August 30, 1850
MANILA, Aug. 30 — On August 30, 1850, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, one of the leading propagandists for reforms during Spanish invasion in the country, was born in Cupang (now Barangay San Nicolas), Bulacan, Bulacan.
Using Plaridel as his pseudonym, Del Pilar who went to Spain served as editor of La Solidaridad (replacing Graciano Lopez-Jaena), the mouthpiece of Filipino propaganda during the struggle for recognition and the acceptance of the Philippines by Spain.
Del Pilar, along with Lopez-Jaena, Mariano Ponce and Dr. Jose Rizal, became known as the leading lights of reform movement, who revealed the conditions of the country prior to 1896 Philippine Revolution.
Prior to leaving the country, friars found their match in Del Pilar who seized every occasion to attack them with his tirades and stinging criticisms.
During those times, friars were the most hated persons in the Philippines who protested against the teaching of the Spanish language to Filipinos; campaigned against press freedom; the secularization of parishes; the enjoyment of civil rights and liberties.
They blocked the introduction of reforms in the country for fear that an enlightened citizenry would diminish their powers and prerogatives.
Del Pilar, who was imprisoned after a fight with the parish priest of San Miguel, Manila whom he accused of charging an exorbitant baptismal rites fee. Del Pilar, who happened to be one of the child's godfather, was convinced to dedicate whole life to the campaign of reforms.
He made speeches in crowds, whether a cockpit, tienda, or town plaza. He delivered his tirades against the friars during fiestas, parties and funeral wakes.
Notably, on August 1, 1882, he published Diariong Tagalog, which exposed the abuses of the friars and the need for reforms.
He also 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).
For their part, the church wielded its influence to secure an order to banish Del Pilar. But before the order's release, he had managed to flee to Spain.
He died on July 4, 1896 in Barcelona, Spain at the age of 45.
His remains were brought back in 1920 to his final resting place, now known as Dambana ni Plaridel under the National Historical Institute located in San Nicolas, Bulacan, Bulacan.
Today, Plaridel is the chosen "patron saint" of journalists as his life and works prized freedom of thought and opinion most highly above any material gain.
He is also considered as the Father of Philippine Masonry who spearheaded the secret organization of Masonic lodges in the Philippines as a means of strengthening the Propaganda Movement. (PNA)