Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal, Philippine Patriot
Part 3 out of 4
statistics, to go thoroughly into the actual conditions, and to leave
out the generalities which usually characterized Spanish documents.
He asked the people to coöperate, pointing out that when they
did not complain it was their own fault more than that of the
government if they suffered injustice. Further, he showed the folly
of exaggerated statements, and insisted upon a definite and moderate
showing of such abuses as were unquestionably within the power of
the authorities to relieve. Rizal himself prepared the report, which
is an excellent presentation of the grievances of the people of his
town. It brings forward as special points in favor of the community
their industriousness, their willingness to help themselves, their
interest in education, and concludes with expressing confidence
in the fairness of the government, pointing out the fact that they
were risking the displeasure of their landlords by furnishing the
information requested. The paper made a big stir, and its essential
statements, like everything else in Rizal's writings, were never
Conditions in Manila were at that time disturbed owing to the
precedence which had been given in a local festival to the Chinese,
because they paid more money. The Filipinos claimed that, being in
their home country, they should have had prior consideration and were
entitled to it by law. The matter culminated in a protest, which was
doubtless submitted to Doctor Rizal on the eve of his departure from
the Islands; the protest in a general way met with his approval, but
the theatrical methods adopted in the presentation of it can hardly
have been according to his advice.
He sailed for Hongkong in February of 1888, and made a short stay in
the British colony, becoming acquainted there with Jose Maria Basa, an
exile of '72, who had constituted himself the especial guardian of the
Filipino students in that city. The visitor was favorably impressed by
the methods of education in the British colony and with the spirit of
patriotism developed thereby. He also looked into the subject of the
large investments in Hongkong property by the corporation landlords
of the Philippines, their preparation for the day of trouble which
Rizal was interested in the Chinese theater, comparing the plays with
the somewhat similar productions which existed in the Philippines;
there, however, they had been given a religious twist, which at
first glance hid their debt to the Chinese drama. The Doctor notes
meeting, at nearby Macao, an exile of '72, whose condition and patient,
uncomplaining bearing of his many troubles aroused Rizal's sympathies
and commanded his admiration.
With little delay, the journey was continued to Japan, where Doctor
Rizal was surprised by an invitation to make his home in the Spanish
consulate. There he was hospitably entertained, and a like courtesy
was shown him in the Spanish minister's home in Tokio. The latter
even offered him a position, as a sort of interpreter, probably,
should he care to remain in the country. This offer, however, was
declined. Rizal made considerable investigation into the condition
of the various Japanese classes and acquired such facility in the
use of the language that with it and his appearance, for he was "very
Japanese," the natives found it difficult to believe that he was not
one of themselves. The month or more passed here he considered one of
the happiest in his travels, and it was with regret that he sailed
from Yokohama for San Francisco. A Japanese newspaper man, who knew
no other language than his own, was a companion on the entire journey
to London, and Rizal acted as his interpreter.
Not only did he enter into the spirit of the language but with
remarkable versatility he absorbed the spirit of the Japanese artists
and acquired much dexterity in expressing himself in their style,
as is shown by one of the illustrations in this book. The popular
idea that things occidental are reversed in the Orient was amusingly
caricatured in a sketch he made of a German face; by reversing its
lines he converted it into an old-time Japanese countenance.
The diary of the voyage from Hongkong to Japan records an incident to
which he alludes as being similar to that of Aladdin in the Tagalog
tale of Florante. The Filipino wife of an Englishman, Mrs. Jackson,
who was a passenger on board, told Rizal a great deal about a
Filipino named Rachal, who was educated in Europe and had written a
much-talked-of novel, which she described and of which she spoke in
such flattering terms that Rizal declared his identity. The confusion
in names is explained by the fact that Rachal is a name well known
in the Philippines as that of a popular make of piano.
At San Francisco the boat was held for some time in quarantine because
of sickness aboard, and Rizal was impressed by the fact that the
valuable cargo of silk was not delayed but was quickly transferred to
the shore. His diary is illustrated with a drawing of the Treasury
flag on the customs launch which acted as go-between for their boat
and the shore. Finally, the first-class passengers were allowed to
land, and he went to the Palace Hotel.
With little delay, the overland journey was begun; the scenery through
the picturesque Rocky Mountains especially impressed him, and finally
Chicago was reached. The thing that struck him most forcibly in that
city was the large number of cigar stores with an Indian in front of
each--and apparently no two Indians alike. The unexpressed idea was
that in America the remembrance of the first inhabitants of the land
and their dress was retained and popularized, while in the Philippines
knowledge of the first inhabitants of the land was to be had only
from foreign museums.
Niagara Falls is the next impression recorded in the diary, which has
been preserved and is now in the Newberry Library of Chicago. The
same strange, awe-inspiring mystery which others have found in the
big falls affected him, but characteristically he compared this
world-wonder with the cascades of his native La Laguna, claiming for
them greater delicacy and a daintier enchantment.
From Albany, the train ran along the banks of the Hudson, and he was
reminded of the Pasig in his homeland, with its much greater commerce
and its constant activity.
At New York, Rizal embarked on the City of Rome, then the finest
steamer in the world, and after a pleasant voyage, in which his spare
moments were occupied in rereading "Gulliver's Travels" in English,
Rizal reached England, and said good-by to the friends whom he had
met during their brief ocean trip together.
Rizal's first letters home to his family speak of being in the free
air of England and once more amidst European activity. For a short
time he lived with Doctor Antonio Maria Regidor, an exile of '72,
who had come to secure what Spanish legal Business he could in the
British metropolis. Doctor Regidor was formerly an official in the
Philippines, and later proved his innocence of any complicity in the
troubles of '72.
Doctor Rizal then boarded with a Mr. Beckett, organist of St. Paul's
Church, at 37 Charlecote Crescent, in the favorite North West residence
section. The zoölogical gardens were conveniently near and the British
Museum was within easy walking distance. The new member was a favorite
with all the family, which consisted of three daughters besides the
father and mother.
Rizal's youthful interest in sleight-of-hand tricks was still
maintained. During his stay in the Philippines he had sometimes amused
his friends in this way, till one day he was horrified to find that
the simple country folk, who were also looking on, thought that he
was working miracles. In London he resumed his favorite diversion, and
a Christmas gift of Mrs. Beckett to him, "The Life and Adventures of
Valentine Vox the Ventriloquist," indicated the interest his friends
took in this amusement. One of his own purchases was "Modern Magic,"
the frontispiece of which is the sphinx that figures in the story of
It was Rizal's custom to study the deceptions practiced upon the
peoples of other lands, comparing them with those of which his
own countrymen had been victims. Thus he could get an idea of the
relative credulity of different peoples and could also account
for many practices the origin of which was otherwise less easy to
understand. His investigations were both in books and by personal
research. In quest of these experiences he one day chanced to visit
a professional phrenologist; the bump-reader was a shrewd guesser,
for he dwelt especially upon Rizal's aptitude for learning languages
and advised him to take up the study of them.
This interest in languages, shown in his childish ambition to be
like Sir John Bowring, made Rizal a congenial companion of a still
more distinguished linguist, Doctor Reinhold Rost, the librarian of
the India Office. The Raffles Library in Singapore now owns Doctor
Rost's library, and its collection of grammars in seventy languages
attests the wide range of the studies of this Sanscrit scholar.
Doctor Rost was born and educated in Germany, though naturalized
as a British subject, and he was a man of great musical taste. His
family sometimes formed an orchestra, at other times a glee club, and
furnished all the necessary parts from its own members. Rizal was a
frequent visitor, usually spending his Sundays in athletic exercises
with the boys, for he quickly became proficient in the English sports
of boxing and cricket. While resting he would converse with the father,
or chat with the daughters of the home. All the children had literary
tastes, and one, Daisy, presented him with a copy of a novel which
she had just translated from the German, entitled "Ulli."
Some idea of Doctor Rizal's own linguistic attainments may be gained
from the fact that instead of writing letters to his nephews and nieces
he made for them translations of some of Hans Christian Andersen's
fairy tales. They consist of some forty manuscript pages, profusely
illustrated, and the father is referred to in a "dedication,"
as though it were a real book. The Hebrew Bible quotation is in
allusion to a jocose remark once made by the father that German was
like Hebrew to him, the verse being that in which the sons of Jacob,
not recognizing that their brother was the seller, were bargaining
for some of Pharaoh's surplus corn, "And he (Joseph) said, How is
the old man, your father?" Rizal always tried to relieve by a touch
of humor anything that seemed to him as savoring of affectation,
the phase of Spanish character that repelled him and the imitation
of which by his countrymen who knew nothing of the un-Spanish world
disgusted him with them.
Another example of his versatility in language and of its usefulness
to him as well, is shown in a trilingual letter written by Rizal in
Dapitan when the censorship of his correspondence had become annoying
through ignorant exceptions to perfectly harmless matters. No Spaniard
available spoke more than one language besides his own and it was
necessary to send the letter to three different persons to find out
its contents. The critics took the hint and Rizal received better
Another one of Rizal's youthful aspirations was attained in London,
for there he began transcribing the early Spanish history by Morga of
which Sir John Bowring had told his uncle. A copy of this rare book
was in the British Museum and he gained admission as a reader there
through the recommendation of Doctor Rost. Only five hundred persons
can be accommodated in the big reading room, and as students are
coming from every continent for special researches, good reason has
to be shown why these studies cannot be made at some other institution.
Besides the copying of the text of Morga's history, Rizal read
many other early writings on the Philippines, and the manifest
unfairness of some of these who thought that they could glorify Spain
only by disparaging the Filipinos aroused his wrath. Few Spanish
writers held up the good name of those who were under their flag,
and Rizal had to resort to foreign authorities to disprove their
libels. Morga was almost alone among Spanish historians, but his
assertions found corroboration in the contemporary chronicles of
other nationalities. Rizal spent his evenings in the home of Doctor
Regidor, and many a time the bitterness and impatience with which his
day's work in the Museum had inspired him, would be forgotten as the
older man counseled patience and urged that such prejudices were to be
expected of a little educated nation. Then Rizal's brow would clear as
he quoted his favorite proverb, "To understand all is to forgive all."
Doctor Rost was editor of Trübner's Record, a journal devoted to the
literature of the East, founded by the famous Oriental Bookseller and
Publisher of London, Nicholas Trübner, and Doctor Rizal contributed
to it in May, 1889, some specimens of Tagal folklore, an extract from
which is appended, as it was then printed:
Specimens of Tagal Folklore
By Doctor J. Rizal
Malakas ang bulong sa sigaw, Low words are stronger than loud words.
Ang lakí sa layaw karaniwa 'y hubad, A petted child is generally naked
Hampasng magulang ay nakatabã, Parents' punishment makes one fat.
Ibang hari ibang ugail, New king, new fashion.
Nagpupútol ang kapus, ang labis ay nagdurugtong, What is short cuts
off a piece from itself, what is long adds another on (the poor gets
poorer, the rich richer).
