The Social Cancer
by
Jose Rizal

Part 1 out of 11







Produced by Jeroen Hellingman








The Social Cancer




The Social Cancer
A Complete English Version of Noli Me Tangere



from the Spanish of
José Rizal

By

Charles Derbyshire



Manila
1912







THE NOVELS OF JOSÉ RIZAL

Translated from Spanish into English

BY CHARLES DERBYSHIRE


THE SOCIAL CANCER (NOLI ME TANGERE)
THE REIGN OF GREED (EL FILIBUSTERISMO)



Translator's Introduction




"We travel rapidly in these historical sketches. The reader flies in
his express train in a few minutes through a couple of centuries. The
centuries pass more slowly to those to whom the years are doled out
day by day. Institutions grow and beneficently develop themselves,
making their way into the hearts of generations which are shorter-lived
than they, attracting love and respect, and winning loyal obedience;
and then as gradually forfeiting by their shortcomings the allegiance
which had been honorably gained in worthier periods. We see wealth and
greatness; we see corruption and vice; and one seems to follow so close
upon the other, that we fancy they must have always co-existed. We
look more steadily, and we perceive long periods of time, in which
there is first a growth and then a decay, like what we perceive in
a tree of the forest."

FROUDE, Annals of an English Abbey.


Monasticism's record in the Philippines presents no new general fact
to the eye of history. The attempt to eliminate the eternal feminine
from her natural and normal sphere in the scheme of things there met
with the same certain and signal disaster that awaits every perversion
of human activity. Beginning with a band of zealous, earnest men,
sincere in their convictions, to whom the cause was all and their
personalities nothing, it there, as elsewhere, passed through its
usual cycle of usefulness, stagnation, corruption, and degeneration.

To the unselfish and heroic efforts of the early friars Spain
in large measure owed her dominion over the Philippine Islands
and the Filipinos a marked advance on the road to civilization and
nationality. In fact, after the dreams of sudden wealth from gold and
spices had faded, the islands were retained chiefly as a missionary
conquest and a stepping-stone to the broader fields of Asia, with
Manila as a depot for the Oriental trade. The records of those early
years are filled with tales of courage and heroism worthy of Spain's
proudest years, as the missionary fathers labored with unflagging
zeal in disinterested endeavor for the spread of the Faith and the
betterment of the condition of the Malays among whom they found
themselves. They won the confidence of the native peoples, gathered
them into settlements and villages, led them into the ways of peace,
and became their protectors, guides, and counselors.

In those times the cross and the sword went hand in hand, but in the
Philippines the latter was rarely needed or used. The lightness and
vivacity of the Spanish character, with its strain of Orientalism,
its fertility of resource in meeting new conditions, its adaptability
in dealing with the dwellers in warmer lands, all played their part in
this as in the other conquests. Only on occasions when some stubborn
resistance was met with, as in Manila and the surrounding country,
where the most advanced of the native peoples dwelt and where some of
the forms and beliefs of Islam had been established, was it necessary
to resort to violence to destroy the native leaders and replace them
with the missionary fathers. A few sallies by young Salcedo, the Cortez
of the Philippine conquest, with a company of the splendid infantry,
which was at that time the admiration and despair of martial Europe,
soon effectively exorcised any idea of resistance that even the boldest
and most intransigent of the native leaders might have entertained.

For the most part, no great persuasion was needed to turn a simple,
imaginative, fatalistic people from a few vague animistic deities
to the systematic iconology and the elaborate ritual of the Spanish
Church. An obscure Bathala or a dim Malyari was easily superseded
by or transformed into a clearly defined Diós, and in the case of
any especially tenacious "demon," he could without much difficulty
be merged into a Christian saint or devil. There was no organized
priesthood to be overcome, the primitive religious observances
consisting almost entirely of occasional orgies presided over by
an old woman, who filled the priestly offices of interpreter for
the unseen powers and chief eater at the sacrificial feast. With
their unflagging zeal, their organization, their elaborate forms
and ceremonies, the missionaries were enabled to win the confidence
of the natives, especially as the greater part of them learned the
local language and identified their lives with the communities under
their care. Accordingly, the people took kindly to their new teachers
and rulers, so that in less than a generation Spanish authority was
generally recognized in the settled portions of the Philippines,
and in the succeeding years the missionaries gradually extended this
area by forming settlements from among the wilder peoples, whom they
persuaded to abandon the more objectionable features of their old
roving, often predatory, life and to group themselves into towns and
villages "under the bell."

