TIBURCIO T. HILARIO
“Brains of the Revolution in Pampanga”
Tiburcio Hilario was born on August 11, 1863 in barrio San Juan, San Fernando,
Pampanga. His father was Anastacio Hilario, a lawyer who practiced his profession in Quiapo,
Manila. His mother was the former Maria Tuason. Hilario had a brother, Cecilio, and a sister,
Isabel. His mother died early. His father remarried and had three more children: Silverio,
Procopio, and Laureana.
He graduated from the University of Santo Tomas, together with his brother. His
intelligence showed in his eyes, according to many of his friends. He was taller than average, and
sported a crew cut known as alfonsin.
Gentle in speech and manner, he was known for his happy disposition, the warm sincerity
of his friendship, and his hospitality not only to his acquaintances but to strangers as well.
He is said to have befriended even a monitor lizard (“tuko” in Tagalog) and his dog, which
slept under his bed.
His deep hatred of oppression became widely known when he began his law practice.
Hilario was able to hold a prominent position at a time when Filipinos were hardly given
an opportunity to have a voice in the colonial government. For a while he was an ad interim judge
of the court of First Instance in Pangasinan.
On July 7, 1892, the colonial government prohibited the distribution of pamphlets critical
of the Catholic Churches or advocating national unity. Hilario, who was advocating peaceful
reforms as a follower of Jose Rizal, was arrested along with his brother Cecilio and imprisoned in
Bacolor. They were later exiled, he to Siasi while his brother to Balabac.
It was Hilario who had urged his cousin, Marcelo H. del Pilar, to leave for Spain to escape
arrest and imprisonment for his anti-government activities.
The life of an exile bored Hilario. Nevertheless, he was able to make friends with Muslims
in Siasi. They brought him fish, dried venison, and fruits like bananas and durian. Through them,
he managed to communicate with his family in Bacolor.
The Reyes house soon became an important center of revolutionary activity since
Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, one of the political advisers of General Aguinaldo, had his law office
During the second phase of the revolution, Hilario and his brother escaped from Manila.
Their followers took them to the Hilarios’ ancestral home. From there, they proceeded to Barrio
San Isidro, Bacolor and went into hiding. By this time, the revolution had gained momentum.
Hilario figured in an incident during which he freed a captive Spanish priest whom the
people wanted executed. In spite of this magnanimity, his house was burned by the Guardia Civil.
Finding himself homeless in Bacolor, he and his family stayed in the house of Capitan
Goyo Makapinlas in barrio Banaba, Angeles.
Hilario was elected in absentia as revolutionary governor of Pampanga. He returned to
Bacolor in triumph. His family lived in the convent.
After taking his oath of office, he embarked on his new role with zeal. He appealed to both
the rich and the poor to contribute cash and food to the cause of the revolution. Many responded.
Dorotea Rodriguez Sioco, Manuel Escaler, and Joaquin Gonzales were but a few of the generous
donors. Even the Chinese gave money and food for the sustenance of the rebel troops in
Hilario firmly believed in democratic processes. He showed this when he objected to the
execution of spies without trial. As a friend, he dissuaded General Antonio Luna from doing away
with General Mascardo for insubordination. Although primarily military in nature, the feud
between the two generals also had to do with politics in Pampanga.
Anxious to take the governorship from Hilario, two prominent citizens of Bacolor
befriended General Mascardo and even reported a plot whereby General Luna was supposed to
ease Aguinaldo out of the presidency of the revolutionary government with the aid of Hilario.
Indeed, his association with Luna nearly brought him death.
In the town of Concepcion, Emilio Ejercito of Cavite had him surrounded by armed
soldiers with orders to shoot him if he proved difficult. That same day, Filipino soldiers
assassinated General Luna in Cabanatuan. Undoubtedly, the Caviteños suspected Hilario of being
On June 21, 1899, when Aguinaldo and his staff moved from Angeles to the town of Tarlac,
which on that date, had been made the capital of the Republic, Hilario turned over to persons
authorized by Aguinaldo the imprestito of Pampanga for the use of the Philippine government in
On July 7, he and Venancio Concepcion were appointed as representative of Iloilo to the
National Congress. On July 14, the Congress elected its officers, headed by Ambrosio Rianzares
Bautista as president. Elected as vice-presidents were Hilario and Matero Gutierrez.
On August 14, 1899, Hilario was appointed justice of the Supreme Court, with Apolinario
Mabini as the chief justice. Hilario was also appointed as a professor in law at the Universidad de
Filipinas in Tarlac.
When General Aguinaldo was on the retreat, Hilario tried to follow him to Bayambang-
Bautista, but learned that the trains had been derailed. The Americans caught up with him in the
home of Hilarion Caniza.
From Mangatarem, Pangasinan, Hilario proceeded to Dagupan to defend Colonel Vicente
Prado, a revolutionary leader accused of being responsible for the death of many Americans.
Prado was executed, anyway, and somehow, the Americans found out that Hilario was the
revolutionary governor of Pampanga. He had to take his oath of allegiance to the United States.
Hilario had a hard time in Pangasinan. Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista convinced him to
continue his legal practice in the province. He stayed there for two years. The last important case
he handled as a lawyer was the defense of Modesto Joaquin, Benito Vergara, Macario Goma,
Manuel Ruiz, and Cristino Ongton, who were accused of rebellion against the Americans. He
succeeded, along with other lawyers, in having some of them acquitted in court.
Hilario, the brains of the revolution in Pampanga, died on February 18, 1903. The famous
physician, Dr. Santiago Barcelona of Manila, diagnosed his illness as “scarlatine,” or scarlet fever,
the only one known in Philippine medical history.
Agoncillo, Teodoro A. Malolos, the Crisis of the Republic. Quezon City: University of the
Larkin, John A. The Pampangans. University of California Press: Los Angeles, 1972.
Soriano, Rafaelita H. “Tiburcio Hilario of Pampanga.” Historical Bulletin. December, 1964.