Ang nagsasabing tapus ay siyang kinakapus, He who finishes his words
finds himself wanting.
Nangangakõ habang napapakõ, Man promises while in need.
Ang naglalakad ng maráhan, matinik may mababaw, He who walks slowly,
though he may put his foot on a thorn, will not be hurt very much
(Tagals mostly go barefooted).
Ang maniwalã sa sabi 'y walang bait na sarili, He who believes in
tales has no own mind.
Ang may isinuksok sa dingding, ay may titingalain, He who has put
something between the wall may afterwards look on (the saving man
may afterwards be cheerful).--The wall of a Tagal house is made of
palm-leaves and bamboo, so that it can be used as a cupboard.
Walang mahirap gisingin na paris nang nagtutulogtulugan, The most
difficult to rouse from sleep is the man who pretends to be asleep.
Labis sa salitã, kapus sa gawã, Too many words, too little work.
Hipong tulog ay nadadalá ng ánod, The sleeping shrimp is carried away
by the current.
Sa bibig nahuhuli ang isda, The fish is caught through the mouth.
Isang butil na palay sikip sa buony bahay, One rice-corn fills up
all the house.--The light. The rice-corn with the husk is yellowish.
Matapang akó so dalawá, duag akó sa isá, I am brave against two,
coward against one.--The bamboo bridge. When the bridge is made of
one bamboo only, it is difficult to pass over; but when it is made
of two or more, it is very easy.
Dalá akó niya, dalá ko siya, He carries me, I carry him.--The shoes.
Isang balong malalim puna ng patalím, A deep well filled with steel
The Filipino colony in Spain had established a fortnightly review,
published first in Barcelona and later in Madrid, to enlighten
Spaniards on their distant colony, and Rizal wrote for it from the
start. Its name, La Solidaridad, perhaps may be translated Equal
Rights, as it aimed at like laws and the same privileges for the
Peninsula and the possessions overseas.
From the Philippines came news of a contemptible attempt to reach
Rizal through his family--one of many similar petty persecutions. His
sister Lucia's husband had died and the corpse was refused interment
in consecrated ground, upon the pretext that the dead man, who had been
exceptionally liberal to the church and was of unimpeachable character,
had been negligent in his religious duties. Another individual with
a notorious record of longer absence from confession died about
the same time, and his funeral took place from the church without
demur. The ugly feature about the refusal to bury Hervosa was that the
telegram from the friar parish-priest to the Archbishop at Manila in
asking instructions, was careful to mention that the deceased was a
brother-in-law of Rizal. Doctor Rizal wrote a scorching article for
La Solidaridad under the caption "An Outrage," and took the matter
up with the Spanish Colonial Minister, then Becerra, a professed
Liberal. But that weakling statesman, more liberal in words than in
actions, did nothing.
That the union of Church and State can be as demoralizing to religion
as it is disastrous to good government seems sufficiently established
by Philippine incidents like this, in which politics was substituted
for piety as the test of a good Catholic, making marriage impossible
and denying decent burial to the families of those who differed
politically with the ministers of the national religion.
Of all his writings, the article in which Rizal speaks of this
indignity to the dead comes nearest to exhibiting personal feeling and
rancor. Yet his main point is to indicate generally what monstrous
conditions the Philippine mixture of religion and politics made
The following are part of a series of nineteen verses published in
La Solidaridad over Rizal's favorite pen name of Laong Laan:
To my Muse
(translation by Charles Derbyshire)
Invoked no longer is the Muse,
The lyre is out of date;
The poets it no longer use,
And youth its inspiration now imbues
With other form and state.
If today our fancies aught
Of verse would still require,
Helicon's hill remains unsought;
And without heed we but inquire,
Why the coffee is not brought.
In the place of thought sincere
That our hearts may feel,
We must seize a pen of steel,
And with verse and line severe
Fling abroad a jest and jeer.
Muse, that in the past inspired me,
And with songs of love hast fired me;
Go thou now to dull repose,
For today in sordid prose
I must earn the gold that hired me.
Now must I ponder deep,
Meditate, and struggle on;
E'en sometimes I must weep;
For he who love would keep
Great pain has undergone.
Fled are the days of ease,
The days of Love's delight;
When flowers still would please
And give to suffering souls surcease
From pain and sorrow's blight.
One by one they have passed on,
All I loved and moved among;
Dead or married--from me gone,
For all I place my heart upon
By fate adverse are stung.
Go thou, too, O Muse, depart,
Other regions fairer find;
For my land but offers art
For the laurel, chains that bind,
For a temple, prisons blind.
But before thou leavest me, speak:
Tell me with thy voice sublime,
Thou couldst ever from me seek
A song of sorrow for the weak,
Defiance to the tyrant's crime.
Rizal's congenial situation in the British capital was disturbed
by his discovering a growing interest in the youngest of the three
girls whom he daily met. He felt that his career did not permit him
to marry, nor was his youthful affection for his cousin in Manila an
entirely forgotten sentiment. Besides, though he never lapsed into
such disregard for his feminine friends as the low Spanish standard
had made too common among the Filipino students in Madrid, Rizal was
ever on his guard against himself. So he suggested to Doctor Regidor
that he considered it would be better for him to leave London. His
parting gift to the family with whom he had lived so happily was a
clay medallion bearing in relief the profiles of the three sisters.
Other regretful good-bys were said to a number of young Filipinos
whom he had gathered around him and formed into a club for the study
of the history of their country and the discussion of its politics.
Rizal now went to Paris, where he was glad to be again with his friend
Valentin Ventura, a wealthy Pampangan who had been trained for the
law. His tastes and ideals were very much those of Rizal, and he had
sound sense and a freedom from affectation which especially appealed
to Rizal. There Rizal's reprint of Morga's rare history was made, at
a greater cost but also in better form than his first novel. Copious
notes gave references to other authorities and compared present
with past conditions, and Doctor Blumentritt contributed a forceful
When Rizal returned to London to correct the proofsheets, the old
original book was in use and the copy could not be checked. This led to
a number of errors, misspelled and changed words, and even omissions
of sentences, which were afterwards discovered and carefully listed
and filed away to be corrected in another edition.
Possibly it has been made clear already that, while Rizal did not
work for separation from Spain, he was no admirer of the Castilian
character, nor of the Latin type, for that matter. He remarked on
Blumentritt's comparison of the Spanish rulers in the Philippines
with the Czars of Russia, that it is flattering to the Castilians
but it is more than they merit, to put them in the same class as
Russia. Apparently he had in mind the somewhat similar comparison in
Burke's speech on the conciliation of America, in which he said that
Russia was more advanced and less cruel than Spain and so not to be
classed with it.
During his stay in Paris, Rizal was a frequent visitor at the home
of the two Doctors Pardo de Tavera, sons of the exile of '72 who
had gone to France, the younger now a physician in South America,
the elder a former Philippine Commissioner. The interest of the
one in art, and of the other in philology, the ideas of progress
through education shared by both, and many other common tastes and
ideals, made the two young men fast friends of Rizal. Mrs. Tavera,
the mother, was an interesting conversationalist, and Rizal profited
by her reminiscences of Philippine official life, to the inner circle
of which her husband's position had given her the entrée.
On Sundays Rizal fenced at Juan Luna's house with his distinguished
artist-countryman, or, while the latter was engaged with Ventura,
watched their play. It was on one of these afternoons that the Tagalog
story of "The Monkey and the Tortoise" was hastily sketched as a
joke to fill the remaining pages of Mrs. Luna's autograph album, in
which she had been insisting Rizal must write before all its space
was used up. A comparison of the Tagalog version with a Japanese
counterpart was published by Rizal in English, in Trübner's Magazine,
suggesting that the two people may have had a common origin. This
study received considerable attention from other ethnologists, and
was among the topics at an ethnological conference.
At times his antagonist was Miss Nellie Baustead, who had great
skill with the foils. Her father, himself born in the Philippines,
the son of a wealthy merchant of Singapore, had married a member of
the Genato family of Manila. At their villa in Biarritz, and again
in their home in Belgium, Rizal was a guest later, for Mr. Baustead
had taken a great liking to him.
The teaching instinct that led him to act as mentor to the Filipino
students in Spain and made him the insparation of a mutual improvement
club of his young countrymen in London, suggested the foundation of
a school in Paris. Later a Pampangan youth offered him $40,000 with
which to found a Filipino college in Hongkong, where many young men
from the Philippines had obtained an education better than their
own land could afford but not entirely adapted to their needs. The
scheme attracted Rizal, and a prospectus for such an institution
which was later found among his papers not only proves how deeply
he was interested, but reveals the fact that his ideas of education
were essentially like those carried out in the present public-school
course of instruction in the Philippines.
Early in August of 1890 Rizal went to Madrid to seek redress for a
wrong done his family by the notorious General Weyler, the "Butcher"
of evil memory in Cuba, then Governor-General of the Philippines. Just
as the mother's loss of liberty, years before, was caused by revengeful
feelings on the part of an official because for one day she was obliged
to omit a customary gift of horse feed, so the father's loss of land
was caused by a revengeful official, and for quite as trivial a cause.
Mr. Mercado was a great poultry fancier and especially prided himself
upon his fine stock of turkeys. He had been accustomed to respond to
the frequent requests of the estate agent for presents of birds. But
at one time disease had so reduced the number of turkeys that all that
remained were needed for breeding purposes and Mercado was obliged
to refuse him. In a rage the agent insisted, and when that proved
unavailing, threats followed.
But Francisco Mercado was not a man to be moved by threats, and
when the next rent day came round he was notified that his rent had
been doubled. This was paid without protest, for the tenants were
entirely at the mercy of the landlords, no fixed rate appearing
either in contracts or receipts. Then the rent-raising was kept on
till Mercado was driven to seek the protection of the courts. Part
of his case led to exactly the same situation as that of the Biñan
tenantry in his grandfather's time, when the landlords were compelled
to produce their title-deeds, and these proved that land of others
had been illegally included in the estate. Other tenants, emboldened
by Mercado's example also refused to pay the exorbitant rent increases.
The justice of the peace of Kalamba, before whom the case first came,
was threatened by the provincial governor for taking time to hear the
testimony, and the case was turned over to the auxiliary justice, who
promptly decided in the manner desired by the authorities. Mercado at
once took an appeal, but the venal Weyler moved a force of artillery
to Kalamba and quartered it upon the town as if rebellion openly
existed there. Then the court representatives evicted the people
from their homes and directed them to remove all their buildings
from the estate lands within twenty-four hours. In answer to the
plea that they had appealed to the Supreme Court the tenants were
told their houses could be brought back again if they won their
appeal. Of course this was impossible and some 150,000 pesos' worth
of property was consequently destroyed by the court agents, who were
worthy estate employees. Twenty or more families were made homeless
and the other tenants were forbidden to shelter them under pain of
their own eviction. This is the proceeding in which Retana suggests
that the governor-general and the landlords were legally within their
rights. If so, Spanish law was a disgrace to the nation. Fortunately
the Rizal-Mercado family had another piece of property at Los Baños,
and there they made their home.
