Aurelio Alvero: Outstanding Student Leader, Poet, Writer, Traitor, A Misunderstood Nationalist?
Keywords:Aurelio Alvero, Filipinologist, student-leader, nationalist, traitor
In his book The Fateful Years, historian Teodoro Agoncillo narrated how the pro-Japanese group Malayang Kalipunan ng mga Pilipino (MAKAPILI) was formed. According to Agoncillo, sometime in July or August 1944, the Japanese summoned former GANAP leader Benigno Ramos and commissioned him to form an army dedicated to suppressing bandits and other lawless elements. Acting on these instructions, Ramos called for a meeting at his residence that was attended by several personalities one of whom was a youth leader named Aurelio Alvero.
Who was this Aurelio Alvero? Why was he summoned to this meeting of prominent personalities? And why was he largely forgotten by the Filipinos. The research conducted by the author showed that Alvero was a rising star in the field of literature before World War II. He was also a Filipinologist who spoke about a love for the country and defendingthe its honor. During World War II, he sided with the Japanese because, in Alvero’s view, the Spaniards and Americans corrupted the Filipino nation through their influence. He believed that it was through an alliance with fellow Asians, can the Philippines truly free itself. During the Japanese occupation Alvero, championed the revival of the Filipino culture by establishing the Kulturap and the New Leaders Institute. Later on, Alvero’s pro-Filipino group, the Bisig Bakal ng Tagala, fought against the atrocities committed by the MAKAPILI and likewise foughttheAmericansearly in 1945. He was later arrested and tried for being a collaborator resulting to being imprisoned twice. He died shortly after his release from prison. Today, Alvero is hardly mentioned, not even in literature books. For this reason, this paper revisits Alvero’s life and discusses why his patriotism was interpreted as treason against his own people during World War II.