The tactics employed in the conquest and the subsequent behavior of
the conquerors were true to the old Spanish nature, so succinctly
characterized by a plain-spoken Englishman of Mary's reign, when the
war-cry of Castile encircled the globe and even hovered ominously
near the "sceptered isle," when in the intoxication of power character
stands out so sharply defined: "They be verye wyse and politicke, and
can, thorowe ther wysdome, reform and brydell theyr owne natures for
a tyme, and applye ther conditions to the manners of those men with
whom they meddell gladlye by friendshippe; whose mischievous maners
a man shall never know untyll he come under ther subjection; but then
shall he parfectlye parceve and fele them: for in dissimulations untyll
they have ther purposes, and afterwards in oppression and tyrannye,
when they can obtain them, they do exceed all other nations upon
the earthe." [1]

In the working out of this spirit, with all the indomitable courage
and fanatical ardor derived from the long contests with the Moors,
they reduced the native peoples to submission, but still not to the
galling yoke which they fastened upon the aborigines of America, to
make one Las Casas shine amid the horde of Pizarros. There was some
compulsory labor in timber-cutting and ship-building, with enforced
military service as rowers and soldiers for expeditions to the Moluccas
and the coasts of Asia, but nowhere the unspeakable atrocities which
in Mexico, Hispaniola, and South America drove mothers to strangle
their babes at birth and whole tribes to prefer self-immolation to the
living death in the mines and slave-pens. Quite differently from the
case in America, where entire islands and districts were depopulated,
to bring on later the curse of negro slavery, in the Philippines
the fact appears that the native population really increased and
the standard of living was raised under the stern, yet beneficent,
tutelage of the missionary fathers. The great distance and the
hardships of the journey precluded the coming of many irresponsible
adventurers from Spain and, fortunately for the native population,
no great mineral wealth was ever discovered in the Philippine Islands.

The system of government was, in its essential features, a simple
one. The missionary priests drew the inhabitants of the towns
and villages about themselves or formed new settlements, and with
profuse use of symbol and symbolism taught the people the Faith,
laying particular stress upon "the fear of God," as administered by
them, reconciling the people to their subjection by inculcating the
Christian virtues of patience and humility. When any recalcitrants
refused to accept the new order, or later showed an inclination to
break away from it, the military forces, acting usually under secret
directions from the padre, made raids in the disaffected parts with
all the unpitying atrocity the Spanish soldiery were ever capable of
displaying in their dealings with a weaker people. After sufficient
punishment had been inflicted and a wholesome fear inspired, the padre
very opportunely interfered in the natives' behalf, by which means
they were convinced that peace and security lay in submission to the
authorities, especially to the curate of their town or district. A
single example will suffice to make the method clear: not an isolated
instance but a typical case chosen from among the mass of records
left by the chief actors themselves.

Fray Domingo Perez, evidently a man of courage and conviction, for he
later lost his life in the work of which he wrote, was the Dominican
vicar on the Zambales coast when that Order temporarily took over the
district from the Recollects. In a report written for his superior in
1680 he outlines the method clearly: "In order that those whom we have
assembled in the three villages may persevere in their settlements,
the most efficacious fear and the one most suited to their nature is
that the Spaniards of the fort and presidio of Paynaven[2] of whom they
have a very great fear, may come very often to the said villages and
overrun the land, and penetrate even into their old recesses where they
formerly lived; and if perchance they should find anything planted in
the said recesses that they would destroy it and cut it down without
leaving them anything. And so that they may see the father protects
them, when the said Spaniards come to the village, the father opposes
them and takes the part of the Indians. But it is always necessary
in this matter for the soldiers to conquer, and the father is always
very careful always to inform the Spaniards by whom and where anything
is planted which it may be necessary to destroy, and that the edicts
which his Lordship, the governor, sent them be carried out .... But
at all events said Spaniards are to make no trouble for the Indians
whom they find in the villages, but rather must treat them well." [3]

This in 1680: the Dominican transcriber of the record in 1906 has
added a very illuminating note, revealing the immutability of the
system and showing that the rulers possessed in a superlative degree
the Bourbonesque trait of learning nothing and forgetting nothing:
"Even when I was a missionary to the heathens from 1882 to 1892,
I had occasion to observe the said policy, to inform the chief of
the fortress of the measures that he ought to take, and to make a
false show on the other side so that it might have no influence on
the fortress."

