Gregorio del Pilar
Overview
 
Gregorio del Pilar y Sempio (November 14, 1875—December 2, 1899) was one of the youngest generals in the Philippine Revolutionary Forces during the Philippine Revolution
Philippine Revolution
The Philippine Revolution , called the "Tagalog War" by the Spanish, was an armed military conflict between the people of the Philippines and the Spanish colonial authorities which resulted in the secession of the Philippine Islands from the Spanish Empire.The Philippine Revolution began in August...

 and the Philippine-American War
Philippine-American War
The Philippine–American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence or the Philippine Insurrection , was an armed conflict between a group of Filipino revolutionaries and the United States which arose from the struggle of the First Philippine Republic to gain independence following...

. He is most known for his role and death at the Battle of Tirad Pass. Because of his youth, he was called the "Boy General."
Born on November 14, 1875 to Fernando H. del Pilar and Felipa Sempio of Bulacan, Bulacan
Bulacan, Bulacan
Bulacan or Bulakan is a 1st class partially urban municipality in the province of Bulacan, Philippines. According to the latest census, it has a population of 72,289 people in 13,577 households. It is 35 km north of Manila...

, del Pilar was the nephew of propagandist Marcelo H. del Pilar
Marcelo H. del Pilar
Marcelo Hilario del Pilar y Gatmaitán , better known by his nom-de-plume Plaridel, was a celebrated figure in the Philippine Revolution and a leading propagandist for reforms in the Philippines A master polemicist in both the Tagalog and Spanish languages, he helped the Propaganda Movement through...

 and Toribio H.
Encyclopedia
Gregorio del Pilar y Sempio (November 14, 1875—December 2, 1899) was one of the youngest generals in the Philippine Revolutionary Forces during the Philippine Revolution
Philippine Revolution
The Philippine Revolution , called the "Tagalog War" by the Spanish, was an armed military conflict between the people of the Philippines and the Spanish colonial authorities which resulted in the secession of the Philippine Islands from the Spanish Empire.The Philippine Revolution began in August...

 and the Philippine-American War
Philippine-American War
The Philippine–American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence or the Philippine Insurrection , was an armed conflict between a group of Filipino revolutionaries and the United States which arose from the struggle of the First Philippine Republic to gain independence following...

. He is most known for his role and death at the Battle of Tirad Pass. Because of his youth, he was called the "Boy General."

Early life and education

Born on November 14, 1875 to Fernando H. del Pilar and Felipa Sempio of Bulacan, Bulacan
Bulacan, Bulacan
Bulacan or Bulakan is a 1st class partially urban municipality in the province of Bulacan, Philippines. According to the latest census, it has a population of 72,289 people in 13,577 households. It is 35 km north of Manila...

, del Pilar was the nephew of propagandist Marcelo H. del Pilar
Marcelo H. del Pilar
Marcelo Hilario del Pilar y Gatmaitán , better known by his nom-de-plume Plaridel, was a celebrated figure in the Philippine Revolution and a leading propagandist for reforms in the Philippines A master polemicist in both the Tagalog and Spanish languages, he helped the Propaganda Movement through...

 and Toribio H. del Pilar, who was exiled to Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

 for his involvement in the 1872 Cavite Mutiny
Cavite Mutiny
The Cavite Mutiny of 1872 was an uprising of military personnel of Fort San Felipe, the Spanish arsenal in Cavite, Philippines on January 20, 1872. Around 200 soldiers and laborers rose up in the belief that it would elevate to a national uprising...

.

"Goryo", as he was casually known, studied at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila
Ateneo de Manila University
The Ateneo de Manila University is a private teaching and research university run by the Society of Jesus in the Philippines. It began in 1859 when the City of Manila handed control of the Escuela Municipal de Manila in Intramuros, Manila, to the Jesuits...

, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in 1896, at the age of 20. When the Philippine Revolution
Philippine Revolution
The Philippine Revolution , called the "Tagalog War" by the Spanish, was an armed military conflict between the people of the Philippines and the Spanish colonial authorities which resulted in the secession of the Philippine Islands from the Spanish Empire.The Philippine Revolution began in August...

 against Spanish rule
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 broke out in August under the leadership of Andres Bonifacio
Andres Bonifacio
Andrés Bonifacio y de Castro was a Filipino nationalist and revolutionary. He was a founder and later Supremo of the Katipunan movement which sought the independence of the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule and started the Philippine Revolution...

, del Pilar joined the insurgency. He distinguished himself as a field commander while fighting Spanish garrisons in Bulacan.

Military career

He later joined General Emilio Aguinaldo
Emilio Aguinaldo
Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy was a Filipino general, politician, and independence leader. He played an instrumental role during the Philippines' revolution against Spain, and the subsequent Philippine-American War or War of Philippine Independence that resisted American occupation...

, who had gained control of the movement, in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 after the truce at Biak-na-Bato
Pact of Biak-na-Bato
The Pact of Biak-na-Bato, signed on December 14, 1897, created a truce between Spanish Colonial Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera and Emilio Aguinaldo to end the Philippine Revolution...

. During the Spanish American War, Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines and established the government of the First Philippine Republic
First Philippine Republic
The Philippine Republic , more commonly known as the First Philippine Republic or the Malolos Republic was a short-lived insurgent revolutionary government in the Philippines...

