Local Heroes

Giant Lantern


Tiburcio was born on August 11, 1853 in barrio San Juan, San Fernando, Pampanga. His father was Anastacio, better known as " Mariang Barindi". He has two siblings who were Isabel and Cecilio.
Upon the early death of his mother, Tiburcio and Cecilio were left in the supervision of their sister, Isabela. Tiburcio, following his brother's footsteps, finished his Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1869 and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Law.
Shortly after his graduation, Tiburcio married Martina David of Bacolor with whom he had two (2) children: Filomena and Ceferino. Because of his first wife's early demise, he courted a goodlooking Spanish mestiza, Adriana Sanggalang. Their subsequent marriage gave him his third child, a son, Zoilo Jose.
Everyone who met him remembered his intelligent eyes. His face showed a few pock marks. He was taller than the average Filipino of his generation and was slightly built but wiry. He sported crew-cut hair, known as alfonsino and he loved to wear an adolfo hat.
His brother, Cecilio, was one of the first founders of masonry in the Philippines, the fraternity which was the first organized vehicle of the Propaganda Movement. Tiburcio was then included in the triangle of his brother in San Fernando which became one of two lodges which materialized (the other was Francisco Joven's in Bacolor) out of the eight original triangles initially formed in Pampanga.
On June 12, 1892, during Rizal's second return to Manila, he visited Central Luzon leaders to invite them to be members of La Liga Filipina, a society of patriotic Filipinos who would work for the development and progress of their country. Among those visited by Rizal in the course of the organization of the league were him and his brother Cecilio. He came to their ancestral house in San Fernando and stayed there on many occasions. In fact Rizal left many of his writings and books under the care of Tiburcio. These visits changed the lives of the two brothers. From legal defenders, reformers and propangandists, they became rebels and leaders of the revolution.
His life was endangered because every time Rizal came to Hilario's house, the whole household and all the buildings and garden were searched by the Spaniards. There was a time when his daughter did not succeed in burning all the books when the Hilario's house was searched so the Spaniards got hold of some of them. They arrested Tiburcio and imprisoned him. It was mere luck that he was not persecuted.
He, together with his brother, was imprisoned in Bacolor and was later exiled to Siasi, Jolo while Cecilio was sent to Balabac. From Siasi and Balabac, they were sent to Bilibid prison with the intention of making them testify against Rizal during the latter's trial, but thay refused to testify against the hero.
Although Tiburcio failed to prevent his own exile, he succeeded in saving two of his closest friends, Don Leandro Ibarra (a lawyer from Lubao, Pampanga, who later became the Secretary of the Interior in the Cabinet of General Emilio Aguinaldo) and his cousin Marcelo H. Del pilar ( who was once an Official De Mesa (clerk) in Pampanga), from the same fate.
Tiburcio Hilario was later elected as the (Evolutionary Governor of Pampanga by the town presidents. He stands out as the brains of the revolutionary movement in Pampanga. He chose General Maximino Hizon as the head of the military arm and Aurelio Tolentino, the playwright revolutionary, as his propagandist to convince the people of the province of the justice of the cause of the revolution in that province.
During the Luna-Mascardo confrontation in April, 1899, it was also Tiburcio Hilario who met General Luna and pleaded with him to restore peace and unity at acrucial moment in the history of the nation.. he requested a bevy of beauties led by Nicolasa Dayrit and Pampanga's Red Cross President, Praxedes Fajardo, to bring flowers and to kneel before General Luna. The women knelt before him on the steps of the convent in Bacolor on April 24, 1899, to dissuade the fiery General from violently confronting General Mascardo.
Governor Tiburcio Hilario, at the same time sent three emissaries to convience General Mascardo to submit himself to Luna's authority as chief of staff. In the end, Mascardo appeared in Betis to inform General Luna that he was willing to follow the latter's orders.
Tiburcio was also responsible in transporting the emprestitos to General Luna for the cause of the revolution. The sum of money that governor transported amounts to One Million Silver Pesos which was made up of voluntary contributuions from Pampanguenos, war bonds, and the aid given by Chinese residents in that province. The transfer was formally made at Santos residence in the presence of many witnesses. By giving the emprestito to the general (which he did with Aguinaldo's permission), he hoped that American's would be convinced of the Filipinos' determination to achieve their independence.
One day in early 1903, Tiburcio Hilario fell ill. Everyone thought he had cholera and his doctors treated him for that disease. His health, however, continued to fail and Capitana Matea Rodriguez Sioco and Don Manuel Escaler requested a famous Manila Physician, Dr. Santiago Barcelona, tp proceed to Bacolor to treat him. Dr. Barcelona diagnosed his case as Scarlantina (Scarlet Fever), the only known case in medical history in the Philippines.
Surrounded by his family, Tiburcio died on February 18, 1903. The great and rich of Pampanga came to his funeral but the bulk of those who attended funeral were the common people of the barrios whom he had helped, befriended, and loved. His funeral was a fitting tribute to a life of service during one of the most turbulent phases of Philippines History.
Tiburcio Hilario's historical significance derives from his civilian leadership in his province. During his brief stint, he implanted the seeds of liberalism in Pampanga preserving, even in times of war, the human rights of the Filipino people. He also strictly followed international law during that critical period of the revolution. He was even one of the few people who were able to hold a prominent position at a time when Filipinos were hardly given the opportunity to have a voice in their government. The revolutionary leader of Pampanga left a legacy of great love of country and a deicated concern for the common mass.
A Shaft of Light. Rafaelita Hilario Soriano, 1996.
The Pampangos. Rafaelita Hilario Soriano, 1999.
The History of the Filipino People. Theodoro Agoncillo.

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