Like his father, Mariano , General
Alvarez was one of the most valiant generals of the Revolution. He was born on
July 25, 1872 in Imus, Cavite. He was an only child. Shortly after his birth,
his parents moved to Noveleta, a town on the northwestern part of the province,
along the coast of Manila Bay where young Santiago grew up.
He began his early education at the age
of seven in a private school in Noveleta under the tutorship of Sr. Antonio
Dacon. At the age of ten, he transferred to another private school in Cavite,
Cavite, (now Cavite City) where his tutor was Don Ignacio Vilocillo. From there,
his parents sent him to Manila because they wanted him to become a teacher. He
enrolled at a school conducted by Don Macario Hernandez along Camba street in
Tondo. His studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the Revolution in 1896. As
soon as peace was restored, he enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas.
Subsequently, he transferred to the Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he
finally obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree. He then took up law at the Liceo
Shortly before the outbreak of the
Revolution in 1896 Santiago was made delegado general of the provincial council
of the Katipunan in Cavite. When the Revolution spread in Cavite he was
promoted to captain-general and later commander-in-chief of the Magdiwang
forces. As such, he was among the first in Cavite to take up arms against Spain.
All through the Revolution he fought side by side with his father.
Together with his father and with his
cousin, Gen. Pascual Alvarez, he was greatly responsible for seizing Novelta
from the Spanish civil guards on August 31, 1896. During that encounter, the
two Spanish officers were killed and all the civil guards taken as prisoners. The
revolutionary forces also seized 29 firearms. Four days later, when the
Spaniards attempted to retake the town, the Alvarezes once more shared
leadership in their successful defense of Noveleta.
A daring combat soldier, Santiago
displayed extraordinary courage and bravery in various assaults on the
neighboring coastal and interior towns near Noveleta, specifically Naic,
Maragondon, Magallanes, Tanza, Alfonso, Silang, Imus, and San Francisco de
Malabon (now General Trias.)
In September of 1896 and under the
command of his father, Santiago and Colonel Inocencio Salud took charge of the
construction of the ingenious bamboo fortification in Dalahican, a strategic barrio
guarding the mouth of the isthmus of Cavite.
From November 9-11, 1896, he engaged
the Spanish troops led by General Ramon Blanco in a 36-hour battle in
Dalahican. It was one of the bloodiest encounters during the early days of the
Revolution. He scored a decisive victory and finally repulsed them. He forced
them to retreat, thus, preventing the enemy forces from making a breakthrough
into the other towns in Cavite. In this battle he suffered a severe bullet
wound on his head on account of which he was forced to rest for more than a
At this furious encounter, Santiago
ordered his men to dig three huge wells. These wells were made to contain the
more than one thousand enemy casualties and a few revolutionary troops that
fell. General Artemio Ricarte and General Pascual Alvarez were able to repulse
the enemy attacks against Dalahican for more than a year. In this manner, they
were able to check every possible effort to send reinforcements from Manila.
Santiago was also known as Kidlat ng
Apoy because of the flaming courage he demonstrated as commander of Cavite's
famed Batteries 1, 2, and 3 in the battle of Dalahican. He showed this trait once
more at the Tejeros Convention of March 22, 1897. During that gathering he
almost came to blows with Antonio Montenegro, a Magdalo. Montenegro had raised
issued with "touched off' a sensitive spot in the hearts of the Magdiwang
As a fitting reward for his exceptional
bravery in the battle of Dalahican, he was popularly acclaimed the "Hero
of the Battle of Dalahican."
Upon the establishment of the American
civil government in the Philippines in 1901, Santiago assisted Pascual H.
Poblete, Lope K. Santos, Macario L. Sakay, and many others in the organization
of the Nacionalista Party. Like his fellow party members, he aimed to secure for
his countrymen, in an opportune time, the independence of his country under the guidance of the United
States of America.
In 1902, Governor William Howard Taft
named him the presiding officer of the Great Council of Peace Commission (Junta
Magna de la Comision de la Paz which was created to expedite the rehabilitation
of the country from the ravages of war.
He also collaborated in the founding of
the Philippine Independent Church and became one of its leaders. In 1912, he
organized the "Makabuhay Association" whose aims were fraternity and
Santiago was married to Doņa Pat
Granados of Tanza, Cavite with whom he had ten children, namely, Marta,
Magdalena, Gabriel, Pacita, Numeriano, Egmidio, Rosendo, Virginia, Amelia, and
He was only 58 when he died of
paralysis on October 30, 1930 in San Pablo, Laguna. His death came just 17 days
after his wife died. His remains were buried at the San Pablo municipal