3rd Secretary of National Defense
December 23, 1941 to February 6, 1945
Basilio J. Valdes was professor of Surgery at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Manila and Medical Director of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.
Honest, hardworking, and conscientious, Dr. Valdes and his achievements here and abroad have given prestige to his country and to himself. He went to France and joined the French Army as medical volunteer in 1916. He transferred to the U.S. Army a year after and continued to serve as surgeon until 1919. In February of the same year, he was appointed member of the Inter- Allied Commission to Germany; made chief of the Medical Service of the American Red Cross Commission to Germany, and later appointed Deputy Commissioner of the American Red Cross in Europe.
Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon appointed him chief of staff of the Philippine Constabulary in 1939, and Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army. Major General Basilio J. Valdes P.A. (Ret.) became Secretary of National Defense in 1941; and Secretary of Public Works, War Cabinet (1941-1945), serving under President Jose P. Laurel during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.
As a physician, Valdes also was an instructor for Physiology at the College of Medicine, U.S.T. (1916); Medical Inspector, Philippine Constabulary (1926-1934); Acting Commissioner of Health and Welfare 1932-1934); member of the Board of Medical Examiners (1924-1928; and Chairman, Board of Medical Examiners (1928-1932).
Dr. Valdes was also Chairman of the Deans Committee, Veterans Memorial Hospital and President of the Hacienda del Carmen, Inc.
In 1919, he made studies of the health conditions in Prague, Czechoslovakia and in Kovno, Lithuania. As a result of these studies, valuable assistance was rendered to these areas by the American Red Cross in Europe. He also assisted in the organizing the Philippine Chapter of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis before the war, and the Philippine Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, Inc.
Born on July 10, 1892 at 163 San Rafael, San Miguel, Manila, Dr. Valdes' parents were Benito Valdes y Salvador - himself a doctor and Dr. Jose Rizal's classmate in Madrid, Spain - and Filomena Pica.
He attended La Salle College, Barcelona (1897-1901); San Beda College, (1901-1903); La Salle College Hongkong (1903-1904); American School, Manila (1904); Pagsanjan High School ( 1905-1908); Manila High School (1908-1911); and Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Santo Tomas (1911-1916), graduating meritissimus. While a medical student, he won eight prizes in essay contests.
Dr. Valdes is also a graduate of the Command and General Staff School at Forth Leavenworth, Kansas in 1943. He held a Doctor of Science (honorary) degree from Parsons College, U.S.A.
He married the former Rosario Legarda but they were childless.
As a doctor, he treated all persons alike with kindness and respect, irrespective of their social standing. "Audaces Fortuna Juvat" (Fortune helps the brave) was his slogan.
He was a member of the Philippine Medical Association; University of Santo Tomas Medical Society; Association of Military Surgeons of the Philippines; Association of Military Surgeons of the United States; Philippine Federation of Private Medical Practitioners; Veterans of Bataan and Corrigedor; President of the War Veterans of the Philippines, Inc.; Vice-President of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society; member of the Philippine Cancer Society.
Manila Lions Club, fellow and past President, of the Philippine College of Surgeons, Fellow and past President, Philippine Chapter of the International College of Surgeons; and Fellow of the Philippine Orthopedic Association.Tennis, swimming and listening to classical music were his favorite pastimes. He traveled to Europe, the United States and once around the world, and published various medical papers.