In February 17, 1872, Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jocinto Zamora (Gomburza), all Filipino priest, was executed by the Spanish colonizers on charges of subversion. The charges against Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora was their alleged complicity in the uprising of workers at the Cavite Naval Yard. The death of Gomburza awakened strong feelings of anger and resentment among the Filipinos. They questioned Spanish authorities and demanded reforms. The martyrdom of the three priests apparently helped to inspire the organization of the Propaganda Movement, which aimed to seek reforms and inform Spain of the abuses of its colonial government.
The illustrados led the Filipinos’ quest for reforms. Because of their education and newly acquired wealth, they felt more confident about voicing out popular grievances. However, since the illustrados themselves were a result of the changes that the Spanish government had been slowly implementing, the group could not really push very hard for the reforms it wanted. The illustrados did not succeeded in easing the sufferings of the Filipinos; but from this group arose another faction called the intelligentsia. The intelligentsia also wanted reforms; but they were more systematic and used a peaceful means called the Propaganda Movement.
Goals of the Propaganda Movement
Members of the Propaganda Movement were called propagandists or reformists. They worked inside and outside the Philippines. Their objectives were to seek:
Recognition of the Philippines as a province of Spain
Equal status for both Filipinos and Spaniards
Philippine representation in the Spanish Cortes
Secularization of Philippine parishes.
Recognition of human rights
The Propaganda Movement never asked for Philippine independence because its members believed that once Spain realized the pitiful state of the country, the Spaniards would implement the changes the Filipinos were seeking.
The Filipinos in Europe were much more active in seeking reforms than those in Manila. They could be divided into three groups: The first included Filipinos who had been exiled to the Marianas Islands in 1872 after being implicated in the Cavite Mutiny. After two many years in the Marianas, they proceeded to Madrid and Barcelona because they could no longer return to the Philippines. The second group consisted of illustrados in the Philippines who had been sent to Europe for their education. The third group was composed of Filipinos who had fled their country to avoid punishment for a crime, or simply because they could not stand Spanish atrocities any longer. Still, not all Filipinos living in Spain were members of the Propaganda Movement. Jose Rizal, Graciano Lopez Jaena and Marcelo H. del Pilar were it most prominent members.
Lopez Jaena was a brilliant orator who wrote such pieces as " Fray Botod ," "Esperanza," and " La Hija del Fraile ," which all criticized the abuses of Spanish friars in the Philippines. Del Pilar was an excellent writer and speaker who put up the newspaper Diarion Tagalog in 1882. His favorite topic was the friars. Some of his most popular writings included " Caiingat Cayo ", "Dasalan at Tocsohan ," and " Ang Sampung Kautusan ng mga Prayle ". " Caingat Cayo " was a pamphlet answering the criticisms received by Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere . " Dasalan… " was parody of the prayer books used by the Church, while " Ang Sampung Kautusan… " was a satirical take on the Ten Commandments, which highly ridiculed the Spanish friars.
Jose Rizal was recognized as the great novelist of the Propaganda Movement. He was the first Filipino become famous for his written works. He wrote a poem entitled “ Sa Aking mga Kababata ” when he was only eight years old. His novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo , clearly depicted the sufferings of the Filipinos and the rampant abuses committed by the friars in the colony. Because of his criticisms of the government and the friars, Rizal made a lot of enemies. He was executed at Bagumbayan (later renamed Luneta Park and now called Rizal Park) on December 30, 1896.
The writings produced by the Propaganda Movement inspired Andres Bonifacio and other radicals to establish the Katipunan and set the Philippine Revolution in place.
La Liga Filipina
In 1892, Jose Rizal (full name: Jose Protacio Mercado Rizal y Alonzo) returned to the Philippines and proposed the establishment of a civic organization called “La Liga Filipina.” On July 3, 1892, the following were elected as its officers: Ambrosio Salvador, president: Agustin dela Rosa, fiscal; Bonifacio Arevalo, treasurer; and Deodato Arellano, secretary. Rizal functioned as its adviser.
La Liga Filipina had no intention of rising up in arms against the government; but the Spanish officials still felt threatened. On July 6, 1892 only three days after La Liga Filipina’s establishment, Jose Rizal was secretly arrested. The next day, Governor General Eulogio Despujol ordered Rizal’s deportation to Dapitan, a small, secluded town in Zamboanga. La Liga Filipina's membership was active in the beginning; but later, they began to drift apart. The rich members wanted to continue supporting the Propaganda Movement; but the others seemed to have lost all hope that reforms could still be granted. Andres Bonifacio was one of those who believed that the only way to achieve meaningful change was through a bloody revolution.
Aims of La Liga Filipina
▪ Unite the whole country ▪ Protect and assist all members ▪ Fight violence and injustice ▪ Support education ▪ Study and implement reforms
In order to help achieve its goals, the Propaganda Movement put up its own newspaper, called La Solidaridad. The Soli, as the reformists fondly called their official organ, came out once every two weeks. The first issue saw print was published on November 15, 1895. The Solidaridad’s first editor was Graciano Lopez Jaena. Marcelo H. del Pilar took over in October 1889. Del Pilar managed the Soli until it stopped publication due to lack of funds.