Alexander Yano was born to the late Iñigo Yano and Gloria Badong, both retired public school teachers of Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte. He is married to the former Estela Aragon from La Union, a retired military nurse, and blessed with a son, Ervin Andrew. “Alex” or “Boy” as he is fondly called is the eldest in a brood of 5, which include Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attache Brigadier General Cesar B. Yano, a diplomat in Washington D.C. and also a Philippine Military Academy Class 1980 graduate.
He graduated from the public elementary school of said town in 1965 as Salutatorian and later studied in high school in St Vincent’s College in Dipolog City and graduated with honors in 1969. He initially took up 3 years of Civil Engineering studies in Cebu Institute of Technology before taking the entrance examinations of the PMA. He entered the prestigious military institution in 1972 and graduated in 1976. As a PMA cadet, he excelled more in athletics and extra-curricular activities. Among others, he established two (2) PMA athletic records, in high jump and 400-meter low hurdles. The hurdles record remains unbroken up to this day. As a graduating cadet, he was also the Regimental Adjutant of the PMA Cadet Corps, a coveted position that aptly recognized his early leadership potentials.
He later on completed and topped in all his military trainings in the Philippines and abroad. Among these courses are the following: Special Forces Operations Course; Field Artillery Officers Course; Pre-Command Course for Battalion Commanders and the Command and General Staff Course. He also finished the Infantry Officers Advance Course in the US Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, and Georgia, United States and landed in the Commandant’s List as an Honor Graduate.
Upon graduation from PMA, Yano was commissioned and called to active duty with the Philippine Army. He spent his early years in the military service mostly in combat assignments in Northern and Central Luzon and the provinces of Samar during the height of the CPP/NPA rebellion in the 70s and 80s. Yano hugged the limelight when, as Task Force Zamboanga Chief, he acted as overall ground tactical commander during the infamous Cabatangan crisis in 2001 that led to the successful release of over a hundred civilian hostages and eventually liberated the Cabatangan Complex in Zamboanga City from over 300 fully armed MNLF Breakaway Group elements. This crucial battle earned him the moniker “Liberator of Cabatangan” from the late City Mayor – Maria Clara Lobregat.
After his duty tour in Zamboanga City, he was personally handpicked by then SOUTHCOM Chief Gen Roy Cimatu to command the 601st Army Brigade in SOCSARGEN at the height of terrorist bombings that rocked Gen Santos City in 2002. During his over two-year stint as Brigade Comdr, no single terrorist bombing occurred in General Santos City. He earned his 1st star-rank as Brigade Commander in 2003, the first in his PMA batch to become a General. He was also declared as “adopted son” of General Santos City in recognition of his invaluable contributions to that city.
He later served as Assistant Division Comdr of the 9th Infantry Division in Bicol and concurrently as Chairperson of the Government Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities with the MILF for his proven competence and abilities especially in understanding the intricacies of the Mindanao conflict. He then, briefly served as Chief of the AFP’s Civil Relations Service and concurrent AFP Spokesperson where he ably articulated the AFP’s position on various defence and security issues. With Gen. Generoso Senga as then Army Chief, Yano was personally plucked from Camp Aguinaldo to assume as Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army where he earned his Second Star (MAJ General) in April 2005, again, the 1st to earn said rank in his class.
As a testament to his exemplary achievements, he received various military awards, including: 4 Distinguished Service Stars; Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Officer); 4 Outstanding Achievement Medals; Gold Cross Medal for gallantry in combat; Bronze Cross Medal and 27 Military Merit Medals. He had also been twice awarded as “Most Outstanding Zamboanga del Norte Citizen” in 2003 and in 2005. He received the “Outstanding Alumnus Award” from St Vincent’s College in Dipolog City in December 2005. Likewise, he was conferred the “PMA Achievement Award” by PMA in Baguio City in November 2005.
The Commission on Appointments (CA) finally confirmed on June 11, 2008, en masse several top government officials, including Yano amid walk outs by Senators Jamby Madrigal and Panfilo Lacson.
On May 1, 2009, he retired one-month earlier and he was succeeded by Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado of Philippine Army as the chief of staff. He's been appointed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as ambassador to Brunei Darrussalam. The reason for his early retirement is to prepare himself for the confirmation of his appointment by the Commission of Appointments by June 2009.