Weyler's motives in this matter do not have to be surmised, for
among the (formerly) secret records of the government there exists
a letter which he wrote when he first denied the petition of the
Kalamba residents. It is marked "confidential" and is addressed to the
landlords, expressing the pleasure which this action gave him. Then
the official adds that it cannot have escaped their notice that the
times demand diplomacy in handling the situation but that, should
occasion arise, he will act with energy. Just as Weyler had favored
the landlords at first so he kept on and when he had a chance to do
something for them he did it.
Finally, when Weyler left the Islands an investigation was ordered into
his administration, owing to rumors of extensive and systematic frauds
on the government, but nothing more came of the case than that Retana,
later Rizal's biographer, wrote a book in the General's defense,
"extensively documented," and also abusively anti-Filipino. It has been
urged (not by Retana, however) that the Weyler régime was unusually
efficient, because he would allow no one but himself to make profits
out of the public, and therefore, while his gains were greater than
those of his predecessors, the Islands really received more attention
During the Kalamba discussion in Spain, Retana, until 1899 always
scurrilously anti-Filipino, made the mistake of his life, for he
charged Rizal's family with not paying their rent, which was not
true. While Rizal believed that duelling was murder, to judge from a
pair of pictures preserved in his album, he evidently considered that
homicide of one like Retana was justifiable. After the Spanish custom,
his seconds immediately called upon the author of the libel. Retana
notes in his "Vida del Dr. Rizal" that the incident closed in a way
honorable to both Rizal and himself--he, Retana, published an explicit
retraction and abject apology in the Madrid papers. Another time,
in Madrid, Rizal risked a duel when he challenged Antonio Luna,
later the General, because of a slighting allusion to a lady at a
public banquet. He had a nicer sense of honor in such matters than
prevailed in Madrid, and Luna promptly saw the matter from Rizal's
point of view and withdrew the offensive remark. This second incident
complements the first, for it shows that Rizal was as willing to risk a
duel with his superior in arms as with one not so skilled as he. Rizal
was an exceptional pistol shot and a fair swordsman, while Retana was
inferior with either sword or pistol, but Luna, who would have had the
choice of weapons, was immeasurably Rizal's superior with the sword.
Owing to a schism a rival arose against the old Masonry and finally
the original organization succumbed to the offshoot. Doctor Miguel
Morayta, Professor of History in the Central University at Madrid, was
the head of the new institution and it had grown to be very popular
among students. Doctor Morayta was friendly to the Filipinos and a
lodge of the same name as their paper was organized among them. For
their outside work they had a society named the Hispano-Filipino
Association, of which Morayta was president, with convenient clubrooms
and a membership practically the same as the Lodge La Solidaridad.
Just before Christmas of 1890, this Hispano-Filipino Association
gave a largely attended banquet at which there were many prominent
speakers. Rizal stayed away, not because of growing pessimism,
as Retana suggests, but because one of the speakers was the same
Becerra who had feared to act when the outrage against the body of
Rizal's brother-in-law had been reported to him. Now out of office,
the ex-minister was again bold in words, but Rizal for one was not
again to be deceived by them.
The propaganda carried on by his countrymen in the Peninsula did not
seem to Rizal effective, and he found his suggestions were not well
received by those at its head. The story of Rizal's separation from
La Solidaridad, however, is really not material, but the following
quotation from a letter written to Carlos Oliver, speaking of the
opposition of the Madrid committee of Filipinos to himself, is
interesting as showing Rizal's attitude of mind:
"I regret exceedingly that they war against me, attempting to discredit
me in the Philippines, but I shall be content provided only that my
successor keeps on with the work. I ask only of those who say that
I created discord among the Filipinos: Was there any effective union
before I entered political life? Was there any chief whose authority
I wanted to oppose? It is a pity that in our slavery we should have
rivalries over leadership."
And in Rizal's letter from Hongkong, May 24, 1892, to Zulueta,
commenting on an article by Leyte in La Solidaridad, he says:
"Again I repeat, I do not understand the reason of the attack, since
now I have dedicated myself to preparing for our countrymen a safe
refuge in case of persecution and to writing some books, championing
our cause, which shortly will appear. Besides, the article is impolitic
in the extreme and prejudicial to the Philippines. Why say that the
first thing we need is to have money? A wiser man would be silent
and not wash soiled linen in public."
Early in '91 Rizal went to Paris, visiting Mr. Baustead's villa in
Biarritz en route, and he was again a guest of his hospitable friend
when, after the winter season was over, the family returned to their
home in Brussels.
During most of the year Rizal's residence was in Ghent, where he had
gathered around him a number of Filipinos. Doctor Blumentritt suggested
that he should devote himself to the study of Malay-Polynesian
languages, and as it appeared that thus he could earn a living in
Holland he thought to make his permanent home there. But his parents
were old and reluctant to leave their native land to pass their last
years in a strange country, and that plan failed.
He now occupied himself in finishing the sequel to "Noli Me Tangere,"
the novel "E1 Filibusterismo," which he had begun in October of 1887
while on his visit to the Philippines. The bolder painting of the
evil effects of the Spanish culture upon the Filipinos may well have
been inspired by his unfortunate experiences with his countrymen in
Madrid who had not seen anything of Europe outside of Spain. On the
other hand, the confidence of the author in those of his countrymen
who had not been contaminated by the so-called Spanish civilization,
is even more noticeable than in "Noli Me Tangere."
Rizal had now done all that he could for his country; he had shown
them by Morga what they were when Spain found them; through "Noli Me
Tangere" he had painted their condition after three hundred years of
Spanish influence; and in "El Filibusterismo" he had pictured what
their future must be if better counsels did not prevail in the colony.
These works were for the instruction of his countrymen, the fulfilment
of the task he set for himself when he first read Doctor Jagor's
criticism fifteen years before; time only was now needed for them to
accomplish their work and for education to bring forth its fruits.
As soon as he had set in motion what influence he possessed in Europe
for the relief of his relatives, Rizal hurried to Hongkong and from
there wrote to his parents asking their permission to join them. Some
time before, his brother-in-law, Manuel Hidalgo, had been deported
upon the recommendation of the governor of La Laguna, "to prove to
the Filipinos that they were mistaken in thinking that the new Civil
Code gave them any rights" in cases where the governor-general agreed
with his subordinate's reason for asking for the deportation as well
as in its desirability. The offense was having buried a child, who
had died of cholera, without church ceremonies. The law prescribed
and public health demanded it. But the law was a dead letter and the
public health was never considered when these cut into church revenues,
as Hidalgo ought to have known.
Upon Rizal's arrival in Hongkong, in the fall of 1891, he received
notice that his brother Paciano had been returned from exile in
Mindoro, but that three of his sisters had been summoned, with the
probability of deportation.
A trap to get Rizal into the hands of the government by playing
upon his affection for his mother was planned at this time, but it
failed. Mrs. Rizal and one of her daughters were arrested in Manila
for "falsification of cedula" because they no longer used the name
Realonda, which the mother had dropped fifteen years before. Then,
though there were frequently boats running to Kalamba, the two women
were ordered to be taken there for trial on foot. As when Mrs. Rizal
had been a prisoner before, the humane guards disobeyed their orders
and the elderly lady was carried in a hammock. The family understood
the plans of their persecutors, and Rizal was told by his parents
not to come to Manila. Then the persecution of the mother and the
In Hongkong, Rizal was already acquainted with most of the Filipino
colony, including Jose M. Basa, a '72 exile of great energy, for whom
he had the greatest respect. The old man was an unceasing enemy of all
the religious orders and was constantly getting out "proclamations,"
as the handbills common in the old-time controversies were called. One
of these, against the Jesuits, figures in the case against Rizal
and bears some minor corrections in his handwriting. Nevertheless,
his participation in it was probably no more than this proofreading
for his friend, whose motives he could appreciate, but whose plan of
action was not in harmony with his own ideas.
Letters of introduction from London friends secured for Rizal the
acquaintance of Mr. H. L. Dalrymple, a justice of the peace--which is
a position more coveted and honored in English lands than here--and
a member of the public library committee, as well as of the board
of medical examiners. He was a merchant, too, and agent for the
British North Borneo Company, which had recently secured a charter
as a semi-independent colony for the extensive cession which had
originally been made to the American Trading Company and later
transferred to them.
Rizal spent much of his time in the library, reading especially the
files of the older newspapers, which contained frequent mention of
the Philippines. As an oldtime missionary had left his books to the
library, the collection was rich in writings of the fathers of the
early Church, as well as in philology and travel. He spent much time
also in long conversations with Editor Frazier-Smith of the Hongkong
Telegraph, the most enterprising of the daily newspapers. He was
the master of St. John's Masonic lodge (Scotch constitution), which
Rizal had visited upon his first arrival, intensely democratic and
a close student of world politics. The two became fast friends and
Rizal contributed to the Telegraph several articles on Philippine
matters. These were printed in Spanish, ostensibly for the benefit of
the Filipino colony in Hongkong, but large numbers of the paper were
mailed to the Philippines and thus at first escaped the vigilance
of the censors. Finally the scheme was discovered and the Telegraph
placed on the prohibited list, but, like most Spanish actions, this
was just too late to prevent the circulation of what Rizal had wished
to say to his countrymen.
With the first of the year 1892 the free portion of Rizal's family came
to Hongkong. He had been licensed to practice medicine in the colony,
and opened an office, specializing as an oculist with notable success.
Another congenial companion was a man of his own profession, Doctor
L. P. Marquez, a Portuguese who had received his medical education in
Dublin and was a naturalized British subject. He was a leading member
of the Portuguese club, Lusitania, which was of radically republican
proclivities and possessed an excellent library of books on modern
political conditions. An inspection of the colonial prison with him
inspired Rizal's article, "A Visit to Victoria Gaol," through which
runs a pathetic contrast of the English system of imprisonment for
reformation with the Spanish vindictive methods of punishment. A
souvenir of one of their many conferences was a dainty modeling in
clay made by Rizal with that astonishing quickness that resulted from
his Uncle Gabriel's training during his early childhood.
In the spring, Rizal took a voyage to British North Borneo and with
Mr. Pryor, the agent, looked over vacant lands which had been offered
him by the Company for a Filipino colony. The officials were anxious
to grow abaca, cacao, sugar cane and coconuts, all products of the
Philippines, the soil of which resembled theirs. So they welcomed the
prospect of the immigration of laborers skilled in such cultivation,
the Kalambans and other persecuted people of the Luzon lake region,
whom Doctor Rizal hoped to transplant there to a freer home.
A different kind of governor-general had succeeded Weyler in the
Philippines; the new man was Despujol, a friend of the Jesuits
and a man who at once gave the Filipinos hope of better days,
for his promises were quickly backed up by the beginnings of their
performance. Rizal witnessed this novel experience for his country
with gratification, though he had seen too many disappointments to
confide in the continuance of reform, and he remembered that the like
liberal term of De la Torre had ended in the Cavite reaction.
