National Artist Nick Joaquin referred to the boy general as the Byron of Bulacan.
September 5, 2018. It may not have been the opening date for Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral but our family had an awesome time nevertheless. Did I expect my heroic worship of General Gregorio del Pilar to heighten after watching this? Will this film increase your respects for this young general?
Here are my thoughts...
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History has so many controversies. As we all know, history is also what the historian says it is, apart from the evidences, written or those passed on orally, that also point to the truth.
As a young kid, I always had the highest respects for General Del Pilar. He was, after all, born a hundred years exactly from the time I was born. And, beat this, his death date is my husband's birthday. 'Talk of kismet.
But more than these dates, Goyo was a hero because he stood his ground. When he was asked to defend Tirad Pass, he did as he was told. Whether or not the resulting events were positive or negative (we all know our Philippine history, I hope), he was man enough to set his foot and give the enemies a good fight - for as long as he could.
I only have one concern with the film. While it is true that Goyo was known for his romantic escapades, there was more to this young general than meets the eye. He wasn't just the seductive soldier, he did win battles for our nation. Being one of the youngest generals then, whether or not Miong (Emilio Aguilnaldo) favored him, he was a victor during the assault on the Spaniards in Paombong. The Battle of Quingua's first phase was also his doing. He also put himself in harm's way when he distributed polyetos (flyers) by the propagandists against a friar.
I believe these victories were mentioned in the film but were only shown during the few minutes of the zarzuela (sarswela) scene. That scene was not enough to justify his contributions during the Philippine-American War, at least in my humble opinion.
I won't list the rest of his brave decisions and encounters. There were more.
What I loved most about the film was their depiction of the humanity of the boy general. He - like most youths of his age - fell victim to vanity and all the other forms of being self-centered. His one star as a general was, supposedly, given to him because he was loyal to Aguinaldo. Of course, when these characteristics are left unchecked, then a narcissistic person is bound to emerge and in most parts of the film, Goyo was the epitome of narcissism. He paraded and strutted like he was the best and, in a way, he was. It's just that he was not modest about his achievements.
As the film neared its end, though, one can see the change in his perspective. Again, whether or not Goyo felt these patriotic feelings in the end, one can never really know. Nick Joaquin in his book A Question of Heroes implied that Goyo was probably Aguinaldo's henchman. But this is the same guy who signed with his blood to become a katipunero.
So, was Goyo a hero or villain? Watch the film and make your own conclusions. But here's a disclaimer - this film has a generous helping of artistic license so watch with an open mind. Then make sure to read Philippine history later to substantiate your conclusions on Goyo's character.
And, hey, as I mentioned on my Facebook post --
Ito ang Marvel Cinematic Universe #MCU ng mga Pinoy. If you watch this, you'll know what I mean. Kung nag-alab mga damdamin niyo sa Heneral Luna, dito magsusumidhi na. Plus, if you wanna understand the next installment, you gotta see this.
E.S. Villamor has made a career in writing for a decade now. Her online business - GIML (Gabriela Isabel & Miguel Lucas) Publishing started in 2014. She advocated for women's rights and was once enamored with imparting financial literacy through training and blogs but she is now focused on propagating all things Filipino. This site is also being groomed as a rich homeschooling resource.