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Home Sections History A Tale of Two Army Officers Both Surnamed Reyes
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Sections - History
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Monday, 14 February 2011 19:06

 

Angelo Reyes’ Death Is a Lesson to the Filipino Elite and The Imperial Manila While Dominador Reyes’ Demise Brought Sadness to Sorsogon’s Poor People

 

By Bobby Mercado-Reyes of Sorsogon City

 

This seems to be the natural law for after all, the mighty and the lowly, the kings and the peasants, the powerful and the powerless all die the same death and all of them could not take any material thing – except reputation – to the Great Beyond. – Bobby Reyes

 

T he death of Angelo Tomas Reyes, a retired Filipino general and a three-time member of the Cabinet of then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, again brings into focus my Dec. 31, 2010, essay. This essayist wrote in his “Unsolicited Advice” column this article, A New Year’s Message: The World, Especially Filipinos, Must Start to Live More on Love and Less on Materials Things

 

In the article, this writer tells how his father, Dominador S. Reyes (no relations to Gen. Angelo T. Reyes) died poor but apparently a very-happy man. Dominador was a World War II guerilla fighter and retired as a Philippine Army captain in 1946. Many of my kin and some of my friends have shed tears while reading the essay. More so, if one reads it while listening to Alan Jackson’s hit song, “Livin’ On Love” (© 1997 Arista Records, Inc.), by simply clicking the video link in it (and as found also at the end of this article).

 

Comparing the Army Training of Angelo and Dominador

 

D ominador was an ROTC graduate when World War II began. He was in Manila when Japanese planes bombed several American military bases in the Philippines on Dec. 8, 1941. Since he was a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in Cebu City, he was supposed to report back to his Army unit there. But he could not get any ride to Cebu Island. He was ordered by his brother, Dr. Jose S. Reyes, then a high-ranking member of President Manuel L. Quezon’s Commonwealth Government, to report to the Philippine Constabulary in their home province of Sorsogon and help the local resistance against the Japanese invaders. To read more of Dominador’s war exploits, please read: My Father Was the Birdman and Butcher of Bulusan during the War and a Don Quixote Later in Life

 

Both Dominador and Angelo were honor students in high school. Dominador was salutatorian and Angelo was valedictorian of their respective classes.

 

On the other hand, Angelo Reyes was a member of the Philippine Military Academy (Class 1966’s Top-Ten graduates) and took up post-graduate studies and earned two masteral degrees, Masters in Business Administration from the Asian Institute of Management in 1973 and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1991. He also took up International Defense Management Course in Monterey, California, in 1983. In 1987, he graduated number one in Trust Operations Management Course conducted by the Trust Institutes Foundation of the Philippines at the Ateneo Business School, which eventually earned him a scholarship to the Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.

 

Dominador was class valedictorian of his 1940 law class at the then Southern College of Law in Cebu City (now part of the University of Southern Philippines).

 

After World War II ended, Dr. Jose S. Reyes became the Executive Secretary of then-President Sergio Osmeña. Then-Army Captain Dominador Reyes, being a member of the Philippine Bar, chose to continue his Army stint by joining the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAGO). His colleagues at the JAGO often kidded him why he chose not to be appointed to a “more-lucrative position” such as the Philippine-government agency that was handling war-surplus commodities and reparations goods.

 

Dominador’s friends also wondered why he never asked a favor from his brother, Jose, who was unofficially known as the “Little President,” as President Osmeña did not have a Vice President at that time. The position of Sorsogon governor was vacant at that time. But Dr. Jose Reyes said that his siblings (that included Juan, a former Sorsogon governor and congressman) and relatives by affinity (such as former Sorsogon Gov. Teodosio Diño) would never get a political appointment, as he did not want people to say that the Reyeses took advantage of his national position.

 

At the JAGO, Capt. Dominador Reyes handled the cases of alleged Japanese collaborators. One of those accused, Roberto Benedicto, was later found innocent of all the pro-Japanese accusations after Captain Reyes took up his case. He became a friend of Mr. Benedicto and in fact, named his eldest son (this writer) after him. Later, when Mr. Benedicto became a crony of, and an influential person to, then-President Ferdinand E. Marcos, some friends asked why he did not approach Mr. Benedicto for help in the political races that he entered in Sorsogon. Dominador was always a candidate of the opposition and he lacked the resources to fund his candidacy. Dominador simply said that he aided Mr. Benedicto at the court martial because he thought that he was an innocent man and he did it without expecting any favor from him at that time and in the future.

 

Opportunities that Both Angelo and Dominador Missed

 

I grieved for Angelo Reyes long ago, when he started playing footsie with Gloria Arroyo. Now, I must grieve again. – Val Abelgas

 

V al G. Abelgas, a Los Angeles, California-based journalist and editor, wrote about the apparent mistake of Gen. Angelo Reyes in joining the Cabinet of then-de facto President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after the so-called EDSA Dos revolution.

 

To read Mr. Abelgas’ article on the death of Gen. Angelo Reyes, please click on this link: Angelo Reyes Dared Not to Face the Truth and Chose Not to Fight the Battle of His Life

 

Perhaps, Gen. Angelo Reyes would have preserved his almost-immaculate profile as a career soldier if he simply retired after the 2000 revolution (actually a coup d’etat) that toppled then-President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

 

On the other hand, when then-President Sergio Osmeña lost the first post-war presidential elections to Manuel A. Roxas, Dominador Reyes resigned voluntarily from the Philippine Army.

 

The Osmeña Family urged Dominador to return to Cebu City, where it controlled the political-and-social environment. He could have practiced law in what was then the Philippines second-most progressive city and become one of the lawyers of the Osmeña clan and/or its businesses or of the commercial enterprises of Don Sergio’s friends.

 

But Dominador chose to go back to his home province, where he practically became a one-man Sorsoganon version of a pro-bono public defender in the boondocks. In Sorsogon, he practically “invented” legal aid to the poor, who were often at the receiving end of social justice.

 

After then-President Roxas suffered a fatal heart attack in Clark Air Force Base, his Vice President Elpidio Quirino succeeded him. President Quirino appointed Dominador’s brother-in-law, former Sorsogon Gov. Teodosio Diño, as an Undersecretary of Defense. Mr. Diño asked Dominador if he wanted to go back to the Philippine Army. Dominador refused the offer, as he wanted to run for the House of Representatives in one of Sorsogon’s two districts. Undersecretary Diño said that Dominador could switch parties and become the official candidate of the ruling Liberal Party.

 

But the Reyeses were the original Nacionalista-Party pillars of Sorsogon and they chose to stick it out with Jose P. Laurel, President Quirino’s opponent in the now-infamous 1949 election. Dominador ran for Congress as an NP candidate in that election, which was marked with rampant cheating, vote buying and intimidation of voters. Almost all of the opposition bets were defeated although many of them did not concede. But almost all of them did not file any electoral protest, as it was futile to do so.

 

A ngelo Reyes missed the chance not to be a member of Gloria Arroyo’s corrupt regime. Comparing it to Dominador's refusal to join the administration and political party of then-President Quirino, perhaps the Sorsoganon Don Quixote made the right choice. After all, he simply followed what Alan Jackson belted at the end of his song, “No, it doesn't take much when you get enough livin' on love.” # # #

 

Here again is Alan Jackson’s hit of a song:

 

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Last Updated on Monday, 14 February 2011 21:12
 

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