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Marcelo del Pilar

Marcelo Hilario del Pilar (August 30,1850 – July 4,1896)

The rules set down by Marcelo H. del Pilar, a writer- patriot have been thought of by modern historians as the blueprint of the Revolution for freedom, justice and democracy. A careful study of his dramatic life and massive literary output reveals to us today that he was the most impressive figure of his age. He was the first political scientist who probed into the secrets of colonial statecraft and brilliantly described the game of power of politics ruing hi time. His driving force was his intense love for the Mother land. His genius created a nation. (Cruz, 2009)

MARCELO-DEL-PILARMarcelo Gatmaitan Hilario Del Pilar was born on August 29-30, 1850, Cupang Bulacan, Bulacan;he was the youngest of ten children of Don Julian H. del Pilar and Dona Blasa Gatmaitan—two members of prominent families of that province. Don Julian was three times gobernadorcillo of Bulacan and Dona Blasa’s family name, “ Gatmaitan,” came from an ancient Filipino nobility. The early education of Marcelo resembles that of Jose Rizal; his mother was his first teacher. He was sent to Manila to study under a certain Mr. Flores. Then he entered San Jose College and later the University of Santo Tomas, where he studied law.

When del Pilar was young, he played the violin and the piano well. He was a good conversationalist and entertainer. The boy, del Pilar, was observant by nature. He found out early that the people of his country were not being treated well by the friars and by authorities. In February, 1878, he married his cousin, Marciana H. del Pilar, and lived in Tondo. They had six children, four of whom were girls. He worked as a clerk for an uncle and later a “ Offical de Mesa” in Quiapo. In 1881, he became a lawyer. He did not practice much, but he never let an opportunity pas without defend in the cause of the weak either in court or in the press. Through the Diariong Tagalog, the abuses, the weakness of those in the government, and asked for reforms.He instructed his people in every was he could. He mixed with the humblest, gave them advice and elightened them about their countriy’s lot. He advices the women of Bulacan to study, saying:

“ An enlightened intelligence is a sanctuary where the kindnesss and magnificence of its Creator are better seen”.

“ The education of the women stimulates and elevates that of the men.. because of their influence in the family as daughter, sister, wife or mother…They are not only a balm to the hardships of life but also an element that influences and guides men along the path of virtue, perversity or cowardice.

“ Where the women are virtuous, vice is timid, and dignity predominates in the popular cutom.But were women are frivolous, men become immoral, vicious and forget or despise their sacred duties.

“ An unenlightened intelligence I like a lighthouse without a lamp; instead of guiding a ship, it will caue its lo.”

Did Pilar helped anybody whenever he could. Of the family property, he renounced what was due to him in favor of his brothers. He helped the poor and sacrificed much for them. (Galang, 1950)

During his political campaign and propaganda in Bulacan a confidential report from Lt. Senespleda revealed that Plaridel and his cousin Luis del Pilar were the unwritten laws in Bulacan.

“Cuando Marcelo del Pilar estaba en Filipinas con residencia, indistintamente, en Bulacan y Malolos, entre el y Luis manejaban a su albedrio este pueblo.”

When Marcelo del Pilar was in the Philippines, having residences in both Bulacan and Malolos, he and Luis were the unwritten laws in these places.

While still a young man , Marcelo H. del Pilar already knew how to plant in the minds of the young students of Manila the seeds of nationalism, and stand up against the abuses of the colonial rulers,.Mariano Ponce, narrated that as a high school student in 1880, Del Pilar used to meet frequently with a group of students whose animating spirit was Del Pilar in Trozo, Tondo –the birth place of Andres Bonifacio according to Dr. Camagay of UP Diliman and where Philippine Masonry and the Katipunan were conceived by their organizers.

 

From Bulacan to Tondo

 

Tondo

 

And from the very account of Mariano Ponce:

“.. Plaridel was then a high school student, and I still remember, as if were only yesterday, those bygone days , together with some boys who were also students, we would meet in a house in Trozo   which Marcelo use to frequent. There we would spend most of our free time, conversing pleasantly and profitably with our future apostle. He would try to inject into our young and virgin minds the seeds of his new ideas and instill into our hearts the purest love of our unfortunate country. We used to listen of the day or about other topics, entranced by his own conclusions which were couched in the magic of his friendly language. Thus from the very modest circle of friends whose principal figure and moving-spirit was Marcelo, was born of nucleus of a group which gave birth to the idea of organizing ourselves for the protest.

