Emulate Commodore Ramon Alcaraz.
This is President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III's challenge to the members of Philippine Navy upon the arrival of the country’s newest warship, BRP Ramon Alcaraz, in Subic Tuesday.
But what exactly did Alcaraz do for the nation? And what legacy did he leave behind for the government to name a P620-million refurbished warship after him?
Based on Malacanang’s Official Gazette, here are the 12 things Filipinos should know about Alcaraz:
1. Ramon Alcaraz belonged to the pioneer class in Philippine Military Academy. After his graduation in 1940, he joined Offshore Patrol (OSP), which is the forerunner of the Philippine Navy today.
2. Alcaraz became the captain of Q-112 Abra, which was one of only three motor torpedo boats in the Philippine Army. He saw action during World War II under the direct command of Field Marshal Douglas MacArthur.
3. He was tasked to scuttle and sink 15 Japanese ships in the Pasig River to prevent their capture.
4. On board the torpedo boat, Alcaraz was also able to shoot down three low-flying Japanese planes, which were supposed to drop bombs in Bataan on January 17, 1942. This became his most famous exploit for which he received a Silver Star from MacArthur himself.
5. Japanese forces eventually captured Alcaraz near the shore of Paombong after Q-112 Abra was scuttled four miles off Bataan province on April 10, 1942. He was subsequently incarcerated in Malolos.
6. After he was freed, Alcaraz joined the Philippine Constabulary and used it as a cover for guerrilla operations in Bulacan and Northern Luzon. He served as regimental commander of a guerrilla unit.
7. Alcaraz went back to OSP in order to modernize and strengthen what became the Philippine Navy.
8. Under the orders of then Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay, he was sent to the United States to study the organization of the U.S. Marines in 1950. His report was instrumental for the organization of the Philippine Marine Corps.
9. In 1964, Alcaraz was appointed head of the Naval Operations Force, where he was able to seize P750,000 worth of smuggled cigarettes each month.
10. In spite of his achievements, Alcaraz found himself out of favor with then President Ferdinand Marcos, who secretly met with smugglers and agreed to restrain Navy patrols for share of profits a few days after his inauguration in December 1965.
11. Alcaraz criticized the National Defense policy during the Marcos regime until his retirement. In the 1969 elections, Alcaraz joined a group of retired officers backing Sergio Osmeña Jr. for the presidency.
12. Alcaraz was arrested during Martial Law, which forced him to leave the country for the United States, where he continued to oppose the Marcos dictatorship. He passed away on June 25, 2009 in Orange County, Southern California.
Three years after his death, President Aquino announced he will name the country’s second warship after Alcaraz during the 70th anniversary of the Fall of Corregidor in May 2012.
President Aquino believes Navy officials and personnel should imitate Alcaraz's courage and principle and he best symbolizes the country’s goal for modernization.
“Ibig sabihin: dehado sa gamit, dehado sa sitwasyon, dehado sa kasanayan, pero hindi siya nagpatinag sa kalaban. Nagawang daigin ni Commodore Alcaraz ang tila napaka-imposibleng sitwasyon dahil mulat siyang walang ibang magtatanggol sa ating bansa kundi tayo rin lang,” President Aquino said.
“At ngayon, ang kanyang pangalan ay hindi na lamang mga letrang nakaukit sa Dambana ng Kagitingan o nakapinta sa pisngi ng ating pinakabagong barko; higit sa lahat, habambuhay na itong nakaukit sa puso’t isipan ng bawat Pilipino,” he added.