Saturday, November 23, 2019
From morning till noon he repelled charge after charge, he tenaciously held on with his handful of men through the heat and agony of battle, till he himself fell dead among his slain soldiers. And well chosen and most fitting was the place where he offered the sacrifice of his life. It was on the mountain summit, overlooking the plains and the shores of his country, a massive and tremendous altar, built as it were for Titans, caressed by the rolling clouds of morning, lighted by the stars of dusk.
Gregorio Del Pilar ( PHOTO, ABOVE) was born in San Jose, Bulacan, on Nov 14, 1875 to an illustrious ilustrado (middle class) family. In his early years, he aided his uncle, Marcelo H. del Pilar, in distributing his anti-friar writings. He was a member of the revolutionary forces in Bulacan even when he was studying at theAteneo de Municipal. When the revolution broke out on Aug 30, 1896, he joined the forces of Heneral Dimabunggo (Eusebio Roque). In the battle at Kakarong de Sili, Pandi, Bulacan, on Jan 1, 1897, he almost lost his life.
General Gregorio del Pilar (front, dark trousers) and Filipino army officers in 1898 photo
The Dec 14, 1897 Truce of Biyak-na-Bato temporarily halted the revolution. Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo brought Del Pilar to Hong Kong (LEFT, photo taken in Hong Kong in early 1898). On May, 19, 1898, Aguinaldo and the other exiles returned to the country and renewed the revolution.
Del Pilar was promoted to general either in June or July 1898 at the age of 22. (He was the second youngest general in the Philippine army, after General Manuel Tinio). He besieged the town of Bulacan and forced the colonial forces there to capitulate on or about June 30, 1898.
The Filipino-American War found Gen. Del Pilar in the frontlines once again. In the April 23, 1899, battle at Quingua (now Plaridel, Bulacan), he nearly defeated Major (later Brig. Gen.) James Franklin Bell; the cavalry commander, Col. John Stotsenburg, was killed.
Toward the latter part of May 1899, with the Philippine army reeling in the face of unrelenting American offensives, President Emilio Aguinaldo created a peace commission to negotiate an armistice. He appointed Del Pilar to head the Filipino panel. For two days, on May 22 and 23, the Filipinos conferred with the Schurman Commission. The talks failed, owing to the Americans' insistence that US sovereignty was non-negotiable. In addition, the Filipino army had to surrender unconditionally. [RIGHT, photo of General Del Pilar taken on May 22-23, 1899 in Manila].
Mt. Tirad at Concepcion, Ilocos Sur Province. PHOTO was taken in the early 1900s.
Tasked to delay US troops pursuing President Aguinaldo, Del Pilar and 60 of his men formed a blocking force at 4,500-foot (1,372 m) Tirad Pass, Concepcion, Ilocos Sur Province (Concepcion was renamed "Gregorio del Pilar" on June 10, 1955). They constructed several sets of trenches and stone barricades, all of which dominated the narrow trail that zigzagged up towards the pass.
On Dec. 2, 1899, Major Peyton Conway March (LEFT, as First Lt. in 1896-1898) led 300 soldiers of the 33rd Infantry Regiment of U.S. Volunteers, up the pass. A Tingguian Igorot, Januario Galut, led the Americans up a trail by which they could emerge to the rear of the Filipinos. Del Pilar died in the battle, along with 52 subordinates. The Americans lost 2 men killed.
The Americans looted the corpse of the fallen general. They got his pistol, diary and personal papers, boots and silver spurs, coat and pants, a lady's handkerchief with the name "Dolores Jose," his sweetheart, diamond rings, gold watch, shoulder straps, and a gold locket containing a woman's hair.
Del Pilar's body was left by the roadside for two days until its odor forced some Igorots to cover it with dirt.
On his diary, which Major March found, Del Pilar had written: "The General [ Aguinaldo ] has given me the pick of all the men that can be spared and ordered me to defend the Pass. I realize what a terrible task has been given me. And yet, I felt that this is the most glorious moment of my life. What I do is done for my beloved country. No sacrifice can be too great."
Posted by ASC at 5:30 AM