EULOGIO B. BALAO
Eulogio B. Balao was born in Tugueggarao, Cagayan on March 11, 1907, to a simple couple, Matias Balao and Praxedes Baluitan.
As a boy, he used to hear stories about General Emilio Aguinaldo especially about his capture in Palanan, near Tuguegarao: and how bravely the Filipino revolucionarios fought the Spaniards and then defied the Americans. He was fascinated with the story of General Gregorio Del Pilar's heroic stand at Tirad Pass, not knowing that he would be leading the bloody battle at Bessang Pass only 17 kilometers from where General Del Pilar and his comrades had fallen.
Graduating from the Tuguegarao, Cagayan High School in 1926, he passed the entrance exams to the Philippine Constabulary Academy. Being too young, he was made to wait for a year, so he enlisted as private in the Philippine Constabulary.
He entered the Academy in June 1927, graduated in 1931, was assigned as third lieutenant in Laguna, and got wounded in Sta. Rosa, Laguna during the Central Luzon uprising.
Balao was promoted to second lieutenant in 1936, became an instructor at the Philippine Constabulary Academy, then sent to the Officers School in Fort Benning, Georgia. Returning in 1941, he was promoted to Captain and assigned as executive officer of the 2nd infantry Regiment under Major General Calixto Duque in Mindanao. Next, he was reassigned as Academy instructor.
Shortly before war broke out, he was inducted to the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and made commanding officer of the 11th Division's 11th Infantry Battalion which he himself organized, trained, and led to battles. It was in the same division that he met Colonels Moses, Noble, Volckmann and Blackburn who later led guerrilla forces in Northern Luzon.
Balao, who stood six feet, was one of the tallest officers in the army and was well admired by Filipinos and Americans alike who were under his command. He saved the lives of many prisoners in the concentration camp in Capas, Tarlac by helping them escape.
He was Vice Chief of Staff of the Armed Force of the Philippines, and a General of the Army during the term of then Chief of Staff, Major General Jesus Vargas who also became Secretary of National Defense.
Eulogio Balao is remembered for his leadership in the Battle of Bessang Pass against General Yamashita's Japanese Armies holed up there during the battles for liberation of the Philippines. Balao, then a USAFFE major, was pulled out by Colonel Russel Volckmann, commanding officer of the USAIP NL from the 11th Infantry in the Cagayan Valley and made plans and operations officer (S-3) of the 121st Infantry which had been operating against the Japanese since D-Day.
Bessang Pass was where Japanese armies had made a desperate mountain stand, and it was Balao's job to dislodge General Osabi's 19th Division, the 2nd Japanese mountain artillery, and the army under General Araki.
Commanding the 121st Infantry was Colonel Barnett and when he fell ill, Balao was made the next commanding officer. For support, AFWESPAC gave Balao one American Artillery Battalion with 105 howitzers commanded by Colonel Carlson and another American Infantry battalion.
It was in March 1945 when Balao took over and on June 14, 1945, they pursued the Japanese defenders of Bessang Pass to Bontoc, where he and the American troops pocketed General Yamashita and his remaining 16,000 soldiers.
After Liberation, Balao, a full-pledge colonel, headed campaigns against in Central and Southern Luzon. In January 1949, he was appointed Military Attaché of the Philippine Legation in Nanking, China. He was promoted to brigadier general in October 14, 1953. for his gallantry in action, war heroism, and army experience, he was promoted to Vice Chief of Staff on March 11, 1954, then appointed Secretary of National Defense by President Ramon Magsaysay in 1956.
Upon his assumption of office and receiving the colors of the defense establishment, Balao made the solemn vow: "Civilian supremacy over the military will forever be upheld."
For his brilliant military record, he received the congratulations and admiration of then Philippine Ambassador to the U.S., Carlos P. Romulo. As Defense Secretary, he was also honored with a personal invitation from no less than the General Emilio Aguinaldo to the 58th anniversary celebration of the proclamation of the 1st Philippine Republic in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1956.
Among his awards were the Distinguished Service Star and the Philippine Legion of Honor, rank of Commander.
He was married to Carmen Cepeda of Tuguegarao, Cagayan and have five children: Praxedes, Julianita, Eulogio, Jr., Ramon and Antonia.