There was already manifested the apostle and propagandist with great enthusiasm and sincerity. He studied earnestly and wholeheartedly not only in his books but also in the men and the things around him, employing in his actions his powerful intellect and the will of iron.

His voices had such an inexplicable power that softly and unfelt penetrated the innermost feelings of the soul and its sweetness was such that it could persuade and conquer the hearts of his listeners. His words, following the same logic and the same inflexible criterion, would take different modulations according to the intelligence, culture and psychological susceptibility of his audience, and to made use also of what his keen mind would suggest to him on the spur of the moment.

His strong face was imbued with prophetic fervor; his eyes shone with clairvoyance and enthusiasm and his broad and majestic forehead seemed to glow with the nymphs of inspiration. In this way, he kindled the fire of enthusiasm in those who were indifferent to his cause, focused the distracted attention of others, resolved the doubts of this, clarified the notions of that and completely won   them over to his side. These things took place within the small group in wich our propagandist agitated.” Renacimiento, 3 July 1903 (translated by Judge Gatmaitan Magno)

In 1882 Del Pilar was a member of the group which founded the first bilingual newspaper- Tagalog and Spanish- in the Phiilppines, Diariong Tagalog.Though the publisher was ostensibly Francisco Calvo Munoz, a peninsular treasury official in the Philippines , the real moving spirit behind the paper were Del Pilar, who acted as editor of the Tagalog section, and Basilio Teodoro Moran, the business manager.

The newspapers was funded by several traders from Malolos, capital of the province of Bulacan , from where Del Pilar had formed around him a group of relatives and associates who shared his nationalistic interest.

The regime of Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera had seen a considerable realization of the censorship of the press, and the Diariong Tagalog to full advantage of this relative liberty to speak out in favor of various reforms, as well as to promote a moderate gospel of nationalism. One of the notable articles in this sense was the “El Amor Patrio” of Rizal,translated into eloquent Tagalog by Del Pilar entitled “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa”.

A letter of Jose Rizal dated October 12, 1886 revealed to his older brother Paciano Rizal that he cannot translate the word “Freiheit” and “Liberty” in Filipino language. Rizal admitted that he only new the word “ Kalayaan” and Malaya thru the writings of Marcelo H. del Pilar in Diariong Tagalog “ Pagibig sa Tinubuang Lupa”.

Del Pilar gave birth to the spiritual, political and nationalistic sense of the word Kalayaan. The dictionary made bay Tomas Pinpin dated 1610; Buenaventura in 1613, and Noceda in 1860 did not mentioned any word and meaning of the word “Kalayaan or Malaya”.

It was said that Padre Mariano Sevilla used the word “Kalayaan” in his prayer booklet which means “ Kalangitan”or heavens- a condition of soul that can pass through any prison without any hindrances. Prosperity was also embedded in the word Kalayaan for those persons who had attained glory. (Veneracion:2012).

But Del Pilar gave the emphatic meaning of the word Kalayaan in political and nationalistic sense. Proof of this the very revolutionary newspaper of Katipunan adopted the name “Kalayaan” from the article of Marcelo H. del Pilar “Kalayaan” he profoundly explained the meaning and the essence of the word.

According to Dr. Raquel A. G. Reyes (2008), Del Pilar was much more a pragmatist and natural politician than the scholarly, idealist Rizal. He was an organizer, network builder, and plotter, and was much more at ease than Rizal with the Tagalog Language, vernacular idioms and the everyday lives of ordinary folk. His abilities and sensibilities enabled him to bridge the gulf between the ilustrado proagandistas and the common tao (people). Mariano Ponce later recalled that as an orator, Del Pilar was able to adjust his words and the cadences of his voice “ according to the intelligence, culture and psychological susceptibility of his audience.” It was this ability to speak with people from diverse backgrounds that made Del Pilar a popular figure not only among students and professionals in the city but at gatherings in the rural towns of Bulacan—baptisms, weddings, town fiestas and figh days at the cockpits.

