Plaridel - a shining example for our journalists
ROSES & THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - September 4, 2008 - 12:00am

The greatest Filipino journalist ever known was Marcelo H. del Pilar. His 158th birth anniversary was commemorated last August 30. Sadly, few people, much less the youth of today, even remember him now, except of course, for the streets named after him, which hardly recall his contribution to Philippine history.

Del Pilar, whose pen name is Plaridel, an anagram of his surname, is one of the citizens that make the province of Bulacan proud. Plaridel established the first Philippine bilingual newspaper, Diariong Tagalog in 1882 to publish observations and criticisms on how the Spanish government in the Philippines was run. He was the fearless propagandist who took over La Solidaridad, a quarterly political publication initially edited by Graciano Lopez Jaena, that elicited a nationalistic spirit among Filipino ilustrados against Spanish imperialism. His writings inspired the Philippine revolution. Del Pilar took advantage of his mastery of the Filipino language to raise the awareness of the masses on the abuses of the powerful Spanish friars that led to oppression, racial discrimination and corruption. Using simple and forceful Tagalog, he parodied Spanish creeds and prayers to expose the abuses of the friars then, i.e., The Lord’s Prayer - Our Father (“Amain Namin”), the Hail Mary (“Aba Ginoong Barya”), the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments and the catechism (spoofed in “Dasalan at Tocsohan”). With the help of Pedro Serrano Laktaw, he had these published like the Catholic novenas, making his propaganda very effective. Likewise, he also wrote “La Soberania Moncal en Filipinas” (Monastic Sovereignty in the Philippines) and “La Frailocracia en Filipinas” (The Priest-ocracy in the Philippines).

Today, Samahang Plaridel, an association of veteran journalists, editors, publishers and communicators, honors Marcelo H. del Pilar as their patron saint, as his life and works portrayed the value of freedom of thought and opinion as paramount over any material or personal gain. The University of the Philippines (UP) also awards the annual UP Gawad Plaridel to outstanding media practitioners who have excelled in print, film, radio, television and new media and who have performed with the highest level of professional integrity in the interest of public service. Like del Pilar, the recipients of this award must believe in the vision of a Philippine society that is egalitarian, participative, and progressive, and in media that are socially responsible, critical and vigilant, liberative and transformative, and free and independent.

A British journalist writes of Journalism, “Its primary office is the gathering of news. At the peril of its soul, it must see that the supply is not tainted. Neither in what it gives nor in what it does not give, nor in the mode of presentation, must the unclouded face of truth suffer wrong. Comment is free but facts are sacred.”

Likewise, may Del Pilar’s ideology of truth, fairness and impartiality in writing and reporting inspire our journalists of today.

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