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Marcelo Hilario del Pilar y Gatmaitan (August 30, 1850July 4, 1896), was a Filipinomarker writer, revolutionary leader of the Philippine Revolution and one of the leading Illustrado (Knowledgeable) propagandist of the Philippine War of Independence. DelPilar was one of the co-publisher and founder of La Solidaridad (The Solidarity) newspaper. He tried to marshal the nationalist sentiment of the enlightened Filipino ilustrados, against the Spanish imperialism. He wrote articles and pamphlets against the presence of Spanish friars in the Philippinesmarker.


Early life and education

Del Pilar was born in sitio Cupang, Bulacanmarker, Bulacanmarker, on August 30, 1850, to Don Julián Hilario del Pilar, a three time gobernadorcillo, and Doña Blasa Gatmaitan. They had ten children. He was baptized Marcelo Hilario. The family adapted the surname Del Pilar in 1849 based on the decree issued by Governor general Narciso Claveria.

Marcelo was the younger brother of Father Toribio H. del Pilar, who was exiled to Guammarker for his involvement in the 1872 Cavite Mutiny. He learned his first letters from his paternal uncle Alejo. In Manila he took a Latin course in the school of José A. Flores in 1872 and then transferred at the Colegio de San José, where he finished his Bachelor of Arts degree. He also studied at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran and later at the University of Santo Tomasmarker, where he obtained his law degree. Reliable information on his years as a student is incomplete, though he clearly dropped out of law school a couple times, finishing degree only in 1881. This was due to a dispute with a parish priest of San Miguel, Manilamarker in 1869 who was charging an exorbitant baptismal fee.

Del Pilar was a good musician. He played piano, violin, flute, guitar and sings serenades at Flores de Mayo. He worked as oficial de mesa in Pampangamarker and Quiapo in January 1878. He worked for the Manila Royal Audiencia and at the same time he spread nationalist and anti-friar ideas in Manila and in towns and barrios of Bulacanmarker. He married his second-degree cousin Marciana (Tsanay) in February 1878. They had seven children and five died of infancy. Already a family man, he finally obtained his licentiate in jurisprudence in 1880.

Publications in the Philippines

Driven by his sense of justice and his own bad experiences with the clergy, denounced del Pilar in his publications on the violations of the clergy, the narrow-mindedness and hypocrisy. He made speeches in an open crowd, whether a cockpit, tienda, and town plaza. He delivered his tirades against the friars during fiestas, parties and funeral wakes. He wrote poems and essays defending Filipino interests and fought for the equality of Filipinos and Spaniards in his book "La Soberania Monacal en Filipinas" (Monastic Sovereignty in the Philippines).

On July 1, 1882, Del Pilar founded the newspaper Diariong Tagalog (Tagalog Diary), with the help of Don Francisco Calvo y Muñoz, a wealthy Spanish liberal. This newspaper was the first to publish ideas for reforms in the Philippines. Editing its Tagalog section, he published among others, his nationalist and reformist articles, like the Tagalog translation of Rizal's El amor patrio. Other of his writings were Dasalan at Tocsohan (Prayerbook and Teasing Game), Pasyong Dapat Ipag-alab nang Puso nang Tauong Babasa (Passion That Should Inflame the Heart of the Reader), Caiingat Cayo (Be Careful), Kadakilaan ng Diyos (God's Goodness), Sagot ng España sa Hibik ng Pilipinas (Spain's Reply to the Complains of Filipinos), Dudas (Doubts) and La Frailocracia Filipina (Frailocracy in the Philippines). All of these writings were published in 1889.

His parody of the Our Father, the Virgin Mary, the Creed, the Ten Commandments and the catechism expended in pamphlets he resembled in shape and size to novenas and became a successful and effective propaganda. Unlike Rizal, who wrote his works in Spanish, wrote Plaridel in Tagalog.

Del Pilar also printed inflammatory pamphlets disguised as prayerbooks. They contained satirical verses and were distributed inside the church or sold openly in the churchyard - right under the friars' noses.

Escape for persecution

He organized with Doroteo Cortes, José Ramos, and Juan Zulueta various anti-friar demonstrations. On March 1, 1888, he joined a demonstration in Manila and sought audience with the governor general, demanding the expulsion of friars from the Philippinesmarker and the exile of the archbishop. When José Rizal's Noli Me Tangere was attacked by church - paid hacks, Del Pilar assumed various pseudonyms and wrote pamphlets denouncing the clergymen. Del Pilar became a wanted man. The church wielded their influence to secure an order of banishment against him. But before the order's release, del Pilar had fled to Spainmarker. Before his departure, he organized Caja de Jesus, María y José intended to provide scholarship grants to poor but intelligent children and the Junta de Programa, which functioned to collect funds to carry on the propaganda work and constitute liaison between the propagandists in Spain and those in the Philippines.

