Jose Torres Bugallon, great military strategist in the Filipino-American War, was born on August 28, 1873 in Salasa (now Bugallon), Pangasinan to Jose Asas Bugallon. His father came from Baliwag, Bulakan; his mother was of the well-known Gonzales family of Pangasinan.
After elementary schooling in Salasa, he went to San Isidro Nueva Ecija where he completed in 1882 the first and second years of the secondary course under Don Rufino Villaruz. In 1886, he enrolled at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, completed the secondary course and earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1889, with high scholastic ratings.
After his graduation he entered the Seminary of San Carlos with the intention of becoming a priest although his real love was the military. Having passed the validation examination given by the Spanish government in 1892, he went abroad as a pensionado of the government to the world-famed Military Academy at Toledo, Spain where he spent three years of concentrated study in the science of military organization and warfare.
In 1896, he graduated as 2nd Lieutenant. Upon his return to the Philippines that same year, he joined and served with the 70th Infantry Regiment of the Spanish Army. He fought several battles and after the battle of Talisay on May 30, 1897, he was promoted to Captain. He was also awarded the coveted Cross of Maria Cristina and the Red Cross for Military Honor (Cruz Roja del Merito Militar). After the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898, and the cessation of hostilities, he obtained his clearance papers.
At that time, General Antonio Luna urgently needed instructors for the training of officers in the European art of warfare at Malolos, Bulacan. Jose joined General Luna's staff as aide-de-camp and recruitment officer for Spanish war veterans. A well-trained military officer, he was very instrumental in the reorganization and discipline of the Filipino Army. This made him an invaluable officer to General Luna.
On February 5, 1899, Bugallon was in command of the heavily defended frontline at La Loma. The American troops under General Arthur MacArthur attacked this defense sector. In the thick of battle, the Filipino forces were outflanked, exposing Torres Bugallon to the superior firepower of the enemy. He was hit by a bullet in the thighs.Upon learning from Lt. Colonel Queri, that Bugallon was wounded, General Luna ordered: "Bugallon wounded. Order forward. He must be saved at all costs. Bugallon is worth 500 Filipino soldiers. He is one of my hopes for future victory."General Luna found him severely wounded and prostrate in a ditch at the side of the road. All that he could utter was "My ...don't expose yourself so much. Don't advance any farther."
For galiantry in action he was honored with the regalia befitting his heroism, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and pinned with a medal worth his military valor. Lt. Colonel Bugallon was withdrawn from the frontlines by Commander Hernando, and General Luna himself, who took him to the Kalookan medical station where he was given first aid by Dr. Jose Luna and Santiago Barcelona. By train, he was rushed by General Luna to Malolos for hospitalization. Somewhere after Lolomboy and nearing the approach to Bocaue, Lt. Colonel Bugallon asked: "Have the reinforcement arrived?" Too weak to keep his strength any longer due to profuse bleeding, he died on the breast of General Antonio Luna, a few hours after he was withdrawn from the battlefield.
Commander Torres Bugallon's death was a great loss to General Antonio Luna who wept unashamedly before the lifeless body of his comrade-at-arms.
Arrangements were made to bury his remains in Bigaa but it was decided later to inter the corpse at the Malolos cemetery. There a tomb with a modest stone slab marked his final resting place.
Though felled in battle, Bugallon with his gallantry under the very superior enemy firepower, surpassed whatever shortcomings he had in Iris military career. He owed a great debt of gratitude to Spain for his training and education. But his decision to renounce his military allegiance and to join the Filipino Army not only for martial laurels but for the bright future of the land of his birth for which he sacrificed his life, made him a hero, a true Filipino.
To perpetuate his memory, a law sponsored in 1921 by Congressman Mauro Navarro of Pangasinan changed the name of Salasa, the hero's birthplace, to Bugallon.
His remains now lie buried in the Sampalok Church in Manila.