Thus it stands out in bold relief as a system built up and maintained
by fraud and force, bound in the course of nature to last only as
long as the deception could be carried on and the repressive force
kept up to sufficient strength. Its maintenance required that the
different sections be isolated from each other so that there could
be no growth toward a common understanding and coöperation, and its
permanence depended upon keeping the people ignorant and contented with
their lot, held under strict control by religious and political fear.

Yet it was a vast improvement over their old mode of life and their
condition was bettered as they grew up to such a system. Only with
the passing of the years and the increase of wealth and influence,
the ease and luxury invited by these, and the consequent corruption so
induced, with the insatiable longing ever for more wealth and greater
influence, did the poison of greed and grasping power enter the system
to work its insidious way into every part, slowly transforming the
beneficent institution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
into an incubus weighing upon all the activities of the people in
the nineteenth, an unyielding bar to the development of the country,
a hideous anachronism in these modern times.

It must be remembered also that Spain, in the years following her
brilliant conquests of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, lost
strength and vigor through the corruption at home induced by the
unearned wealth that flowed into the mother country from the colonies,
and by the draining away of her best blood. Nor did her sons ever
develop that economic spirit which is the permanent foundation of
all empire, but they let the wealth of the Indies flow through their
country, principally to London and Amsterdam, there to form in more
practical hands the basis of the British and Dutch colonial empires.

The priest and the soldier were supreme, so her best sons took up
either the cross or the sword to maintain her dominion in the distant
colonies, a movement which, long continued, spelled for her a form of
national suicide. The soldier expended his strength and generally laid
down his life on alien soil, leaving no fit successor of his own stock
to carry on the work according to his standards. The priest under the
celibate system, in its better days left no offspring at all and in
the days of its corruption none bred and reared under the influences
that make for social and political progress. The dark chambers of the
Inquisition stifled all advance in thought, so the civilization and
the culture of Spain, as well as her political system, settled into
rigid forms to await only the inevitable process of stagnation and
decay. In her proudest hour an old soldier, who had lost one of his
hands fighting her battles against the Turk at Lepanto, employed the
other in writing the masterpiece of her literature, which is really
a caricature of the nation.

There is much in the career of Spain that calls to mind the dazzling
beauty of her "dark-glancing daughters," with its early bloom,
its startling--almost morbid--brilliance, and its premature
decay. Rapid and brilliant was her rise, gradual and inglorious
her steady decline, from the bright morning when the banners of
Castile and Aragon were flung triumphantly from the battlements of
the Alhambra, to the short summer, not so long gone, when at Cavite
and Santiago with swift, decisive havoc the last ragged remnants of
the once world-dominating power were blown into space and time,
to hover disembodied there, a lesson and a warning to future
generations. Whatever her final place in the records of mankind,
whether as the pioneer of modern civilization or the buccaneer
of the nations or, as would seem most likely, a goodly mixture
of both, she has at least--with the exception only of her great
mother, Rome--furnished the most instructive lessons in political
pathology yet recorded, and the advice to students of world progress
to familiarize themselves with her history is even more apt today than
when it first issued from the encyclopedic mind of Macaulay nearly a
century ago. Hardly had she reached the zenith of her power when the
disintegration began, and one by one her brilliant conquests dropped
away, to leave her alone in her faded splendor, with naught but her
vaunting pride left, another "Niobe of nations." In the countries
more in contact with the trend of civilization and more susceptible
to revolutionary influences from the mother country this separation
came from within, while in the remoter parts the archaic and outgrown
system dragged along until a stronger force from without destroyed it.

Nowhere was the crystallization of form and principle more pronounced
than in religious life, which fastened upon the mother country a
deadening weight that hampered all progress, and in the colonies,
notably in the Philippines, virtually converted her government into
a hagiarchy that had its face toward the past and either could not
or would not move with the current of the times. So, when "the shot
heard round the world," the declaration of humanity's right to be and
to become, in its all-encircling sweep, reached the lands controlled
by her it was coldly received and blindly rejected by the governing
powers, and there was left only the slower, subtler, but none the
less sure, process of working its way among the people to burst in
time in rebellion and the destruction of the conservative forces that
would repress it.

