Forgotten tombs, forgotten heroes

    MALOLOS CITY—Forgotten tombs, forgotten ideals, forgotten heroes.

    This is the sad reality of the fate of men lionized as heroes in books and annals of history for their heroic deeds in the past.

    Except for their direct descendants, not too many remember them or their deeds even on the national observance of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days.

    Some, whose remains were found, lie in barely marked lonely tombs, while others remain to be yet located.

    “Iyan ang nakakalungkot, nakakalimutan na sila,” said Alex Balagtas, the curator of the Marcelo H. Del Pilar National Shrine at Barangay San Nicolas, Bulakan town where the hero’s remains were transferred in the early ‘80s.

    Popularly known by his pen name “Plaridel”, Del Pilar, the editor-in-chief of the propaganda newspaper La Solidaridad, died of tuberculosis in Spain but his remains were moved to his hometown in the early ‘80s after their discovery at the Manila North Cemetery.

    Balagtas said the direct descendants of Del Pilar religiously pay their respects, offer prayers and flowers every year at the mausoleum within the shrine’s compound.

    “I can’t say the same for others,” he said referring to other local heroes like General Isidoro Torres, General Anacleto Enriquez and General Gregorio Del Pilar.

    Torres was the military general who led Bulakenyo revolutionaries before General Emilio Aguinaldo moved to Bulacan from Cavite; Enriquez , the hero of the bloody battle of San Rafael and is considered the idol of the boy general Del Pilar, the hero of Tirad Pass.

    Balagtas said lack of awareness and consciousness of history and culture among the youth today may forever leave heroes forgotten.

    However, he said that they are re-strengthening the Buhayin ang Diwang Bayani movement formed to awaken the historico-cultural awareness and consciousness of the Filipinos.

    He proposed that Lakbay-Undas or pre-halloween tours for students should be conducted every year to stir their interests on local heroes.

    But he also admitted a few handicaps.

    “First, we have to update research on the whereabouts of heroes’ tombs.  Other heroes, we have yet to know their birth sites and burial places,” he said.

    One classic example is General Del Pilar who was killed by American soldiers in the Battle of Tirad Pass in Concepcion town, Ilocos Sur. His remains still have to be located. The said town was renamed in honor of Del Pilar.

    As this developed, Isagani Giron, the former president of the Samahang Pangkasaysayan ng Bulacan (Sampaka) said lack of attention on the tombs of heroes during All Saints Day is understandable.

    “Bawat isa ay abala sa pag-aalaala sa kani-kanilang namayapang mahal sa buhay,” he said.
    But others noted that lack of government intervention in the preservation of heroes’ memorials in public cemeteries contributes to lack of consciousness.

    An example is the memorial dedicated to World War II heroes in a public cemetery in Hagonoy town.

    Decades ago, the said memorial was considered as one of the best places within the cemetery, but today, it is worn down, desecrated and forgotten.


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