What’s in My Name

September 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm 20 comments

Marcelo del Pilar

When I was born, my grandfather thought of naming me MAGSALIN after Juan Crisostomo Ibarra y Magsalin, the main protagonist in Rizal’s famous novel, Noli Me Tangere.

My father didn’t like the idea at all. He was highly suspicious of my grandfather’s intentions. As you know, my grandfather was a womanizer who had fathered children from several women.

MAGSALIN happens to be a Tagalog word meaning “to pour” in English as in putting water in a vase or sowing one’s oats.

Looking back, I think my grandfather came up with the name spurred by nationalistic fervor. It wasn’t because he wanted me to follow in his footsteps. Otherwise, he could have easily settled for Romeo or Lothario instead.

As fate would have it, the family decided on PLARIDEL. it’s uniquely a Filipino name and has an interesting story as well. It was the pseudonym of Marcelo del Pilar (1850-1896), a Filipino patriot, writer, and propagandist during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. It was derived from the anagram of his last name.

In his book, The Philippines: a Past Revisited, Renato Constantino wrote:

Marcelo H. del Pilar’s reputation as a propagandist was already established before an order for his arrest forced him to flee the country in 1880. Gifted with the common touch, he found ready audiences in the cockpits, the plazas, and the corner tiendas of his native Bulacan. Unlike Rizal who wrote his novels in Spanish, a fact which cut him off from most Filipinos who did not know the language, del Pilar wrote his propaganda pamphlets in simple Tagalog — lucid, direct and forceful. His parodies of the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments and the catechism published in pamphlets which simulated the format and size of the novenas were highly effective propaganda.

In 1888, the Spanish authorities in the Philippines had ordered for his arrest for his anti-clerical and subversive activities. As a result, he fled to Spain where he headed the political section of the Asociación Hispano-Filipina de Madrid and edited the newspaper of the reform movement called La Solidaridad.

Despite their efforts, Del Pilar and his fellow compatriots failed to achieve the reforms and changes they desired for the country. This led Del Pilar to conclude that

Insurrection is the last remedy, especially when the people have acquired the belief that peaceful means to secure the remedies for evils prove futile.

Del Pilar suffered extreme poverty in Spain when he failed to get additional funding for La Solidaridad. It was said that he often missed his meals. He didn’t see his beloved country again. In 1896, he succumbed to tuberculosis and buried in a borrowed grave.

He didn’t die in vain. On the year he died, the Filipinos revolted against their Spanish colonial masters.

While walking around Barcelona several years ago, I imagined Marcelo del Pilar picking up cigarette butts in the streets to keep himself warm.Hhe paid the ultimate price for his country. I was grateful for the sacrifices that he endured and deeply honored to be named after him.

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20 Comments Add your own

  • 1. What Happens to Us  |  September 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Fascinating stuff.

    • 2. plaridel  |  September 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      what happens to us:

      cool! 🙂

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  • 5. Madhu  |  September 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Plaridel is an anagram of Del Pilar!! How interesting 🙂

    • 6. plaridel  |  September 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm


      sure it is… and to think it’s more than a century old. 🙂

  • 7. krn  |  September 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    I thought it was just your pseudonym but I like it. Nobody named Plaridel except you and Del Pilar. Cool. That’s why I hate my name, it’s very common.

    • 8. plaridel  |  September 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm


      totally awesome that you like it. anyway, nothing’s wrong with your name. it’s beautiful.

  • 9. AC  |  September 4, 2013 at 6:14 am

    I never thought of it as your real name, kala ko its your pseudonym as well. Haha. Nice! 😀

  • 11. barbarafranken  |  September 4, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Isn’t it wonderful what our name brings us to understand…. Barbara

    • 12. plaridel  |  September 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm


      but, if i may add, living up to it can be difficult.

      • 13. barbarafranken  |  September 5, 2013 at 11:07 pm

        Nature is in contant change and we are a part of that, our name too… so why not add our own ‘being’ to it too… it’s good be understand past things but its now we live in and in our own shoes not that of others… we must remember this if we are to enjoy our life and be the creator of our hearts desire and destiny…

        • 14. plaridel  |  September 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm


          that’s one good advice. thank you.

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  • 16. Nortehanon  |  September 5, 2013 at 4:22 am

    Aha, so it is really your real name! That’s cool. I would have been honored if I had been named after a hero. Parang type ko ang Melchora or Gabriela 🙂

    • 17. plaridel  |  September 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm


      no need to change your name at all, miss n. with your advocacy, you’re already a hero to my eyes.

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  • 19. Leigh W. Smith  |  May 17, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Well, I had no idea about the background of the name Plaridel. I’d never met anyone of that name before “meeting” you online. You know what ‘ring’ your name has to me? To me, it always sounded like the clarity of a bell (and to rhyme with bell also), “plar” = clarity and “del” = bell. I don’t know, but that’s just the resonance I felt from your name, being ignorant of its real historical underpinnings, but it’s fascinating to know the real, historical background of your country and Mr. del Pilar’s struggles on behalf of Filipino people against Spanish oppression, as well as your name. Very cool post!

    • 20. plaridel  |  May 17, 2015 at 5:47 pm


      it was sad that he died a pauper in barcelona.


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