SANTIAGO ALVAREZ (1872-1930)
SON OF Mariano Alvarez, capitan municipal of Noveleta, Santiago Alvarez was only 24 years old when the Philippine Revolution broke out in August 1896. He was pursuing his Bachelor of Arts course at the Letran College preparatory to a teaching career, when the Katipunan secret society, of which he was the Delegado General in Cavite, was discovered, prompting Andres Bonifacio and his followers to take the field quite prematurely.
Santiago was the bosom of Emilio Aguinaldo, capitan municipal of Kawit, who induced the latter to join the Katipunan. Aguinaldo agreed on condition that Santiago, in turn, joins Freemasonry. It was Santiago Alvarez who built then elaborate batteries at Dalahican to prevent the Spaniards in Cavite from raiding Noveleta. Made up of bamboo walls, sand and gravel, the batteries kept away the enemy for about a year until Governor and Capitan General Ramon Blanco launched his famous two-pronged offensive on November 9-11, 1896, the first prong directed against Binakayan, Kawit, and the second against Dalahican.
Blanco poured about 3,000 troops into the Battle of Dalahican, but Magdiwang revolutionist under the overall command of Santiago Alvarez beat them off after 36 hours of fighting resulting in more than 1,000 enemy casualties and a couple of hundred Filipino insurgents killed or wounded. Santiago was wounded in the head in this battle. The military commanders who assisted him were Generals Artemio Ricarte, Ariston Villanueva, Pascual Alvarez, and Luciano San Miguel, Santiago emerged as the foremost “ Hero of Dalahican”.
Born on July 25, 1872 (three years younger than Emilio Aguinaldo), in Imus, Cavite, the hometown of his mother, Nicolasa Virata. Santiago Alvarez finished his early education in Noveleta to which the Alvarez family had transferred during his boyhood. After the end of Philippine-American War (1899-1901), Santiago resumed his interrupted college studies, obtaining his Bachelor of Arts degree, and later the L.L.B. degree at the Liceo de Manila.
In 1901, Santiago Alvarez, along with Pascual H. Poblete, Andres Villanueva, Macario Sakay, and others, founded and forerunner of the Nacionalista Party. Santiago also helped Fr. Gregorio Aglipay in the organization of the Iglesia Independiente Filipina in 1902. The Alvarez family was main y responsible for the building of the Philippine Independent Church in Noveleta. At the instance of William Howard Taft, First American civil governor in the Philippines, Santiago Alvarez headed the National Peace Commission, which conducted nationwide campaign for the pacification of the country.
Alvarez was married to Paz Granados of Tanza, Cavite, by whom he had ten children; namely, Maria, Magdalena, Gabriel, Pacita, Numeriano, Emigdio, Rosendo, Virginia, Amelia, and Fidel. It is interesting to note that one Alvarez daughter, Pacita, became Mrs. Pacita Alvarez Rono, mother of Deputy Prime Minister Jose Rono, former governor of Samar, who had spent a part of his childhood in Noveleta.
Alvarez in his last days was stricken with paralysis, probably resulting from his head wound sustained during the Battle of Dalahican. He died on October 30, 1930, in San Pablo, Laguna, barely 17 days after the death of his wife.
(Sources: (1) National Historical Commission, Eminent Filipinos, 1965; (2) Prominent Caviteños in Philippine History. Copyright by Esteban A. de Ocampo, 1941; (3) Talambuhay ng Magigiting na Lalaki ng Kabite, Jimenez Collection; (4) Sol H. Gwekoh, “ Santiago Alvarez”, Hall of Fame, Unpublished manuscript, 1973; (5) “ Hen. Santiago Alvarez”, in souvenir program, “ Ika-84 na pagdiriwang ng mga Bayani ng Nobeleta,” August 31, 1980; and (6) “ History of Noveleta,” loc. Cit.)