“GOYO,” the nickname of General Gregorio del Pilar of the felled Philippine revolution, was the young and handsome Katipunan officer, and a heartthrob of many women in those heroic but fleeting times of our beleaguered country.
No, there was no Filipino nation then, and Goyo could not be likened to our National Hero, Jose Rizal, not for heroism, but maybe a little for their Bohemian ways.
A rabid follower of General Emilio Aguinaldo, the treacherous leader who engineered the death of Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna, Goyo could not be compared with a world intellectual (Mahatma Gandhi was his admirer).
There was something in the two heroes, however, that caught the fancy of this Pangasinense writer: Their fondness for Pangasinan beauty.
You, dear readers, are familiar with the pretty Leonor Rivera, a resident of Dagupan and Camiling, then a barrio of Bayambang town, where General Aguinaldo camped for one day and had it declared Fifth Capital of the Philippine Republic.
The tragedy of that love story between Pepe Rizal and Leonor Rivera was climaxed by her “forced” marriage to engineer Charles Kipping at the “engineering” of her mother, at the Dagupan Catholic Church in 1892.
They say that great love stories usually end up in tragedy.
In the case of Goyo, the love of his life was a young girl, a certain Remedios, sister of Dolores, who lived in what is now Barangay Pantal, in Sitio Nable, Dagupan City.
In the movie, ‘‘Goyo, Ang Batang Heneral,” which we saw with former Tour of Luzon champ Jesus Garcia Jr.,—at the Robinson Theater (we purposely saw it to spice up this article), one would be moved by the lovers—Goyo, 24, and the 19-year-old beauty exchanging their avowals of love.
The dark side—incidentally, or the very soul of the Goyo story, was how he was slain in the hands of American soldiers and local hirelings, and later subjected to indignities, as claimed in the mass media here and abroad.
This article is a treatise to rectify that ugly, unfair and blasphemous publicity.
Allow us to say that we could feel God’s hand in the confluence of events that brought us to these episodes in the lives of Americans— the soldiers—and the locals as well as the families who would later get involved in the story.
By dint of sheer luck, we met the son of the American sharpshooter named corporal Philip Lindmark, he who felled Goyo on Tirad Pass.
Lindmark, a member of the American militia, tasked to finish off Del Pilar, became a member of a family with whom this writer is related.
After Tirad Pass, he met his future bride, a beauty from San Juan, La Union, named Felisa Villalon. The Villalons are related to the Gaerlans of La Union and Pangasinan.
The mother of our wife, Catherine, was a Gaerlan, former school principal Rosario Gaerlan Bernardo, and close kin of the Villalons of San Juan, La Union.
Philip Lindmark, the sharpshooter, had a son, Frank who married Purificacion Perez, who is still alive; sister of former Mayor Laureano Perez, now deceased, of San Manuel, Pangasinan. Frank died some five years back.
The Perezes are still an influential family in Pangasinan politics led by Vice Mayor (formerly mayor) Salvador Perez, Sr.; his son Jerrico, now mayor of San Manuel; Salvador Jr., a member of the provincial board, and daughter Shiela, also a member of the provincial board by virtue of her being president of the provincial councilors league.
One day in the 80s, Frank Lindmark went to the Manila Bulletin office in Manila armed with only one purpose: “to correct a grave injustice” done to the American troops and the natives who were portrayed as blood-thirsty criminals, stripping the hero naked, robbed and subjected to indignities.
“Those were not only false and a slap on the people of the United States and the Filipinos,” Philip Lindmark told his son Frank.
After he was fatally shot, the general was accorded utmost respect and honor, the old Lindmark told his son.
“Son, do something about this grave injustice,” the father said.
On meeting Manila Bulletin editor Ben Rodriguez, this writer was “summoned” to the Bulletin office from our “hideout” in Dagupan to meet and interview Frank Lindmark. No less than then Agrarian Reform Minister Conrado Estrella was sought by Mr. Rodriguez to locate us.
Frank told Mr. Rodriguez and us that it was the last wish of his father when he was still alive to have what he described as a “blasphemous story” corrected.
Our meeting with Frank Lindmark turned out to be a grand reunion of sorts which reunited several families, the Lindmarks, the Villalons, the Gaerlans and the Perezes of Ilocos and Pangasinan.
This episode would take a twist when we had an encounter with National Artist Frank Sionil Jose at his Solidaridad Book Store in Malate. Mr. Sionil is a fellow Pangasinense from Rosales town. We had coffee together with then executive secretary Oscar Orbos and Dolphy, the actor, at Hizon’s café in Malate.
We told Mr. Sionil about Frank Lindmark’s story on the Del Pilar saga. His reaction was sheer unbelief, as he, too, has written several articles about the Tirad Pass encounter.
We also related it to the late Adrian Cristobal at a breakfast meeting with then Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. at his Makati residence.
It was obvious that the old version portraying the bestiality of the conquerors was hard to erase and expunge, not only from the books but from the minds and consciousness of many.
The author is a veteran journalist and lecturer and writes for several publications.