Uploaded by Ceillo Christine Badilis


Hardly could the Rizal Bill be passed in Congress, first, in the Senate in April 1956, as
it was in a deadlock over the Bill. As Congress represents the broad interest and sentiments
of whole country, there were strong interests for and against the Bill. Most naturally, the
interest of the Catholic Church is adversely affected, while the proponent over the Rizal Bill
wanted to achieve is to study Rizal to bring nationalism or love of country.
A reading of the Rizal Law will inform the students that it is not a law declaring Rizal
a national hero. Up to this day, there is no law that identifies a personality as a hero.
To give a fair account of the various interests and sentiments involved in the process
of deliberations, the interplay of personalities within the Catholic Church as they fought to
suppress the Rizal Bill, Fr. Horacio Dela Costa, through his writings and unaware of events in
1956, emerges as an unlikely source in the Catholic Church to support the study of Rizal.
Lesson 1
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. explain the history of the Rizal Law and its important provisions, and
2. critically assess the effectiveness of the Rizal Course.
History of Republic Act 1425 (The Rizal Law)
Senate Bill 438 known as Rizal Bill which was first authored by Senator Claro M.
Recto- -requiring the inclusion in the curricula of all private and public schools, colleges
and universities the life, works and writings of Jose Rizal particularly his novels Noli Me
Tangere and El Filibusterismo - is considered as one of the most controversial bills in the
Philippines. Normally, the bill was approved and implemented in all schools and was signed
into a law known as Republic Act 1425, it had been brought to the Upper and Lower House
of the Congress for deliberations. But what made it controversial is that the bill was not just
fiercely opposed by people from the Legislative Arm but also by the Catholic Church due to
the inclusion of compulsory reading of Rizal's novels in which according to them, catholic
dogmas are humiliated.
The transition from being a bill (House Bill No. 5561 and Senate Bill No. 438) to
becoming a Republic Act was not easy as the proposal was met with intense opposition
particularly from the Catholic Church. In 1956, Sen. Claro M. Recto the main proponent,
filed a measure which became the original RIZAL Bill recognizing the need to instil heroism
among the youth at the time when the country was experiencing social turmoil. It was the
time when the country was being ravaged by the hukbalahap insurgency. The imperialist
presence in the form of American influence was strong in the country's economy and
political policies.
The communist insurgency became part of the global network to contain the spread
of communism with the conclusion of a mutual defense agreement with the United States in
1951 and its joining the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). On the economic
front, the US still reigned supreme with the enforcement of the Bell Trade Act back in 1947.
Internally the country was buffeted by corrupt party politics and news of political
corruption was rampant. The fifties was indeed confusing times. This was the period when
Recto submitted his bill, calling for a return to patriotic values enunciated by Filipino heroes
like Jose Rizal.
Under the bill it shall be obligatory for college and university student to study the life
and works of Jose Rizal. The issuance of the bill was not welcomed by various quarters. The
Catholic Church assailed the Rizal Bill as anti-Church because it forces the students to read
Rizal’s works like Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo which contain passages that were
Senator Recto brought the bill to the Senate and Senator Jose B. Laurel Sr. who was
then the Chairman of the Committee on Education sponsored the bill that consequently led
to exchange of arguments from the Congress. The bill was headedly opposed by three
namely: Senator Francisco Rodrigo who was a former Catholic Action President, Senator
Mariano Cuenco and Senator Decoroso Rosales who was the brother of Julio Rosales, an
archbishop. Other oppositors were from the Lower House namely: Congressmen Ramon
Durano, Marciano Lim, Jose Nuguid, Manuel Soza, Godofredo Ramos, Miguel Cuenco, Lucas
Paredes, Congressmen Carmen Consing and Tecia San Andres Ziga. The Catholic Church was
indirectly included in the debates and played a major role for the intervention of signing of
the bill into a law. Allied with the church in battle against the Rizal Bill were the Holy Name
of the Philippines, Catholic Action of the Philippines, Legion of Mary, Knights
of Columbus
and Daughters of Isabela.
Oppositions argued that the bill would go against freedom of conscience and
religion. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) submitted a pastoral
letter to which according, Rizal violated Canon Law 1399 which forbids or bans books that
attack or ridicule the catholic doctrine and practices. Oppositors argued that among the 333
pages of Noli Me Tangere, only 25 passages are nationalistic while 120 passages are anticatholic. While upon scrutiny of the two novels by some members of catholic hierarchical,
170 passages in Noli Me Tangere and 50 in El Filibusterismo are against catholic faith.
Furthermore, oppositors pointed out that Rizal admitted that he did not only attack the
friars who acted deceptively on the Filipinos but also the catholic faith itself. They suggested
a reading material for students as to what they called Rizalian Anthology, a collection of
Rizal's works that contain the patriotic philosophy excluding the two novels.
Of course, Recto and Laurel defended the bill and argued that the only objective of
the bill is to keep the memory of the national hero alive in every Filipino's mind, to emanate
Rizal as he peacefully fought for freedom, and not to go against religion. Senators Lorenso
Tanada, Quintin Paredes and Domocao Alonto of Mindanao also defended the Rizal Bill
which was
also favored by Representatives from the House namely: Congressmen
Jacobo Gonzales, Emilio Cortez, Mario Bengson, Joaquin Roxas, Lancap Lagumbay and Pedro
Lopez. Other supporters of the bill were Mayor Arsenio Lacson call anti-Rizal bill "bigoted
and intolerant" and walked out of a mass when the priest read a pastoral letter from the
Archbishop denouncing the Rizal Bill and General Emilio Aguinaldo with groups like the
Knights of Rizal, Women Writers of the Vernacular, Philippine Veterans Legion, College
Editors' Guild and Philippine School Teachers' Association.
Excitement and intense scenes were eventually arisen in settling the Rizal Bill. One of
which was the debate of Cebu Representative Ramon Durano and Pampanga
Representative Emilio Cortes that ended with a fistfight in Congress. Bacolod City Bishop
Manuel Yap threatened to campaign against pro-Rizal bill legislators and to punish them in
future elections.
Catholic Schools Representatives threatened to close down their schools if the Rizal
Bill was passed. Recto Rizal Bill was passed. Recto told them that if they did, the State could
nationalize the catholic schools. When there was a proposal to use the expurgated novels as
textbooks and put the original copies under lock and key in the school libraries, Recto
rejected this amendment and expressed:
"The people who would eliminate the books of Rizal from the schools...would blot
out from our minds the memory of the national hero...this is not a fight against Recto but a
fight against Rizal...now that Rizal is dead and they can no longer attempt at his life, they are
attempting to blot out his memory."
Due to apparently never-ending debate on the Rizal Bill, approved amendments
were formulated through ideas of three senators. Senator Laurel' created an amendment to
the original bill in which, other than Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, works written by
Rizal would be included and reading of the unexpurgated revision of the two novels would
no longer be compulsory to elementary and secondary levels but would be strictly observed
to college level. Senator Lim suggested the exemption to those students who feel that
reading Rizal's would negatively affect his or her faith. Senator Primicias created an
additional amendment that promulgates the rules and regulations in getting an exemption
only from reading the two novels through written statement or affidavit and not from taking
the Rizal Course. According to historian Ambeth Ocampo, no student has ever availed of
this exemption. After the revised amendments, the bill was finally passed on May 17, 1956,
and was signed into law as Republic Act 1425 by President Ramon Magsaysay on June 12
of the same year.
The full name of the law is “An Act to Include in the Curricula of All Public and Private
Schools, Colleges and Universities Courses on the Life, Works and Writings of Jose Rizal,
Particularly His Novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, Authorizing the Printing and
Distribution Thereof, and for Other Purposes.“ According to the Official Gazette, the law
took effect on August 16, 1956.
While the school is empirically recognized as the most powerful agent of cultural
transmission, it took the lawmakers sixty years to finally pass RA 1425 or Rizal Law. Rizal
died in 1896 and sixty years had to pass before the Rizal Law was promulgated in 1956.
Particularly, the Rizal Law aims to:
a. recognize the relevance of Rizal’s ideals, thoughts, teachings, and life-values to
present conditions in the community and the country and apply them in the
solution to day-to-day situations and problems of contemporary life
b. develop an understanding and appreciation of the qualities, behaviour, and
character of Rizal, as well as his thoughts and ideas, and thus foster the
development of moral character, personal discipline, citizenship, and vocational
c. comply with the patriotic objectives of the Rizal Law given by the late Senator
Jose P. Laurel
According to Laurel in RA 1425, “Rizal was the founder of the Filipino nationality. He
was the architect of the Filipino nation”… I dare say that we cannot know him without
knowing and imbibing the great principles and ideals for which he stood and died. Rizal
believed as should that we teach the young men and the young women, the boys and girls
in all schools that virtue is the only foundation of national greatness. By approving this
measure … it is hoped that the future generations and the generations after us by reading
the life, teachings, and writings of Rizal may gain incorruptible confidence, direction,
courage, and determination in order that we may continue forward our never-ending
pilgrimage to a full, greater and more abundant life.”
The following are excerpts from the viewpoints raised as regards the legislation of
Rizal Law:
Laurel, Jose B. Jr. 1960. The Trials of the Rizal Bill. Historical Bulletin (2): pp. 130-139.
The object of the bill was to disseminate the ideas and ideals of the great Filipino
patriot thru the reading of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo according to Sen. Claro M.
Recto. However, to some senators, the two novels of Rizal are simply evil especially as it
puts the Roman Catholic religion in a very bad light. Catholics in Congress evaluate the bill as
an attempt to discredit their religion. The two novels contained views inimical to the tenets
of their faith, they particularly challenged the nature of the bill as required (not as subject to
choose like an elective) and a clear violation of religious freedom. Rizal’s novels are heretical
according to a Pastoral Letter.
In the Senate, the Rizal Bill is numbered Senate Bill 438 and filed April 3, 1956 by
Sen. Claro M. Recto, however, deliberations started April 23, 1956 that gave way for
to happen.
The points raised by those who are in favor of the Rizal Bill (Protagonist) and those
who are against the Bill (Antagonist) are summarized in the following:
Senate Bill 438 filed April 3, 1956
Deliberations started April 23, 1956
Sen. Jose P. Laurel (Rizal Law sponsor/ author),
Chairman, Committee on Education
Rabid Catholics
Sen. Mariano J. Cuenco, brother of Arch. Cuenco
Sen. Claro M. Recto (Rizal Bill author/ supporter),
ardent nationalist
Sen. Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo, former president
of Catholic Action
Sen. Decoroso Rosales. Brother of Cardinal
Rosales, former Archbishop
Sen. Recto’s arguments:
Legal basis are: police power and Art.
XIV (5) of the 1935 Constitution
The purpose of the bill, to Recto, is to
foster the better appreciation of
Rizal’s times and of the role he
played in combatting Spanish
tyranny in this country. Sen. Recto
denies that the novels is a smear
campaign of the Catholic religion:
“Rizal did not pretend to teach
religion or theology when he wrote
those books. He aimed at inculcating
civic consciousness in the Filipinos,
national dignity, personal pride, and
patriotism, and if references were
made by him in the course of his
narration to certain religious
practices in the Philippines in those
days and to the conduct and
behavior of erring ministers of the
church, it was because he portrayed
faithfully the general situation in the
Philippines as it then existed. Nobody
can dispute that the situation
described by Rizal in those days,
political, social and religious, was the
one actually obtaining in the
Philippines; but while he criticized
and ridiculed the unworthy behavior
of certain ministers of the church, he
made exceptions in favor of the
worthy ones, like the Dominican
friar, Padre Fernandez, and the
virtuous native priest, Padre
Florentino, and the Jesuits in general
(Constantino, 1969).”
The pastoral letter had cited 170
passages from the Noli and 50 from
the Fili which it regarded as attacks
Arguments of Senators Rodrigo, Rosales, and
Cuenco were:
 The compulsion to read something
against one’s religious conviction
was no different from a requirement
to salute the flag (of an enemy of
your country is at war with), which is
an impairment both of freedom of
speech and freedom of religion
(with reference to a US Supreme
Court decision).
 There is a need for national unity,
for a nation with thousands of
Arguments by Fr. Jesus Cavanna:
The novels “belong to the past” and
it would be “harmful” to read them
because they presented a “false
picture” of conditions in the country
at that time. The Noli Me Tangere is
an “attack on the clergy” and its
object was to “put to ridicule the
Catholic Faith.” He alleged that the
novel was not really patriotic
because of the 333 pages only 25
contained patriotic passages while
120 were devoted to anti-Catholic
The pastoral letter had cited 170
passages from the Noli and 50 from
the Fili which it regarded as attacks
on the doctrines and dogmas of the
Catholic Church.
Jesus Paredes, a radio commentator: some parts
of the novels had been declared “objectionable”
matter by the hierarchy, Catholics had the right
to refuse to read them so as not to “endanger
their salvation.”
on the doctrines and dogmas of the
Catholic Church. Sen. Claro M. Recto
understands the foreign clergy taking
such a position but he found it
difficult to understand how Filipino
bishops “who will be bishops now
were it not for Rizal” could adopt
such a stand when Rizal exalted
(speak highly) the Filipino clergy in
his novels. (Constantino, 1969)
HB 5561 introduced April 19, 1956
commentator: the bill was Recto’s revenge
against the Catholic voters who, together with
Magsaysay, were responsible for his poor
showing in the 1955 senatorial elections.
 Deliberations started May 9, 1956
Cong. Jacobo Z. Gonzales (Author)
Cong. Emilio Cortez, Mario Bengzon, Joaquin R. Cong. Ramon Durano, Jose Nuguid, Marciano
Roces, and W. Rancap Lagumbay (Supporters)
Lim, Manuel Zosa, Lucas Paredes, Godofredo
Ramos, Miguel Cuenco, and Cong Carmen D.
Consing and Tecla San Andres Ziga.
Republic of the Philippines. 1956. RA 1425. Available online thru
The table below outlines the differences in between the Rizal Bill as originally
proposed by Sen. Claro M. Recto in contradistinction against the Rizal Law/ RA 1425 as
approved by the Senate tendered by Sen. Jose P. Laurel in a substitute bill thus making Sen.
Laurel the final author of the Rizal Law replacing Sen. Recto.
Originally proposed in Senate Bill 438
The Rizal Law/ RA 1425 approved by Pres.
Magsaysay on June 12, 1956
Title: An Act to Make Noli Me Tangere and El
Filibusterismo Compulsory Reading Matter in all
Public and Private Colleges and Universities and
for Other Purposes
Title: An Act to include in the Curricula of all
Public and Private Schools, Colleges and
Universities Courses on the Life, Works and
Writings of Jose Rizal, Particularly his Novels Noli
Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, Authorizing
the Printing and Distribution Thereof, and for
Other Purposes.
Section 1. Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Section 1. Courses on life, works and writings of
Filibusterismo are hereby declared compulsory Jose Rizal, particularly his novel Noli Me Tangere
reading matter in all public and private schools, and El Filibusterismo, shall be included in the
colleges and universities in the Philippines
curricula of all schools, colleges and universities,
public or private: Provided, That in the collegiate
courses, the original or unexpurgated editions of
the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo or
their English translation shall be used as basic
texts. [(of a text) complete and containing all
original material; uncensored.]
xxx The Board (of National Education) shall
promulgate rules and regulations providing for
the exemption of students for reasons of
religious belief stated in a sworn written
statement, from the requirement of the
provision contained in the second part of the
first paragraph of this section; but not from
taking course provided for in the first part of said
paragraph. Said rules and regulations shall take
effect thirty (3) days after their publication in the
Official Gazette.
Constantino, Renato. 1969. The Rizal Law and the Catholic Hierarchy. In The Making of a
Filipino: A Story of Philippine Colonial Politics, pp. 244-247.
Added comments in favor and against the bill are presented below.
Arguments in favor of the Rizal Bill
Arguments against the Rizal Bill
 The purpose of the bill is “to
 Catholics object it as an attempt to
disseminate the ideas and ideals of
discredit their religion. The novels
the great Filipino patriot through the
contained views inimical (i.e. hostile)
reading of his works (Dr. Rizal’s ),
to the tenets/ religious principle or
particularly the Noli Me Tangere and
philosophy of their faith
El Filibusterismo’’ (Laurel, 1960, p.
 Reading the novels violates freedom
of conscience and religion
 Life, works and writing of Jose Rizal
 The novels “belong to the past” and
are a source of patriotism for the
it would be harmful to read them
because they presented a “false
 Rizal didn’t attack the teaching of
picture” of conditions in the country
the Catholic Church but rather the
at that time.
abuses committed by those
 The Noli is an “attack on the clergy”
Catholics in the novel (cf. Horacio
and its object was to “put to ridicule
dela Costa).
the Catholic Faith”.
 The Noli weren’t really patriotic
because of the 333 pp., only 25
contained patriotic passages, while
120 were devoted to anti-Catholic
 The novels satirize and ascribe the
most heinous crimes to the Catholic
priests and the religious.
 The compulsion to read something
against one’s religious conviction was
no different from a requirement to
salute the flag, which in a decision by
US Supreme Court was impairment
both of freedom of speech and
 The approval of the bill would imperil
the need for unity.
 The bill creates conflict between
religion/ the church.
Senate Bill 438 has a corresponding bill in congress House Bill No. 5561 the latter is
very much similar in content as it is in the senate.
The four articles can be divided into accounts on the side of the Senate and House of
Representatives and the side of the Catholic Church.
The Rizal bill is originally authored by Sen. Claro M. Recto but since the original Rizal
bill was hardly making its way in the Senate, Sen. Jose P. Laurel, Chair of the Education
Committee introduced a modified version of the bill, an amendment by substitution. Hardly
could the Rizal bill be passed in the Senate. The requirement for the reading of the two
novels in all schools, colleges and universities, both public and private, is hard to come by to
the Catholic Church most especially in catholic schools. How could you establish the
reputation of the catholic schools when the church officials are placed that of ill-repute? The
Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo shame the Catholic Church. It exposes the abuse of
the friars.
Most naturally, the opponent of the Rizal bill is the Catholic Church and they used
the pastoral letter and the rabid Catholics in the Senate to fight and kill the bill.
The pastoral letter contains the following arguments against the reading of the Noli
Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. It was violative of religious freedom and conscience. The
intent of the pastoral letter was to gather the resolve and sentiment of the catholic faithful.
Together with the rabid Catholics were three senators and nine congressmen. They
have the power to not vote and kill the bill.
Schumacher, John. 2011. The Rizal Bill of 1956: Horacio de la Costa and the Bishops.
Philippine Studies. 59 (4): 529-553. (e-copy)
Fr. Schumacher’s article The Rizal Bill of 1956: Horacio de la Costa and the Bishops
brought the following points:
Add this to your vocabulary: interlocutor is a person who takes part in a dialogue
or conversation.
There was in the Catholic Church a force in the personality of Fr. de la Costa, a
Harvard University graduate, that is in high regard for Rizal. But only that, he
must naturally be removed from the picture in drafting the Pastoral Letter as he
is in opposition, instead of supportive, to the objectives of the work at hand,
which is to kill the Rizal bill. He is an authority in his field and reflecting his view
on the Pastoral Letter would be contrary to the objective of the pastoral letter,
which is to stop the bill becoming a law.
Around late 1951 upon return to the Philippines, Fr. Dela Costa was requested to
draft a pastoral letter on the novels of Dr. Rizal way ahead of 1956 when the
Rizal bill was introduced in the Senate.
Jesus Cavana was attributed to be the principal author of the pastoral letter
“Statement of the Philippine Hierarchy on the novels of Dr. Jose Rizal’s Noli Me
Tangere and El Filibusterismo” but to Fr. Schumacher the earlier drafts of the
letter and the opening paragraphs are likely to be traced to Fr. Dela Costa
according to several drafts of documents in the possession of Fr. Schumacher.
Fr. Cavanna and Dela Costa may have met, but there was no evidence. But by
argumentation, if Cavana and Dela Costa met, the drafts would in the
handwriting of Dela Costa must be altered reflecting the views of Cavana, which
it is not. Fr. Dela Costa has not known that in 1956 Fr. Cavana is preparing a draft
of what became that pastoral letter of 1956 in opposition of the Rizal bill.
There are 5 drafts of the pastoral letter named drafts A, B, C, D, E.
Draft A – is the original draft of 20 pages
Draft B – little changes of Draft A
Draft C – Draft C with further changes; used by Cavanna; Draft C is the draft
Costa submitted to the episcopal commission in 1952
Draft D – very much shortened version of Draft C
Draft E – is a copy of C but with analysis of Dela Costa comparing Draft C and
Pastoral Letter
Fr. Dela Costa was in high regard of Dr. Rizal with his inspiring words: “Among the
many illustrious Filipinos who have distinguished themselves for service to their
country, the first place of honor belongs, by universal consent, to Dr. Jose Rizal”.
For he “possessed to an eminent degree those moral virtues which together
make up true patriotism.”
More directly, Dela Costa instead supported the Rizal bill in the words: “Hence,
we cannot but approve and applaud in principle the desire of many that the
writing of Rizal be more widely circulated and read, and even introduced as
reading matter in the public and private schools of the nation. We can think of no
more effective means, after the formal teaching of religion, to develop in our
youth a sane and constructive nationalism, the moral qualities of justice,
responsibility and integrity, and civic virtue, so necessary in our times, of the
subordination of the individual ambitions to the common good.” (p.535)
Dela Costa favors the reading of the novels. “The most valuable of Rizal’s ideas
are contained” in his two novels. But “since there is widespread impression that
these novels are looked upon with disfavor by the Catholic Church as attacking
the Catholic faith, we want to give our views.” “The Catholic Church in itself” is
never “against the legitimate political and social aspiration so any people.”
Hence, it follows that the clear and even forceful expression of such aspirations
can never be injurious to the Catholic Church.”
Fr. Dela Costa cited Leo XIII “to the effect that the Catholic Church does not
condemn the desire that one’s nation should be free from foreign rule.”
We must not let enemies of the church make “Rizal out to be an enemy of the
church. Rizal himself asserted that it was not the church itself but the abuses
he was attacking as may be seen from his letter to a friend, Resurreccion Hidalgo
(p.544 of the book).”
“Let us therefore by all means honor Rizal, but for the depth of insight with
which he examined and analyzed our national problems.” (Schumacher 2011, p.
“Draft C does not contain all that he had wished to say about Rizal and his novels,
but, having apparently accepted that the bishops were not likely to adopt a
pastoral letter which held up himself with maintaining that the novels did not
attack Catholic teaching if properly understood as novels and commending –
with the proper caution of an annotated edition – their reading for those capable
of understanding them with the help of a teacher.”
However, the archbishop went on to say, in a statement directed to those of his
archdiocese, not merely that the novels were forbidden by the church. Rather,
he emphasized, “without due permission, it is a sin for any Catholic to read these
novels in their entirety, or to keep, publish, sell, translate, or communicate the
same to others in any form” ([Santos] 1956, 350). This may have caused
apprehension among booksellers and librarians especially, but it was too
extreme to be effective for most people. In fact, Rodrigo would later say in a
private communication to the bishops that, as a result, the novels “sold like
The senators soon after worked out a compromise, by which a student who
would “serve written notice under oath, to the head of the college or university
that the reading and study of the . . . unexpurgated edition is contrary to his
religion or religious beliefs, said student shall be exempt from using the said
edition (Acosta 1973, 77). Although Acosta considered that this was ä victory for
the local Catholic Church,” it was in fact face-saving compromise, which enabled
it to receive the unanimous vote of the Senate, and the signature of President
Ramon Magsaysay. Professors who have taught the Rizal course can testify that
no student has ever come up with such an affidavit.
The interlocutor to the drafts attributed to Fr. Dela Costa dramatically changed the
position of the drafts that were carried to the final copy of the Pastoral Letter.
The fact that the Pastoral Letter was questioned on its authenticity, it was a serious
matter because it really indeed reflected the position of the church and if it weren’t signed,
nevertheless, it achieved the situation that it was true in fact as the Church’s official position
as it was indeed signed.
The Teaching of the Rizal Course in College
Life, Works, and Writings of Dr. Jose Rizal is the only mandated-legislated course in
college, but almost always, it has been treated as petty or a filler course. Although some
teachers consider Rizal course an academic course, a great number of teachers dwell on
trivia and memorization of events, dates, names of persons, places, and objects which made
the Rizal course boring and insignificant. As a result, the letter and spirit of Rizal Law are
unconsciously neglected.
As earlier mentioned, the subject Rizal has been taught in college in different styles
and with different techniques, depending upon the background of the teachers who handle
it. This course is commonly titled, The Life, Works and Writings of Dr. Jose P. Rizal.
Sometimes it is called Rizal or Rizaliana.
Why Study Rizal?
It is of great importance that students understand the rationale behind having to
take up a Rizal course in college. For high school students, the Noli Me Tangere and the El
Filibusterismo are injected into the Filipino subject as part of the overall curriculum. In
tertiary education, however, Rizal is a subject required of any course, in any college or
university in the Philippines.
Usually, during the first day of the course, the professor asks the well-overused
Why study Rizal?
What is the importance of studying Rizal?
Why is Rizal one of the general education subjects taken up in college?
Why is Rizal included in the course outline?
What relevance does Rizal have in college education?
The answer to such questions can be summed up in two points:
1. First and foremost, because it is mandated by law.
2. Secondly, because of the lessons contained within the course itself.
Let us discuss those reasons one by one:
Point 1: Because it is mandated by law
The teaching of Jose Rizal’s life, works, and writings is mandated by Republic Act
1425, otherwise known as the Rizal Law. Senator Jose P. Laurel, the person who sponsored
the said law, said that since Rizal was the founder of Philippine nationalism and has
contributed much to the current standing of this nation, it is only right that the youth as well
as all the people in the country know about and learn to imbibe the great ideals for which
he died. The Rizal Law, enacted in 1956, seeks to accomplish the following goals:
1. To rededicate the lives of youth to the ideals of freedom and nationalism, for
our heroes lived and died.
2. To pay tribute to our national hero for devoting his life and works in shaping the
Filipino character.
3. To gain an inspiring source of patriotism through the study of Rizal’s life, works,
and writings.
Point 2: Because of the lessons contained within the course itself
Aside from those mentioned above, there are other reasons for teaching the Rizal
course in Philippine schools:
1. To encourage the application of such ideals in current social and personal
and issues.
2. To develop an appreciation and deeper understanding of all that Rizal fought and
died for.
3. To foster the development of the Filipino youth in all aspects of citizenship.
Republic Act No. 1425
An Act to Include in the Curricula of All Public and Private Schools, Colleges and
Universities courses on the Life Works and Writings of JOSE RIZAL, particularly
his novels NOLI ME TANGERE and EL FILIBUSTERISMO, Authorizing the
Printing and Distribution Thereof, and for Other Purposes.
Whereas, today, more than other period of our history, there is a need for a re-dedication
to the ideals of freedom and nationalism for which our heroes lived and died.
Whereas, it is meet that in honoring them, particularly the national hero and patriot, Jose
Rizal, we remember with special fondness and devotion their lives and works that have
shaped the national character;
Whereas, the life, works and writings of Jose Rizal particularly his novels Noli Me Tangere
and El Filibusterismo, are a constant and inspiring source of patriotism with which the minds
of the youth, especially during their formative and decisive years in school, should be
Whereas, all educational institutions are under the supervision of, and subject to regulation
by the State, and all schools are enjoined to develop moral character, personal discipline,
civic conscience, and to teach the duties of citizenship; Now therefore,
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress
SECTION 1. Courses on the life, works and writings of Jose Rizal, particularly his novels Noli
Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, shall be included in the curricula of all schools, colleges
and universities, public or private; Provided, That in the collegiate courses, the original or
unexpurgated editions of the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo or their English
translations shall be used as basic texts.
The Board of National Education is hereby authorized and directed to adopt forthwith
measures to implement and carry out the provisions of this Section, including the writing
and printing of appropriate primers, readers and textbooks. The Board shall, within sixty
(60) days from the effectivity of this Act promulgate rules and regulations, including those of
a disciplinary nature, to carry out and enforce the regulations of this Act. The Board shall
promulgate rules and regulations providing for the exemption of students for reason of
religious belief stated in a sworn written statement, from the requirement of the provision
contained in the second part of the first paragraph of this section; but not from taking the
course provided for in the first part of said paragraph. Said rules and regulations shall take
effect thirty (30) days after their publication in the Official Gazette.
SECTION 2. It shall be obligatory on all schools, colleges and universities to keep in their
libraries an adequate number of copies of the original and expurgated editions of the Noli
Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, as well as Rizal’s other works and biography. The said
unexpurgated editions of the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo or their translations in
English as well as other writings of Rizal shall be included in the list of approved books for
required reading in all public or private schools, colleges and universities.
The Board of National Education shall determine the adequacy of the number of books,
depending upon the enrollment of the school, college or university.
SECTION 3. The Board of National education shall cause the translation of the Noli Me
Tangere and El Filibusterismo, as well as other writings of Jose Rizal into English, Tagalog
and the principal Philippine dialects; cause them to be printed in cheap, popular editions;
and cause them to be distributed, free of charge, to persons desiring to read them, through
the Purok organizations and the Barrio Councils throughout the country.
SECTION 4. Nothing in this Act shall be construed as amending or repealing section nine
hundred twenty-seven of the Administrative Code, prohibiting the discussion of religious
doctrines by public school teachers and other persons engaged in any public school.
SECTION 5. The sum of three hundred thousand pesos is hereby authorized to be
appropriated out of any fund not otherwise appropriated in the National Treasury to carry
out the purposes of this Act.
SECTION 6. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
Approved: June 12, 1956 by President Ramon Magsaysay.
Published in the Official Gazette, Vol. 52, No. 6, p. 2971 in June 1956.
Source: Republic Act No. 1425 : Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines
Lesson 2
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. explain the relationship between literature and society, and
2. evaluate how one learns “patriotism” and “nationalism” from literature.
Literature and Society
Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo made tremendous impact in literature,
nationalism history, culture, society and social change. Specifically, the two novels are
credited with the legacy of being an instrument for transforming Spanish colonial Philippines
to one
of the first republic in Southeast Asia at the turn of the century.
Rizal’s legacy is also one as that of inventing the Filipino national literature that can
be treated as separate from Spanish literature that for once we call our own literature by
the mere fact that the Philippines was a colony of Spain.
Readers of the English version of the two novels translated from the Spanish text by
Leon Ma. Guerrero III are cautioned to its unfaithful translation, and there were seven of
Hau (2000), in the introduction to her book Philippine Literature and the Nation,
1946-1980, made several claims which are aptly telling of the power of the novels of Rizal
(which are so right). She traces the intimate link, and a very influential one, of literature,
nationalism, history, culture, society and social change. These are how she would justify the
intimate link from literature to social change.
“Literature came to occupy a mediating position between the ‘universal’ ideals of
freedom and nationalism, on the one hand, and their realization within a
specifically Philippine context, on the other hand.”
“Literature’s ‘radical’ potential is premised on the ability of literary works to offer
new insights into a given society, on the power of literature to illuminate a set of
issues or questions central to the Filipino people’s experience.”
“The capacity of literature to represent history truthfully, and the capacity of
literature to intervene in history.”
“[T]he multifarious meanings of ‘culture’ provide a way of talking about the
problem of effecting social change and, more important, ‘culture’ itself is often
held to provide a potential solution to that problem.”
“[A] nation that can be actualized by a subject whose capacity to transform her
society is informed by her knowledge of her country’s ‘true’ history, condition,
and course of development.(p.)”
“[S]ocial change is premised on powerful norms of freedom, self-determination,
and development, most often encapsulated in the pedagogical associations
surrounding the term ‘culture’”
“Not only is history a matter of representation, of how to write and construct the
country’s past, history is also a matter of action, of making that history and
constructing the country’s future.”
“One of the central issues in Philippine literature has been the question of
whether literary texts, their producers, and their consumers, are able to fulfil the
practical social function of rewriting Philippine history by transforming collective
consciousness and spurring political action aimed at social change. This notion of
literature’s role in representing and making history draws its main impulse and
rhetorical charge from the foundational premise of nationalism which builds on a
‘grand’ narrative of moral development to posit a self-determining subject of
Literature is fiction (not real) but the brand of literature in the Philippines like what
the novels of Rizal is depicting the true experience of the colonial past. Thus, Hau clarifies:
“[T]here exists an influential critical tradition of reading Philippine literature in
terms of its nationalist ‘content’ and its ‘realistic’ depiction of Philippine society
(p.)” Consider, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo are fiction, but as Rizal said
it was based on real life, true events.
Rizal’s novel is not only a piece of literature but leading to a (political) ideology and
therefore a political tool that begs for political action and solution. (The problem is there is
something wrong about how our society is being governed in Spanish colonial times. It begs
the next question, what do we need to do? The answer to that, more often than not, is
political. Spaniards be gone, independence here we go!) If you are the oppressed Indio,
reading the novel will move you to identify with the sentiments of the Indio. If you are the
Spaniard, you will favour the status quo that Spaniards have all the right to claim
governance of the archipelago.
Hau claims to caution: “[The danger] lay in two things [in reading the novels]:
to be read meant read unavoidably in different ways;
and different ways of reading are ideological, and therefore political.”
Hau reviews the works of Rizal is identified in a specific socio-political position (may
kinikilingan). However, different people in society have different socio-political positions,
points of view on issues, and identification with these and society in the times of Rizal was
so divided over issues of the Indio and the Spaniards. The tendency is, it is a difficult task for
Rizal in his novel to lead the Indios towards understanding the need of development and
freedom, to work towards the two that will involve, among other things, sacrifice. Thus
writes Hau:
“Yet Rizal’s narrative project of tendering the Filipino national community knowable
was was also unstable and tentative, largely because Rizal’s literary project of
depicting – representing – the people who inhabit the Philippines compelled the
recognition that writing ‘about’ the Philippines always meant writing from a
position. That is, the idea of writing from a specific social location necessarily implied
the existence of other competing knowledges and perspectives. Furthermore, the
existence of heterogeneous perspectives, embodied by individuals and groups of
people, could not be fully recuperated by the universalist rhetoric of development
and freedom that Rizal invoked in his depiction of Philippine conditions and in his call
for action and self-sacrifice.”
Looking back at the time of Rizal’s struggles, Hau reads Rizal’s novels bearing the
theme as that which occupies societal problem and may have been purposed on moving the
readers to action:
“Rizal’s novels are a kind of ‘master-narrative’ within or against which modern
Philippine fiction attempted to work through a set of unresolved issues relating to
the problem of truth and action in a society that was split into different, contending
groups for whom ‘independence’ had always been a tendentious issue.”
Rizal’s novels are an example of how literature effects social change:
“One of the central issues in Philippine literature has been the question of whether
literary texts, their producers, and their consumers, are able to fulfill the practical
social function of rewriting Philippine history by transforming collective
consciousness and spurring political action aimed at social change.”
To effect social change, in the case of literature like Noli Me Tangere and El
Filibusterismo, it first evoked nationalism in the hearts and minds of the readers to create
the resolve towards social change, writes Hau:
“This notion of literature’s role in representing and making history draws its main
impulse and rhetorical charge from the foundational premise of nationalism which
builds on a ‘grand’ narrative of moral development to posit a self-determining
subject of history.”
The Rizal law was about the literature and nationalism as instruments of the
government to cleanse ourselves of colonial culture.
Caroline Hau articulates the interconnection between literature and society in that
the Rizal Law uses Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo as sources of
nationalism. At the time of Rizal, we were a colony of Spain so that nationalism is a remote,
less understood, concept.
Literature is part of culture. Culture is comprised of material and immaterial aspects.
The immaterial aspect are the dialects of Ilonggo, Cebuano, Karay-a, bayanihan (community
service) and pagmamano ng kamay sa nakatatanda, to respect elder siblings as Ate and
Kuya, which are distinctively Filipino and nowhere to be found in any part of the world. The
material aspect are the Bahay Kubo, the Manunggul Jar.
She brought the idea that Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo forms part of our
Filipino national literature. These pieces of literature by Rizal inspired the Filipino people to
aspire the ideals of freedom and nationalism from what was then the colonial Philippines.
The sentiments of the Indio, the native people of the future Philippines, were prepared and
unified to a national resolve to end the tyranny and oppression by the Spaniards that the
Indios need to do something to end their misery.
The Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo are fictional but based on true stories and
these things happened in the past. And so these are literature, political novels and history
which, in the contents of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, moves the reader for
organized political action.
In Hau’s succinct words:
The bill made the act of reading literature an act of discovering/ rediscovering
the nation’s origins in ideals embodied by the life and works of the nation’s
The bill held that present and future generations of Filipinos could remake the
national character, which these earlier generations of Filipinos has “shaped” in
the past.
The Rizal bill is answering the questions of and about the link between nation and
culture: What is “Filipino” culture? And how do we go about preserving or reshaping “it”?
The Rizal Bill identified literature to answer the preceding questions:
“Literature came to occupy a mediating position between the universal ideals of
freedom and nationalism on the one hand, and their realization within a
specifically Philippine context, on the other hand. Literature assumed a
mediating function precisely because Rizal’s novels served as artifactual,
concrete examples of a “Filipino culture” that was conceived as the sum total of
all the products of a society’s creative labor and aspirations.
At the same time, these works were the means by which other (later) Filipinos
could acquire, preserve, and reshape such a culture. In this manner, the
relationship between literature and Philippine nationalism was cemented thru
the paradoxical [seemingly absurd or self-contradictory] notion that literary
works both embodied culture and helped create that culture.’’
Literature’s “radical” potential is premised on the ability of literary works to offer
new insights into a given society, on the power of literature to illuminate a set of issues or
questions central to the Filipino people’s experience.
The dangers in reading Rizal are:
To be read meant Rizal meant being read unavoidably in different ways;
This means, what if you are a Spaniard, then the contents of the novels are
derogatory to the people belonging to your race/ Hispanic culture. Naturally you
would defend them because your race is smeared (nadungisan). What if you are an
Indio/ native, then you are exposed to the evils of the Spaniards. The next question
is to get rid of these evils in society or desire for the ideals that is rid of these evils in
society (example, Father Damaso, him being a priest, has a child with Maria Clara!).
Different ways of reading are ideological, and therefore political.
The importance of Philippine nationalism accorded to literature, and vice versa, is founded
on two presuppositions (it is rooted on):
the capacity of literature to represent history truthfully, and
the capacity of literature to intervene in history.
Finding the various meanings of culture, according to Hau, achieves for us social
change/ social transformation and it is usually the case that culture plays to solve the
problem of social change.
How does literature fit into the picture of culture? Culture includes material and
immaterial aspects by inspecting the definition of culture, which is to Merriam Webster “the
customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious or social group”. The
material aspect of Philippine culture are the Bahay Kubo, the Sundang, Jolo Kris, literatures
from Noli and Fili, Si Malakas at si Maganda, and the Barong, while the immaterial aspect
are the pagmamano ng kamay sa nakatatanda, patawag ng kuya at ate sa nakatatandang
Hau traces the intimate relationship of literature, history, nationalism, culture, and
society, as it entailed social change/ social transformation, for as you can see literature is
part of one society’s culture:
The overall concept of using an iceberg to picture complexity of culture comes from American anthropologist
Edward T. Hall. In his book Beyond Culture he describes the concept of culture iceberg model. It basically
means that there is more than what we see. When looking to an iceberg you can recognise 3 levels each
getting you deeper.
Expelling the Spaniards out of the country is a big, radical, dramatic, social change
that affected the whole Spanish colony in Southeast Asia so that it was referred to no doubt
as social transformation.
In writing the introduction to her book, Hau (quite an accident of sort but a welcome
one) actually explained the intimate, close relationship of: literature, nationalism, history,
culture, social transformation and society.
(Source: Hau, Caroline S. 2000. Introduction (to the book). In Philippine Literature and the
Nation, 1946-1980, pp. 1-14. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.)
National Artist for Literature Resil Mojares, a Cebuano and of University of San
Carlos, brought the idea that Rizal’s main contribution was to start the process of inventing
the Filipino/ Philippine literature. Mojares would define the process of inventing the
national literature as to place a “claim to a distinct culture, history and identity”
accomplished in a way to “disengage from a dominant discourse that rendered one
voiceless and invisible, carve out autonomous space, and lay claim to one’s own resources
for creative production.” What he meant most likely is when we were a colony of Spain, the
Indio’s (or the future Filipinos’) literature is merged with Spain as we were a mere colony.
To isolate later on after independence what is distinctly Filipino is for us to separate what is
characteristic of a Filipino in literary works, although we cannot deny the fact that part of
our national literature includes Spanish literature given the fact that we were under more
than 300 years as Spain’s colony.
In what way did Rizal start the process of inventing the national literature? There are
three ways in how Rizal accomplished the process of starting the invention of a Filipino
literatures as Mojares explains:
Embedding the Philippines in a “high” and “ancient” Malay civilization, for
example, Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.
Studying and extolling [praise enthusiastically] the virtues of local languages,
Rizal’s third unfinished novel Makamisa is written in Tagalog
Harnessing the “popular” and the “folk” as resources for the creation of an
integral culture.
We have to establish a culture separate from our colonizer Spain. And indeed, we
have. We have our own set of languages, we have a village protected and governed by a
Datu just after the arrival of Spaniards as confirmed by Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas,
we have the Balagtasan. We have Alibata as our own system of writing.
These were good arguments of setting us apart culturally and was used to
accomplish nationalistic ends. And in the move towards separation from Spain.
What are the instances of these three that achieves for Rizal in inventing the
national literature? He takes interest in the different dialects in the country. He did “shadow
history” by annotating the work of a Spaniard Antonio de Morga’s “Sucesos de las Islas
(Source: Mojares, Resil. 2013. Jose Rizal Law and the Invention of a National Literature. In
Isabelo’s archive, 213-221. Mandaluyong City: Anvil.)
There are seven errors (rubrics) of an unfaithful translation of Noli and El Fili from Spanish to
English that Leon Ma. Guerrero III committed:
1. De-modernization is where every present was systematically turned by Guerrero into
the past. By doing so, Anderson puts it: the effect is not at all to “update” Rizal’s
novel, but rather to push it deep into an antique past.
2. Exclusion of the Reader is that which loses the close relationship of author and
reader, where the reader is likened to a ghost or angel able to hear secret or private
conversation. “Throughout the novel, Rizal regularly speaks to the reader … as if
author and reader were ghosts or angels” (p.239). Rizal’s original technique set time
aside and sucks the reader deep into the narrative, engaging her emotions, teasing
her curiosity, and offering her malicious voyeuristic pleasures” (p. 239). That makes
the reader more addicted, glued and impatient to continue reading.
3. Excision of Tagalog is to simply the act of removing Tagalog words, an important
failure in the translation that if not done, creates the potential for the novels Noli
and El Fili to draw the Filipino readers and to love the novels for the sheer familiar
Tagalog words one Filipino can associate with.
Excision of Tagalog is removing of familiar Tagalog words so the Filipino readers
cannot relate or to be taken out of place, so better use Tagalog phrases to engage
the Tagalog reader with the novel due the language of the reader is Tagalog,
4. De-Localization is manifested where Leon Ma. Guerrero committed errors in the
translation of Noli and El Fili is by removing from the limitations of the
5. De-Europeanization is when Leon Ma. Guerrero’s errors, labeled as rubrics according
to B. Anderson, in Spectre of Comparison (2004), is along eliminating or naturalizing
European literature, references and quotations.
6. Anachronism is such an error according to B. Anderson in the translation of Leon Ma.
Guerrero III of Rizal’s two novels as that which is described as something such as
events, objects, and or persons that seems to belong in the past and not fit in the
present are replaced with more recent equivalents.
7. Bowdlerization is the error of Guerrero in the translation of Rizal’s two great novels
labeled by B. Anderson as rubric in his book that is described as omitting parts
considered vulgar or offensive.
(Source: Anderson, Benedict. 2004. Hard to Imagine. In Specter of Comparison:
Nationalism, Southeast Asia, and the World. pp. 235-247 only. Quezon City: Ateneo de
Manila University Press.
“Man is partly the product of his time. His life and his message are affected
by his environment and the event that take place in the world he lives in. ”
The 19th century was the era of challenges and responses. It is the Age of
Enlightenment (a term used to describe a time in Western philosophy and cultural life
centered upon the
18th century in which reason was advocated as the primary
source and legitimacy for authority) – the period of major changes that affect man and
The 19th century was a dynamic and creative age especially in Europe and the United
States. During this period, such concepts as industrialism, democracy, and nationalism
triggered revolutionary changes in science, technology, economics, and politics. These
changes enabled men to achieve the heights of prosperity and dignity.
Rizal was born and raised in a period of massive changes in Europe, Spain and the
Philippines. - During this era, the glory and power of Spain had waned in both in her
colonies and the world. - Social scientists marked this period as the birth of modern life as
well as the birth of many nation states around the world. The birth of modernity was
precipitated by three great revolutions around the world: the Industrial Revolution in
England, the French Revolution and the American Revolution.
The global wave became the silver lining. Many imperial powers in Europe and the
west were undergoing industrialization, there was an increase of demand for raw materials
which presented an opportunity in the agricultural potential in the Philippines.
In the late 18th century, monarchy in Spain experienced a dynamic shift from the
Habsburgs to the Bourbons. With the goal of invigorating the profitability of the colonies like
the Philippines, Bourbons policies and reforms were out.
By the time Basco arrived, the Galleon Trade, the main economic institution existing
in the Philippines, was already losing enterprise. Basco established the Royal Philippine
Company in 1785 to finance agricultural projects and manage the new trade being
established between Philippines and Spain and also other Asian markets.
Resistance also came from various sectors like Catholic Church that was not
receptive of the labor realignments by the planned reforms, and traders that were still
holding the Galleon Trade.
Many scholars consider the 19th century as an era of profound changes in the
Philippines. Global events continued to affect the Philippines at the beginning of the 19th
In 1810, the Mexican War of Independence rattled the Spanish Empire that may lead
to the loss of the precious Latin American colonies.
Manila opened to world trade by 1834, as a result foreign merchants and traders
came and resided in Manila. In the half of the 19th century, majority exports of the
Philippines came from cash crops like tobacco, sugar, cotton , indigo, abaca and coffee.
The Binondo area (from the streets of Escolta and Divisoria to the bustle of Plaza San
Lorenzo Ruiz all the way to Ongpin), famous as the world’s oldest Chinatown - a slice of
China outside the mainland, and the many who lived there and contributed to its rich
history – has had a huge influence on the rest of Manila, as well as the nation.
The Chinese Mestizos were an important element of the Philippine society in the 19 th
century. The Chinese and Chinese Mestizos greatly benefited from the changing economy
since pre-colonial times. The Chinese proved to be necessary outsiders in Philippine colonial
economy and society. They influenced the economy in the 19th century by purchasing land,
accumulating wealth and influence.
The economic development precipitated social, political, and cultural developments
as well. As Manila became a trading center, it became a viable destination for people
seeking better opportunities or those wanting to escape the worsening conditions in the
farmlands. As the new economy afforded the colonial state new opportunities, it also
prompted the state to be more regulatory and to assert its authority.
Although the 19th century Philippines was largely medieval, signs of progress or
change were noted in certain sectors. During this period, vast economic, political, social and
cultural currents were felt. Its social and economic structure was based on the old
feudalistic patterns of abuse and exploitation of the Indios. Racial discriminatory practices
were oppressive. Intellectual decadence prevailed and government processes did not
respect the needs of the people.
When Jose Rizal was born, the Philippines has long been colonized by Spain and
many Filipinos were already experiencing the adverse effect of the Spanish colonization.
To understand Rizal, it is imperative to explore the setting of his birth. It is important
as well to find out the temper of time that helped shaped his totality as a human person.
The world should be viewed in its socio-cultural, economic, and political contexts. Reading
the works of Rizal against these backdrop will enable the readers to connect with them
Rizal’s frame of mind, his motives in writing, his sentiments and his convictions.
Lesson 3
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. analyze the various social, political, economic, and cultural changes that occurred in
the nineteenth century;
2. appraise the link between the individual and society; and
3. understand Jose Rizal in the context of his times.
These are the relevant events and conditions of the Philippines before, during and
after Rizal’s time which contributed to the development of Filipino nationalism.
- Before the Spanish conquest in 1565, Filipino had their own indigenous culture,
government and religion. - The Spanish colonizers forced them to accept foreign culture and
Catholicism. - Filipinos lost their ancestral lands to the colonial masters by way of the
encomienda system. “Limpieza de Sangre” A doctrine that means Purity of Blood which
were brought by the Spaniards into the Philippines, thereby creating a social ranking among
various groups, namely: Spanish peninsulares, insulares, Spanish mestizos, the town ruling
class, the native elites, the Chinese mestizos and the indios referring to the natives.
Socio-Economic Situation
Philippine society was predominantly feudalistic, the result of the Spanish
landholding system imposed upon the country with the arrival of the conquistadores. An
elite class exploited the masses, fostered by the “master-slave” relationship between the
Spaniards and the Filipinos. The Spaniards exacted all forms of taxes and tributes, and
drafted the natives for manual labor. Consequently, the poor became poorer and the rich,
Sociologists use the term social stratification to describe the system of social
standing. Social stratification refers to a society’s categorization of its people into rankings
of socio-economic tiers based on factors like wealth, income, race, education, and power.
You may remember the word “stratification” from geology class. The distinct vertical
layers found in rock, called stratification, are a good way to visualize social structure.
Society’s layers are made of people and society’s resources are distributed unevenly
throughout the layers. The people who have more resources represent the top layer of the
social structure of stratification. Other groups of people, with progressively fewer and fewer
resource, represent the lower layers of our society.
The pyramidal structure of the 19th century Philippine society favored the Spaniards.
Their social structure is ranked into three groups:
Highest class – the people that belong in this class include the Spaniards,
peninsulares and the friars. They have the power and authority to rule over the
Filipinos. They enjoyed their positions and do what they want.
 The Spanish officials
 The Peninsulares (pure-blooded Spaniards born in Iberian Peninsula, Spain
and Portugal). They held the most important government jobs, and made
up the smallest number of the population. (Note: Insulares – pure-blooded
Spaniards born in the Philippines.)
 The Friars are members of any of certain religious orders of men, especially
the four mendicant orders (Augustinians, Carmelites, Dominicans, and
Middle Class – the people that belongs into this class includes the natives, mestizos
and the criollos.
 Natives – the pure Filipinos
 The Mestizos are the Filipinos of mixed indigenous Filipino or European
or Chinese ancestry.
Lowest class – this class includes the Filipinos only.
 The Indios are the poor people having pure blood which ruled by the
The pyramidal structure of the 19th century Philippine society favored the Spaniards.
Its apex was occupied by the Spanish officials, the peninsulares, and the friars; its base, by
the Filipino majority, the indios; and its middle area, by a small middle class which consisted
of favored natives, mestizos, and criollos/creoles. Racial discrimination was prevalent as the
Spanish-born peninsulares were given the highest offices and positions in society, while the
creoles, the Philippine-born Spaniards, the half-breed or mestizos, enjoyed second priority,
and the natives or indios were looked down upon.
During the 19th century, Catholicism was widespread except in Muslim Mindanao
and the hinterlands were paganism was practiced. Churches, schools, hospitals, universities
that were established by Spanish missionaries were visible as they largely displaced the
previously entrenched Hindu, Islamic and Buddhist faiths. Evidence of Spanish rule can be
seen across the Philippines, particularly in the plentiful Baroque churches and the walled
Intramuros district
of Manila. Free education was introduced in 1863, but did not
take off until much later.
The culture of the Philippines in the 19th century was greatly influenced by almost
400 years of Spanish colonization. It comprises a blend of traditional Filipino and Spanish
Catholic traditions. The annual calendar is packed with festivals, many of which combine
costumes and rituals from the nation’s pre-Christian past with the Catholic beliefs.
Even before Spanish colonization, the Filipinos were known to be family oriented
and often religious with an appreciation for art, fashion, music and food. They were
hospitable people who love to have a good time. This often includes getting together to
sing, dance, and eat.
Economic Development and the Rise of Filipino Nationalism. By the late 18th
century, political and economic changes in Europe were finally beginning to affect Spain
and, thus, the Philippines. Important as a stimulus to trade was the gradual elimination of
the monopoly enjoyed by the galleon to Acapulco. The last galleon arrived in Manila in
1815, and by the mid-1830s Manila was open to foreign merchants almost without
restriction. The demand for Philippine sugar and abaca (hemp) grew apace, and the volume
of exports to Europe expanded even further after the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869.