He wrote early to the new chief executive, applauding Despujol's policy
and offering such coöperation as he might be able to give toward
making it a complete success. No reply had been received, but after
Rizal's return from his Borneo trip the Spanish consul in Hongkong
assured him that he would not be molested should he go to Manila.
Rizal therefore made up his mind to visit his home once more. He
still cherished the plan of transferring those of his relatives
and friends who were homeless through the land troubles, or
discontented with their future in the Philippines, to the district
offered to him by the British North Borneo Company. There, under the
protection of the British flag, but in their accustomed climate, with
familiar surroundings amid their own people, a New Kalamba would be
established. Filipinos would there have a chance to prove to the world
what they were capable of, and their free condition would inevitably
react on the neighboring Philippines and help to bring about better
Rizal had no intention of renouncing his Philippine allegiance, for
he always regretted the naturalization of his countrymen abroad,
considering it a loss to the country which needed numbers to play
the influential part he hoped it would play in awakening Asia. All
his arguments were for British justice and "Equality before the Law,"
for he considered that political power was only a means of securing
and assuring fair treatment for all, and in itself of no interest.
With such ideas he sailed for home, bearing the Spanish consul's
passport. He left two letters in Hongkong with his friend Doctor
Marquez marked, "To be opened after my death," and their contents
indicate that he was not unmindful of how little regard Spain had
had in his country for her plighted honor.
One was to his beloved parents, brother and sisters, and friends:
"The affection that I have ever professed for you suggests this
step, and time alone can tell whether or not it is sensible. Their
outcome decides things by results, but whether that be favorable or
unfavorable, it may always be said that duty urged me, so if I die
in doing it, it will not matter.
"I realize how much suffering I have caused you, still I do not
regret what I have done. Rather, if I had to begin over again, still
I should do just the same, for it has been only duty. Gladly do I go
to expose myself to peril, not as any expiation of misdeeds (for in
this matter I believe myself guiltless of any), but to complete my
work and myself offer the example of which I have always preached.
"A man ought to die for duty and his principles. I hold fast to
every idea which I have advanced as to the condition and future of
our country, and shall willingly die for it, and even more willingly
to procure for you justice and peace.
"With pleasure, then, I risk life to save so many innocent persons--so
many nieces and nephews, so many children of friends, and children,
too, of others who are not even friends--who are suffering on my
account. What am I? A single man, practically without family, and
sufficiently undeceived as to life. I have had many disappointments
and the future before me is gloomy, and will be gloomy if light does
not illuminate it, the dawn of a better day for my native land. On the
other hand, there are many individuals, filled with hope and ambition,
who perhaps all might be happy were I dead, and then I hope my enemies
would be satisfied and stop persecuting so many entirely innocent
people. To a certain extent their hatred is justifiable as to myself,
and my parents and relatives.
"Should fate go against me, you will all understand that I shall die
happy in the thought that my death will end all your troubles. Return
to our country and may you be happy in it.
"Till the last moment of my life I shall be thinking of you and
wishing you all good fortune and happiness."
* * * * *
The other letter was directed "To the Filipinos," and said:
"The step which I am taking, or rather am about to take, is undoubtedly
risky, and it is unnecessary to say that I have considered it some
time. I understand that almost every one is opposed to it; but I know
also that hardly anybody else comprehends what is in my heart. I cannot
live on seeing so many suffer unjust persecutions on my account; I
cannot bear longer the sight of my sisters and their numerous families
treated like criminals. I prefer death and cheerfully shall relinquish
life to free so many innocent persons from such unjust persecution.
"I appreciate that at present the future of our country gravitates
in some degree around me, that at my death many will feel triumphant,
and, in consequence, many are wishing for my fall. But what of it? I
hold duties of conscience above all else, I have obligations to the
families who suffer, to my aged parents whose sighs strike me to the
heart; I know that I alone, only with my death, can make them happy,
returning them to their native land and to a peaceful life at home. I
am all my parents have, but our country has many, many more sons who
can take my place and even do my work better.
"Besides I wish to show those who deny us patriotism that we know
how to die for duty and principles. What matters death, if one dies
for what one loves, for native land and beings held dear?
"If I thought that I were the only resource for the policy of progress
in the Philippines and were I convinced that my countrymen were
going to make use of my services, perhaps I should hesitate about
taking this step; but there are still others who can take my place,
who, too, can take my place with advantage. Furthermore, there are
perchance those who hold me unneeded and my services are not utilized,
resulting that I am reduced to inactivity.
"Always have I loved our unhappy land, and I am sure that I shall
continue loving it till my latest moment, in case men prove unjust
to me. My career, my life, my happiness, all have I sacrificed for
love of it. Whatever my fate, I shall die blessing it and longing
for the dawn of its redemption."
And then followed the note; "Make these letters public after my death."
Suspicion of the Spanish authorities was justified. The consul's
cablegram notifying Governor-General Despujol. that Rizal had fallen
into their trap, sent the day of issuing the "safe-conduct" or special
passport, bears the same date as the secret case filed against him
in Manila, "for anti religious and anti patriotic agitation." On
that same day the deceitful Despujol was confidentially inquiring
of his executive secretary whether it was true that Rizal had been
naturalized as a German subject, and, if so, what effect would that
have on the governor-general's right to take executive action; that
is, could he deport one who had the protection of a strong nation with
the same disregard for the forms of justice that he could a Filipino?
This inquiry is joined to an order to the local authorities in the
provinces near Manila instructing them to watch the comings and goings
of their prominent people during the following weeks. The scheme
resembled that which was concocted prior to '72, but Governor-General
de la Torte was honest in his reforms. Despujol may, or may not,
have been honest in other matters, but as concerns Rizal there is
no lack of proof of his perfidy. The confidential file relating to
this part of the case was forgotten in destroying and removing secret
papers when Manila passed into a democratic conqueror's hands, and
now whoever wishes may read, in the Bureau of Archives, documents
which the Conde de Caspe, to use a noble title for an ignoble man,
considered safely hidden. As with Weyler's contidential letter to the
friar landlords, these discoveries convict their writers of bad faith,
with no possibility of mistake.
This point in the reformed Spanish writer's biography of Rizal is
made occasion for another of his treacherous attacks upon the good
name of his pretended hero. Just as in the land troubles Retana held
that legally Governor-General Weyler was justified in disregarding
an appeal pending in the courts, so in this connection he declares:
"(Despujol) unquestionably had been deceived by Rizal when, from
Hongkong, he offered to Despujol not to meddle in politics." That
Rizal meddled in politics rests solely upon Despujol's word, and
it will be seen later how little that is worth; but, politics or no
politics, Rizal's fate was settled before he ever came to Manila.
Rizal was accompanied to Manila by his sister Lucia, widow of that
brother-in-law who had been denied Christian burial because of his
relationship to Rizal. In the Basa home, among other waste papers,
and for that use, she had gathered up five copies of a recent
"proclamation," entitled "Pobres Frailes" (Poor Friars), a small
sheet possibly two inches wide and five long. These, crumpled up,
were tucked into the case of the pillow which Mrs. Hervosa used on
board. Later, rolled up in her blankets and bed mat, or petate, they
went to the custom house along with the other baggage, and of course
were discovered in the rigorous examination which the officers always
made. How strict Philippine customs searches were, Henry Norman, an
English writer of travels, explains by remarking that Manila was the
only port where he had ever had his pockets picked officially. His
visit was made at about the time of which we are writing, and the
object, he says, was to keep out anti friar publications.
Rizal and his sister landed without difficulty, and he at once went to
the Oriente Hotel, then the best in town, for Rizal always traveled
and lived as became a member of a well-to-do family. Next he waited
on the Governor-General, with whom he had a very brief interview,
for it happened to be on one of the numerous religious festivals,
during which he obtained favorable consideration for his deported
sisters. Several more interviews occurred in which the hopes first
given were realized, so that those of the family then awaiting exile
were pardoned and those already deported were to be returned at an
One night Rizal was the guest of honor at a dinner given by the masters
and wardens of the Masonic lodges of Manila, and he was surprised and
delighted at the progress the institution had made in the Islands. Then
he had another task not so agreeable, for, while awaiting a delayed
appointment with the Governor-General, he with two others ran up on
the new railway to Tarlac. Ostensibly this was to see the country,
but it was not for a pleasure trip. They were investigating the sales
of Rizal's books and trying to find out what had become of the money
received from them, for while the author's desire had been to place
them at so low a price as to be within the reach of even the poor, it
was reported that the sales had been few and at high prices, so that
copies were only read by the wealthy whose desire to obtain the rare
and much-discussed novels led them to pay exorbitant figures for them.
Rizal's party, consisting of the Secretary of one of the lodges of
Manila, and another Mason, a prominent school-teacher, were under
constant surveillance and a minute record of their every act is
preserved in the "reserved" files, now, of course, so only in name,
as they are no longer secret. Immediately after they left a house it
would be thoroughly searched and the occupants strictly questioned. In
spite of the precautions of the officials, Rizal soon learned of this,
and those whom they visited were warned of what to expect. In one home
so many forbidden papers were on hand that Rizal delayed his journey
till the family completed their task of carrying them upstairs and
hiding them in the roof.
At another place he came across an instance of superstition such as
that which had caused him to cease his sleight-of-hand exhibitions
on his former return to the Islands. Their host was a man of little
education but great hospitality, and the party were most pleasantly
entertained. During the conversation he spoke of Rizal, but did not
seem to know that his hero had come back to the Philippines. His
remarks drifted into the wildest superstition, and, after asserting
that Rizal bore a charmed life, he startled his audience by saying
that if the author of "Noli Me Tangere" cared to do so, he could be
with them at that very instant. At first the three thought themselves
discovered by their host, but when Rizal made himself known, the
old man proved that he had had no suspicion of his guest's identity,
for he promptly became busy preparing his home for the search which
he realized would shortly follow. On another occasion their host
was a stranger whom Rizal treated for a temporary illness, leaving
a prescription to be filled at the drug store. The name signed to
the paper was a revelation, but the first result was activity in
No fact is more significant of the utter rottenness of the Spanish
rule than the unanimity of the people in their discontent. Only a
few persons at first were in open opposition, but books, pamphlets
and circulars were eagerly sought, read and preserved, with the
knowledge generally, of the whole family, despite the danger of
possessing them. At times, as in the case of Rizal's novels, an entire
neighborhood was in the secret; the book was buried in a garden and
dug up to be read from at a gathering of the older men, for which a
dance gave pretext. Informers were so rare that the possibility of
treachery among themselves was hardly reckoned in the risk.
The authorities were constantly searching dwellings, often entire
neighborhoods, and with a thoroughness which entirely disregarded
the possibility of damaging an innocent person's property. These
"domiciliary registrations" were, of course, supposed to be unexpected,
but in the later Spanish days the intended victims usually had
warning from some employee in the office where it was planned, or
from some domestic of the official in charge; very often, however, the
warning was so short as to give only time for a hasty destruction of
incriminating documents and did not permit of their being transferred
to other hiding places. Thus large losses were incurred, and to these
must be added damages from dampness when a hole in the ground, the
inside of a post, or cementing up in the wall furnished the means of
concealment. Fires, too, were frequent, and such events attracted so
much attention that it was scarcely safe to attempt to save anything
of an incriminating nature.