In the opening years of the nineteenth century the friar orders in the
Philippines had reached the apogee of their power and usefulness. Their
influence was everywhere felt and acknowledged, while the country
still prospered under the effects of the vigorous and progressive
administrations of Anda and Vargas in the preceding century. Native
levies had fought loyally under Spanish leadership against Dutch
and British invaders, or in suppressing local revolts among their
own people, which were always due to some specific grievance, never
directed definitely against the Spanish sovereignty. The Philippines
were shut off from contact with any country but Spain, and even this
communication was restricted and carefully guarded. There was an
elaborate central government which, however, hardly touched the life
of the native peoples, who were guided and governed by the parish
priests, each town being in a way an independent entity.

Of this halcyon period, just before the process of disintegration
began, there has fortunately been left a record which may be
characterized as the most notable Spanish literary production
relating to the Philippines, being the calm, sympathetic, judicial
account of one who had spent his manhood in the work there and who,
full of years and experience, sat down to tell the story of their
life.[4] In it there are no puerile whinings, no querulous curses
that tropical Malays do not order their lives as did the people of
the Spanish village where he may have been reared, no selfish laments
of ingratitude over blessings unasked and only imperfectly understood
by the natives, no fatuous self-deception as to the real conditions,
but a patient consideration of the difficulties encountered, the good
accomplished, and the unavoidable evils incident to any human work. The
country and the people, too, are described with the charming simplicity
of the eyes that see clearly, the brain that ponders deeply, and the
heart that beats sympathetically. Through all the pages of his account
runs the quiet strain of peace and contentment, of satisfaction with
the existing order, for he had looked upon the creation and saw that
it was good. There is "neither haste, nor hate, nor anger," but the
deliberate recital of the facts warmed and illumined by the geniality
of a soul to whom age and experience had brought, not a sour cynicism,
but the mellowing influence of a ripened philosophy. He was such
an old man as may fondly be imagined walking through the streets of
Parañaque in stately benignity amid the fear and respect of the brown
people over whom he watched.

But in all his chronicle there is no suggestion of anything more to
hope for, anything beyond. Beautiful as the picture is, it is that
of a system which had reached maturity: a condition of stagnation,
not of growth. In less than a decade, the terrific convulsions in
European politics made themselves felt even in the remote Philippines,
and then began the gradual drawing away of the people from their rulers
--blind gropings and erratic wanderings at first, but nevertheless
persistent and vigorous tendencies.

The first notable influence was the admission of representatives
for the Philippines into the Spanish Cortes under the revolutionary
governments and the abolition of the trade monopoly with Mexico. The
last galleon reached Manila in 1815, and soon foreign commercial
interests were permitted, in a restricted way, to enter the
country. Then with the separation of Mexico and the other American
colonies from Spain a more marked change was brought about in that
direct communication was established with the mother country, and
the absolutism of the hagiarchy first questioned by the numbers of
Peninsular Spaniards who entered the islands to trade, some even
to settle and rear families there. These also affected the native
population in the larger centers by the spread of their ideas, which
were not always in conformity with those that for several centuries
the friars had been inculcating into their wards. Moreover, there
was a not-inconsiderable portion of the population, sprung from the
friars themselves, who were eager to adopt the customs and ideas of
the Spanish immigrants.

The suppression of many of the monasteries in Spain in 1835 caused
a large influx of the disestablished monks into the Philippines in
search for a haven, and a home, thus bringing about a conflict with
the native clergy, who were displaced from their best holdings to
provide berths for the newcomers. At the same time, the increase of
education among the native priests brought the natural demand for
more equitable treatment by the Spanish friar, so insistent that it
even broke out into open rebellion in 1843 on the part of a young
Tagalog who thought himself aggrieved in this respect.

Thus the struggle went on, with stagnation above and some growth below,
so that the governors were ever getting further away from the governed,
and for such a movement there is in the course of nature but one
inevitable result, especially when outside influences are actively at
work penetrating the social system and making for better things. Among
these influences four cumulative ones may be noted: the spread of
journalism, the introduction of steamships into the Philippines,
the return of the Jesuits, and the opening of the Suez Canal.