The country was opened to foreign trade at the end of the 18th century which
resulted in the rapid rise of foreign firms in Manila. This stimulated agricultural production
and export of sugar, rice hemp and tobacco. The number of families which prospered from
foreign commerce and trade were able to send their sons for an education in
Europe. Filipinos who were educated abroad were able to absorb the intellectual
development in Europe.
The growth of commercial agriculture resulted in the appearance of a new class.
Alongside the landholdings of the church and the rice estates of the pre-Spanish nobility
there arose haciendas of coffee, hemp, and sugar, often the property of enterprising
Chinese-Filipino mestizos. Some of the families that gained prominence in the 19th century
have continued to play an important role in Philippine economics and politics.
Factors that Contributed to the Development of Filipino Nationalism:
Opening of the Philippines to International Trade and the Rise of the Middle
Manila was opened to foreign trade which brought prosperity to the
Filipinos and Chinese mestizo resulting to the existence of middle class.
Influx of European Liberalism
Ideas of the enlightened philosophers like John Locke and Jean
Jacques Rosseau, masonry and the French Revolution reached the
Liberty, religious freedom, democracy, human rights such as suffrage,
freedom of speech, press and form associations and assemblies.
Opening of the Suez Canal on November 17, 1869
Connects the Mediterranean and the Red sea; shortened distance
between Europe and Orient.
Results: (a) Philippines became closer to Europe and Spain (b)
encouraged European travelers to come to our country (c) exodus of literal
ideas from Europe to the Philippines (d) more educated and young Filipinos
were able to study abroad.
Spanish Revolution of 1868 and the Liberal Regime of Carlos Maria Dela
Torre (1869-1871)
Glorious September Revolution of 1868: Queen Isabela II was
overthrown resulting to the rise of liberalism in Spain. Generals Juan Prim
and Francisco Serrano appointed Dela Torre as the governor-general in the
Philippines (true democrat). Most liberal governor-general walked the streets
in civilian clothes and dismissed his alabaderos (halberdiers) – the governor’s
security guards –
and went unescorted.
(1) abolished censorship of the press and allowed unlimited discussions of
political problems and proclaimed freedom of speech
(2) abolished flogging as a punishment
(3) curtailed abuses particularly the tribute and the polo
(4) allowed secular priests to be assigned to vacant parishes or seminaries
created an office which would prevent abuses by members of the regular
religious orders
(5) reformed the Royal Audiencia to bring about speedier administration of
(6) decreed educational reforms, ordered the setting up of medical,
and vocational schools decreed educational reforms, order
(7) created the Council of the Philippines on December 4, 1870 which was a
consultative body to study Philippine problems and propose solutions to
Rafael de Izquierdo (1871-1873), the Cavite Mutiny of 1872 and the
Execution of GomBurZa (February 17, 1872)
Monarchy was restored in Spain (Prince Amadeo of Savoy, son of
Victor Emmanuel I) ascended the throne in 1870.
April 4, 1871: Isquierdo became the governor-general; “with crucifix
in one hand and a sword in the other” restored press censorship (b)
prohibited all talk on political matters and secularization of the parishes (c)
disapproved the establishment of arts and trades in Manila (d) dismissed
natives and mestizos in the civil and military service.
* Cavite Mutiny (January 20, 1872)
About 200 Filipino soldiers and workers in Fort San Felipe
mutinied, under the leadership of Sgt. La Madrid; caused by
Izquierdo’s abolition of the exemption of the Filipino workers
from polo and paying tributes; mutineers were able to kill the
fort commander and some soldiers; mutiny leaders and
participants were arrested and shot to death
* GomBurZa (fought for the Filipinization of parishes and champions
liberalism and humanitarianism)
They were charged of sedition and rebellion due to the false
testimony of Francisco Zaldua (former Bicolano soldier and
was bribed by the Spanish prosecutors to implicate them as
the masterminds of the mutiny). Military Court: three priests
guilty and sentenced them to die by garrote.
Originally, Rizal’s plan was to take up priesthood and become a Jesuit father.
When he heard of the martyrdom of GomBurZa, he changed his mind and
swore to dedicate his life to vindicate the victims of Spanish oppression.
Political Situation
The Spaniards ruled the Filipinos in the 19th century. The Filipinos became the
Spaniard’s slave.
The Governor General appointed by the Spanish monarch headed the central
administration in Manila. He was the king’s representative in all state and religious matters,
and as such, he exercised extensive powers.
He issues executive orders and proclamations and had supervision and disciplinary
powers over all government officials. He was commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of
the Philippines. He had supreme authority in financial matters until 1784.
The Governor General was theoretically responsible for all government and religious
activities during his term. Including petty official negligence and faulty administration of
Next to the central government in the hierarchical structure were the provincial
governments or alcaldes mayors (civil governors); and the city governments called cabildo
or ayuntamiento administered by two alcaldes en ordinario (mayor and vice mayor). The
gobernadorcillo, fondly called captain by his constituents, was the chief executive and chief
judge of a town. He was elected at the beginning of every year by a board composed of
members of the town principalia, a body of citizens of high standing, usually made up of the
incumbent or ex-cabeza de barangay.
The smallest unit of government was the barangay or barrio. Each barangay was
controlled by a cabeza de barangay, whose main responsibility was to maintain peace and
order and to collect tributes and taxes in his barrio.
The guardia civil and cuadrilleros performed police duties and helped maintain
peace and order. The Alferez (second lieutenant), usually a Spaniard, headed the corps of
civil in each town.
Under the Spanish colonial rule, the Filipinos were unfortunate victims of the evils of
an unjust, biased and deteriorating power and this condition was due to the following
1. Instability of colonial administration
The instability of Spanish politics since the turbulent reign of King Ferdinand
VII (1808- marked the beginning of political chaos in Spain. This political
instability in Spain adversely affected Philippine affairs because it brought
about frequent periodic shifts in colonial policies and periodic rigodon of
colonial officials. From 1835 to 1897, there were 50 Governor-Generals each
serving an average term of only one year and three months.
2. Corrupt Colonial Officials
The following were identified as corrupt colonial officials:
a. Gen. Rafael de Izquierdo (1871-1873)
- a boastful and ruthless governor general who ordered the execution
of Father Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora.
b. Admiral Jose Malcampo (1874-1877)
- was good Moro fighter, but was an inept and weak administrator.
c. General Fernando Primo de Rivera (1880-1883 and 1897-1898)
- Governor General for two terms enriched himself by accepting bribes
from gambling casinos in Manila which he scandalously permitted to
d. General Valeriano Weyler (1888-1891)
- a cruel and corrupt governor general of Hispanic-German ancestry,
arrived in Manila a poor man and returned to Spain millionaire.
e. General Camilo de Polavieja (1896-1897)
- an able militarist but heartless governor general, was widely detested
by the Filipino people for executing Dr. Jose P. Rizal.
3. No Philippine Representation in Spanish Cortes
To win the support of her overseas colonies during the Napoleonic invasion,
Spain granted them representation in the Cortes (Spanish parliament).
Accordingly, the Philippines experiences her first period of representation in
the Cortes from 1810 to 1813.
Ventura de los Reyes was the first Philippine delegate who took active part in
the framing of the Constitution of 1812. Another achievement was the
of the Galleon Trade
4. Human Rights Denied to Filipinos
Since the adoption of the Spanish Constitution of 1812 and other
constitutions in succeeding years, the people of Spain enjoyed freedom of
speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, and other human
rights (except freedom of religion).
The Spanish authorities who cherished these human rights in Spain denied
them to the Filipinos in Asia.
5. No Equality Before the Law
Spaniards arrogantly regarded the brown skinned Filipinos as inferior beings.
Spanish Penal Code which was enforced in the Philippines, particularly
imposed heavier penalties on Native Filipinos or mestizos and lighter
penalties on white-complexioned Spaniards.
6. Maladministration of Justice
The courts of justice in the Philippines during Rizal’s time were notoriously
corrupt. Justice was costly, partial and slow.
Wealth, social prestige and color of skin were preponderant factors in
a case in court.
The judicial procedure was so slow and clumsy that it was easy to have justice
7. Racial Discrimination
Filipinos as inferior beings who were infinitely underserving of the rights and
privileges that the white Spaniards enjoyed.
Spaniards called the brown-skinned and flat-nosed Filipinos “Indios”
in retaliation, the Filipinos dubbed their pale-complexioned
detractors with the disparaging term “bangus” (milkfish).
8. Frailocracy
The friars (Augustinians, Dominicans and Franciscans) controlled the religious
and educational life of the Philippines, and later in the 19 th century they came
to acquire tremendous political power, influence and riches.
Almost every town in the archipelago, except in Islamic Mindanao and Sulu
and in Pagan hinterlands, was ruled by a friar curate.
9. Forced Labor (known as polo)
Compulsory labor imposed by the Spanish colonial authorities on adult
Filipino males in the construction of churches, schools, hospitals, building and
repair of roads and bridges, building of ships and other public works.
10. Haciendas Owned by the Friars
During Rizal’s times, the Spanish friars belonging to different religious orders
were the richest landlords for they owned the best haciendas (agricultural
lands) in the Philippines.
11. The Guardia Civil
They had rendered meritorious services in suppressing the bandits in the
provinces. They later became infamous for their rampant abuses such as
maltreating innocent people – looting their carabaos, chickens and valuable
belongings and raping women.
Rizal himself witnessed the discrimination of how the guardia civil (either
Filipino or insulares) treated the Filipinos.
Sources of Abuses in the Administrative System:
1. There was an appointment of officials with inferior qualifications, without
dedication of duty and moral strength to resist corruption for material
advancement. Through the power and authority the Spaniards possess, they
collected and wasted the money of the Filipinos.
2. There were too complicated functions to the unions of the church and the state.
3. Manner of obtaining the position.
Through the power that the Spaniards possess, they had the right to appoint
the different positions. The appointment of positions is obtained by the
highest bidder which is the Governor-general of the country.
4. Term of office
Term of office or term in office is the length of time a person (usually a
politician) serves in a particular office is dependent on the desire of the King
of the country.
5. Distance of the colony
The Spanish officials travelled to various places and the needs of the
Philippines were ignored. They did not put too much attention to the needs
of the other people. There were inadequate administrative supervisions, they
were unable to face and solve the problems regarding to the Philippines.
There were also overlapping of powers and privileges of officials which made
them competitive.
6. Personal interest over the welfare of the State
7. They were corrupt during the 19th century and the Alcaldias/Alcalde is considered
as the most corrupt over the other corrupts. The Alcaldias/Alcalde includes the
administrators, judges and military commandants. They usually have P25/month
liberal allowances and privileges to take a certain percentage of money from the
total amount of taxes. There were also monopoly trades or business practices
known as indulto para comerciar.
Renato Constantino in his book, The Colonial Landscape: The Philippines A Past Revisited,
provided an overview of the Philippines during the mid 19 th century, as follows:
 Spaniards wrought fundamental changes in the lives of the indio
 Introduced new customs, relgion, practices and institutions
 Influx of Chinese due to presence of Spaniards
 New plant (corn, cassava, sweet potato, cotton magueg, indigo, ahuete,
tobacco, cacao) and animals (horses, cows, sheep, goats, water buffalo,
geese, ducks and swans from China and Japan) – modified eating habits and
economic development
1. Colonial Outpost
- The Philippines lacks economic promise for Spain/Crown but was RETAINED
as colony due to the following considerations:
a. Stepping stone to China and Japan
b. Staging ground for missionary efforts
c. Useful as outpost of Spanish empire for curving out an Oriental
Empire – Philippines to be used as base for the conquest of
neighboring nations
Due to these – Philippines was relegated to the role of a mere missionary and
military way – station.
These are the factors that discouraged serious efforts for economic
Philippine geographic isolation from Europe precluded growth of direct trade
– island to be administered through Mexico.
Philippine rules by military administrators who received “situado” an annual
subsidy from Mexico; “The rest of their needs had to be extracted from the
2. Economic Neglect
a. Galleon Trade – lasted until 1815 – involved only Spaniards
b. Trade was essentially between China and Mexico with Manila as trans
shipment point.
c. One to Quick Returns from Galleon Trade dissuaded Spaniards from
productive work therefore neglected to develop the agricultural potential of
the Philippines.
3. Moves for Abandonment
a. Financial and commercial consideration
Income from Galleon trade is lower than “situado”
b. Chinese silk brought to America by the Galleons competed with Spanish
export to that region (America) seriously threatening Spanish silk industry.
*Proponents of retention of Colony (Philippines) countered that large part of the
SITUADO was used to finance the expeditions against the Moluccas.
c. Trade was essentially between China and Mexico with Manila as trans
shipment point.
4. The Compromise
- In line with Spanish policy of MERCANTILISM and responding to pressures
from Merchants of Cadiz and Seville, Spain tried to save trade of the
American Market for Spanish manufacturer.
- Also limited the outflow of SILVER from Latin America to the East (China)
- Galleon trade was restricted to only 2 ships a year and to only one port of
entry in Mexico: ACAPULCO.
- EXPORT from Manila is pegged at P250,000 worth of goods (later raised to
P500,000) and IMPORTS from Mexico were not supposed to exceed double
the value of the exports – to limit the revenue from Galleon Trade enough
only to maintain Spanish establishments in Manila.
- CHURCH – Missionary undertaking/substantial material interest
- Philippines as base for future maneuvers in the East
- Philippines as colony of Spain – Prestige of the Crown/Pride of Spanish Kings
- Profits from Galleon Trade – need to construct walls/buildings bequitted to
the religious orders and pious works (Obras pias) – establishment of
schools, hospitals and charitable institutions
5. Plural Economies
a. Western economy – Galleon Trade
b. Native economy – products were not in great demand in either China or Mexico.
Thus, Philippine Spaniards did not find it profitable to develop local products for
export – locally oriented/underdeveloped.
c. Chinese economy – adjunct of the Galleon Trade/provide local Spaniards with
they need
- Chinese as artisans
- Chinese as intermediaries between West and the native economies – Chinese
distributed Chinese imports to the Philippine village and gathered in return
local products which they sold to the Spaniards.
6. The Chinese Role
- Mid 19th Century: while the Spaniards were trying to graft their
administrative institutions onto the indigenous social structures, the Chinese
were wrecking havoc on primitive economy of the natives.
- Rice production had fallen off and the local textile industry had decline
disastrously in Pampanga and Manila in late 16th century due to movement of
native population to the city to provide domestic service to the Spaniards.
- Indios begun to buy staple food and clothes from the Chinese.
7. Reducciones
NEGLECT of the Philippines INTERNAL ECONOMY was accompanied by
LABOR and the PROSELYTIZING (spread of Christianity) tradition requiring
BARANGAY had to be integrated into colonial framework, few members of
friars and scattered population had to be consolidated into RECUCCION –
policy of resettlement of small villages into one larger village for easy
a. Offering of gifts like shirts, salt, needles, combs, etc.
b. free housing
c. participation in colorful church rites
d. high sounding titles (gobernadorcillo, capitan, etc.) and honors for the
- Friar’s inducement and pressure on Chiefs of Villages and making
chieftains or CABEZAS de BARANGAY insured a measure of Indio’s
social continuity which facilitated ACCEPTANCE of Spanish rule.
- Conversion of Indio Chieftains into willing ALLIES and useful
intermediaries (as cabeza de barangay) formed a reservoir of reliable
minor civil servants for the Spaniards – This is bolstered by colonial
recognition evidenced by their title of PRINCIPALES.
8. Population Centers – compromise of friars for Indios that did not join reduccion
- POBLACION – BARRIO – SITIO system with the CHURCH as the nucleus – This
community is called cabecera.
- Friars constructed chapels to say mass in barrio or sitio where Indios chose to
settle away from Cabesera. This is called VISITAS.
9. Colonial Intermediaries – GOBERNADORCILLOS (petty governor) equivalent of
MAYOR today
- They are exempted from paying tributes and rendering forced labor but they
have the DUTY to COLLECT TRIBUTES which should tally with census. UNPAID
or DELAYED tribute means FINE or IMPRISONMENT.
Gobernadorcillos – also responsible for maintenance of municipal guards/jail,
feed the prisoners, provide municipal government with personnel and
supplies, also entertainment of visitors.
10. Third Prop of Power
PRINCIPALIA – third prop: that of ECONOMIC POWER
From Indios concept of COMMUNAL LAND to Spaniard’s individual concept
of land OWNERSHIP and regarded the land itself not merely its USE as source
11. Appropriation of Communal Landholdings
- Principales – by virtue of being ADM and FISCAL MIDDLEMEN between
Spaniards and their people (Indios) became aware of EXPLOITATIVE KIND OF
LAND OWNERSHIP and took advantage of it
- CHIEFTAINS (principals) appropriated the lands cultivated by their
sanctioned/allowed by the Spaniards.
12. Resultant Stratification
- PRINCIPALIA – perpetuated its dominant status through INTRA-CLASS
MARRIAGE; principalia’s residence in plaza complex manifest physical
expression of socio-economic ascendancy
- CHURCH – CONVENT (Frailocracy/ecclesiastical power) and the MUNICIPIO
(seat of Civil Authority) dominated the plaza.
- THREE-TIERED heirarchy in rural society – Spanish Priest, Principalia and the
- Manila/Suburbs – Spaniards, Chinese Mestizos, Native principals, Chinese and
the people – This persisted into the beginning of nineteenth century with the
SPANISH CLERGY constituting the leading instrument of POWER and
One of the major parts in the study of Rizal course is about his life. Thus, teaching
Rizal course starts from a backgrounder: the socio-economic and political situation of the
world in general and the Philippines in particular. An individual is affected by his
environment as well as his pleasant and unpleasant experiences. So, with the end in view of
knowing Rizal as a person, there is a need to understand how his thoughts, ideas, ideals, and
his feeling as a child, as a student, as a man, and as professional relate to his works and
other undertakings. Through this study, explanation may be drawn out from his works, why
they were written, and how they were written. These are necessary because one’s works
reflect his conviction, his sentiments, perceptions, frustrations, happiness, and aspirations.
They speak about the situation surrounding while he is writing.
Consciously or incidentally, a writer reveals how he views God, the universe, life,
society, man, and himself as reflected in his works.
The latter part of this section discusses the finale of Rizal’s life – his exile, trial, and
Lesson 4
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. analyze Rizal’s family, childhood, and early education, and
2. evaluate the people and events and their influence on Rizal’s early life.
The Genesis
Genealogy is the study of ancestry and family histories. An expert in this field is
called a genealogist. As the term applies, it traces the origin and history of the name of the
martyr-national hero of the Philippines.
Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso was born, a legitimate son, according to the
birth certificate, of Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonso, on June 19, 1861, between
eleven and twelve in the evening, a few days before the full moon in Calamba, on the
southwest shore of the picturesque Laguna de Bay, some forty miles south of Manila.
Three days after his birth, Rizal was baptized in the Catholic church of Calamba on
June 22, 1861 by Fr. Rufino Collantes, a Filipino priest from Batangas, while Pedro Casanas, a
native of Calamba and friend of Rizal’s family, stood as Rizal’s godfather.
Rizal’s Ancestors.
Like most Filipinos, Rizal was of mixed racial origin In his veins flowed the blood of
the East and West.
Rizal’s great-great-grandfather was Domingo Lamco, the intelligent and industrious
Chinese merchant who married Ines de La Rosa, a Chinese mestiza. From Parian, the family
migrated to Binan and became tenants in the Dominican estate. Lamco’s only son,
Francisco, who was to be Rizal’s great-grandfather was a keen, witty, and liberal young man.
He became quite well-to-do and popular enough to be appointed municipal captain of Binan
in 1783. The family adopted the surname ”Mercado” to free the younger generation from
the prejudices that followed those with a Chinese name.
Francisco Mercado’s wife, Bernarda Monicha, was a Chinese mestizo. They were
blessed with two children: Juan and Clemente. Juan married Cirila Alejandra, also a Chinese
mestizo. The couple had fourteen children, including Francisco who was to be Rizal’s father.
Francisco and two of his sisters moved to a Dominican estate in Calamba and became
pioneer farmers.
Materially, socially, and professionally, the family of Teodora Alonso was better off
than the family of her husband. In those days when professionals were few, the Alonso clan
could boast of a number of lawyers, priest, engineers, and government officials. Teodora,
Rizal’s mother whose parents were Lorenzo Albert Alonso and Brigida Ochoa belonged to a
professionally famous family from Baliuag, Bulacan.
The Rizal Family
The family name of Rizal’s parents did not coincide with his own as inscribed in his
birth certificate. This can be explained as follows: The name of Rizal’s mother was Teodora
Alonso Quintos and according to some notes of Rizal’s brother, Paciano, the birth certificate
of Jose bore the name Realonda because there was a time when many Filipinos had the
custom of adding the name of the godmother or godfather to the child’s name. Thus, when
his mother Teodora was baptized, the name Realonda (her godmother’s) was added to her
name, and later to Rizal’s. Rizal himself gave in a letter to Blumentritt the complete name of
his mother: Teodora Alonso Quintos Realonda.
As regards, the family name, this was a matter of selection, in conformity with the
order in force about the middle of the 19th century, to the effect that the natives chose the
family name they wished from a list provided for this purpose. Rizal’s father ignored these
orders and reapplied for the name Rizal. The petition was rejected by the Spanish
authorities, but despite this, the Mercado family used the name Rizal as a second family
name. Jose was the first to use the family name “Rizal” in 1872 when he went to Manila to
enroll at the Ateneo Municipal, directed by the Jesuits. There was a good reason for the
change. Only six months had elapsed since the Cavite Mutiny in 1872. This event was to
have a profound effect on the ideological genesis of Jose, despite the fact that he was only
eleven years old at that time. His brother Paciano had contacts with Father Burgos, who was
executed as a consequence of the uprisings. The name Mercado thus became subject to
suspicion. Hence, the adoption of Rizal as the first family name.
The Mercado Clan. Rizal was the son of a prosperous landowner, sugar and rice
planter, of Chinese-Filipino descent Francisco Mercado y Chinco, who apparently owed his
surname to the Chinese custom of looking for names with appropriate meanings. Mercado
was used for trader. Francisco Mercado was born in Binan, and lived to be eighty years old,
the youngest in a family of thirteen siblings.
His parents were Captain Juan Mercado, who had been the gobernadorcillo or mayor
of Binan, and Cirila Alejandra, daughter of Maria Guino. Juan Mercado was the older of the
two brothers—Juan and Clemente—sons of Francisco Mercado and Bernarda Monicha. The
hero’s father was named Francisco in memory of his grandfather.
Francisco Mercado was forty-three years old when Rizal was born. He was older than
his wife by six years. Of more than average in height, his face was serious and noble. He was
a man of few words, dignified and hospitable. Jose Rizal’s father was a well-educated farmer
who studied Latin and philosophy at the Colegio de San Jose in Manila. Early in his adult life,
he moved to Calamba and was sufficient to successfully carry out the management of a
large agricultural property that was leased to him. He attained a degree of wealth,
established a fine library, and cultivated friends among the friars and Spanish government
The name Francisco was a name held in high honor in Laguna for it had belonged to
a famous sea captain who had been given the Encomienda of Bay for his services and had
won the regard of those who paid tribute to him.
The Alonso Clan. Teodora Alonso, mother of Jose Rizal, was the second daughter of
Brigida de Quintos who was the daughter of Manuel de Quintos of an affluent family in
Pangasinan and of Regina Ursua. The Alonso family was a distinguished one. An uncle, Jose
Florentino, was elected to the Spanish Cortes.
Teodora Alonso had the most striking personality in the family circle, due to her
intelligence, her upbringing, and her disposition. A well-read person, she knew how to
appreciate literature, corrected her son’s verses, and had good knowledge of mathematics.
Educated in the College of Santa Rosa, she was a devout Catholic and believed in the
intercession of the saints in earthly happenings. She took great efforts to imbue her sons
with the maxims of Christian morality.
The Siblings. Don Francisco and Dona Teodora were blessed with eleven children:
two boys and nine girls. They were in the order of birth as follows:
1. Saturnina (1850-1913) – oldest of Rizal children, nicknamed Neneng; married to
Manuel Hidalgo of Tanauan, Batangas.
2. Paciano (1851-1930) – older brother of Rizal and became a general; later he
retired to his farm in Los Banos.
3. Narcisa (1852-1939) – she married Antonio Lopez, a school teacher of Morong.
4. Olympia (1855-1887) – she married Silvestre Ubaldo, a telegraph operator from
5. Lucia (1857-1919) – she married Mariano Herbosa, a Batangueno farmer.
6. Maria (1859-1945) – she married Daniel Cruz of Binan, Laguna.
7. Jose (1861-1896) – greatest Filipino hero and peerless genius.
8. Concepcion ((1862-1865) – she died at the age of three.
9. Josefa (1865-1945) – she died unmarried at the age of 80.
10. Trinidad (1868-1951) – she also died unmarried at the age of 83.
11. Soledad (1870-1919) – she married Pantaleon Quintero of Calamba.
The sisters of Rizal did not become prominent in occupying important public
positions. It would have been in those times unusual for women to do so. But they were
greatly responsible for the solidarity of the family, giving Rizal moral and spiritual support –
the heroic mission that dominated their lives.
The care and attention with which the sisters of Rizal showered him during his
deportation in Dapitan and his stay in Hong Kong are difficult to equal. Also, the
determination of Narcisa to find the tomb of her brother in the afternoon of his execution
clearly shows the unifying bond of affection that held the Rizal family.
As to the family finances, they not really as rich as ay biographers have claimed but
were just comfortably well-to-do. The couple was ambitious as regards to the education of
their children, desiring to give each the means to acquire a solid preparation. The lands they
cultivated were not the property of Francisco Mercado. They belonged to the Dominicans
who had leased a part of the property to the Rizal’s.
Calamba. Calamba is a small town in the province of Laguna nestling at the foot of
Mt. Makiling as it slopes down to Laguna de Bay. The name Calamba was derived from kalan
and banga. This is probably because the place is known for clay pottery.
The town where Rizal grew up was a prosperous town devoted to the production of
sugar. Despite their hardships as tenants of the Dominican friars whose estate covered
practically the whole town, its inhabitants were happy.
Its soil was fertile; its climate favorable. Its scenic environment influenced the young
Rizal for his poetic and artistic creativity. Its share of unhappiness also shaped his noble and
heroic spirit. In the midst of the orchard that surrounded the house in Calamba, the father
of Rizal constructed a modest nipa hut. The surroundings of his home opened to him the
many wonders of nature. Verdant meadows all around, a fruit laden orchard, and Mt.
Makiling in the distance – all these broadened his perception. The beauty of the orchard and
the gentle atmosphere of the family’s rambling house left a deep impression on the young
At the age of four, he could recognize the martin, the maya, multi-colored kuliawan,
and many others. In the afternoon, protected from the tropical sun by the shadow of Mount
Makiling, the young Rizal contemplated at these birds with joy. How happy he was in that
communion with nature.
As a young boy, Jose was called “Ute” by his brother and sisters. The townspeople of
Calamba called him “Pepe” or “Pepito.”
Early Education
His mother Teodora nurtured his mind, equipped with a great capacity for
assimilation and with exceptional intelligence. She taught him how to read and write; she
inculcated in him a sense of duty. She corrected his faults, especially his obstinacy. To
accomplish this, she used parables, which Jose, like other children loved to listen to. At the
end of each parable, the mother, explaining the symbolism, brought out a moral lesson
(Refer to “The Story of the Moth” below.) One late night, while Rizal’s mother was narrating
the parable of the moth. The parable told that the young moth was attracted to the flame
and thought that it could conquer it; it pushed itself to the burning flame and got burned.
The young Jose was inattentive to the story; his attention was focused on the moth
encircling the tongue of the flame of the oil lamp. Teodora scolded Jose and told him that if
he would not adhere to the advice of his parents or old people for that matter, he would be
like the moth that burned itself in the fire.
The Story of the Moth:
One of the stories that Dona Teodora Alonso told Jose Rizal was that of the
moth and the flame. In the story, an old moth warned a young moth not to come
closer to a lighted candle otherwise it might die. But the young moth, so attracted to
the candle’s light and warmth, disobeyed the old moth’s advice. The young moth
flew close to the candle’s light, which caught its wings, burned and died. While
listening to the story, Rizal was watching the moths flying around the lamp in their
table. Just like in the story, one of the moths flew near the flame burning its wings.
But that’s not how it died, it fell into the pool of coconut oil at the bottom of the
lamp were it drowned and died.
In his hours of leisure, he would return to the orchard where the study of insects
held his interest. Since childhood hobbies are usually those that last, Jose retained his
inclination to botany and zoology in his lifetime.
As a local family with enormous business skills, Rizal’s parents blended education,
culture, family life, and local politics into a new sense of Philippine nationalism. In 1863 the
introduction of general primary education in the Philippines contributed to the rise of an
even larger class of educated Filipinos. Young Jose Rizal immediately became a top flight
student. At the age of three, he learned the alphabet and the prayers from his mother
Teodora who was his first teacher. He paid great attention to the lessons that his sisters
received from their tutors. This great diligence was not forced on him by his mother. It was
he, himself, who evinced an innate curiosity for and interest in learning. In Calamba, he
learned how to write. It is said that his father paid an old man to teach him the elements of
Latin. The classes lasted only five months owing to the death of the old man.
He went to a school in Calamba, but after a short time it was clear that he had
learned all there was to learn from his school teacher. He was made to stop going to school.
He was at that time seven years old.
In 1868, at the age of seven Jose Rizal wrote a comedy, which highlighted his literary
talent, for the local fiesta. The municipal captain rewarded him with two pesos. Teodora
Alonso was able to recognize Rizal’s creativity and she encouraged the boy to express his
thoughts and sentiments in verse. With her encouragement, at the age of eight in 1869 Rizal
was able to write his first poem, “Sa Aking Mga Kabata.” (See below.)
Kapagka ang baya’y sadyang umiibig
Sa kanyang salitang kaloob ng langit,
Sanglang kalayaan nasa ring masapit
Katulad ng ibong himpapawid.
Pagka’t and salita’y isang kahatulan
Sa bayan, sa nayo’t mga kaharian,
At ang isang tao’y katulad, kabagay
Ng alin mang likha noong kalayaan.
Ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salita
Mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda,
Kaya ang marapat pagyamaning kusa
Na tulad sa inang tunay na nagpala.
Ang wikang Tagalog tulad din sa Latin
Sa Ingles, Kastila at salitang anghel,
Sapagka’t and Poong maalam tumingin
Ang siyang naggawad, nagbigay sa atin.
Ang salita nati’y huwad din sa iba
Na may alfabeto at sariling letra,
Na kaya nawala’y dinatnan ng sigwa
Ang lunday sa lawa noong dakong una.
In his early life, Rizal was a voracious reader. Legend has it that he was able to read
at age three. His mother was a strong influence upon his education and helped develop his
early interest in poetry, music, and European literature. Readings in Tagalog poetry and
daily assignments in Philippine history by his mother inculcated in him a sense of the Filipino
Rizal continued his studies at home. But the situation could not go on, so when he
was nine years old, his parents sent him to Binan, his native town bigger than Calamba,
along the banks of Laguna de Bay which was an hour-and-a-half ride away, to begin his
formal schooling in a private school. Under Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz, Rizal was able
to improve his Spanish and Latin. He followed a regular daily routine, attended to his studies
and excelled in them. This made him the best student in school, surpassing everyone in all
subjects. Besides taking formal lesson in Latin and Spanish, Rizal availed himself of the
services of a local painter in order to improve his talent in the field. He soon became one of
the best painters of the school.
Occasionally, he would take a trip to Calamba, but not as often as he wished. He was
not happy in Binan. The stronger reason was that he was homesick for his town and family.
However, being a fervent Catholic, he invoked the Virgin of Binan to intercede for his return
to Calamba. By about the middle of 1870, he received a letter from home announcing that
the boat Talim would pass for him on his return home. Not only was he going home, but he
was also going by boat, an experience he had never had before. Rizal spent Christmas with
his family and there it was decided that he would not return to Binan.
Rizal at Ateneo Municipal
The early education of Jose Rizal was an important aspect of his political thought.
Like many children of the well-to-do, he received his early education at home. He had
private tutors, but it quickly became obvious that he was advance beyond his years.
Although he attended school in Calamba, young Jose primarily educated himself in the
family library and through conversation with family and friends.
In 1870, Jose Rizal left Binan to go back to Calamba. It was with a sad heart that
Francisco Rizal finally decided that Jose Rizal would be sent off to a school in Manila. His
brother Paciano was studying in the College of San Jose under its famous teacher Fr. Jose
Burgos, a noble and courageous Filipino priest. Two years later an injustice occurred and
threw a shadow across his happy young life: The first was the detention of Teodora Alonso
and the second was the execution of Gomburza in 1872.
The Rizal family now determined that Jose should continue his education in Manila.
Before Rizal his eleventh birthday, he was sent to Manila and enrolled at the prestigious
Ateneo Municipal in Intramuros (which means “within walls”), a college under the
supervision of the Spanish Jesuits. Ateneo’s first name was Escuela Pia, which name was
changed to Ateneo Municipal and later became Ateneo de Manila. Prior to Ateneo, Rizal
took and passed the entrance exam at Colegio de San Juan de Letran, but his father
Francisco opted for Ateneo. On June 10, 1872, his brother Paciano accompanied Jose to
matriculate at the Ateneo. Fr. Magin Fernando, the college registrar, refused to admit Rizal
because he arrived late for the registration and he appeared sickly and undersized for his
age. Upon the intercession of Manuel Xeres-Burgos, nephew of Fr. Burgos, Rizal was
admitted at the Ateneo.
Jose was the first in his family to adopt the surname “Rizal”. He registered under this
name at the Ateneo because their family name “Mercado” had come under the suspicion of
Spanish authorities.
Jose boarded in a house outside Intramuros in Caraballo Street, just a 25-minute
walk from college, where Ateneo was once located. This boarding house was owned by
Titay, a spinster.
The role of the Jesuits in Philippine education is very important. After they were
expelled from the Philippine archipelago in 1768, the order remained dormant until its
members returned in 1859. When the Jesuits re-emerged to convert the Mindanao
population, they were also asked to take charge of Ateneo. By 1865 Ateneo was a secondary
school that offered rigorous courses almost equivalent to college academics. Ateneo was
considered the finest school in the Philippines because of the rigorous intellectual standards
of the Jesuits.
The Ateneo students were trained on the system of education given by the Jesuits.
Rigid discipline, character building, and religious instruction were given emphasis. Class in
every subject was opened and closed with prayers.
Following the rigid methodical habits which he had learned from his father and his
Jesuit teachers, Jose prepared a schedule so that he would not lose an hour: study and
reading until four pm, exercise from four to five pm, and social and miscellaneous
obligations from five to six pm. This careful management of his time yielded results almost
at once.
His love for books grew tremendously. He even asked his father to buy him a
complete set of the “Historia Universal” by Cesar Cantu which he conscientiously read, and
the Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas which reminded him of the sufferings of his
mother in prison and his motherland. He was only 12 years old when he made these
demands. But the book which intrigued him was Dr. Feodor Jagor’s Travels in the
Philippines. His book severely criticized the Spanish regime.
In Ateneo, Rizal exemplified scholastic excellence. He was able to showcase his
talents in various fields such as poetry. He began at the bottom of the school, but within a
month he became “Emperor of Carthaginian.” Ateneo had divided the students into two
“empires,” Roman and Carthaginian, to fight for academic supremacy. It was this war that
soon brought young Rizal triumph and prizes.
In March 1874, he went to Calamba to spend his summer vacation. On June 16,
1875, Rizal went back to Ateneo as an “interne”. Rizal resumed his studies with vigor and
zest. He topped all his classmates in all subjects and won five medals. He returned to
Calamba for his summer vacation in March 1876.
Rizal returned to Manila in June 1876 for his last year in Ateneo. His studies
continued to fare well. He was considered to be the best and most brilliant. On March 23,
1877, Rizal received the Degree of Bachelor of Arts (a high school certificate) with grades
rated “excellent”, and he had five prizes and several awards. At sixteen, the young graduate
was a mature man.
Jose Rizal’s four years in Ateneo were a continuous pageant of brilliant scholastic
triumphs, which made him the pride of the Jesuits.
Nonetheless Ambeth Ocampo, Filipino revisionist historian, suggests: “We must
never assume that Rizal graduated valedictorian or at the top of his class.” Rizal stood out
as a student leader and a national spokesperson, because he had the ability to talk to the
average Filipino.
The Detention of Teodora Alonso. While Rizal, happy in his family, awaited his
transfer to study in Manila, something happened that darkened the life in that home. His
mother was thrown into prison, accused of a crime of which she was so wholly incapable of
doing that everybody knew it was pure fabrication. She was charged with conspiracy with
her brother, Alberto Realonda, to poison his wife who had separated from him. As a result,
Teodora Alonso was forced to walk from Calamba to Santa Cruz, Laguna (30 kilometers
away) where she was imprisoned for two and a half years. During Jose’s two-year stay in
Ateneo, his mother was imprisoned in Santa Cruz. Her case dragged for two and a half years
before she finally gained release.
The Execution of Gomburza. Rizal was only 11 when the events in Cavite transpired.
One of the closest friends of Paciano, Fr. Jose Apoloio Burgos, was indicted for treason and
sentence to death via garrote. Paciano was so enraged by the execution of Fr. Burgos and
two other Filipino priests, Fr. Mariano Gomez and Fr. Jacinto Zamora, he could not contain
his frustrations and depressions that he told the heroic story of the three priests to the
young Rizal.
As in previous uprisings, the root cause may be found in the discrimination against
the Filipinos. Father Burgos published a manifesto in defense of the native clergy of which
he was the most qualified and courageous spokesman. He asked for the equality of rights
and opportunities; he showed how the most lucrative parishes were never granted to the
Filipinos but to peninsulares, priests, or friars. In effect, the existing rule was that the native
priests should not be given the positions of parish priest.
On the night of January 20, 1872, there was an insurrection which should be called a
mutiny, owing to its special significance. Some two hundred Filipino and Spanish mestizo
workers and soldiers rose in mutiny in Cavite because of the abolition of their usual
privileges including exemption from tribute and polo y servicio (forced labor) by the
Governor General Rafael de Izquirdo. The military character of the rebels and the proximity
to Manila and to Manila Bay drew attention to the mutiny.
Very soon came the repression, as it was not only limited to those who took active
part in the mutiny but was also extended to those who were known to have worked in the
propaganda for the political enlightenment of the Filipinos. Hundreds of them were
imprisoned, the most prominent being Fathers Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez, and Jacinto
Zamora (known as Gombuza), although their participation in the mutiny was not proven.
The accused were summoned before the Council of War and were condemned to die on
February 17, 1872. The execution took place in Bagumbayan, and the garrote was used.
Fr. Gomez was a native of Cavite, a parish priest of Bacoor, and more than 70 years
old at the time of execution. Fr. Burgos was described by the Spanish newspaper La Nacion
as a “Spaniard born in the Philippines and a parish priest of the Manila Cathedral.” Fr.
Zamora was also a Spaniard born in the Philippines and a parish priest in Marikina. He had
given serious offense to the Spanish authorities, especially Brigadier Oran, the governor of
Manila in 1867. Fr. Zamora denied him the honors due to any provincial governor when he
made a trip to Marikina.
The intellectuals of the period supported the propaganda carried out by Burgos and
his colleagues to gain for the Filipino priests the same rights as those enjoyed by the Spanish
clergy. According to them, their controversy with the friars influenced the decision of the
The knowledge of these facts and the conclusion that can be drawn from their
repercussion and influence on the shaping of the personality of Rizal are very significant. He
himself says in his memoirs that as a result of these, he became skeptic. The emotional
trauma was very painful, to such a sensitive boy.
Lesson 5
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
evaluate the propaganda movement;
explain the principle of assimilation advocated by the Propaganda Movement;
distinguish Rizal’s involvement in the movement;
appraise Rizal’s relationship with other Propagandists; and
analyze Rizal’s growth as a Propagandist and disavowal of assimilation.
Rizal at the University of Santo Tomas
Jose Rizal, having completed his Bachelor of Arts at the Ateneo Municipal with the
highest honors, was now eligible for higher education at a university. Both Don Francisco
and Paciano agreed that Jose should pursue a higher learning. But Dona Teodora, had
second thoughts about allowing her son to acquire higher education because of the
previous incident involving the execution of friars Gomez, Burgos and Zamora. Fearful of the
Spanish authorities who seem to frown on those Filipinos who learn too much, she warned
her husband not to send Jose again to Manila for they will cut off his head if Jose gets to
know too much. However, it was Don Francisco who decided his son should to the
University of Santo Tomas, a prestigious Dominican school founded in 1611 which was the
only university in the Philippines during that period.
Rizal enters the University of Santo Tomas in April 1877. He was barely 16 years old
and was not certain which course of study he wanted to pursue. In the end, he decided to
sign up for Philosophy and Letters during his Freshman year because of the following
1. It was what his father would have wanted for him.
2. He had failed to seek the advice of the rector of the Ateneo, Father Ramon Pablo
who has been good to him during his days in Ateneo. Unfortunately, Father Rector
was in Mindanao .
As part of the course, he had to complete units in the following subjects:
Cosmology and Metaphysics
History of Philosophy
During his term in the University of Santo Tomas, 1877 – 1878, Rizal also studied in
Ateneo where he took the vocational course in Surveying and excelled in all subjects. At age
of 17, he passed the final examination but could not be granted the title because of being
underage. The title was porito agrimensor (expert surveyor) was issued to him only on
November 25, 1881. He was already twenty then. In those days it should be remembered,
the college for boys in Manila offered vocational course in agriculture, commerce,
and surveying.
His report card was very impressive. After completing his first year, Rizal decided to
take up medicine as his university course. This change of heart was due to two factors:
1. Father Ramon Pablo, rector of the Ateneo, had advised him to pursue medicine.
2. Rizal's mother had failing eyesight and he thought he owed it to her to become a
doctor and cure her condition.
At the start of the school year of 1878-1879, Rizal’s second year at UST, he decided
to become a doctor though somewhat against his natural inclination. Despite his reluctance
toward science, he registered at the College of Medicine, a choice he made to defuse and
minimize his growing political interests. He found medicine tedious but reasoned out that it
would provide a good living and a level of prestige.
This, however, did not become the cause for his wholehearted studies. At the same
time, he did not lose contact with the Jesuits, for they founded a literary academy, of which
he was the president. With his great versatility, he still had time to write poetry, to paint, to
sculpt, and to indulge in courtships prompted by his easy inclination to love. His poem
entitled “A La Juventud Filipina” won first prize, consisting of a silver pen. The poem cannot
claim excellence, but it is significant in that it was the first public expression of patriotism of
Rizal. It urges the Filipino youth to hold its head high for “it is the fair hope of my
While at UST, Rizal had his first love in the person of a young girl of 14 named
Segunda Katigbak who was already engaged to Manuel Luz. He also fell in love with his
cousin, Leonor Rivera (a.k.a Taimis), who was a young girl of 13. But he never sacrificed his
studies for his feelings, invariably he fished his tasks first nor did he enter into significant,
binding compromises.
Rizal’s interest in literature, science, and philosophy grew even more while he was in
UST. His mind opened to new ideas. With characteristic humility, Rizal suggested that UST
helped him develop patriotic sentiment.
At UST Rizal received passing marks but found that the heavy emphasis on science
was not to his liking. He remained a poet at heart and his educational goal was toward the
liberal arts. Quietly on his own, his continued to work on his political ideas.
Rizal's performance at the University of Santo Tomas was not as excellent as his time
at the Ateneo. His grades after shifting to medicine had suffered as well.
Unfortunately, Rizal was not happy of his medical studies at UST and this reflected
on his grades (Zaide & Zaide, 1999). There were three main factors that contributed to his
unhappiness at the university, namely:
1. The Dominican professors were hostile to him.
2. Filipino students suffered discrimination.
3. The method of instruction at UST was obsolete and repressive.
After finishing the fourth year of his medical course, Rizal decided to study in Spain.
He could no longer withstand the rampant bigotry, discrimination, and hostility in UST. His
uncle, Antonio Rivera, Leonor’s father, encourage him to go abroad. Both Paciano and
Saturnina, whom he contacted secretly, were of similar opinion.
For the first time, Rizal did not seek his parents’ decision and blessing to go abroad
because he knew that they, especially his mother will disapprove his plan. He did not bring
his beloved Leonor in his confidence. He had enough common sense to know that Leonor,
being a woman, young and romantic, could not keep a secret. Thus, Rizal’s parents, Leonor,
and Spanish authorities knew nothing of his decision to go abroad in order to finish his
medical studies in Spain, were the professors were more tolerant and understanding than
those of the University of Santo Tomas.
The Departure
Rizal prepared well for his departure as per agreement with Paciano and his uncle
Antonio. To outwit the Spanish authorities, he went to Calamba ostensibly to attend the
town fiesta. A cryptic telegram by Manuel Hidalgo from Manila arrived, announcing that the
Spanish steamer Salvadora was scheduled to sail to Singapore that is why he was able to
leave on May 1, 1882.
Early morning of May 1, 1882, Paciano woke him up at dawn to go to Binan and
thence to Manila. He called his servants to hire a carromata to transport him to the next
town. Paciano gave him 356 Mexican pesos, the legal tender in the Philippines. He did not
bid goodbye to his six sisters who were still sleeping. He took a cup of coffee and kissed the
hands of his parents who thought that he was only bound for Manila, not for abroad.
Rizal left Calamba by carromata to go to Binan. After having changed carromata
twice, they arrived in Manila after 10 hours of travel. The carromata arrived and the
brothers went to the house of their sister Neneng (Saturnina), wife of Manuel Hidalgo to
pick up a diamond ring which she had promised Jose and which helped Rizal very much
during his days of poverty in Europe., but since she was still asleep, they decided to proceed
to the house of Lucia, wife of Mariano Herbosa, who was already awake. To maintain his
studies and sojourn abroad, he needed a monthly allowance of 35 pesos, and this amount
Paciano promised to send regularly through uncle Antonio.
They went to see Jose Ma Cecilio, a great friend and confidante of Rizal in his love
affairs who informed him that his passport would be ready that same day, as indeed it was.
His uncle Antonio arrived with the passport. The passport bore the name Jose Mercado.
On the second of May, he rose early. He had time to book passage on the Salvadora,
to write formal letters to his family and friends, and bid goodbye to his friends. At seven his
compadre (Mateo Evangelista) arrived and together they went to see the Salvadora which
was anchored at the Pasig. In the afternoon, he attended to his obligations. He went to say
goodbye to Pedro A. Paterno who gave him a letter for Mr. Esquivel, an important Filipino
resident in Spain. The kind Jesuit father, whom he visited to say adios, gave him letters of
recommendation to members of their Society in Barcelona.. He said also a tearful farewell
meeting to his beloved, Leonor. This proved to be their last meeting.
The many visits of Rizal that day are proofs that there was nothing secret about his
trip; it was a secret only to his parents. What was kept secret was the motive of the journey.
On the third day of May, he woke up at five in the morning. He heard mass; later
had breakfast but could not eat well owing to his emotional state.
Only his brother Paciano, two sisters, and few close friends knew his secret
departure. Accompanied by Gella and Tio Antonio, he went to the Paseo de Magallanes and
then to the wharf on the Pasig River where the S.S. Salvadora was docked. They
accompanied him up to the bay. Our hero was deeply touched by these acts of his friends
who had been like a second family to him.
During the voyage, Rizal keenly observed the persons and things around him. As in
all his trips, he wrote, describing the passenger, the incidents and circumstances of life on
board, always in a poetic vein inspired by the seascape.
Rizal in Barcelona
Barcelona, the greatest city of Cataluna and Spain’s second largest city where Jose
Rizal first stayed.
He met fellow Filipinos, some were his classmates from the Ateneo. They gave him a
party and in return, he gave them the latest news and gossips in the Philippines. He came
into contact with Filipinos who were plotting revolution. Barcelona was a rendezvous for
radicals and revolutionaries. Not one of the desperate plans he heard appealed to him as
having any hope of success. He had a definite mind, set in favor of education and against
revolution at this period and during all his life. Barcelona left him surer than ever that, as he
had written six years before, education must give his country light before she could hope for
more freedom.
On August 1, 1882, the Diariong Tagalog was founded, the first Philippine bilingual
newpaper. This paper published nationalist and reformist articles. Because of lack of funds,
the paper ceased publication on October 31, 1882. In a short period after his arrival in Spain,
Rizal wrote an essay “El Amor Patrio,” which means “love of country” or patriotism and gave
it to his friend, Basilio Moran, the publisher of Diariong Tagalog. This essay appeared in the
Manila newspaper Diariong Tagalog on August 20, 1882 under the pen name Laong-Laan,
which means “ever prepared.” Originally written in Spanish and translated by Marcelo H.
del Pilar in Tagalog and became popular among reformers in Manila. Rizal was able to
explain his views through this essay, emphasizing that the Philippines is the country for
Filipinos and not for Spain, urging his countrymen to love their fatherland, the Philippines.
This alerted Spanish officials to Rizal’s nationalistic tendencies.
Francisco Calvo, the editor-in-chief of the Diariong Tagalog, urged Rizal to write
more articles for publication. Among the articles Rizal wrote included “Travels” (“Los
Viajes”) and “Review of Madrid” (“Revista de Madrid”), which unfortunately was not
published anymore because the newspaper had ceased publication.
Rizal in Madrid
From Barcelona, Rizal moved to Madrid, the capital city of Spain. On November 3,
1882, Rizal enrolled in two courses, Medicine and Philosophy and Letters in the Universidad
Central de Madrid (Central University of Madrid). He also studied Painting and Sculpture in
the Academy of Fine Arts and took lessons in French, German, and English. He attended
operas and concerts to improve his knowledge on music. He spent his money wisely and
never on wine and women. His only extravagance was the Spanish lottery.
Jose Rizal sometimes spent his time visiting the home of Don Pablo Ortiga, a former
liberal-minded Spanish Civil Governor of Manila, where Rizal met his two daughters, Pilar
and Consuelo. It was Consuelo who again awakened the lonely heart of Rizal. On August 23,
1883, Rizal wrote a poem “A La Senorita” which was dedicated to Consuelo. With great will
power, Rizal did not allow the romance to blossom because he was still engaged to Leonor
Rivera and his friend Eduardo de Lete was deeply in love with Consuelo.
While in Madrid, Jose Rizal joined the Circulo Hispano-Filipino, a Filipino student
organization. The organization met regularly to discuss political issues. It was established in
1882 by a group of Filipino students in Madrid led by Juan Atayde, a Spanish born in Manila
and concerns of Filipinos. Notable members of the organization included Jose Rizal,
Marcelo H. del Pilar, Juan Luna, and Graciano Lopez Jaena.
The organization was able to publish the Revista del Circulo Hispano-Filipino, a
newspaper aimed at expressing thoughts about the abusive Spanish government. However,
the publication was short-lived due to lack of funds and conflicting political issues, which led
to the dissolution of the organization.
Upon the request of the members, he wrote the poem entitled “Me Piden Versos”
which he declaimed during the New Year’s Eve reception of Filipinos in Madrid. Rizal spent
his past-time reading books until midnight. Among the many books which he read, two
made an especially deep impression upon him, for they gave him one answer to the
questions he was forever asking: How could he meet his country’s need? The first book was
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle’s Tom Cabin, which had been such a potent factor in arousing
American sentiment against slavery before Lincoln finally issued the emancipation
proclamation. The other book, which affected Rizal even more deeply, was Eugene Sue’s
The Wandering Jew.
The only balm Rizal found for homesickness was hard work. He never failed in his
classes though in Madrid he carried two courses simultaneously. In Medicine he received
“fair” in two subjects, “good” in four, and “excellent” in two. In Philosophy and Letters he
received “good” in one, “very good” in one, “excellent” in four, “excellent with prize” in one
(Greek and Latin Literature), and “excellent with free scholarship” in two (Spanish Literature
and the Arabic language).
How he longed to go back to his mother. But he must continue studying medicine
until he could restore her sight. So he fought down his longing to return although
“”homesickness invaded in spirit every hour …” In the first and most acute stages of his
longing for home, his of aching soul. He wrote the poem “They Ask Me For Verses” which
was published on October 7, 1882.
One of the least known facts of the life of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal was his being a
member of a worldwide fraternity called Freemasonry. While he studied in Spain in 1883,
Rizal joined Masonic Acacia Lodge in Madrid. Rizal was taken aback by the free-thinking.
According to Filipino historian Reynold Fajardo, in his book “Dimasalang: The
Masonic Life of Dr. Jose Rizal,” Rizal was not only a Mason, he was the only one among the
leaders of the revolutionary movement during the Spanish era who “deserved to be called
an international Mason since he was a member of various Masonic lodges in Spain,
Germany, France, and possibly England.”