Six years of war conditions did their part toward destroying what
little had escaped, and from these explanations the reader may
understand how it comes that the tangled story of Spain's last half
century here presents an historical problem more puzzling than that
of much more remote times in more favored lands.
It seems almost providential that the published statement of
the Governor-General can be checked not only by an account which
Rizal secretly sent to friends, but also by the candid memoranda
contained in the untruthful executive's own secret folios. While
some unessential details of Rizal's career are in doubt, not a point
vital to establishing his good name lacks proof that his character
was exemplary and that he is worthy of the hero-worship which has
come to him.
After Rizal's return to Manila from his railway trip he had the
promised interview with the Governor-General. At their previous
meetings the discussions had been quite informal. Rizal, in
complimenting the General upon his inauguration of reforms, mentioned
that the Philippine system of having no restraint whatever upon
the chief executive had at least the advantage that a well-disposed
governor-general would find no red-tape hindrances to his plans for
the public benefit. But Despujol professed to believe that the best
of men make mistakes and that a wise government would establish
safeguards against this human fallibility.
The final, and fatal, interview began with the Governor-General asking
Rizal if he still persisted in his plan for a Filipino colony in
British North Borneo; Despujol had before remarked that with so much
Philippine land lying idle for want of cultivation it did not seem to
him patriotic to take labor needed at home away for the development
of a foreign land. Rizal's former reply had dealt with the difficulty
the government was in respecting the land troubles, since the tenants
who had taken the old renters' places now also must be considered,
and he pointed out that there was, besides, a bitterness between the
parties which could not easily be forgotten by either side. So this
time he merely remarked that he had found no reason for changing his
Hereupon the General took from his desk the five little sheets of
the "Poor Friars" handbill, which he said had been found in the roll
of bedding sent with Rizal's baggage to the custom house, and asked
whose they could be. Rizal answered that of course the General knew
that the bedding belonged to his sister Lucia, but she was no fool
and would not have secreted in a place where they were certain to be
found five little papers which, hidden within her camisa or placed
in her stocking, would have been absolutely sure to come in unnoticed.
Rizal, neither then nor later, knew the real truth, which was that
these papers were gathered up at random and without any knowledge of
their contents. If it was a crime to have lived in a house where such
seditious printed matter was common, then Rizal, who had openly visited
Basa's home, was guilty before ever the handbills were found. But no
reasonable person would believe another rational being could be so
careless of consequences as to bring in openly such dangerous material.
The very title was in sarcastic allusion to the inconsistency of a
religious order being an immensely wealthy organization, while its
individual members were vowed to poverty. News, published everywhere
except in the Philippines, of losses sustained in outside commercial
enterprises running into the millions, was made the text for showing
how money, professedly raised in the Philippines for charities,
was not so used and was invested abroad in fear of that day of
reckoning when tyranny would be overthrown in anarchy and property
would be insecure. The belief of the pious Filipinos, fostered
by their religious exploiters, that the Pope would suffer great
hardship if their share of "Peter's pence" was not prompt and full,
was contrasted with another newspaper story of a rich dowry given
to a favorite niece by a former Pope, but that in no way taught the
truth that the Head of the Church was not put to bodily discomfort
whenever a poor Filipino failed to come forward with his penny.
Despujol managed to work himself into something like a passion over
this alleged disrespect to the Pope, and ordered Rizal to be taken
as a prisoner to Fort Santiago by the nephew who acted as his aide.
Like most facts, this version runs a middle course between the extreme
stories which have been current. Like circulars may have been printed
at the "Asilo de Malabon," as has been asserted; these certainly came
from Hongkong and were not introduced by any archbishop's nephew on
duty at the custom house, as another tale suggests. On the other hand,
the circular was the merest pretext, and Despujol did not act in good
faith, as many claim that he did.
It may be of interest to reprint the handbill from a facsimile of an
Acaba de suspender sus pages un Banco, acaba de quebrarse el New
Grandes pédidas en la India, en la isla Mauricio al sur de Africa,
ciclónes y tempestades acabaron con su podeíro, tragnádose más de
36,000,000 de pesos. Estos treinta y seis millones representaban las
esperanzas, las economías, el bienestar y el porvenir de numerosos
individuos y familias.
Entre los que más han sufrido podemos contar á la Rvda. Corporacion
de los P. P. Dominicos, que pierden en esta quiebra muchos cientos
de miles. No se sabe la cuenta exacta porque tanto dinero se les
envía de aquí y tantos depósitos hacen, que se neçesitarlan muchos
contadores para calcular el immense caudal de que disponen.
Pero, no se aflijan los amigos ni triunfen los enemigos de los santos
monjes que profesan vote de pobreza.
A unos y otros les diremos que pueden estar tranquilos. La Corporacion
tiene aun muchos millones depositados en los Bancos de Hongkong, y
aunque todos quebrasen, y aunque se derrumbasen sus miles de casas de
alquiler, siempre quedarian sus curates y haciendas, les quedarían los
filipinos dispuestos siempre á ayunar para darles una limosna. ¿Qué son
cuatrocientos ó quinientos mil? Que se tomen la molestia de recorrer
los pueblos y pedir limosna y se resarcirán de esa pérdida. Hace un
año que, por la mala administracion de los cardenales, el Papa perdió
14,000,000 del dinero de San Pedro; el Papa, para cubrir el déficit,
acude á nosotros y nosotros recogemos de nuestros tampipis el último
real, porque sabemos que el Papa tiene muchas atenciones; hace cosa
de cinco años casó á una sobrina suya dotándola de un palacio y
300,000 francos ademas. Haced un esfuerzo pues, generosos filipinos,
y socorred á los dominicos igualmente!
Además, esos centanares de miles perdidos no son de ellos, segun dicen:
¿cómo los iban à tener si tienen voto de pobreza? Hay que creerlos
pues cuando, para cubrirse, dicen que son de los huérfanos y de las
viudas. Muy seguramente pertencerían algunos á las viudas y á los
huérfanos de Kalamba, y quién sabe si á los desterrados maridos! y
los manejan los virtuosos frailes sólo á título de depositarios para
devolverlos despues religiosamente con todos sus intereses cuando
llegue el día de rendir cuentas! Quién sabe? Quién mejor que ellos
podía encargarse de recoger los pocos haberes mientras las casas
ardían, huían las viudas y los huérfanos sin encontrar hospitalidad,
pues se habia prohibido darles albergue, mientras los hombres estaban
presos ó perseguidos? ¿Quién mejor que los dominicos para tener tanto
valor, tanta audacia y tanta humanidad?
Pero, ahora el diablo se ha llevado el dinero de los huérfanos y de
las viudas, y es de temer que se lleve tambien el resto, pues cuando el
diablo la empieza la ha de acabar. Tendría ese dinero mala procedencia?
Si asl sucediese, nosotros los recomendaríamos á los dominicos que
dijesen con Job: Desnudo salí del vientre de mi madre (España),
y desnudo volveré allá; lo dió el diablo, el diablo se lo llevó;
bendito sea el nombre del Señor!
Manila: Imprenta de los Amigos del Pais.
The Deportation to Dapitan
As soon as Rizal was lodged in his prison, a room in Fort Santiago, the
Governor-General began the composition of one of the most extraordinary
official documents ever issued in this land where the strangest
governmental acts have abounded. It is apology, argument, and attack
all in one and was published in the Official Gazette, where it occupied
most of an entire issue. The effect of the righteous anger it displays
suffers somewhat when one knows how all was planned from the day Rizal
was decoyed from Hongkong under the faithless safe-conduct. Another
enlightening feature is the copy of a later letter, preserved in that
invaluable secret file, wherein Despujol writes Rizal's custodian, as
jailer, to allow the exile in no circumstances to see this number of
the Gazette or to know its contents, and suggests several evasions to
assist the subordinate's power of invention. It is certainly a strange
indignation which fears that its object shall learn the reason for
wrath, nor is it a creditable spectacle when one beholds the chief
of a government giving private lessons in lying.
A copy of the Gazette was sent to the Spanish Consul in Hongkong, also
a cablegram directing him to give it publicity that "Spain's good name
might not suffer" in that colony. By his blunder, not knowing that
the Lusitania Club was really a Portuguese Masonic lodge and full of
Rizal's friends, a copy was sent there and a strong reply was called
forth. The friendly editor of the Hongkong Telegraph devoted columns to
the outrage by which a man whose acquaintance in the scientific world
reflected honor upon his nation, was decoyed to what was intended
to be his death, exiled to "an unhealthful, savage spot," through
"a plot of which the very Borgias would have been ashamed."
The British Consul in Manila, too, mentioned unofficially to
Governor-General Despujol that it seemed a strange way of showing
Spain's often professed friendship for Great Britain thus to disregard
the annoyance to the British colony of North Borneo caused by making
impossible an entirely unexceptionable plan. Likewise, in much the
same respectfully remonstrant tone which the Great Powers are wont
to use in recalling to semi-savage states their obligations to
civilization, he pointed out how Spain's prestige as an advanced
nation would suffer when the educated world, in which Rizal was
Spain's best-known representative, learned that the man whom they
honored had been trapped out of his security under the British flag
and sent into exile without the slightest form of trial.
Almost the last act of Rizal while at liberty was the establishment
of the "Liga Filipina," a league or association seeking to unite all
Filipinos of good character for concerted action toward the economic
advancement of their country, for a higher standard of manhood, and
to assure opportunities for education and development to talented
Filipino youth. Resistance to oppression by lawful means was also
urged, for Rizal believed that no one could fairly complain of bad
government until he had exhausted and found unavailing all the legal
resources provided for his protection. This was another expression
of his constant teaching that slaves, those who toadied to power,
and men without self-respect made possible and fostered tyranny,
abuses and disregard of the rights of others.
The character test was also a step forward, for the profession of
patriotism has often been made to cloak moral shortcomings in the
Philippines as well as elsewhere. Rizal urged that those who would
offer themselves on the altar of their fatherland must conform to
the standard of old, and, like the sacrificial lamb, be spotless
and without blemish. Therefore, no one who had justifiably been
prosecuted for any infamous crime was eligible to membership in the
The plan, suggested by a Spanish Masonic society called C. Kadosch
y Cia., originated with José Maria Basa, at whose instance Rizal
drafted the constitution and regulations. Possibly all the members
were Freemasons of the educated and better-to-do class, and most
of them adhered to the doctrine that peaceably obtained reforms and
progress by education are surest and best.
Rizal's arrest discouraged those of this higher faith, for the
peaceable policy seemed hopeless, while the radical element, freed from
Rizal's restraining influence and deeming the time for action come,
formed a new and revolutionary society which preached force of arms
as the only argument left to them, and sought its membership among
the less-enlightened and poorer class.
