Senator Jose Alejandrino was born to a wealthy couple from Arayat, Pampanga on December 1,1870, in Binondo Manila.
Senator Alejandrino obtained his education initially at the Ateneo Municipal and, thereafter, at the University of Santo Tomas, where he acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree. He pursued his studies in Spain and at the University of Ghent in Belgium, where he distinguished himself and brought honor to his country through his superior academic performance. He graduated with a degree in chemical engineering.
While in Spain, he became an active member of the Propaganda Movement. He joined the editorial staff of La Solidaridad. A close friend of Jose Rizal, he was the one who brought the manuscript of the El Filibusterismo to the printing press for publication.
On November 21, 1896, several months after the Philippine Revolution broke out, accompanied by Feliciano Jocson, he journeyed to Kawit, Cavite, to seek a meeting with General Aguinaldo. Edilberto Evangelista, his old schoolmate at the University of Ghent, had proposed that he acquire the much-needed arms for the revolutionaries from either China or Japan. He offered to undertake the dangerous mission.
When Aguinaldo accepted his offer, he proceeded to Hongkong, where he helped organize the Revolutionary Council along with Felipe Agoncillo, Jose Basa and Mariano Ponce. Much later, he became part of the group in the Hong Kong Committee, which included Agoncillo and Galicano Apacible, that staunchly advocated independence, as opposed to the circle led by Jose Basa and Doroteo Cortes, who were for annexing the country to the United States.
From Hongkong he was able to dispatch to the revolutionaries in the Philippines only dynamites and rifle pistons. Thus, in February 1897, he left Hongkong for Japan, to try to acquire more weapons and supplies.
In 1898, he served in the Malolos Congress that was first convoked on September 15 by the revolutionary government. He became a member of two crucial committees to draft the Constitution. On September 26, he was given the position of director of agriculture and industry of the revolutionary administration. Later, he was designated chief of the engineers of the army by President Aguinaldo.
When the Philippine-American War erupted, he affiliated with Gen. Antonio Luna and his troops. Subsequently, as chief engineer, he directed the building of trenches in several areas, including Bulacan and Caloocan.
He rose to the position of brigadier-general, and served as acting secretary of war. He was also appointed commanding general of the military operations in Central Luzon (in place of Gen. Pantaleon Garcia), and military governor of Pampanga, replacing Gen. Maximino Hizon, who had earlier been caught by the enemy. By then the beleaguered government of Aguinaldo had been continuously hounded by the pursuing American forces and pushed back to Tarlac.
In September 1899, he headed the three-man commission charged with releasing 13 American prisoners and holding talks with General Otis, the commanding general of the American army in the Philippines, on the suspension of hostilities. He was assisted by Lt. Col. Ramon Soriano and Maj. Evaristo Ortiz. Later, he also conferred with Gen. Arthur MacArthur, who had replaced Otis as chief of the American forces. The two talked on the brutal, dehumanizing abuse of Filipino civilians by American soldiers. Meanwhile, the revolutionaries struggle was being debilitated by cowardly Filipinos whom Alejandrino excoriated for treacherously collaborating with the Americans.
In May 1901, after much suffering and the tragic loss of countless comrades in the field, he surrendered, in Arayat, to General Funston. The latter initially refused his offer to surrender and, instead, had him placed under arrest, demanding that he present a certain American Negro, named Fagan, who was wanted for desertion. Although he resisted Funston’s demand, Alejandrino was released the next day.
In August of the same year, he accepted from Gov. William H. Taft the position of second city engineer of Manila, but discharged his duties for not more than a year. He retired to lead a farmer’s life until 1925, when he was designated senator for Sulu and Mindanao by Gov. Gen. Leonard Wood. A member of the Partido Democrata Nacional, he was elected representative of Pampanga’s second district to the Constitutional Convention in 1934.
Senator Alejandrino’s account of the Philippine Revolution against Spain and the Philippine-American War, La Senda del Sacrificio, tells of the noble revolutionaries and the lonely wars that they fought in order to attain the national freedom.
Senator Alejandrino died on June 1, 1951.