According to Fajardo, at the time Rizal was studying in Binan and Manila, Masonry
was relatively unknown in the Philippines. Masonic Lodges were very few and most of their
members were Spaniards. However, Rizal’s uncle, Jose Alberto Alonzo, was a Mason and
lived in Spain. Alonzo was make a Knight of the Order of Carlos III and later King Amadeo,
also a Mason, made him a Knight Commander of the Order of Isabel the Catholic. Rizal’s
elder brother, Paciano, also had several links with Spanish Masons in the Philippines during
the latter’s student days in Manila.
On Rizal’s way to Madrid, his ship docked at Naples on June 11, 1882. He took a
coach for a tour and he saw numerous posters put up by Masons announcing the death of
Giuseppe Garibaldi, their Grand Master.
Rizal must have been impressed that he joined the Acacia Lodge No. 9 in Madrid
under the Gran Oriente de Espana. So far there is no exact date as to when Rizal was
initiated; but based on a photograph of him wearing the habiliments of the Mason,
historians deduced that he must have been around 23 years old then. In accordance with
Masonic practices then observed in Spain, Rizal selected a symbolic name by which he was
to be known, ‘Dimasalang’.
The Spanish Masons proclaimed a new era of freedom from restrictions of
government and the church. Joining the Mason order made sense because it was a
dedicated organization which pointed out the friars’ abuses in the Philippines. It was an
acknowledgment that the Spanish government in Manila needed to reform itself.
What was the significance of joining a Masonic Order? It was an act that helped
Rizal’s political reputation. The Masons were known for their liberal ideas.
In 1884 in Madrid, Juan Luna and Felix Resurrection Hidalgo won gold and silver
prizes, respectively, during the national exhibition of fine arts. At a victory banquet held on
June 25, 1884, Jose Rizal gave a toast that made history. In his speech, Rizal stated that the
hold of Spain over the Philippines was rapidly ending. It was one of the earliest
pronouncements of a new nationalism.
Just as fame beckoned, Rizal found out that his family was worried about the impact
of his “toast speech” and his joining the Masonry. Paciano informed his brother that his
family was visibly upset with his sudden political impact if he returned home. Paciano
warned his brother that he might not be welcome in the family. The speech Rizal delivered
afflicted his mother and made her sick.
As a result of this controversy, Jose decided to continue his education. He had
planned for some time to study in Germany. But the family’s economic condition and his
own uncertainty about expenses prompted some indecision. In a brief span of time, he
would earn the name “The First Filipino” for his pronouncements on Philippine nationalism.
Rizal in Paris, Capital City of France
During his summer vacation, Rizal went to Paris and stayed there from June 17 to
August 20, 1883. Like all tourists, Rizal was attracted by the beautiful sights of Paris. He
visited important landmarks, spent hours visiting museums, botanical gardens, art galleries,
and hospitals. Prices in Paris, however, were too high.
When Rizal returned to Madrid, he completed his medical course and was conferred
the degree of Licentiate in Medicine in 1885 by the Universidad Central de Madrid, but
could not be given his diploma because he could not present his thesis. The licentiate is an
undergraduate degree similar to the bachelor’s degree but with a more vocational focus.
Further medical education was not required to call oneself a physician or to practice
medicine at that time. Nevertheless one could obtain a doctorate after passing
examinations and writing an approved thesis. That same year, he also completed his studies
and obtained the degree of Licentiate in Philosophy and Letters and was qualified to
become a professor in Humanities in any Spanish university.
History and historians doubt whether Rizal finished doctorate in medicine. Oddly
enough it would appear that, contrary to the general assumption, he never got his doctorate
in medicine although he took and passed the course in the history of medicine , surgical
analysis, and normal histology in 1884-1885. However, he never submitted his doctoral
thesis. He was never really a “doctor” Rizal as he would be known for posterity. In the long
correspondence with the authorities of the university, which he started from Geneva in June
1887, he requested only the issuance of his licentiate; this was applied and paid for in his
name by Julio Llorente, who for some reason or another asked that it be sent to the
Governor in Manila, where it was promptly lost; so that after a typical bureaucratic jumble,
Rizal had to be content with a certified copy, which he received from the Spanish Consul
General in Hong Kong in May 1892, eight years after his graduation.
After his studies in Spain, he went back to Paris in 1885 and continued his medical
studies. He was 24 years old and already a physician. Rizal arrived in Juan Luna’s studio on
Boulevard Arago near the Place d’Italie. During that time Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere was
half-finished. It was in Paris where Rizal worked as an assistant to Dr. Louis de Wecker, a
leading French ophthalmologist. Under his tutelage, he rapidly improved his knowledge on
While in Paris, Rizal learned much during his stay in Dr. Wecker’s clinic. Paciano
supported Jose’s desire to study further as it would be very useful to the family and because
few or nobody practices such branch of medicine. From October 1885 to January 1886, Rizal
studied in Paris and took advantage of Parisian culture. He also honed his medical
knowledge and learned the various techniques of eye operation. But it was the German
method of diagnosis that Rizal hoped to perfect.
Rizal in Germany
From Paris, on February 1, 1886, Rizal left for Germany. On February 3, 1886, he
arrived in Heidelberg, a historic city in Germany famous for its university and romantic
surroundings. While in Heidelberg, Rizal worked at the University Eye Hospital under the
direction of Dr. Otto Becker, a distinguished German ophthalmologist. Under Dr. Becker
there was a vigorous course of study with less attention to actual operations. Rizal’s
experience with actual patient operations in Paris helped him emerge as one of Dr. Becker’s
best students. Rizal also had a practice at a certain hospital in Germany. During weekends,
Rizal visited the scenic spots including the famous Heidelberg Castle.
While continuing his medical studies in Germany, Rizal heard of an Austrian scholar
in Leitmeritz whose historical and ethnographic publications on the Philippines reflected his
abiding interest in a people and a country he had never even seen with his own eyes. Rizal
became friends with Ferdinand Blumentritt, who was born in Prague on September 10,
1853. Blumentritt studied History at Prague University. When his correspondence with Rizal
began, he was a master teacher at Leitmeritz (today known as Litomerice in the Czech
Republic) and had already published scholarly writings on Philippine languages and
ethnography. The 33-year old Blumentritt was married to Rosa Muller and had three
children: two sons, Friedrich and Konrad, and a daughter named Dolores, whom Blumentritt
sometimes affectionately addressed with the Tagalog nickname, “Loleng”.
Upon learning that Blumentritt was studyng the Tagalog language, Rizal sent him a
letter in German. Blumentritt reciprocated with a gift of two books as evidence in Rizal’s
letter. The two continued to exchange letters about their scholarly endeavors. Books,
manuscripts, and maps were gifted as well from one to the other. Oftentimes, Rizal would
write about his search for Filipiniana and his efforts at translating German works on the
Philippines. Blumentritt would respond by sending his own ethnographic studies and also
provided Rizal with letters of introduction to a number of German scholars. Here was a
budding friendship born of an intimate love for all things Philippines – a beautiful friendship
that lasted all their lives.
Leon Ma. Guerrero remarked in his biography of Rizal, “It is a charming and, in its
own way, fascinating correspondence … the letters they exchanged also illustrate something
that is very rare, the evolution of a purely intellectual friendship … Clearly Blumentritt, the
Austrian schoolmaster, is Rizal’s mentor; he has a greater command of the authorities, a
better knowledge of the world; but the young Malay can also teach the erudite Czech what
cannot be found in maps and ethnographical treatises: political realities, the feeling of a
After four months of correspondence between them, Rizal mustered the courage to
suggest that they exchanged photographs. Blumentritt readily obliged, while Rizal sent a
self-portrait done in crayon. It was also to Blumentritt that Rizal sent one of the earliest
available copies of his Noli Me Tangere.
In Blumentritt Rizal found a friend and teacher. They plotted together for the
independent future of the Philippines. They agreed on a common Philippine problem, the
role of the friars.
Before Rizal left Germany to return home, he received a letter from Blumentritt
which praised the young Filipino for his advanced thinking. Soon Blumentritt became an
advocate of Philippine independence and one of the strongest European voices in praise of
Filipino culture.
Rizal attended lecture course in the famous old University of Heidelberg. He lived
with Dr. Karl Ullmer, a Lutheran minister with whom he took delightful walks nearly every
afternoon, learning much about German religious ideas. The ancient city of Heidelberg is
one of the scenic attractions of Europe, charmingly situated at the junction of the Neckar
and the noble Rhine. Rizal wrote a tenderly beautiful poem, “A las Flores de Heidelberg” (To
the Flowers of Heidelberg) on that beautiful spot on April 22, 1886.
Rizal also contemplated to enroll as a student of law at the University of Heidelberg,
but his brother Paciano was not in favor of it. Perhaps Paciano was wrong in discouraging
him from taking up law. Rizal, a born polemicist, with a talent of self-expression and a keen
sense of justice, would have made a splendid lawyer. He made up his mind to study
medicine because his mother’s sight was failing although he was far below his usual
standard in the pre-medical and medical courses which he took in the university as shown in
his grades in 16 subjects: 3 passing, 8 “good,” 3 “very good,” and only 2 “excellent.”
He remained in Heidelberg for three months, long enough to complete his short
On August 9, 1886, Rizal left Heidelberg and proceeded to Leipzig, He went to the University
of Leipzig to study psychology and history. There he became a friend of Professor Friedrich
Ratzel, one of the historians who helped change the methods of historical research.
Rizal continued to write Noli Me Tangere with passion and great inspiration. At the
end of the school term, he travelled to Berlin on November 1. He was enchanted by Berlin
because of its scientific atmosphere and the absence of racial prejudice. As was his custom,
he at once sought the friendship of eminent scholars and found them democratic and
responsive to his friendly approach. Men of science as a rule are somewhat retiring and
unassuming but extremely eager to help any young person who thinks deeply and seriously.
Dr. Feodor Jagor, who wrote the Travels in the Philippines, became Rizal’s warm friend. Dr.
Rudolf Virchow and Dr. Wilhelm found Rizal’s deep and brilliant mind delightful and made
him a member of the Berlin Anthropological Society, of which Dr. Virchow was president.
Noli Me Tangere was finished in Berlin on February 22, 1887. In Berlin, Rizal lived a
frugal life because no money arrived from Calamba. Rizal was desperate then. He had no
money to publish his book. Vainly he was struggling to save money by eating only one meal
a day, largely bread and coffee, which cost him but a few centavos. His health broke down
due to lack of proper nourishment. He began to cough and feared he was going to be sick
with tuberculosis. Rizal confided to his old friend Fernando Canon about the dark period.
A telegram came from Dr. Maximo Viola, a rich young Filipino whom Rizal had known
in Madrid, saying he was on his way to visit Berlin. Hope sprang in Rizal’s heart.
Thanks to the providential help of Maximo Viola, Noli Me Tangere appeared a few
weeks later. One of the first copies was sent to Dr. Blumentritt. Bound copies were boxed
and sent to some friends in Barcelona and Madrid. These friends employed a clever ruse for
getting them into the Philippines disguised as merchandise. Then big-hearted Dr. Maximo
Viola took the eager author off for a jaunt on foot through lovely sections of Germany,
Switzerland, and Austria. Hiking was popular in Europe then as it is today. Rizal’s spirit began
to soar again. The two friends visited Dresden, where Rizal was already known and admired
by Dr. Adolph B. Meyer and other scientists. Our many-sided Filipino genius was, among
other things, an outstanding student in zoology and ethnology.
After a visit to Vienna, Rome, and a few other cities of Italy, Dr. Rizal took a ship from
Marseills and started home on July 5, 1887, at last ready to operate upon the cataracts in his
mother’s eyes.
First Homecoming
After five years of memorable sojourn in Europe, Rizal returned to the Philippines in
August 1887. Rizal was warned by Paciano and other relatives not to return home, yet he
did not heed their warning. He was determined to return to the Philippines for the following
1. To operate on his mother’s eyes;
2. To serve his people who had long been oppressed by Spanish tyrants;
3. To find out for himself how the Noli and his other writings were affecting
Filipinos and Spaniards in the Philippines;
4. To inquire why Leonor Rivera remained silent.
Rizal’s arrival was like a storm over his novel. One, day Rizal received a letter from
Governor General Emilio Terrero requesting him to go to Malacanan Palace. Rizal went to
Malacanan. He was informed by the Governor General of the charges and explained that he
merely exposed the truth. Rizal’s enemies were powerful. The Dominicans examined the
text of the Noli and found it to be subversive of public order and ordered the importation,
reproduction, and circulation of the book be absolutely prohibited. Repercussions of the
storm over the Noli reached Spain. During the days when the Noli was the target of a heated
controversy, all copies of the Noli were sold out.
What marred Rizal’s happy days in Calamba was the death of his older sister,
Olimpia, and the news circulated by his enemies that he was a German spy. Rizal’s exposure
of the deplorable conditions of tenancy in Calamba and the friars, forced him to leave his
country for the second time in February 1888. He was then a full-grown man of 27 years of
Rizal in Hong Kong
On February 3, 1888, after a short stay of six months in Calamba, Rizal left Manila for
Hong Kong on board the Zafiro. He arrived in Hong Kong in February 8.
In Hong Kong, Rizal stayed at the Victoria Hotel and he was introduced to some
leading Spaniards, one of them Varanda, who was Secretary to Governor General Emilio
Terrero. He travelled about with him for several days, especially on a trip which he, Varanda,
and Jose Maria Basa took to Macao aboard the ferry steamer Liu-Kiang to see the
Portuguese colony and to visit Mr. Lecaroz in whose house they were guests. Lecaroz, Basa,
and the other Filipinos in Hong Kong were partisans and promoters of the book Noli Me
Tangere. (Note: Basa was exiled in 1872, a victim of Spanish vengeance for the uprising in
Cavite, though he had not a shadow of guilt . A noble gentleman with a beautiful influence
on Filipino youth, he became one of Rizal’s most trusted friends from the time of this Hong
Kong visit and played a vital part in Rizal’s career thereafter.)
During his two-week visit in Hong Kong, Rizal studied the Chinese life. Rizal
investigated many important matters, for example concerning the riches of the Dominicans,
concerning their missions, concerning the Augustinians, etc. (Note: The study of the
Dominicans, which Rizal mentioned, is to be remembered because four years later a terrific
arraignment of the wealth and greed of that society was found in his sister Lucia’s baggage
and led to Rizal’s arrest and ultimately to his execution.)
On February 28, 1888, Rizal left Hong Kong on board the Oceanic. His destination
was Japan.
Rizal in Japan
Rizal arrived in the Land of the Cherry Blossoms on February 28, 1888. He was
enchanted by the natural beauty of Japan, the charming manners of the Japanese people
and picturesque shrine. There he met a Japanese girl and fell in love with her. She was Seiko
Usui, whom Rizal affectionately called O-Sei-San.
Rizal first arrived in Yokohama in February 28, and on the next day he went to Tokyo.
There he was invited to live at the Spanish Legation although he was staying at Tokyo Hotel.
Rizal did not know how to speak the Japanese language although he looked liked a
Japanese. To avoid embarrassment, Rizal decided to study the Japanese language.
O-Sei-San’s beauty and affection tempted Rizal to settle down in Japan. Rizal saw in
lovely O-Sei-San the qualities of his ideal woman: beauty, charm, modesty, kindness,
intelligence, and sincerity. O-Sei-San reciprocated his affection. She helped Rizal in many
ways. She was more than a sweetheart, guide, interpreter, and tutor. Rizal bade farewell to
her. The beautiful romance between them came to a sad ending. Sacrificing his personal
happiness, Rizal had to carry his mission of being acquainted with different people in Europe
and resumed his voyage leaving behind O-Sei-San. Despite his sorrowing heart, Rizal
enjoyed the pleasant transpacific voyage to the United States.
Rizal in the United States
Rizal first saw America on April 28, 1888. His arrival was marred by racial prejudice.
Rizal arrived in San Francisco on board the steamer Belgic. All passengers were not allowed
to land and the ship was placed under quarantine on the ground that it came from the Far
East where a cholera epidemic was raging. After a week of quarantine, all first class
passengers including Rizal were permitted to land.
On May 4, 1888, Rizal arrived in San Francisco and registered at the Palace Hotel and
stayed for two days. Americans would smart as they read what this genius with a
penetrating eye and a painfully accurate pen saw in eighteen days. California labor was at
the time in the throes of violent hatred toward Chinese laborers.
He started across the continent by rail, sitting in a coach all night to save money. He
travelled to Oakland, then to Sacramento and on May 6, he arrived in Reno, Nevada. He
continued his trip to Colorado and Nebraska, then Chicago, Albany and on Sunday of May
13, he reached New York. He visited the scenic and historic places.
Rizal’s journey across America is delightfully told in his diary, written in short
sentences and looking as though the track was rough—as it was in those days. It illustrates
the precision with which he saw and recorded everything.
On May 16, 1888, he left New York for Liverpool on board the City of Rome.
Rizal in London
From New York he arrived in London and in Liverpool on May 24, 1888. For a short
time, he stayed as a guest of Dr. Antonio Regidor, an exile and a practicing lawyer. Rizal at
once secured a card permitting him to work in the British Museum Library. He plunged into
study and writing, which occupied his time for the next ten months. He found here one of
the few remaining volumes of Antonio de Morga’s book Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas
(literally translated as Events in the Philippine Islands), which had been published in 1609.
This work perhaps was the best account of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines during that
time. It was based partly on documentary research, keen observation, and Morga’s personal
knowledge and involvement. Rizal was impressed about the book, so he decided to
annotate it and publish a new edition. Ferdinand Blumentritt wrote the foreword of the
By the end of May, he transferred to a new boarding house owned by the
Beckett family. It was here that Rizal met Gestrude Beckett, a true-blooded English woman.
Her case with Rizal was quite different from the others because it was a one-way affair. She
showed sign of being very much in love with our hero. It was she who carried Rizal’s
breakfast to his room and his tea in the afternoon. Rizal’s charm and chivalry might have
been interpreted by the English lass as a proposal. It was then that Rizal made up his mind
to leave London before this new development grew serious, because he respected the love
of Gestrude or Gettie as she was called.
Rizal copied every word of Morga’s book and had it published at his own expense. It
was of utmost importance to Rizal, the patriot, as well as to Rizal, the anthropologist, for it
completely refuted a falsehood which all Spaniards and nearly all Filipinos had come to
believe. Morga showed that when Spain reached the Philippines, she did not find the people
“in caves eating raw meat”; for there were creditable civilization centuries old and
flourishing commerce with foreign countries on the mainland of Asia. The book revealed
that in certain respects Spain had actually done the Filipinos harm.
Morga’s book with Rizal’s annotations finally came out in 1889, and Mariano Ponce,
after reading it, pronounced it a “tremendous blow to our enemies…. Your book will change
ideas which now prevail concerning our country.” Ponce said he was so much inspired by
the book that he too would write a book on “the lives of Filipinos who have stood out from
the crowd in the past and during the present time …. It would be possible to demonstrate to
all the world that our race has produced men who may be ranked with the wisest.”
Immediately Rizal set about to furnish Ponce with material. “Our whole aspiration,” he
declared, “is to educate our nation; education and more education!”
He discovered that history and anthropology were the best friends of the Philippines,
for these sciences were exposing the lies which the Spaniards had told for generations. He
had nothing to fear and everything to gain by exploring every corner of the past, so he
enlisted his friends in scouring all the libraries of Europe for ancient documents and
abstruse knowledge concerning his country.
Simultaneously, he went on writing El Filibusterismo which he started in October,
1887 (two months after he arrived in Calamba in his first homecoming). Supplementary to
these literary works, was his attempt to produce a dictionary and a grammar book for the
Philippine languages.
La Solidaridad (The Solidarity) was an organization composed of exiled Filipino
liberals and students attending Europe’s universities. The organization aimed to increase
Spanish awareness of the needs of the Filipinos and to propagate a closer relationship
between the Philippines and Spain. It also launched a newspaper of the same name, which
served as the organ of the reform movement. Mariano Ponce, a new friend who ardently
loved Rizal and was hunting books which Rizal needed in Spain, urged him to accept its
directorship, and an overwhelming majority of the Filipinos pressed this position upon him.
He declined to accept the management because others were ambitious for the position. The
insincere attacks, which are common among candidates for an elective office, hurt him. He
was eager for true criticism but wounded when he knew it was false. The man finally chosen
to head La Solidaridad was Graciano Lopez Jaena, while Rizal was unanimously elected as
honorary president. Marcelo H. del Pilar and Mariano Ponce were associate editors.
In February 1889, Del Pilar wrote exultantly that “at last our little periodical is born,
democratic in its criticisms but much more democratic in its personnel.” 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. Articles from the pen of Rizal appeared in
nearly every issue, very much the most important material the paper ever published. And
every article drove a nail into its author’s coffin if ever he should dare to place himself in the
power of his enemies.
When Jose Rizal’s heart was bleeding over reports of persecutions in the Philippines,
he received a request from Del Pilar, who had replaced Jaena as editor of La Solidaridad, to
write a letter to the courageous women of Malolos, who had dared to hoot at some
disreputable friars. Instead of a letter, Rizal wrote almost a book.
“We ought to be reasonable and open our eyes. Especially ought you women,
because you are first in influencing the consciences of men. Bear in mind that a good
woman must bring up her son in a way becoming the image of the true God – A God who is
not an extortioner, nor covetous for money; a God who is Father of all, and perfectly just; a
God who is not a vampire of the poor, who does not make sport of the agonies of those in
tribulation, nor twist the straight course of justice…. ”
“I do not expect the country to have honor and prosperity so long as woman is a
slave and ignorant and does not know how to protect the steps of her child… The friars have
blinded her, bound her, and left her feeble-hearted; and they live without risk, because
while the Filipino woman is enslaved, they can enslave all her children. This is the cause of
Asia’s prostration – the womanhood of Asia is ignorant and in slavery. Woman is powerful in
Europe and in America, because she is free and educated, with clear intelligence and a
strong will of her own…”
Rizal Back in Paris
From London Rizal reluctantly gave up the wonderful library of the British Museum
and departed for Paris in the middle of March 1899 to continue working on El Filibusterismo,
his sequel to Noli Me Tangere. It was extremely difficult for a visitor to find living quarters
there. For a short period, Rizal lived in the house of his friend, Valentin Ventura. He
transferred residence several times, moving from one hotel to another.
From the Philippines came news that Noli Me Tangere was reaching farther and
farther every month. The book was setting the Filipinos on fire. The friars retaliated by
persecuting Rizal’s relatives and town.
Although life in Paris was gay, Rizal continued to be very busy. Hours were too
precious for him to waste. In his spare time, Rizal used to dine at the homes of his friends.
On December 25, 1889, Christmas Day, although Rizal lived a frugal life, he prepared
a sumptuous Christmas dinner for some of his friends. After a one-month stay, Rizal
prepared to go to Brussels in Belgium.
Rizal in Brussels
On January 28, 1890, Rizal left for Brussels, capital of Belgium. He left Paris for two
1. the cost of living in Paris was very high; and
2. the gay social life of the city hampered his literary works especially the writing of
his second novel, El Filibusterismo.
Rizal was accompanied by Jose Albert when he moved to Brussels. There Rizal
became busy writing his second novel which was a continuation of the Noli. Aside from this
hectic schedule, Rizal wrote articles for La Solidaridad and letters to his family and friends.
In Brussels, Rizal received news from Juan Luna and Valentin Ventura that many
Filipinos in Spain were involved in gambling. He wrote to M.H. del Pilar on May 28, 1890 to
remind the Filipinos in Madrid not to gamble, but to help work for their fatherland’s
While in Brussels, Rizal came to know Suzanne Jacoby or petite Suzanne who was
attracted to him. Like other women, Rizal ignored her, and when he left for Madrid she
Rizal Back in Madrid
In August 1890, Rizal arrived in Madrid. He tried all legal means to seek justice for his
family and the Calamba tenants but they were all to no avail. On top of his misfortune,
Leonor Rivera, whom he was engaged for eleven years, broke his heart by saying that her
mother was against their relationship.
Because of the disappointment in Madrid, Rizal took a vacation on the French
Basque Coast upon the invitation of the rich Boustead family. He had befriended Eduardo
Boustead when they met in Paris, where the latter was also with his two charming
daughters (Adelina and Nellie). It was here when he had serious romance with Nellie and
finished the last chapter of his second novel, El Filibusterismo. His one-month vacation
worked wonders for Rizal. He spent it in scenic beaches and the festive atmosphere made
him forget the bitter memories of Madrid. Rizal, having lost his beloved Leonor, came to
entertain considerable affection for Nellie whom he treated to be a real Filipina. He had
intention to propose marriage to her. Rizal’s marriage proposal failed because he did not
like to give up his Catholic faith; Nellie was a Protestant and besides, the parents of Nellie,
especially her mother, did not like Rizal as a son-in-law. Although they could not get
married, Rizal and Nellie parted as good friends.
From Madrid, he went back to Brussels where he became busy revising and polishing
the manuscript of El Filibusterismo. He went to Ghent where he searched for a printer for
his novel. At last on September 18, 1891, El Filibusterismo came off the press. Rizal, a very
happy man, sent two copies to Hong Kong – one for Basa and the other for Sixto Lopez. The
book was dedicated to the three Filipino priests who were executed in the Philippines.
After the publication of El Filibusterismo, Rizal left for Hong Kong where he lived
from November 1891 to June 1892. Rizal was convinced that he could accomplish nothing
further in Europe. Against his will he had been drawn into a political controversy among the
Filipinos. One Marcelo H. del Pliar. Friends of Del Pilar were beginning to print the kind of
attacks that always appear in political conflicts. Rizal resolved to take himself out of the
picture at once. He wrote to Del Pilar:
“I ought not to introduce division in this publication (La Solidaridad). I prefer to be
buried in solitude and isolation, rather than disturb the harmony and peace of its editors.”
He left Europe because life was unbearable and he really wanted to see his family
and his country. Rizal desired to get away from Europe for still another reason. Persistent
rumors reached him that some of the Filipinos in Madrid were getting money from the
Philippines by using his name, and then wasting and misappropriating it. Old Graciano Lopez
Jaena who had been the founder of La Solidaridad but had been jockeyed of his position and
left in poverty, wrote to Rizal urging him to help bring about the “downfall of these little
patriots who exploit patriotism for their own profit… We should swear to prevent, by every
means, the triumph of these false apostles of the salvation of the Philippines.” Rizal would
not then nor at any other time lift a finger against his countrymen, but he could not rest so
long as he was entangled with any affair which was in the slightest degree questionable. He
must get away!
Rizal Back in Hong Kong
Rizal sailed for Hong Kong on the S.S. Melbourne on October 18, 1891 and arrived in
Hong Kong on November 20, 1891. With him he carried eight hundred copies of the first
edition of El Filibusterismo, hoping that he might be able to introduce them into the
Philippines little by little, through ship captains, Chinese, or other travellers. Hong Kong was
clearly the right place to go, at least for the time being, not only because it was near the
Philippines but also because his dear friend Jose Ma. Basa was there who welcomed him
together with other Filipino residents. While in Hong Kong, Rizal sent a letter to his mother
asking permission to return home.
Rizal also had a plan of taking his relatives and the families who had been
dispossessed in Calamba to Borneo and there to establish a new Filipino colony under the
free British flag. He took a steamer from Hong Kong to Borneo. The British governor of that
Island conceded the Filipinos 100,000 acres of land, a beautiful harbor, and a good
government for 999 years, free of all charges.
Rizal began to gather his loved ones about him in Hong Kong in spite of many
difficulties. Rizal’s family composed of his father, mother, brother, and sisters who arrived
late had a reunion in Christmas of 1891. It was one of the happiest yuletide celebrations in
Rizal’s life. It was in Hong Kong where Rizal practiced his knowledge in ophthalmology. He
joined the clinic of a Portuguese physician Dr. Lorenzo Marquez who became his friend an
admirer. He had many patients and it was here where he successfully operated on his
mother’s left eye so she was able to read and write again. In due time, he became a
successful medical practitioner. He had many patients including British, Chinese,
Portuguese, and also Americans. Some of his friends who were in Europe gave him
substantial and moral aid in his medical practice in Hong Kong. Rizal possessed the quality of
a great ophthalmic surgeon. Had he devoted his lifetime to the practice of medicine he
would have become one of Asia’s eminent ophthalmologist.
Rizal’s Borneo project still remained. It alone promised to give his relatives and
neighbors relief. Besides, Borneo would be an admirable location from which to pursue the
process of education which he believed the Philippines needed the most.
However, in May 1892, Rizal made up his mind to return to Manila. Relatives and
friends of Rizal opposed his decision to return home. Not even fear of death could deter
Rizal from his decision. On June 19, 1892, he spent his 31st birthday in Hong Kong. He had a
premonition of his death for he wrote two letters, one addressed to his parents, brother,
and friends, and the second letter to the Filipinos. He gave them to his friend Dr. Marquez
for safekeeping and instructed him only to open the letter after his death.
Prelude to the Departure for Manila
With only two more days before his departure, Rizal wrote a number of letters.
These letters revealed his overwhelming feeling that he was returning home to give his life
for his country.
Governor General Weyler departed and a new Governor General named Eulogio
Despujol arrived in Manila. Despujol promulgated a fine-sounding program of reforms. Was
this the opportunity for which Rizal had been praying? Who was Governor Despujol? Was he
a friend or a traitor?
Despujol’s first few months in office gave Filipinos ground for hope. In him they
thought they saw the reverse of Valeriano Weyler—Despujol was a second Governor de la
Torre, the most liberal executive that the Philippines ever had in the nineteenth century. On
Despujol’s birthday, March 17, 1892, he rescinded an order banishing thirteen of the
seventeen relatives and followers of Rizal exiled in Jolo, capital of Sulu. A big fiesta was held
in Malacanan Palace. Hundreds of prominent Filipinos came tendering gifts, and to all of
them Despujol was the mirror of Castilian virtues, continually protesting that he did not
deserve such tokens of esteem and affection from the native population.
Rizal wrote the Governor General a beautiful letter of congratulations. Then he
offered the Governor General his aid, but no reply came from the Governor General. On the
contrary the persecution of Calamba continued unabated.
The replacement of Weyler by Eulogio Despujol late in 1891 heartened Filipino
nationalists, including Rizal, who immediately wrote a letter offering his services to the
government in the interest of justice and reform. The letter was never answered. The
following March Rizal again wrote a letter to Governor Despujol asking for official
permission to allow Filipinos to change their nationality and sell their holding in the
Philippines for the purpose of emigration to Borneo.
The next necessary step was to secure permission from the government for the
colonists to go. After waiting for three months for a reply to his first letter to the Governor
General and receiving no reply, Rizal wrote a second letter (March 22, 1892) and gave it a
sea captain who promised to deliver the letter in person to Governor General Despujol.
The Governor General did not grant him “the courtesy of a reply” in writing but sent
word by the Consul General in Hong Kong “that seeing how the Philippines lacked labor, it
was not very patriotic to go off and cultivate a foreign soil, and hence we cannot favor the
project, but we added that every Filipino was free, in any part of the Archipelago he chose,
to contribute to the prosperity of the country so long as he obeyed the laws.”
In Hong Kong he wrote on June 20, 1892, the first letter addressed to his beloved
parents and friends. The importance of the letter as well as the shortness of time made him
decide not to mail it. Instead he gave the letter to Dr. Lorenzo Pereyra Marquez, closed and
sealed for safekeeping, and so with the second letter addressed to his countrymen. They
constitute what has been called Rizal’s “Political Testament”. Because of their importance,
the two letters are herein reproduced in their entirety.
“Hong Kong, June 20,
To my beloved parents, brothers, and friends:
The love which I have always borne for you is what impels me to take this
step which whether or not it is wise, only the future can tell. The success of an act
is judged according to its consequences. Whether this step ends up favorably or
unfavorably, it shall be said that I was dictated by my sense of duty, and if I
perish in fulfilling it, it does not matter. I know that I have caused you much
suffering, but I am not sorry for what I have done, and if I had to begin all over
again I would do the same thing, becauseit is my duty. Gladly, I go to expose myself
to danger, not to expiate my faults for up toto this point I do not believe I have
committed any, but to crown and to attest with my example what I have always
taught: man should be willing to die for his duty and for his convictions. To this
moment I hold on to all the ideas I have expressed relative to the
state and the and the future of my country and I shall gladly die for her and, more
than that, to obtain justice and peace for you. Gladly, I risk my life in order to
save many innocent people, so many nephews and children of friends who suffer
because of me. What am I? A man alone, almost without a family, quite frustrated
in life. I have been disillusioned, and the future that faces me is, and will be a
dark future if it is not illuminated by the light and the dawn of my country. Since
there are many persons, full of hopes and dreams, who will perhaps rejoice at my
demise, I hope that my enemies will be satisfied and cease to persecute so many
innocent ones. Their hatred for me is, to a certain point justified, but not with
respect to my parents and relatives. If my fate is adverse then let it be known by all
that I shall die happy in the thought that with my death I have gained for them
the end of all sorrows. Go back to our country and may you be happy in her
blossom. Up to the last minute of my life I shall think of you and shall wish you all
Jose Rizal”
In this marvelous letter, Rizal has bequeathed to us an example in conduct,
upholding the principle that man should above all fulfill his duty, never to relinquish his
convictions, to the extent of giving up his life rather than renounce them. This declaration
serves as an example for his people as well as for all humanity, for despite the passing of the
years, if we today examine the multifarious aspects of Rizal’s ideas we see that they have
transcended time. The Spaniard Miguel Seruet, the Filipino Father, Gomez, who preferred
death rather than renounce his ideals, and the Italian Galileo, also offered their lives to the
service of their convictions. It appears that man needs to be reminded from time to time,
through the examples of extraordinary men,
so that this virtue of fidelity to duty and
conviction may stay ever vigorous through the ages.
In the case of Rizal he was overly confident that upon his death the persecution of
his family and friends would automatically cease. In truth, the moral and spiritual suffering
that his death was to inflict on them was greater than those they would have felt had he
lived on. The only explanation for this part of Rizal’s letter is his over ingenuous and trusting
The second letter overflows with patriotism and love for his compatriots. He repeats
the idea that with his death he would spare many innocent persons of unjust persecution.
The reader will perceive the allusion to the division among his collaborators, which reveals
that the old wound was reopened by Lete’s letter. The final words of the letter constitute
the poetic quintessence of his patriotism.
The second letter thus reads:
“Hong Kong, June 20,
To the Filipinos:
The step I have taken, or which I am about to take, is, without doubt, very
risky and, needless to say, I have given it much thought. I know that almost
everybody is against it; but I also know that very few are conscious of what lies in
my heart. I cannot live on knowing that because of me many are suffering
persecution; I cannot live on seeing my brothers and their numerous families
persecuted like criminals. I prefer to face death and gladly give my life if only to
free so many innocent people from such unjust persecution. I know at this point
that the future of my country hinges partly on my actuations; I know that with my
death many will triumph and that therefore many are wishing for my perdition.
But what can one do? I have my duties of conscience, first of all with the families
that suffer with my aged parents, whose sighs reach innermost heart; I know that I
alone can make them happy, even with my death, in order that they may return to
their native land and to the peace of their homes. I have no one but my parents,
but my country has many more sons who can take my place and who are now
taking my place to advantage. Furthermore, I want to know those who deny
us patriotism that we know how to die for our duties and for our convictions.
“What matters death if one dies for what one holds dearest; for one’s country
and for the people one loves?”
If I were sure that I am the only support of the political situation in
the Philippines, if I were sure that the Filipinos would utilize my services, I would
hesitate in taking this step. There are some who consider me unnecessary, and who
think that my services are not needed, hence they have rendered me inactive.
“I have always loved my unfortunate motherland … Whatever be my fate, I
shall die blessing her and wishing for the dawn of her redemption.”
Let these letters be published after my death.
Jose Rizal”
The next day, June 21, Rizal wrote Governor General Eulogio Despujol. The content
of the letter is as follows:
“Your Excellency:
This is to inform you that on this mail boat I am returning to my country; first,
to be at your disposal and, secondly, to attend to some private matters of mine. Both
friends and strangers have tried to dissuade me from taking this step, pointing out
the dangers to which I am exposing myself. But I have confidence in you Excellency’s
justice, which protects all the Spanish subjects in the Philippines. I have confidence
in the justness of my cause and my conscience is at peace; God and the law shall
guard me from pitfalls. For some time now my aged parents, relatives, friends as well
as persons unknown to me, have been cruelly persecuted because of me, they say. I
am, therefore, offering myself now; to answer for all such persecutions, to respond
to the charges they have against me, in order to put an end to this matter, so bitter
for the innocent and so sad for your government, which is desirous to be known for
In view of the silence which your Excellency has kept, with respect to my
previous letters, a silence which can only be attributed to the great gap between
your very elevated position and that of my humble self – for your great courtesy and
kindness is well known – I do not know if your Excellency would deem it proper that I
present myself without being called. I shall, therefore, wait in one of the hotels in
Manila, possibly the Hotel Oriente, just in case your Excellency wants something of
me, and to wait your orders. After two days, and if your Excellency has no objection,
I shall feel free to attend to my personal affairs, with the conviction that I have
complied with my duty towards the government and to my countrymen.”
The letter is very proper and respectful, but interwoven among the phrases, and
adorned with many compliments, there flows a sarcastic undercurrent. After citing
Despujol’s supposed justice, Rizal implies that because of him the innocent are persecuted,
for which reason he offers to answer for the charges. Finally, he points out the breach of
propriety in not having answered his two letters.
Rizal decided to go to Manila and see what could be done.
What was the point of Rizal in his proposed changing of his citizenship? Would the
change of his citizenship make him less of a hero and degrade his sense of Philippine
nationalism? The answer to this rhetoric is of course no. During that time the life of Rizal
was extremely low because of persecution to members of his family. In many instances
history witnessed extreme poverty and poor living condition of Rizal in his life in different
parts of Europe, yet he never gave up. But when the lives of the members of his family were
at stake, there was nothing he would not do for their sake. Yet in his heart and mind he
remained loyal and true to the cause of reforms. Indeed there is time for everything.
The Filipino value of love of family that was exhibited by Rizal in his time survived the
test of time. In the contemporary life, countless Filipino workers seek employment abroad
or even change their citizenship, but it does not mean that they do not love the Philippines
anymore; in fact, they are considered “Mga Bagong Bayani.”
The Arrival in Manila
Rizal made his preparations to leave for Manila in spite of the frantic opposition of
friends and relatives.
The day after writing the letters to his relatives and to the Filipinos, on June 21,
1892, Rizal sailed to Manila. Rizal arrived in Manila, accompanied by his sister Lucia on the
26th of June 1892. He bore with him passports and assurances of safe conduct in the
Philippines. The ship had barely hoisted anchor at Hong Kong when the Spanish Consul
General thereat cabled to Governor General Despujol that the victim “is in the trap.” The
Governor General ordered an inquiry to make sure that Rizal had not become a German
citizen, for to arrest a German would have caused international difficulties.
An accusation was at once filed against Rizal for anti-religious and anti-patriotic
campaigns of education. They thought they had outwitted him. They did not dream that he
had left two letters behind him anticipating their treachery.
When Jose and Lucia disembarked in Manila on Sunday, June 26, 1892, they were
met at the dock by several carabineers and a major. Their baggage was searched at the
customs house and then they were allowed to go without a word. But those who searched
the baggage carried to the office of the Governor General a “package of seditious paper,”
which they said they had found in the pillowcase of Lucia.
The package included copies of a tract called “The Poor Friars,” a caustic attack on
the Dominicans. This paper was called “seditious” though one will search in vain for the
slightest word against the government. In our day it would not be treasonous, but in that
period, when the State and Church were united, an insult to a religious order could be
construed as sedition. Besides, the religious orders in that period were the powers behind
the throne, seating and unseating officials at will.
Since there were no Filipinos who came to meet Rizal, there was no sense in that
manifestation of force. The disguised sergeant followed Rizal and his sister to find where
they were going to stay. They registered at the Hotel del Oriente, the best and the most
modern hotel at that time.
In the afternoon of four o’clock, Rizal proceeded to Malacanan Palace, residence of
Governor General Eulogio Despujol. When he arrived in Manila, he announced a series of
reforms, which created a certain wave of popularity in his favor. Now, the General sent
words to Rizal that he could not receive him at the moment, but requested him to come
back at seven o’clock in the evening. At that hour, the interview started, and as a result
Despujol annulled the deportation of Rizal’s father, but not that of his brother nor his
brother-in-law, Antonio Lopez. Another meeting was arranged for Wednesday, the 29 th or
three days later. From Malacanan, he proceeded to see his sisters Narcisa and Saturnina.
On the following day, Rizal left by train to visit various towns where some of his
companions in Spain resided, among them Pedro Serrano Laktaw, Timoteo Paez, and the
parents of Valentin Ventura, who had collaborated with him in financing, El Filibusterismo.
He was gone only two days. He failed to notice that he was being followed by the police.
On Wednesday, the 29th, he went to Malacanan for his appointment with the
Governor General. The interview lasted for two hours. He did not succeed in obtaining the
freedom of his brother; he left with the prospect of succeeding in the near future.
On Thursday, he had another meeting with Despujol. This time, the matter on the
Borneo settlement was taken up. Despujol expressed strong opposition to the idea. What is
surprising is that Rizal had hoped for the acceptance of the project. The Governor General
offered lands, a league and a half from Calamba. In this particular session, Despujol annulled
the deportation of Rizal’s brother, and on Sunday, July 3, Rizal went personally to thank the
Governor, and to inform him that his father and brothers were arriving by the first boat
available. Rizal had written to Hong Kong instructing the men to come first, to be followed
by the women later.
The General then inquired whether or not Rizal wanted to return to Hong Kong. Rizal
replied affirmatively. The meeting ended up with an agreement to resume talks the
following Wednesday, July 6.
On the night of July 3, Sunday, a week after Rizal’s arrival, the La Liga Filipina was
formally established at the house of Doroteo Ongjunco. His friends wanted to call it “The
Rizal Party,” but he would not hear it. While still in Hong Kong, Rizal, his friend Basa, and
others had prepared the details of the plan and had had many copies sent to the Philippines
for critical study. Now that he had reached Manila, he wasted no time in organizing the new
League. Its constitution named these five purposes:
1. Unity of the whole archipelago into one compact, vigorous and homogeneous
2. Mutual protection in every grievance and need
3. Defense against violence and injustice
4. Encouragement of instruction, industrial, and agricultural enterprises
5. The study of reforms, putting them into practice
Though the League constitution contained not one seditious sentence, the fact that
it began among members of the Masonic Order in Manila and that it was as a secret
organization somewhat resembling Masonry was enough to bring it under the suspicion of
the government. It contained provisions which a despotic government would find
intolerable such as:
1. Guard in absolute secrecy the decisions of the League Councils
2. Not submit to humiliation nor treat anybody with disdain
3. Obey unquestioningly and punctually every command that emanates from a
League Councilor or a Chief
On July 5, Tuesday, all the houses Rizal had previously visited were searched by the
police. Suspicion arose from the fact that all the houses visited by him were inhabited by
Masons. The police found some denunciations against the friars, some Masonic signs, and
some copies of the Noli and Fili. The worst fear was confirmed. Rizal’s steps had been
constantly tracked.
On July 7, Jose was summoned to Malacanan. Nothing was said at that time about
the La Liga Filipina, for that would have revealed the espionage which had been going on.
The Governor had another excuse.
Despujol asked him again whether he still wished to return to Hong Kong and again
Rizal replied in the affirmative. Then, taking up another topic, Despujol inquired if he had
brought in his baggage some leaflets against the friars. Rizal emphatically denied it. Despujol
showed him one of the leaflets which allegedly had been found inside suitcases in his room
at the Hotel del Oriente. He then asked Rizal to whom the pillows and mats belonged, and
latter answered “To my sister …” The General concluded that Rizal was trying to throw the
blame on his sister Lucia. This was, of course utterly improbable. Such conduct was
contradictory to, and unworthy of a man who did not fear death, as proven by the act of
presenting himself in the Philippines despite all the perils and in spite of all the advice to the
Despujol then informed Rizal that he was under arrest as of that moment, and that
his nephew and assistant, Ramon Despujol, would escort him in the palace coast to Fort
Santiago. He had the means to discredit Rizal and to render him impotent for it was thought
that his further stay in Manila was indeed dangerous.
From July 6 to 14, he was in a state of incommunicado. During those nine days, there
were three forces that exerted various pressures on the Governor to influence the
Governor’s decision on the fate of the prisoner.
The same night that Rizal was held incommunicado at Fort Santiago, a group of
resolute men secretly met in the house of Deodato Arellano. The group was composed of
Arellano himself, Andres Bonifacio, Valentin Diaz, Teodoro Plata, Jose Dizon, and Ladislao
Diwa. It has been said that it was at this meeting that the Katipunan was founded. One
might say that while the Katipunan was coming to life, La Liga Filipina, with its program of
deferred action was dying. Rizal did not have any participation in the Katipunan.
Lesson 6
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. analyze the factors that led to Rizal’s execution and
2. analyze the effects of Rizal’s execution on Spanish colonial rule and the Philippine
Rizal Nailed His Own Coffin
All the newspapers in Manila published the long curious decree of the Governor
General, bearing the three charges that sent Rizal into exile.
1. During his “voluntary exile,” he had published books and proclamations of very
doubtful loyalty to Spain, which are not only frankly anti-Catholic, but imprudently
anti-friar, and introduced these into the Archipelago.
2. A few hours after his arrival in the Philippines, there was found on one of the
packages belonging to the said subject a bundle of handbills entitled “The Poor
Friars” in which the patient and humble generosity of the Filipinos was satirized and
in which accusations were published against the customs of the religious orders.
3. His last book El Filibusterismo was dedicated to the memory of three traitors to their
country (Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora), but extolled by him as martyrs, while in the
epigraph of the title page of said book was the doctrine that because of the vices and
errors of the Spanish administration, there was no other salvation for the Philippines
than separation from the mother country. The end which he pursued in his efforts
and writings was to tear from the loyal Filipino breasts the treasure of our holy
Catholic faith.
It is interesting that three of the charges were religious, and only one was political. In
those days an insult to the clergy was a crime against the state.
Rizal Deported to Dapitan
Rizal was visited by the nephew of Despujol to inform him that at ten o’clock that
night he was to leave for Dapitan. Rizal prepared his baggage, but when the men who were
suppose to take him did not come at the appointed time, he went to sleep, an indication
that he was not worried at all. This equanimity of Rizal could perhaps be explained by his
strong fatalism, a fact shown in the letter he had written that day to his family, where he
reiterated that “Wherever I go, I shall always be in the hands of God, in whose hand lie the
destinies of all men.” Rizal did not elaborate, in spite of the fact that Nellie Boustead had
once said, “He leaves us the duty to protect ourselves and He wants His children to take
care of themselves and not to wait, with arms folded, for His Help.”
At 12:15 in the morning they woke him up; the attendant took him to the sea wall in
the same coach that had taken him to Fort Santiago. In spite of the unholy hour, General
Ahumada, next in rank to Despujol showed up, together with some other persons. In the
ferryboat were another assistant and two other individuals of the Guardia Civil. Only after
the Cebu had gone past Corregidor Island did the captain open the sealed letter and read
the instructions therein. According to the letter, only Gen. Ahumada, the nephew of
Despujol, and Father Pablo Pastells, superior of the Jesuit Mission in the Philippines, knew
the destination of the deportee. We know now with the letter just transcribed that Rizal
also knew it.
On Sunday, July 17, 1892, at seven in the evening, they arrived in Dapitan. This was
the beginning of an epoch of Rizal’s life which was to last four years. The climate, the
solitude, the lack of social relationship, the heavy feeling of injustice committed against him
– all these hung heavily on him and left their imprint on his very sensitive spirit.
The small town to which Rizal was in exile was a little port situated on Dapitan Bay at
the northern coast of the island of Mindanao. It was previously under the care of Recollects
but later its jurisdiction was taken over by the Jesuits. Dapitan then constituted a politicomilitary district, with the category of a commander’s headquarters.
The captain of the Cebu carried instructions for Captain Ricardo Carnicero regarding
the treatment of the deportee. According to the instructions, Rizal was to be given the
option to live in Captain Carnicero’s house or in the mission house of Fr. Francisco P.
Sanchez, the Jesuit missionary. Rizal opted for the latter, but quickly changed his mind when
Father Obach, following the instructions of the superior, Father Pastells, informed him that
if he was to stay with them, he had to conform to the following conditions:
1. That Rizal publicly retracted his errors concerning religion and made statements
that were clearly pro-Spanish and against revolution
2. That he performed the church rites and made general confession of his past life
3. That henceforth he conducted himself in exemplary manner as a Spanish subject
and a man of religion
The fact that as soon as Rizal arrived, Father Obach had these instructions ready is proof
that there was connivance all along between Father Pastells and Despujol.
Since Rizal did not agree to the conditions, he was placed in the home of Captain
Carnicero. Dapitan a beautiful spot with a slow pace of life, was an ideal retirement place.
For Rizal it was a prison with a beautiful garden, elegant town square, and friendly local
people. Because he was no longer actively in the middle of Philippine politics, Rizal grew
increasingly hostile and distant to many revolutionaries.
In Dapitan, two tasks were simultaneously undertaken by Carnicero, with whom
Rizal stayed and Father Obach. The former’s task was to soften Rizal; the latter was to
convert him. Both of them, however, underestimated the dimensions of Rizal’s character.
With his good nature, his natural charisma, his propriety, his neat and stylish looks, he
gradually won the confidence of the captain. But Carnicero took advantage of this to get to
know the thinking of Rizal, his projects, which later he transmitted to Despujol in his report.
The first of these reports was dated August 20, 1892. It began with a transcribed
conversation with the deportee. Carnicero reported Rizal’s conviction that the leaflets found
in the pillows of his sister were placed there in Manila. If Rizal, however, were the one
interested in smuggling them into Manila, he would have placed them close to his person,
or probably in his socks. He added that he could seek the help of Pi y Margall or Linares
Rivera as lawyer but he did not wish to create obstacles in their campaign for reforms for
the Philippines. Rizal did not know that all Europe and the Archipelago were informed of his
Captain Carnicero continued with the report in the manner of a conversation: What
were the reforms desired by Rizal? He replied: representation in the Cortes; secularization
of the friars; the provision of curates from among both peninsulares and the insular clergy;
the implementation of primary instruction; the filling up of positions or assignments in equal
proportions between Filipinos and peninsulares; and finally, the setting up of a clean and
honest administration.
On the 21st of September 1892, Carnicero sent his second report on Rizal to
Despujol. He informed him that he had forgotten to include something in his previous
communication: the fact that among the reforms desired by Rizal was freedom of religion
and freedom of the press. He also reported that Father Obach had informed Rizal of the
acquittal of those involved in the Calamba case including Paciano. The deportee,
meanwhile, thought of acquiring lands and building a house.
In September also, an unexpected fortune came along to provide the funds needed
for the projected improvements and planting of crops. Rizal won the second prize in the
lottery. The prize was shared equally: one third for Carnicero, another Spaniard (residing in
Dipolog), and Rizal himself. Each won a little more than P6,000. A good son and a grateful
soul, he notified his mother in Hong Kong that he had sent P2,000 to his father after paying
a few small debts in Manila. With the rest, he planned to build a small house in Dapitan. He
told them also that he had sent Basa P200.
From Rizal’s letter to his family, we learned that Dapitan had 6,000 inhabitants at the
time, but that it had neither electric light nor an adequate water system. The food supply
was very inadequate in spite of the abundance of fish in its waters.
Early in 1893, Rizal left his quarters with the Captain, having been granted some
lands a kilometer away from Dapitan. He now had his own hacienda, with lanzones,
mangoes, cacao, santol, and mangosteen. The site of his new home was called Talisay.
In March 8, Rizal’s own house was completed. It was simply constructed with nipa
roof, post and rafters of unhewn wood, as he himself describes it in his poem “Mi Retiro”.
Since there was no regular supply of fish for the town’s consumption, he went into
partnership with the Spaniard Miranda in a fishing project.
In the first few months of 1893, many changes took place. Father Pastells was
replaced by Father Ricart. In February, Father Sanchez’ term in Dapitan came to an end. In
May 4, Carnicero left for Manila, a result of pressure exerted by the new Jesuit superior who
blamed the failure of the attempts to convert Rizal on Carnicero’s liberal thinking as well as
his overly generous treatment of the rebel. Carnicero had treated Rizal with rigor, tempered
with humanness.