From the historical research of Gregorio Zaide (1956)- Of all the forunners of the Revolution, Del Pilar was the one who inspired most Andres Bonifacio. So intimately was Del Pilar connected with the Katipunan, and so highly was he regarded by its leaders, that Bonifacio reverently copied the letters of Del Pilar to his brother-in-law, Deodato Arellano, considering them as sacred relics and, together with the letters that he himself received, as guides for action. As an expression of Bonifacio’s regard for Del Pilar, he used the latter’s name as editor of the Kalayaan, the Katipunan organ, and made Del Pilar’s brother-in-law, Arellano, the first president of the Katipunan.

           

According to Leon Ma. Guerrero- author of the book First Filipino, one of the outstanding biographer of Rizal had an article in the Philippine Free Press describing how Bonifacio revered Del Pilar:Bonifacio prized del Pilar’s sympathy and support and used his letters as guides to his thinking and action. Bonifacio submitted to del Pilar for his approval the by-laws of the KKK and made use of del Pilar’s letter approving of the organization of the revolutionary society to recruit more adherents. The Katipunan organ, the Kalayaan, carried del Pilar’s name as editor-in-chief, a ploy to throw off the authorities; this had del Pilar’s sanction.31 So great was Bonifacio’s admiration for del Pilar that he painstakingly copied the letters del Pilar had written to his brother-in-law, Deodato Arellano. Bonifacio treasured these letters and the ones he himself received as sacred relics of the Revolution and was guided by them.32
32. Leon Ma. Guerrero, “Del Pilar,” Philippines Free Press, December 13, 1952, pp. 10-11, 98-99.

For Renato Constanito The ideas of Marcelo H. del Pilar exerted a strong influence on Bonifacio. Among the propagandists, it was del Pilar who ultimately saw the futility of fighting for reforms and was veering toward revolution. His chosen style of work, proof of his understanding of the masses, made this devopment possible. His experience in mass propaganda before he was forced to leave the country made him regard the reformists work in Spain only as a first stage. He intended to return in a year or two to work on what he called the second phase of the propaganda. While he did not specify what this would entail, inone of his letters he did refer to the explusion pf the friars as a task the Filipinos themselves must undertake. Unlike Rizal, del Pilar was sympathetic toward the Revolution. He declared himself in favor of insurrection as a “last remedy”, especially if the people no longer believed that peaceful means would suffice. Had he been in the country, his pwen would have been just right for the Katipunan. Desperately poor, he died in Spain in 1896.

Bonifacio prized del Pilar’s sympathy and support and used his letters as guides to his thinking and action. Bonifacio submitted to del Pilar for his approval the by-laws of the KKK and made use of del Pilar’s letter approving of the organization of the revolutionary society to recruit more adherents. The Katipunan organ, the Kalayaan, carried del Pilar’s name as editor-in-chief, a ploy to throw off the authorities; this had del Pilar’s sanction. So great was Bonifacio’s admiration for del Pilar that he painstakingly copied the letters del Pilar had written to his brother-in-law, Deodato Arellano. Bonifacio treasured these letters and the ones he himself received as sacred relics of the Revolution and was guided by them.

 

La-Solidaridad-Bayani-art

La Solidaridad

 

One of the recent biographer of Bonifacio- Alejo Villanueva Jr. believes that Del Pilar serves as mentor of Andres Bonifacio.

Another propagandist who exerted considerable influence on Bonifacio was Marcelo H. del Pilar, perhaps the most illustrious Bulakenyo who ever lived. As a lonely expatriate in Spain where he spent his dying days, poor and forsaken, del Pilar edited La Solidaridad for six years practically as one-man staff.

Reading La Solidaridad, Bonifacio could not have failed to notice Del Pilar’s editorial. The valedictory editorial of Del Pilar in the November 15, 1895 terminal issue of La Solidaridad migh as well be the epitaph of the Propaganda Movement and the preamble of the manifesto of the impending revolution.”We are persuaded”, Del Pilar proclaimed, “that all sacrifices are too little to win the rights and the liberty of nation that is oppressed by slavery.” Bonifacio could never find a more categorical, eloquent, and emphatic articulation of his own sentiments. His resolve to try the sword was strengthened. In Del Pilar, Bonifacio saw a confirmation of his radical orientation; in him he met a fellow revolutionary.