The printing-press entered the islands with the conquest, but its use
had been strictly confined to religious works until about the middle
of the past century, when there was a sudden awakening and within
a few years five journals were being published. In 1848 appeared the
first regular newspaper of importance, El Diario de Manila, and about a
decade later the principal organ of the Spanish-Filipino population, El
Comercio, which, with varying vicissitudes, has continued down to the
present. While rigorously censored, both politically and religiously,
and accessible to only an infinitesimal portion of the people, they
still performed the service of letting a few rays of light into the
Cimmerian intellectual gloom of the time and place.

With the coming of steam navigation communication between the
different parts of the islands was facilitated and trade encouraged,
with all that such a change meant in the way of breaking up the old
isolation and tending to a common understanding. Spanish power, too,
was for the moment more firmly established, and Moro piracy in Luzon
and the Bisayan Islands, which had been so great a drawback to the
development of the country, was forever ended.

The return of the Jesuits produced two general results tending to
dissatisfaction with the existing order. To them was assigned the
missionary field of Mindanao, which meant the displacement of the
Recollect Fathers in the missions there, and for these other berths
had to be found. Again the native clergy were the losers in that they
had to give up their best parishes in Luzon, especially around Manila
and Cavite, so the breach was further widened and the soil sown with
discontent. But more far-reaching than this immediate result was the
educational movement inaugurated by the Jesuits. The native, already
feeling the vague impulses from without and stirred by the growing
restlessness of the times, here saw a new world open before him. A
considerable portion of the native population in the larger centers,
who had shared in the economic progress of the colony, were enabled
to look beyond their daily needs and to afford their children an
opportunity for study and advancement--a condition and a need met
by the Jesuits for a time.

With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 communication with the
mother country became cheaper, quicker, surer, so that large numbers
of Spaniards, many of them in sympathy with the republican movements
at home, came to the Philippines in search of fortunes and generally
left half-caste families who had imbibed their ideas. Native boys
who had already felt the intoxication of such learning as the schools
of Manila afforded them began to dream of greater wonders in Spain,
now that the journey was possible for them. So began the definite
movements that led directly to the disintegration of the friar régime.

In the same year occurred the revolution in the mother country,
which had tired of the old corrupt despotism. Isabella II was driven
into exile and the country left to waver about uncertainly for
several years, passing through all the stages of government from red
radicalism to absolute conservatism, finally adjusting itself to the
middle course of constitutional monarchism. During the effervescent
and ephemeral republic there was sent to the Philippines a governor
who set to work to modify the old system and establish a government
more in harmony with modern ideas and more democratic in form. His
changes were hailed with delight by the growing class of Filipinos
who were striving for more consideration in their own country,
and who, in their enthusiasm and the intoxication of the moment,
perhaps became more radical than was safe under the conditions--
surely too radical for their religious guides watching and waiting
behind the veil of the temple.

In January, 1872, an uprising occurred in the naval arsenal at Cavite,
with a Spanish non-commissioned officer as one of the leaders. From
the meager evidence now obtainable, this would seem to have been
purely a local mutiny over the service questions of pay and treatment,
but in it the friars saw their opportunity. It was blazoned forth,
with all the wild panic that was to characterize the actions of the
governing powers from that time on, as the premature outbreak of
a general insurrection under the leadership of the native clergy,
and rigorous repressive measures were demanded. Three native
priests, notable for their popularity among their own people, one an
octogenarian and the other two young canons of the Manila Cathedral,
were summarily garroted, along with the renegade Spanish officer who
had participated in the mutiny. No record of any trial of these priests
has ever been brought to light. The Archbishop, himself a secular[5]
clergyman, stoutly refused to degrade them from their holy office,
and they wore their sacerdotal robes at the execution, which was
conducted in a hurried, fearful manner. At the same time a number
of young Manilans who had taken conspicuous part in the "liberal"
demonstrations were deported to the Ladrone Islands or to remote
islands of the Philippine group itself.