The Minister of the Colony, Maura, asked Despujol to resign, and when the latter
refused, Maura dismissed him. The Jesuits’ action to have Despujol removed may have been
based on the fact that he had ordered the investigation of the notorious anti-friar leaflets
which were discovered and printed at the printing press of the friars. This was the reason
for the deportation of Rizal.
The incarceration of Rizal coincided with the rise of the revolutionary Katipunan.
When Andres Bonifacio founded the Katipunan, he did so because he believed that Rizal
was no longer an effective revolutionary. But Rizal was still an important patriot, so
Bonifacio listed Risal as honorary president of the Katipunan. Rizal’s exile ended his chances
to partake in the coming revolution. He would remain the ideological head of Philippine
nationalism and the catalyst to the independence movement. As a participant, however,
Rizal was doomed by his writings, his speeches, and his refusal to recant his nationalistic
ideas. In Dapitan he became a symbol of all that was unjust about Spanish rule.
For three years there were continued rumors that the Katipunan would rescue, (or
perhaps escape) Rizal. But these were simply rumors and Rizal was never seized. Dapitan
turned out to be a pleasant exile. The Jesuits often referred to it as one of the most civilized
places in Asia.
Juan Sitges
Juan Sitges the new politico-military captain, aside from being a captain of the
infantry, was a physician, but in spite of this common circumstance which should have led to
a fellowship between him and Rizal, their relationship was distant, either because of
instructions he received or because he had learned that Carnicero was removed precisely
because of his intimacy with Rizal. Rizal stopped taking his meals at the captain’s house as
he used to do. He had to report frequently at headquarters and so had to live in a nearby
house. These and other security measures were adopted by Sitges.
In his report to Ochando, Sitges said that in spite of the distance he set between
himself and Rizal, the latter seemed to like him, making a good impression on the
commandant. This is another proof of the naturally pleasing personality of our hero.
As time passed, Sitges became more liberal with the prisoner. He was to report only
once a week now, and his mail was no longer censored. The family was reunited. Jose lived
with his sisters and mother in the square house; “his boys” or students of Arithmetic,
Spanish, English, in the octagonal house, and his chicken in the hexagonal house. All in all,
there were three houses; all of them made of bamboo, wood, and nipa.
It can be said that Rizal’s exile was not as painful as to be imprisoned today. Rizal
was loved by the local people; he was able to influence the thinking of the captain who
shared the view that Rizal needed his personal freedom; his books and ideas became more
popular; he was able to practice medicine and made a nice living.
He wrote to Blumentritt that “he had made thousands of dollars.” Rizal also formed
an agricultural land fishing commune to improve the local economy. A school was also
founded and Rizal taught the European ideas for which he was condemned.
Rizal’s life went on as before: teaching his boys as he called them, attending to the
sick, treating fractures with rattan and bamboo, and gradually falling into a state of
depression. What is surprising is that he did not have a nervous breakdown.
Josephine Bracken
Rizal’s daily life continued without change. The only novelty being his project of
constructing a water dike and reservoir. He was helped by 14 boys who, in exchange for
gratuitous help from Rizal, worked for him. He also put up a water conveyor system out of
the primitive materials available then: bamboo, bricks, and mortar. This conducted the
water to a fountain with a lion’s head of clay molded by Rizal himself.
The last days of February 1893, three passengers arrived; one of whom would
change the monotonous life of Rizal in Dapitan. The newcomers were George Taufer;
Josephine Bracken, his adopted daughter; and Manuela Orlac, a friend of a churchman from
the Cathedral of Manila. Taufer had lived in the vicinity where Rizal’s family had stayed in
Hong Kong, and he knew him by reference. He presented himself with a letter of
introduction from Julio Llorente who recommended that Rizal treat him.
Taufer who came from Hong Kong was blind. He was about 65 years old, and last 25
years were spent in Hong Kong. He had gone there as a sailor, working in the machine shop
of the fire brigade. During his first year in Hong Kong, he had a daughter by a Chinese
woman. Two years later, Taufer married a Portuguese woman from Macao whose child,
Sara, was brought up and educated as a daughter of the family. He had no children by the
Portuguese woman. This was fortunate, according to Coates, for Taufer was a syphilitic. Six
years after his marriage in 1876, he adopted the daughter of an English soldier by a Chinese
woman. The soldier was a married man; when his wife died, he registered his illegitimate
child, Josephine Bracken, as the legitimate daughter of his recently deceased wife.
The arrival of Taufer and company disturbed the peaceful life of Rizal. Taufer’s
blindness was not due to a cataract according to Rizal. It might have been due to a
complication of the nervous system brought about by his syphilitic condition. In a letter to
Blumentritt, Rizal wrote that the disease was incurable.
Rizal observed Josephine day by day and with his natural intuition, his confidence in
her grew as time passed. He was by nature inclined to fall in love; this time it was a
combination of physical and spiritual attraction. In that situation of stress, he could not help
but be attracted to her more so because he was a man, 33 years of age without any known
sexual experience. Thus love flourished day by day.
Taufer left for Hong Kong blind, alone and abandoned, in search of death, which
misery was to precipitate. This act of abandonment does not speak well of Josephine, but
one has to consider the fact that Taufer had attempted to set aside the respect due to the
daughter, even if only an adopted one.
Taufer as we know was blind but not deaf. It is a known fact that when one sense is
lacking, other senses are sharpened. The old man soon realized that Rizal and Josephine
were in love. He wanted to find out the truth, and when he did, he threatened to take his
life with a razor which he had in his hand unless they swore to break up their relations. Rizal
was able to snatch the razor away from him. This incident which could have ended in
tragedy broke up the engagement of Josephine with Rizal, but it did not leave him without
hope. She accompanied Taufer to Manila.
The sisters of Rizal did not favor the union because they feared for his safety in view
of the friendship between Josephine and Miss Orlac. Neither did they approve of their union
without the sanction of the Church. But Rizal’s letter put her within the family circle,
because of their regard and love for Jose.
In the middle of May 1894, when Josephine returned from Manila, Rizal went to see
Father Obach about their marriage. The reply was harsh: If there was no retraction there
would be no marriage. The Bishop of Cebu was consulted, for the parish belonged to that
diocese. The bishop supported the decision of Obach. Rizal sent a draft of retraction,
without signature, but the Bishop rejected the draft.
Rizal allowed matters to ride over, living with Josephine and considering her, until his
death, as his wife. With great tolerance, his mother said it was better to be united in the
grace of God than to be married in a state of mortal sin. Owing to the troubled atmosphere
in which she had lived, Josephine lacked the delicate refinement and social graces which
characterized the family of Jose, and the culture of her sisters-in-law. She had been
suspected of being a spy, but after she fell in love with Jose, such suspicion was found to be
without basis. In his letters to his family, Rizal always had good words for her saying that she
was industrious, good, obedient, and docile.
Coates stated that Josephine became pregnant during the last part of 1895, but as a
consequence of some incident which frightened her, she had a miscarriage. This
unfortunate happening filled her cup of sorrow to the brim.
The year 1896 began with bitter events for Rizal. He wrote his mother that he had
many enemies and that they were working for the extension of his stay in Dapitan. In July
1896, Governor Blanco sent a communication to Rizal acceding to his wishes of going to
Cuba as a physician of the Military Health Corps.
The other event was the arrival in Dapitan of PIo Valenzuela, a young doctor, a
revolutionary, the only affiliate of the Katipunan known to have had a university education.
Valenzuela informed Rizal that the group had 43,000 members of the organizational
structure, the arms in their possession, as well as those they planned to appropriate from
the government armories.
Rizal saw that the constituents of the Katipunan were mostly townspeople without
any educational preparation. This opposed Rizal’s concept that revolution should be
directed by the intellectual elite, who were to lead and guide the people.
Valenzuela invited Rizal to head the revolution, for which purpose they would
arrange for his escape. Whether or not he accepted the leadership, when the revolt broke
out, reprisal against him was inevitable.
Rizal rejected the invitation, for in his opinion they lacked the necessary logistics –
money, forces, prepared plans to guarantee the success of the revolt, for which reasons he
considered the plan premature.
On the 30th of July 1896, Rizal received a notification to appear before Governor
General Blanco in connection with a letter of recommendation. In the home of the Rizal’s,
the news was received with rejoicing. Since the boat was leaving the next day and he could
not possibly settle his affairs within 24 hours, he inquired form the captain whether he
could take the next boat. However, upon returning home and exchanging views with his
family, he decided to leave the next day after all, even if he could not sell his property.
Rizal did not explain his sudden decision but it had something to do with the
imminent insurrection and the possibility of his being implicated when he had no
participation in it.
This was confirmed in his letter to Blumentritt.
From Dapitan to Manila
At midnight on the 31st of July 1896, Rizal was on the Espana boat on the way to
Cuba. He was accompanied by his sisters Narcisa and Josefa and his niece Angelica Lopez,
with his three nephews and three boys.
His departure was a grand event – the whole town saw him off without any urging.
The town band was there. As the hour of sailing approached, more and more people filled
the port. Rizal felt deeply touched.
When Rizal boarded the banca which to take him to Spain, the band struck Chopin’s
Marcha Funebre. Was this the mourning hymn of Dapitan for the loss of Rizal? Yes, and at
the same time it seemed an omen to the tragic destiny of the hero, who was not on the way
to Cuba, but on the way to his death.
On the 6th of August, Rizal arrived in Manila. To his surprise and disgust, he learned
that the mailboat Isla de Luzon had sailed a few hours earlier.
As soon as the boat docked, a guardia civil relayed the orders from the Governor
General that Rizal must not be allowed to disembark. Soon after, his mother and sisters
Lucia, Trinidad, and Maria and several of his nephews came to see him. The guard returned
saying that he was to keep him company and that at 7:30 a.m. they would take him to the
commandant’s office.
At the stated hour, nobody arrived, but at ten o’clock in the evening the same guard
came to inform him that the Governor General had changed the itinerary and that he was to
transfer to the cruiser Castilla, anchored in Cavite.
Rizal’s arrival at the Castilla was announced to the commandant who received him in
his office. After kindly offering him a chair, he informed him of the Governor General’s order
that he was to be detained but not imprisoned so as to avoid the displeasure of both friends
and enemies. With his usual good nature, Rizal thanked the captain. He was given a good
cabin which he occupied until September 2 when he was transferred to the Isla de Panay.
On the 13th of August, Rizal received news that hurt his soul. Jo – as he called
Josephine – had written him of her exchange of words with one of his sisters, arising from
some remarks referring to their unmarried state. She made an exception of Narcisa and his
parents. Though deeply in love with Jose, she generously told him that if he met a girl in
Spain, he should marry her. It was better for him to get married and not live together as
they did. This way his sisters would be ashamed of him. The replies of Rizal to Josephine are
included in the Epistolario, but it is evident that he wrote to her.
Two days later, the Revolution broke out. It began with the historic cry of
Balintawak, a suburb of Manila. Father Mariano Gil, parish priest of Tondo, a barrio of
Manila, had discovered the Katipunan. The outbreak of hostilities was precipitated by this
The Filipino insurgents gained victories in the area of Cavite. Rizal must have heard
the booming of the guns from the Castilla, which was moored opposite Caloocan, a town
which together with many others came under the power of the insurgents. In August 30,
there was a great battle in Santa Mesa and in Mandaluyong, which initiated the attack on
Manila. The Governor General had to move out of Malacanan Palace to Santa Potenciana.
Departure for Spain
On the 2nd of September 1896, Rizal was transferred to the mailboat Isla de Panay. A
friend presented him to the captain who attended to him kindly and assigned him a private
cabin, which according to Rizal could not have been better. These were the external
On the day of the departure of Isla de Panay, the wealthy businessman Pedro Roxas,
accompanied by his son, boarded the ship. The Roxases dined in the dining room with Rizal
at the captain’s side. He suspected nothing, possibly because he was being closely guarded.
On the other hand, the fact that he was on board should have prevented his being
responsible for the events connected with the uprising.
The next day, the 8th, was a crucial day for our hero. The Isla de Panay arrived in
Singapore. Had Rizal known of the secret communications and the coded telegrams,
perhaps he would have remained in the British colony. But he had given his word and he
had two letters from the Governor General of the Philippines which in his belief were a
strong endorsement. Several Filipinos headed by Don Manuel Camus came on board
attempting to convince him to stay, but they did not succeed in making him break his
promise. They had even arranged to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus if Rizal
acceded, but Rizal had decided to proceed with the trip.
The destiny of Rizal had been decided. From then on, he would no longer be able to
extricate himself from the trap in which he had found himself. He had been chosen to be
the sacrificial lamb, a role he would play with dignity up to the last moment of his life.
On the 12th of September, the Minister of the Colonies sent another communication
to the Government, with the information that Rizal had left Isla de Panay boat for Barcelona
with the instructions from the Governor General.
On the 28th, Rizal wrote to Blumentritt, his close friend. In the letter, he wrote that a
passenger had given him an almost unbelievable information which, if it were true, would
be the end of the prestige of the authorities in the Philippines. In it, he related the entire
series of events regarding the petition and the authorization to go to Cuba. Then, for the
first and last time in his life, he hurled a strong invective at another – Blanco. He insisted
that he had nothing to do with the insurrection, as Blanco himself had stated. With dramatic
impact, he concluded the letter: “I have offered to serve as a physician, risking my life in the
dangers of war and leaving all my affairs and my business; I am innocent. And now, in
return, they send me to prison.”
The Isla de Panay arrived in Barcelona on October 3, 1896. In accordance with the
rules enforced, nobody disembarked for three days during which the boat would be under
observation. Rizal was watched by three pairs of guards and was forbidden to communicate
with anybody.
On the same date, three days after the issuance of the Royal Order deporting Rizal to
Alhucemas (Ceuta in Spanish Morocco), the Minister of War course a telegram to the
Governor General of the Philippines asking the responsibility of Rizal in the insurrection and
as to the treatment of the said deportee.
The response of the Governor General was to close forever all possibility of saving
Rizal’s life.
From Barcelona to Manila on Board the Colon
Rizal was treated with consideration on board, except or a minor officer who was
ignorant of the circumstances. Three days earlier, on the 3rd of October 1896, the Minister
of War had wired Despujol that in accordance with the instructions from the President of
the Council and Minister of the Colonies, he should be allowed communication and
correspondence and treated with such consideration as allowed by security reasons.
In the Philippines, meanwhile, the revolution was fast spreading. It is an established
fact that the root cause was the abuse of power in all levels, but the Filipino people rose up
principally against the friars to interfere in politics, particularly the raising of the amount of
the canon which the tenants of the lands had to pay regardless of economic and weather
contingencies and of the plagues which broke out.
On the 8th of October 1896, an officer informed him that a newspaper in Madrid held
him responsible for the insurrection. This disturbed him very much. On the 9th of October
1896, he noted down in his Diario the speculations about his future. The notes express in
summary, his concepts regarding his destiny, his attitude toward life, and the judgment of
posterity. He believed that this is a blessing from God, to return to his country and be able
to answer all the accusations against him. For either they do him justice recognizing his
innocence or condemn him to death. He thought that what was happening to him was for
the best. It was God’s will.
Once again Rizal bared his thoughts, pervaded by an acceptance of martyrdom as
part of a historic destiny as savior of his country, his fatalism and his conformity to the will
of God. His understanding of his fate, together with the concept of predestination and the
divine will, gave him strength and prevented him from falling into despair. On the 9 th of
October, he wrote a note in German in his Diario, in which, after saying that God’s will be
done, he added “I am happy and ready.” Not many years before, he himself had chosen the
pseudonym Laong Laan which means “predestined” or “prepared long ago.”
On the 24th of October 1896, the Colon arrived in Singapore. They placed him behind
bars 16 hours before arrival instead of the usual four. In his stopover, an attempt was made
to save Rizal. Regidor, a Filipino lawyer residing in London, made efforts to save his friend.
Charles Burton, English lawyer and solicitor of Singapore, submitted a written declaration
stating that Rizal bore two letters of introduction, to the effect that he was not involved in
the insurrection and that the Spanish Constitution prohibited imprisonment without order
of the judge prosecutor. The English law authorized anybody to ask for the freedom of Rizal
while he was in English territory, in exercise of the right of habeas corpus. As to be
expected, the results were negative. On the 3rd of November, he arrived in Manila.
Fort Santiago
Closely guarded, Rizal was transferred to Fort Santiago, a fortress which he already
knew, for it was there that they took him in 1892 before taking him to Dapitan. An
anteroom and an adjacent bedroom comprised his cell. He was held incommunicado. This
time his relations with the wardens assigned to him were rigorously controlled. He knew
nothing of what was happening outside and could not plan his course of action.
Blanco had named Col. Francisco Olive judge advocate in charge of the general
proceedings against the insurrection. This man was always showing up in Rizal’s way. He had
taken the declarations of numerous detainees in an attempt to find out the names of
supposed organizers and accomplices, the possible relations between Rizal and the
In addition to the declarations, there were documents mainly letters from those
involved in the rebellion, previous to and after the founding of the Katipunan. Another
factor unfavorable to Rizal was the atmosphere prevailing in Manila, especially among the
wealthy Spaniards, including the friars. It was not only the risk of losing their material
possessions, acquired through many years, and accumulated through generations that
moved them.
The Preliminary Investigation
The trial of Jose Rizal began forty days before his execution with a preliminary
investigation on November 20, 1896, without benefit of counsel or the right to confront his
accusers. The investigator, Juez de Instruccion, was Col. Francisco Olive.
In the legal preliminaries, the prisoner gave his name as Jose Rizal Mercado y Alonso,
native of Calamba, Laguna, of age, single, never before subjected to criminal prosecution.
The questioning on the first day of investigation centered on two points: first,
whether Rizal knew certain individuals and what his relations were with them; second,
Rizal’s subversive activities in Madrid and in the Philippines.
Rizal appeared before Colonel Olive and read the documents pertinent to the case.
The documentary “proofs” gathered by Olive consisted of letters found during the searches
made in the houses of suspected organizers of the Katipunan. Most of the documents did
not constitute proof against Rizal at all, since he never talked of separatism nor of
insurrection. There were some Masonic letters mentioning the matter of liberty, of
oppression, as well as some protests against deportation without trial. Also among the
papers were the lyrics of a Kundiman allegedly written by Rizal but were really from Pedro
Paterno’s pen. In addition were the testimonies of detainees from September to November
1896. Two of these were those of Aguedo del Rosario and Francisco Quizon who indicated
that Rizal was the honorary president of the Katipunan and this his picture presided over the
session hall. This does not actually signify Rizal’s knowledge or approval of the Katipunan for
the reason that Rizal was already in Dapitan when the Katipunan began its operations.
For five days, Olive interrogated Rizal regarding all the points in which, it appeared,
he was implicated, based on documents and testimonies. The first name mentioned was Pio
Valenzuela. Did Rizal know Valenzuela, were they relatives, were they on friendly or
unfriendly terms, did Rizal consider him a suspicious character? Obviously the authorities
had known of Valenzuela’s visit to Rizal in Dapitan. They also knew him to be among the top
leaders of the Katipunan and considered Rizal’s relationship with him as the most
Rizal answered that Don Pio had brought him a patient with an eye ailment. Rizal
had not known Valenzuela before, but he considered him a friend in view of the courtesies
he had shown to members of Rizal’s family during the voyage from Manila. And so Don Pio
had brought Rizal a gift: a portable medicine chest (one physician’s gift to another, for
Valenzuela was himself a physician). When Olive asked whether Valenzuela had gone to
Dapitan on a mission, Rizal replied that the former told him that an uprising was in the
offing, and they were concerned about what might happen to Rizal in Dapitan. To which
Rizal replied that an uprising would be disastrous. He added that he had expressed his
opinion that was not the opportune time for they lacked education, arms and ships; that the
case of Cuba should be taken as a lesson; that it was to the interest of Spain to grant
concessions and institute reforms. Therefore, it would be better to wait.
It should be noted that Rizal did not condemn a revolution as such. What he
deplored was to attempt one when people were not ready. That would only lead to disaster.
Later in the investigation, the Spanish authorities would note (and condemn) that attitude
of Rizal.
The investigator then mentioned other names, asking the same question as in the
case of Pio Valenzuela. The majority of the individuals mentioned were unknown to Rizal. In
most cases he had not even heard of them and did not know them personally. For instance,
when he was asked if he knew the detainees who had given testimonies implicating him in
the rebellion. that he had bought a pair of shoes from a bazaar said to be owned by a man
named Salazar, but he did not know him personally nor did he know if the name was
One of those whom Rizal said he did not know and had not even heard of was
Apolinario Mabini. He said that he knew him neither personally nor by name.
There were individuals whom Rizal had known slightly. For instance, asked if he
knew the brothers Alejandro and Venancio Reyes who owned a tailoring shop in Escolta, he
said that he had a schoolmate named Reyes who now owned a tailoring shop in that street
where he had a suit made, but they were not personal friends.
He admitted having met Moises Salvador in Madrid as a fellow countryman. Moises
had introduced Rizal to his father Ambrosio. The rest whom Rizal admitted knowing and
with whom he had some dealings were:
Arcadio del Rosario – Rizal said that he had known him as a boy, and later, also in
Madrid where they had some contact.
Deodato Arellano - brother-in-law of Marcelo H. del Pilar. In 1887, during Rizal’s
first return to the Philippines, Arellano had come to congratulate Rizal about Noli Me
Tangere . But later Arellano had turned hostile to him to the extent that he was quoted as
saying it was a good thing Rizal had been deported to Dapitan owing to the differences
between him (Arellano) and del Pilar.
Pedro Serrano – (known today as Pedro Serrano Lactaw, author of the scholarly
Tagalog-Spanish Dictionary). He was also one of those whom Rizal met for the first time in
1887, and for a tie they were on friendly terms, but later Serrano had also turned hostile to
Temoteo Paez – Rizal said that Paez had been introduced to him by Pedro Serrano in
1892, at the time of Rizal’s second return to the Philippines. But Paez later also turned
hostile to him.
When asked whether he had organized an association La Liga Filipina in Madrid, Rizal
replied affirmatively, but said that the ends of the association were to promote discipline
among the members. Asked whether there was a relationship between La Liga and La
Solidaridad, he replied that the two were independent from each other and that del Pilar
worked for the union of these two, and he had left for Paris. He added that the La Liga did
not have any political leanings and that politics was the concern of La Solidaridad which was
not under his direction. When asked if he had written the by-laws of La Liga, he answered in
the affirmative, specifying that the ends were to promote unity among Filipinos and to
promote commerce and the cooperative system in business, but without political
Olive gave special attention to the meeting in the house of Ongjunco. Rizal admitted
having attended the meeting for there were some Filipinos who wished to know him. The
topics discussed in the meeting were La Liga and Masonry. Rizal had also spoken during the
meeting encouraging the Filipinos to be a worthy and free nation.
Rizal declared that he did not know Bonifacio, the head of the Katipunan, although
he attended the meeting at the Ongjunco house. As to his picture, he said that it was
possible to get copies of his picture without his consent.
Olive asked Rizal if he knew that there was a plan to rescue him from Dapitan to
which Rizal replied that he heard rumors but he never had been directly informed of the
When the interrogation was finished, Colonel Olive sent a transcript of proceedings
to Governor Blanco, together with letters and documents. Blanco submitted all the papers
to Capt. Rafael Dominguez who had been designated special judge for the case of Rizal.
The preliminary investigation lasted for five days. Rizal was being informed of the
charges and questioned by the Judge Advocate but deprived of his right to confront those
who testified against him. There were testimonies and documentary evidences being
presented. The following documents served as the bases for the charges by the prosecution:
1. A letter of Antonio Luna to Mariano Ponce, showing Rizal’s connection with the
Filipino reform Campaign in Spain
2. Rizal’s letter to his family, stating that the deportation was good for they will
encourage the people to hate the tyranny
3. A letter from Marcelo H. del Pilar, implicating Rizal in the Propaganda Campaign
in Spain
4. A poem entitled “Kundiman,” allegedly written by Rizal in Manila, which
contained the lines:
She is the slave oppressed
Groaning in the tyrant’s grips
Lucky shall he be
Who can give her liberty!
5. A letter of Carlos Oliveros to an identified person, describing Jose Rizal as the
man to free the Philippines from Spanish oppression
6. A Masonic document honoring Jose Rizal for his patriotic services
7. A letter signed Dimasalang (Rizal pseudonym) to Tenluz (Juan Zuleta), stating that
he was preparing a safe refuge for Filipino people who might be persecuted by
the Spanish authorities
8. A letter of Dimasalang to an identified committee, soliciting the aid of the
committee in the patriotic work
9. An anonymous and undated letter to the editor of the Hong Kong Telegraph,
censuring the banishment of Rizal to Dapitan
10. A letter of Ildefonso Laurel to Rizal, saying that the Filipino people looked up to
him as their savior
11. A letter of Ildefonso Laurel to Rizal, informing him of an unidentified
correspondent of the arrest and banishment of Doroteo Cortes and Ambrosio
12. A letter of Marcelo H. del Pilar to Juan Tenluz, recommending the establishment
of a special organization, independent of Masonry, to help the cause of the
Filipino people
13. Transcript of a speech of Pingkian (Emilio Jacinto), during a reunion of the
Katipunan, wherein the following cry was uttered: “Long live the Philippines!
Long live liberty! Long live Dr. Rizal! Unify!”
14. Transcript of a speech of Titik (Jose Turiano Santiago) in the same Katipunan
reunion, wherein the Katipuneros shouted: “Long live the eminent Dr. Rizal!
Death to the oppressor nation!”
15. A poem by Laong Laan (Rizal) entitled “A Talisay” in which the author made the
Dapitan school boys sing that they knew how to fight for their rights
Dominguez initiated action on the case. It took him two days to draw his conclusions
which were expressed as follows: “The accused is the principal organizer, the moving spirit
of the Philippine insurrection, founder of societies, of newspapers and has written books
designed to foment the ideas of rebellion and sedition among the people and the principal
leader of the anti-government movement in the country.” He made the following
1. That Rizal be immediately brought to trial
2. That he should be kept in prison
3. That an order of attachment be issued against his property to the amount of one
million pesos as indemnity
4. That he should be defended in court by an army officer, not by a civilian lawyer
What Rizal was responsible for was kindling awareness to the Filipino people of their
rights, and urging them to work for obtaining the same rights as those enjoyed by the
peninsulares; he was responsible for having inculcated a sense of dignity. In truth, it is a
grave thing to awaken the political conscience of the people, even without recommending
violent means as in the case of Rizal.
Governor Blanco decreed that the case be passed on to Don Nicolas dela Pena who
was then the auditor general. He was not aware that the Dominicans had sent a cable to the
general prosecutor in Madrid about his indolence and urging immediate action on his case.
Don Camilo Polavieja arrived in the Philippines on December 3, 1896. He was the person
whom the friars had in mind to replace Blanco as soon as they had succeeded in his transfer.
The auditor issued instructions that the papers be elevated to plenary, specifying
that the defense must be undertaken by an officer of the army and not by a civil lawyer.
With this, Rizal’s chances were further reduced, for in the hands of an officer who did not
know the law, the chances for the use of rights favorable to the accused were reduced.
It is to be noted, that La Liga was not separatist or revolutionary in nature and that it
did a few days after it was founded when Rizal was deported to Dapitan. Between the
dissolution of the La Liga and the Cry of Balintawak, there was a gap of four years. It was
impossible for Rizal to have maintained a connection with the insurrectos from Dapitan
where he was held incommunicado and was so closely guarded.
On December 8 Rizal was given a long list of officials from which to select his
counsel. Since he knew no other person in the list, he selected Don Luis Taviel de Andrade, a
lieutenant of artillery and brother of his bodyguard during his first homecoming. Andrade
did all that intelligence and devotion could do to get a fair trial for the stranger dependent
on his chivalry. It took real courage to make such a defense as he did in so unpopular a
On December 11 he was formally informed of the charges and he pleaded not guilty
to the charge of rebellion although he admitted that he wrote the constitution of the La Liga
The Dilemma of the Defense
For the defense Taviel de Andrade took what would seem to be an excessively
technical position, conscious perhaps of the prejudice against the accused in the broader
field. His main argument rested on a rule of evidence, in the law applying the Penal Code of
Spain in the Philippines, which provided that its penalties could be imposed only when guilt
had been established through the following means: ocular inspection, confession of the
accused, credible witnesses, expert opinion, official documents, or conclusive circumstantial
evidence. None of these, he argued, was available against Rizal. He challenged the veracity
and impartiality of those who had given statements incriminating Rizal; they had a direct
and very marked interest in trying to ascribe to Rizal the leadership of the insurrection since
they themselves faced the same charge would reduce their liability to that of mere followers
or accessories if their stories were believed. On the other hand, Rizal himself had confessed
to nothing but writing the statutes of the Liga and there was nothing illegal to be found
there. The official reports submitted against him were equally worthless; they might be
admissible in the administrative proceedings but not at a trial to prove a criminal offense
punishable by death. What remained? Only his life, his past works and writings, his previous
record as agitator for reforms, but all these were known before the present insurrection.
Following is a summary of Rizal’s own defense, collated from his memorandum on
His oral argument of the 26th and his answers to Olive’s interrogation are here
contrasted with the case for the prosecution as presented by Leon Ma. Guerrero.
1. Subversive Propaganda – While is Madrid Rizal founded an association of
Filipinos which supported the subversive newspaper, La Solidaridad.
Rizal – It is false that I founded the Spanish-Philippine Association; this was in
existence long before I went to Madrid. The same can be said of La Solidaridad;
this was founded by Marcelo H. del Pilar and was always edited by him. (The
Association) I founded in Madrid had no other object than to make the Filipinos
(there) lead more moral lives, to get them to attend their classes, or to
discourage them from confronting debt, etc. When I wanted to criticize the
actions of La Solidaridad, Marcelo H. del Pilar was against it. This proves that the
political (policy) of the paper was never under my direction.
2. Masonry – Rizal was one of the leaders of Philippine Masonry and sent Pedro
Serrano back to the archipelago to organize lodges for the purpose of
disseminating subversive propaganda.
Rizal – It is false that I gave Serrano orders to introduce Masonry in the
Philippines Serrano had a higher degree than I had … This is proved by the letters
he afterwards sent to me when I was in Hong Kong … in which he named me
Worshipful as if it were a great thing. If I were the head, since when does an
officer permit himself to promote the Captain General? … I left Madrid in January
or February 1891 and since then … left Masonry. I had nothing to do with
Masonry among the Filipinos.
3. The Liga – Rizal wrote the statutes of the Liga and sent Moises Salvador to the
Philippines to organize it, its purpose being supply means for the attainment of
the Philippine independence. Upon his return to the Philippines in 1892 Rizal
called a meeting in the house of Doroteo Ongjunco at which he explained the
need for the Liga and said more or less the following: that he had found the
Filipinos discouraged and without any aspirations of becoming a free and selfrespecting people, that consequently they were always at the mercy of the
abuses committed by the authorities, that through the Liga the arts, the industry,
and commerce woud make progress, and that, once the country was prosperous
and united, it would attain its own freedom and even independence.
Rizal – I agree that I may have said what I am alleged to have said at the house of
Ongjunco because I have said it many times but I am not sure that I actually did …
It is true that I drew up the statutes of the Liga at the promptings of Basa and
that they were sent to Manila, its purposes being unity and the development of
commerce and industry. But I did not call the meeting in the house of Ongjunco,
whom I do not know. How could I convoke persons whom I did not know to meet
at the house of one who was equally stranger to me? The Liga never became
active for it died after the first meeting upon my banishment. If it was reorganized nine months later by others, I knew nothing about it.
4. The Katipunan – Rizal was the honorary president of the Katipunan, which was
the same thing as the Liga and whose purposes were to proclaim the
independence of the Philippines, make Rizal supreme leader, and kill the
Spaniards. His photograph was displayed in the Katipunan’s headquarters.
Shortly before the insurrection, the Katipunan had sent Pio Valenzuela to Rizal in
Dapitan to seek his decision, as supreme leader, on the proposed rebellion and
the plan of seeking aid from Japan.
Rizal – I know nothing of the Katipunan and had no relations or correspondence
with them. I do not know Andres Bonifacio, even by name. It would have been
easy to secure a copy photograph which I had taken of myself in Madrid. I gave
no permission for the use of my name, and the wrong done to me is beyond
description… I had absolutely nothing to do with politics from 6 th of July 1892
until the 1st of July 1896 when I was informed by Pio Valenzuela that an uprising
woud be attempted. I gave advice to the contrary… Someone has alleged that I
was the leader. What kind of a leader is that who is not even consulted on plans
and is only given notice of them so that he can escape? What kind of leader is
that who, when he says no, (his followers) say yes?... Even more, when the
rebellion started, I was incommunicado aboard the Castilla, and I offered myself
unconditionally (something I had never done before) to his Excellency the
Governor General to suppress the uprising.
It cannot be denied that Rizal’s defense is more sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt
as to his guilt. He was fighting for his life, convinced of his own innocence. Did he prove too
little for the court martial, and too much for history.
In fact Rizal’s defense presents us with a dilemma. Was he innocent or guilty? If
innocent, then why is he a hero? If guilty, how can he be a martyr?
In December 13, Camilo Garcia Polavieja assumed his post as Governor and Captain
General of the Philippines. As compensation, Blanco was named Chief of His Majesty’s Casa
Militar. He was replaced by Polavieja.
In December 15, Rizal presented to the judge his Manifesto. The Manifesto was a
long and rambling document, but the message was a simple one: Rizal did not support
Bonifacio and the Katipunan. Yet within the manifesto there was implicit recognition of
Philippine nationalism and the right to revolution. He had written a manifesto declaring that
he had nothing to do with the present revolt, and that his name was being used as its leader
without his knowledge or consent. But the Spanish authorities rejected such manifesto since
it did not categorically condemn the revolt but merely called it inopportune. The auditor
was opposed to its publication. If it had been published, it would have caused confusion
While Rizal was on trial, Aguinaldo was winning on the battlefield against superior Spanish
troops. So Rizal’s future was not bright.
The Manifesto is a reiteration of the political concept of La Liga: Liberty through
education – the reforms to be obtained through the intelligentia. On the 19 th of December,
Polavieja decreed that Rizal’s case be forwarded to lieutenant auditor, Don Enrique de
Alcocer, who in turn should forward it to the prosecutor, Capt. Rafael Dominguez who
would then send it to the Council of War.
Double Jeopardy
What was anomalous about the trial of Jose Rizal was that it violated a basic tenet of
justice: the prohibition on double jeopardy, which stipulates that nobody can be made to
face charges on which he has already been tried and found innocent, or found guilty and
already penalized.
In July 1892 Rizal had been arrested on the charges of being anti-Spanish because of
his anti-church writings, of having smuggled to Manila anti-friar leaflets, and of having
dedicated his second novel to three traitor priests—all these accusations being prompted by
the suspicion that he was going around the country organizing Masonic Lodges and other
illegal associations like the La Liga Filipina.
True that he was not tried on these charges, which made his case even more unjust,
since he was pronounced guilty and sentenced to deportation without benefit of due
process. Thus he was force to undergo penal servitude during those four years in Dapitan.
Then in December 1896, he was brought to trial again on charges that he was anti-Spanish
writer, that he had smuggled into Manila anti-friar propaganda, that he dedicated one of his
books to the three traitor priests, and that he had organized illegal associations.
His being thus exposed to double jeopardy was sensed by his counsel, Lieutenant
Taviel de Andrade, who pointed out that, aside from the charge of being involved in the
Katipunan (based on the testimonies of Katipuneros wanting to save their own necks), the
case against Rizal evolved around his past life, his past works and writings, and his past
record as reformer—all of which were already notorious long before but had not been
considered cause enough for hanging him.
The Rizal trial was a remembrance of things past. In other words, he was tried
retroactively and penalized a second time for the same alleged offenses, the second penalty
being a firing squad in Bagumbayan. The bullets that killed him were unlawful.
The Council of War
The data and information about the Council of War are incomplete. Only after a
lapse of a hundred years can the documents be made available relative to the council. These
are kept in the General Military Archives in Segovia. The main sources are the journalists of
the time, together with Retana’s biography of Rizal.
From the 20th of December, Rizal, altogether with his counsel, started to prepare his
defense. The counsel, although not possessing any special knowledge of the law, was
inspired of good will and possessed a clear intelligence.
In December 25, regardless of its being a feast day, Rizal was informed on the next
day at ten o’clock in the morning that the Council of War would convene. Upon receiving
the communication, Rizal wrote to Taviel asking for a conference prior to appearing before
the council.
On the 26th at the Cuartel de Espana, a soldier’s dormitory was converted into an
improvised sala or courtroom. Behind a long table sat the president, Lieutenant Colonel of
the Cavalry, Don Jose Togores accompanied by six captains of different arms. In front of the
table was Rizal at ease despite being handcuffed. Beside him was Lieutenant Taviel and near
him the
fiscal. The hall was filled with people, the majority of whom were officials and officers in the
service. The rest were mainly peninsulares, some natives. On a bench meant for the public
sat Josephine with an unidentified woman. Rizal was in black suit, white shirt, vet and tie,
his hair carefully combed. He was completely relaxed – the picture of serenity.
The trial proceeded with the reading of the accusations by Fiscal Don Enrique de
Alcocer. He pointed to Rizal – who owed to Spain all that he was, the fiscal said – as the
principal figure of the insurrectional movement. Next he referred to Noli Me Tangere in
which according to him, Rizal insulted the Spaniards. He noted that El Filibusterismo praises
the memory of the three priests who died by the garrote during the Cavite Mutiny.
The fiscal took up the significance of Masonry in the Philippines, which was true
enough, but he confused the practices of Masonry with those of the Katipunan. In his
description of La Liga, there were many inaccuracies in dates, names, and aims.
Illegal association and rebellion were the final accusation of the fiscal, who indicated
that for the first crime the penalty was imprisonment, and for rebellion the penalty was life
imprisonment, but since the law stipulated that in order to commit one crime it was
necessary to commit another, the maximum penalty should be applied: death.
The first lieutenant of the artillery, Luis Taviel de Andrade, began the defense of Rizal
by emphasizing the fact that it could not avoid being prejudiced by the prevalent opinion
regarding the right course. Then he asked: “Has Rizal performed any act, public and solemn,
that is separatist in concept? Did he on any occasion declare that he abominates the
Church’s domination?” As a factor contributing to these prejudices, he pointed out that the
presence of the boat Castilla for a month caused speculation that Rizal was a participant in
the insurrection, although later it was made known that he had been authorized to go to
Cuba as a military doctor.
Taviel cited a law, an annex to the penal code which included a rule No. 52,
regarding the application of penalties when the delinquency is proven beyond doubt by
conclusive proofs. The defense affirmed that the accusations did not have a probable value
since they were not in conformity with the rule.
As to Liga, he admitted that the defendant had written the by-laws, but that he did
so at the instance of Basa. At any rate, as they themselves stated, its aim was only to
promote commerce, industry, and consumers’ cooperatives. Since his arrival in Dapitan in
1892, the defendant had refrained from all political actuation and that there was no proof
to the contrary.
Taviel closed his discourse requesting the court to reject the images engendered by
wars, for they could only provoke ideas of vengeance, and judges should not be vengeful
but just. Taviel’s position was difficult, considering the climate in and out of the sala. This is
confirmed by the fact that his pleading was coldly received in the courtroom.
The chairman of the council asked Rizal if he had anything to say. Rizal read his own
arguments as addition to the defense.
Referring to the rebellion, Rizal declared that from July 6, 1892, when he was
deported to Dapitan he had removed himself from politics. Proof of this was the trip of
Valenzuela. If he had been in correspondence with him, Valenzuela would not have taken an
expensive trip to Dapitan for Rizal to have been informed of the uprising.
Another proof is that they could not produce any letter of Rizal proving that he had
previous knowledge of the uprising.
Rizal went on to say that if he had wanted to escape, he could have done so since he
had several boats at his disposal. As to his being the alleged head of the insurrection, he
asked, “What kind of head is he who is not consulted for his projects, and when he says no
they say yes?”
Regarding the Liga, he stated that it became inactive shortly after it was founded and
that its aims were not objectionable. The creation of another society, the Katipunan, proved
that the two organizations differed in their ends, for they had identical aims there was no
sense in founding more than one. Rizal ended by saying that he hoped to have
demonstrated that he head neither founded a subversive society nor had he been an
accomplice or organizer of the rebellion but on the contrary had opposed it.
The Chairman ordered that the sala be vacated and that the Council proceed with
the deliberations. The Council of War presided over by Lt. Col. Jose Togores Arjona, having
met this day on the 26th of December 1896, accused Dr. Jose Rizal Mercado y Alonso of the
crimes of rebellion, sedition, and illegal association. By virtue of its powers, the Council
dictated the following sentence: “Dr. Jose Rizal should be condemned to death, and in case
of pardon will bear life imprisonment and subjection to vigilance for life, and shall pay the
state an indemnity of P100,000 which shall be passed on to his heirs for satisfaction in
accordance with the articles…”
The decision was signed by Jose Togores, president of the court, and Braulio
Rodriguez Nunez, Ricardo Munoz, Fermin Perez Rodriguez, Manuel Reguera, Manuel Dias
Escribano, and Santiago Izquierdo. Also on the same day the judgment was endorsed to
Polavieja who referred it to the Judge Advocate General. Pena adopted Alcocer’s arguments
wholesale and found Rizal guilty as a principal by induction through his propaganda
Polavieja convened the Council of Authorities. Not a single member of the Council,
not even Archbishop Nozaleda asked for commutation of the sentence. Aside from the
Council of Authorities, not one of the religious hierarchy, nor his former Jesuit tutors, nor
the Dominicans recommended pardon. On the 28th, Captain General Camilio Garcia
Polavieja approved the sentence of the Council of War, fixing the date of the execution on
the 30th of December at seven o’clock in the morning. On the same day, Dona Teodora, the
mother of Rizal went to Malacanan Palace with a petition for pardon, but she was not
admitted. On the 29th, Judge Dominguez went to Fort Santiago to notify Rizal officially of the
sentence. Rizal read the report of the auditor and the approval of Malacanan but refused to
sign it, alleging that he was innocent.
From that time, Rizal went about the last acts of his life.
Petition for the Pardon of Rizal
It takes not only great knowledge but also great courage and equanimity of mind and
spirit to compose a masterpiece of a poem in the midst of physical and mental turmoil
agitated by an impending execution.
In the last few days and few moments of Rizal, he allegedly wrote the 70 verses in 14
stanzas of the “Last Farewell.” But he wrote not only “Mi Ultimo Adios” before meeting the
firing squad; he also wrote some letters to his family.
Of all the many letters and correspondences inked by the members of the Rizal
family, it was the letter of his mother pleading for the life of the hero that was considered to
be the most touching and important. This letter plays a very significant role in history and
contemporary life, for it proved the following:
1. The love of a mother to a son knows no limits and boundaries. A mother could do
the most extreme to save the life of her son.
2. The Rizal family hopes against hope that the Spanish Government could help;
after all he was perceived as a liberal representative of the crown of Spain.
Here is the complete text of the letter sent by the weeping and mourning mother, asking for
the pardon of her son.
“Most Excellent Sir:
“Teodora Alonso de Rizal, resident of Calamba and native of Sta. Cruz, Manila, to
Your Excellency, with due respect and reverence, has the honor to state:
“That her son Jose Rizal y Mercado having been sentenced to death by the Council of
War for the crime attributed to him of rebellion against the Mother Country, a crime which
in conscience and at most in justice has not been proven in a conclusive manner; whereas
the absolute innocence of her unfortunate son is evident to the one who has the honor to
resort to your Excellency; therefore she is constrained to entreat your kind heart and
upright justice to deign to turn your glance on and consider the tribulations of an unhappy
mother, who in the last years of her life and at the most poignant sorrows, which is that of
witnessing the death of her unfortunate son—a victim only of fatality and unfortunate
circumstances which have surround him.
“Most Excellent Sir, my unfortunate son Jose Rizal, suffering with humility and
resignation his banishment by order of the Superior Authority of this Archipelago, appears
to me in an evident manner as innocent of the grave crime imputed to him and for which he
had been sentenced to death. It is not my intention, Most Excellent Sir, either to censure or
question in any way the legality of the decision of the fair court, but on account of
unfortunate and fatal circumstances, it has apparently made my unhappy son responsible
for the most infamous crimes, when in fact he is innocent.
“In view of the above, Most Excellent Sir, I beseech Your Excellency to deign to
commiserate with a poor mother, who in the supreme moment of seeing her beloved son
die, addresses herself to Your Excellency in the name of our God, entreating you with tears
of sorrow in her eyes and a broken heart to deign to grant he unfortunate son pardon from
the death penalty imposed upon him.
“This the grace that she hopes to obtain from the acknowledged kindness of the
magnanimous heart of Your Excellency, which will be eternally recognized by the
undersigned and her entire family, who will elevate prayers to heaven that it may preserve
your precious life for the welfare and honor of our Mother Spain and the consolation of
“Manila, 28 December 1896”
The Last Farewell
Just after Rizal became aware of his sentence to death but before his transfer to the
chapel, he wrote the famous poem “My Last Farewell.” It was written on a small sheet of
note paper, folded lengthwise into a narrow strip and then doubled and wedged inside the
tank of a little alcohol lamp on which his cooking in his cell had been done. At the farewell
to his sister Trinidad while in the chapel, he said: “I have nothing to give you as a souvenir
except the cooking lamp Mrs. Tavera gave me while I was in Paris.” And then so the guard
might not understand he said in a low tone in English, “There is something inside.” The
lamp was taken with his other belongings from the fort and it was not until the night of the
second day after his death that it was deemed safe to investigate. Then when the verses
were found they were immediately copied and the copy without comment mailed to Hong
Kong. There they were published.
Did Rizal write “Mi Ultimo Adios” on the eve of his execution, or did he begin writing
it when he felt the certainty of a death sentence for him, a certainty that might have come
to his consciousness weeks or even months before that night? A popular painting shows
Rizal writing at his desk , with an oil lamp providing the only light. Actually the oil lamp was
an oil burner to heat or keep food warm. The food warmer could not have provided that
much light without a glass cover to disperse the light in a room, but it provided space for
Rizal to hide the poem in the oil burner. It is more likely that he had drafted the poem
sometime before then, and wrote the finishing touches on the eve of his death. Rizal’s
friend, Mariano Ponce, gave the title “Mi Ultimo Adios” as it original had none.
The Retraction
Whether or not Rizal retracted, he should still be held in highest esteem by the
Filipinos as their greatest patriot. The total accomplishment of a man in life cannot be
measured merely by his conduct during the last hour of his life. Rather, it should be
evaluated on the basis of all his actuations, his virtues and defects, his loyalty to the truth to
himself, as demonstrated throughout the span of his entire life.
A little later at 7:30 p.m., the Jesuit Fathers Miguel Saderra and Luis Viza entered his
cell. From that moment on, until seven of the next morning, when he was shot, Rizal did not
have a moment’s rest. Instead, he was bombarded with matters of Christian doctrine by
several persons. The Archbishop had chosen the Jesuits and not the Dominicans to persuade
him to retract. With his usual good nature, Rizal received the Jesuits pleasantly asking them
if there still were some of the old professors of his time. They replied that only Fathers
Vilaclara and Balaguer remained.
At nine o’clock, the two priests withdrew, but they were replaced by Father Rosell.
While Father Rosell was in the cell, Santiago Mataix, a correspondent of Heraldo de Madrid,
Archbishop Nozaleda had given instruction to Father Pio Pi, superior of the Jesuit
mission, that once the conversion was accomplished, they should let Rizal sign a document
of retraction before administering the sacraments. Two drafts of retraction were prepared.
At ten o’clock in the morning, two other Jesuits entered the cell, Fathers Vilaclara
and Balaguer. Balaguer approached the subject of Religion asking Rizal his ideas on doctrinal
matters. When Rizal remained unyielding after a very long debate, Balaguer resorted to
warning him of eternal cremation if he did not relinquish his ideas.
But Rizal knew how to control himself. He told Father Balaguer, “I promise you that
the remaining hours of my life, shall employ asking God for the grace of faith.”
The discussion lasted more than two hours. Rizal did not lose his serenity. He always
measured his every word and thus his conduct was exemplary and for this reason he did not
In one of his rare free moments, after lunch, Rizal wrote to Blumentritt the following
“My dear brother:
When you receive this letter I shall be dead. Tomorrow at 7:00 I shall be shot.
But I am innocent of the crime of rebellion. I shall die with a clear conscience.
Goodbye my best, my most beloved friend. Fort Santiago.
Dec. 29, 1896”
But the Jesuits did not give up. Balaguer returned at three o’clock in the afternoon
maintaining it until night came. Balaguer left the fort after picking up Father Viza at the
Ateneo, proceeded to the palace to inform the Archbishop that there was some hope.
Surprisingly, Balaguer did not make an official report of the retraction, although Mataix, the
correspondent of Heraldo de Madrid, cabled a few minutes after midnight, quoting the only
source of information, that “Rizal will retract his errors and will confess before contracting
Balaguer stated that Rizal signed the retraction and the profession of faith. He asked
for confession and Father Vilaclara heard it. He then slept for a few minutes. Upon waking
up, he confessed the second time and expressed his wish to marry Josephine. According to
Father Balaguer, although the documents he signed were sufficient, Father Vilaclara still
asked him to read some acts of faith, hope, and charity which he read from a prayer book
and which Rizal repeated after him.
At three o’clock in the morning, he heard mass and confessed for the fourth time.
Then he heard another mass. This, on the basis of Balaguer’s account.
At 5:30 a.m. Rizal took his breakfast. Soon after, he wrote the following letter:
6:00 a.m. Dec. 30, 1896
My beloved father:
Please pardon me for all the pain with which I have repaid you for all your
concern and efforts to give me my education. I did not want this; nor did I expect it.
Goodbye, Father, goodbye.
Another letter, undated was addressed to his sisters and to Paciano.
Shortly after six o’clock in the morning, Josephine arrived accompanied by a sister of
Rizal. According to Balaguer, he advised the Captain of the Fort to proceed with the
marriage ceremony, the two standing on each side of the Spanish Officer. At first, the officer
was opposed to the bride and groom’s holding hands during the ceremony but he had to
accede because the marriage ritual required it. Balaguer then proceeded with the religious
rites Before parting, Rizal whispered some words of advice to Josephine. Shortly after, her
face bathed in tears, she withdrew.
All the foregoing was related by Father Balaguer.
Fifteen minutes before the execution, Father March arrived, which brings the
number of priests who visited him to eight within 24 hours. “The version circulated by the
ecclesiastical authorities of that time, the part referring to the retraction of Rizal and his
conversion at the last hour to Catholicism, has not been considered satisfactory admitted by
the Catholic opinion in the Philippines.”
The Execution
December 30, 1896, the day that dawned over Fort Santiago, was one of the
balmiest in Philippine history. It was the day of Rizal’s execution. On this day there was
restlessness. A sense of calm yet a feeling of change were in the air; there was a sense of
tragedy that embraced the anticipated public execution. The execution area was
surrounded by the largest crowd. Everyone was curious about witnessing the execution of
the most influential Filipino, Jose Rizal.
At 6:30 a.m., the squad of artillery soldiers was formed, preceded by a bugle and a
drum. Rizal came out, bound from elbow to elbow, flanked by Fathers Vilaclara and March
followed by Taviel, his counsel. The squad surrounded them all. They took the Paseo de
Maria Cristina, now named Paseo de Bonifacio.
The hero walked with a relaxed, modest stride, as though taking a walk. He chatted
with his companinons about the scene around him. Pointing to the Ateneo, he said to Taviel,
“There I spent seven years.” Then his gaze slowly alighted on other things in the distance –
Corregidor and the hills of Cavite. On his way to what the Filipinos could consider their
Golgotha, his steps became more firm, as though he was not conscious of the historic
destiny he was marking with every step. Across the Luneta, they went to Bagumbayan, that
tragic site where Philippine liberties were sacrificed. He hastened his steps as they
approached the square.
Rizal was facing execution for speaking out against Spanish political and economic
domination in the Philippines. He had also committed the unpardonable sin of criticizing the
Catholic Church. The Spanish believed that he had fomented revolution and was guilty of
Rizal placed himself in the middle of the square, filled with 400 men with a band
playing. The firing squad was composed of eight native soldiers, but as a measure of
caution, another line of peninsular soldiers stood behind. At this point, a discussion arose
for Rizal refused to be shot from behind, that only traitors were thus shot and that he was
not a traitor to Spain. The captain replied that he was sorry but those were the orders and
he had to follow them. At the last moment, Rizal requested that he be shot in the body and
not in the head. That way, he must have thought, he could at the last moment, turn his head
and body sidewise so he would fall face upward, facing the blue sky of which he had so
often sung, and fall on the earth which he never wished see stained with blood.
