La Solidaridad

On February 15, 1889, the first issue of La Solidaridad came out and its editorial expressed its aim :

Our aspirations are modest, very modest. Our program, aside from being simple, is clear: to combat reaction, to stop all retrogressive steps, to extol and adopt liberal ideas, to defend progress; in a word, to be a propagandist, above all, of democratic ideas in order to make these supreme in all nations here and across the seas.

The aims, therefore, of La Solidaridad are described as to collect, to gather, libertarian ideas which are manifested daily in the field of politics, science, art, literature, commerce, agriculture and industry.

We shall also discuss all problems relating to the general interest of the nation and seek solutions to those problems in high-level and democratic manner.

With regard to the Philippines, since she needs the most help, not being represented in the Cortes, we shall pay particular attention to the defence of her democratic rights, the accomplishment of which is our patriotic duty. 

That nation of eight million souls should not, must not be the exclusive preserve of theocracy and traditionalism

The contributors of the La Solidaridad were mostly Filipinos, such as

Marcelo H. del Pilar (Plaridel)
Dr. Jose Rizal (Laon Laan)
Mariano Ponce (Naning, Kalipulo, Tigbalang)
Antonio Luna (Taga Ilog)
Jose Ma. Panganiban (Jomapa)
Dr. Pedro Paterno
Antonio Ma. Regidor
Isabelo delos Reyes
Eduardo de Lete
Jose Alejandrino

Some friends of the Propaganda Movement also contributed, notably Professor Blumentritt ( Austrian ethnologist ) and Dr. Morayta ( Spanish Historian, university professor and statesman ).

In the last issue of La Solidaridad (November 15, 1895), M.H. del Pilar wrote his farewell editorial saying :

We are persuaded that no sacrifices are too little to win the rights and the liberty of a nation that is oppressed by slavery.

The desire to form a purely Filipino organization was fulfilled with the establishment in Barcelona on December 13, 1888 if La Solidaridad. This organization was a sort of rival of Morayta’s Madrid group although the two organizations joined together in a petition addressed to the Minister of the Colonies asking for representation in the Cortes, abolition of censorship of the press, and prohibition of the practice of deporting citizens merely through administrative orders.

The president of La Solidaridad was Rizal’s cousin, Galicano Apacible. Among the other officers were Graciano Lopez-Jaena, vice-president, and Mariano Ponce, treasurer. Rizal, in London at the time, was named Honorary President. Unfortunately, Apacible could not hold the wrangling reformists together. It took the prestige of Rizal and the political wisdom of del Pilar to unite the Filipinos in Spain and to coordinate their efforts.

But finally, in February 15, 1889, the Filipino propagandists were able to get together behind a new publication which they called La Solidaridad, and which for its more than five years of its existence became the principal organ of the propaganda movement. It was founded on February 15, 1889 and existed up to November 15, 1895. Its first editor was Graciano Lopez-Jaena but he was soon succeeded by Marcelo H. del Pilar. La Solidaridad was a political propaganda paper with a liberal, reformist orientation dedicated to the task of fighting reaction in all its forms.

Certainly an important factor limiting the influence of the propagandists was the fact that they wrote in Spanish, a language virtually unknown to the masses. Furthermore, censorship seriously limited the inflow of such reading matter and made possession of it very risky. But despite all the foregoing, the influence of the Propaganda on the revolution cannot be discounted. True, La Solidaridad itself, Rizal’s novels, and other propaganda material had limited circulation, but these reached the local ilustrados who in most instances came to lead the revolutionary forces in their provinces. The fund-raising efforts of local committees and Masonic lodges and the clandestine attempts to distribute these materials involved more individuals in the campaign for reforms. The very attempts of the government to stop the entry of La Solidaridad and prevent its distribution highlighted the lack of freedoms that the propagandists were condemning.

If readership was small, seepage of information to other groups certainly occurred. And because what the propagandists wrote were accurate reflections of reality, a feeling of empathy developed wherever news of their work was heard. The articulation of their own feelings of oppression heightened the ferment of the people and herein lay the continuity between reformism and revolution despite their diametrically opposed means and goals.