A hero is defined solely as somebody who commits an act of remarkable bravery and is admired for outstanding qualities and achievements. But in reality, everyone can be a hero in his or her own standards.
The province of Bulacan is indeed one of the places in the Philippines where extraordinary heroes and leaders were created. Last November 14, 2012, Bulakenyos celebrate the 137th birth anniversary of one of these heroes, Gregorio del Pilar – a young man who once dedicated his life to gratify his countrymen’s thirst for freedom.
The celebration, dubbed as “Katorse de Nobyembre” (Araw ni Heneral Gregorio del Pilar, Araw ng Barangay, Araw ng Kabataan), did not only honor the life and legacy of the legendary Quingua and Tirad Pass hero, but it also gave recognition to the exemplary leaders of the Sangguniang Kabataan and barangays officials in Bulakan. It also gave acknowledgement to the successful projects spearheaded by the mentioned town officials.
The event was pioneered by the local government of the municipality of Bulakan. The event took place at the Plaza del Pilar in barangay San Jose, Bulakan, which was attended by several political figures, including Senator Allan Peter Cayetano, Bulakan Sangguniang Kabataan or SK officials and barangay officials, students, and local residents.
Gregorio del Pilar, the nephew of the famous Marcelo H. del Pilar, was also known as “Goryo”, “Goyong” and “Boy General”. He was one of the youngest generals in the Philippine Revolutionary Forces during the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine-American War. Even at a young age of 20, he had already been participating in battles against the Spaniards and Americans in Bulacan. In fact, he was recognized as a field commander while fighting the Spanish barracks in the province. He also participated in an assault in Kakarong de Sili (now the town of Pandi), when he was among the defenders and warriors when the Spaniards took revenge and recaptured the town.
When the Philippine-American war started, Goryo continued to carry out his exemplary heroism and leadership. In the Battle of Quingua (now the town of Plaridel), he led his troops to success as they defeated the Americans in their first phase of battle. Sadly, in the Battle of Tirad Pass which happened in Ilocos Sur, del Pilar died, as the young general was shot in the neck.
Even at a young age, Goryo had already undoubtedly lived a significant and meaningful life through defending his province and country against oppressive invaders and leading the multitude to fight for their rights, though it meant that his life was in jeopardy.
The life of General Gregorio del Pilar is a challenge to everyone – to imitate and be inspired by the young hero’s valor, so much more than the warlike history he had gone through. This is the challenge: to fight for, defend and protect every human being’s rights; to become catalysts of change; and to become heroes and leaders of the modern chaotic nation state of our country.
It is not every day of our lives that modern-day Gregorio del Pilar and the like will be there to save the day. Even through our simple acts of righteousness and willingness to support and cooperate with each other, whether rich or poor, educated or illiterate, employed or jobless, ordinary citizens or not, we can become heroes, and we are guaranteed that the dream of achieving vast development, both economically and ethically, may be highly possible.
May the short yet courageous life of General Gregorio del Pilar stimulate the hero in the heartsof the every Filipino: to the thousands of intellectuals who vowed to serve and alleviate the country and its citizens in reaching progress and justice; and to the millions of citizens who desire for a better nation.