. He appointed del Pilar section leader of the revolutionary forces in Bulacan and Nueva Ecija
Nueva Ecija
Nueva Ecija is a landlocked province of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is Palayan City...

. On June 1, del Pilar landed in Bulacan with rifles purchased in Hong Kong, quickly laying siege on the Spanish forces in the province. When the Spaniards surrendered to del Pilar, he brought his men to Caloocan, Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

 to support the other troops battling the Spaniards there.

When the Philippine-American War
Philippine-American War
The Philippine–American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence or the Philippine Insurrection , was an armed conflict between a group of Filipino revolutionaries and the United States which arose from the struggle of the First Philippine Republic to gain independence following...

 broke-out on February 1899, del Pilar led his troops to a short victory over Major Franklin Bell in the first phase of the Battle of Quingua
Battle of Quingua
The Battle of Quingua was fought on April 23, 1899, in Quingua — now Plaridel, Bulacan, Philippines, during the Philippine-American War. The engagement was a two-part battle. The first phase was a brief victory for the young Filipino general Gregorio del Pilar over the American Cavalry led by...

 on April 23, 1899, in which his forces repelled a cavalry charge and killed the highly respected Colonel John M. Stotsenburg
John M. Stotsenburg
John M. Stotsenburg was a Captain of the Sixth U.S. Cavalry, and a Colonel of the First Nebraska Volunteers. He was killed in the Philippine-American war, while leading his regiment in action near Quingua, Bulacan, Philippines on April 23, 1899 .-History:Colonel Stotsenburg was a native of New...

, after whom Clark Air Base
Clark Air Base
Clark Air Base is a former United States Air Force base on Luzon Island in the Philippines, located 3 miles west of Angeles City, about 40 miles northwest of Metro Manila. Clark Air Base was an American military facility from 1903 to 1991...

 was originally named (Fort Stotsenburg
Fort Stotsenburg
Fort Stotsenburg, during the World War II era, was the location of the Philippine Department's 26th Cavalry Regiment, 86th Field Artillery Regiment, and 88th Field Artillery Regiment; along with the Philippine Division's 23rd and 24th Field Artillery Regiments...

).

Death


On December 2, 1899, del Pilar led 60 Filipino soldiers of Aguinaldo's rear guard in the Battle of Tirad Pass
Battle of Tirad Pass
The Battle of Tirad Pass, sometimes referred to as the "Philippine Thermopylae", was a battle in the Philippine-American War fought on December 2, 1899, in northern Luzon in the Philippines, in which a 60-man Filipino rearguard commanded by Brigadier General Gregorio del Pilar succumbed to 500...

 against the "Texas Regiment", the 33rd Infantry Regiment of the United States led by Peyton C. March
Peyton C. March
Peyton Conway March was an American soldier and Army Chief of Staff.March was the son of Francis Andrew March, considered the principal founder of modern comparative linguistics in Anglo-Saxon and one of the first professors to advocate and teach English in colleges and universities...

. A delaying action to cover Aguinaldo's retreat, the five-hour standoff resulted in Del Pilar's death due to a shot to the neck (at the height or end of the fighting, depending on eyewitness accounts). Del Pilar's body was later despoiled and robbed by the victorious American soldiers.

Del Pilar's body lay unburied for days, exposed to the elements. While retracing the trail, an American officer, Lt. Dennis P. Quinlan, gave the body a traditional U.S. military burial. Upon del Pilar's tombstone, Quinlan inscribed, "An Officer and a Gentleman".

In 1930, del Pilar's body was exhumed and was identified by the gold tooth and braces he had installed while in exile in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

.

Documentary

His life was shown in the Philippine TV news show Case Unclosed
Case Unclosed
Case Unclosed is a news and public affairs television show in the Philippines aired every Thursday evenings by GMA Network. The show is currently hosted by Arnold Clavio...

 as its 13th episode.

Movie Adaptation

Tirad Pass: The Story of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar (1997) Starring Romnick Sarmenta as Gen. Gregorio del Pilar

Memorials

  • Fort Del Pilar, home of the Philippine Military Academy
    Philippine Military Academy
    The Philippine Military Academy or PMA, is the Philippine military school for the Armed Forces of the Philippines . PMA was established on December 21, 1936 by the virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 1 . PMA is located in Baguio, Benguet province...

     in Baguio, is named after him.
  • In 1944, the Japanese-sponsored Philippine republic of President Jose P. Laurel
    Jose P. Laurel
    José Paciano Laurel y García was the president of the Republic of the Philippines, a Japanese-sponsored administration during World War II, from 1943 to 1945...

     issued the Tirad Pass Medal commemorating the battle and del Pilar's sacrifice. A bust of General del Pilar occupies the center of the obverse (front) side of the medal. The Tirad Pass Medal was the only award issued to recognize service to the Laurel government during the Japanese occupation.
  • In 1955, the municipality of Concepcion
    Gregorio del Pilar, Ilocos Sur
    Gregorio Del Pilar is a 5th class municipality in the province of Ilocos Sur, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 4,134 people in 811 households....

     in Ilocos Sur
    Ilocos Sur
    Ilocos Sur is a province of the Philippines located in the Ilocos Region in Luzon. Vigan City, located on the mouth of the Mestizo River is the provincial capital...

    was renamed in his honor.
  • In 1995, his life was featured in the movie "Tirad Pass: The Last Stand of General Gregorio del Pilar" starring Romnick Sarmienta.
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