Their inspiration was Andrés Bonifacio, a shipping clerk for a foreign
firm, who had read and re-read accounts of the French Revolution
till he had come to believe that blood alone could wipe out the
wrongs of a country. His organization, The Sons of the Country,
more commonly called the Katipunan, was, however, far from being as
bloodthirsty as most Spanish accounts, and those of many credulous
writers who have got their ideas from them, have asserted. To enlist
others in their defense, those who knew that they were the cause of
dissatisfaction spread the report that a race war was in progress
and that the Katipuneros were planning the massacre of all of the
white race. It was a sufficiently absurd statement, but it was made
even more ridiculous by its "proof," for this was the discovery of an
apron with a severed head, a hand holding it by the hair and another
grasping the dagger which had done the bloody work. This emblem,
handed down from ancient days as an object lesson of faithfulness
even to death, has been known in many lands besides the Philippines,
but only here has it ever been considered anything but an ancient
symbol. As reasonably might the paintings of martyrdoms in the
convents be taken as evidence of evil intentions upon the part of
their occupants, but prejudice looks for pretexts rather than reasons,
and this served as well as any other for the excesses of which the
government in its frenzy of fear was later guilty.
In talking of the Katipunan one must distinguish the first society,
limited in its membership, from the organization of the days of the
Aguinaldo "republic," so called, when throughout the Tagalog provinces,
and in the chief towns of other provinces as well, adherence to the
revolutionary government entailed membership in the revolutionary
society. And neither of these two Katipunans bore any relation, except
in name and emblems, to the robber bands whose valor was displayed
after the war had ceased and whose patriotism consisted in wronging
and robbing their own defenseless countrymen and countrywomen, while
carefully avoiding encounters with any able to defend themselves.
Rizal's arrest had put an end to all hope of progress under
Governor-General Despujol. It had left the political field in
possession of those countrymen who had not been in sympathy with
his campaign of education. It had caused the succession of the
revolutionary Katipunan to the economic Liga Filipina, with talk
of independence supplanting Rizal's ambition for the return of
the Philippines to their former status under the Constitution of
Cadiz. But the victim of the arrest was at peace as he had not been
in years. The sacrifice for country and for family had been made,
but it was not to cost him life, and he was human enough to wish to
live. A visitor's room in the Fort and books from the military library
made his detention comfortable, for he did not worry about the Spanish
sentries without his door who were placed there under orders to shoot
anyone who might attempt to signal to him from the plaza.
One night the Governor-General's nephew-aide came again to the Fort
and Rizal embarked on the steamer which was to take him to his place
of exile, but closely as he was guarded he risked dropping a note
which a Filipino found and took, as it directed, to Mrs. Rizal's
cousin, Vicenta Leyba, who lived in Calle José, Trozo. Thus the
family were advised of his departure; this incident shows Rizal's
perfect confidence in his countrymen and the extent to which it was
justified; he could risk a chance finder to take so dangerous a letter
to its address.
On the steamer he occupied an officer's cabin and also found a Filipino
quartermaster, of whom he requested a life preserver for his stateroom;
evidently he was not entirely confident that there were no hostile
designs against him. Accidents had rid the Philippines of troublesome
persons before his time, and he was determined that if he sacrificed
his life for his country, it should be openly. He realized that the
tree of Liberty is often watered with the blood of secret as well as
The same boat carried some soldier prisoners, one of whom was to be
executed in Mindanao, and their case was not particularly creditable
to Spanish ideas of justice. A Spanish officer had dishonorably
interfered with the domestic relations of a sergeant, also Spanish,
and the aggrieved party had inflicted punishment upon his superior,
with the help of some other soldiers. For allowing himself to be
punished, not for his own disgraceful act, the officer was dismissed
from the service, but the sergeant was to go to the scene of his
alleged "crime," there to suffer death, while his companions who had
assisted him in protecting their homes were to be witnesses of this
"justice" and then to be imprisoned.
After an uneventful trip the steamer reached Dapitan, in the northeast
of the large island of Mindanao, on a dark and rainy evening. The
officer in charge of the expedition took Doctor Rizal ashore with
some papers relating to him and delivered all to the commandant,
Ricardo Carnicero. The receipt taken was briefed "One countryman and
two packages." At the same time learned men in Europe were beginning
to hear of this outrage worthy of the Dark Ages and were remarking
that Spain had stopped the work of the man who was practically her
only representative in modern science, for the Castilian language
has not been the medium through which any considerable additions have
been made to the world's store of scientific knowledge.
Rizal was to reside either with the commandant or with the Jesuit
parish priest, if the latter would take him into the convento. But
while the exile had learned with pleasure that he was to meet priests
who were refined and learned, as well as associated with his happier
school days, he did not know that these priests were planning to
restore him to his childhood faith and had mapped out a plan of action
which should first make him feel his loneliness. So he was denied
residence with the priest unless he would declare himself genuinely
in sympathy with Spain.
On his previous brief visit to the Islands he had been repelled from
the Ateneo with the statement that till he ceased to be anti-Catholic
and anti-Spanish he would not be welcome. Padre Faura, the famous
meteorologist, was his former instructor and Rizal was his favorite
pupil; he had tearfully predicted that the young man would come to
the scaffold at last unless he mended his ways. But Rizal, confident
in the clearness of his own conscience, went out cheerfully, and when
the porter tried to bring back the memory of his childhood piety by
reminding him of the image of the Sacred Heart which he had carved
years before, Rizal answered, "Other times, other customs, Brother. I
do not believe that way any more."
So Rizal, a good Catholic, was compelled to board with the commandant
instead of with the priest because he was unwilling to make
hypocritical professions of admiration for Spain. The commandant and
Rizal soon became good friends, but in order to retain his position
Carnicero had to write to the Governor-General in a different strain.
The correspondence tells the facts in the main, but of course
they are colored throughout to conform to Despujol's character. The
commandant is always represented as deceiving his prisoner and gaining
his confidence only to betray him, but Rizal seems never to have
experienced anything but straightforward dealing.
Rizal's earliest letter from Dapitan speaks almost enthusiastically
of the place, describing the climate as exceptional for the tropics,
his situation as agreeable, and saying that he could be quite content
if his family and his books were there.
Shortly after occurred the anniversary of Carnicero's arrival in the
town, and Rizal celebrated the event with a Spanish poem reciting
the improvements made since his coming, written in the style of the
Malay loa, and as though it were by the children of Dapitan.
Next Rizal acquired a piece of property at Talisay, a little bay close
to Dapitan, and at once became interested in his farm. Soon he built
a house and moved into it, gathering a number of boy assistants about
him, and before long he had a school. A hospital also was put up for
his patients and these in time became a source of revenue, as people
from a distance came to the oculist for treatment and paid liberally.
One five-hundred-peso fee from a rich Englishman was devoted by Rizal
to lighting the town, and the community benefited in this way by his
charity in addition to the free treatment given its poor.
The little settlement at Talisay kept growing and those who lived
there were constantly improving it. When Father Obach, the Jesuit
priest, fell through the bamboo stairway in the principal house, Rizal
and his boys burned shells, made mortar, and soon built a fine stone
stairway. They also did another piece of masonry work in the shape of
a dam for storing water that was piped to the houses and poultry yard;
the overflow from the dam was made to fill a swimming tank.
The school, including the house servants, numbered about twenty and
was taught without books by Rizal, who conducted his recitations
from a hammock. Considerable importance was given to mathematics,
and in languages English was taught as well as Spanish, the entire
waking period being devoted to the language allotted for the day,
and whoever so far forgot as to utter a word in any other tongue was
punished by having to wear a rattan handcuff. The use and meaning of
this modern police device had to be explained to the boys, for Spain
still tied her prisoners with rope.
Nature study consisted in helping the Doctor gather specimens
of flowers, shells, insects and reptiles which were prepared and
shipped to German museums. Rizal was paid for these specimens by
scientific books and material. The director of the Royal Zoölogical
and Anthropological Museum in Dresden, Saxony, Doctor Karl von Heller,
was a great friend and admirer of Doctor Rizal. Doctor Heller's father
was tutor to the late King Alfonso XII and had many friends at the
Court of Spain. Evidently Doctor Heller and other of his European
friends did not consider Rizal a Spanish insurrectionary, but treated
him rather as a reformer seeking progress by peaceful means.
Doctor Rizal remunerated his pupils' work with gifts of clothing,
books and other useful remembrances. Sometimes the rewards were
cartidges, and those who had accumulated enough were permitted to
accompany him in his hunting expeditions. The dignity of labor was
practically inculcated by requiring everyone to make himself useful,
and this was really the first school of the type, combining the use
of English, nature study and industrial instruction.
On one occasion in the year 1894 some of his schoolboys secretly
went into the town in a banca; a puppy which tried to follow them
was eaten by a crocodile. Rizal tired to impress the evil effects of
disobedience upon the youngsters by pointing out to them the sorrow
which the mother-dog felt at the loss of her young one, and emphasized
the lesson by modeling a statuette called "The Mother's Revenge,"
wherein she is represented, in revenge, as devouring the cayman. It
is said to be a good likeness of the animal which was Doctor Rizal's
favorite companion in his many pedestrian excursions around Dapitan.
Father Francisco Sanchez, Rizal's instructor in rhetoric in the Ateneo,
made a long visit to Dapitan and brought with him some surveyor's
instruments, which his former pupil was delighted to assist him in
using. Together they ran the levels for a water system for the the
town, which was later, with the aid of the lay Jesuit, Brother Tildot,
carried to completion. This same water system is now being restored
and enlarged with artesian wells by the present insular, provincial
and municipal governments jointly, as part of the memorial to Rizal
in this place of his exile.
A visit to a not distant mountain and some digging in a spot supposed
by the people of the region to be haunted brought to light curious
relics of the first Christian converts among the early Moros.
The state of his mind at about this period of his career is indicated
by the verses written in his home in Talisay, entitled "My Retreat,"
of which the following translation has been made by Mr. Charles
Derbyshire. The scene that inspired this poem has been converted by
the government into a public park to the memory of Rizal.
By the spreading beach where the sands are soft and fine,
At the foot of the mount in its mantle of green,
I have built my hut in the pleasant grove's confine;
From the forest seeking peace and a calmness divine,
Rest for the weary brain and silence to my sorrow keen.
Its roof the frail palm-leaf and its floor the cane,
Its beams and posts of the unhewn wood;
Little there is of value in this hut so plain,
And better by far in the lap of the mount to have lain,
By the song and the murmur of the high sea's flood.
A purling brook from the woodland glade
Drops down o'er the stones and around it sweeps,
Whence a fresh stream is drawn by the rough cane's aid;
That in the still night its murmur has made,
And in the day's heat a crystal fountain leaps.
When the sky is serene how gently it flows,
And its zither unseen ceaselessly plays;
But when the rains fall a torrent it goes
Boiling and foaming through the rocky close,
Roaring uncheck'd to the sea's wide ways.