On October 28, 1888, del Pilar left Manilamarker for Spainmarker, and spent his time with the Filipinos in Hong Kongmarker led by José María Basa, a propagandist and a bitter enemy of the Spanish friars. Basa - whom Rizal had already established contact on his way back to Europe - became the agent for smuggling Rizal's novels into the Philippines.
Leaders of the reform movement in Spain: L-R: Rizal, del Pilar, and Ponce

Life in Spain

In the same year, on the flight from the pursuit through the clergy, del Pilar went to Spainmarker arriving in Barcelona on January 1, 1889. Del Pilar succeeded Graciano López Jaena as the editor of the newspaper La Solidaridad on December 15, 1889 in Madridmarker. The newspaper busied itself with the moderated goals of the representative of the Philippinesmarker in the Spanish parliament. It entered for the legal comparison of Spaniards and filipino and the lifting of the polo (community service) and the vandala (the compulsion sale of local products at the government). The newspaper demanded moreover a guarantee of the basic rights of speech freedom and society freedom as well as same for Filipinos and Spaniards, who wanted to enter into the civil service.

Del Pilar succeeded the goals of the leaf to promote, in that it contacted liberal Spaniards, that were on the side of the thing of the Filipinos. Under it expanded themselves the demands of the newspaper, active cooperation of Filipino in matters of the government, speech freedom, press freedom and meeting freedom, would extend social and political independences, equivalence before the court, reception of a representation in that Spanish Cortes or the parliament.

Del Pilar came however soon in difficulties and these reached its highpoint when the money means were exhausted for the support of its newspaper. Simultaneously there was no sign at all of a direct reaction that would place a support of sides of the Spanish ruler class in outlook. Before its death, that was favored by hunger and large need, del Pilar abandoned its bearing to the assimilation and began with the planning of an armed revolt.

It strengthened this conviction through following lines: This idea was an inspiration for Andrés Bonifacio of Katipunan, a secret revolutionary organization which aimed to gained independence from Spain.

Del Pilar's revolutionary movement derived from the classic Enlightenment tradition of the French philosophies and the scientific empiricism of the European bourgeoisie. Part of this outlook was transmitted by freemasonry, to which del Pilar subscribed.

Later years and death

Del Pilar left his wife and two daughters in the Philippines when he went to Spain in 1888. Marciana del Pilar (Tsanay), his wife, worked hard to support Sofia and Anita. Del Pilar could not afford to send any money to his family since he himself was penniless. After years of publication from 1889 to 1895, La Solidaridad had begun to run out of funds without accomplishing concrete changes in the Philippines. Its last issue appeared on November 15, 1895. Despite poverty and poor health, he continued with his crusade.

In Spain, he went hungry for days and during winter, he kept himself warm by smoking cigarette butts he picked up in the streets. He soon fell ill and died of tuberculosis in a public hospital in Barcelonamarker, Spain, on July 4, 1896 at the age of 46. He was buried in a pauper's grave. Lopez Jaena had died six months earlier in Barcelona in a similar hospital run by the Sisters of Charity, and is said to have retracted Masonry and received the sacraments as Del Pilar did. A few months after his death, the Philippine Revolution broke out.


Organized in his memory, Samahang Plaridel is a fellowship of journalists and other communicators that aims to propagate Marcelo H. del Pilar’s ideals. This fellowship fosters within its capacity, mutual help, cooperation, and assistance among its members; dedicated to the journalistic standards of accuracy and truth, and in promoting these standards in the practice of journalism. Plaridel’s ideology of truth, fairness and impartiality is anchored on democratic principles, as these are the bastions of a society acceptable to all Filipinos.


  1. Filipinos in History Volume II National Historical Institute (Manila, 1989) pp. 99-102
  2. La Frailocracia Filipina (Barcelona: Imprenta Iberica de Francisco Fossas, 1889) was published under del Pilar's pen name Plaridel.
  3. Dolores Manapat, Caiingat Cayo (Manila, 1888), reproduced in Santos, Philippine Review, 3:961-63
  4. Originally published anonymously in Barcelona, it is reprinted in De los Santos, Philippine Review 3 (Nov 1918): 869-73.
  5. Rene O. Villanueva (Filway's Philippine Almanac Second Edition): The Penniless Propagandist, Campaigning for reforms from cockpits to banquet halls. (p. 374)


External links

  • "Philippine History - Plaridel."
  • "The Philippine Revolution: La Solidaridad." (accessed on July 10, 2007).

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