At this point, Ruiz y Castillo, the military physician who attended him, took his pulse
and was surprise to find it normal.
At the cleared grass area where the firing squad assembled, Rizal made his way to
the execution spot. As the firing squad line up, many people noticed that the Spaniards and
other Europeans had left the grass area. The soldiers appeared unusually nervous. They
checked their guns a number of times they adjusted their uniforms and their eyes scanned
the crowd. Finally the firing squad was ready to face the young Philippine nationalist.
The order to fire was given. The shots rang out and the body of the patriot who had
faced death so bravely, with such dignity and honor, fell with his face up, toward the sky. He
did not fall as traitor. Nature had made the rectification, and Rizal, nationalist to the last
minute of his life, had used his head to obtain his ends.
Shouts of “Viva Espana!”, “Death to Traitors!” were heard from the Spaniards. The
band of regiment struck the first Chords of the Marcha de Cadiz.
The Philippines had lost its greatest patriot but Spain had lost the Philippines.
Rizal was buried not in a humble place in Paang Bundok, as he wished, but in a
cemetery of Paco.
The body of Rizal was placed in a van and with the greatest secrecy buried in the old
and unused Paco Cemetery. Teodora wanted to comply with the last wish of her so, i.e., that
the family should take charge of his cadaver. After several objections on the part of some
officials, Civil Governor Manuel Luengo acceded to the petition, but when the funeral coach
left, they had already secretly taken the body away and Narcisa went to all the cemeteries
of Manila in search of the body in vain. On the way back, she saw though the open gate of
the Paco Cemetery, some guards as civiles. This gave her a clue. She entered the cemetery
and after much searching found a grave with freshly-turned earth. She gave the gravedigger
a tip and place a plaque with the initials of her brother in reverse, R.P.J., that is Rizal,
Protacio Jose.
This was intentionally done by the family so the authorities would not notice that the
marble slab belonged to Rizal.
After the execution of Rizal, Josephine, with Paciano and Trinidad Rizal, crossed the
tightly guarded enemy lines towards Cavite. At the time of their arrival, the Magdiwang and
Magdalo factions were meeting at the Casa Hacienda of Imus, according to Artemio Ricarte.
However, Santiago V. Alvarez said the Rizals came at past one o’clock in the afternoon of
December 30, 1896 at San Francisco de Malabon (now General Trias). Andres Bonifacio, the
Katipunan Supremo, received the Rizals himself at the house of Mrs. Estefania Potente
where he was staying.
When the Americans had taken over Manila on August 17, 1898, the family led by
Narcisa had Rizal’s body exhumed, almost two years after his death.
Rizal’s body was buried without a coffin, and his clothes and shoes could still be
identified by the family.
Whatever was hidden in Rizal’s shoes as he mentioned to his sisters in the final hours
before his execution crumbled to the touch.
Sixteen years after, Rizal’s bones were retrieved by his sister on December 29, 1912.
On December 30. 1912, the Commission on the Rizal Monument, created by virtue of Act
No. 243, transferred his remains to the base of the monument erected on the Luneta, very
near to the place where he was shot.
In the late 1880s, Jose Rizal spent several months in London improving his English
proficiency. During those days, he regretted having been born and raised without deep
recognition of what life was like in his homeland, the Philippines, before the Spanish regime.
Hence, this had formed a huge curiosity in the mind of the young intellect because he
believed that he had neither privilege nor power to speak of situation he did not know
about. He speculated that the country had a prosperous and established way of living
enriched by culture, tradition, and solidarity contrary to what the Spaniards claimed that the
Philippines was living backward. In fact, Rizal pointed out that the pre-Hispanic Philippine
civilization could have nurtured and developed into something great hadn’t the Spaniards
and the friars obliterated it. And this burning desire brought him to going through the British
Museum where he stumbled upon Antonio De Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas
published in 1609. Rizal engrossed himself in the British Museum. It was the most extensive
library in the world in the 19th century, and “the celebrated breeding place of revolutions”.
The great domed reading room of the British Museum was the same place where Karl Marx
did meticulous background research for his Das Kapital and Communist Manifesto.
There have been numerous published works about pre-colonial Philippine history.
Rizal’s initial plan to write a factual history of the country them, shifted into a plan of
annotating (to explain or to make critical notes on a book or document) Antonio De Morga’s
Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas. Rizal’s choice of annotating De Morga rather than other
contemporary historical accounts was due to the obvious fact that the book itself was rare.
The author, Antonio De Morga, was civil in writing the book as it was written free from
religious narratives full of miracle stories, reflecting Rizal’s strong anti-clerical bias.
Moreover, Rizal thinks that De Morga was more sympathetic to the Indios and he was not
only an eyewitness but he played a huge role in the events he narrated. And thus, with his
dedication to give his fellow Filipino a view of the history of the Philippines, he laboriously
copied the entire work while making annotations.
Rizal felt that the annotations of De Morga should be written not from the colonizer,
but this time from the colonized. There was no history of the Philippines written by an Indio
at such a period. The Philippines have been neglected and what was available before was
not a history of the Philippines,, but a history of Spain in the Philippines. It was ambitious at
those times being given that Indios were given less importance or value and deemed to not
have the ability to produce such scholarly works. Most of the available sources were written
by religious order.
Fortunately, Jose Rizal found there the original, Spanish version of Sucesos de las
Islas Filipinas. Rizal’s initial plan to write a factual history of the country them, shifted into a
plan of annotating (to explain or to make critical notes on a book or document) Antonio De
Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.
Lesson 7
Annotation of Antonio De Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. analyze Analyze Rizal’s ideas on how to rewrite Philippine history and
2. compare and contrast Rizal and Morga’s different views about Filipinos and
Philippine culture.
Antonio De Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas
(From SlideShare)
1. The Book: An account of Spanish observations about the Filipinos and the
Philippines. It is one of the important works on the early history of the Spanish
colonization of the Philippines published in Mexico in 1609 by Antonio De Morga.
Note: Annotated by Jose Rizal with a prologue by Dr. Ferdinand Blumentritt.
The book narrates the history of wars, intrigues, diplomacy and evangelization of the
Philippines in a somewhat disjointed way. Modern historians (including Rizal) have
noted that De Morga has a definite bias and would often distort facts or even rely on
invention to fit his defense of the Spanish conquest.
Background Information/Important Information About the book:
2. Antonio De Morga – Spanish conquistador, government official, and historical
anthropologist; author of Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (Events in the Philippine
Islands). De Morga wrote the first lay formal history of the Philippines conquest by
His history is valuable in that De Morga had access to the survivors of the earliest
days of the colony and he, himself, participated in many of the accounts that he
3. One of the first books ever to tackle Philippine History. Describes the events inside
and outside of the country from 1493 to 1603, including the history of the
4. Consists of 8 Chapters
Chapter 1: Magellan and Legazpi’s seminal expeditions
Chapters 2 – 7: Chronological report on government administration under GovernorGeneral
Chapter 8: Philippine Islands, the natives there, their antiquity, custom and
5. Discusses the political, social, and economic aspects of a colonizer and the colonized
6. The content of the book was based on documentary research, observation, and
personal experience of De Morga.
7. Rizal is a secondary source of the book due to his Annotations.
What is Las Islas Filipinas?
The Philippines was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain.
What is Sucesos?
Events, Happenings, Occurrence
The Sucesos is the work of an honest observer, a versatile bureaucrat, who knew the
working of the administration from the inside.
Note: The “SUCESOS” as annotated by Rizal, appeared for the first time in the
Philippines sixty eight years later when a publisher in Manila published the new work in
1958, to contribute his bid to the national effort to honor Rizal. The present work is the sixth
volume of the Series of Writings of Jose Rizal which the Jose Rizal National Centennial
Commission has to publish in commemoration of his birth.
De Morga’s Purpose for Writing Sucesos
De Morga wrote that the purpose for writing Sucesos was so he could chronicle “the
deeds achieved by our Spaniards in the discovery, conquest, and conversion of the Filipinas
Islands – as well as various fortunes that they have from time to time in the great kingdoms
and among the pagan peoples surrounding the islands.”
Taking issue with the scopes of these claims, Rizal argued that “the conversion and
conquest were not as widespread as portrayed because the missionaries were only
successful in conquering a portion of the population of certain islands.”
What leads Jose Rizal to Sucesos De Las Islas Filipinas?
Rizal was an earnest seeker of truth and this marked him as a historian.
He had a burning desire to know exactly the conditions of the Philippines when the
Spaniards came ashore to the Islands.
His theory was that the country was economically self-sufficient and prosperous. He
entertained the idea that it had a lively and vigorous community.
He believed the conquest of the Spaniards contributed in part to the decline of the
Philippine’s rich tradition and culture.
He then decided to undertake the annotation of Antonio De Morga’s Sucesos De Las
Islas Filipinas.
His personal friendship with Ferdinand Blumentritt provided the inspiration for doing
a new edition of De Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.
Devoting four months research and writing and almost a year to get his manuscript
published in Paris in January 1890.
Rizal spent his entire stay in the city of London at the British Museum’s reading
Having found De Morga’s book, he laboriously hand-copied the whole 351 pages of
the Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.
Rizal proceeded to annotate every chapter of the Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.
Rizal’s Objectives for Annotating De Morga’s Book :
In Jose Rizal’s dedication, he explained among other things, the purpose of the new
edition of De Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.:
“If the book succeeds in awakening in you the consciousness of our past which has
been obliterated from memory and in rectifying what has been falsified and calumniated, ‘I
shall not have labored in vain, and on such basis, little though it may be, we can all devote
ourselves to studying the future”
1. To awaken the consciousness of the Filipinos regarding their glorious ways of the
2. To correct what has been distorted about the Philippines due to Spanish
3. To prove that Filipinos are civilized even before the coming of the Spaniards
On Rizal’s Annotation:
In his historical essay, which includes the narration of Philippine colonial history,
punctuated as it was with incidences of agony, tensions, tragedies and prolonged periods of
suffering that many of the people had been subjected to. He correctly observed that as a
colony of Spain, “The Philippines was depopulated, impoverished and retarded, astounded
by metaphors, with no confidence in her past, still without faith in her present and without
faltering hope in the future.” He went to say:
“… little by little, they (Filipinos) lost their old traditions, the mementoes of the past;
they gave up their writing, their songs, their poems, their laws in order to learn other
doctrines which they did not understand, another morality, another aesthetics, different
from those inspired by their climate and their manner of thinking. They declined, degrading
themselves in their own eyes. They become ashamed of what was their own; they began to
admire and praise whatever was foreign and incomprehensible; their spirit was damaged
and it surrendered.”
To the Filipinos: “In my NOLI ME TANGERE” I commenced to sketch the present
conditions obtaining in our country. The effect produced by my efforts gave me to
understand – before proceeding to develop before your eyes other successive scenes – that
is necessary to first lay bare the past, in order the better to judge the present and to survey
the road trodden during three centuries.”
The First Objective
The Early Filipino Pride. Rizal strove to establish that the Filipinos could be proud of
their pre-conquest past.
The Second Objective
History as a Propaganda Weapon. Rizal aimed to use history as a propaganda
1. Early Government. Our forefathers in the pre-colonial Philippines already
possessed a working judicial and legislative system.
2. High Literacy Rate. The Spanish missionaries exploited the baybayin for their
own ends, learning and using it to translate their goals.
3. Early Artillery. Our ancestors were very proficient in the art of war. Aside from
wielding swords and spears, they also knew how to make and fire guns and
4. Smooth Foreign Relations. The pre-colonial Filipinos had already established
trading and diplomatic relations with countries as far as the Middle East.
5. Self-sufficient. In terms of food, our forefathers did not suffer from any lack
thereof. Blessed with such a resource-rich country, they had enough for
themselves and their families.
6. Advanced Civilization. Our ancestors possessed a complex working society and a
culture replete with works of arts and literature.
Three Main Propositions in Rizal’s New Edition of
De Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas
1. The people of the Philippines have a culture of their own, before the coming of the
2. Filipinos were decimated, demoralized, exploited, and ruined by the Spanish
3. The present state of the Philippines was not necessarily superior to its past
Rizal’s Annotation of De Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.
His extensive annotations of De Morga’s work number “no less than 639 items or
almost two annotations for every page.”
Rizal also annotated De Morga’s typographical errors.
He commented on every statement that could be nuanced in Filipino cultural
practices. For example on page 248, De Morga describes the culinary art of the
ancient Filipinos by recording: “ … they prefer to eat salt fish which begin to
decompose and smell.”
Rizal’s footnotes: “This is another preoccupation of the Spaniards who, like any other
nation in that matter of food, loathe that to which they are not accustomed or is
unknown to them…’’ The fish that De Morga mentions does not taste better when it
is beginning to rot; all on the contrary “it is bagoong and all those who have eaten it
and tasted it know it is not or ought not to be rotten.’’
Rizal commits the error of many historians in appraising the events of the past in the
light of present standards.
Rizal’s attacks on the church were unfair and unjustified because the abuses of the
friars should not be construed to mean that Catholicism is bad.
Blumentritt’s Influence on Rizal:
Ferdinand Blumentritt has encouraged Rizal to write about Philippine pre-colonial
history. He also wrote a preface emphasizing some salient points:
1. The Spaniards have to correct their erroneous conception of the Filipinos as children
of limited intelligence.
2. That there existed three kinds of Spanish delusions about the Philippines:
2.1 Filipinos were an inferior race
2.2 Filipinos were ready for parliamentary representation and other reforms
2.3 Denial of equal rights can be compensated by strict dispensation of justice
Blumentritt’s Prologue
Writing in Spanish, instead of his native German language.
Praised Rizal’s work as “scholarly and well-thought out”
He noted that De Morga’s Sucesos was so rare that “the very few libraries that have
it guard it with the same solicitude as if it were the treasure of the Incas’”
He criticized Rizal’s annotations on two counts:
He first observed that Rizal had committed the mistake of many modern
historians who judged events in the past in the context of contemporary
ideas and mores.
He perceived as the overreach of Rizal’s denunciations of Catholicism that
“Rizal should confine his critique to the religious orders in the Philippines
who spared no effort to suppress calls for reform”
Rizal’s Annotations vs. De Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.
RIZAL’S Annotations
1. Philippines was NOT DESERTED
and was actually HABITABLE.
2. Spaniards, like any other nation,
treat food to which they are not
accustomed or is unknown to
them with disgust. The first that
De Morga mentions is bagoong
(salted and fermented fish).
De Morga’s Sucesos
1. Philippines was DESERTED AND
2. Beef and fish they know it best
when it has started to rot and
Importance of Rizal’s Annotations to the Present Generation
To awaken in the Filipinos the consciousness of our past
To devote ourselves to studying the future
To first lay bare the past, in order to better judge the present and to survey the road
trodden during three centuries
To prove that Filipinos had a culture of their own, prior to colonization, that the
Filipinos were NOT inferior to the white man
To shatter the myth of the so-called ‘’Indolence of the Filipinos’’
To reduce those Filipinos who denied their native tongue into rotten fish
To seriously study Tagalog and produce a comprehensive Tagalog dictionary
To embrace the generic terms “Indio”, or in today’s case, Filipino, with all its
negative connotations, and turn it into one of dignity and nobility
Rizal, a voracious reader, had read almost any book that he could get his hands on.
One time, he came across Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, a novel about the
brutalities of the white Americans to their Negro slaves. The book ignited Rizal’s
nationalistic fire; it made him decide to write a book that would expose to the world the sad
plight of his own countrymen in the Philippines.
In a meeting of the Filipino members of the Circulo Hispano-Filipino in Madrid, Rizal
proposed the project of writing a book about the Filipinos in the Philippines. The book was
supposed to cover all phases of Philippine life; all of them should contribute something in
writing the book. However, almost all of them wanted to write nothing but about the
character and activities of the Filipino women and were scarcely interested in Rizal’s true
purpose for the proposed project. Disappointed, Rizal decided to write the book by himself.
Using his foremost talent, Rizal started writing one of his masterpieces, the Noli Me
Rizal began writing the novel in Madrid in 1884 and finished about one-half of it. He
continued writing when he went to Paris and finished it in Germany. He made the final
revisions in Berlin, Germany.
The title of the novel, Noli Me Tangere, is a Latin phrase which means, “touch me
not”, lifted from the Gospel of St. John (Chapter 20, verses 13-17). But the novel was also
titled The Social Cancer in its English translation.
With his funds running low, Rizal almost lost hope of publishing his novel. In the
middle of his despondency, a good friend, by the name of Maximo Viola, a wealthy young
man from Bulacan, lent Rizal the needed funds to publish his novel. He found the cheapest
printer, the Buchdruckerei-Actien-Gesselschaft, Setzerinnen-Schule de Lette Vereins in
Berlin, Germany. Rizal paid P300 for 2,000 copies. The novel first came off the press on
March 21, 1887. Rizal sent copies to his closest friends like Blumentritt, Dr. Antonio Ma.
Regidor, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Mariano Ponce, and Felix R. Hidalgo.
He gave the galley proofs of the novel to Maximo Viola to show his gratitude for
helping him publish his first novel. In 1887, Jose Rizal published the Noli Me Tangere which
talks about the abuses of the friars and Spaniards in the Philippines
The novel is dedicated to the Philippines, which reads as follows:
Recorded in the history of human sufferings is a cancer so malignant that the least
irritates it and awakens in it the sharpest pain. Thus, how many times, when in the midst of
modern civilizations, I have wished to call you before me, now to accompany me in
memories, now to compare you with other countries, has your dear image presented itself
showing a social cancer.
Desiring your welfare which is our own and seeking the best treatment, I will do with
you what the ancients did with their sick, exposing them on the steps of the temple so that
everyone who came to evoke the Divinity might offer them remedy.
And to this end, I will try to reproduce your condition faithfully, without
discriminations; I will raise a part of the veil that covers the evil, sacrificing to truth
everything, even vanity itself, since as your son, I am conscious that I also suffer from your
defects and weaknesses.
Four years after the publication of the Noli Me Tangere, Rizal’s mind had matured. It
was what he saw in the Philippines during his four month’s visit, and what happened to his
family after that visit when his father was evicted; their house taken over; their furniture
dumped into the street; some members of the family were sent into exile; and one brotherin-law was denied Christian burial that Rizal had come to realize that the attitude of the
authorities and the friars on the granting of reforms was irreversible. In addition, he had
differences with his compatriots in Europe. It seemed that the liberation of the Philippines
was not to be reached through legal means. All these and other happenings weakened his
early enthusiasm but deepened his insights. It was of this deeper vision that El Filibusterismo
Rizal published El Filibusterismo which discusses how grave and rampant the abuses
of the friars and Spaniards were.
Rizal in his letter to Blumentritt explained the title of his novel. “The word
‘Filibusterismo’ is very little known in the Philippines. The masses do not know it yet. I heard
it for the first time in 1872 when the tragic execution of the three priests took place. I still
remember the panic that this word caused. Our father forbade us to say it…the Manila
newspaper and the Spanish uses this word to describe those whom they want to render
suspect of revolutionary activities. The educated Filipino fear its scope. It does not have the
meaning of ‘pirate’; It means rather a dangerous pilot who will soon be on the gallows, or
else a conceited fellow.” (Locsin & Locsin, 1996).
In Noli, the goal of the characters is that of assimilation without dissidence. Now,
upon finding all avenues leading to reforms and political, economic, and religious liberty
hopelessly closed, they are impelled to seek the way of subversion and are willing to be
branded as Filibusteros, a labelled used for all natives who excelled in intelligence and
It took Rizal three years and four months to finish El Filibusterismo. Rizal finished his
second novel in Biarritz on March 28, 1891, starting it in October 1887 in Calamba.
Looking for a less expensive printer, he moved from Brussels to Ghent in the first few
days of July 1891. In the City of Charles VI, he met a young Filipino student who was taking
up Agriculture and who agreed to share a room with him. His name was Jose Alejandrino,
who later became a general of the revolution.
Rizal and Alejandrino transferred to Ghent from Brussels because the cost of living
and printing charges were cheaper there. They selected the cheapest boarding house on 32
Rue de Flandre, Ghent. They stayed there for three months from July to September 1891.
Due to shortage of funds, they resorted to a rationing system, tightening their belts.
Alejandrino, writing in his memoirs regarding the hardships he and Rizal had encountered
said: In Ghent, we lived in a room paying so much in our lodging and breakfast. Rizal asked
me, “How much would the room cost us without the breakfast?” I talked to the landlady and
she told me that she would reduce the rent if breakfast was not included. Rizal made a
calculation and concluded that if we prepared our own breakfast, we could save something.
He bought tea, sugar, and a box of biscuits by 30 days, we would have so many biscuits for
each breakfast. The first day, because of my personal pride, I contended myself with my
ration. I did the same the following day. But on the third day, I told him that my ration was
not enough for me. Then, he answered me: “You may borrow for your ration for tomorrow.”
Through frequent borrowing, I ate up all my share in 15 days, while he rigorously limiting
himself to his daily ration.
After a long search for a printer in Ghent, which will print his book in small amountinstalment basis, Rizal found the F. Meyer Van Loo Press at 66 Vianderen Street. He had to
pawn his jewels to give advance money to start the printing of El Filibusterismo. He also had
to borrow money from his friends because he ran out of funds. Rodriguez Arias forwarded
him two hundred pesos (P200) for the sold copies of his annotated Morga’s Sucessos de las
Islas Filipinas in Manila and also some amount from Jose Ma. Basa. On August 6, 1861, the
printing stopped. The reason: Rizal had not been able to pay the corresponding instalment.
On the same day, he wrote his friend Basa in Hong Kong: As you will see in the enclosed
clipping, printing of the second part is advanced, and I am now on page 112. Because no
money is forthcoming and I owe everybody and I am broke, I will have to suspend the
publication and to leave the work half-finished. In despair, he almost burned the manuscript
of his novel. He wrote again to Basa. “Several times I am tempted to burn my manuscript:
but then I think of you and I know there are many good people, many who truly love their
Valentin Ventura, upon hearing Rizal’s urgent need for money for the printing of his
second novel, immediately sent him the needed amount.
On September 18, 1891, El Filibusterismo came off the press. On the same day, Rizal
sent copies to his friends. Two copies went to Jose Ma. Basa and Sixto Lopez in Hong Kong.
He gave gratefully to Valentin Ventura the original manuscript of the novel and a printed
copy with his autograph. It is now preserved in the Filipiniana Section of the National Library
of the Philippines, Manila. The Philippine government bought the original manuscript from
Valentin Ventura for ten thousand pesos (P10,000). It consists of 279 pages of long sheets of
paper. The author’s corrections are seen throughout the manuscript. Only few pages were
not revised by Rizal.
Two features in the manuscript do not appear in the printed book, namely: the
FOREWORD and the WARNING. These were not put into print, evidently, to save printing
The FOREWORD appears just before the dedicatory page in the manuscript. It runs
as follows:
To the Filipino People and Their Government
Oftentimes, we have been so frightened by subversion that a mere false alarm of it
has acquired the posture of reality and the mere mention of which would make us commit
the greatest errors. Putting aside the old habit of believing in myths, in order not to meet in
reality that was imagined, instead of evading it, let us face it squarely, and with a firm, if
inexpert hand, we shall raise the veil to uncover, before the multitude, the components of
its skeletal mechanisms.
If seeing it, our country and its government could react to a reflection, we shall
consider ourselves happy, no matter whether they would censure use for our audacity, no
matter whether we have to pay for it like the young student of Sais who wished to
penetrate into the secret chambers of frailocratic deception.
On the other hand, facing reality, instead of being appeased, one’s fear is magnified,
and the confused alarm of another is aggravated, then leave to the hands of time which
educates the living, to the hands of fatality which weaves the destinies of people and their
governments for the faults and errors they are committing day by day.
BURGOS (30 YEARS), AND DON ZAMORA (35 YEARS) who were strangled to death in
Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park) on 28 February 1872.
The church by refusing to condemn and defrock you has belied or paced in doubt the
crime that has been imputed against you. The government by covering your trials with
and shrouds, indicated that errors were committed in condemning you to death; and the
whole country by idolizing your money and calling you martyrs, by no means recognizes
your guilt. As long, therefore, as your connection with the Cavite Mutiny is not clearly
proven, whether or not you have cherished sentiments of patriotism, justice, and liberty. I
have the right to dedicate my work to you as victims of the evil which I undertake to fight.
And while all eagerly awake the day that Spain would vindicate herself from culpability for
your death, and to restore your good name, let these pages serve as the late wreath of dried
leaves placed on your unknown tombs; and let all understand whoever attacks your
memory without laudatory proofs, stains hands with your blood.
The two novels also portray the love story of Crisostomo Ibarra and Maria Clara —
a relationship that is against all odds.
When Rizal wrote his two famous novels, he had the intention of opening the eyes of
the Filipinos to the abuses and cruelties done by the Spaniards by using different
symbolisms and metaphors throughout his writings.
Lesson 8
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. appraise important characters in the novel and what they represent; and
2. examine the present Philippine situation through the examples mentioned in the
The novel centers on the story of Juan Crisostomo Ibarra a descendant of a wealthy
family of San Diego, who returned home from his seven-year education in the German
section of Switzerland. The story opens with a reception given by Capitan Tiago (Santiago de
los Santos) in honor of Ibarra, the fiancé of his beautiful daughter Maria Clara.
Among the guests, at the reception were Padre Damaso Verdolagas, a Franciscan
friar who was the parish priest of San Diego; Padre Sybila, a young Dominican parish priest
of Binondo; Senor Guevarra, an elderly and kind lieutenant of the Guardia Civil; Don Tiburcio
de Espadana and his wife Dona Victorina; and several others.
Crisostomo Ibarra, when he returned to the Philippines, was immediately the talk of
his town. His European education and the respectability of his father, Don Rafael, is publicly
acknowledged, that Crisostomo produced a favorable impression to his townmates
especially among the guests at the reception dinner. There was only one person at the
reception who was openly and deliberately rude to him and tried to discredit and criticize
him in front of the other guests – it was Padre Damaso. Padre Damaso was in such a bad
mood that night because aside from Ibarra having stolen everybody’s attention and
admiration, he got the bony neck and a hard wing of the chicken “tinola”.
After the reception, Ibarra, on his way home to his hotel, was met by the kind
Lieutenant who told him the sad story of his father, Don Rafael. During his absence, Don
Rafael was imprisoned for the accidental death of a Spanish tax collector while defending a
helpless boy from the cruelty of the said illiterate Spaniard. Don Rafael pushed the tax
collector and he former fell with his head hitting the concrete sidewalk that led to his death.
Don Rafael was a subscriber to liberal publications. When he was buried, his enemies had
his body removed from the cemetery.
The next morning, after a happy reunion with Maria Clara, Ibarra went out to visit his
father’s grave. It was then that he discovered the disgusting fate of his father’s corpse. He
learned that upon the order of the parish priest of San Diego, Don Rafael’s remains were
removed from the cemetery to be buried in the Chinese cemetery. It was a dark and rainy
night; the corpse was heavy, so the gravedigger just threw the corpse into the lake.
The story angered Ibarra who hastily left; on his way, he met Padre Salvi, the parish
priest of San Diego. Ibarra pounced on the Franciscan priest and demanded an explanation
for the desecration of his father’s remains. Padre Salvi pleaded innocent to the act and
added that it was Padre Damaso who was responsible for it.
Ibarra also found out that the deplorable condition of his town remains unchanged
since he left for Europe. Inspired by the desire to educate his people and bring progress to
his hometown, Ibarra planned of establishing a school patterned after the schools he had
known in Europe. The project was enthusiastically endorsed by the townspeople of San
Diego except by the old scholar Tasio who had long before tried to do the same thing but
failed and by the priest, Padre Salvi because he sees the school as a threat to his authority
over the natives.
Ibarra met several interesting characters in his town.
One interesting character is Tasio the philosopher, whose ideas are too far ahead of
his contemporaries that his townmates call him, “Tasio and lunatic.” Tasio belongs to a
well-to-do family. Because he is intelligent, his mother decided for him to be a priest. But
he gave up his studies for love; but a year later, he was widowed. To avoid idleness and
depressions, he concentrated on books. He became so engrossed in his intellectual pursuits
that he neglected his estate and became poor. Although pessimistic about Ibarra’s school
project, he offered sensible pieces of advice to the young Ibarra.
Another interesting character is Dona Victorina de los Reyes de Espadana, a native
who tried to act like a superior Spaniard. She looks down on her own people as inferior
beings and considers herself superior to most people because of her hallucinations of
Spanish affinity. She married late, but nevertheless, it was to a Spaniard. To be more
Spanish, she added another “de” to her husband’s surname and thus wanted to be called
“Doctora Dona Victorina de los Reyes de De Espadana.”
Dona Victorina’s husband, Don Tiburcio, is a lame and bald man who stutters and
sprays saliva whenever he talks. A native of Spain, he came to the Philippines as a custom
official. During the trip, he got sea sick, broke one of his legs, and to add insult to injury,
found his dismissal paper upon his arrival. Jobless and broke, he married Dona Victorina
whom he looked up to as someone to ease up his troubles. She turned out to be a
domineering ill-tempered wife who controlled him by threatening to tear out his false teeth
and leave him a horrible sight for days if he would not accede her wishes. Through his wife’s
machinations, he was able to pass as a Doctor of Medicine who treats only patients “of
quality” , although his only qualification was his work experience as an attendant in a
hospital in Madrid, aside from being a Spaniard.
There is also Sisa, formerly a rich girl who had the misfortune of marrying a good-fornothing gambler of a man. She eventually became poor but in spite of everything, she
remained loyal to her husband although not out of love anymore; she devoted her affection
and devotion to her two sons, Crispin and Basilio who became victims of the parish
caretaker’s brutalities. Her two sons, wanting to help their mother, worked as sacristans but
were accused of stealing the priest’s money which the caretaker himself took. In the course
of punishing and beating the two boys, Crispin died while Basilio luckily escaped. When her
two sons failed to go home, Sisa looked for them everywhere but there was not a trace of
her two sons. Her sufferings drove her to insanity.
Ibarra’s future father-in-law is also a character himself. Don Santiago de los Santos is
a Chinese half-breed and one of the richest men in San Diego. He got his fortune and social
title through his marriage to Pia Alba, a beautiful Spanish mestiza whose family was
prominent in the sugar, coffee, and indigo industry in San Diego. Capitan Tiago would
patronize new ideas but not without the prior approval of the friars or officials. People call
him Sacristan Tiago behind his back. Capital Tiago even tries to imitate the European
manners and ways of dressing. But in spite of all his shortcomings, he was a good father to
Maria Clara, his supposed daughter. He and his wife had waited long for Maria Clara. Pia
Alba would often visit the church to pray that God give them a child and to confess her
“sins” to Padre Damaso. Eventually, Pia Alba became pregnant; the long awaited dream had
come true. But Pia Alba didn’t see her daughter bloom into a beautiful woman for she died
when Maria was still very young. Orphaned by her mother, Maria Clara became the object
and sympathy of the town folks and the paternal affection and concern of Padre Damaso,
her baptismal godfather.
Ibarra also met the gobernadorcillo of the town who faithfully catered to the wishes
and whims of the Spanish parish friars; Don Filipo Lino, the teniente-mayor and leader of the
liberal faction of the town. Don Melchor, the captain of the cuadrillos (town police); the
former gobernadorcillo of San Diego who remained prominent people of the town – Don
Basilio and Don Valentin.
There is also Dona Consolacion, Dona Victorina’s rival, and the vulgar mistress of the
Spanish alferez. The two senoras would bicker and insult each other in unutterable language
and had even came to blows at one incident if not for the intercession of Padre Salvi.
On a picnic with Maria Clara and some of their friends, an incident happened. While
they were on a boat, a crocodile rocked the boat and its passengers panicked. One of the
boatmen, bravely jumped and wrestled with the crocodile, Seeing that the boatman’s life
was in danger, Ibarra jumped into the water and killed the crocodile, thereby saving the
Ibarra learned later that the man was an outlaw, because some civil guards came
looking for him later that day.
Elias, Ibarra’s mysterious friend who appears every time Ibarra is in trouble is no
ordinary character. His family’s misfortunes had forced him to be an outlaw. His grandfather
was a bookkeeper in the hacienda of Don Pedro Eibarramendia. One night, fire razed the
district and soon Elias’ grandfather was accused of starting it. He was flogged in public and
was dragged through the street by a horse. The wife, finding no means of meeting the
family’s needs, became a prostitute. Because of this, the husband hanged himself. The
widow, accused of causing her husband’s death, left the town with her two sons.
The older son became a tulisan named Balat, while the younger one stayed with her
mother. When Balat was caught, his body was quartered: his trunk was buried, his limbs
exhibited in different towns, and his head was hung at the entrance of his mother’s hut.
Upon seeing it, his mother died of heart attack.
The younger son then went to Tayabas to start anew. He found employment with a
wealthy man. He fell in love with the man’s daughter and they were about to be married
when his past was discovered. He was forced to be separated from the woman. On the
other hand, the woman gave birth to twins, Elias and his sister. When their mother died,
they were left to the care of their grandfather who raised and sent them to good schools.
The old man died. Elias and her sister were left with a large legacy. However a displeased
relative exposed their past and they were forced to leave the town with an old devoted
servant who turned out to be their real father. The father soon died in misery while Elias’
sister abandoned by her fiancé, disappeared and was later found left with a dagger pierced
in her heart.
Elias now alone and desolate searched the descendants of the family who cause his
family misfortunes. And then, he met Crisostomo Ibarra, who saved his life, and in whom he
found a savior of the sufferings of the masses. Elias vowed to himself to protect Ibarra in any
way can.
As San Diego was celebrating its fiesta in honor of San Diego de Alcala, Ibarra
attended a mass officiated by Father Salvi. Padre Damaso gave the very long sermon
criticizing the “evils” caused by educated men. During the mass, Ibarra was warned by Elias
about the plot to destroy and kill him.
In the laying of the cornerstone of Ibarra’s schoolhouse, the derricks collapse almost
killing Ibarra if not for Elias’quick actions. It appeared that the man who was hired to build
the derrick was hired by Ibarra’s enemies to kill him accidentally; as it happed it was the
yellowish man who was crushed to death by the derrick.
That night, a sumptuous dinner was served at Capitan Tiago’s house. While the
celebration was going on, Padre Damaso insulted the memory of Ibarra’s father. Taking it no
more, Ibarra knocked down the friar with his fist and grabbed a sharp knife. He would have
killed Padre Damaso if he was not stopped by Maria Clara. Because of the incident, Ibarra’s
engagement to Maria Clara was broken, and he was excommunicated. Fortunately, the
liberal-minded governor-general persuaded the Archbishop of Manila to lift the ban of
excommunication and Capitan Tiago was also persuaded to accept Ibarra as a future son-inlaw.
After the fiesta, Maria Clara became ill and was treated by the fake Spanish
physician, Don Tiburcio de Espadana.
Dona Victorina introduced Don Alfonso Linares de Espadana, a cousin of Don
Tiburcio and godson of Padre Damaso’s brother-in-law to Capitan Tiago. Unknown to
Capitan Tiago, Linares was a penniless and jobless fortune hunter who came to the
Philippines in search of a rich Filipino heiress he could marry. But Maria Clara loved only
In the meantime, Ibarra’s enemies did not stop until they have ruined him. They
plotted an attack on the barracks of the Guardia Civil, and at the same time, warning the
alferez to alert his men that particular night. The attackers were deceived. They were told
the mastermind of the attack was Ibarra. Naturally, they failed and Ibarra’s name was
implicated. There were even manufactured evidences showing Ibarra’s signature which they
forged from his letter to Maria Clara. Those letters were reluctantly given by Maria Clara to
Padre Salvi in exchange for the truth about her real father.
When Elias heard of Ibarra’s arrest, he burned all the papers that might incriminate
his friend and set Ibarra’s house on fire. He then helped Ibarra escape. Both men jumped
into a banca loaded with grass. Ibarra stopped by Maria Clara’s house to say goodbye. Maria
Clara revealed that her real father is Padre Damaso and Ibarra forgave her for giving his
letters to Padre Salvi.
Ibarra and Elias continued to paddle up the Pasig River toward Laguna de Bay, but a
police boat with guardia civil pursued them. Elias told Ibarra to hide under the zacate (grass)
and he jumped into the water and swam swiftly toward the shore. This diverted the soldiers’
attention, thus giving Ibarra a chance to escape. The soldiers fired at Elias who was hit and
sank. Thinking that it was Ibarra that they had killed, the guardia civil returned to Manila.
Thus, Ibarra was able to escape.
Elias, on the other hand, although seriously wounded reached the shore and
staggered into the forest. He met a boy, Basilio, who was weeping over his mother’s dead
body. He instructed the boy to make a pyre on which his and Sisa’s corpses were to be
burned to ashes. As Basilio was preparing the funeral pyre, Elias looked toward the east and
murmured: “I die without seeing the dawn brighten over my native land. You who have it to
see, welcome it – and forget not those who have fallen during the night.”
Epilogue of the Noli Me Tangere
Maria Clara entered the nunnery of Santa Clara to remain loyal to her love for Ibarra.
Padre Salvi left San Diego and became a chaplain of the Santa Clara nunnery. Padre Damaso
was transferred to a remote province; the next day, he was found dead in his bedroom.
Capitan Tiago became an opium addict. Linares, who didn’t succeed in winning Maria Clara’s
love, later died of dysentery; while Dona Victorina still henpecked Don Tiburcio.
Praisers and Defenders of the Noli
The Filipinos adored Jose Rizal for the book Noli Me Tangere, which had reached the
Islands before him and had found eager buyers. People said that all the characters in the
book were real people, as in point of fact, they were. It was history written with fictitious
names. Those who knew Rizal’s home well realized that he had seen or heard of the
incidents which he had related, and that only the names were new. Crisostomo Ibarra, a
youth who goes to Europe to study and to find out how to bless his country, is Rizal himself.
His father has trouble with the friars, is thrown into prison, and dies. This is a composite of
Rizal’s father and mother. Though they were still living when the book was written,
hundreds of other martyred men made that part of the story true in every corner of the
archipelago. Maria Clara is Ibarra’s sweetheart and fiancée, but because he has trouble with
the friars, the girl’s father, Kapitan Tiago, breaks off the engagement and marries her to
another man, which breaks her heart and results in her death. Maria Clara is Leonor Rivera.
Tasyo, the philosopher, is Jose’s brother Paciano. The people of Calamba with sure finger
pointed out all the rest of the characters: Fr. Damaso, the cruel Dominican friar, who
claimed most of the land about Calamba; poverty-stricken Sisa, a victim of the unjust
system, who does not have enough to eat and goes hungry while her boys have a little food;
Civil Guards arresting Sisa for alleged theft—they had seen them all time and time again.
The book was thousand times true. The picture of the Governor General, who requests the
archbishop to cancel the excommunication, perfectly represents well-meaning Terrero, who
was the Governor General when Rizal reached Manila. Indeed, as Rizal had said, every
incident in the book had “actually happened.”
His friend Regidor wrote from London one of scores of delighted comments on Noli
Me Tangere:
“I have today finished your most interesting story; and I confess frankly that I have
never read anything truer or more gratifying in reference to this shame which curses our
society. Who does not know Fr. Damaso? Ah, I have met him! And although in your brilliant
impersonation of him in the novel you had him wearing the garb of a dirty Franciscan,
always coarse, always tyrannical, always corrupt, I have met him and studied him in real life
in the Philippines, at times in the white habit of the Augustinian, sometimes as a Franciscan,
as you have presented him, and sometimes in the bare feet and tunic of a Recollect… Your
Kapitan Tiago is inimitable, combining as he does the characters of two or three of our
countrymen. Who does not find those who personify this disgraceful type, a worthy cousin
to Ate Isabel. I have met them… The old man Tasyo brings to my memory two or three
famous countrymen of ours, those who have fallen during the night among them the
apostate Quaker, Francisco Rodriguez, and I remember others whom you and I know whom
we cannot yet name. Fr. Salvi is the truest representative of the much-vaunted Filipino
missionary. How many persons who pretend to know our country will claim that the noble
and unfortunate Elias is a pure ideal? This type among us is well known to you and to me,
because we have thought and felt and suffered with them… The good servant Don Primitivo
and the wise Sibyia, picture perfectly the ancient Thomases, Josephs, and Laterans full of
distinctions and Latin, which is useless for reason as well as for life… How many children of
my infancy, infatuated with this supposed erudition still are living! These are really perfect
types of the social life of the Archipelago, I do to know how to praise Ibarra enough. His life
and misfortunes are so like my own humble history! I do not know whether anyone will dare
to dispute the absolute truthfulness of this victim of despotism and colonial corruption, but
if this should happen, I can point out to him historical facts… It is even better than a
“Maria Clara is the sublime type of pure love, of paternal respect, of gratitude, and
of sacrifice. There are unfortunate victims of the religious-colonial avarice, exiled martyrs
who with slight variations can be called Lucia of Ymus, Anita of Binondo, Ysabel of
Pangasinan, etc….
The fanaticism of Hermanas Terceras completes the coloring of this admirable description.
“If we pass from persons to the politico-philosophical-social implications of this
book, it is a perfect mirror of some, if not all, the great evils that afflict our land. You exhibit
naked the cancer which most needs to be remedied… and by doing this in a humorous vein
which you carry through so skillfully by relating history and anecdotes of daily occurrences,
either employing irony or sarcasm, you hold the facts to ridicule and draw from the reader a
cry of indignation.”
“You are still a child and have already produced this red hot shot against that
“Your devoted friend and admirer,
“El Proscrito”
Evaristo de Aguirre in his letter June 3, 1887 wrote: “I have read and been fascinated
by it, so I congratulate you with all my heart. I am one of those who believe that it is the first
work of that kind, in fact, the only one that has been written about that country, which best
reflects and fully embraces the aspects and special conditions of the physiognomy of the life
of our people…” (Locsin & Locsin, 1996)
Ferdinand Blumentritt on March 27, 1887 wrote:
“Your work, as we Germans say, has been written with the blood of the heart
And so the heart also speaks…”
“I knew already that you are a man of extraordinary talent (I had said it to Pardo de
Tavera), and this can be seen from the marvelously short time in which you have acquired
my difficult and rough mother tongue; but in spite of this, your work has exceeded my
hopes and I consider myself happy to have been honored with your friendship. Not only I,
but also your country, may feel happy for having you in a patriotic and loyal son. If you
continue so, you will be to your people one of those great men who will exercise a
determinative influence over the progress of their spiritual life. With greater impatience
than ever, I now await the moment when I shall know you personally.” (Locsin & Locsin,
As expected, Rizal’s enemies condemned Noli Me Tangere. It was evident when Rizal
went home to the Philippines; the Noli Me Tangere was attacked furiously.
Retana says the principal conclusions of Noli Me Tangere are:
1. The enlightened liberal Filipino cannot live in the Philippines because he and the
friars are uncongenial. He is persecuted in every way, false conspiracies are
invented to implicate him, and then he is imprisoned, exiled, or shot.
2. The country is not for us but the Spaniards, especially the friars.
3. The Civil Guard is so abusive that it makes more bandits than it captures.
4. The Spaniards in the Philippines have no high ideals, but many of them have
degenerated into ruffians.
5. The Catholic religion has been employed as an instrument of domination.
6. The pure Filipinos are condemned to perpetual ignorance.
7. The woman cannot marry a Spaniard but gives herself to the friar if her parents
oblige her to do so to protect themselves.
8. With the present bad government, the Filipinos cannot remain united with Spain,
and with all courtesy we ask for the rights we deserve.
9. The chief cause of insurrection is desperation. When a man loses all he has, he
Vigilant spies carried Noli Me Tangere to the government, and the government
appointed a committee from the University of Santo Tomas to examine it. The committee
did a thorough job. The rector of Santo Tomas reported to the Archbishop: “In returning the
copy you sent us, we have noted with a red pencil the statements against Spain, the
Government, and its representatives in these Islands. With a blue or black pencil other
statements, impious, heretical, scandalous, or objectionable for other reasons. All the
narrative, absolutely all taken together and in its details, the important and unimportant
incidents, are against doctrine, against the church, against the religious orders, and against
the institutions, civil, military, social, and political, which the Government of Spain has
implanted in these Islands. Noli Me Tangere of Jose Rizal, printed in Berlin, if circulated in
the Philippines, would cause the gravest dangers to faith and morals, lessen or kill the love
of these natives for Spain, stir up the passions of the inhabitants of the country, and cause
sad days for the mother country.”
A government decree followed at once, excluding the book from the Philippines,
requiring a search for any copies of it that might be in the Islands, and providing that any
Filipino found with Noli Me Tangere in his possession should be deported and his property
confiscated and given to the person who should betray him. The decree had no effect
excepting to advertise the book and to enhance the popularity of its writer. Copies were
smuggled into the Islands to be read secretly. They were buried in fields at the approach of
officers and dug up when the officers are gone.
Even Rizal’s friends the Jesuits turned against him. When he visited the Ateneo,
Padre (Federico) Faura, “knowing the change and the great wickedness which had put
impiety into his soul, tried to bring him back to the right road. But in vain, for the
unfortunate man with obstinate coldness, though making a great profession of being loyal
to Spain, said that all discussion of religion was useless, for he had already lost the
inestimable treasure of his faith. Padre Faura then said that if his beliefs were like that, he
should no more set his feet within the Ateneo.”
Not until some five months had passed, Rizal was called to Malacanang, the
Governor’s, now Presidential palace, for an interview with Governor General Emilio Terrero,
who told him that the Dominican Committee had found Noli Me Tangere very dangerous.
Rizal assured Terrero that the book was innocent of the slightest slander against the
government, though it did reveal some friar injustice, and asked him to read it before
passing judgment. The Governor General agree to read the book and was secretly pleased at
its exposure of the friars. At his next interview he was very friendly, and being solicitous for
Rizal’s welfare, gave him a bodyguard, Lieutenant Jose Taviel de Andrade, a Spaniard, who
became one of Rizal’s warmest admirers and friends, and remained so to the end of his life.
Partly or wholly as a result of reading Noli Me Tangere, Governor General Terrero
started an investigation of the notorious inequalities in taxation which then existed.
Noli Me Legere (Read me not)
The Spanish were furious with Rizal’s novel. They refused to allow it to be imported
into Manila. As a result only a small number of copies of Noli Me Tangere entered the
Philippines. The friars, whom Rizal criticized, spoke disparagingly of the book and
threatened excommunication to anyone who reads it. The government and military officials
by beating anyone caught with the book.
Aside from the small pamphlet issued by the friar Jose Rodriguez, entitled “Caingat
Cayo,” warning people not to read the Noli, the censors in the Philippines, through an
Augustinian priest, expressed censorship and condemnation of the Noli. The Permanent
Commission on Censorship of the Philippines which read and examined very carefully the
so-called Tagalog novel found the book libelous, defamatory, and full of falsehood and
calumny, in which the author (Jose Rizal) reveals crass ignorance.
Provided below is an excerpt from the said report of the Permanent Commission on
Censorship of the Philippines.
The author, nursing an ill-concealed hatred of the mother who gave him birth and
steeped in the defamatory writings of envious foreigners who wish to discredit one of the
greatest works of generous Spain in these Islands, and giving himself Volneyist and
Voltairian airs, makes it his principal object to discredit openly and impudently all the
institutions established by the Metropolis in these distant Islands.
He (Rizal) attacks in a violent and wicked manner some fundamental dogmas, many
truths, and pious beliefs of the state religion, the target of his fury being the religious
communities and the Civil Guard, not so much for the habit the former wear and the rules
they follow and the latter’s social mission, but for considering both institutions the principal
impediment and insuperable of the country.
According to the author, Spain has brought here nothing good, or so dearly it has
cost the Islands the few rudiments of civilization that they have received that degradation
and death would be a thousand times preferable to living under the despotic government of
He (Rizal) considers corrupt and corrupting the courts of justice, venal the governors
general, inept the administration, null the education in a country where more than seventy
percent of the citizens know how to read and write, the Archipelago abandoned to its own
resources, and slaves the Filipinos, whom he pretends to awaken with the cries of war and
revenge evoking the memories of Cavite, in order to shake off the oppressive rule.
A synthesis of the result of the analytical censure summarizes its findings into three
articles whose respective titles are:
1. Attacks on the integrity of Spain (State and Religion)
a. The most important part of Noli Me Tangere is that which refers to the
separatist liberty and independence of the country, the point towards which
all the thoughts and poisoned reflections of the author converge.
b. The author takes as the chief character in his work a young man of great
heart and high patriotic sentiments who was educated abroad. The father of
his youth, who is named Ibarra, died wretchedly, persecuted by the Spanish
authorities according to the story.
c. From here on Rizal represents the Philippines as a slave tied hand and foot.
The Archipelago is the victim of the Civil Guard’s violence as well as suffers
from the fanaticism and despotic arbitrariness of the missionaries; it is
delivered over to the greed and immorality of the courts of justice, plundered
by the constituted authorities, and forgotten and abandoned by the
Government of Spain.
d. “The government! The government you say!” said the philosopher, raising his
eyes to the ceiling. “Howsoever desirous it may be of advancing the country
for its own benefit and for that of the Mother Country; howsoever one or
more officials may remember the generous spirit of the Catholic kings in their
hearts the government itself will not see, hear, or judge more than what the
priest or the provincial makes them see, hear, or judge. Compare, if you dare,
our governmental system with that of other countries you have visited…”
e. “The people do not complain because they have no voice; they do not move
because they are under a spell of lethargy, and still you say that they do not
suffer because you have not seen how their hearts bleed. But some day you
will see and hear! Unhappy those who allow themselves to be deceived and
work in the night thinking that everyone sleeps! When the light of the day
shines upon the deeds of the night then shall the terrible reaction follow!
Such forces repressed during centuries; such poison distilled drop by drop
and such stifled sighs appear in the light and explode!”
f. Hatred of Spain and the frenzied desire for liberty, for independence and for
revenge reach their climax in these lines. “And now I see the horrible cancer
which is gnawing at this social structure, which is acquiring a firmer grip on its
flesh and demands violent extirpation. They have opened my eyes, have
shown me the sore and have impelled me to be a criminal! And since they
wish it, I will be a filibuster, but a real filibuster; I will call all the unfortunate
ones, all who feel a bleeding heart beating in their breast, those who sent
you to me.”
g. “I die without seeing the Day dawning on my country… You who will see it,
greet it… and forget not those who fell in the Night!”
2. Attacks on the administration, the Spanish employees of the government, and
the courts of justice.
The author of Noli Me Tangere thinks and affirms every tie an opportunity offers that
in the Philippines bribery is the rule and that every official, absolutely without exception,
from the Governor General to the lowest 5th class employee, is venal and corrupt, and that
equally venal and corrupt are all from the Minister of Ultramar to the lowest court
functionary. All peninsular Spaniard are included in this general condemnation.
In chapter 4 where the hero of the novel is talking to a Spaniard long resident in the
country, the author puts in the latter’s mouth these words:
a. ”We Spaniards who come to the Philippines are unfortunately not what we
should be. (I say this with reference to one of your grandparents as well as to
the enemies of your father.) The continuous changes, the corruption in the
high positions, favoritism, the cheapness and the shortness of the voyage are
to blame for everything. Here come the worst people of the Peninsula, and if
a good man comes, the country soon corrupts him.”
b. Talking of Kapitan Tiago, a mestizo contractor who does business with all
government offices.
c. He tells of a gobernadorcillo and refers to the supposed general immorality in
the appointments of municipal and other officials of the state thus: “The
person was an unhappy man who did not command but rather (the
gobernadorcillo) obeyed. He did not scold anyone but was scolded; did not
control anybody but was controlled. Rather was he responsible to the alcalde
mayor for what he had been ordered, directed, and instructed to do as if
everything had originated in his brain although it should be stated to his
credit that he had not stolen or usurped this office. It actually cost him five
thousand pesos and much humiliation, and, considering what he gets out of
it, he considers the price cheap enough.’’
d. Telling of the ease with which in the Ministry and at Rome a miter can be
obtained (Note by Austin Craig: that is, a Friar can get promotion to be a
Bishop, then a government position as well as a Church dignitary), he says:
“They give it for nothing nowadays. I know one who got it doing less than
that. He wrote a little work in chabacano, a Philippine dialect of Spanish—
showing that the natives have no capacity for anything except
craftsmanship… Pshaw… Common old stuff!”
e. The author makes the most serious charge possible against the honesty and
integrity of the Governor General, supposing him to be bribed by a P1,000
ring presented to him by a Trozo mestizo in order that her family shall not be
implicated in an alleged conspiracy against the sovereignty of Spain.
f. There follows an animated discussion in which it is sought to prove that the
administrative officials and the Government are venal and corruptible by any
gift of value and for it will sell reason and justice.