Gradually, Bonifacio gravitated more towards del Pilar for guidance. In fact, he solicited del Pilar’s approval for the by-laws of the Katipunan. Del Pilar wrote him a letter endorsing the secret society and this served as encouragement for an all-out recruitment campaign. The extent of Del Pilar’s influence could be best gauged in terms of the impact of his letters on Deodato Arellano, a brother in law, who was a co founder of the Katipunan. It was reported that Bonifacio copied these letters faithfully because he treasured them as valuable guides for action. Del Pilar served as Bonifacio’s mentor. (Villanueva,1998)

            This influence of Del Pilar did not stop to his brother-in-law Deodato Arellano and also Bonifacio ,it even moved the 2nd President of Katipunan, Roman Basa to support the secret propagation of La Solidaridad. He even moved the 2nd President of Katipunan, Roman Basa to support the secret propagation of La Solidaridad and Apolinario Mabini reported that Andres Bonifacio the 3rd President of Katipunan, collected some funds to support the political program of La Solidaridad.

Majority  of the famous patriots supported the leadership of Del Pilar not only in the propaganda but also the establishment and management of Philippine Masonry, all for the liberty of our country and through the power of the press.

Del Pilar was meanwhile occupied with other literary activity on two different fronts. From the end of 1887 he began to write political artcles which he sent to his friend and disciple, Mariano Ponce, then a university student in Barcelona. In articles, published in republican newspapers there, he attacked the political power of the friars in the Philippines, argued against the system of deportation by administrative decree, and presented an eloquent defense of Rizal’s Noli me tangere against the critique of Father Font, using the pseudonyms Piping Dilat and Plaridel.

While waging a fight in Spain against the friars and in favor of political rights, he was working on another level in the Philippines for the same ends. To counteract the influence of Father Rodriquez pamphlets, he wrote,under the pseudonym Dolores Manapat, a Tagalog pamphlet entitled Caiigat Cayo, parodying the title of Father Rodriguez.

In it he defended Rizal, and attacked the friars as traffickers in religion, auldterating the religion of Jesus, etc. Other pamphlets and broadsides were circulated in Malolos and in Manila in this time, and Del Pilar and his associates were responsible for their circulation, if not their actual publication.

In the information given by the parish priest of Malolos, Father Felipe Garcia when the expediente was being prepared for Del Pilar’s deportation in October 1888, Father Garcia mentions having come upn manuscript copies of an article entiled “ Dudas,” being circulated in the province. This is undoubtedly Rizal’s article in Espana en Filipinas. He also mentions the pamphlet Viva Espana, Viva el Ray, Viva el ejercito. Fuerla los frailes, which was a collection of the various exposition presented to Centeno and Terrero before and just after the manifestation of 1 March 1888.

Jose Rizal at the center beside Marcelo del Pilar for a group portrait in Madrid, Spain

Marcelo del Pilar and Jose Rizal

The Arrival of Marcelo H. del Pilar in Barcelona on January 1, 1889 gave organization and the much-needed leadership to the propaganda campaign. Relatively older than the rest (he was thirty-eight years), already a professional and adept at propaganda, he was empowered to act as the delegate of the Junta de Propaganda, the Philippine arm of the campaign.

In Spain, while Lopez Jaena nominally the editor and of the founder of La Solidaridad, Del Pilar became increasingly the driving force behind the paper. Del Pilar had worked energetically in setting up the paper. Del Pilar gradually took over more and more of the running of the paper. When he finally decided to go to Mardrid, the paper went with him. It could not go on without him.

Once in Madrid, Del Pilar would gather around him all the organized Filipino activity in Spain, and proceed to expand the movement in the Philippines as well. During the early months of La Solidaridad’s existence other activities had been going on in Madrid and in Barcelona as the moving spirits of the Filipino campaign set to work getting their paisanos to close ranks for an all-out, massive effort.