The howl of the dog and the song of the bird,
And only the kalao's hoarse call resound;
Nor is the voice of vain man to be heard,
My mind to harass or my steps to begird;
The woodlands alone and the sea wrap me round.
The sea, ah, the sea! for me it is all,
As it massively sweeps from the worlds apart;
Its smile in the morn to my soul is a call,
And when in the even my fath seems to pall,
It breathes with its sadness an echo to my heart.
By night an arcanum; when translucent it glows,
All spangled over with its millions of lights,
And the bright sky above resplendent shows;
While the waves with their sighs tell of their woes--
Tales that are lost as they roll to the heights.
They tell of the world when the first dawn broke,
And the sunlight over their surface played;
When thousands of beings from nothingness woke,
To people the depths and the heights to cloak,
Wherever its life-giving kiss was laid.
But when in the night the wild winds awake,
And the waves in their fury begin to leap,
Through the air rush the cries that my mind shake;
Voices that pray, songs and moans that partake
Of laments from the souls sunk down in the deep.
Then from their heights the mountains groan,
And the trees shiver tremulous from great unto least;
The groves rustle plaintive and the herds utter moan,
For they say that the ghosts of the folk that are gone
Are calling them down to their death's merry feast.
In terror and confusion whispers the night,
While blue and green flames flit over the deep;
But calm reigns again with the morning's light,
And soon the bold fisherman comes into sight,
As his bark rushes on and the waves sink to sleep.
So onward glide the days in my lonely abode;
Driven forth from the world where once I was known,
I muse o'er the fate upon me bestow'd;
A fragment forgotten that the moss will corrode,
To hide from mankind the world in me shown.
I live in the thought of the lov'd ones left,
And oft their names to my mind are borne;
Some have forsaken me and some by death are reft;
But now 'tis all one, as through the past I drift,
That past which from me can never be torn.
For it is the friend that is with me always,
That ever in sorrow keeps the faith in my soul;
While through the still night it watches and prays,
As here in my exile in my lone hut it stays,
To strengthen my faith when doubts o'er me roll.
That faith I keep and I hope to see shine
The day when the Idea prevails over might;
When after the fray and death's slow decline,
Some other voice sounds, far happier than mine,
To raise the glad song of the triumph of right.
I see the sky glow, refulgent and clear,
As when it forced on me my first dear illusion;
I feel the same wind kiss my forehead sere,
And the fire is the same that is burning here
To stir up youth's blood in boiling confusion.
I breathe here the winds that perchance have pass'd
O'er the fields and the rivers of my own natal shore;
And mayhap they will bring on the returning blast
The sighs that lov'd being upon them has cast--
Messages sweet from the love I first bore.
To see the same moon, all silver'd as of yore,
I feel the sad thoughts within me arise;
The fond recollections of the troth we swore,
Of the field and the bower and the wide seashore,
The blushes of joy, with the silence and sighs.
A butterfly seeking the flowers and the light,
Of other lands dreaming, of vaster extent;
Scarce a youth, from home and love I took flight,
To wander unheeding, free from doubt or affright--
So in foreign lands were my brightest days spent.
And when like a languishing bird I was fain
To the home of my fathers and my love to return,
Of a sudden the fierce tempest roar'd amain;
So I saw my wings shatter'd and no home remain,
My trust sold to others and wrecks round me burn.
Hurl'd out into exile from the land I adore,
My future all dark and no refuge to seek;
My roseate dreams hover round me once more,
Sole treasures of all that life to me bore;
The faiths of youth that with sincerity speak.
But not as of old, full of life and of grace,
Do you hold out hopes of undying reward;
Sadder I find you; on your lov'd face,
Though still sincere, the pale lines trace
The marks of the faith it is yours to guard.
You offer now, dreams, my gloom to appease,
And the years of my youth again to disclose;
So I thank you, O storm, and heaven-born breeze,
That you knew of the hour my wild flight to ease,
To cast me back down to the soil whence I rose.
By the spreading beach where the sands are soft and fine,
At the foot of the mount in its mantle of green;
I have found a home in the pleasant grove's confine,
In the shady woods, that peace and calmness divine,
Rest for the weary brain and silence to my sorrow keen.
The Church benefited by the presence of the exile, for he drew the
design for an elaborate curtain to adorn the sanctuary at Easter
time, and an artist Sister of Charity of the school there did the
oil painting under his direction. In this line he must have been
proficient, for once in Spain, where he traveled out of his way to
Saragossa to visit one of his former teachers of the Ateneo, who
he had heard was there, Rizal offered his assistance in making some
altar paintings, and the Jesuit says that his skill and taste were
The home of the Sisters had a private chapel, for which the teachers
were preparing an image of the Virgin. For the sake of economy the
head only was procured from abroad, the vestments concealing all
the rest of the figure except the feet, which rested upon a globe
encircled by a snake in whose mouth is an apple. The beauty of the
countenance, a real work of art, appealed to Rizal, and he modeled
the more prominent right foot, the apple and the serpent's head, while
the artist Sister assisted by doing the minor work. Both curtain and
image, twenty years after their making, are still in use.
On Sundays, Father Sanchez and Rizal conducted a school for the people
after mass. As part of this education it was intended to make raised
maps in the plaza of the chief city of the eight principal islands of
the Philippines, but on account of Father Sanchez's being called away,
only one. Mindanao, was completed; it has been restored with a concrete
sidewalk and balustrade about it, while the plaza is a national park.
Among Rizal's patients was a blind American named Taufer, fairly well
to do, who had been engineer of the pumping plant of the Hongkong Fire
Department. He was a man of bravery, for he held a diploma for helping
to rescue five Spaniards from a shipwreck in Hongkong harbor. And he
was not less kind-hearted, for he and his wife, a Portuguese, had
adopted and brought up as their own the infant daughter of a poor
Irish woman who had died in Hongkong, leaving a considerable family
to her husband, a corporal in the British Army on service there.
The little girl had been educated in the Italian convent after the
first Mrs. Taufer died, and upon Mr. Taufer's remarriage, to another
Portuguese, the adopted daughter and Mr. Taufer's own child were
equally sharers of his home.
This girl had known Rizal, "the Spanish doctor," as he was called
there, in Hongkong, and persuaded her adopted father that possibly
the Dapitan exile might restore his lost eyesight. So with the two
girls and his wife, Mr. Taufer set out for Mindanao. At Manila his
own daughter fell in love with a Filipino engineer, a Mr. Sunico,
now owner of a foundry in Manila, and, marrying, remained there. But
the party reached Dapitan with its original number, for they were
joined by a good-looking mestiza from the South who was unofficially
connected with one of the canons of the Manila cathedral.
Josefina Bracken, the Irish girl, was lively, capable and of congenial
temperament, and as there no longer existed any reason against his
marriage, for Rizal considered his political days over, they agreed
to become husband and wife.
The priest was asked to perform the ceremony, but said the Bishop
of Cebu must give his consent, and offered to write him. Rizal at
first feared that some political retraction would be asked, but
when assured that only his religious beliefs would be investigated,
promptly submitted a statement which Father Obach says covered about
the same ground as the earliest published of the retractions said to
have been made on the eve of Rizal's death.
This document, inclosed with the priest's letter, was ready for the
mail when Rizal came hurrying in to reclaim it. The marriage was off,
for Mr. Taufer had taken his family and gone to Manila.
The explanation of this sudden departure was that, after the blind
man had been told of the impossibility of anything being done for his
eyes, he was informed of the proposed marriage. The trip had already
cost him one daughter, he had found that his blindness was incurable,
and now his only remaining daughter, who had for seventeen years
been like his own child, was planning to leave him. He would have to
return to Hongkong hopeless and accompanied only by a wife he had
never seen, one who really was merely a servant. In his despair he
said he had nothing to live for, and, seizing his razor, would have
ended his life had not Rizal seized him just in time and held him,
with the firm grasp his athletic training had given him, till the
commandant came and calmed the excited blind man.
It resulted in Josefina returning to Manila with him, but after a
while Mr Taufer listened to reason and she went back to Dapitan,
after a short stay in Manila with Rizal's family, to whom she had
carried his letter of introduction, taking considerable housekeeping
furniture with her.
Further consideration changed Rizal's opinion as to marriage, possibly
because the second time the priest may not have been so liberal in his
requirements. The mother, too, seems to have suggested that as Spanish
law had established civil marriage in the Philippines, and as the local
government had not provided any way for people to avail themselves of
the right, because the governor-general had pigeon-holed the royal
decree, it would be less sinful for the two to consider themselves
civilly married than for Rizal to do violence to his conscience
by making any sort of political retraction. Any marriage so bought
would be just as little a sacrament as an absolutely civil marriage,
and the latter was free from hypocrisy.
So as man and wife Rizal and Josefina lived together in Talisay. Father
Obach sought to prejudice public feeling in the town against the
exile for the "scandal," though other scandals happenings with less
reason were going on unrebuked. The pages of "Dapitan", which some
have considered to be the first chapter of an unfinished novel, may
reasonably be considered no more than Rizal's rejoinder to Father
Obach, written in sarcastic vein and primarily for Carnicero's
amusement, unless some date of writing earlier than this should
hereafter be found for them.
Josefina was bright, vivacious, and a welcome addition to the little
colony at Talisay, but at times Rizal had misgivings as to how it came
that this foreigner should be permitted by a suspicious and absolute
government to join him, when Filipinos, over whom the authorities
could have exercised complete control, were kept away. Josefina's
frequent visits to the convento once brought this suspicion to an open
declaration of his misgivings by Rizal, but two days of weeping upon
her part caused him to avoid the subiect thereafter. Could the exile
have seen the confidential correspondence in the secret archives
the plan would have been plain to him, for there it is suggested
that his impressionable character could best be reached through the
sufferings of his family, and that only his mother and sisters should
be allowed to visit him. Steps in this plot were the gradual pardoning
and returning of the members of his family to their homes.
Josefina must remain a mystery to us as she was to Rizal. While she
was in a delicate condition Rizal played a prank on her, harmless
in itself, which startled her so that she sprang forward and struck
against an iron stand. Though it was pure accident and Rizal was
scarcely at fault, he blamed himself for it, and his later devotion
seems largely to have been trying to make amends.
The "burial of the son of Rizal," sometimes referred to as occurring at
Dapitan, has for its foundation the consequences of this accident. A
sketch hastily penciled in one of his medical books depicts an
unusual condition apparent in the infant which, had it regularly
made its appearance in the world some months later, would have been
cherished by both parents; this loss was a great and common grief
which banished thereafter all distrust upon his part and all occasion
for it upon hers.
Rizal's mother and several of his sisters, the latter changing from
time to time, had been present during this critical period. Another
operation had been performed upon Mrs. Rizal's eyes, but she was
restive and disregarded the ordinary precautions, and the son was
in despair. A letter to his brother-in-law, Manuel Hidalgo, who was
inclined toward medical studies, says, "I now realize the reason why
physicians are directed not to practice in their own families."
