Goyo Ang Batang Heneral: Which scenes are fact or fiction?

Words by Camille Ong

Personally, I loved Goyo more than Heneral Luna. But maybe that’s because I’m more aware of the events that transpired before, so I’m not ashamed to say I cried when I watched Goyo. Despite my love for this biopic about the popular Filipino hero, General Gregorio “Goyo” del Pilar, I noticed there was a disclaimer at the beginning saying that they embellished historical events in the film with fiction.

That got me thinking, which scenes in Goyo are fact and which are fiction? If you haven’t watched the movie yet—spoilers ahead!

ALSO READ: 5 Filipino Heroes We’d Also Like to See on Film—and the Actors We Think Should Play Them

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7. Apolinario Mabini’s Monologue: FACT

At the beginning and end of the film, we hear Mabini’s monologue about how he told Emilio Aguinaldo that only a glorious death on the battlefield will be his salvation.

Here are Mabini’s words from The Philippine Revolution: I hinted to Mr Aguinaldo, writing in El Comercio to correct an item in the Manila Times, that his only salvation was a glorious death on the battlefield…with Aguinaldo meeting death in a supreme effort to defend our national freedom, such a heroic act would restore his reputation and at the same time honor the Filipinos.”

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6. The existence of Joven Hernando: FICTION

In Goyo, Joven Hernando became part of the hero’s crew after Luna’s death. While he handled taking photos of Goyo and his men, he also became quite close to them. Joven’s role in this movie was quite big considering his character is purely fictional. Some analysis of his character online has people assuming he might be a symbol for the new generation as his name means “youth” in Spanish.

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5. Manuel Bernal was captured by Goyo and his men: FACT

In the movie, Goyo and his men captured Manuel Bernal. They then proceeded to torture him to make him work for Aguinaldo, but they eventually killed him because he wouldn’t budge.

It was said that after Luna’s death, Goyo and his men took possession of Luna’s headquarters in Bayambang. The testimony of Manuel Bernal’s death actually came from his brother, Angel. What they didn’t show in the movie was that it was actually General del Pilar and his brother who did the torturing. While Goyo is a hero, it has been said that he was really Aguinaldo’s hatchet man.

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4. Goyo gets shot in the Battle of Kakarong de Sili: FICTION

In a flashback, we saw Goyo fall down in battle because he was shot, seemingly in the head. The scene wasn’t explained though, so viewers were left to assume that he was seriously injured.

In real life, however, it was not as dramatic. His forehead was grazed by a bullet, but he only noticed it after the battle when an old woman tended to his wounds. He only mentioned it in passing in his memoirs and didn’t make a big deal out of it. He wrote, “A bullet from a Mauser grazed my forehead, but thank God the damage was negligible.”

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3. Felicidad Aguinaldo cried on the spot where Goyo died: FACT

It was reported that Felicidad, the younger sister of Emilio Aguinaldo, knelt and wept on the spot where Goyo died. In the movie, Felicidad was mistaken as Goyo’s girlfriend because of this. She has been linked to del Pilar before, which wasn’t surprising since he was one of Aguinaldo’s favorites. “I always had him at my side until his very death,” Aguinaldo has stated.

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2. Remedios wrapping her letter for Goyo in her sister’s handkerchief: FICTION

In the movie, when Remedios realized that Goyo was leaving, she wrote a letter and then asked her sister for something to wrap it in. They didn’t have anything on hand so Remedios decided to use her sister Dolores’ handkerchief. That’s why when Goyo died, he had a handkerchief with the name Dolores with him.

Historians used to think it was Dolores who caught Goyo’s eye because it was her name on the handkerchief, but in reality it was Remedios. In an article entitled “Remembering del Pilar”, the story behind the handkerchief was revealed because the historian who wrote it got to interview Remedios herself. Goyo reportedly really did ask Dolores for something to remember her by, though, which is why he had the handkerchief with him. As for Remedios, Goyo cut a lock of her hair and put it in a golden locket, which was also found on his body when he died.

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1. How Goyo died: FACT

General del Pilar’s death wasn’t as epic as popular media made it out to be. His death is usually depicted with him getting shot while riding a horse at Tirad Pass, thanks to the Americans who dramatized it in their newspapers, but the truth is, he was curiously watching the movements of his enemy when a gunshot hit him. One of his men even warned him about the Americans and told him to crouch because he might be seen. This was something we saw happen in the movie.

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Movies like Heneral Luna and Goyo are effective ways to present Philippine history to a wider audience, and is a stepping stone for Filipinos to appreciate local history more. I’m currently taking a class on Philippine history and the experience of watching Goyo was incredible because now, their stories are, in a way, closer to my heart more than ever.

DISCLAIMER: Despite research and consulting history books, we can never be 100% sure with what transpired during those events because we weren’t there. However, this list was consulted off of these resources:

  • A Question of Heroes, Nick Joaquin (#5)
  • An Acceptable Holocaust: Life and Death of a Boy General, Teodoro Kalaw (#4, #3, #1)
  • The Philippine Revolution, Apolinario Mabini (#7)
  • Ang huling pag-ibig ni Gregorio del Pilar, Xiao Chua (#2)

What did you think of Goyo? Let us know in the comments below!