This was the beginning of the end. Yet there immediately followed
the delusive calm which ever precedes the fatal outburst, lulling
those marked for destruction to a delusive security. The two decades
following were years of quiet, unobtrusive growth, during which
the Philippine Islands made the greatest economic progress in their
history. But this in itself was preparing the final catastrophe, for
if there be any fact well established in human experience it is that
with economic development the power of organized religion begins to
wane--the rise of the merchant spells the decline of the priest. A
sordid change, from masses and mysteries to sugar and shoes, this is
often said to be, but it should be noted that the epochs of greatest
economic activity have been those during which the generality of
mankind have lived fuller and freer lives, and above all that in such
eras the finest intellects and the grandest souls have been developed.

Nor does an institution that has been slowly growing for three
centuries, molding the very life and fiber of the people, disintegrate
without a violent struggle, either in its own constitution or in the
life of the people trained under it. Not only the ecclesiastical but
also the social and political system of the country was controlled by
the religious orders, often silently and secretly, but none the less
effectively. This is evident from the ceaseless conflict that went on
between the religious orders and the Spanish political administrators,
who were at every turn thwarted in their efforts to keep the government
abreast of the times.

The shock of the affair of 1872 had apparently stunned the Filipinos,
but it had at the same time brought them to the parting of the ways and
induced a vague feeling that there was something radically wrong, which
could only be righted by a closer union among themselves. They began
to consider that their interests and those of the governing powers were
not the same. In these feelings of distrust toward the friars they were
stimulated by the great numbers of immigrant Spaniards who were then
entering the country, many of whom had taken part in the republican
movements at home and who, upon the restoration of the monarchy,
no doubt thought it safer for them to be at as great a distance as
possible from the throne. The young Filipinos studying in Spain came
from different parts of the islands, and by their association there
in a foreign land were learning to forget their narrow sectionalism;
hence the way was being prepared for some concerted action. Thus,
aided and encouraged by the anti-clerical Spaniards in the mother
country, there was growing up a new generation of native leaders,
who looked toward something better than the old system.

It is with this period in the history of the country--the author's
boyhood--that the story of Noli Me Tangere deals. Typical scenes
and characters are sketched from life with wonderful accuracy,
and the picture presented is that of a master-mind, who knew and
loved his subject. Terror and repression were the order of the day,
with ever a growing unrest in the higher circles, while the native
population at large seemed to be completely cowed--"brutalized"
is the term repeatedly used by Rizal in his political essays. Spanish
writers of the period, observing only the superficial movements,--
some of which were indeed fantastical enough, for


"they,
Who in oppression's darkness caved have dwelt,
They are not eagles, nourished with the day;
What marvel, then, at times, if they mistake their way?"



--and not heeding the currents at work below, take great delight
in ridiculing the pretensions of the young men seeking advancement,
while they indulge in coarse ribaldry over the wretched condition
of the great mass of the "Indians." The author, however, himself a
"miserable Indian," vividly depicts the unnatural conditions and
dominant characters produced under the outworn system of fraud and
force, at the same time presenting his people as living, feeling,
struggling individuals, with all the frailties of human nature and all
the possibilities of mankind, either for good or evil; incidentally
he throws into marked contrast the despicable depreciation used by
the Spanish writers in referring to the Filipinos, making clear the
application of the self-evident proposition that no ordinary human
being in the presence of superior force can very well conduct himself
as a man unless he be treated as such.

The friar orders, deluded by their transient triumph and secure in
their pride of place, became more arrogant, more domineering than
ever. In the general administration the political rulers were at every
turn thwarted, their best efforts frustrated, and if they ventured too
far their own security threatened; for in the three-cornered wrangle
which lasted throughout the whole of the Spanish domination, the friar
orders had, in addition to the strength derived from their organization
and their wealth, the Damoclean weapon of control over the natives to
hang above the heads of both governor and archbishop. The curates in
the towns, always the real rulers, became veritable despots, so that
no voice dared to raise itself against them, even in the midst of
conditions which the humblest indio was beginning to feel dumbly to
be perverted and unnatural, and that, too, after three centuries of
training under the system that he had ever been taught to accept as
"the will of God."

