Traitors and Treachery

View from the top of Tirad Pass courtesy of Gem Portillas

Flashback – December 2, 1899, a man by the name of General Gregorio del Pilar died along with 60 brave men in the hands of around 300 Texan sharpshooters. The battle was called the Battle of Tirad Pass (Pasong Tirad, in the local dialect).

General Gorio, as he was fondly called, was 24 years old, one of the youngest generals during the revolution. He also won most of the skirmishes against the Spanish and later American forces. He successfully lead the attack on the Spanish Garrison in Paombong, Bulacan and won over Major Franklin Bell in the Battle of Quingua (now Plaridel), in Bulacan. It was also noted that his forces repelled the cavalry lead by Col. John Stotsenburg, a highly respected official in the American Corps.

Tirad Pass was supposedly a battle easily won even with a small number of troops. They were supposed to delay the American troops from reaching Gen. Aguinaldo who was on the run from the American Forces. Yet, 300 against 60 is really a miracle, but Gen. del Pilar was wise enough to control TIrad Pass, a 4, 500 ft high range. At a young age, the young general thought of controlling the skies. The Americans, though numerous also had no idea of the land. It should have been easy victory. He could have been a great strategist had he been given enough exposure.

tiradpassThen enter Januario Galut, an Igorot native who helped the American forces to a path that would allow them to catch del Pilar from the rear. While majority of the forces were trading blows with the young general, some were climbing the pass to surprise them from behind. The battle ended with 52 of the 60 men perished with del Pilar suffering a gunshot from the back of the neck. The young general died instantly thereby dissolving any prospects of becoming a great campaigner.

Of course, the break down is easy. The young general was not to blame. His men were only a handful. They could have had a chance had it not been for a traitor among the ranks of Filipinos. Philippine history has been littered with its share of treacherous men and women. The most controversial probably was Andres Bonifacio’s death in the hands of fellow Filipinos with Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Republic at the helm of the execution.

Whether we look at Galut or Aguinaldo with scorn and displeasure or try to rationalize their reasons for their actions, we could do nothing to punish them because they have been dead for decades. However, there can be no doubt that there is always disappointment and anger towards any betrayal, how we react to it and control our emotions is a different matter.

Jesus was never exempted from betrayal. We all know the story. One of his disciples, Judas, betrayed the Christ in exchange for thirty pieces of silver (don’t you think that’s kinda too low when you’re selling the OWNER of the whole universe, I mean if I were him, I’d get all of Asia or something). The events are all too familiar. Here in the Philippines, and probably elsewhere, it’s being recalled every year during Easter.

We may bash Judas for all eternity. Come to think of it, no Christian in their right minds would ever name their son Judas anymore. What’s amazing though was Jesus reaction. Being the Savior that He is, he saw a gem in Judas that none of us ever saw. He saw some good in the man. Jesus, most likely, saw a man with a need of a savior. Never was it written that He bore a grudge against Judas. Surely, Christ was not averted but actually in love with the man in a way that a Redeemer could only love. That’s Jesus for all of us. He loved even His persecutors.

This may be the hardest pill to swallow, we are asked to do the same for His sake.

Therefore I think, it is the highest treachery to think others not worthy of Christ. It is treachery and betrayal of the highest order to exclude people from God’s grace and brand them as traitors. More importantly, I guess it is a withdrawal of Christian love if we try to condemn and degrade people based on differences in doctrines, convictions, practices and culture. Who are we to judge anyway? Are we the ones giving grace and salvation?

We are all loved and cared for by Christ. His love is constant. Why then do we have to betray our greatest lover?

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