Wednesday, November 12, 2008

*112. DR. BASILIO J. VALDES: Fortune Helps the Brave

GAMES OF THE GENERAL. Basilio Valdes was a doctor first, but also earned recognition as a military man, business man, medical instructor and a government executive. This picture of him was taken during the Manila Carnival of 1921.

Physician, Professor, General, Chief of Staff, Businessman, Cabinet Secretary. These are but a few of the many roles Dr. Basilio J. Valdes would play in his checkered life. The good doctor would make a name for himself as one of the most accomplished personalities ever to emerge from the Commonwealth years, dedicating his life to government, military and civic service with uncommon drive and distinction.

While Basilio was born in San Miguel, Manila on 10 July 1892 to Benito Salvador Valdes and Filomena Pica, the Valdeses have deep roots in Floridablanca, Pampanga. His father, a classmate of Rizal in Madrid was also a physician. The Valdeses led peripatetic lives, which explains why young Basilio spent a number of years in different schools here and abroad. He started his primary grade in La Salle, Barcelona then continued this in San Beda from 1901-1903. He then went to La Salle Hong Kong, the Ameircan School in Manila, Pagsanjan High School and Manila High School—all in a span of 8 years.

Largely influenced by his father, he enrolled in Medicine at the University of Santo Tomas and graduated with honors in 1916. Immediately, he plunged headlong into medical service,treating all his patients with respect and fairness, and adapting a personal motto—“Audaces Fortuna Juvat”—Fortune helps the brave. While in practice, he also became a professor of Physiology at his alma mater and published medical papers.

Driven to serve beyond his country, he joined the French Army as a medical volunteer, then the U.S. Army as a surgeon from 1917-1919. He labored in Europe as part of the American Red Cross mission during the war years, while studying health conditions in Czechoslovakia and Lithuania. Later, he would apply this new knowledge when he organized foundations devoted to the care and treatment of infantile paralysis patients.

Thus began his second career in military service. When he came back to the Philippines, he became a medical inspector for the Philippine Constabulary for 8 long years (1926-1934). He was also the Chairman of the Board of Medical Examiners from 1928-1932. In 1932, he was named acting Commissioner of Health and Welfare.

President Manuel L. Quezon appointed him as Chief of Staff of the Philippine Constabulary and Philippine Army in 1939, elevating his rank to a general (he would rise to become a Brigadier General). Two years later, Basilio was appointed as Secretary of National Defense—the country’s third. To expand his military education, he attended the Command and General Staff School in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating there in 1943.

During the Japanese period, he served under Pres. Jose P. Laurel as Secretary of Public Works. Basilio was even busier when the war years ended, becoming a president many times over for various medical associations, war veteran groups, health societies and civic clubs like the Manila Lions. In the 1950s, he was also the President of Hacienda del Carmen of Floridablanca, Pampanga. From his community of tenant-farmers, barrio Valdes was formed.

The good doctor married Rosario ‘Bombona’ Legarda whom he met during the 1921 Manila Carnival. She had been a princess in the court of the Carnival Queen, Carmen Prieto, whom Basilio escorted. The couple was childless, but had an adoptive daughter. Dr. Basilio J. Valdes died on 26 January 1970 after a long and fruitful career, and a life favored no doubt, by fortune.

(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")


aya said...

I was surprised to read this beautiful account about one of my forefathers. my great-grandmother and Dr. Basilio J. Valdes were cousins, but I never knew half of the things stated here. I wonder where do you get such information??I'm trying to know my family's history and would appreciate any help from you. my email is :

alex r. castro said...

Hi, Aya.
Most of the info I got from the Center for Kapampangan Studies which has an extensive library and archival materials. Info on Dr. Valdes is also readily available online. I also have commemorative fiesta booklets of Bo. Valdes Town Fiesta in Floridablanca that had valuable information about the Dr. I also had e-mails from people who once knew him and who gave updated information. Finally, his photo came from my collection of old Manila Carnival photos. Thanks for dropping by.

docnoel said...

hmmmm, i'll try to get a picture of the commemorative dedication posted at our great scientific hall, named after him of course!

-doc noel
chief resident

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information about my great grandfather. I am another relative of the General and I have more information about the Valdes family. I spent some time in the rest house in Florida Blanca, Barrio Valdes. My grandma Paquita is Basilio's first cousin. I'm an art historian and would be interested to exchange information on things Kapampangan.

Aya, we have the same last name and must related. My father is Roberto (Berting). Who's yours?

Teresa Rodriguez

alex r. castro said...

Thanks for dropping by Teresa. When in Pampanga, you may wish to visit the Center for Kapampangan Studies at Holy Angel U, in Angeles. I do collect vintage paintings on the side, esp. the works of Kapampangan painters and Mabini artists from the 30s to the 60s. Plus of course, I collect antique ecclesiastical arts, from santos to retablos, which can be viewed at my multiply account featured on the links. Dakal a salamat!

aya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aya said...

hi Teresa. Yeah I think your my relative because Paquita Valdes Rodriguez is my great grandma. Her son, Jose Valdes Rodriguez, is my grandfather and I used to live at the great big house in Valdes, Floridablanca, Pampanga.

BTW, my uncle, Bernardo, is/was an painter/artist himself and his works were displayed before somewhere in Angeles, but I was tii yiung then to remember where =)

aya said...


Anonymous said...

I'm wilfrido rodriguez, aya is my daughter and gen. basilio valdes is my grandfather first cousin of my grandmother, thanks for the article you published about him.

alex r. castro said...

Many thanks, Mr. Rodriguez. I think you have a lot of relatives who posted their comments here.

Michael Valdes Arellano said...

Hi, my name is Michael Valdes Arellano. I came from Alejo side, he is the brother of Basilio. Alejo had 3 children. they are Armando,Ramon and Filomena. Filomena is still alive. Alejo and Ramon was killed by the Japanese during the WWII. Armando went to the states right after the war and came back with my mother Angeline Valdes. We don't know the mother of my mom. All we know is that Armando came back from the states and told his mother thats this kid is my daughter from the states. Armando was married to Lucia Torres and had 3 more daughter after my mother. Marlene. Marivic and Lucylle I was just wondering if any body have any more information about my mother Angeline. She has past now but before she did she really wanted to know about her own mother. My Mother Angeline married Manuel Arellano and gave birth to 5 sons. Lionell,Armando,Manuel, Christopher and me Michael.If you have any info it would be great thanks

Michael Valdes Arellano said...

Oh and my father Manuel Arellano is related to the Arellano's who design the Manila Post Office,Pinaglabanan Bridge etc. They were Architectures and painters.

alex r. castro said...

That must be Juan Arellano, the famous architect-painter. Gabby Concepcion has an Arellano mom related to him, so you must be relatives. About Valdes forebears, maybe you could try checking canonical books of Floridablanca. The microfilms are available at the Family Center of the Church of the Latter Day in White Plains.

Bogs said...

How did the government acquired his house in San Miguel, Manila? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

hi this is jose manuel valdes son of jose alfredo h valdes my grandfather is major manuel legarda valdes my grandmother pasita hassan valdes i so i am glad to now you as part of our family

joma said...

hi this is jose manuel valdes son of jose alfredo h valdes my grandfather is major manuel legarda valdes my grandmother pasita hassan valdes i am glad to know you as part of our family
this is my father

sorry for the wrong spelling in my first comment i was so thankful to god that i found this because i have been searching for this for a long time