The movie “300” is a dramatic presentation of the gallant stand of Spartans at the Pass of Thermopylae. The Persian king, Xerxes, sent over 170,000 troops to conquer Greece. This handful of brave Spartan’s halted that invasion for three days. They gave Greece, with their lives, the precious time needed to gather troops and eventually defeat the invading Army.
The Spartans at Thermopylae knew they faced certain death but they never wavered. When told that, “…Persians arrows will blot out the sun” the Spartan commander Leonidas responded, “Good; we will fight in the shade.” When Xerxes demanded they surrender their arms, he was told, “Come and get them”. The Spartans used the narrow pass to limit the enemy’s ability to fight effectively. These warriors faced five to one odds, yet slaughter ten’s of thousands, before being betrayed and butchered. Their sacrifice is a tribute to courage and honored and is respected around the world.
There have been two major block buster movies about the gallant battle for freedom at the Alamo. Two hundred eighteen Texans held Santa Anna’s 6,100 man army mired in blood and battle for thirteen days. Those thirteen precious days gave Sam Houston time to gather an army and eventually defeat the Mexican invasion.
The Texans at the Alamo knew they faced certain death but they never wavered. The cry “Remember the Alamo” has been an American call for bravery and courage ever since. The Texans used the heavy walls of the mission to hold back the enemy. These warriors faced twenty seven to one odds yet slaughtered thousands of the enemy before they were over run and butchered. Their sacrifice is a tribute to courage and honor and is respected around the world.
There has never been a movie about the Battle of Tirad Pass. A young 24 year old Filipino boy named Gregorio Del Pilar, commanded a sixty man platoon of volunteers. His mission was to prevent the 3,000 troop 33rd Infantry Regiment (Texas) from capturing President Aguinaldo and crushing the Philippine struggle for freedom and independence. Facing certain death Gregorio wrote in his diary, “…I realize what a terrible task that has been given to me and yet I feel this is the most glorious moment of my life. What I do is done for my glorious country. No sacrifice can be too great”. There were no thick walls or any narrow pass. The “boy general” and his men gallantly held off the invading army on an empty hill top for six hours. Eventually he was shot in the neck and died amid the bodies of his fallen comrades.
The Filipinos at Tirad pass knew they faced certain death but they never wavered. Gregorio rallied his men with the cry, “We will die fighting; not fleeing like cowards”. These warriors face fifty to one odds, more that the Alamo or Thermopylae, yet they fought bravely to the last man. Their sacrifice is a tribute to courage and honor and is UNKNOWN outside of the Philippines. Lieutenant Dennis Quinlan, of the 33rd Infantry Regiment, honored his brave adversary by placing a marker on the grave which read, “An Officer and a Gentleman”. This is high praise and respect from your enemy.
Fort Del Pilar, the Philippine “West Point”, is named in Gregorio’s honor.