The supreme quest for freedom and independence started in Barcelona, Spain when La Solidaridad, a democratic fortnightly founded and edited by Graciano Lopez-Jaena, financed by Pablo Rianzares Bautista, a young lawyer, and supported by the Junta de la Propaganda in the Philippines, was first published on February 15, 1889.
With the policy to champion democracy and liberalism, to expose the real plight of the country, and to work peacefully for economic and social reforms, the newspaper published not only articles and essays about the economic, cultural, political, and social conditions of the country, but also current news, both local and foreign, and speeches of prominent Spanish leaders about the Philippines, and information on the achievements, social doings, and whereabouts of Filipinos at home and abroad.
The newspaper also occasionally touched on events happening in the other Spanish colonies like Cuba and Puerto Rico and also provided Filipinos a means of combating the allegations of the counter propagandistas like Wenceslao Retana, Desengaños; and Pablo Feced, Quioquiap; who were believed to have been under the pay of the friars. It became the mouthpiece of Filipino propagandists during the struggle for recognition and acceptance of the Philippines by Spain, revealed the conditions of the country prior the 1896 Philippine Revolution, and depicted the aspirations of Filipino propagandists, their hopes for reforms, and their final despair at failure to obtain them by peaceful methods.
As editor of La Solidaridad, Lopez-Jaena did not receive any monetary compensation, but was given free meals, lodging, clothing, and a modest pocket money. In 1891, he collected his speeches and articles and incorporated them in his book entitled Discursos y Articulos Varios.
In writing for the newspaper, Filipino reformists used pen names: Domingo Gomez, Romero Franco; Antonio Luna, Taga-Ilog; Jose Ma. Panganiban, Jomapa; Marcelo del Pilar, Plaridel; Mariano Ponce, Tikbalang, Naning, and Kalipulako; and Jose Rizal, Dimas Alang and Laong Laan. Ferdinand Blumentritt, an Bohemian scholar, and Miguel Morayta, a Spanish historian, also worked for the newspaper.
On October 31, 1889, Lopez-Jaena passed the editorship to Marcelo del Pilar, who left his family in the Philippines, went to Spain, and literally gave his life for the newspaper. In spite of the fact that La Solidaridad had been planned before his arrival, Del Pilar quickly became the moving spirit of the reform movement. He worked indefatigably to secure the greatest possible support for the newspaper. He contacted progressive Europeans who would fight side by side with the Filipino reformists.
Lopez Jaena was in many ways more interested in Spanish politics than in Philippine affairs, and though he could be powerful, if demagogic, speaker, he was unreliable for organized work such as a newspaper demanded. Apparently an alcoholic, he had to be bribed with drinks in order for him to write his articles, according to General Jose Alejandrino, who spent some time in Barcelona before going on to study in Belgium.