Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary (DILG) Benhur Abalos leads Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando, Vice Governor Alex Castro and Bulakan Mayor Vergel Meneses in this year’s simple yet very significant and meaningful 173rd birth anniversary of Marcelo H. Del Pilar at the hero’s shrine in Sitio Cupang, Barangay San Nicolas, Bulakan, Bulacan. Photo by Shane Frias Velasco, PIA Bulacan

BULAKAN, Bulacan—Officials and residents celebrated on Wednesday the 173rd birth anniversary of Maecelo H. Del Pilar still without the grand socio civic parade participated annually by hundreds of people from different sectors giving honor to the hero as the town still reels from the floods due to strong rains brought by typhoon Egay, the southwest monsoon and typhoon Falcon. 

Mayor Vergel Meneses lead the celebration through simple wreath laying ceremony and speeches made by Guest of Honor and Speaker Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos and Gov. Daniel Fernando at the hero’s shrine at his birth place in Sitio Cupang, Barangay San Nicolas. 

Meneses has earlier announced during the meetings for the preparations for the event that the grand yearly parade last observed in 2019 will continue to be halted, this time as a form of austerity as the budget the grand celebration will require was diverted in helping the flooded victims from the said recent calamities, municipal information officer Evelyn Enriquez-Villaluz told NEWS CORE during the affair. 

Each affected families received 5 kilos of rice and other support from the municipal government and the provincial government.

Bulakan is just one of the municipalities in the province that was declared under state of calamity because of the said floods aggravated by high tide. The whole of the province has also been placed under state of calamity. 

The traditional grand parade from the town plaza to the shrine in honor of Del Pilar was held as the highlight of the commemoration of his annual birth anniversary participated by hundreds of people from all walks of life to give honor to him. 

The lavish parade was a continued re-enactment of the people of Bulakan’s gesture and initiative to gather in the street as they tearfully and emotionally welcome the remains of the hero when it was brought home in 1984, 127 years after he died on July 4, 1886 in Barcelona, Spain. 

Del Pilar’s remains were left uncared for in Spain for decades until the Philippine government brought it home and buried it at Manila North Cemetery in 1920. The hero’s family and descendants then sought the help of the authorities and with National Press Club and Bulacan Press Club officials, they brought them home to his native town on his birth anniversary on August 30, 1984. 

Alex Aguinaldo, curator of National Historical Commission of the Philippines at Del Pilar’s Shrine said the move of the municipal government to set aside the grand annual parade tradition does not diminish the value, significant and honor the people of Bulacan particularly its leaders towards Del Pilar because just like the national hero, the welfare of the people should come first. 

But, despite the continued halt of the grand civic parade, the event was significantly celebrated through very inspiring messages of Secretary Abalos, Gov. Fernando, Raul Canon Jr, representing the Senior Grand Warden, Free and Accepted Mason of the Philippines that honored Del Pilar, including the wreath-laying ceremonies made by said officials and groups and the National Press Club of the Philippines, the Central Luzon Media Association (CLMA) and the Bulacan Press Club.

The Philippine National Police also honored the hero with a 21-gun salute.   

Abalos hailed Del Pilar and his works and sacrifices led to the freedom that Filipinos now enjoy. Amidst the modern world today with 40,000 satellites serving the internet and communication of all the people and all the changes we now face, only the courage, love, compassion of our heroes through our leaders today remain intact. 

He said this year’s theme on the 173rd birth anniversary of Del Pilar, “Marcelo H.  Del Pilar, Liwanag ng Nakaraan, Tanglaw Natin sa Kasalukuyan,” is the best policy each and every Filipino particularly our leaders should observe for the glory of our nation. 

“Siya ang bayani  ng ating  bansa na simbolo ng kalayaang tintamasa sa ngayon dahil sa mga sakripisyo niya at pagmamahal sa sambayanang Pilipino. Ang kanyang ginawa na paglaban sa kasamaan ang dapat nating tularan. For evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, iyan ang panuntunan ni Del Pilar na dapat nating patuloy na sundin at gawin” (He is our hero that symbolizes the freedom we now enjoy. That was Del Pilar’s principle we should follow and abide), he said. 

“Parati nating ipaglaban ang tama, matalo ka man o manalo, nananatili ang kredibilidad mo. Hindi lahat ng pagkatalo ay talo, mayroong panalo sa pagkatalo,” (We should always fight for what is right, whether we win or lose, your credibility stays. Not all defeats are failure, there are cases where defeat is victory) he said. 

“Ipagdasal natin sa Diyos ang kasaganaan ng ating bansa. Ipagpatuloy natin ang ating mabuting gawa para sa ating mahal na bansa”.

Gov. Daniel Fernando also gave honor to Del Pilar, also known as Plaridel being the beacon of light for democracy and press freedom  as the country honors the hero on the second year celebration of the National Press Freedom Day. 

Fernando however challenged the media not to abuse the power of the press by serving the reporter’s personal gains. “Ang mga diyarista ay dapat hindi maging abuso sa kanilang trabaho at manlibak ng kanyang kapwa,” (The newspapermen should not abuse their power against anyone to mock, humiliate and degrade others), he said. 

Del Pilar who also used the pen name Cupang, being his birth place, was the editor of the La Solidaridad whose writings ignited the Filipino spirit for enlightenment against the Spanish rule.

Del Pilar was born in his native place where the shrine stands today on August 30, 1850 and died of hunger and tuberculosis on July 4, 1896 in Barcelona, Spain while on self-exile to continue his commitment for the call for the awakening by the Filipino people against the 400-year oppressive rule of the Spaniards.

He left his wife and two daughters behind and had not come home alive to see them and only his ashes managed to return home to his native place.