History's Misunderstood Characters

Thursday, May 10, 2007

(warning: semi-technical article ahead. if you're not savvy with nationalism and Philippine history, come back tomorrow)

Our national history has always been a weird one. Unlike many other countries who have their own historians like Plutarch, Herodetus, Thomas Carlyle and many others, we don't have a lot of historical data generated by our own kind.

For our case, colonized by three diffrent people in a span of almost 400 years, it's always the colonizers doing the writing for us. So what happens is that invaders basically walk in, kill everybody, and tell whoever's left what "really" happened.

As a result, most of our history books is filled mostly speculative writing that sometimes feels like they are no more than biased subjective opinion on the matter. For today's article, I'd like to feature a certain personality I remember only from first year high's social studies.

His name is Januario Galut and this man is probably the most infamous of traitors in our short but interesting history. As with all other fine details of our amazing history, Januario's name was only mentioned in the testimony of the Texas Regiment who asked for his services during the Philippine-American War.

In case you don't know what Janurio Galut is famous for, he is said to be a Christianized Tingguian(Igorot) mercenary who, like Ephialtes of the battle of Thermopylae, led the US forces around a hidden third path of the choke point Tirad Pass where Phil. General Gregorio Del Pilar stalled the American forces to let the then President Emilio Aguinaldo escape.

For somebody resoundingly treacherous, very little is known about this man. At school I was taught to consider him as a brown-skinned Judas Iscariot, who sold his own allies to the enemy at the face of a handsome reward. In text book illustrations, he is often depicted as a small, retarded looking igorot with a scowl and a smug.

Of course, upon research, none of these elaborations can be proven with any concrete documentation. And even more striking is the fact that upon further research, the whole "traitor" stance taken by so many historians and teachers might even be proven wrong.

Lewis & Clark Journal October, 1905 ran an article about the Igorots. In this article (parap.), details about the stance of Igorots (Januario's minority) were given.

In February 1899, war broke out between American troops and Philippine independence fighters known as insurrectos. The Igorot sent a contingent of men to fight the Americans at Caloocan outside of Manila, but the Igorot warriors, armed only with spears, axes, and shields, quickly decided to return home when confronted with American rifles and artillery. The Igorot soon fell out with the insurrectos and became U.S. allies, acting as guides for American troops in the rugged highlands of northern Luzon.

Much like the Italians who, at the end of the first and second world wars, found themselves at the front of a helpless struggle, the Igorot army adopted a reversed role in the war and started helping the other side.

It is also know then that even then, among early Filipinos, there was already strong discrimination towards the Tingguian people by their lowland country men and that they were hardly considered as part of the same race and it was not until the formal establishment of the Commonwealth Republic that the indigenous Moros and Igorots were taken into the official pool of nationalities that formed the state population.

For this reason, reversing stances in a war like the Italians did was merely a tactical decision of an independent army and not exactly a last minute act of treachery by offical allies motivated by greed as romanticized by our history. It is highly possible that Januario Galut was, in fact, under orders to assist the Americans during the battle of Tirad Pass, which he did so. There was no mention of reward in any account given about the battle.

I'd like to end this little piece by saying it is possible that what is stated in this article is wrong and that history did not happen as I imagined it, but all logic and existing data is concerned, Januario Galut's nonbetrayal is more plausible than what is originally stated in our "historical" records.

Januario Galut, unfortunately, is only one of the many many misunderstood, misrepresented characters of our somewhat colorful national history.

This article was created to supplement the short story about the said Igorot pathfinder entitled "Traitor's Own" under the Alternate History speculative fiction genre.

1 comment:

Zarah said...

Wow. Galing mo magresearch. O_O


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