It is a little known fact that an Aklanon and his invention was instrumental to the victory of the Allied forces during World War II. Alejandro Melchor of Ibajay was the brains behind the pontoon bridge also known as a floating bridge.
Alejandro was born to the couple Juan Melchor and Caridad Salguero, on August 9, 1900. After finishing his elementary years in Ibajay Central School and secondary in Capiz Provincial High School, Doding, as he was fondly called, left for Manila to study in the University of the Philippines. He took up Civil Engineering and graduated with highest honors. He became a Math instructor in his Alma Matter, then served as a professor of the Civil Engineering Department, and later on as College Secretary of the College of Engineering.
He was a prolific inventor and engineer. In fact, he designed and constructed a sundial in the UP Diliman campus. This sundial in its commanding presence still stands on the grounds of UP College of Engineering, which, by the way, was named after him.
Because of his skills and brilliance, he was revered in the field of engineering. In addition to UP College of Engineering building, another edifice, located in the Philippine Military Academy was also named after him. where he taught and served as Head of the Department of Engineering.
Doding also served the country as a member of President Sergio Osmeña’s cabinet. He has always been a prominent figure in the Philippines’ government landscape that the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared August 9, Melchor Day, as a holiday. Sadly, it was celebrated only once, since the declaration.
Not many Aklanons know who Alejandro Melchor is, and how significant his life has been to the country. It is high time that we introduce him to everyone, especially to the younger generation. If we, Aklanons, try hard enough, perhaps we can work together in educating everyone, especially the young people, how great Alejandro Melchor was. If need be, let us dig deeper and unearth the hidden treasure of Ibajay, buried due to apathy and ignorance of his greatness. After all, this treasure is not-so-hidden anymore.