Rizal and Marcelo H. del Pilar

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Jose Rizal and Marcelo H. del Pilar are two of the prime movers of the propagandist movement during the Spanish colonization in the Philippines. Both were members of the illustrado class of the society, equipped with education and the privileged to be taught of Spanish liberalism.


Their Connections

Del Pilar was educated at San Jose and Sto. Thomas. He had an anti-friars view; he had been conducting a propaganda campaign in secrecy against the friars from Malolos, Bulacan press. When the friars intercepted his activities, they initiated a plan to have him deported. With urgency that the Spanish government might have held him captive, he decided to leave Philippines. He then reached Barcelona by 1888, and there he continued his campaign, writing under nom de plume of Plaridel. By the time that Plaridel (del Pilar) was gaining prestige on his courageous campaigns on Publicidad, Rizal was then in London studying and annotating Morga’s Sucessos de las Islas Filipinas. From there Rizal received a letter from Mariano Ponce, enclosed with it are the little articles in Publicidad. It was the first time then that he had read the works on Piping Dilat. Intrigue by the identity of the owner of the nom de plume (Plaridel), he then inquired Mariano Ponce. As it was stated in his letter, “I am very grateful to you for this and for the Piping Dilat. Our country ought to rejoice because her sons who knows how to love her are beginning to appear. Who is Plaridel? After being informed about Plaridel’s identity, he had then befriended with him through correspondence.

Their First Encounter

When Rizal visited his compatriots on Madrid and Barcelona on December 11, 1888 it was his first encounter with Marcelo H. Del Pilar and Mariano Ponce.

Their Exchange of Correspondence

(See complete records of Rizal and del Pilar correspondence here)

The Conflict

Conflicts arise when Rizal shortly ceased his contribution of articles on La Solidaridad for several weeks. Rizal’s reason was to give readers a rest, and to give others pen shine. But Del Pilar’s less sensitive mind was unable to grasp such attitude. But tranquility between them becomes unfamiliar toward the closing days of 1890 that the time that the Filipino community overseas had to choose for their Responsable (Leader). Camps were drawn into two, having Rizalistas and Pilaristas. By that time Rizal was still an undisputed leader, with unquestionable capacity leading the reform movement. The election for Responsable took place on the first week of February 1891. Animosity and division ran high which causes Rizal’s disappointments. At the end of the election, Rizal’s victory was recognized. Rizal being aware of Del Pilar’s ambition of outshining him abdicates his leadership. He surrender the guidance to Del Pilar, then packed up his bags, paid all his bills, and took the earliest train to Biarritz. By this decision of Rizal, Del Pilar was then puzzled. He then wrote to Rizal talking about resentment and disagreement seeking for apology for any fault he had committed. But Rizal being a passive man denies the Del Pilar’s statement. Thus he said that whatever clash between them ought to disappear. Thus stated, “I considered it very important to the party that there be unity in the work; and you are already at the top and I also have my own ideas, it is better to leave you alone to direct the policy such as you understand it and I do not meddle on it. This has two advantages: It leaves both of us free, and it increases your prestige, which is very necessary, in as much as men of prestige is needed in our country.” Del Pilar have became Rizal’s most endearing critiqued. Del Pilar is the first one who stated that Rizal’s second novel is inferior compared to its first. A evaluation which he freely acknowledged. Even by the time that Rizal’ was in Hong Kong he still read some articles of La Solidaridad and he was extremely disgusted with the allegations thrown on him.

The Reconciliation

During Rizal’s deportation in Dapitan he received a letter from Del Pilar stating his grievance on his situation. It is the last letter he received from Del Pilar. In his letter to Rizal, Del Pilar conveys his desire for the renewal of their former ties. Del Pilar also explains that Lete article was not meant to attack him. The last letter of Del Pilar implies settlement among them, thus he stated; “Well, soon I will follow you; let us see if we can scatter the see”.

Related articles


  • Caotes, Austin : Rizal, Filipino Nationalist and Patriot, Solidaridad Publishing House, 1992
  • Guerrero, Leon Ma. : The First Filipino A Biography of Jose Rizal , Anvil Publishing Inc., 1998
  • Rizal’s Correspondence with Fellow Reformists (Accessed July 29, 2011)
  • Zaide, Gregorio F. and Zaide, Sonia M. Jose Rizal: Buhay, mga ginawa at mga sinulat ng isang henyo, maunulat,syentipiko, at pambansang bayani, All Nations Publishing Co., Inc., 1999

External Links

  • Filipiniana Website, The Premiere Digital Library of the Philippines [www.filipiniana.com] (Accessed July 27, 2011)
  • National Historical Commission of the Philippines Official Website [www.nhi.gov.ph] (accessed July 27, 2011)



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