In the latest study in Spain reported that Marcelo H. del Pilar and Wenceslao Retana went to Congress to distribute their respective newspapers Members. La Solidaridad and La Politica de España en Filipina ultimately became a forum of debate in which their respective contributors challenged one another through their scathing and daring editorials. They openly exhibited their opposing views regarding the proper way of governing the Philippines from the points of view of both the colonist and the colonized. La Politica was a staunch defender of mainland interest, racial superiority and- particularly-was imbued with the feeling and sense of everything Spanish.(Cano,2010)

The republican Press supported their efforts and offered the possibility of active participation to Rizal, Jaena and Del Pilar. Daily Madrid newspapers such as El Imparcial, El Liberal, El Globo, El Pais and La Justicia, and Barcelona newspapers including La Vanguardia, El Noticiero Universal, El Suplemento and La Publicidad supported the Filipino cause. They particularly believed in the justice of providing parliamenteray represensentation to the Philippines, as had been the case in 1812. There are multiple examples of this support such as that of La Vanguardia, which dedicated its editorial Correo de Madrid: la politica y la prensa( “ Corredo de Madrid: Politics and the Press”) of March 9, 1890, to the fairness of awarding parliamentary representation to the Philippines.

As our readers are aware, the various amendments submitted over the last few days to the voting-rights project have all met the same fate; that is, the Commision, the Government and the majority of the House have rejected them. One such amendment, submitted by Mr. Calvo Munoz, requested that the Philippines be awarded parliamentary representation with the right to elect three Members of Parliament.”

The Daily newspaper El Pais published a front-page article on November 5, 1980, under the heading in capital letters Parliamentary Representation for the Philippines.

Those born in that country today pursue the recognition of an undeniable right with a steadfastness worthy of note- the right to enjoy elected representation in both Houses…the type of major injustice, which is in fact immoral, presiding over the decisions taken by these Royal Governments, that has turned that archipelago into the object of an unworthy exploitation, and its thus an attempt to hide the reality of what takes place in the world.

“ Los hijos de aquel pais persiguen hoy con constancia digna de elogio el reconocimiento del derecho incuestionable que les asiste de una representacion en el Congreso y en el Senado…existe una gran injusticia que constituye un verdadero cargo de inmoralidad que preside los actos de estod Gobiernod monarquicos, lo cuales, habiendo convertido indigna desan ocultar la realidad de lo que alli ocurre y existe..”

Beside the interest shown in the Press, the issue of parliamentary representation for the Philippines was often discussed in political circles in Madrid, as well as in the Lower House ( Congreso de Diputados), with unanimous support for approval of restoration of that right member of Parliament Francisco Calvo Munoz proposed, in the text of the amendment to Article 25 of the Law of Universal Voting Rights he submitted to the House, establishing an Electoral College in the Philippines, even if it were to be limited by special provisions.( Cano, 2010)

As it turned out, La Solidaridad proved an effective propaganda organ both for influencing Spanish Politicians and for combating the prestige of the friars in the Philippines so much to Del Pilar’s liking that he gave more and more of his time to the paper.

The eventual independence , or at least full autonomy, was the goal Del Pilar had in mind is clear from the plans he was making at this time with Ponce, Rizal and others of like mind.

The program of La Solidaridad and the complex organization surrounding it was professedly assimilationist, but it seems clear that the assimilationist program was much more a strategy or a first step than the ultimate goal. The love and respect that everyone professed for Rizal, Marcelo del Pilar and all the patriots who collaborated with them in the great work of national regeneration manifested clearly and openly the political aspirations of the Filipinos, The La Solidaridad had faithfully interpreted those aspirations was likewise shown by the fact that its expenses were met by Filipinos residing in the islands, who where thus risking their personal safety and interest (Schumacher, 2005)

This will prove that Marcelo H. del Pilar was not only a reformist-propagandist as he was branded in Philippine Historiography. He was regarded by the Governor – General Ramon Blanco as “el Alma del Separatismo en Filipinas” The true soul of Separatism in the Philippine far more dangerous than Rizal.

According to his fellow patriot and propagandist Mariano Ponce, “… Tireless propagandist in the political struggle, formidable in his attack, expert in his defenses, accurate in the strokes of his pen, unyielding in his arguments, whose knowledge and formidable intelligence commanded the respect even of his enemies, whom he had defeated more than one in contests of the mind”.

And the revealing pronouncement of Marcelo H. del Pilar to the first president of the Katipunan before the known founding of the Katipunan dated March 31, 1891

In the Filipino Colony there should be no division, nor is there: one are the sentiments which move us, one the ideals we pursue; the abolition in the Philippine of every obstacle to our liberties, and in due time and by the proper method, the abolition of the flag of Spain as well

“ la abolicion en Filipinas de toda traba a nuestras libertades, y a su tiempu y conveniente razon la del pabellon de Espana tambien( Marcelo-Ka dato. Ep. Pilar, 1:246).

