Working Definition:

Illustrados were generally comprised of educated, upper-and-middle-class creoles and mestizos from the Philippines who desired greater representation in the Spanish colonial government in the mid-to-late 19th century. Later, some of these individuals promoted Philippine independence and/or worked with American colonial officials, holding various local and regional political offices in the Philippines. Though possessing an array of beliefs, they commonly desired the economic benefits of an emergent middle class built upon trade with international markets; internal, infrastructural improvements; and high educational attainment, especially in European schools. During the Spanish colonial era, some Ilustrados promoted the learning of Castilian, which had previously been reserved as the language of Spanish colonials, in order to improve their social and political standing in Europe and the Americas.

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Suggestions for Further Reading:

Benedict Anderson, The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the World (London: Verso, 1998); Vicente L. Rafael, The Promise of the Foreign: Nationalism and the Technics of Translation in the Spanish Philippines (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005); Jose Rizal, Noli Me Tangere, trans. Harold Augenbraum (New York: Penguin Group, 2006); Jose Rizal, El Filibusterismo, trans. Harold Augenbraum (New York: Penguin Group, 2011); Megan C. Thomas, Orientalists, Propagandists, and Ilustrados: Filipino Scholarship and the End of Spanish Colonialism (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2012).