3. Attacks on the Civil Guard
a. According to Rizal, the meritorious Civil Guard is worse than a gang of
ruffians. Its men are cruel, heartless, and without mercy, a greater calamity
for the Islands than the tulisanes (robbers) themselves, those wild beasts of
the forest who bring desolation and mourning to the families and pillage and
burn the towns of the archipelago. The tulisan, according to the author,
would be quite humane, sympathetic, and a law-abiding citizen if it were not
for the Civil Guard, the foremost factor in bandolerismo (banditry) and
filibusterismo (agitation for a better government).
b. A mother whose two sons were being sought by the Civil Guard made
excuses that she did not know where they were: “The civil guards are not
people, they are just civil guards. They do not listen to prayers and are used
to seeing tears shed.”
c. Speaking of a festival in which they were going to be gambling, the Civil
Guard is presented as back of the ruinous and prohibited games. “’The
alferez has fifty pesos every night!’ whispers a small fat man in the ears of the
new arrivals. ‘Kapitan Tiago will come and they will start a monte game;
Kapitan Joaquin is bringing eighteen thousand pesos; there will be a game of
liampo in which the Chino Carlos will be the banker with ten thousand pesos;
and there are big gamblers coming from Tanauan, Lipa, and Batangas and
also Santa Cruz. There’s going to be a gay time, I can tell you!”
d. “’That is all they are good for!’ shouted a woman, rolling up her sleeves and
shaking her arms threateningly. ‘To disturb the peace of the town! They only
persecute the honest men!’’’
e. “Among the multitude there are civil guards who are not wearing the uniform
of their reputed corps nor are they dressed as civilians. They are wearing a
disguise which is in harmony with their conduct, consisting of guingon
trousers with a red stripe, a shirt spotted with faded blue, and the regulation
cap. They are betting and watching, disturbing, and speaking of preserving
After the analytical examination, the Commission on Censorship through Augustinian
Fr. Salvador Font, concludes with the following words:
“Most Excellent Sir, the undersigned, based on the text, literally copied, that he has
just presented to the strict and patriotic consideration of Your Excellency, is of the opinion
that the importation, reproduction, and circulation of this pernicious book should be
prohibited absolutely by your authority.”
“Besides attacking so directly, as Your Excellency has seen, the religion of the state,
institutions, and persons respectable for their official character, the book is vitiated with
foreign teachings and doctrines, and its general synthesis is to instill deep and cruel hatred
of the mother country (Spain) in the minds of the submissive and loyal sons of Spain in these
distant Islands, placing her behind foreign countries, especially Germany for which the
author of the Noli Me Tangere seems to have pre-eminent predilection. His only objective is
the absolute independence of the country, desiring to break with impious and bold hand the
sacred integrity of the mother, Spain.”
The Philippine monasticism cannot bear Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere despite the
favorable reception it has received in the literary and political world of Spain and other
countries in Europe. In the Philippines the censors wished the Noli Me Tangere (Touch me
not) to be Noli Me Legere (Read me not).
Despite this strong objection and condemnation, the Noli Me Tangere became a very
significant book because of the impact it had upon the developing nationalistic feeling. It
was an important reflection on the illustrado political mentality. The Noli Me Tangere is rich
enough to build a modern nationalism.
When the hero dies in Noli Me Tangere, Rizal made a serious nationalistic point. It
was a literary device designed to call attention to the free thinking political attitudes that
Crisostomo Ibarra possesses and how he influences the rising state of Philippine
nationalism. The Noli Me Tangere is called the bridge between the Propaganda movement
and the Revolution of 1896. The world had known through Rizal’s novels the conditions that
the Filipino face at home. The novel inspired the indios to become more critical of the
Spanish domination in the Philippines and to create a strong sense of a new democratic
The Predecessors of the Noli
Have you imagined a mysterious widow riding in the middle of the night to exact her
revenge? This is far from reality considering the fact that the setting is Spanish era, were
women are submissive and conservative in general. This is the main plot of the novel La
Noba Negra written by Padre Jose Burgos, a predecessor of the Noli.
Another predecessor of the Noli is the novel written by Pedro Paterno entitled
Ninay. Guerrero gives this summary: The love of Loleng, an Antipolo girl, and Berto is
frustrated by Don Juan Silverio. Don Juan Silverio, the rich landlord of Loleng’s parents,
wants the girl for himself. Loleng and Berto run away, but Loleng dies in a cave. Exhausted
by her vicissitudes, by her grave Berto made friends with a rich young man, Carlos Mabagsic.
Carlos is in love with Antonina Milo, the Ninay of the title, herself an heiress. She catches
the eye of Federico, Don Juan’s son, who takes advantage of a minor uprising to divorce
Ninay’s father. Don Evaristo is accused of involvement in the revolt. To save her father,
Ninay writes a letter compromising herself with Federico, but he is killed by Berto, who is
unable to keep his promise to save Ninay’s father from execution. Berto also warns Carlos of
his impending arrest, so the latter escapes on a ship that got lost in the storm. Believing
Carlos and her father are dead, Ninay enters the convent. But Carlos survives and is saved
by Tik, the queen of a savage bandit. Carlos remains faithful to Ninay and when Tik dies, she
leaves a treasure to Carlos.
Was there a parallelism between the two novels, the Noli and Ninay? Take a look.
Main characters:
Crisostomo Ibarra
Kapitan Tiago
Don Evaristo
Ibarra is in love with Maria Clara.
The father of Maria Clara is the rich Kapitan
There is a revolt. Ibarra is implicated.
As a result of the revolution, Maria Clara has to
execute a letter with his father, thus appearing
infidel to Ibarra.
Ibarra escaptes from the Spanish authority
through the help of Elias riding a banca.
Believing Ibarra is dead, Maria Clara enters the
convent and becomes a nun.
Carlos is in love with Ninay.
The father of Ninay is the rich Don Evaristo.
There is a revolt. Carlos is arrested.
Ninay executes a letter to save her father and
seemingly abandons Carlos.
Carlos escapes on a shipl.
Believing that Carlos is dead, Ninay enters the
convent and becomes a nun.
Lesson 9
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. appraise important characters in the novel and what they represent and
2. examine the present Philippine situation through the examples mentioned in the
El Filibusterismo is the sequel to Noli Me Tangere. In this novel, Rizal is most bitter.
He no longer laughs at the situation of the Filipinos under a decadent colonial system.
Instead, he shows intense bitterness and a deep hatred of the Spanish officials and of some
friars who had made the plight of the Filipino people most miserable and hopeless.
The hero of the novel is Simoun, a rich jeweler whose real name is Don Crisostomo
Ibarra. Ibarra was able to escape while going up the Pasig River in a grass-loaded banca with
Elias. Ibarra dug up his treasure and escaped in Cuba, where he became very rich and
powerful. He became a friend of the highest Spanish officials. When he returned to the
Philippines, he was no longer Ibarra but Simoun, and he was now the friend and adviser of
the Governor General. Simoun’s supreme desire was the destruction of the Spanish reign
over the Philippines. He also wished to rescue Maria Clara who was in the Santa Clara
The opening scene of El Filibusterismo is on board the steamship Tabo (the boat is
going up the Pasig River). On the upper deck are the priests, Padre Sibyla, Padre Camorra,
Padre Salvi, and Padre Irene. Talking with them is Dona Victorina, who is the very
impersonation of aftificiality, and who is going to Laguna to look for her henpecked husband
Don Tiburcio de E.spadana (he abandoned her). Padre Florentino, a Filipino retired priest,
his nephew Isagani, a poet, and Basilio, son of Sisa who is now a medical student, a protégé
of Capitan Tiago was also there.
On the lower deck are the Chinese and the Filipinos – some of them students – and
the poor passengers returning to their homes from Manila, seated on benches amidst
valises, boxes, and baskets.
Simoun smuggles arms into the country with the help of a rich Chinese merchant,
Quiroga. He uses his wealth to corrupt the government which is already in a very precarious
state to promote the oppression of the masses, to hasten the moral degradation of
revolution. Simoun can move freely among the public officials and priests. Simoun explains
his manner of procedure and the objectives that he pursues to young Basilio whom he
meets purely by chance in the woods. Basilio remembers that it was there that Sisa’s body
was buried and where the body of Elias was burned to ashes. Simoun’s attempt for an
armed revolt is not carried out just before its scheduled start, for news come to Simoun that
Maria Clara had died in the nunnery. Simoun feels totally frustrated and at the critical
moment does not give the signal for the start of the revolt.
A sub-plot of the story is about Isagani, the poet who is in love with Paulita who
marries Juanito Pelaez and not him.
There is Placido Penitente, a student at the University of Sto. Tomas. He is a boy
from Tanauan, Batangas. In his native town, he is considered a brilliant student and a
competent Latinist. But as soon as he reaches Manila, he finds out tht he is not learning as
much as he would. He is unfavorably impressed by the methods of instruction.
Simoun goes through a long period illness but following his days of sickness, he
immediately perfects his plot to destroy the Spanish government. At the wedding banquet
of Paulita Gomez and Juanito Pelaez, Simoun sends a wedding gift, a beautiful lamp which
contains an explosive. It is the plan to blow up the whole house together with all the
government and ecclesiastical officials gathered at the wedding banquet. Only Basilio and
Simoun know about his plan. The explosion at the wedding banquet would be the signal for
the simultaneous blowing up of all government buildings in Manila by the followers of
Outside, Isagani, the rejected lover, stands, sorrowfully, listening and watching his
heart overflowing with grief because inside the house there is merriment and outside he is
alone. At this point, Basilio tells him to leave the place in a hurry because the lighted lamp
will soon explode. Isagani, completely horrified by this piece of information thinks only of
the possible death of his beloved Paulita. He rushes into the house and seizes the lighted
lamp and hurls it into the river where it explodes harmlessly.
In this manner, Simoun’s plot to plunge the country in revolt is discovered and the
officials immediately go after Simoun. The civil guards learn about his presence in the house
of Padre Florentino. Simoun has taken poison. At his death bed, he confesses to Padre
Florentino, revealing his true identity and his diabolical plan to use his wealth to sow the
seeds of corruption and immorality throughout the country so that he might be avenged.
Padre Florentino consoles the dying Simoun and tells him that God in His infinite wisdom
will forgive him. Padre Florentino sees Simoun die peacefully. He takes up the chest of
treasure that Simoun left and hurls it inot the depths of the sea. He said, “May nature guard
you in her deep abysses among the pearls and corals of her eternal seas. When for some
holy sublime purpose iceman may need you; God will, in His wisdom, draw you from the
bosom of the waves. Meanwhile, there you will not work more, you will not distort justice;
you will foment avarice!”
There are other sub-plots in the story of El Filibusterismo. There is the case of
Cabesang Tales whose daughter Juli is Basilio’s sweetheart. Cabesang Tales is an industrious
and diligent farmer. The land rent that he pays to the friar-administrator has been raised
several times until he feels that he is no longer able to pay. So he is dispossessed of his land
in PIani. In desperation, he joins the “Tulisanes” and became known as “Matanglawin.”
There is the case of Senor Pasta, the old Filipino lawyer who refuses to help his
countrymen in their petition for educational reorms.
There are other characters of importance like Sandoval, a Spanish student who
supports the cause of the Filipino student to propagate the teaching of Spanish; Pecson,
one of the Filipino students who moves for the teaching of Spanish.”
The Fili, Subversive?
Before Rizal left Europe, he had to edit and publish El Filibusterismo, the last
chapters of which he had finished in Biarritz while still courting Nellie Bousted. Paris, being
expensive, was out of the question for the printing of his second novel; and so Rizal hurried
back to Brussels, and later to Ghent, in search of cheap printers. Rizal sailed from Marseilles
on October 18, 1891 by a ticket courtesy of Basa. With him were 600 copies of El
In his next novel, El Filibusterismo, published in 1891, Rizal continued to argue for
reform. Rizal argued that the young are aware of the need to take political action and
pursue social justice. Young people, Rizal maintained, create a strong sense of reform.
El Filibusterismo is a book about revolution, positing it clearly as an alternative to
reform efforts that lead nowhere. But in making Simoun, its principal character, fail and die,
Rizal also pointed out the dangers of taking an alternative based on hate and vengeance.
The age of filibustering took place after the terror of 1872, and for twenty years
there was a demand for reform. Then the revolutionary society, the Katipunan, was founded
to further Philippine independence. The influence of the Age of Filibustering is obvious in
Rizal’s two novels. The sons of the Filipino upper class became political leaders, thereby
reflecting Rizal’s beliefs that national revolution was on the horizon. These argument were
aided by the fact that Jose Rizal could write with the skill of a novelist. He single-handedly
created a revolutionary form of Asian fiction that was so close to the truth that it drove the
Spanish to persecute Rizal and other young political visionaries.
From this vantage point, Rizal argued that the Spanish needed to rethink their
political, religious, and economic direction. In his novel Rizal was able to extend this criticism
into new directions. In the preface to his original 1891 edition, Rizal wrote from Europe:
“The specter of subversion has been used so often to frighten us that, from being a
mere nursery tale, it has acquired a real and positive existence, whose mere mention makes
us commit the greatest mistakes.”
Rizal urged the people not to accept Spanish myths and look to themselves for an
inner freedom and a national direction.
El Filibusterismo was dedicated to the three friars, Don Mariano Gomez, Don Jose
Burgos, and Don Jacinto Zamora who were executed on the scaffold at Bagumbayan on
February 28, 1872. This massacre was an extension of the Cavite rebellion and it was a
major turning point in Rizal’s life. Once he thought about the trials and execution of the
friars, Rizal became a major figure in the drive for Philippine freedom.
In his introduction to Rizal’s first novel Noli Me Tangere, Leon Ma. Guerrero suggests
that Rizal was the first Asian nationalist to emerge from the Philippines. What sets Rizal’s
novels apart from other Philippine fiction is his commitment to a sense of independent
A sense of pride and a celebration of Filipino values permeate his work.
Also there was a worldwide audience for his books as they were published in Europe, read
in the United States, and debated throughout Southeast Asia. In Madrid, Spain and Ghent,
Belgium, Rizal’s novels had strong local sales.
The Fili’s Theme
Jose Rizal’s main contribution as a novelist was to expose the malevolent white
colonial attitudes that permeated the world in the late 19 th century. These self-serving
policies, the innate prejudices and the condescending racial attitudes of Spanish
governmental and church officials enraged local Filipinos. Rizal articulated Filipino
discontent and wove it into a pervasive nationalism.
In El Filibusterismo, one of the subthemes is Rizal’s dissection of colonialism. He talks
at length about the “civilizing mission” of Spanish officials and then he demonstrates how
colonial government over three centuries degraded Philippine life. The pretentions and
often arrogant attitude of local Spanish leaders is a major theme in El Filibusterismo. The
characters in Rizal’s fiction ask penetrating questions and suggest that there is a strong local
historical tradition that the Spanish and visiting foreigners do not understand. The Philippine
society of Rizal’s time is sketched skillfully and provides insight into the local nationalistic
When Rizal discusses Philippine history in his fiction, Rizal’s theme is often one of
local division and fighting. The divisions among his people, Rizal argues, is what prevents
them from attaining total freedom. The educated Filipino is split from the working class
people. Simoun, the main character in El Filibusterismo, is an important symbol because he
argues that by accepting the Spanish way of life, Philippine nationalism is in danger of being
lost. There is no real sense of Philippine history, Rizal argues, and the colonial conquerors
have brainwashed Filipinos into accepting European ways.
Hispanization is considered detrimental to the Philippines and Rizal makes a strong
case for resistance to all Spanish influences. His main argument is that the Spanish do not
accept Filipinos in religious, economic or political matters and “the prejudices of the local
rulers” make independence an impossible task. Rizal urges Filipinos to take matters into
their own hands and create a strong nationalism.
The main theme of the Fili suggests that colonialism has a divisive influence upon the
Philippines. The Spaniards who continually search for self-fulfillment, prestige, and a special
status bear out all the evils of the colonial mentality. The Fili demonstrates that conflicting
nationalism cannot exist side by side and revolution is inevitable.
Simoun’s Advocacy
The arguments for a separate nationalism are put forth by Simoun when he
questions the Spanish way of life and the destruction of his own national identity. “A people
without a soul, a nation without freedom, everything in you will be borrowed even your
own defects,” Simoun remarks. He then suggests that by resigning themselves to Spanish
rule Filipinos do themselves a disservice.
For the Spanish, one of the frightening aspects of El Filibusterismo was the
revolutionary rhetoric and formal planning for native rule. “You ask the parity of rights, the
Spanish ways of life and you do not realize that what you are asking is death, the
destruction of your national identity, the disappearance of your homeland,” Simoun
But in the conclusion of the Fili, Simoun is visited on his deathbed by a native priest
who informs him that the revolution will fail because Filipinos are not ready for
independence. Although his plans for revolution are failed ones, this dying patriot gives
hope for the future. His message is that revolution and subsequent independence provide
the future political direction.
The Fili, Dedicated to the Three Martyrs
El Filibusterismo was dedicated to the GomBurZa, who had been martyred in Rizal’s
childhood. The Fili’s page reads: “Don Mariano Gomez (85 years old), Don Jose Burgos (30
years old), and Don Jacinto Zamora (35 years old), executed in Bagumbayan Field, February
28, 1872… I have a right to dedicate my book to you as victims of the evil that I undertake to
combat. And while we wait expectantly for Spain some day to restore your good name and
cease to be answerable for your death, let these pages serve as a tardy wreath of dried
leaves over your unknown tombs, and let it be understood that every one that without clear
proof attacks your memory stains his hands in your blood.”
El Filibusterismo is the passionately bitter cry of a soul in torture and baffles as to
what to do. The book has little humor such as we find reliving the pages of Noli Me Tangere.
The writer was in no mood to write jokes, unless they were bitter satire. Noli Me Tangere
had been friendly to the government, and had denounce only certain types of friars and
others. El Filibusterismo has lost faith in Spain. The two books were four years apart, and
what a terrible four years they had been, and what they had done to disillusion Jose Rizal.
In Praise of the Fili
El Filibusterismo was read with enthusiasm by most of the Filipinos. From Barcelona
came this glowing tribute signed by twelve of Rizal’s countrymen:
“Distinguished Patriot: With unprecedented enthusiasm this Filipino colony of
Barcelona has read your new production, the original style of which is comparable only to
the sublime Alexander Dumas and may well be offered as a model and precious jewel in the
decadent days of Spanish literature.
“Like a new Moses, with your immortal books you have given to the Philippines the
Decalogue of her political redemption and her honor before mankind. If she knew how to
obey the commands, precepts, and counsels so beautifully written in your novel, then,
instead of a country in abject slavery, she would soon become great, free, prosperous, and
master of her destiny.”
Ponce thought it “really marvelous, as are all the brilliant productions of your pen… I
conceive of your book as a mighty whip which will wound the enemy in the most sensitive
fiber of his heart, where he has already been rudely beaten by the Noli.”
Like the Noli this new book drew every character from real life. Manuel Camus wrote
from Singapore, “I want to thank you for the exactness of the type of Captain Tino of the
steamship. He was my uncle!”
Perhaps the best appraisal of the book among scores of flattering letters is that of
loyal Graciano Lopez Jaena:
“El Filibusterismo is a better novel than Noli Me Tangere in its profound ideals and
sublime thoughts. I am enchanted with the whole work, which surpasses my expectations.
“But you commence the novel very alluringly like Dumas and you close it harshly like
“Your opening, like that of Dumas, is like a light, much light, magnificent, hopeful—
joy, a smiling future, glory, immortality; but your conclusion, like Sue, kills the heart, by
plunging the spirit into the nebulous abyss of desperation.
“In my opinion since you had presented to the eyes of the Filipino people a
sympathetic, great generous Simoun… you ought to have had him killed at the end of the
novel, transformed into a hero, who prays dying in some combat, prays perishing in the
flames of a great fire or struck by a thunderbolt, overwhelmed by cataclysms of a mighty
earthquake; thus you would have succeeded in giving a magnificent crown to the work.
“You have stopped without solving the problem.
“As a political novel, your end is not a worthy climax to a work so beautiful.
“As I understand you, you desired to leave with the Filipino people the responsibility
for solving the problems, political and social, which have been raised in your book. But in
your magnificent work you have closed the doors, the way out. I fear that our countrymen
will never reach any certainty, nor guess the answer to the riddle, but will lie helpless in
“It would be fitting, if, as I believe you will, you were to write a book quickly solving
the problem, and so hasten the coming of the fair day of our redemption.”
Such was the almost universal feeling among the friends of Rizal, that he had written
a magnificent book and spoiled it with his last chapter. Today, however, in the light of the
glorious way in which Rizal died, men are able to realize that in that last chapter are the
noblest words he ever wrote. Indeed it is that infinitely sad closing that is most often
quoted. The book was a tremendous, if painful, sermon to those of Rizal’s own countrymen,
lived double-faced lives, and still expected that good would come. “Love alone realizes
wonderful achievements, virtue alone can save! Pure and spotless must the victim be…”
The writer of those words not turned his face across the seas towards his Calvary. His
own life was to be the “magnificent crown to the work” which Jaena had said the book
needed. And one life is worth a million books.
Saving the Best for Last
There was one other thing besides money that detained Rizal in Europe. This was the
publication of his next book El Filibusterismo, the sequel to Noli Me Tangere, upon which he
had been toiling for three years. “My book,” he told Basa, “is ready to go to the press. The
first twenty chapters are already corrected and can be printed, and I am copying the
remaining chapters. If I get money, you will surely receive it in July. I have written it with
more zeal than I wrote the Noli, and though it is not as optimistic, it is at least more
profound and more perfect.”
Loyal Basa sent the passage order at once. He cabled to his friend: “Passage sent,
bring the Noli.” Rizal’s reply to the telegram revealed how large a peso had come to seem
to him: “Do not send any more telegrams on my account, for it pains me to think of
spending so much money; I appreciate your kindness, but this is too much kindness, and I
know how to wait patiently.
“I am now bargaining with a printing shop and I do not yet know whether I will print
here or in Spain, so I cannot yet bring the book there to you. In case I publish it here, I will
bring it to you by the first mail boat. Not more than three chapters remain to be corrected.
It is larger than the Noli. It will be finished on the 16th of this month. If anything should
happen to me, I am leaving the responsibility for its publication with Antonio Luna, and also
the proofreading.”
At last Rizal did find a publisher in Ghent who was willing to begin the book on small
partial payments. By the next boat, he wrote Basa: “I am not sailing at once, because I am
now printing the second part of the Noli here, as you may see from the enclosed pages. I
preferred to publish it in some way before leaving Europe, for it seemed to me a pity not to
do so. For the past three months, I have not received a single centavo, so I have pawned all
that I have in order to publish this book. I will continue publishing it as long as I can; and
when there is nothing to pawn, I will stop and return to be at your side. ”
Events in the Philippines somehow determined the tone, if not the theme, of some
of Rizal’s essays. Calamities such as the earthquake, fire, plague, and typhoon moved Rizal
to appeal to the Spanish people for assistance. For example, in 1883, he wrote,
“Unfortunate Philippines” which was a plea for “charity through national subscription.”
The same compassion for his people inspired him with the urgings of Marcelo H. del
Pilar to write “Sa Mga Kababayang Dalaga sa Malolos” (To the Young Women of Malolos). It
appears that a group of young women in Malolos had been denied permission by the parish
priest to receive lessons in Spanish from a tutor whom they would pay themselves.
Undaunted, the women raised petition to Governor Valeriano Weyler who gave them his
Sobre La Indolencia de los Filipinos, more popularly known in its English version, "On
the Indolence of the Filipinos," is an exploratory essay written by Philippine national hero
Dr. Jose Rizal, to explain the alleged idleness of his people during the Spanish colonization.
This is the longest of Rizal’s essays. It was first published in five installments in La
Solidaridad from July 15 to September 15, 1890. The articles were a thoughtful and
stimulating analysis of a current topic. Rizal noted that whenever something went wrong in
the archipelago, it was always blamed on the “indolence” of the Filipinos. He then
proceeded to analyze the social and political conditions of the time, showing that the
“indolence,” which he took to mean, “little love for work, lack of activity,” was not the cause
but rather the effect of disorder and backwardness in the country.
In a series of articles for "La Solidaridad," running through the issues from
September, 1889, to January, 1890, Rizal wrote a four-part socio-political essay "Filipinas
dentro de cien años" (Philippines, A Century Hence). The essay was written to forecast the
future of the country within a hundred years. Rizal felt that it was time to remind Spain that
the circumstances that ushered in the French Revolution could have a telling effect for her
in the Philippines.
Lesson 10
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. assess Rizal’s writings;
2. appraise the value of understanding the past; and
3. frame arguments based on evidence.
To the Young Women of Malolos
by José Rizal
When I wrote Noli Me Tangere, I asked myself whether bravery was a common thing in the young
women of our people. I brought back to my recollection and reviewed those I had known since my
infancy, but there were only few who seem to come up to my ideal. There was, it is true, an
abundance of girls with agreeable manners, beautiful ways, and modest demeanor, but there was in
all an admixture of servitude and deference to the words or whims of their so-called "spiritual
fathers" (as if the spirit or soul had any father other than God), due to excessive kindness, modesty,
or perhaps ignorance. They seemed faced plants sown and reared in darkness, having flowers
without perfume and fruits without sap.
However, when the news of what happened at Malolos reached us, I saw my error, and great was
my rejoicing. After all, who is to blame me? I did not know Malolos nor its young women, except
one called Emila [Emilia Tiongson, whom Rizal met in 1887], and her I knew by name only.
Now that you have responded to our first appeal in the interest of the welfare of the people; now
that you have set an example to those who, like you, long to have their eyes opened and be
delivered from servitude, new hopes are awakened in us and we now even dare to face adversity,
because we have you for our allies and are confident of victory. No longer does the Filipina stand
with her head bowed nor does she spend her time on her knees, because she is quickened by hope
in the future; no longer will the mother contribute to keeping her daughter in darkness and bring her
up in contempt and moral annihilation. And no longer will the science of all sciences consist in blind
submission to any unjust order, or in extreme complacency, nor will a courteous smile be deemed
the only weapon against insult or humble tears the ineffable panacea for all tribulations. You know
that the will of God is different from that of the priest; that religiousness does not consist of long
periods spent on your knees, nor in endless prayers, big rosarios, and grimy scapularies [religious
garment showing devotion], but in a spotless conduct, firm intention and upright judgment. You
also know that prudence does not consist in blindly obeying any whim of the little tin god, but in
obeying only that which is reasonable and just, because blind obedience is itself the cause and origin
of those whims, and those guilty of it are really to be blamed. The official or friar can no longer
assert that they alone are responsible for their unjust orders, because God gave each individual
reason and a will of his or her own to distinguish the just from the unjust; all were born without
shackles and free, and nobody has a right to subjugate the will and the spirit of another your
thoughts. And, why should you submit to another your thoughts, seeing that thought is noble and
It is cowardice and erroneous to believe that saintliness consists in blind obedience and that
prudence and the habit of thinking are presumptuous. Ignorance has ever been ignorance, and
never prudence and honor. God, the primal source of all wisdom, does not demand that man,
created in his image and likeness, allow himself to be deceived and hoodwinked, but wants us to use
and let shine the light of reason with which He has so mercifully endowed us. He may be compared
to the father who gave each of his sons a torch to light their way in the darkness bidding them keep
its light bright and take care of it, and not put it out and trust to the light of the others, but to help
and advise each other to find the right path. They would be madman were they to follow the light of
another, only to come to a fall, and the father could upbraid them and say to them: "Did I not give
each of you his own torch," but he cold not say so if the fall were due to the light of the torch of him
who fell, as the light might have been dim and the road very bad.
The deceiver is fond of using the saying that "It is presumptuous to rely on one's own judgment,"
but, in my opinion, it is more presumptuous for a person to put his judgment above that of the
others and try to make it prevail over theirs. It is more presumptuous for a man to constitute
himself into an idol and pretend to be in communication of thought with God; and it is more than
presumptuous and even blasphemous for a person to attribute every movement of his lips to God,
to represent every whim of his as the will of God, and to brand his own enemy as an enemy of God.
Of course, we should not consult our own judgment alone, but hear the opinion of others before
doing what may seem most reasonable to us. The wild man from the hills, if clad in a priest's robe,
remains a hillman and can only deceive the weak and ignorant. And, to make my argument more
conclusive, just buy a priest's robe as the Franciscans wear it and put it on a carabao [domestic
water buffalo], and you will be lucky if the carabao does not become lazy on account of the robe.
But I will leave this subject to speak of something else.
Youth is a flower-bed that is to bear rich fruit and must accumulate wealth for its descendants.
What offspring will be that of a woman whose kindness of character is expressed by mumbled
prayers; who knows nothing by heart but awits [hymns], novenas, and the alleged miracles; whose
amusement consists in playing panguingue [a card game] or in the frequent confession of the same
sins? What sons will she have but acolytes, priest's servants, or cockfighters? It is the mothers who
are responsible for the present servitude of our compatriots, owing to the unlimited trustfulness of
their loving hearts, to their ardent desire to elevate their sons Maturity is the fruit of infancy and the
infant is formed on the lap of its mother. The mother who can only teach her child how to kneel and
kiss hands must not expect sons with blood other than that of vile slaves. A tree that grows in the
mud is unsubstantial and good only for firewood. If her son should have a bold mind, his boldness
will be deceitful and will be like the bat that cannot show itself until the ringing of vespers. They say
that prudence is sanctity. But, what sanctity have they shown us? To pray and kneel a lot, kiss the
hand of the priests, throw money away on churches, and believe all the friar sees fit to tell us;
gossip, callous rubbing of noses. . . .
As to the mites and gifts of God, is there anything in the world that does not belong to God? What
would you say of a servant making his master a present of a cloth borrowed from that very master?
Who is so vain, so insane that he will give alms to God and believe that the miserable thing he has
given will serve to clothe the Creator of all things? Blessed be they who succor their fellow men, aid
the poor and feed the hungry; but cursed be they who turn a dead ear to supplications of the poor,
who only give to him who has plenty and spend their money lavishly on silver altar hangings for the
thanksgiving, or in serenades and fireworks. The money ground out of the poor is bequeathed to
the master so that he can provide for chains to subjugate, and hire thugs and executioners. Oh,
what blindness, what lack of understanding.
Saintliness consists in the first place in obeying the dictates of reason, happen what may. "It is acts
and not words that I want of you," said Christ. "Not everyone that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord shall
enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven."
Saintliness does not consist in abjectness, nor is the successor of Christ to be recognized by the fact
that he gives his hand to be kissed. Christ did not give the kiss of peace to the Pharisees and never
gave his hand to be kissed. He did not cater to the rich and vain; He did not mention scapularies, nor
did He make rosaries, or solicit offerings for the sacrifice of the Mass or exact payments for His
prayers. Saint John did not demand a fee on the River Jordan, nor did Christ teach for gain. Why,
then, do the friars now refuse to stir a foot unless paid in advance? And, as if they were starving,
they sell scapularies, rosaries, bits, and other things which are nothing but schemes for making
money and a detriment to the soul; because even if all the rags on earth were converted into
scapularies and all the trees in the forest into rosaries, and if the skins of all the beasts were made
into belts, and if all the priests of the earth mumbled prayers over all this and sprinkled oceans of
holy water over it, this would not purify a rogue or condone sin where there is no repentance. Thus,
also, through cupidity and love of money, they will, for a price, revoke the numerous prohibitions
such as those against eating meat, marrying close relatives, etc. You can do almost anything if you
but grease their palms. Why that? Can God be bribed and bought off, and blinded by money,
nothing more nor less than a friar? The brigand who has obtained a bull of compromise can live
calmly on the proceeds of his robbery, because he will be forgiven. God, then, will sit at a table
where theft provides the viands? Has the Omnipotent become a pauper that He must assume the
role of the excise man or gendarme? If that is the God whom the friar adores, then I turn my back
upon that God.
Let us be reasonable and open our eyes, especially you women, because you are the first to
influence the consciousness of man. Remember that a good mother does not resemble the mother
that the friar has created; she must bring up her child to be the image of the true God, not of a
blackmailing, a grasping God, but of a God who is the father of us all, who is just; who does not suck
the life-blood of the poor like a vampire, nor scoffs at the agony of the sorely beset, nor makes a
crooked path of the path of justice. Awaken and prepare the will of our children towards all that is
honorable, judged by proper standards, to all that is sincere and firm of purpose, clear judgment,
clear procedure, honesty in act and deed, love for the fellowman and respect for God; this is what
you must teach your children. And, seeing that life is full of thorns and thistles, you must fortify
their minds against any stroke of adversity and accustom them to danger. The people cannot expect
honor nor prosperity so long as they will educate their children in a wrong way, so long as the
woman who guides the child in his steps is slavish and ignorant. No good water comes from a
turbid, bitter spring; no savory fruit comes from acrid seed.
The duties that woman has to perform in order to deliver the people from suffering are of no little
importance, but be they as they may, they will not be beyond the strength and stamina of the
Filipino people. The power and good judgment of the women of the Philippines are well known, and
it is because of this that she has been hoodwinked, and tied, and rendered pusillanimous, and now
her enslavers rest at ease, because so long as they can keep the Filipina mother a slave, so long will
they be able to make slaves of her children. The cause of the backwardness of Asia lies in the fact
that there the women are ignorant, are slaves; while Europe and America are powerful because
there the women are free and well-educated and endowed with lucid intellect and a strong will.
We know that you lack instructive books; we know that nothing is added to your intellect, day by
day, save that which is intended to dim its natural brightness; all this we know, hence our desire to
bring you the light that illuminates your equals here in Europe. If that which I tell you does not
provoke your anger, and if you will pay a little attention to it then, however dense the mist may be
that befogs our people, I will make the utmost efforts to have it dissipated by the bright rays of the
sun, which will give light, thought they be dimmed. We shall not feel any fatigue if you help us: God,
too, will help to scatter the mist, because He is the God of truth: He will restore to its pristine
condition the fame of the Filipina in whom we now miss only a criterion of her own, because good
qualities she has enough and to spare. This is our dream; this is the desire we cherish in our hearts;
to restore the honor of woman, who is half of our heart, our companion in the joys and tribulations
of life. If she is a maiden, the young man should love her not only because of her beauty and her
amiable character, but also on account of her fortitude of mind and loftiness of purpose, which
quicken and elevate the feeble and timid and ward off all vain thoughts. Let the maiden be the pride
of her country and command respect, because it is a common practice on the part of Spaniards and
friars here who have returned from the Islands to speak of the Filipina as complaisant and ignorant,
as if all should be thrown into the same class because of the missteps of a few, and as if women of
weak character did not exist in other lands. As to purity what could the Filipina not hold up to
Nevertheless, the returning Spaniards and friars, talkative and fond of gossip, can hardly find time
enough to brag and bawl, amidst guffaws and insulting remarks, that a certain woman was thus; that
she behaved thus at the convent and conducted herself thus with the Spaniards who on the occasion
was her guest, and other things that set your teeth on edge when you think of them which, in the
majority of cases, were faults due to candor, excessive kindness, meekness, or perhaps ignorance
and were all the work of the defamer himself. There is a Spaniard now in high office, who has set at
our table and enjoyed our hospitality in his wanderings through the Philippines and who, upon his
return to Spain, rushed forthwith into print and related that on one occasion in Pampanga he
demanded hospitality and ate, and slept at a house and the lady of the house conducted herself in
such and such a manner with him; this is how he repaid the lady for her supreme hospitality! Similar
insinuations are made by the friars to the chance visitor from Spain concerning their very obedient
confesandas, hand-kissers, etc., accompanied by smiles and very significant winkings of the eye. In a
book published by D. Sinibaldo de Mas and in other friar sketches sins are related of which women
accused themselves in the confessional and of which the friars made no secret in talking to their
Spanish visitors seasoning them, at the best, with idiotic and shameless tales not worthy of
credence. I cannot repeat here the shameless stories that a friar told Mas and to which Mas
attributed no value whatever. Every time we hear or read anything of this kind, we ask each other:
Are the Spanish women all cut after the pattern of the Holy Virgin Mary and the Filipinas all
reprobates? I believe that if we are to balance accounts in this delicate question, perhaps, . . . But I
must drop the subject because I am neither a confessor nor a Spanish traveler and have no business
to take away anybody's good name. I shall let this go and speak of the duties of women instead.
A people that respect women, like the Filipino people, must know the truth of the situation in order
to be able to do what is expected of it. It seems an established fact that when a young student falls
in love, he throws everything to the dogs -- knowledge, honor, and money, as if a girl could not do
anything but sow misfortune. The bravest youth becomes a coward when he married, and the born
coward becomes shameless, as if he had been waiting to get married in order to show his cowardice.
The son, in order to hide his pusillanimity, remembers his mother, swallows his wrath, suffers his
ears to be boxed, obeys the most foolish order, and and becomes an accomplice to his own
dishonor. It should be remembered that where nobody flees there is no pursuer; when there is no
little fish, there can not be a big one. Why does the girl not require of her lover a noble and honored
name, a manly heart offering protection to her weakness, and a high spirit incapable of being
satisfied with engendering slaves? Let her discard all fear, let her behave nobly and not deliver her
youth to the weak and faint-hearted. When she is married, she must aid her husband, inspire him
with courage, share his perils, refrain from causing him worry and sweeten his moments of affection,
always remembering that there is no grief that a brave heart can not bear and there is no bitterer
inheritance than that of infamy and slavery. Open your children's eyes so that they may jealously
guard their honor, love their fellowmen and their native land, and do their duty. Always impress
upon them they must prefer dying with honor to living in dishonor. The women of Sparta should
serve you as an example should serve you as an example in this; I shall give some of their
When a mother handed the shield to her son as he was marching to battle, she said nothing to him
but this: "Return with it, or on it," which mean, come back victorious or dead, because it was
customary with the routed warrior to throw away his shield, while the dead warrior was carried
home on his shield. A mother received word that her son had been killed in battle and the army
routed. She did not say a word, but expressed her thankfulness that her son had been saved from
disgrace. However, when her son returned alive, the mother put on mourning. One of the mothers
who went out to meet the warriors returning from battle was told by one that her three sons had
fallen. I do not ask you that, said the mother, but whether we have been victorious or not. We have
been victorious -- answered the warrior. If that is so, then let us thank God, and she went to the
Once upon a time a king of theirs, who had been defeated, hid in the temple, because he feared
their popular wrath. The Spartans resolved to shut him up there and starve him to death. When
they were blocking the door, the mother was the first to bring stones. These things were in
accordance with the custom there, and all Greece admired the Spartan woman. Of all women -- a
woman said jestingly -- only your Spartans have power over the men. Quite natural -- they replied -of all women only we give birth to men. Man, the Spartan women said, was not born to life for
himself alone but for his native land. So long as this way of thinking prevailed and they had that kind
of women in Sparta, no enemy was able to put his foot upon her soil, nor was there a woman in
Sparta who ever saw a hostile army.
I do not expect to be believed simply because it is I who am saying this; there are many people who
do not listen to reason, but will listen only to those who wear the cassock or have gray hair or no
teeth; but while it is true that the aged should be venerated, because of their travails and
experience, yet the life I have lived, consecrated to the happiness of the people, adds some years,
though not many of my age. I do not pretend to be looked upon as an idol or fetish and to be
believed and listened to with the eyes closed, the head bowed, and the arms crossed over the
breast; what I ask of all is to reflect on what I tell him, think it over and shift it carefully through the
sieve of reasons.
First of all. That the tyranny of some is possible only through cowardice and negligence on the part
of others.
Second. What makes one contemptible is lack of dignity and abject fear of him who holds one in
Third. Ignorance is servitude, because as a man thinks, so he is; a man who does not think for
himself and allowed himself to be guided by the thought of another is like the beast led by a halter.
Fourth. He who loves his independence must first aid his fellowman, because he who refuses
protection to others will find himself without it; the isolated rib in the buri is easily broken, but not
so the broom made of the ribs of the palm bound together.
Fifth. If the Filipina will not change her mode of being, let her rear no more children, let her merely
give birth to them. She must cease to be the mistress of the home, otherwise she will unconsciously
betray husband, child, native land, and all.
Sixth. All men are born equal, naked, without bonds. God did not create man to be a slave; nor did
he endow him with intelligence to have him hoodwinked, or adorn him with reason to have him
deceived by others. It is not fatuous to refuse to worship one's equal, to cultivate one's intellect,
and to make use of reason in all things. Fatuous is he who makes a god of him, who makes brutes of
others, and who strives to submit to his whims all that is reasonable and just.
Seventh. Consider well what kind of religion they are teaching you. See whether it is the will of God
or according to the teachings of Christ that the poor be succored and those who suffer alleviated.
Consider what they preaching to you, the object of the sermon, what is behind the masses, novenas,
rosaries, scapularies, images, miracles, candles, belts, etc. etc; which they daily keep before your
minds; ears and eyes; jostling, shouting, and coaxing; investigate whence they came and whiter they
go and then compare that religion with the pure religion of Christ and see whether the pretended
observance of the life of Christ does not remind you of the fat milch cow or the fattened pig, which is
encouraged to grow fat nor through love of the animal, but for grossly mercenary motives.
Let us, therefore, reflect; let us consider our situation and see how we stand. May these poorly
written lines aid you in your good purpose and help you to pursue the plan you have initiated. "May
your profit be greater than the capital invested;" and I shall gladly accept the usual reward of all who
dare tell your people the truth. May your desire to educate yourself be crowned with success; may
you in the garden of learning gather not bitter, but choice fruit, looking well before you eat because
on the surface of the globe all is deceit, and the enemy sows weeds in your seedling plot.
All this is the ardent desire of your compatriot.
By: Quennie Ann J. Palafox
When the Spaniards came into the Philippines, they brought with them their patriarchal
values about women which eventually diffused into Philippine culture. The women during
the Spanish period were tied to the house and their roles were confined exclusively to
housekeeping and child rearing. On the other hand, there was the chivalrous idea that men
should be the provider of the family and protector of the women. Women were also taught
to be compliant to elders and always submissive to males. They were oriented to remain
incorruptible until marriage and to focus on building skills that would make them good
daughters, housewives, mothers and servants of God. Women were even barred from
participating in political undertakings because it was considered a man’s work. Filipinos
were familiarized to a religious and patriarchal system of education which emphasized the
domestic value that women were the property of men. This infiltration of Spanish culture
into Philippine norms and behavior is an evidence of feudal social relations.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, a group of young women in Malolos,
Bulacan participated in a peaceful movement for educational reforms. This remarkable
event showed the aptitude of these women for political and social reforms. The authorities
came up with educational policies that were discriminatory against women who wanted to
pursue higher education. The women of Malolos struggled to disprove the principle that
women are destined to be homemakers and demonstrate that women are at par with men
in other fields of endeavors.
The effort of the Women of Malolos is recognized as one of the most important events
that contributed to the development of feminist movement in the country. This group of
young women personally handed their letter of petition addressed to Governor-General
Valeriano Weyler to allow them to put up a night school where they can study the Spanish
language under Teodoro Sandiko. Their action received diverse reactions from the pro-friar
sectors and the reformists because it was viewed as protest against the political power of
the friars. The twenty young women, majority of whom were related to each other by
blood or affinity, were members of the four major-Sangley clans of Malolos: the Tiongsons,
the Tantocos, the Reyeses, and the Santoses. Although these women were raised by well-todo families and enjoyed a life of luxury, they opted to be educated rather than to be
contented with what society expected from them.
Prior to the education reform of 1863, education was left entirely in the hands of priests
or curates of the parish. Since the responsibility of educating the natives belonged to the
friars, its thrust was more of religious education. Students were taught to read the alphabet
and syllables; and study sacred songs and music, and basic arithmetic. Education for females
was not the same with males. Education was more of a privilege than a right, daughters of
well-to-do families were taught reading, writing, arithmetic, religion and needlecraft, a
benefit not enjoyed by daughters of Indios. Formal training beyond the primary grades was
generally a male privilege. For the most part of the Spanish period, the majority of
secondary and vocational schools as well as colleges were exclusively for males.
The Royal Decree of 1863 made primary instruction compulsory to all native and
Chinese children between the ages of seven and twelve. It ordered that opening of a
primary school for boys and another for girls for each town. One important aim of the
decree was to teach Spanish to the populace. Although this move was to improve the poor
state of education in the country, it failed due to the meddling of the friars in the state
affairs. Lack of school buildings and teachers were also pointed as major hindrances for this
program to be successful. There were only few teachers who knew Spanish but they
received only modest salaries.
The Women of Malolos desired to learn the Spanish language because it was the
language of politics and society. They found an ally in the person of Teodoro Sandiko who
arrived in Malolos in 1888. Sandiko supported the aspirations of the women and offered to
teach them the language but it would be done secretly. For the friars prohibited the
teaching of Spanish to the natives and to the mestizos as it would lessen their influence. The
government communicated directly with the friars who knew both the Spanish and the
native language. To the friars, it would be better off the leave the natives and mestizos
ignorant of the Spanish language so that their minds will not be penetrated by the liberal
ideas since most books were written in Spanish. Gaining knowledge would make them crave
for freedom and demand to human rights which were deemed a threat to Spanish rule and
the power of the Church.
Sandiko by that time was secretly teaching Spanish language to adults but he wanted
to make it legal. He requested to the provincial governor of Bulacan sometime to grant the
opening of night schools without the expense of the government. However, it was
disapproved because Felipe Garcia, the friar curate of Malolos prepared a report that
Sandiko’s proposal would pose a threat to the government. Although their proposal was
rejected, Sandiko and the Women of Malolos remained positive that their desire to put up a
night school would be approved anytime soon.
After learning that the highest official of the land would visit Malolos on December 12,
1888, Sandico prepared a letter in Spanish, and requested the women to sign and present
the letter to Weyler. Twenty of these women affixed their signatures to the letter. The
women went to the church and presented the letter to the governor-general.
The request of the women did not get the approval of the governor-general because the
parish priest Fray Garcia went up against it. Although disheartened, the women did not give
up. With the support of the reformist Doroteo Cortes and the Maestra Guadalupe Reyes,
the women continued to lobby for the school, traveling between Malolos and Manila to
convince the governor-general to allow their request. Luckily, these young women
triumphed in the end in February 1889 on the conditions that the women would finance
their schooling, the teacher would be Guadalupe Reyes, and, the classes held in the
daytime, not at night.
Although they did not get everything they asked for, the women proceeded to open
their school at the house of one of their group, Rufina T. Reyes, first cousin of Elisea and
Juana. The schooling however, was cut short when Sandico, was accused in late April 1889
by the Church authorities of spreading teachings against morality and of eating meat on
days of abstinence during the Holy Week of 1889. On May 13, 1889, the Gobernadorcillo
Castro and the Alferez Carlos Peñuelos closed down Sandico’s school of primary and
secondary instruction. When Sandico left for Spain, the school where the Women of
Malolos were attending had to close because of the pressure from the authorities. The
school operated for only three months.
The establishment of a school out of the enduring efforts of the women to be educated
in Spanish was commended by several newspapers. Graciano Lopez Jaena in the column
Ecos de Ultramar, praised the women because of their courage to present themselves to the
governor-general, an action considered bold that time.
Right after the article of Lopez Jaena was published in La Solidaridad, Marcelo H. del
Pilar wrote from Barcelona to Jose Rizal in Madrid, on February 17, 1889, requesting Rizal to
write them a letter in Tagalog commending the bravery of the women and with hopes that
this valiant struggle against friar hegemony in the affairs of the Filipinos will enthuse all
compatriots. Hence, Rizal sent del Pilar on February 22, 1889 the letter written in Tagalog
for transmittal to the 20 young women of Malolos. [Note: “Sa Mga Kababayang Dalaga sa
Malolos” (To The Young Women of Malolos)]
The message conveyed to the young women of Malolos centered on salient points such
as the denunciation of the abuse of the friars in exercising their spiritual authority bestowed
upon them by the church, traits Filipino mothers must have; duties and obligations of
Filipino mothers to their children, functions and errands of a wife to her husband, and
guidance to young women on their choice of a lifetime partner. Rizal also expressed his
philosophy of freedom and independence that he believed was the key to the emancipation
of humankind from slavery, and the necessity for education as the fundamental source of
liberation. In the letter, Rizal enunciated his great desire for Filipino women to enjoy the
privileges in education along with men. Moreover, he appealed to women to be heedful of
their rights and not to be docile towards many injustices forced upon them. Men and
women are born equal. God did not create men and women to be slaves, nor did he
embellish them with reason only to be blinded by others.
Perhaps having experienced first hand the warmth of his mother’s love, he defined in his
letter the obligations and roles of the Filipino mothers to their children. For Rizal, the youth
is a flower-bed that is to bear fruit and must accumulate wealth for its descendants. The
mother must raise her children according to the image of God and orient the mind towards
pleasant ideas. A mother must teach her children to prefer death with honor to life with
dishonor. Mothers should inculcate the following values to their children: love of honor;
sincere and firm character; clear mind; clear conduct; noble action; love for one’s
fellowmen; and respect for God. Ever patriotic in his views, he warned that the country will
never be free and flourishing as long as the children and the women remain ignorant. With
this, the education of the children should not be limited to religious activities. He stressed
obedience and reason as the highest virtues that one must possess.
The school of the Women of Malolos was closed down in May 1889 but their aspirations
did not end. These women served their countrymen by supporting the cause of the
Revolution against Spain. Some of them became members of the National Red Cross, while
others became founding members of the Malolos Committee of the Asociacion Feminista de
Filipinas in 1906, a national women’s organization aimed improving the welfare of women in
all classes. It can be said that the women of Malolos were the forerunners of the feminist
movement in the country for championing the cause of women’s right to education and
equal rights regardless of gender.
Tiongson, Nicanor. The Women of Malolos. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Unibersity Press,
Women’s Role in Philippine History: Selected Essays Second Edition. Quezon City: University
Center for Women’s Studies University of the Philippines, 2001
by Jose Rizal
The Indolence of the Filipinos is a study of the causes why the people did not, as was
said, work hard during the Spanish regime. Rizal pointed out that long before the coming of
the Spaniards, the Filipinos were industrious and hardworking. The Spanish reign brought
about a decline in economic activities because of certain causes:
First, the establishment of the Galleon Trade cut off all previous associations of the
Philippines with other countries in Asia and the Middle East. As a result, business was only
conducted with Spain through Mexico. Because of this, the small businesses and handicraft
industries that flourished during the pre-Spanish period gradually disappeared.
Second, Spain also extinguished the natives’ love of work because of the
implementation of forced labor. Because of the wars between Spain and other countries in
Europe as well as the Muslims in Mindanao, the Filipinos were compelled to work in
shipyards, roads, and other public works, abandoning agriculture, industry, and commerce.
Third, Spain did not protect the people against foreign invaders and pirates. With no
arms to defend themselves, the natives were killed, their houses burned, and their lands
destroyed. As a result of this, the Filipinos were forced to become nomads, lost interest in
cultivating their lands or in rebuilding the industries that were shut down, and simply
became submissive to the mercy of God.
Fourth, there was a crooked system of education, if it was to be considered an
education. What was being taught in the schools were repetitive prayers and other things
that could not be used by the students to lead the country to progress. There were no
courses in Agriculture, Industry, etc., which were badly needed by the Philippines during
those times.
Fifth, the Spanish rulers were a bad example to despise manual labor. The officials
reported to work at noon and left early, all the while doing nothing in line with their duties.
The women were seen constantly followed by servants who dressed them and fanned them
– personal things which they ought to have done for themselves.
Sixth, gambling was established and widely propagated during those times. Almost
everyday there were cockfights, and during feast days, the government officials and friars
were the first to engange in all sorts of bets and gambles.
Seventh, there was a crooked system of religion. The friars taught the naïve Filipinos
that it was easier for a poor man to enter heaven, and so they preferred not to work and
remain poor so that they could easily enter heaven after they died.
Lastly, the taxes were extremely high, so much so that a huge portion of what they
earned went to the government or to the friars. When the object of their labor was
removed and they were exploited, they were reduced to inaction.