A story of his mother and Rizal, necessary to understand his
peculiar attitude toward her, may serve as the transition from
the hero's sad (later) married experience to the real romance of
his life. Mrs. Rizal's talents commanded her son's admiration, as
her care for him demanded his gratitude, but, despite the common
opinion, he never had that sense of companionship with her that he
enjoyed with his father. Mrs. Rizal was a strict disciplinarian and
a woman of unexceptionable character, but she arrogated to herself
an infallibility which at times was trying to those about her, and
she foretold bitter fates for those who dared dispute her.
Just before José went abroad to study, while engaged to his cousin,
Leonora Rivera, Mrs. Rivera and her daughter visited their relatives in
Kalamba. Naturally the young man wished the guests to have the best of
everything; one day when they visited a bathing place near by he used
the family's newest carriage. Though this had not been forbidden,
his mother spoke rather sharply about it; José ventured to remind
her that guests were present and that it would be better to discuss
the matter in private. Angry because one of her children ventured to
dispute her, she replied: "You are an undutiful son. You will never
accomplish anything which you undertake. All your plans will result
in failure." These words could not be forgotten, as succeeding events
seemed to make their prophecy come true, and there is pathos in one of
Rizal's letters in which he reminds his mother that she had foretold
His thoughts of an early marriage were overruled because his unmarried
sisters did not desire to have a sister-in-law in their home who
would add to the household cares but was not trained to bear her
share of them, and even Paciano, who was in his favor, thought that
his younger brother would mar his career by marrying early.
So, with fervent promises and high hopes, Rizal had sailed away to make
the fortune which should allow him to marry his cousin Leonora. She
was constantly in his thoughts and his long letters were mailed with
regular frequency during all his first years in Europe; but only a
few of the earliest ever reached her, and as few replies came into
his hands, though she was equally faithful as a correspondent.
Leonora's mother had been told that it was for the good of her
daughter's soul and in the interest of her happiness that she should
not become the wife of a man like Rizal, who was obnoxious to the
Church and in disfavor with the government. So, by advice, Mrs. Rivera
gradually withheld more and more of the correspondence upon both sides,
until finally it ceased. And she constantly suggested to the unhappy
girl that her youthful lover had forgotten her amid the distractions
and gayeties of Europe.
Then the same influence which had advised breaking off the
correspondence found a person whom the mother and others joined in
urging upon her as a husband, till at last, in the belief that she
owed obedience to her mother, she reluctantly consented. Strangely
like the proposed husband of the Maria Clara of "Noli Me Tangere,"
in which book Rizal had prophetically pictured her, this husband was
"one whose children should rule "--an English engineer whose position
had been found for him to make the match more desirable. Their marriage
took place, and when Rizal returned to the Philippines she learned
how she had been deceived. Then she asked for the letters that had
been withheld, and when told that as a wife she might not keep love
letters from any but her husband, she pleaded that they be burned
and the ashes given her. This was done, and the silver box with the
blackened bits of paper upon her dresser seemed to be a consolation
during the few months of life which she knew would remain to her.
Another great disappointment to Rizal was the action of Despujol
when he first arrived in Dapitan, for he still believed in the
Governor-General's good faith and thought in that fertile but sparsely
settled region he might plant his "New Kalamba" without the objection
that had been urged against the British North Borneo project. All
seemed to be going on favorably for the assembling of his relatives and
neighbors in what then would be no longer exile, when most insultingly,
the Governor-General refused the permission which Rizal had had reason
to rely upon his granting. The exile was reminded of his deportation
and taunted with trying to make himself a king. Though he did not know
it, this was part of the plan which was to break his spirit, so that
when he was touched with the sufferings of his family he would yield
to the influences of his youth and make complete political retraction;
thus would be removed the most reasonable, and therefore the most
formidable, opponent of the unnatural conditions Philippines and of
the selfish interests which were profiting by them. But the plotters
failed in their plan; they had mistaken their man.
During all this time Rizal had repeated chances to escape, and persons
high in authority seem to have urged flight upon him. Running away,
however, seemed to him a confession of guilt; the opportunities
of doing so always unsettled him, for each time the battle of
self-sacrifice had to be fought over again; but he remained firm
in his purpose. To meet death bravely is one thing; to seek it is
another and harder thing; but to refuse life and choose death over
and over again during many years is the rarest kind of heroism.
Rizal used to make long trips, sometimes cruising for a week in his
explorations of the Mindanao coast, and some of his friends proposed
to charter a steamer in Singapore and, passing near Dapitan, pick him
up on one of these trips. Another Philippine steamer going to Borneo
suggested taking him on board as a rescue at sea and then landing him
at their destination, where he would be free from Spanish power. Either
of these schemes would have been feasible, but he refused both.
Plans, which materialized, to benefit the fishing industry by improved
nets imported from his Laguna home, and to find a market for the abaka
of Dapitan, were joined with the introduction of American machinery,
for which Rizal acted as agent, among planters of neighboring
islands. It was a busy, useful life, and in the economic advancement
of his country the exile believed he was as patriotic as when he was
Rizal personally had been fortunate, for in company with the commandant
and a Spaniard, originally deported for political reasons from the
Peninsula, he had gained one of the richer prizes in the government
lottery. These funds came most opportunely, for the land troubles
and succeeding litigation had almost stripped the family of all its
possessions. The account of the first news in Dapitan of the good
fortune of the three is interestingly told in an official report to the
Governor-General from the commandant. The official saw the infrequent
mail steamer arriving with flying bunting and at once imagined some
high authority was aboard; he hastened to the beach with a band of
music to assist in the welcome, but was agreeably disappointed with
the news of the luck which had befallen his prisoner and himself.
Not all of Dapitan life was profitable and prosperous. Yet in spite
of this Rizal stayed in the town. This was pure self-sacrifice,
for he refused to make any effort for his own release by invoking
influences which could have brought pressure to bear upon the
Spanish home government. He feared to act lest obstacles might be
put in the way of the reforms that were apparently making headway
through Despujol's initiative, and was content to wait rather than
to jeopardize the prospects of others.
A plan for his transfer to the North, in the Ilokano country, had been
deferred and had met with obstacles which Rizal believed were placed in
its way through some of his own countrymen in the Peninsula who feared
his influence upon the revenue with which politics was furnishing them.
Another proposal was to appoint Rizal district health officer for
Dapitan, but this was merely a covert government bribe. While the
exile expressed his willingness to accept the position, he did not
make the "unequivocally Spanish" professions that were needed to
secure this appointment.
Yet the government could have been satisfied of Rizal's innocence of
any treasonable designs against Spain's sovereignty in the Islands
had it known how the exile had declined an opportunity to head the
movement which had been initiated on the eve of his deportation. His
name had been used to gather the members together and his portrait
hung in each Katipunan lodge hall, but all this was without Rizal's
consent or even his knowledge.
The members, who had been paying faithfully for four years, felt that
it was time that something besides collecting money was done. Their
restiveness and suspicions led Andrés Bonifacio, its head, to resort
to Rizal, feeling that a word from the exile, who had religiously
held aloof from all politics since his deportation, would give the
Katipunan leaders more time to mature their plans. So he sent a
messenger to Dapitan, Pio Valenzuela, a doctor, who to conceal his
mission took with him a blind man. Thus the doctor and his patient
appeared as on a professional visit to the exiled oculist. But though
the interview was successfully secured in this way, its results were
far from satisfactory.
Far from feeling grateful for the consideration for the possible
consequences to him which Valenzuela pretended had prompted the
visit, Rizal indignantly insisted that the country came first. He
cited the Spanish republics of South America, with their alternating
revolutions and despotisms, as a warning against embarking on a change
of government for which the people were not prepared. Education, he
declared, was first necessary, and in his opinion general enlightenment
was the only road to progress. Valenzuela cut short his trip, glad
to escape without anyone realizing that Rizal and he had quarreled.
Bonifacio called Rizal a coward when he heard his emissary's report,
and enjoined Valenzuela to say nothing of his trip. But the truth
leaked out, and there was a falling away in Katipunan membership.
Doctor Rizal's own statement respecting the rebellion and Valenzuela's
visit may fitly be quoted here:
"I had no notice at all of what was being planned until the first or
second of July, in 1896, when Pio Valenzuela came to see me, saying
that an uprising was being arranged. I told him that it was absurd,
etc., etc., and he answered me that they could bear no more. I advised
him that they should have patience, etc., etc. He added then that
he had been sent because they had compassion on my life and that
probably it would compromise me. I replied that they should have
patience and that if anything happened to me I would then prove my
innocence. 'Besides,' said I, 'don't consider me, but our country,
which is the one that will suffer.' I went on to show how absurd was
the movement.--This, later, Pio Valenzuela testified.--He did not
tell me that my name was being used, neither did he suggest that I
was its chief, or anything of that sort.
"Those who testify that I am the chief (which I do not know, nor do I
know of having ever treated with them), what proofs do they present of
my having accepted this chiefship or that I was in relations with them
or with their society? Either they have made use of my name for their
own purposes or they have been deceived by others who have. Where is
the chief who dictates no order and makes no arrangement, who is not
consulted in anything about so important an enterprise until the last
moment, and then when he decides against it is disobeyed? Since the
seventh of July of 1892 I have entirely ceased political activity. It
seems some have wished to avail themselves of my name for their
This was Rizal's second temptation to engage in politics, the first
having been a trap laid by his enemies. A man had come to see Rizal
in his earlier days in Dapitan, claiming to be a relative and seeking
letters to prominent Filipinos. The deceit was too plain and Rizal
denounced the envoy to the commandant, whose investigations speedily
disclosed the source of the plot. Further prosecution, of course,
ceased at once.
The visit of some image vendors from Laguna who never before had
visited that region, and who seemed more intent on escaping notice
than interested in business, appeared suspicious, but upon report of
the Jesuits the matter was investigated and nothing really suspicious
Rizal's charm of manner and attraction for every one he met is best
shown by his relations with the successive commandants at Dapitan,
all of whom, except Carnicero, were naturally predisposed against him,
but every one became his friend and champion. One even asked relief on
the ground of this growing favorable impression upon his part toward
At times there were rumors of Rizal's speedy pardon, and he would
think of going regularly into scientific work, collecting for those
European museums which had made him proposals that assured ample
livelihood and congenial work.
Then Doctor Blumentritt wrote to him of the ravages of disease among
the Spanish soldiers in Cuba and the scarcity of surgeons to attend
them. Here was a labor "eminently humanitarian," to quote Rizal's words
of his own profession, and it made so strong an appeal to him that,
through the new governor-general, for Despujol had been replaced by
Blanco, he volunteered his services. The minister of war of that time,
General Azcarraga, was Philippine born. Blanco considered the time
favorable for granting Rizal's petition and thus lifting the decree of
deportation without the embarrassment of having the popular prisoner
remain in the Islands.
The thought of resuming his travels evidently inspired the following
poem, which was written at about this time. The translation is by
Arthur P. Ferguson:
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