This is not a declaration of pure-blooded reformist it came from the nationalistic bosom of Marcelo H. del Pilar to abolish the flag of Spain means complete independence and self-government. In the Philippine Insurgent Records reported that another pamphlet of Del Pilar was distributed in different plazas entitled “ Ministerio dela Republica Filipina”. Long before Bonifacio and Aguinaldo proclaimed the Philippine Republic it was already the Political Idea of Plaridel.

It is also noteworthy to mention as well the recent study of According to the Study of The Journal of Communication SEECI Spanish Society for the Study of Communication Iberoamericana) was founded in March 1997 by a group of teachers of Journalism and Communication Studies at the University of Madrid (Spain) in 2000 by Enrique Rios had an article that read in part:

Although Marcelo H. del Pilar has a mausoleum in Manila as one of its leaders , we believe that justice was not done with him, because he had one of the most enlightened minds, and undoubtedly was the main brain that pointed the way to the revolution after its death, and in their contacts with Deodato Arellano, was the inspiration for the Katipunan . We ask for the rehabilitation of ( rectification in the proper place of Del Pilar in the country’s pantheon of heroes)”Plaridel “.

MARCELO-HILARIO-DEL-PILAR-Jose-Rizal

Although they are not Filipinos, by understanding the significant role played by Del Pilar, his tireless effort in propaganda, organizing secret societies and depending the press freedom. SEECI was asking since 2000 a rehabilitation and justice for “Plaridel” in the Philippine national pantheon. How much more we, Filipinos and this country are the very reason of Marcelo H. del Pilar’s lamentations and sacrifices.

 

From the account of Marcelo H. del Pilar himself, Filipinos can realize and be reminded as well that his death is worthy to be commemorate and celebrates as the National Press Freedom Day not only in words but more so in principles and actions:

 

I believe it unnecessary for me to remind you of the circumstances that compelled me to abandon the Philippines since October 31, 188. I was not moved by a desire to increase my personal wealth, for I had there all the element for advancement, my clientele, my interest, etc. neither wa I moved by the fear of being exiled, although there I no worse fate for the father of a family than to place a distance of three thousand leagues between him and his loved ones.

 

            I came here for the purpose of rendering a more effective service to our unfortunate country. I came here to try by all peaceful means within the law to obtain needed reforms for my country, to look for solution that might, directly or indirectly, guarantee in the Philippines the rights of the people already guaranteed in the rest of Spain, thus raising the standard of our living and making our people ready for future progress.

 

            Great was the task before me. Without wealth, without other help than the sanctity of our cause and my faith in the future, I saw before me as you well know, all the forces of reaction arrayed against us. Patriotism and friends gave me their support, and this support the enterprise less onerous and my decision to fight more firm.

 

            The campaign was started. Press, rostrum, public and private circles, primaries, meetings at Masonic Temples, personal relation, political and personal friends, in short, all means of propaganda to further the needed reforms in the Philippine, have been utilized to create an atmosphere to keep our ideals alive. Some with their donations, others with their pen, some with their speech, others with their personal influences, all with a disinterested enthusiasm, Filipinos, Peninsular Spaniards and foreigners, have contributed to strengthen our patriotic enterprise to redeem a disfranchised people.

 

            It is unnecessary to mention here the results of this united endeavor. The frantic attempts of our enemies to obstruct the campaign are sufficient evidence that our efforts are successful. After failing with their threats, after failing with their cajolery, they descended from their Olympian heights and decided to measure their powerful force with our feeble strength. They started newspapers and hired good writers, with no knowledge of the justice of our demands. When you consider the scant means at our disposal, we could not have obtained the small victories we have won and the splendid triumphs gained except from our implicit faith in the sanctity of our cause and the inner moral urge from knowing we were right. M.H. Del Pilar August, 1892-Madrid

Plans were prepared in Madrid and the organization in the Philippines cooperated in their execution. During the three or four years that the correspondences lasted, the communion, the understanding and the harmony between the thinking brains and the obedient limbs were so perfect that, in spite of the distance that separated them, they seemed to belong to a single physical body.

