"I am surrounded by fearful odds that will
overcome me and my gallant men, but I am pleased to die fighting for my beloved country."
Gregorio del Pilar, born in San Jose, Bulacan
on November 14, 1875, considered the Hero of Tirad Pass and one of the most romantic figures in Philippine history wrote
these words before he died. Courageous and unyielding, this young general fought and held back the strong invading Americans
even with just a handful of men to support him. Alas, on that fateful day of December 2, 1899, while commanding
Emilio Aguinaldo's rear guard, he was killed .
The Americans did not stop there. It desecrated
the hero's deeds and death as they looted the corpse of the fallen general. They took his pistol, diary and personal papers,
boots and silver spurs, coat and pants, a lady's handkerchief with his sweetheart's name "Dolores Jose" embellished on it,
diamond rings, gold watch, shoulder straps and a gold locket containing a woman's hair.
But a chivalric American officer, by way of
redeeming his countrymen's willful destruction, gave the late hero an honorable burial, with the words "An officer and a gentlemen"
inscripted on his tombstone.