Rizal admitted that the Filipinos did not work so hard because they were wise enough
to adjust themselves to the warm, tropical climate. “An hour’s work under that burning sun,
in the midst of pernicious influences springing from nature in activity, is equal to a day’s
labor in a temperate climate.”
It is important to note that indolence in the Philippines is a chronic malady, but not a
hereditary one. Truth is, before the Spaniards arrived on these lands, the natives were
industriously conducting business with China, Japan, Arabia, Malaysia, and other countries
in the Middle East. The reasons for this said indolence were clearly stated in the essay, and
were not based only on presumptions, but were grounded on fact taken from history.
Another thing that we might add that had caused this indolence, is the lack of unity among
the Filipino people. In the absence of unity and oneness, the people did not have the power
to fight the hostile attacks of the government and of the other forces of society. There
would also be no voice, no leader, to sow progress and to cultivate it, so that it may be
reaped in due time. In such a condition, the Philippines remained a country that was
lifeless, dead, simply existing and not living. As Rizal stated in conclusion, “a man in the
Philippines is an individual; he is not merely a citizen of a country.”
It can clearly be deduced from the writing that the cause of the indolence attributed to our
race is Spain: When the Filipinos wanted to study and learn, there were no schools, and if
there were any, they lacked sufficient resources and did not present more useful
knowledge; when the Filipinos wanted to establish their businesses, there wasn’t enough
capital nor protection from the government; when the Filipinos tried to cultivate their lands
and establish various industries, they were made to pay enormous taxes and were exploited
by the foreign rulers.
It is not only the Philippines, but also other countries, that may be called indolent,
depending on the criteria upon which such a label is based. Man cannot work without
resting, and if in doing so he is considered lazy, they we could say that all men are indolent.
One cannot blame a country that was deprived of its dignity, to have lost its will to continue
building its foundation upon the backs of its people, especially when the fruits of their labor
do not so much as reach their lips. When we spend our entire lives worshipping such a cruel
and inhumane society, forced upon us by aliens who do not even know our motherland, we
are destined to tire after a while. We are not fools, we are not puppets who simply do as
we are commanded – we are human beings, who are motivated by our will towards the
accomplishment of our objectives, and who strive for the preservation of our race. When
this fundamental aspect of our existence is denied of us, who can blame us if we turn idle?
The Philippines a Century Hence
by Jose Rizal
Following our usual custom of facing squarely the most difficult and delicate questions relating to
the Philippines, without weighing the consequences that our frankness may bring upon us, we shall
in the present article treat of their future.
In order to read the destiny of a people, it is necessary to open the book of its past, and this, for the
Philippines, may be reduced in general terms to what follows.
Scarcely had they been attached to the Spanish crown than they had to sustain with their blood and
the efforts of their sons the wars and ambitions of conquest of the Spanish people, and in these
struggles, in that terrible crisis when a people changes its form of government, its laws, usages,
customs, religion and beliefs the Philippines were depopulated, impoverished and retarded—caught
in their metamorphosis, without confidence in their past, without faith in their present and with no
fond hope for the years to come. The former rulers who had merely endeavored to secure the fear
and submission of their subjects, habituated by them to servitude, fell like leaves from a dead tree,
and the people, who had no love for them nor knew what liberty was, easily changed masters,
perhaps hoping to gain something by the innovation.
Then began a new era for the Filipinos. They gradually lost their ancient traditions, their
recollections—they forgot their writings, their songs, their poetry, their laws, in order to learn by
heart other doctrines, which they did not understand, other ethics, other tastes, different from
those inspired in their race by their]climate and their way of thinking. Then there was a falling-off,
they were lowered in their own eyes, they became ashamed of what was distinctively their own, in
order to admire and praise what was foreign and incomprehensible: their spirit was broken and they
Thus years and centuries rolled on. Religious shows, rites that caught the eye, songs, lights, images
arrayed with gold, worship in a strange language, legends, miracles and sermons, hypnotized the
already naturally superstitious spirit of the country, but did not succeed in destroying it altogether,
in spite of the whole system afterwards developed and operated with unyielding tenacity.
When the ethical abasement of the inhabitants had reached this stage, when they had become
disheartened and disgusted with themselves, an effort was made to add the final stroke for reducing
so many dormant wills and intellects to nothingness, in order to make of the individual a sort of
toiler, a brute, a beast of burden, and to develop a race without mind or heart. Then the end sought
was revealed, it was taken for granted, the race was insulted, an effort was made to deny it every
virtue, every human characteristic, and there were even writers and priests who pushed the
movement still further by trying to deny to the natives of the country not only capacity for virtue but
also even the tendency to vice.
Then this which they had thought would be death was sure salvation. Some dying persons are
restored to health by a heroic remedy.
So great endurance reached its climax with the insults, and the lethargic spirit woke to life. His
sensitiveness, the chief trait of the native, was touched, and while he had had the forbearance to
suffer and die under a foreign flag, he had it not when they whom he served repaid his sacrifices
with insults and jests. Then he began to study himself and to realize his misfortune. Those who had
not expected this result, like all despotic masters, regarded as a wrong every complaint, every
protest, and punished it with death, endeavoring thus to stifle every cry of sorrow with blood, and
they made mistake after mistake.
The spirit of the people was not thereby cowed, and even though it had been awakened in only a
few hearts, its flame nevertheless was surely and consumingly propagated, thanks to abuses and the
stupid endeavors of certain classes to stifle noble and generous sentiments. Thus when a flame
catches a garment, fear and confusion propagate it more and more, and each shake, each blow, is a
blast from the bellows to fan it into life.
Undoubtedly during all this time there were not lacking generous and noble spirits among the
dominant race that tried to struggle for the rights of humanity and justice, or sordid and cowardly
ones among the dominated that aided the debasement of their own country. But both were
exceptions and we are speaking in general terms.
Such is an outline of their past. We know their present. Now, what will their future be?
Will the Philippine Islands continue to be a Spanish colony, and if so, what kind of colony? Will they
become a province of Spain, with or without autonomy? And to reach this stage, what kind of
sacrifices will have to be made?
Will they be separated from the mother country to live independently, to fall into the hands of other
nations, or to ally themselves with neighboring powers?
It is impossible to reply to these questions, for to all of them both yes and no may be answered,
according to the time desired to be covered. When there is in nature no fixed condition, how much
less must there be in the life of a people, beings endowed with mobility and movement! So it is that
in order to deal with these questions, it is necessary to presume an unlimited period of time, and in
accordance therewith try to forecast future events.
What will become of the Philippines within a century? Will they continue to be a Spanish colony?
Had this question been asked three centuries ago, when at Legazpi’s death the Malayan Filipinos
began to be gradually undeceived and, finding the yoke heavy, tried in vain to shake it off, without
any doubt whatsoever the reply would have been easy. To a spirit enthusiastic over the liberty of the
country, to those unconquerable Kagayanes who nourished within themselves the spirit of the
Magalats, to the descendants of the heroic Gat Pulintang and Gat Salakab of the Province of
Batangas, independence was assured, it was merely a question of getting together and making a
determined effort. But for him who, disillusioned by sad experience, saw everywhere discord and
disorder, apathy and brutalization in the lower classes, discouragement and disunion in the upper,
only one answer presented itself, and it was: extend his hands to the chains, bow his neck beneath
the yoke and accept the future with the resignation of an invalid who watches the leaves fall and
foresees a long winter amid whose snows he discerns the outlines of his grave. At that time discord
justified pessimism—but three centuries passed, the neck had become accustomed to the yoke, and
each new generation, begotten in chains, was constantly better adapted to the new order of things.
Now, then, are the Philippines in the same condition they were three centuries ago?
For the liberal Spaniards the ethical condition of the people remains the same, that is, the native
Filipinos have not advanced; for the friars and their followers the people have been redeemed from
savagery, that is, they have progressed; for many Filipinos ethics, spirit and customs have decayed,
as decay all the good qualities of a people that falls into slavery that is, they have retrograded.
Laying aside these considerations, so as not to get away from our subject, let us draw a brief parallel
between the political situation then and the situation at present, in order to see if what was not
possible at that time can be so now, or vice versa.
Let us pass over the loyalty the Filipinos may feel for Spain; let us suppose for a moment, along with
Spanish writers, that there exist only motives for hatred and jealousy between the two races; let us
admit the assertions flaunted by many that three centuries of domination have not awakened in the
sensitive heart of the native a single spark of affection or gratitude; and we may see whether or
not the Spanish cause has gained ground in the Islands.
Formerly the Spanish authority was upheld among the natives by a handful of soldiers, three to five
hundred at most, many of whom were engaged in trade and were scattered about not only in the
Islands but also among the neighboring nations, occupied in long wars against the Mohammedans in
the south, against the British and Dutch, and ceaselessly harassed by Japanese, Chinese, or some
tribe in the interior. Then communication with Mexico and Spain was slow, rare and difficult;
frequent and violent the disturbances among the ruling powers in the Islands, the treasury nearly
always empty, and the life of the colonists dependent upon one frail ship that handled the Chinese
trade. Then the seas in those regions were infested with pirates, all enemies of the Spanish name,
which was defended by an improvised fleet, generally manned by rude adventurers, when not by
foreigners and enemies, as happened in the expedition of Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas, which was
checked and frustrated by the mutiny of the Chinese rowers, who killed him and thwarted all his
plans and schemes. Yet in spite of so many adverse circumstances the Spanish authority has been
upheld for more than three centuries and, though it has been curtailed, still continues to rule the
destinies of the Philippine group.
On the other hand, the present situation seems to be gilded and rosy—as we might say, a beautiful
morning compared to the vexed and stormy night of the past. The material forces at the disposal of
the Spanish sovereign have now been trebled; the fleet relatively improved; there is more
organization in both civil and military affairs; communication with the sovereign country is swifter
and surer; she has no enemies abroad; her possession is assured; and the country dominated seems
to have less spirit, less aspiration for independence, a word that is to it almost incomprehensible.
Everything then at first glance presages another three centuries, at least, of peaceful domination and
tranquil suzerainty.
But above the material considerations are arising others, invisible, of an ethical nature, far more
powerful and transcendental.
Orientals, and the Malays in particular, are a sensitive people: delicacy of sentiment is predominant
with them. Even now, in spite of contact with the occidental nations, who have ideals different from
his, we see the Malayan Filipino sacrifice everything—liberty, ease, welfare, name, for the sake of an
aspiration or a conceit, sometimes scientific, or of some other nature, but at the least word which
wounds his self-love he forgets all his sacrifices, the labor expended, to treasure in his memory and
never forget the slight he thinks he has received.
So the Philippine peoples have remained faithful during three centuries, giving up their liberty and
their independence, sometimes dazzled by the hope of the Paradise promised, sometimes cajoled by
the friendship offered them by a noble and generous people like the Spanish, sometimes also
compelled by superiority of arms of which they were ignorant and which timid spirits invested with a
mysterious character, or sometimes because the invading foreigner took advantage of intestine
feuds to step in as the peacemaker in discord and thus later to dominate both parties and subject
them to his authority.
Spanish domination once established, it was firmly maintained, thanks to the attachment of the
people, to their mutual dissensions, and to the fact that the sensitive self-love of the native had not
yet been wounded. Then the people saw their own countrymen in the higher ranks of the army,
their general officers fighting beside the heroes of Spain and sharing their laurels, begrudged neither
character, reputation nor consideration; then fidelity and attachment to Spain, love of the
fatherland, made of the native, encomendero1 and even general, as during the English invasion; then
there had not yet been invented the insulting and ridiculous epithets with which recently the most
laborious and painful achievements of the native leaders have been stigmatized; not then had it
become the fashion to insult and slander in stereotyped phrase, in newspapers and books published
with governmental and superior ecclesiastical approval, the people that paid, fought and poured out
its blood for the Spanish name, nor was it considered either noble or witty to offend a whole race,
which was forbidden to reply or defend itself; and if there were religious hypochondriacs who in the
leisure of their cloisters dared to write against it, as did the Augustinian Gaspar de San Agustin and
the Jesuit Velarde, their loathsome abortions never saw the light, and still less were they themselves
rewarded with miters and raised to high offices. True it is that neither were the natives of that time
such as we are now: three centuries of brutalization and obscurantism have necessarily had some
influence upon us, the most beautiful work of divinity in the hands of certain artisans may finally be
converted into a caricature.
The priests of that epoch, wishing to establish their domination over the people, got in touch with it
and made common cause with it against the oppressive encomenderos. Naturally, the people saw in
them greater learning and some prestige and placed its confidence in them, followed their advice,
and listened to them even in the darkest hours. If they wrote, they did so in defense of the rights of
the native and made his cry reach even to the distant steps of the Throne. And not a few priests,
both secular and regular, undertook dangerous journeys, as representatives of the country, and this,
along with the strict and public residencia then required of the governing powers, from the captaingeneral to the most insignificant official, rather consoled and pacified the wounded spirits, satisfying,
even though it were only in form, all the malcontents.
All this has passed away. The derisive laughter penetrates like mortal poison into the heart of the
native who pays and suffers and it becomes more offensive the more immunity it enjoys. A common
sore, the general affront offered to a whole race, has wiped away the old feuds among different
provinces. The people no longer has confidence in its former protectors, now its exploiters and
executioners. The masks have fallen. It has seen that the love and piety of the past have come to
resemble the devotion of a nurse who, unable to live elsewhere, desires eternal infancy, eternal
weakness, for the child in order to go on drawing her wages and existing at its expense; it has seen
not only that she does not nourish it to make it grow but that she poisons it to stunt its growth, and
at the slightest protest she flies into a rage! The ancient show of justice, the holy residencia, has
disappeared; confusion of ideas begins to prevail; the regard shown for a governor-general, like La
Torre, becomes a crime in the government of his successor, sufficient to cause the citizen to lose his
liberty and his home; if he obey the order of one official, as in the recent matter of admitting corpses
into the church, it is enough to have the obedient subject later harassed and persecuted in every
possible way; obligations and taxes increase without thereby increasing rights, privileges and
liberties or assuring the few in existence; a régime of continual terror and uncertainty disturbs the
minds, a régime worse than a period of disorder, for the fears that the imagination conjures up are
generally greater than the reality; the country is poor; the financial crisis through which it is passing
is acute, and every one points out with the finger the persons who are causing the trouble, yet no
one dares lay hands upon them!
True it is that the Penal Code has come like a drop of balm to such bitterness.3 But of what use are
all the codes in the world, if by means of confidential reports, if for trifling reasons, if through
anonymous traitors any honest citizen may be exiled or banished without a hearing, without a trial?
Of what use is that Penal Code, of what use is life, if there is no security in the home, no faith in
justice and confidence in tranquility of conscience? Of what use is all that array of terms, all that
collection of articles, when the cowardly accusation of a traitor has more influence in the timorous
ears of the supreme autocrat than all the cries for justice?
If this state of affairs should continue, what will become of the Philippines within a century?
The batteries are gradually becoming charged and if the prudence of the government does not
provide an outlet for the currents that are accumulating, some day the spark will be generated. This
is not the place to speak of what outcome such a deplorable conflict might have, for it depends upon
chance, upon the weapons and upon a thousand circumstances which man can not foresee. But
even though all the advantage should be on the government’s side and therefore the probability of
success, it would be a Pyrrhic victory, and no government ought to desire such.
If those who guide the destinies of the Philippines remain obstinate, and instead of introducing
reforms try to make the condition of the country retrograde, to push their severity and repression to
extremes against the classes that suffer and think, they are going to force the latter to venture and
put into play the wretchedness of an unquiet life, filled with privation and bitterness, against the
hope of securing something indefinite. What would be lost in the struggle? Almost nothing: the life
of the numerous discontented classes has no such great attraction that it should be preferred to a
glorious death. It may indeed be a suicidal attempt—but then, what? Would not a bloody chasm
yawn between victors and vanquished, and might not the latter with time and experience become
equal in strength, since they are superior in numbers, to their dominators? Who disputes this? All
the petty insurrections that have occurred in the Philippines were the work of a few fanatics or
discontented soldiers, who had to deceive and humbug the people or avail themselves of their
power over their subordinates to gain their ends. So they all failed. No insurrection had a popular
character or was based on a need of the whole race or fought for human rights or justice, so it left
no ineffaceable impressions, but rather when they saw that they had been duped the people bound
up their wounds and applauded the overthrow of the disturbers of their peace! But what if the
movement springs from the people themselves and bases its cause upon their woes?
So then, if the prudence and wise reforms of our ministers do not find capable and determined
interpreters among the colonial governors and faithful perpetuators among those whom the
frequent political changes send to fill such a delicate post; if met with the eternal it is out of order,
proffered by the elements who see their livelihood in the backwardness of their subjects; if just
claims are to go unheeded, as being of a subversive tendency; if the country is denied representation
in the Cortes and an authorized voice to cry out against all kinds of abuses, which escape through
the complexity of the laws; if, in short, the system, prolific in results of alienating the good will of the
natives, is to continue, pricking his apathetic mind with insults and charges of ingratitude, we can
assert that in a few years the present state of affairs will have been modified completely—and
inevitably. There now exists a factor which was formerly lacking—the spirit of the nation has been
aroused, and a common misfortune, a common debasement, has united all the inhabitants of the
Islands. A numerous enlightened class now exists within and without the Islands, a class created and
continually augmented by the stupidity of certain governing powers, which forces the inhabitants to
leave the country, to secure education abroad, and it is maintained and struggles thanks to the
provocations and the system of espionage in vogue. This class, whose number is cumulatively
increasing, is in constant communication with the rest of the Islands, and if today it constitutes only
the brain of the country in a few years it will form the whole nervous system and manifest its
existence in all its acts.
Now, statecraft has various means at its disposal for checking a people on the road to progress: the
brutalization of the masses through a caste addicted to the government, aristocratic, as in the Dutch
colonies, or theocratic, as in the Philippines; the impoverishment of the country; the gradual
extermination of the inhabitants; and the fostering of feuds among the races.
Brutalization of the Malayan Filipino has been demonstrated to be impossible. In spite of the dark
horde of friars, in whose hands rests the instruction of youth, which miserably wastes years and
years in the colleges, issuing therefrom tired, weary and disgusted with books; in spite of the
censorship, which tries to close every avenue to progress; in spite of all the pulpits, confessionals,
books and missals that inculcate hatred toward not only all scientific knowledge but even toward the
Spanish language itself; in spite of this whole elaborate system perfected and tenaciously operated
by those who wish to keep the Islands in holy ignorance, there exist writers, freethinkers, historians,
philosophers, chemists, physicians, artists and jurists. Enlightenment is spreading and the
persecution it suffers quickens it. No, the divine flame of thought is inextinguishable in the Filipino
people and somehow or other it will shine forth and compel recognition. It is impossible to brutalize
the inhabitants of the Philippines!
May poverty arrest their development?
Perhaps, but it is a very dangerous means. Experience has everywhere shown us and especially in
the Philippines, that the classes which are better off have always been addicted to peace and order,
because they live comparatively better and may be the losers in civil disturbances. Wealth brings
with it refinement, the spirit of conservation, while poverty inspires adventurous ideas, the desire to
change things, and has little care for life. Machiavelli himself held this means of subjecting a people
to be perilous, observing that loss of welfare stirs up more obdurate enemies than loss of life.
Moreover, when there are wealth and abundance, there is less discontent, less complaint, and the
government, itself wealthier, has more means for sustaining itself. On the other hand, there occurs
in a poor country what happens in a house where bread is wanting. And further, of what use to the
mother country would a poor and lean colony be?
Neither is it possible gradually to exterminate the inhabitants. The Philippine races, like all the
Malays, do not succumb before the foreigner, like the Australians, the Polynesians and the Indians of
the New World. In spite of the numerous wars the Filipinos have had to carry on, in spite of the
epidemics that have periodically visited them, their number has trebled, as has that of the Malays of
Java and the Moluccas. The Filipino embraces civilization and lives and thrives in every clime, in
contact with every people. Rum, that poison which exterminated the natives of the Pacific islands,
has no power in the Philippines, but, rather, comparison of their present condition with that
described by the early historians, makes it appear that the Filipinos have grown soberer. The petty
wars with the inhabitants of the South consume only the soldiers, people who by their fidelity to the
Spanish flag, far from being a menace, are surely one of its solidest supports.
There remains the fostering of intestine feuds among the provinces.
This was formerly possible, when communication from one island to another was rare and difficult,
when there were no steamers or telegraph-lines, when the regiments were formed according to the
various provinces, when some provinces were cajoled by awards of privileges and honors and others
were protected from the strongest. But now that the privileges have disappeared, that through a
spirit of distrust the regiments have been reorganized, that the inhabitants move from one island to
another, communication and exchange of impressions naturally increase, and as all see themselves
threatened by the same peril and wounded in the same feelings, they clasp hands and make
common cause. It is true that the union is not yet wholly perfected, but to this end tend the
measures of good government, the vexations to which the townspeople are subjected, the frequent
changes of officials, the scarcity of centers of learning, which forces the youth of all the Islands to
come together and begin to get acquainted. The journeys to Europe contribute not a little to tighten
the bonds, for abroad the inhabitants of the most widely separated provinces are impressed by their
patriotic feelings, from sailors even to the wealthiest merchants, and at the sight of modern liberty
and the memory of the misfortunes of their country, they embrace and call one another brothers.
In short, then, the advancement and ethical progress of the Philippines are inevitable, are decreed
by fate.
The Islands cannot remain in the condition they are without requiring from the sovereign country
more liberty Mutatis mutandis. For new men, a new social order.
To wish that the alleged child remain in its swaddling-clothes is to risk that it may turn against its
nurse and flee, tearing away the old rags that bind it.
The Philippines, then, will remain under Spanish domination, but with more law and greater liberty,
or they will declare themselves independent, after steeping themselves and the mother country in
As no one should desire or hope for such an unfortunate rupture, which would be an evil for all and
only the final argument in the most desperate predicament, let us see by what forms of peaceful
evolution the Islands may remain subjected to the Spanish authority with the very least detriment to
the rights, interests and dignity of both parties.
If the Philippines must remain under the control of Spain, they will necessarily have to be
transformed in a political sense, for the course of their history and the needs of their inhabitants so
require. This we demonstrated in the preceding article.
We also said that this transformation will be violent and fatal if it proceeds from the ranks of the
people, but peaceful and fruitful if it emanate from the upper classes.
Some governors have realized this truth, and, impelled by their patriotism, have been trying to
introduce needed reforms in order to forestall events. But notwithstanding all that have been
ordered up to the present time, they have produced scanty results, for the government as well as for
the country. Even those that promised only a happy issue have at times caused injury, for the simple
reason that they have been based upon unstable grounds.
We said, and once more we repeat, and will ever assert, that reforms which have
a palliative character are not only ineffectual but even prejudicial, when the government is
confronted with evils that must be cured radically. And were we not convinced of the honesty and
rectitude of some governors, we would be tempted to say that all the partial reforms are only
plasters and salves of a physician who, not knowing how to cure the cancer, and not daring to root it
out, tries in this way to alleviate the patient’s sufferings or to temporize with the cowardice of the
timid and ignorant.
All the reforms of our liberal ministers were, have been, are, and will be good—when carried out.
When we think of them, we are reminded of the dieting of Sancho Panza in his Barataria Island. He
took his seat at a sumptuous and well-appointed table “covered with fruit and many varieties of
food differently prepared,” but between the wretch’s mouth and each dish the physician Pedro
Rezio interposed his wand, saying, “Take it away!” The dish removed, Sancho was as hungry as ever.
True it is that the despotic Pedro Rezio gave reasons, which seem to have been written by Cervantes
especially for the colonial administrations: “You must not eat, Mr. Governor, except according to the
usage and custom of other islands where there are governors.” Something was found to be wrong
with each dish: one was too hot, another too moist, and so on, just like our Pedro Rezios on both
sides of the sea. Great good did his cook’s skill do Sancho!
In the case of our country, the reforms take the place of the dishes, the Philippines are Sancho, while
the part of the quack physician is played by many persons, interested in not having the dishes
touched, perhaps that they may themselves get the benefit of them.
The result is that the long-suffering Sancho, or the Philippines, misses his liberty, rejects all
government and ends up by rebelling against his quack physician.
In like manner, so long as the Philippines have no liberty of the press, have no voice in the Cortes to
make known to the government and to the nation whether or not their decrees have been duly
obeyed, whether or not these benefit the country, all the able efforts of the colonial ministers will
meet the fate of the dishes in Barataria island.
The minister, then, who wants his reforms to be reforms, must begin by declaring the press in the
Philippines free and by instituting Filipino delegates.
The press is free in the Philippines, because their complaints rarely ever reach the Peninsula, very
rarely, and if they do they are so secret, so mysterious, that no newspaper dares to publish them, or
if it does reproduce them, it does so tardily and badly.
A government that rules a country from a great distance is the one that has the most need for a free
press, more so even than the government of the home country, if it wishes to rule rightly and fitly.
The government that governs in a country may even dispense with the press (if it can), because it is
on the ground, because it has eyes and ears, and because it directly observes what it rules and
administers. But the government that governs from afar absolutely requires that the truth and the
facts reach its knowledge by every possible channel, so that it may weigh and estimate them better,
and this need increases when a country like the Philippines is concerned, where the inhabitants
speak and complain in a language unknown to the authorities. To govern in any other way may also
be called governing, but it is to govern badly. It amounts to pronouncing judgment after hearing only
one of the parties; it is steering a ship without reckoning its conditions, the state of the sea, the reefs
and shoals, the direction of the winds and currents. It is managing a house by endeavoring merely to
give it polish and a fine appearance without watching the money-chest, without looking after the
servants and the members of the family.
But routine is a declivity down which many governments slide, and routine says that freedom of the
press is dangerous. Let us see what History says: uprisings and revolutions have always occurred in
countries tyrannized over, in countries where human thought and the human heart have been
forced to remain silent.
If the great Napoleon had not tyrannized over the press, perhaps it would have warned him of the
peril into which he was hurled and have made him understand that the people were weary and the
earth wanted peace. Perhaps his genius, instead of being dissipated in foreign aggrandizement,
would have become intensive in laboring to strengthen his position and thus have assured it. Spain
herself records in her history more revolutions when the press was gagged. What colonies have
become independent while they have had a free press and enjoyed liberty? Is it preferable to govern
blindly or to govern with ample knowledge?
Some one will answer that in colonies with a free press, the prestige of the rulers, that prop of false
governments, will be greatly imperiled. We answer that the prestige of the nation is preferable to
that of a few individuals. A nation acquires respect, not by abetting and concealing abuses, but by
rebuking and punishing them. Moreover, to this prestige is applicable what Napoleon said about
great men and their valets. We, who endure and know all the false pretensions and petty
persecutions of those sham gods, do not need a free press in order to recognize them; they have
long ago lost their prestige. The free press is needed by the government, the government which still
dreams of the prestige which it builds upon mined ground.
We say the same about the Filipino representatives.
What risks does the government see in them? One of three things: either that they will prove unruly,
become political trimmers, or act properly.
Supposing that we should yield to the most absurd pessimism and admit the insult, great for the
Philippines, but still greater for Spain, that all the representatives would be separatists and that in all
their contentions they would advocate separatist ideas: does not a patriotic Spanish majority exist
there, is there not present there the vigilance of the governing powers to combat and oppose such
intentions? And would not this be better than the discontent that ferments and expands in the
secrecy of the home, in the huts and in the fields? Certainly the Spanish people does not spare its
blood where patriotism is concerned, but would not a struggle of principles in parliament be
preferable to the exchange of shot in swampy lands, three thousand leagues from home, in
impenetrable forests, under a burning sun or amid torrential rains? These pacific struggles of ideas,
besides being a thermometer for the government, have the advantage of being cheap and glorious,
because the Spanish parliament especially abounds in oratorical paladins, invincible in debate.
Moreover, it is said that the Filipinos are indolent and peaceful—then what need the government
fear? Hasn’t it any influence in the elections? Frankly, it is a great compliment to the separatists to
fear them in the midst of the Cortes of the nation.
If they become political trimmers, as is to be expected and as they probably will be, so much the
better for the government and so much the worse for their constituents. They would be a few more
favorable votes, and the government could laugh openly at the separatists, if any there be.
If they become what they should be, worthy, honest and faithful to their trust, they will undoubtedly
annoy an ignorant or incapable minister with their questions, but they will help him to govern and
will be some more honorable figures among the representatives of the nation.
Now then, if the real objection to the Filipino delegates is that they smell like Igorots, which so
disturbed in open Senate the doughty General Salamanca, then Don Sinibaldo de Mas, who saw the
Igorots in person and wanted to live with them, can affirm that they will smell at worst like powder,
and Señor Salamanca undoubtedly has no fear of that odor. And if this were all, the Filipinos, who
there in their own country are accustomed to bathe every day, when they become representatives
may give up such a dirty custom, at least during the legislative session, so as not to offend the
delicate nostrils of the Salamancas with the odor of the bath.
It is useless to answer certain objections of some fine writers regarding the rather brown skins and
faces with somewhat wide nostrils. Questions of taste are peculiar to each race. China, for example,
which has four hundred million inhabitants and a very ancient civilization, considers all Europeans
ugly and calls them “fan-kwai,” or red devils. Its taste has a hundred million more adherents than the
European. Moreover, if this is the question, we would have to admit the inferiority of the Latins,
especially the Spaniards, to the Saxons, who are much whiter.
And so long as it is not asserted that the Spanish parliament is an assemblage of
Adonises, Antinouses, pretty boys, and other like paragons; so long as the purpose of resorting
thither is to legislate and not to philosophize or to wander through imaginary spheres, we maintain
that the government ought not to pause at these objections. Law has no skin, nor reason nostrils.
So we see no serious reason why the Philippines may not have representatives. By their institution
many malcontents would be silenced, and instead of blaming its troubles upon the government, as
now happens, the country would bear them better, for it could at least complain and with its sons
among its legislators would in a way become responsible for their actions.
We are not sure that we serve the true interests of our country by asking for representatives. We
know that the lack of enlightenment, the indolence, the egotism of our fellow countrymen, and the
boldness, the cunning and the powerful methods of those who wish their obscurantism, may
convert reform into a harmful instrument. But we wish to be loyal to the government and we are
pointing out to it the road that appears best to us so that its efforts may not come to grief, so that
discontent may disappear. If after so just, as well as necessary, a measure has been introduced, the
Filipino people are so stupid and weak that they are treacherous to their own interests, then let the
responsibility fall upon them, let them suffer all the consequences. Every country gets the fate it
deserves, and the government can say that it has done its duty.
These are the two fundamental reforms, which, properly interpreted and applied, will dissipate all
clouds, assure affection toward Spain, and make all succeeding reforms fruitful. These are the
reforms sine quibus non.
It is puerile to fear that independence may come through them. The free press will keep the
government in touch with public opinion, and the representatives, if they are, as they ought to be,
the best from among the sons of the Philippines, will be their hostages. With no cause for
discontent, how then attempt to stir up the masses of the people?
Likewise inadmissible is the objection offered by some regarding the imperfect culture of the
majority of the inhabitants. Aside from the fact that it is not so imperfect as is averred, there is no
plausible reason why the ignorant and the defective (whether through their own or another’s fault)
should be denied representation to look after them and see that they are not abused. They are the
very ones who most need it. No one ceases to be a man, no one forfeits his rights to civilization
merely by being more or less uncultured, and since the Filipino is regarded as a fit citizen when he is
asked to pay taxes or shed his blood to defend the fatherland, why must this fitness be denied him
when the question arises of granting him some right? Moreover, how is he to be held responsible for
his ignorance, when it is acknowledged by all, friends and enemies, that his zeal for learning is so
great that even before the coming of the Spaniards every one could read and write, and that we now
see the humblest families make enormous sacrifices in order that their children may become a little
enlightened, even to the extent of working as servants in order to learn Spanish? How can the
country be expected to become enlightened under present conditions when we see all the decrees
issued by the government in favor of education meet with Pedro Rezios who prevent execution
thereof, because they have in their hands what they call education? If the Filipino, then, is
sufficiently intelligent to pay taxes, he must also be able to choose and retain the one who looks
after him and his interests, with the product whereof he serves the government of his nation. To
reason otherwise is to reason stupidly.
When the laws and the acts of officials are kept under surveillance, the word justice may cease to be
a colonial jest. The thing that makes the English most respected in their possessions is their strict
and speedy justice, so that the inhabitants repose entire confidence in the judges. Justice is the
foremost virtue of the civilizing races. It subdues the barbarous nations, while injustice arouses the
Offices and trusts should be awarded by competition, publishing the work and the judgment
thereon, so that there may be stimulus and that discontent may not be bred. Then, if the native does
not shake off his indolence he can not complain when he sees all the offices filled by Castilas.
We presume that it will not be the Spaniard who fears to enter into this contest, for thus will he be
able to prove his superiority by the superiority of intelligence. Although this is not the custom in the
sovereign country, it should be practiced in the colonies, for the reason that genuine prestige should
be sought by means of moral qualities, because the colonizers ought to be, or at least to seem,
upright, honest and intelligent, just as a man simulates virtues when he deals with strangers. The
offices and trusts so earned will do away with arbitrary dismissal and develop employees and
officials capable and cognizant of their duties. The offices held by natives, instead of endangering the
Spanish domination, will merely serve to assure it, for what interest would they have in converting
the sure and stable into the uncertain and problematical? The native is, moreover, very fond of
peace and prefers an humble present to a brilliant future. Let the various Filipinos still holding office
speak in this matter; they are the most unshaken conservatives.
We could add other minor reforms touching commerce, agriculture, security of the individual and of
property, education, and so on, but these are points with which we shall deal in other articles. For
the present we are satisfied with the outlines, and no one can say that we ask too much.
There will not be lacking critics to accuse us of Utopianism: but what is Utopia? Utopia was a country
imagined by Thomas Moore, wherein existed universal suffrage, religious toleration, almost
complete abolition of the death penalty, and so on. When the book was published these things were
looked upon as dreams, impossibilities, that is, Utopianism. Yet civilization has left the country of
Utopia far behind, the human will and conscience have worked greater miracles, have abolished
slavery and the death penalty for adultery—things impossible for even Utopia itself!
The French colonies have their representatives. The question has also been raised in the English
parliament of giving representation to the Crown colonies, for the others already enjoy some
autonomy. The press there also is free. Only Spain, which in the sixteenth century was the model
nation in civilization, lags far behind. Cuba and Porto Rico, whose inhabitants do not number a third
of those of the Philippines, and who have not made such sacrifices for Spain, have numerous
representatives. The Philippines in the early days had theirs, who conferred with the King and the
Pope on the needs of the country. They had them in Spain’s critical moments, when she groaned
under the Napoleonic yoke, and they did not take advantage of the sovereign country’s misfortune
like other colonies, but tightened more firmly the bonds that united them to the nation, giving
proofs of their loyalty; and they continued until many years later. What crime have the Islands
committed that they are deprived of their rights?
To recapitulate: the Philippines will remain Spanish, if they enter upon the life of law and civilization,
if the rights of their inhabitants are respected, if the other rights due them are granted, if the liberal
policy of the government is carried out without trickery or meanness, without subterfuges or false
Otherwise, if an attempt is made to see in the Islands a lode to be exploited, a resource to satisfy
ambitions, thus to relieve the sovereign country of taxes, killing the goose that lays the golden eggs
and shutting its ears to all cries of reason, then, however great may be the loyalty of the Filipinos, it
will be impossible to hinder the operations of the inexorable laws of history. Colonies established to
subserve the policy and the commerce of the sovereign country, all eventually become independent,
said Bachelet, and before Bachelet all the Phœnecian, Carthaginian, Greek, Roman, English,
Portuguese and Spanish colonies had said it.
Close indeed are the bonds that unite us to Spain. Two peoples do not live for three centuries in
continual contact, sharing the same lot, shedding their blood on the same fields, holding the same
beliefs, worshipping the same God, interchanging the same ideas, but that ties are formed between
them stronger than those fashioned by arms or fear. Mutual sacrifices and benefits have
engendered affection. Machiavelli, the great reader of the human heart, said: la natura degli
huomini, é cosi obligarsi per li beneficii che essi fanno, come per quelli che essi ricevono (it is human
nature to be bound as much by benefits conferred as by those received). All this, and more, is true,
but it is pure sentimentality, and in the arena of politics stern necessity and interests prevail.
Howsoever much the Filipinos owe Spain, they can not be required to forego their redemption, to
have their liberal and enlightened sons wander about in exile from their native land, the rudest
aspirations stifled in its atmosphere, the peaceful inhabitant living in constant alarm, with the
fortune of the two peoples dependent upon the whim of one man. Spain can not claim, not even in
the name of God himself, that six millions of people should be brutalized, exploited and oppressed,
denied light and the rights inherent to a human being, and then heap upon them slights and insults.
There is no claim of gratitude that can excuse, there is not enough powder in the world to justify, the
offenses against the liberty of the individual, against the sanctity of the home, against the laws,
against peace and honor, offenses that are committed there daily. There is no divinity that can
proclaim the sacrifice of our dearest affections, the sacrifice of the family, the sacrileges and wrongs
that are committed by persons who have the name of God on their lips. No one can require an
impossibility of the Filipino people. The noble Spanish people, so jealous of its rights and liberties,
can not bid the Filipinos renounce theirs. A people that prides itself on the glories of its past can not
ask another, trained by it, to accept abjection and dishonor its own name!
We who today are struggling by the legal and peaceful means of debate so understand it, and with
our gaze fixed upon our ideals, shall not cease to plead our cause, without going beyond the pale of
the law, but if violence first silences us or we have the misfortune to fall (which is possible, for we
are mortal), then we do not know what course will be taken by the numerous tendencies that will
rush in to occupy the places that we leave vacant.
If what we desire is not realized....
In contemplating such an unfortunate eventuality, we must not turn away in horror, and so instead
of closing our eyes we will face what the future may bring. For this purpose, after throwing the
handful of dust due to Cerberus, let us frankly descend into the abyss and sound its terrible
History does not record in its annals any lasting domination exercised by one people over another, of
different race, of diverse usages and customs, of opposite and divergent ideals.
One of the two had to yield and succumb. Either the foreigner was driven out, as happened in the
case of the Carthaginians, the Moors and the French in Spain, or else these autochthons had to give
way and perish, as was the case with the inhabitants of the New World, Australia and New Zealand.
One of the longest dominations was that of the Moors in Spain, which lasted seven centuries. But,
even though the conquerors lived in the country conquered, even though the Peninsula was broken
up into small states, which gradually emerged like little islands in the midst of the great Saracen
inundation, and in spite of the chivalrous spirit, the gallantry and the religious toleration of the califs,
they were finally driven out after bloody and stubborn conflicts, which formed the Spanish nation
and created the Spain of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The existence of a foreign body within another endowed with strength and activity is contrary to all
natural and ethical laws. Science teaches us that it is either assimilated, destroys the organism, is
eliminated or becomes encysted.
Encystment of a conquering people is impossible, for it signifies complete isolation, absolute inertia,
debility in the conquering element. Encystment thus means the tomb of the foreign invader.
Now, applying these considerations to the Philippines, we must conclude, as a deduction from all we
have said, that if their population be not assimilated to the Spanish nation, if the dominators do not
enter into the spirit of their inhabitants, if equable laws and free and liberal reforms do not make
each forget that they belong to different races, or if both peoples be not amalgamated to constitute
one mass, socially and politically homogeneous, that is, not harassed by opposing tendencies and
antagonistic ideas and interests, some day the Philippines will fatally and infallibly declare
themselves independent. To this law of destiny can be opposed neither Spanish patriotism, nor the
love of all the Filipinos for Spain, nor the doubtful future of dismemberment and intestine strife in
the Islands themselves. Necessity is the most powerful divinity the world knows, and necessity is the
resultant of physical forces set in operation by ethical forces.
We have said and statistics prove that it is impossible to exterminate the Filipino people. And even
were it possible, what interest would Spain have in the destruction of the inhabitants of a country
she can not populate or cultivate, whose climate is to a certain extent disastrous to her? What good
would the Philippines be without the Filipinos? Quite otherwise, under her colonial system and the
transitory character of the Spaniards who go to the colonies, a colony is so much the more useful
and productive to her as it possesses inhabitants and wealth. Moreover, in order to destroy the six
million Malays, even supposing them to be in their infancy and that they have never learned to fight
and defend themselves, Spain would have to sacrifice at least a fourth of her population. This we
commend to the notice of the partizans of colonial exploitation.
But nothing of this kind can happen. The menace is that when the education and liberty necessary to
human existence are denied by Spain to the Filipinos, then they will seek enlightenment abroad,
behind the mother country’s back, or they will secure by hook or by crook some advantages in their
own country, with the result that the opposition of purblind and paretic politicians will not only be
futile but even prejudicial, because it will convert motives for love and gratitude into resentment
and hatred.
Hatred and resentment on one side, mistrust and anger on the other, will finally result in a violent
and terrible collision, especially when there exist elements interested in having disturbances, so that
they may get something in the excitement, demonstrate their mighty power, foster lamentations
and recriminations, or employ violent measures. It is to be expected that the government will
triumph and be generally (as is the custom) severe in punishment, either to teach a stern lesson in
order to vaunt its strength or even to revenge upon the vanquished the spells of excitement and
terror that the danger caused it. An unavoidable concomitant of those catastrophes is the
accumulation of acts of injustice committed against the innocent and peaceful inhabitants. Private
reprisals, denunciations, despicable accusations, resentments, covetousness, the opportune
moment for calumny, the haste and hurried procedure of the courts martial, the pretext of the
integrity of the fatherland and the safety of the state, which cloaks and justifies everything, even for
scrupulous minds, which unfortunately are still rare, and above all the panic-stricken timidity, the
cowardice that battens upon the conquered—all these things augment the severe measures and the
number of the victims. The result is that a chasm of blood is then opened between the two peoples,
that the wounded and the afflicted, instead of becoming fewer, are increased, for to the families and
friends of the guilty, who always think the punishment excessive and the judge unjust, must be
added the families and friends of the innocent, who see no advantage in living and working
submissively and peacefully. Note, too, that if severe measures are dangerous in a nation made up
of a homogeneous population, the peril is increased a hundred-fold when the government is formed
of a race different from the governed. In the former an injustice may still be ascribed to one man
alone, to a governor actuated by personal malice, and with the death of the tyrant the victim is
reconciled to the government of his nation. But in a country dominated by a foreign race, even the
justest act of severity is construed as injustice and oppression, because it is ordered by a foreigner,
who is unsympathetic or is an enemy of the country, and the offense hurts not only the victim but
his entire race, because it is not usually regarded as personal, and so the resentment naturally
spreads to the whole governing race and does not die out with the offender.
Hence the great prudence and fine tact that should be exercised by colonizing countries, and the fact
that government regards the colonies in general, and our colonial office in particular, as training
schools, contributes notably to the fulfilment of the great law that the colonies sooner or later
declare themselves independent.
Such is the descent down which the peoples are precipitated. In proportion as they are bathed in
blood and drenched in tears and gall, the colony, if it has any vitality, learns how to struggle and
perfect itself in fighting, while the mother country, whose colonial life depends upon peace and the
submission of the subjects, is constantly weakened, and, even though she make heroic efforts, as
her number is less and she has only a fictitious existence, she finally perishes. She is like the rich
voluptuary accustomed to be waited upon by a crowd of servants toiling and planting for him, and
who, on the day his slaves refuse him obedience, as he does not live by his own efforts, must die.
Reprisals, wrongs and suspicions on one part and on the other the sentiment of patriotism and
liberty, which is aroused in these incessant conflicts, insurrections and uprisings, operate to
generalize the movement and one of the two peoples must succumb. The struggle will be brief, for it
will amount to a slavery much more cruel than death for the people and to a dishonorable loss of
prestige for the dominator. One of the peoples must succumb.
Spain, from the number of her inhabitants, from the condition of her army and navy, from the
distance she is situated from the Islands, from her scanty knowledge of them, and from struggling
against a people whose love and good will she has alienated, will necessarily have to give way, if she
does not wish to risk not only her other possessions and her future in Africa, but also her very
independence in Europe. All this at the cost of bloodshed and crime, after mortal conflicts, murders,
conflagrations, military executions, famine and misery.
The Spaniard is gallant and patriotic, and sacrifices everything, in favorable moments, for his
country’s good. He has the intrepidity of his bull. The Filipino loves his country no less, and although
he is quieter, more peaceful, and with difficulty stirred up, when he is once aroused he does not
hesitate and for him the struggle means death to one or the other combatant. He has all the
meekness and all the tenacity and ferocity of his carabao. Climate affects bipeds in the same way
that it does quadrupeds.
The terrible lessons and the hard teachings that these conflicts will have afforded the Filipinos will
operate to improve and strengthen their ethical nature. The Spain of the fifteenth century was not
the Spain of the eighth. With their bitter experience, instead of intestine conflicts of some islands
against others, as is generally feared, they will extend mutual support, like shipwrecked persons
when they reach an island after a fearful night of storm. Nor may it be said that we shall partake of
the fate of the small American republics. They achieved their independence easily, and their
inhabitants are animated by a different spirit from what the Filipinos are. Besides, the danger of
falling again into other hands, English or German, for example, will force the Filipinos to be sensible
and prudent. Absence of any great preponderance of one race over the others will free their
imagination from all mad ambitions of domination, and as the tendency of countries that have been
tyrannized over, when they once shake off the yoke, is to adopt the freest government, like a boy
leaving school, like the beat of the pendulum, by a law of reaction the Islands will probably declare
themselves a federal republic.
If the Philippines secure their independence after heroic and stubborn conflicts, they can rest
assured that neither England, nor Germany, nor France, and still less Holland, will dare to take up
what Spain has been unable to hold. Within a few years Africa will completely absorb the attention
of the Europeans, and there is no sensible nation which, in order to secure a group of poor and
hostile islands, will neglect the immense territory offered by the Dark Continent, untouched,
undeveloped and almost undefended. England has enough colonies in the Orient and is not going to
risk losing her balance. She is not going to sacrifice her Indian Empire for the poor Philippine
Islands—if she had entertained such an intention she would not have restored Manila in 1763, but
would have kept some point in the Philippines, whence she might gradually expand. Moreover, what
need has John Bull the trader to exhaust himself for the Philippines, when he is already lord of the
Orient, when he has there Singapore, Hongkong and Shanghai? It is probable that England will look
favorably upon the independence of the Philippines, for it will open their ports to her and afford
greater freedom to her commerce. Furthermore, there exist in the United Kingdom tendencies and
opinions to the effect that she already has too many colonies, that they are harmful, that they
greatly weaken the sovereign country.
For the same reasons Germany will not care to run any risk, and because a scattering of her forces
and a war in distant countries will endanger her existence on the continent. Thus we see her
attitude, as much in the Pacific as in Africa, is confined to conquering easy territory that belongs to
nobody. Germany avoids any foreign complications.
France has enough to do and sees more of a future in Tongking and China, besides the fact that the
French spirit does not shine in zeal for colonization. France loves glory, but the glory and laurels that
grow on the battlefields of Europe. The echo from battlefields in the Far East hardly satisfies her
craving for renown, for it reaches her quite faintly. She has also other obligations, both internally
and on the continent.
Holland is sensible and will be content to keep the Moluccas and Java. Sumatra offers her a greater
future than the Philippines, whose seas and coasts have a sinister omen for Dutch expeditions.
Holland proceeds with great caution in Sumatra and Borneo, from fear of losing everything.
China will consider herself fortunate if she succeeds in keeping herself intact and is not
dismembered or partitioned among the European powers that are colonizing the continent of Asia.
The same is true of Japan. On the north she has Russia, who envies and watches her; on the south
England, with whom she is in accord even to her official language. She is, moreover, under such
diplomatic pressure from Europe that she can not think of outside affairs until she is freed from it,
which will not be an easy matter. True it is that she has an excess of population, but Korea attracts
her more than the Philippines and is, also, easier to seize.
Perhaps the great American Republic, whose interests lie in the Pacific and who has no hand in the
spoliation of Africa, may some day dream of foreign possession. This is not impossible, for the
example is contagious, covetousness and ambition are among the strongest vices, and Harrison
manifested something of this sort in the Samoan question. But the Panama Canal is not opened nor
the territory of the States congested with inhabitants, and in case she should openly attempt it the
European powers would not allow her to proceed, for they know very well that the appetite is
sharpened by the first bites. North America would be quite a troublesome rival, if she should once
get into the business. Furthermore, this is contrary to her traditions.
Very likely the Philippines will defend with inexpressible valor the liberty secured at the price of so
much blood and sacrifice. With the new men that will spring from their soil and with the recollection
of their past, they will perhaps strive to enter freely upon the wide road of progress, and all will
labor together to strengthen their fatherland, both internally and externally, with the same
enthusiasm with which a youth falls again to tilling the land of his ancestors, so long wasted and
abandoned through the neglect of those who have withheld it from him. Then the mines will be
made to give up their gold for relieving distress, iron for weapons, copper, lead and coal. Perhaps
the country will revive the maritime and mercantile life for which the islanders are fitted by their
nature, ability and instincts, and once more free, like the bird that leaves its cage, like the flower that
unfolds to the air, will recover the pristine virtues that are gradually dying out and will again become
addicted to peace—cheerful, happy, joyous, hospitable and daring.
These and many other things may come to pass within something like a hundred years. But the most
logical prognostication, the prophecy based on the best probabilities, may err through remote and
insignificant causes. An octopus that seized Mark Antony’s ship altered the face of the world; a cross
on Cavalry and a just man nailed thereon changed the ethics of half the human race, and yet before
Christ, how many just men wrongfully perished and how many crosses were raised on that hill! The
death of the just sanctified his work and made his teaching unanswerable. A sunken road at the
battle of Waterloo buried all the glories of two brilliant decades, the whole Napoleonic world, and
freed Europe. Upon what chance accidents will the destiny of the Philippines depend?
Nevertheless, it is not well to trust to accident, for there is sometimes an imperceptible and
incomprehensible logic in the workings of history. Fortunately, peoples as well as governments are
subject to it.
Therefore, we repeat, and we will ever repeat, while there is time, that it is better to keep pace with
the desires of a people than to give way before them: the former begets sympathy and love, the
latter contempt and anger. Since it is necessary to grant six million Filipinos their rights, so that they
may be in fact Spaniards, let the government grant these rights freely and spontaneously, without
damaging reservations, without irritating mistrust. We shall never tire of repeating this while a ray of
hope is left us, for we prefer this unpleasant task to the need of some day saying to the mother
country: “Spain, we have spent our youth in serving thy interests in the interests of our country; we
have looked to thee, we have expended the whole light of our intellects, all the fervor and
enthusiasm of our hearts in working for the good of what was thine, to draw from thee a glance of
love, a liberal policy that would assure us the peace of our native land and thy sway over loyal but
unfortunate islands! Spain, thou hast remained deaf, and, wrapped up in thy pride, hast pursued thy
fatal course and accused us of being traitors, merely because we love our country, because we tell
thee the truth and hate all kinds of injustice. What dost thou wish us to tell our wretched country,
when it asks about the result of our efforts? Must we say to it that, since for it we have lost
everything—youth, future, hope, peace, family; since in its service we have exhausted all the
resources of hope, all the disillusions of desire, it also takes the residue which we can not use, the
blood from our veins and the strength left in our arms? Spain, must we some day tell Filipinas that
thou hast no ear for her woes and that if she wishes to be saved she must redeem herself?”
1 An encomendero was a Spanish soldier who as a reward for faithful service was set over a district
with power to collect tribute and the duty of providing the people with legal protection and religious
instruction. This arrangement is memorable in early Philippine annals chiefly for the flagrant abuses
that appear to have characterized it.
2 No official was allowed to leave the Islands at the expiration of his term of office until his successor
or a council appointed by the sovereign inquired into all the acts of his administration and approved
them. (This residencia was a fertile source of recrimination and retaliation, so the author quite aptly
refers to it a little further on as “the ancient show of justice.”
3 The penal code was promulgated in the Islands by Royal Order of September 4, 1884.
4 Cervantes’ “Don Quijote,” Part II, Chapter 47.
by Dr. Pablo S. Trillana II on the 103rd Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal (1999)
Posted on September 18, 2012
“Protean is the word that comes to mind when we speak of the Filipino national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.
Novelist, poet, teacher, linguist, ophthalmologist, sportsman, sculptor, essayist,thinker. He was all of
the above. But there is one aspect of Rizal’s brilliance that is seldom discussed — Rizal as a
futurist. Rizal was always years ahead of his time.”
Now that we are closing the door on one millennium and opening the door to the next,
there could not be a more propitious time to dwell on this great man’s prophetic insights.
