions on his honor) which not only cleared his name but extolled his virtues as an honorable officer and gentleman and outstanding naval officer. Thereafter, he asked to be retired from the government service.

He added that the proudest and most memorable event in his life was the restoration of freedom and democracy in the Philippines in 1986 when Cory Aquino became the president of the Philippines. With nostalgia, he hummed the tune "na makita kong sakdal laya ang bayan kong mahal" (to have seen my beloved homeland free at last!) of a popular patriotic song.

His ideas for Philippine development are worth pursuing. Being a maritime country whose territorial area is 75 percent water, the Philippine national government must develop the maritime potential like what President Theodore Roosevelt did for early America. The nation's water transportation is undeveloped and foreign ships carry the major exports. Products of other islands cannot reach the marketplace due to lack of reliable, cost-effective water transportation systems. Shipbuilding and the fishing industries must be developed not only to utilize our vast natural resources but also to provide employment to our people.

Additionally, the navy should be given the primary role instead of just a supporting role in national defense considering our vast coastal areas. Commodore Alcaraz concluded that it would be a wise idea to abolish the army and replace it with the Marines who are trained in amphibious operations to operate in every single one of our 7,000 islands. The Marines are well-trained professionals, highly disciplined and uncorrupted unlike those in other branches of the military.

Before he dies, Commodore Alcaraz wants to help bring back the honor and glory to the military profession whose current leadership is now dominated by PMA graduates.

During his active military duty, PMA graduates were truly officers and gentlemen. Nowadays, the honor code is apparently forgotten. He strongly recommends that those PMA graduates who became tools and puppets of martial law, violators of human rights, corrupt or involved in various coups to overthrow the Aquino government like Senator Honasan, must be tried.

Unlike in Argentina and Chile, two countries that are now addressing the military abuses and corruption of their leaders, the Philippine government is not only promoting many military violators but also giving them top positions of responsibility. He recommends that the PMA Alumni Association form honor committees similar to what they have at the PMA and try all violators of the honor code. Those found guilty shall be expelled from the association and given the widest publicity. To a true officer and a gentleman who values honor, that would be the most severe punishment.

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APOSTSCRIPT. I've known Commodore Alcaraz for almost 20 years now. His nationalism is exemplary and his love of country cannot be questioned. His revolutionary ideas to reform/improve our homeland are unfortunately not politically popular because they will displace the parasites in government.

The nation's present leadership has the propensity of testing the wind of popularity first before making a decision. True leaders do what is right and moral, not what is popular or convenient. True leaders are decisive and visionary. The annals of world history can teach any leader worth his salt that all worthwhile changes are difficult, unpopular, and often times painful and bloody. (The People Power "revolution" in l986 was probably incomplete because there was no bloody sacrifice.)

Just consider the life of the greatest revolutionary whom I truly admire and adore, Jesus Christ, who spilled his own blood for all mankind.

We as a nation can also draw inspiration from visionary and fearless leaders like Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Pope John XXIII, Alexander the Great and hundreds of past and present leaders of the world. We can also get inspiration from our own heroes, like Bonifacio, Mabini, Rizal, Aguinaldo, del Pilar and many idealistic Filipino ilustrados who gave their lives in their prime, except Aguinaldo who died in his nineties.

As a nationalist-in-exile, my only wish and prayer is to see a better Philippines in my lifetime, and to disprove a growing belief that the Philippines is a hopeless country.

Somebody even e-mailed me his eaction to my recent column lamenting that "we can rave and rant all we want but the Filipino people are hopeless, corrupt, without vision and just think only for themselves." This sad comment is the exact of opposite of Ninoy Aquino's "The Filipino people is worth dying for," in a speech that Commodore Alcaraz helped compose.

Which is the truer statement?

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The writer can be reached at: erdelusa@hotmail.com or ernie.delfin@progressivetimes.com. You can also visit his website at: http://www.progressivetimes.com.

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