Dante Dangallo: Avowed Avenger Preaches Peace
The horrific image of his father’s brutalized lifeless body was seared like a branding iron on young Dante Dangallo’s heart and mind.
As a seven-year old boy in his native Philippines, Dante stood numb, staring at his murdered father. He was obsessed with one thought: “The desire of my heart was to get revenge for the death of my father.” Three days earlier, a group of radical men viciously attacked unsuspecting cargo truck drivers – George Dangallo and his brother – as they traveled through the Muslim community of Lanao del Sur. Dante recalled the scene:
The rebels plucked out my father’s two eyes and cut off his ears and nose. According to one witness, my father danced in pain for almost an hour before he gave up his last breath.
Dante and his four brothers vowed retribution. “Every time we saw Muslims, hatred was burning in our hearts.”
A few hours after hearing about her husband’s murder, Dante’s devastated mother got drunk to numb the pain and try to escape her new life as a widow. Her behavior continued for years and was then adopted by her sons. “My older brothers became alcoholics, too.”
Dante was the fourth of seven children born to George and Remedios Dangallo. His parents had been devout Roman Catholics who instilled a similar devotion in Dante. As a boy, he memorized prayers, and often knelt as he listened to a daily religious radio program. Dante’s sixth grade teacher saw his piety and ignited an ambition in him to join the priesthood.
But everything changed for the family after the killings. Dante’s mother settled with her parents in a distant community – void of even a single Muslim resident – and was heartbroken at the unavoidable prospect of dividing up her children, including Dante and his older brothers, among relatives elsewhere.
When Dante eventually re-joined his mother, he often heard sermons about Jesus Christ coming from a Christian & Missionary Alliance Church behind his grandparents’ home. Although the pastor regularly invited Dante’s family to services, they refused to attend a Protestant church because they were devoted Roman Catholics. Even so, “we could still overhear the pastor’s preaching,” Dante said.
In February 1982, he overheard one message that penetrated his heart: “In the midst of pain and trouble, you can have a perfect peace if you have Jesus Christ in your heart.”
Dante visited the minister in the parsonage and poured out his pain. “Pastor, since my father’s death, I haven’t experienced peace. I have been struggling and there is always trouble in our house. I’m longing for peace, Pastor. What will I do?”
The minister led Dante to a life-changing experience:
That afternoon I knelt before God and accepted Jesus Christ. Thereafter, I began to know peace. I learned to forgive the people who were responsible for my father’s death.
Dante’s new-found peace and forgiveness, through Jesus Christ, inspires him to love the very people he once vowed to kill. In 2004, he returned to the place where his father was murdered. In a public ceremony, with local officials and residents gathered around, Dante declared forgiveness for those responsible for his father’s death.
His passion is to share the Good News of Christ’s forgiveness with whoever will listen, including Islamic militants, Muslim youth, communist rebels, and prison inmates. “It is my joy to see people coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. To God be the glory!”