 

The letters from Del Pilar and the other directive elements in Spain were awaited in the Philippines with the same anxiety and their instructions followed with the same spirit of discipline as an army listens to and carries out the orders of its general in command. And, vice versa, the letters from the Philippines lifted the hearts and filled with enthusiasm the breasts of those who worked in Spain. Without the direction of Del Pilar in Mardrid national enterprise—Philippine propaganda could never have done what it did. (Kalaw, 1956)

 

The life of del PIlar is in itself an epic—a tale of supreme devotion to his country’s cause. “ The value of one’s life,” he said, “ Can be measured only in terms of human service… defend the right, happen what may, never fearing whether you win or lose, and your integrity will be upheld and maintained. There is defeat that is victory… Let us do what we can. God will take care of the rest.”

Del Pilar received nothing for his work in Spain. He published La Solidaridad for sheer nobility of heart and when his friends could not help him, he wrote home for money. His family sent him what they should be spending for their livelihood.

Before long, the resources of his family were spent. Poorly financed, however, he went to the risk of sacrificing his own health; half fed, most often he smoked to forget his hunger. One time he could not even buy stamps with which to send a letter home. His smallest child, on learning his plight, sold all her Christmas gifts and sent her father all her money.

Del Pilar’s struggle was so disheartening that only a man of the highest patriotism and the strongest will could stand it. Yet in spite of the repeated requests of his wife and friends that he should return home he stayed in Spain to continue the work which he had begun. Through others could not help him yet he did not weaken.

“ Let us wait as we go on. “he told his friends, “ let us not hesitate even if we meet barriers and thorns on the way. What are these little inconveniences compared to the great misfortune of our country?

He was attacked by fever and rheumatism. But still he stayed on. He suffered in body and soul. The melancholiness of a father’s desire to come to his starving family made him all the more miserable. Still he kept on and held his own.

During those long and weary years in Spain, he knew how his children had missed him. To his wife he wrote:

“ Sofia is almost a woman now.. When he was young you ministered to her physical needs; now you must minister to the needs of her soul…. I am far from you. I cannot defend you from dangers and mishaps.

“ I suffer very much whenever I think of your hardships and privations. Great is my desire to go home so that I can do my duty towards who are part and parcel of my life..”

He was already sick;but because of his courage and nobility of heart, he still was benevolent to his enemies. To his countrymen, he counseled faith, “Faith,” he said, “levels mountains”.

In the long run, his strong physique gave way to tuberculosis. He could no longer come home. Unto the last breath of La Solidaridad, Del Pilar did not forsake his duties to the newspaper for seven years fighting for press freedom as well as the freedom of the country. His influence did not ceased only La Solidaridad his writings and legacy continued and can be reflected in the Katipunan organ “ Kalayaan” his patriotic examples and his revolutionary spirit moved the leaders of the Katipunan.

And unto his death bed on July 4, 1896 at 1o clock a.m. he said,”Tell my family I could no longer engage anything with them, I will die in the hand of my loyal friends. Go on and continue the campaign for the Redemption and Freedom of our country.” On July 5, 1896 Lt. Manuel Sityar reported Del Pilar as the man behind the Katipunan periodical “ Kalayaan” and an Filibuster to the Civil Governor Manuel Luengo.

August 30, 1896- birthdate of Marcelo H. del Pilar, Andres Bonifacio attack the Spanish garrison “ El Polvorin” for the freedom of our country.

The death of Gat Marcelo H. del Pilar was a national loss. The Filipino nation mourned as a body. It did not stop until it was able to have, through an act of the Philippine Legislature, the remains of del Pilar, the patriot.

On December 3, 1920, then Judge Romualdez brought his remains from Spain. Solemn and impressive ceremonies marked the repatriation. Thousands of people from Manila and the neighboring provinces came to pay him tribute.

Moving ceremonies were also held in Bulacan and in Malolos. Masonic Lodges rendered him necrological services. The Philippine Government conducted on December 12, 1920, similar services in recognition of his patriotic work and in honor to his glorious memory.

 

This called for more endurance and patience on their part while peaceful processes were being carried out. But if and when Revolution broke out, it was God’s will, and would be a fight to the finish irrespective of consequences. – Marcelo del Pilar

Author, King Cortez