Even before holism was adopted as a paradigm for the modern world, Rizal had already
applied the theory to his school in Dapitan, where he strove to teach the “whole man”. In addition to
offering formal academic subjects, he taught his pupils boxing, swimming, fencing, agriculture, and
the need for community services. As an important part of their education, he took them on
venturesome excursions to test their mettle in real situations. For he believed it was in the
unpredictable world where intelligence was needed most.
As a statesman without portfolio, his vision of the Filipino nation and his precepts for its
guidance are as fresh today as they were a hundred years ago. In Noli Me Tangere, his first novel,
Rizal warned Spanish authorities of the blood bath their colonial policy, or lack of policy, would lead
to. In Noll’s sequel, El Filibusterismo, he predicted the coming of a revolution while hinting, in the
same breath, that the revolution would fail because the Filipinos lacked the arms and organization to
see it through.
In his most prescient essay, Filipinas Dentro de Gen Anos, written in 1889, he foretold that
Spain and the Philippines would eventually become equal independent partners in the world of
geopolitics, that the United States, after appropriating the Philippines for herself, would emerge as a
new colonial power in Asia.
One might say that the predictions found in Noli and Fill were merely insights of an alert
observer since they were based on the apparent worsening conditions of Spanish colonial rule in the
country. But the predictions in Filipinas Dentro de Gen Anos is proof of a complex intellect. We must
remember that at the time Rizal wrote the essay, the Revolution of 1896, which would lead to the
creation of a Philippine Republic, independent of and equal to Spain, was more than six years away.
And America’s presence in Asia would not happen until the turn of the nineteenth century, long
after he was dead.
Rizal foresaw the strengths and weaknesses of the Philippine nation today as it stands on the
brink of a new and exciting world. Like a chastising father, he warned us, through the words of Padre
Florentino in El Filibusterismo, that we will never have a successful state or bayan, until we also have
a successful nation or bansa. There is a world of difference between the two. While statehood
provides the infrastructure of government, it is nationhood that creates the temper of governance.
What Rizal saw as an ideal nation-state was embodied in La Liga Filipina, yet another one of the
hero’s scenarios for the future. Organized on the basis of regional and district councils, La Liga
Filipina was envisioned to unite the archipelago into one compact, vigorous, and homogenous body.
Members were pledged to mutual assistance in the face of every want and necessity, to provide
defense against injustice, to encourage education, agriculture, and commerce, and to study and
apply reforms. In short, La Liga was a vision of a moral community in which all of the people worked
together for the common good, for a better future.
That vision, upon which La Liga was founded, is as vital today as it was 100 years ago. Rizal,
through his writings and his deeds, has given us a blueprint for our future. But what we do with it is
up to us.
To this day, we are trying to attain Rizal’s ideal of a mutual-aid society. The question is, are
we trying hard enough? It is true that we have made great strides in many aspects of national life.
But it is also true that all too often we lack the collective spirit to act as one in order to serve the
good of all.
I’m not saying we are unconcerned as a people. Far from it. We can look back to two
revolutions – the Revolution of 1896 and the EDSA Revolution of 1986 – to remind ourselves of what
we can do and be, when we unite as a people with a common purpose. Should we ever forget, we
need only to summon Rizal who wrote, “Very probably the Philippines will defend with indescribable
ardor the liberty she has bought at the cost of so much blood and sacrifice. With the new men that
will spring from her bosom and the remembrance of the past, she will perhaps enter openly the
wide road of progress.”
If, as Rizal suggests, the past holds the contours of the future, this nation has indeed a lot of
solid ground on which to build the just, caring, and progressive society of the future.
Just as Rizal knew then, we must know now that we can move forward only if we work together,
combining our energies toward a common goal and finding direction from the lessons of the past.
Let the compass of history guide us into the next one thousand years.
Nationalism is a belief, creed or political ideology that involves an individual
identifying with, or becoming attached to, one's nation. It involves national identity.
Nationalism is the feeling of oneness among the people of a certain country.
In the Philippines, nationalism has had a long history. the birth of nationalism went
rather slowly due to topography, language problems and colonial policy. Nationalism is not
a product of a sudden outburst of sentiment. It is brought about by certain factors that
gradually develop. It is like a seed nourished by common ideals and aspiration for national
In our struggle for freedom, there have been periods when strong nationalist
feelings fired our people to action and other periods when nationalism seemed to be
forgotten. Not only did nationalism as a sentiment have its peak and valleys, nationalism as
a political concept has been espoused at one time or another by different sectors of society
which projected particular nationalist goals as their own interests and historical
circumstances demanded.
The illustrados who led the Propaganda Movement, Rizal being the most notable
among them, were expressing the nationalist goals of the Filipino elite when they
demanded reforms which would give them participation in political rule and a greater share
in economic benefits. Though Rizal “never advocated independence, nor did he advocate
armed resistance to the government, he urged reform from within by publicity, by public
education, and appeal to the public conscience” according to Governor-General W.
Cameron Forbes. The country was not granted the reforms demanded by the illustrados,
nevertheless Rizal became the symbol of “safe” patriotism.
Jose Rizal is commonly known as the “Father of Filipino Nationalism” and the First
Filipino”, not because he helped establish an independent Philippine state (in fact, he
specifically and explicitly denounced the 1896 Revolution against Spain), but because he was
instrumental in the creation of the conceptualization of “Filipino” as an ethnopolitical
collective – as “a people”, or, in the language of nationalism “the people”. In other words,
is acclaimed the father “Philippine Nationalism” for his intellectual and
idealistic support
for Philippine Independence.
Lesson 11
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. interpret views and opinions about bayani and kabayanihan in the context of
Philippine history and society;
2. assess the concepts of bayani and kabayanihan; and
3. articulate the significance of Rizal’s contributions to Filipino nationalism.
What is Bayani at Kabayanihan?
According to Dr. Zeus Salazar (1997) “The idea of “bayani” as translated
into the English word hero, however, is not as neat as it appears to be, the local concept of
bayani has a different value and is a richer concept than its supposed western counterpart.
He used the Spanish translation of hero, “héroe,” as a heuristic to differentiate it
with the local term “bayani”. The “héroe” could be likened to a martyr who may or may
not think of compatriots when making actions. For him, a “héroe” commonly acts as an
individual and is viewed to be exceptional. On the other hand, “bayani” is a counterdiscourse to the western concept of “héroe”.”
In addition to this, Dr. Salazar (2000) added that “ … bayani acts with the collective
with their common concern in mind. In line with this, “bayanihan” can be considered as a
form of active heroism (kabayanihan) of an individual or a group of people by helping others
expecting anything in return. In “bayanihan”, one who volunteers and codevelops a community spirit could emerge as a hero in his/her own simple ways and take
pride of the achievement of the group of people in common. As illustrated in the opening
story, mining together and extending support as a collective could somehow bring a
community member out
of danger, both physically and financially. Knowing that someone from their neighborhood
is not in good shape affects miners and their community. When they would be in the
same situation as the community member who is in need, the latter might do the same
thing for them as a form of solidarity with the rest the group “pakikisama”, “pagdamay” and
“pakikipagkapwa” Working together can make any action effective and any task
easier to accomplish. The achievement of one is also an achievement of the many, and
vice versa.”
Webster dictionary described the word “nationalism” and “patriotism” are one and
same or synonymous to one another. Like the word patriot is to be a nationalist. It is for this
intention that we cannot believe in “nationalism” with such restricting definitions as
and “balanced.” To water down nationalism thus would be like weakening “patriotism.”
Rizal was aware and experienced the injustices and persecutions of the
abusive Spaniards and officers to the Filipinos and his family was not exempted to the
oppressive and cruelty of Spanish regime, they sequestered Rizal own lands,
animals, and the sting of injustice of law to his mother and relatives and fellow Filipinos.
He sacrificed his youth, energy and his life to cultivate, foster and harness his skills
and all of his talents through the help of formal and informal education here and abroad,
not for the personal gain nor to protect and gain for personal and familial wealth, but he
offered all of these even his last breath for the love of the motherland and all Filipinos. He
opened the eyes of Andress Bonifacio, Dr. Pio Valenzuela, other reformist and
propaganda movement and united the Filipino spirits for patriotism, freedom, and
liberation to colonizers and at the same time to free us from slavery of ignorance and false
piety. Through his peaceful and liberal
manner. His famous saying “the pen was mightier than the sword.” And through his
literatures, he uncovered the exploitation and unlawful activity of Spanish government
officials and some abusive Spanish friars.
Let us try to understand the meaning of the word "bayani"? according
the “Diksyunario ng Wikang Pilipino” printed in 1989 through the initiatives of
“Linangan ng mga Wika sa Pilipinas” (LWP), previously known as the ‘Surian ng Wikang
1. “Bayani” (ba-ya-ni) png. (noun) “Taong matapos mamatay ay
ipinagbubunyi ng bayan dahil sa kanyang hindi pangkaraniwang paglilingkod
sa bayan” (b) “taong may di pangkaraniwang tapang at tigas ng loob sa harap ng
panganib o kaya ay katatagan ng kalooban sa paghihirap at pasakit.”
2. “ba-ya-ni”, “pandiwa”. (verb) “Nauukol sa paggawang hindi binabayaran
anggumagawa.” singkahulugan (Synanymous): “pakisuyo, tulong, bataris,
suyuan”."Bayani" as “concept and word can have any of these three applications:
"bayani as a person; "kabayanihan" as a heroic act; and "bayani" as a heroic
group, community or nation.
The fundamental significance of being "bayani" is appreciation of and reverence to
the common good, communal, as nation, as a whole and not as individual and personal gain
Jose Rizal: The Filipinos’ Bayani
When we hear the name, Dr. Jose Rizal, what do think of? The Philippine National
Hero? A man who died for his country? The man who wrote Noli Me Tangere and El
Filibusterismo? But these answers are just bits of who Jose Rizal really is.
Ever since elementary and highschool, Rizal for was a only a person in our History
book. A person known as someone who sacrificed his life for the Philippines, through his
novels: Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. This course in Rizal is a realization that
knowledge about him was only a small page of his life.
Some of the things not known was his journey and his other writings aside from the
Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Back then, Rizal was viewed only as an object, which
have a literary meaning. This was also the same for his novels, they were just books required
to be read in History subjects. Rizal was less appreciated in those times.
The Past Rizal: His Journey. Rizal’s life was able to be summarized in 5 distinct
events. According to Floro Quibuyen, Rizal’s life can be divided in 5 major events:
1. Formative Years
This is the growing up Rizal. He was still not opened to what the Philippines was
really in. He was serious in his studies because of his first teacher – Teodora Alonzo.
2. First European Sojourn
In this part, Rizal was able to study in various country and write his first well known
novel, Noli Me Tangere, for the Filipinos.
3. Turning Point
This part was related to the Calamba Hacienda Case, where Rizal’s family was exiled
from their house. The Noli Me Tangere at this time was already well known and was already
banned by the friars.
4. Second European Sojourn
This was the start of Rizal’s radicalization. This was a transition from Ibarra to
a reformist Rizal to a revolutionist Rizal. He wrote his second well known
novel, the El Filibusterismo.
5. The Moment of Truth
This is where the spark of revolution started in Rizal. He returned to the Philippines
and established the La Liga Filipina. He was also exiled to Dapitan, where he was able apply
everything he learned; from being an engineer, doctor, and teacher. Then comes Rizal’s
arrest and martyrdom.
From there, we can see that Rizal’s journey was not for his own benefit, but rather
for the benefit of his “kababayan” (coutrymen), and his country – Philippines. As written in
a verse of his last poem, Mi Ultimo Adios, :
“Farewell, beloved Country, treasured region of the sun,
Pearl of the sea of the Orient, our lost Eden!
To you eagerly I surrender this sad and gloomy life;
And were it brighter, fresher, more florid,
Even then I’d give it to you, for your sake alone.” - Jose Rizal
Rizal showed how much he loved his country and dreamed of its freedom.
The Making of the National Hero
Who Made Rizal Our National Hero? This question is appropriately asked every time
a study of Rizal’s heroic deeds and his being our national hero is at stake. This question is
not being raised for the sake of creating a controversy at the expense of a long-dead person.
Rizal has been proclaimed our national hero and is already an institution. Discussion of this
topic is not intended to subject Rizal to humiliation and embarrassment but to place him in
the proper podium and ultimately put him in his proper place in Philippine history.
One of those responsible for making Rizal our national hero was no other than the
American colonial government as proven by Renato Constantino. “It cannot be denied that
his pre-eminence among our heroes was partly the result of American sponsorship. It was
Governor General William Howard Taft who in 1901 suggested in the Philippine Commission
that the Filipinos be given a national hero.”
In 1901, through his intervention, Rizal was voted as a national hero, prominent
among all our heroes, higher in rank than Andres Bonifacio, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Apolinario
Mabini, Emilio Aguinaldo, and others. This was done by the Americans by virtue of the
Treaty of Paris signed on Decembr 10, 1898. By this Treaty Spain gave the Philippines to the
United States.
In return the United States would give Spain the sum of 20 million US
Rizal was proclaimed as our national hero through the lawmaking body in the
Philippines, the Philippine Commission. Their justification, according to Constantino, was
that they favoured a hero who would not run against the grain of American colonial policy.
A hero who did not advocate and encourage clamor for independence. Actually they were
not after Rizal per se , but they were after those to whom they could entrust the safety of
their interest in the country. This meant that “whoever was willing to take the cause of the
Americans in the country could become a prospective candidate as our national hero based
on the perception of the Americans…No embarrassing anti-American quotations could even
be attributed to Rizal.” The Americans choose Rizal because they did not find in him
anything which could destroy the good image they wanted to build for themselves. Jose
Rizal could not anymore write nor speak against the Americans in the colony because
according to Constantino: “In the first place,
he was safely dead by the time the
Americans began their aggressions.” So how could a dead man oppose anybody nor any
belief or idea?
There must be some rationale in deciding first to protect their vested interest, as we
view it, but for them, noble one, Zaide writes, “In his message to congress in 1899, President
William Howard Taft said: ‘The Philippines is ours not to exploit but to develop, to civilize,
to educate, to train in the science of self-government.’”
What Makes a National Hero? There is really no satisfactory answer. In the
Philippines there are three national heroes: Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, and Jose
Rizal. The debate is over which one is the true national hero took a turn towards Rizal in
1996 when the international conference on the revolution of 1896 celebrated the triumph
of Philippine nationalism by focusing on Rizal’s contribution.
A hero has the ability to stand up to historical scrutiny while maintaining a place in
the pantheon of national history. For more than a century, Filipinos have looked to Rizal’s
writings to find a national consciousness. So for many historians and political scientists, Rizal
is the foremost hero.
A recent study of Andres Bonifacio by Glenn Anthony May suggests that he has been
posthumously re-created. In a brilliant revisionist interpretation, May argues that
Bonifacio’s childhood, his writings, and key parts of his life have been rewritten. Bonifacio’s
letters and poetry were forged, May alleges, and a group of Filipino historians have recast
Bonifacio’s historical importance in myth and legend. Yet, to a large number of Filipinos,
Bonifacio remains a national hero. To these people Rizal is the fabricated hero who was
forced upon Filipinos by American government officials. While Rizal was an aristocrat, with
fine family background, Bonifacio was branded a poor, blue-collar revolutionary. For the
historian or political scientist, Bonifacio’s story is a dramatic one. He is the symbol of the
people’s desire for freedom.
Since the Philippine revolution of 1896 was led by Andres Bonifacio’s military
organization, the Katipunan, many consider him the key revolutionary. Despite Bonifacio’s
successes, his place in the archipelago’s history has been obscured by Rizal’s words, deeds,
and life. Emilio Aguinaldo was another recognized military leader who continued to exert
influence upon Philippine history until the mid-twentieth century. By analyzing the role of
the three political figures responsible for the forging of Philippine nationalism, it is possible
to suggest what makes a national hero.
Why Andres Bonifacio is a National Hero
Andres Bonifacio was the leader of the Philippine Revolution of 1896. He was not
only the guiding force behind the revolutionary organization, the Katipunan, but he became
a martyr when he was executed by fellow patriot Emilio Aguinaldo. By 1998 there was a
considerable public pressure upon the former President Fidel V. Ramos to rehabilitate
Bonifacio’s historical image. This prompted an outcry from parts of the Philippine press.
Adrian E. Cristobal, writing in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, commented: “Like it or
not Emilio Aguinaldo was an important figure in the Revolution and the central figure in the
Philippine-American war, and on that account could be very well acclaimed a national hero.”
Cristobal was reacting to rumors that Fidel V. Ramos was about to elevate Bonifacio to a
new hero level. Cristobal argued that Bonifacio found it difficult to cooperate with other
When Bonifacio was fighting the Spanish in Cavite, he was in constant disagreement
with Emilio Aguinaldo. In a series of letters to Emilio Jacinto, who was fighting against Spain
in the north, Bonifacio was critical of the lack of weapons and ammunition. Then he
complained about Aguinaldo’s lack of leadership. When Aguinaldo was selected to lead the
revolutionaries, he began to assert his leadership. He also began doubting Bonifacio’s
In 1897, the relationship between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo deteriorated because of
the Spanish military superiority. The Philippine Revolution of 1896 was not marching
towards victory and the main reason was internal dissension. When Aguinaldo approached
Bonifacio for troop reinforcements on three separate occasions in early 1897, he was
rebuffed. It was this argument over troops which led Aguinaldo to conclude that Bonifacio
was a traitor. In the heat of the conflict against the Spanish Aguinaldo made an unfortunate
decision. He decided to execute his military-political partner. As Aguinaldo recalled: “When I
realized what the Supremo had done, I sighed and said to myself: He wishes to destroy our
While Aguinaldo and Bonifacio were blaming each other for the failure of the
Philippine Revolution of 1896, a patriotic assembly convened to bring some order to the
chaotic situation. On March 22, 1887 the Tejeros assembly convened and selected
Aguinaldo as the leader of the Philippine revolution. Since Rizal was in exile, they believed
that Bonifacio lacked leadership selection to the presidency of the Philippine Government.
These events enraged Bonifacio and when he sent his series of letters to Emilio Jacinto, he
stated his obvious displeasure with Aguinaldo’s leadership.
When Bonifacio became one of the Katipunan’s founding members, revolutionary
activity intensified. The Katipunan was organized to unite Filipinos into one nation. Although
Bonifacio was a prime mover behind the organization, Emilio Jacinto was its revolutionary
theoretician. It was Jacinto who wrote the documents stating the Katipunan’s goals. This
affected Bonifacio’s historical reputation because he often appeared too blue collar and
lacked formal education. To counter this image, one of the Philippines leading historians,
Gregorio Zaide produced a series of monographs and a study of the Katipunan which
lionized Bonifacio’s contributions to Philippine nationalism. The impetus behind Zaide’s
work was the Katipunan. To many Filipino historians and political scientists, it was viewed
as the primary instrument of revolution.
The main purpose of the Katipunan was to foment a revolution to secure Philippine
Independence. Eventually Bonifacio ascended to a key leadership role and began publishing
the revolutionary newspaper, the Kalayaan.
The difference between the two Philippine nationalists intensified through a series of
political decisions. When Boifacio was elected as Supremo or commander of the Katipunan,
bad blood developed between the two leaders. Since Rizal’s exile at Dapitan, his leadership
qualities did not work to settle these petty differences.
The progress of Philippine nationalism was also hindered by ideological differences.
In Cavite there were two rival Katipunan councils. Bonifacio was executed by Aguinaldo on
May 10, 1897, due to a petty political rift which he identified as sedition. Unwittingly,
Aguinaldo’s own historical demise began with this act.
Renato Constantino wrote a well-received popular history of the Philippines, which
described Bonifacio as a humble man of high principles who was overthrown by elitist
Filipinos led by Aguinaldo. Constantino’s ideological history bears an element of truth. There
is no doubt that Bonifacio was the people’s hero. The problem was that he lacked leadership
greatness, there is a feeling that Bonifacio was an “invented hero.” May charges Bonifacio’s
personal history depended on forged documents, impressive but suspect, contemporary
memoirs, and a tendency towards hagiography. (Teodoro) Agoncillo’s critics charged that he
created two different Bonifacios. One was the honorific revolutionary who worked tirelessly
in the Manila underground and used his humble povery-stricken background to rally his
folllowers. The other Bonifacio was a boisterous leader who lacked common sense, good
judgment, and the ability to work with other revolutionaries.
Were Agoncillo’s arguments flawed? Probably not. May suggests that Agoncillo’s
reconstruction of Bonifacio’s personality, which relied on questionable data derived from his
interviews with the Supremo’s contemporary is seriously flawed. His conclusions run
counter to Agoncillo’s personal reputation for fairness and his penchant for integrity, ‘There
is a harsh, mean-spirited tone to May’s monograph. It also lacks the depth of sources
consistent with Agoncillo’s books. What has bothered the critics about Agoncillo is that he
accepted the interviews from Bonifacio’s contemporaries without analysis. This is an
excessive, and probably incorrect judgment. Like most historians, Agoncillo was limited by
his sources. But a check of the Revolt of the Masses indicates that there is an excess of 50
source interviews which formed the basis for judging Bonifacio’s contribution to the
revolution of 1896. What seems incredible is that these sources could have biased,
distorted, or judgmental problem. The truth is that these interviews contained all that
historians know about Bonifacio’s personality and leadership. While they may be flawed,
they also provide insights.
A more plausible explanation for Bonifacio’s historical problems is that he did not
shine as bright as Rizal or as long as Aguinaldo. He did not possess the education, level of
literacy, or personal charisma to assume the mantle of a historical hero. Yet, to this day, he
remains one
of the Philippines primary national heroes. For that he cannot thank
Aguinaldo. Bonifacio’s execution and Aguinaldo’s subsequent behavior made both men
heroes, even if second level ones.
The Spanish also helped to ensure Bonifacio’s legend. Governor General Camilo de
Polavieja was the prime mover in the movement to eliminate Bonifacio’s influence.
However, the result was just the opposite as the Spanish commander unwittingly paid
tribute to Bonifacio’s leadership. In one statement after another, followed by military
action, Polavieja demonstrated that it was difficult to defeat Bonifacio’s troops.
Why Emilio Aguinaldo is a National Hero
The triumph of Philippine independence is the accomplishment that Emilio
Aguinaldo’s supporters list as his greates feat. During May and June 1898, Aguinaldo’s
military forces defeated the Spanish in Manila and other parts of Luzon and the Visayas. On
June 12, 1898, he declared an Indpendent Republic of the Philippines. As the President of
the First Philippine Republic, Aguinaldo was for a moment a national hero.
In Aguinaldo’s career, he had a solid vision of Philippine nationalism. He urged
Filipinos to govern themselves, but the upplerclass supported American rule. E. Spencer
Pratt, the American Consul in Singapore, described Aguinaldo as “a man of intelligence,
ability, and courage…” In Aguinaldo’s career there is love for his country and a sense of
leadershi8p that was demonstrated early in his life. Despite humble origins, Aguinaldo was a
man of considerable intellect and a fine political thinker. He was described by a local
Philippine aristocrat, Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, as a person who “struck me as being
modest and conviced that he had a providential mission.”
The recognition of Aguinaldo’s leadership was obvious in December 1895 when he
was brought into the midst of the Katipunan’s political activity. This took place at the time
that the Katipunan announced that it had secured a printing press. The result was that
Aguinaldo was influenced by the Katipunan newspaper, the Kalayaan. Aguinaldo loved to
tell his followers that the newspaper’s name meant liberty or independence.
After Aguinaldo became a member of the Katipunan, he became increasingly critical
of Bonifacio. The historical record, unfortunatlely, incomplete about their differences. Of
the two, Aguinaldo was more literate and left a detailed record of his revolutionary activity.
The tragedy in Aguinaldo’s memoir is that he blamed Bonifacio for the lack of revolutionary
success. The truth was that the Spanish had superior military forces and Philippine forces
were inferior and ideologically divided.
In his memoirs Aguinaldo suggested that he approached Bonifacio three times about
changing military strategy in the fight against Spanish troops. Bonifacio refused, Aguinaldo
remembered, and this led to military problems. This forced Aguinaldo into an alliance with
other military generals, thereby intensifying hatred between the two leaders.
There were also a series of unexpected historical circumstances which cast
Aguinaldo into the nationalist spotlight before he was ready to assume the mantle of
leadership. It was a lengthy process which began on November 1 and 2, 1897 when 50
revolutionaries met in Biak-na-Bato. This assembly, presided over by Aguinaldo, proclaimed
that it was an assembly of representatives. From this meeting came the Biak-na-Bato
Constitution. It was popular with the people because it was written in Tagalog, not Spanish,
the national language.
Then a series of military events accentuated the road to independence. These events
began when Aguinaldo became part of a plan to reinforce Philippine military power in the
ongoing struggle against the Spanish. Aguinaldo and Bonifacio met to discuss the setbacks
against Spanish troops in Magdiwang and Magdalo.
With Aguinaldo using guerilla warfare, it was impossible for Spain to control the
revolutionaries. Aguinaldo proved to be an experienced leader, and the revolution began
turning towards the Filipino forces. This prompted Spain to offer a “peace by money”
agreement. Aguinaldo decided to accept the truce and leave for Hong Kong. The
revolutionary leaders agreed to a temporary cessation in military activity, so that they could
reorganize and plan for the future. What Aguinaldo and his followers did not realize was
that Spain’s military position was a precarious one. He had no idea that Spanish troops were
vulnerable when he accepted a series of truce agreements with the Spanish commanders.
The features of the truce included the surrender of rebel arms, Aguinaldo’s exile and the
payment of 400,000 pesos. Aguinaldo insisted that 200,000 pesos be invested to educate
Filipino students abroad.
On Christmas day 1897, a large group of friends watched Aguinaldo and other
members of the revolutionary committee at Biak-na-Bato as they prepared to sail for Hong
Kong. Aguinaldo did not realize that his behavior would compromise his status as a national
On February 14, 1898, Aguinaldo denounced the agreement with Spain and
prepared to return to the Philippines. The result was that Aguinaldo continued his fight
against Spain in the shadow of American military might. Soon Aguinaldo led an army of
between 25,000 and 35,000 and he began his march towards Manila Bay. On May 27, 1898,
Aguinaldo received 2,000 Mauser rifles and 20,000 cartridges from the Americans. He
proceeded to take much of the Luzon Valley and secured control of Manila. It was
Aguinaldo’s military successes which prompted some historicans to question his
collaboration with the Americans. To many Filipinos he was the national leader who
established the initial government. To others he was an American collaborator.
On June 12, 1898 when the First Philippine Republic was established, it was believed
that Admiral George Dewey who occupied Manila Bay would approve of Philippine
Independence. Whe the United States refused to recognize Aguinaldo’s First Philippine
Republic, he took up arms against the Americans and vanished in the archipelago’s
countryside. In March 1901 Aguinaldo was captured by American troops and the First
Philippine Republic came to an ignominious end.
These events suggest that Aguinaldo’s place in history has been clouded by a series
of controversial career moves. Long before Aguinaldo proclaimed the First Philippine
he was a prime mover for local independence. To the insurgent-minded
Filipino, Aguinaldo
is a true national hero.
Why Jose Rizal is the National Hero
Jose Rizal’s role in the pantheon of Philippine heroes is a complex one. As the
intellectual father of the Philippine Revolution, he became the sysmbol of protest against
Spanish rule. Since the Philippines was an American protectorate after the SpanishAmerican war, Rizal was the American-approved hero.
From the perspective of local Filipinos, Rizal’s opposition to the radical Katipunan
was the primary reason for his hero status. It was Rizal who urged Filipinos to go slowly in
their quest for a national identity. When the Katipunan went to war against Spain it angered
many educated Filipinos. The blue-collar origins of Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo
bothered aristocratic Filipinos and they argued that national identiy needed an educated,
articulate hero.
The United States also legitimized Rizal’s hero label by changing the name of the
Morong province to Rizal. President Theodore Roosevelt was fond of quoting Rizal’s works
in speeches praising the Philippines. For a brief time in the progressive era, Americans knew
more about Jose Rizal than they did about the Philippines.
The real test of Rizal’s hero status is demonstrated in the wide variety of biographies,
political studies, and general monographs. There is a general consensus that in the minds of
the Philippine public, Rizal is the First Filipino. There is purity and consistencey in his
patriotism. The other part of Rizal’s national hero status was his love for things Filipino. In
his writings, public life, and studies in Europe, Rizal was an ambassador who educated the
world. As Rizal subtly criticized the Spanish use of term indio to describe the locals, he
suggested that there was
an implied racism within the conquering civilization.
In 1879 Rizal’s famous poem “To the Filipino Youth” began the modern link to
Philippine nationalism. As a student at Ateneo, Rizal was not only curious about the impact
but also critical of the Spanish heritage. He watched hundreds of Filipinos arrested and tried
by the Spanish for independent thoughts. Soon Rizal became the voice of these protesters
through his two novels, the Noli and Fili. In the Noli Rizal wrote of reforms needed in the
Philippines. In sharp contrast in the Fili, Rizal suggested the path towards revolution. These
books promoted a sense of national direction and popularized Rizal’s ideas. He also
annotated the first serious history book on the Philippines, Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de
las Islas Filipinas. He turned
this classic study into a new book.
Another reason for Rizal’s hero status was his constant moralizing. When he arrived
to study in Madrid, he found a loose coalition of Filipinos who spent more time eating,
drinking, and gambling than concentrating on their European studies. Rizal was critical of
the frivolity
of his fellow students, a fact which caused many to oppose him.
It was Rizal who inspired his people to identify with the Philippines. He talked of
national identity and the archipelago followed his lead. When Rizal was executed by the
Spanish on December 30, 1896 his status as a martyr and national hero was confirmed.
By studying Rizal’s life, it is obvious that he retained a special status in Philippine history.
The National Hero: Some Conclusions on an Inconclusive Argument
Few Filipinos agree on who is the dominant national hero. Yet, for all practical
purposes, Jose Rizal remains the major national hero. There are a variety of reasons for
Rizal’s long-lasting appeal to the Filipino consciousness. However, there are four reasons for
the primacy of Rizal’s status as national hero.
First, his nationalistic primacy is due to a folk belifed that Rizal was the “king of the
Indios,” or a “Christ-like figure.” This is not a myth which Rizal fostered consciously, but his
life helped to create it. The cult feeling behind Rizal has never abated. In the rural areas,
there are feelings that he was so special that he could do anything politically and
Second, folk history suggests the importance of Rizal’s leadership. One of the
strangest stories about Rizal is that he fathered an illegitimate child while in Austria and that
young man was Adolf Hitler. Where there is no evidence to support this absurd conclusion,
the tale remains an important part of Philippine political folklore.
Third, Rizal’s fiction is an important source of his nationalist contribution. It is Rizal’s
novels that another key element of his nationalistic fame is evident. In the Fili, Rizal created
a character. Bernardo del Carpio, who follows lightning to the gates of heaven, but once he
gets there he is forbidden to enter heaven because he is impure. He is then put to sleep by
the angels. Thus started the myth of Bernardo del Carpio who is viewed by Filipinos as the
King of the Indios, a leader who will return to liberate the Philippines. A minor character in
the Fili vows to follow Bernardo del Carpio until he frees Filipinos from the tyranny of friar
rule. The Bernardo del Carpio tale was among Bonifacio’s favorites and indicates the depths
of Rizal’s influence upon Philippine nationalism.
Fourth, Rizal had a sense of the future for the Philippines. In 1996 when the
centennial of his death was celebrated there was a belief that he continued to serve the
Filipino people. If this is true, he certainly is the conclusive national hero.
In each society there is a myth and reality to the national hero and the Philippines is
no exception. The myth behind Jose Rizal’s career is that he was a God-like figure with a
futuristic vision. The reality is that he was the moving spirit of the Philippines. Dr. Salvador
H. Laurel, the former vice president of the Philippines, remarked that Rizal was “one of the
most remarkable men ever produced by the Malay race.” While Andres Bonifacio’s bluecollar origin has caused him historical problems and Emilio Aguinaldo’s peripatetic behavior
has prompted many to judge his credibility adversely, Rizal remains a largely unblemished
national hero.
If Rizal is the predominant national hero, it is due not only to his life and deeds but
to a sense of the Philippine future. Many Filipino heroes wrote poetry, brief, analytical
political essays and delivered fiery speeches. Of these early heroes, Rizal stands out, as the
one with the strongest impact on Philippine nationalism. Bonifacio and Aguinaldo also have
their detractors.
The most damning indictment against Bonifacio comes from Glenn Anthony May:
“…the Bonifacio we have before us is mostly an illusion, the product of undocumented
statements, unreliable, doctored, or otherwise spurious sources, and the collective
imagination of several historians and a memoirist. But May also sees a similar problem with
Aguinaldo: ”…The Magdalo Aguinaldo’s organization, was less responsible than Bonifacio. It
would be presumptuous to base the most-enduring hero upon the writings of May, but he
has hit a responsive chord in characterizing the national hero. The public needs an
aristocratic figure with impeccable intellectual credentials and a mystical political career.
Only Jose Rizal fits that characterization and this is one reason that he is the most-enduring
national hero.
Who Made Rizal a Hero, Americans or Filipinos?
The notion that Jose Rizal was an American-created Filipino hero is an insulting one.
To the Filipinos who attended his funeral, those who have read his books, and the many
who have viewed him as the father of Philippine nationalism, he remains the symbol of
Philippine nationalism. They are outraged with the notion that he was “an American hero.”
This view of Rizal suggests, from the American perspectivel, that Filipinos were unable to
create their own heroes. There are many Filipinos who use this argument to denigrage
Rizal’s memory. There is a need to study this issue.
The American Governor General William Howard Taft was one of the strongest
supporters of the movermnet to make the national hero. Taft, who would eventually
become the President of the United States, believed that Filipino priests were dangerous to
continued US control. So he supported Rizal’s nationalistic canonization as a means of
reducing the friars’ prestige. Taft also argued that Rizal was an intelligent reformer with an
educated view of the Philippine future. However what Taft was interested in was
perpetuating US sovereignty. So he constructed a number of myths about Rizal being a
perfect nationalist.
Ambeth R. Ocampo argues that Rizal planned every detail of his life, even his death.
Whether or not Rizal manipulated history is uncertain, but what is significant is that he
grabbed the moment. Whether the Philippines, Spain, England, France, or Germany, he
inspired people to think politically. If Rizal was a political scientist, then he was to create a
political dialogue that led to democracy. Unfortunately not everyone sees Rizal in this light.
Many of the answers to doubts about his nationalism were explained in an essay he
wrote for La Solidaridad entitled, “The Philippines, A Century Hence.” Rizal suggested that
the future of the Philippines was dictated by the past. He then condemned the Spanish for
the Filipinos of their culture. “They gradually lost their ancient traditions, their
recollections,” Rizal wrote. Throughout this lengthy article, Rizal argued that the six million
Filipinos needed their rights, so that they could become good Spaniards. This statement had
caused his detractors and defenders to engage in a debate about Rizal, which is still going
strong after a century.
Furthermore Rizal argued that the Philippines had lost its history. Yet he maintained
that the friars were not able to destroy the Philippines.
“Religious shows, rites that caught the eye, songs, lights, and images arrayed with
gold, worship in a strange language, legends, miracles, and sermons, hypnotized the already
naturally superstitious spirits of the country but did not succeed in destroying it altogether.”
Then Rizal asked the question: “What will become of the Philippine within a
century?” The answer for Rizal was a simple one. “The batteries are gradually becoming
charged and if the prudence of the government does not provide an outlet for the currents
that are accumulating, some day the spark will be generated.” Rizal spoke clearly and
plainly about the future of the Philippines. It was one of self-determination and revolution.
Because he was so blunt, Rizal had both defenders and detractors.
Governor General William Howard Taft, in 1901, suggested to the Philippine
Commission that the Filipinos be given a national hero. Joseph Smith in his book “The
Portrait of a Cold Warrior” described the real intention of Taft: “Taft quickly decided that it
would be extremely useful for the Filipinos to have a national hero of their revolution
against the Spanish in order to channel their feelings and focus their resentment backward
on Spain. But Taft told his advisers that he wanted it to be someone who really was not
much a revolutionary that, if his life were examined too closely or his works read too
carefully, this would cause us trouble, he chose Rizal as the man who fits his model.” Rizal
never advocated independence.
In Rizal’s manifesto (December 15, 1896), he wrote: “I am one most anxious for
liberties for our country, and I am still desirous of them. But I place as a prior condition the
education of the people, that by means of instruction and industry our country may have an
individuality of its own and make itself worthy of these liberties.” Rizal intentionally avoided
the use of the term independence in its true and real sense because in reality, this shall not
be granted until we were educated enough to appreciate its importance and its blessings,
and until we were economically self-sufficient.
Defenders and Detractors
In the Philippines there are many who view Rizal as a second-rate hero who has been
deified by the Amercan government for the purpose of controlling Filipino public opinion.
The most significant expression of his viewpoint is in the writings of Renato Costantino. He
blames Filipinos for succumbing to American rule and allowing Jose Rizal to be manipulated
into a national hero. In many respects Constantino sees the American colonial system as the
fulfillment of Rizal nationalistic fervor. What Constantino suggests is that Rizal was much like
the dictatorial Ferdinand E. Marcos. This is stretching historical analogy beyond the bounds
of the evidence.
What Constantino misses is that Filipinos are not “little Rizals,” as he suggests, but a
people who selected a national hero a century ago and stuck with him, because he
expressed the essence of Philippine nationalism. Rizal’s writings, speeches, public life, and
spectacular death are reminders of his nationalistic fervor.
Rizal’s manifesto condemning the Revolution of 1896 has been used to soil his
memory. At the time Rizal wrote this document, he was in jail and threatened with a court
martial. Rizal supported revolution, but not the revolution of Andres Bonifacio or the
Katipunan’s version. Rizal’s ideas won out and a slow but steady progression to total
independene took place in the next half century. Yet the arguents about Rizal being an
“American-created” hero persisted.
The best article on the problems of American deification of Rizal appeared in the
popular press. Ambeth Ocampo’s essay “Was Jose Rizal an American-Sponsored Hero?”
argues that Rizal’s “Manifesto to the Filipino People” addressed the issue of US influence.
While early American governors overemphasized Rizal’s contributions to Philippine
nationalism, the historical result of the controversy has been to denigrate the level of Rizal’s
nationalism, and, as a result, his contribution to Philippine history. Ocampo places the issue
in perspective when he concludes that “Rizal inspired the revolution and for this alone, his
detractors should think of a new argument, rather than riding on the prevailing antiAmerican sentiment to denigrate Jose Rizal.”
Still others point to the American tendency to encourage Rizal’s position as the
foremost Philippine nationalist. Ocampo puts the controversy to rest by pointing out the
obvious; Jose Rizal was the chief architect of the Philippine nationalism and independence
long before the Americans arrived. He was recognized as the first Malay son. He was not the
leader of the revolutionary Katipunan. He did not believe that the 1896 revolution could
succeed because of lack of planning. He did not feel tht all Filipinos were ready for full
citizenship. Yet, despite all these misgivings, Filipinos recognize Rizal as their foremost
native son.
Although Rizal was uprooted by Spanish rule, he realized that he needed to pursue
his nationalistic goals. His family was a catalyst to this belief and his life was dedicated to a
defined Philippine nationalism. This enraged the Spanish who then harassed his family. After
his mother was imprisoned, his brother exiled, and his father charged with unfair land
practices, Rizal intensified his demands for independence. No matter how Spain attempted
to intimidate him, Rizal remained first and foremost a Philippine nationalist.
There were subtle reasons for Rizal’s deification. Rizal did not have the blue collar
following that Andres Bonifacio possessed. He had a subtle nationalism that Emilio
Aguinaldo lacked. He was able to interact socially, economically, and politically with
Europeans. He had an education that few could match. Basically Rizal was a special person.
Even the Spanish officers who were empowered to render final judgment on Rizal became
his friends. But the question persists: “Why was he the chief Filipino Patriot?”
John Schumacher writes: “What is different about Rizal… were the national vision
and the ideal that he articulated.” In order to build upon Schumacher’s quote, it is
necessary to examine Rizal as “the chief Filipino patriot.”
Those who defend Rizal use Rizal’s repudiation of the Philippine revolution as an
argument against those elements in our society who seek radical change. They believe that
Rizal’s abandonment of his people when they decided to rise can be used to dissuade others
from making common cause with the masses today. This is the same intention the
Americans had in favoring Rizal as our national hero.
Lesson 12
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. examine the values highlighted by the various representations of Rizal as a national
symbol; and
2. advocate the values Rizal’s life encapsulates.
Symbols represent a wide variety of things. When people see a particular symbol, they
associate it with something meaningful or standard. With this, each country has its own
national symbols to identify themselves from others and to unite its citizens through
According to National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), official national
symbols of the Philippines represent the country’s traditions and ideals and convey the
principles of Philippine sovereignty and national solidarity.
The Present Rizal: A Symbolic Rizal
Today, Rizal is more than just a hero of the past, but rather a symbol to the people of
the present. People may look at Rizal in different ways, in different symbols; because
symbols don’t contain a constant meaning, but rather they differ in each person’s
perception or beliefs.
Everyone of us have their own inner Rizal within. So, what’s your inner Rizal?
What does Rizal symbolize?
A hero symbolizes goodness. Rizal gave us freedom by using goodness. Jose Rizal
became the Philippine national hero because he fought for freedom in a silent but powerful
way. He expressed his love for the Philippines through his novels, essays and articles rather
than through the use of force or aggression. He was a very amazing person at his time. He
was humble, fighting for reforms through his writings instead of through a revolution. He
his intelligence, talents and skills in a more peaceful way rather than the aggressive
Rizal is an American-sponsored hero: he opted for a non violence reform in the
government. Instead he used his writings to open the eyes of the Filipinos. He dedicated his
life for his countrymen without hesitation.
He was known for his meekness and coolness, but he never fought on a war. Most of
the world Heroes was elevated as such because of their war exploits. Rizal never did it. He
was using his pen for criticism about the handling of the Spanish government in the
Philippines. He fought to have the Philippines a permanent representation in the Spanish
Cortes. That's why when the US accepted the Philippines as a vassal country, Gen. Taft who
was the Governor general here, appointed Jose Rizal as the National Hero for the
Philippines, to douse the fighting fervor of the Filipinos who are fighting for freedom at that
The Americans decided for him being a national hero at their time in the country. It
is said that the Americans, Civil Governor William Howard Taft, chose Jose Rizal to be the
national hero as a strategy. Rizal didn't want bloody revolution in his time. So they wanted
him to be a "good example" to the Filipinos so that the people will not revolt against the
Rizal became a National Hero because he passed the criteria by being a National
Hero during the American period.
Adding that, Rizal passed the Criteria for National Heroes
1. Heroes are those who have a concept of nation and thereafter aspire and
struggle for the nation’s freedom. In reality, however, a revolution has no end.
Revolutions are only the beginning. One cannot aspire to be free only to sink
back into bondage.
2. Heroes are those who define and contribute to a system or life of freedom and
order for a nation. Freedom without order will only lead to anarchy. Therefore,
heroes are those who make the nation’s constitution and laws. To the latter,
constitutions are only the beginning, for it is the people living under the
constitution that truly constitute a nation.
3. Heroes are those who contribute to the quality of life and destiny of a nation.
(As defined by Dr. Onofre D. Corpuz)
Additional Criteria for Heroes
1. A hero is part of the people’s expression. But the process of a people’s
internalization of a hero’s life and works takes time, with the youth forming a
part of the internalization.
2. A hero thinks of the future, especially the future generations.
3. The choice of a hero involves not only the recounting of an episode or events in
history, but of the entire process that made this particular person a hero.
While the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has come up
with a list of the country’s official national symbols, there is also a list of unofficial national
symbols. One of these unofficial national symbols is Jose Rizal.
The Philippine Primer (2017) reported that long recognized in the history books as
the country’s National Hero, Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonzo Realonda’s status as
national hero has not been the subject of debate for the common Juan. Scholars, however,
still argue about who should be given the title: Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio
Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat, Juan Luna,
Melchora Aquino, and Gabriela Silang were listed down by former President Fidel V. Ramos
as those worthy of being given the title of National Hero. This list has not been acted on
since being submitted by the National Heroes Committee on November 22, 1995.
According to Ninah Villa (2014) in her A Question of Heroes in The Official National
Symbols of the Philippines, among those not included in the list of national symbols is Jose
Rizal, who, nonetheless is called by many Filipinos as the national hero. The title goes back
to the time of the Americans where it is said our colonizers preferred Rizal for national hero.
Apparently, there is no official Philippine law that has officially conferred the title to him.
In an interview by the GMA News TV’s Investigative Documentaries (ID), the National
Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) historian Ian Christopher Alfonso clarified
that there can’t be a national hero simply because all our heroes did what they could for the
Philippines. The implication is that, it would be unfair to pick one to elevate to the position
of national hero over all the others. (https://www.pinoywit.com/official-national-symbolsof-the-philippines/)
Reinerio A. Alba (2009) in his In Focus: Official National Symbols of the Philippines
stated that there is also no Filipino historical figure officially declared as national hero
through law or executive order. Although, there were laws and proclamations honoring
Filipino heroes. On November 15, 1995, the Technical Committee of the National Heroes
Committee, created through Executive Order No. 5 by former President Fidel V. Ramos,
recommended nine Filipino historical figures to be National Heroes: Jose Rizal, Andres
Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Sultan Dipatuan
Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino, and Gabriela Silang. There has not been any action
taken for these recommended National Heroes. (https://ncca.gov.ph/about-culture-andarts/in-focus/official-national-symbols-of-the-philippines/)
Limitations of Rizal
We are living in an age of anti-colonial revolutions different in content from those of
Rizal’s period. Rizal could not have anticipated the problems of today. He was not
conversant with economic tools of analysis that would unravel the techniques that today
are being used by outside forces to consign us to a state of continued poverty. The
revolution of today would be beyond the understanding of Rizal whose Castilian orientation
necessarily limited his horizon even for that period.
He was capable of unraveling the myths that were woven by the oppressors of his
time, but he would have been at a loss to see through the more sophisticated myths and to
recognize the subtle techniques
of present-day colonialists, given the state of his
knowledge and experience at that time. This is not to say that were he alive today and
subject to modern experiences, he would not understand the means of our times. But is is
useless speculation to try to divine what he would now advocate.
Unless we have an ulterior motive, there is really no need to extend Rizal’s meaning
so that he may have contemporary value. Many of his social criticisms are still valid today
because certain aspects of our life are still carry-overs of the feudal and colonial society of
his time.
A true appreciation of Rizal would require that we study these social
cristicisms and take steps to eradicate the evils he decried.
We have magnified Rizal’s significance for too long. It is time to examine his
limitations and profit from his weaknesses just as we have learned from the strength of his
character and his virtues. His weaknesses were the weakness of his society. His wavering
and his repudiation of mass action should be studied as a product of the society that
nurtured him.
Rediscovery of Other Heroes
Today we need new heroes who can help us solve our pressing problems. We cannot
rely on Rizal alone. We must discard the belief that we are incapable of producing the
heroes of our epoch, that heroes are exceptional beings, accidents of history who stand
above the masses and apart from them.
The true hero is one with the masses: he does not exist above them. In fact a whole
people can be heroes given the proper motivation and articulation of their dreams.
Rizal is a hero of our race. But he should not be the only hero nor one who towers
above all others. He is not the zenith of our greatness; neither does he have a monopoly of
patriotism. Not all his teachings have universal and timeless application. Just as each social
system gives way to higher forms, so must individual heroes give way to higher forms of
Our admiration to Rizal should not hinder the rediscovery of heroes of the past who
were overshadowed by him and who may have more relevance to our times than he does.
Moreover the Rizal cult should not prevent us from discovering heroes of the present, an
epoch very different from Rizal’s.
We have somehow imibed that to be a hero one has to die as dramatically as Rizal
did. We have overlooked the fact that heroism does not lie primarily in the circumstance of
one’s death but in the acceptability of one’s life and ideas by the people. In an individual’s
identification with the people, and in the articulation of their desires. Rizal articulated some
of his people’s basic aspirations; this is a service we must acknowledge with gratitude. But
he was inadequate for the new consciousness, the new level of struggle, the goals of a
people who are marching alongside other peoples of the underdeveloped areas of the world
in their search for a destiny long denied them by colonial domination.
Rizal is still valid today insofar as his social criticism of Filipino colonial society is
concerned. We must continue to draw inspiration from him to change those aspects of our
social life that he decried and which have not yet changed, such as the neglect of our
language, our habit of looking down on our own products, and our penchant for aping
Let us escape from the limitations we have imposed upon ourselves. Let us study our
other heroes. Let us convince our people that they, too, can be heroes, that heroes need
be exceptions. All we need is to liberate ourselves from all the vestiges of
colonialism; we,
too, will easily recognize the heroes among us; we, too, can
become a hero.
Through Dr. Jose Rizal's literary works, he opened the minds of the Filipino people to fight
for their rights in their own country. His two most famous novels with highly nationalistic
and revolutionary ideas are Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, two novels exposing the
arrogance and despotism of the Spanish clergy. These two novels provoked the animosity of
those in power and these literary works led himself into trouble with the Spanish officials.
He was imprisoned at Fort Santiago from July 6-15, 1892 then exiled to Dapitan until 1896.
During his exile, the rebellion by the militant secret society Katipunan had become a full
blown revolution and his enemies lost no time in pressing him down. They were able to
enlist witnesses that linked him with these revolts and he was again locked up in Fort
Santiago on November 3, 1896. He was convicted of rebellion, sedition and of forming illegal
In his prison cell he wrote a poem now known as Mi Ultimo Adios, a
masterpiece, expressing not only his love for his country but also that of countrymen.
Here is a collection of some of Jose Rizal quotations taken from the letters, novel, articles
and poems.
 To foretell the destiny of a nation, it is necessary to open the book that tells of her
past. – (Jose Rizal, quote inscribed in Fort Santiago)
 Law has no skin, reason has no nostrils. - (The Philippines: A Century Hence)
 To wish that the alleged child remain in its swaddling clothes tis to risk that it may
turn against its nurse and flee, tearing away the old rags that bind it. - (The
A Century Hence)
 The tyranny of some is possible only through the cowardice of others. - (Letter to the
Young Women of Malolos - translated by Gregorio Zaide)
 A government that rules a country from a great distance is the one that has the most
need for a free press more so even than the government of the home country.
(The Philippines: A Century Hence)
 Encystment of a conquering people is possible, for it signifies complete isolation,
absolute inertia, debility in the conquering element. Encystment thus means the
tomb of the foreign invader. - (The Philippines: A Century Hence)
 There can be no tyrants where there are no slaves.
 While a people preserves its language: it preserves the marks of liberty.
 It is a useless life that is not consecrated to a great deal. It is like a stone wasted on
the field without becoming a part of any edifice.
 I wish to show those who deny us patriotism that we know how to die for our
country and convictions. - (inscribed at Fort Santiago Walls)
 Ignorance is servitude, because as a man thinks, so he is; a man who does not think
for himself and allowed himself to be guided by the thought of another is like the
beast led by a halter. - (Letter to the Young Women of Malolos)
 Filipinos don’t realize that victory is the child of struggle, that joy blossoms from
suffering, and redemption is the product of sacrifice.- “Como se gobiernan las
Filipinas” (How one governs in the Philippines), published in La Solidaridad (15
December 1890)
 No good water comes from muddy spring. No sweet fruit comes from a bitter seed. (Letter to the Young Women of Malolos)
 Youth is a flower-bed that is to bear rich fruit and must accumulate wealth for its
descendants. - (Letter to the Young Women of Malolos)
 Maturity is the fruit of infancy and the infant is formed on the lap of its mother. (Letter to the Young Women of Malolos)
 A tree that grows in the mud is unsubstantial and good only for firewood. - (Letter to
the Young Women of Malolos)
 Man works for an object. Remove that object and you reduce him into inaction. (Indolence of the Filipino - La Solidaridad - 1890)
 One only die once and if one does not die well, a good opportunity is lost and will
not present itself again. - (Letter to Mariano Ponce - 1890)
The world laughs at another man’s pain.- (“Song of the Wanderer”, st.8 – translated
by Nick Joaquin)
All men are born equal, naked, without bonds. God did not create man to be a slave;
nor did he endow him with intelligence to have him hoodwinked, or adorn him with
reason to have him decieved by others. - (Letter to the Young Women of Malolos)
Without education and liberty, which are the soil and the sun of man, no reform is
possible no measure can give the result desired. - (Indolence of the Filipinos - La
SOURCE: http://mmdelrosario.hubpages.com/hub/jose-rizal-quotes