The friars seemed long since to have forgotten those noble aims that
had meant so much to the founders and early workers of their orders,
if indeed the great majority of those of the later day had ever
realized the meaning of their office, for the Spanish writers of
the time delight in characterizing them as the meanest of the Spanish
peasantry, when not something worse, who had been "lassoed," taught a
few ritualistic prayers, and shipped to the Philippines to be placed
in isolated towns as lords and masters of the native population, with
all the power and prestige over a docile people that the sacredness of
their holy office gave them. These writers treat the matter lightly,
seeing in it rather a huge joke on the "miserable Indians," and
give the friars great credit for "patriotism," a term which in this
connection they dragged from depth to depth until it quite aptly fitted
Dr. Johnson's famous definition, "the last refuge of a scoundrel."

In their conduct the religious corporations, both as societies and
as individuals, must be estimated according to their own standards--
the application of any other criterion would be palpably unfair. They
undertook to hold the native in subjection, to regulate the essential
activities of his life according to their ideas, so upon them
must fall the responsibility for the conditions finally attained:
to destroy the freedom of the subject and then attempt to blame him
for his conduct is a paradox into which the learned men often fell,
perhaps inadvertently through their deductive logic. They endeavored
to shape the lives of their Malay wards not only in this existence
but also in the next. Their vows were poverty, chastity, and obedience.

The vow of poverty was early relegated to the limbo of neglect. Only a
few years after the founding of Manila royal decrees began to issue on
the subject of complaints received by the King over the usurpation of
lands on the part of the priests. Using the same methods so familiar in
the heyday of the institution of monasticism in Europe--pious gifts,
deathbed bequests, pilgrims' offerings--the friar orders gradually
secured the richest of the arable lands in the more thickly settled
portions of the Philippines, notably the part of Luzon occupied by
the Tagalogs. Not always, however, it must in justice be recorded,
were such doubtful means resorted to, for there were instances where
the missionary was the pioneer, gathering about himself a band of
devoted natives and plunging into the unsettled parts to build up
a town with its fields around it, which would later become a friar
estate. With the accumulated incomes from these estates and the fees
for religious observances that poured into their treasuries, the
orders in their nature of perpetual corporations became the masters of
the situation, the lords of the country. But this condition was not
altogether objectionable; it was in the excess of their greed that
they went astray, for the native peoples had been living under this
system through generations and not until they began to feel that they
were not receiving fair treatment did they question the authority of
a power which not only secured them a peaceful existence in this life
but also assured them eternal felicity in the next.

With only the shining exceptions that are produced in any system, no
matter how false its premises or how decadent it may become, to uphold
faith in the intrinsic soundness of human nature, the vow of chastity
was never much more than a myth. Through the tremendous influence
exerted over a fanatically religious people, who implicitly followed
the teachings of the reverend fathers, once their confidence had
been secured, the curate was seldom to be gainsaid in his desires. By
means of the secret influence in the confessional and the more open
political power wielded by him, the fairest was his to command,
and the favored one and her people looked upon the choice more as an
honor than otherwise, for besides the social standing that it gave her
there was the proud prospect of becoming the mother of children who
could claim kinship with the dominant race. The curate's "companion"
or the sacristan's wife was a power in the community, her family was
raised to a place of importance and influence among their own people,
while she and her ecclesiastical offspring were well cared for. On
the death or removal of the curate, it was almost invariably found
that she had been provided with a husband or protector and a not
inconsiderable amount of property--an arrangement rather appealing
to a people among whom the means of living have ever been so insecure.

That this practise was not particularly offensive to the people among
whom they dwelt may explain the situation, but to claim that it excuses
the friars approaches dangerously close to casuistry. Still, as long as
this arrangement was decently and moderately carried out, there seems
to have been no great objection, nor from a worldly point of view,
with all the conditions considered, could there be much. But the old
story of excess, of unbridled power turned toward bad ends, again
recurs, at the same time that the ideas brought in by the Spaniards
who came each year in increasing numbers and the principles observed
by the young men studying in Europe cast doubt upon the fitness of
such a state of affairs. As they approached their downfall, like all
mankind, the friars became more open, more insolent, more shameless,
in their conduct.

The story of Maria Clara, as told in Noli Me Tangere, is by no means
an exaggerated instance, but rather one of the few clean enough to
bear the light, and her fate, as depicted in the epilogue, is said
to be based upon an actual occurrence with which the author must have
been familiar.

The vow of obedience--whether considered as to the Pope, their
highest religious authority, or to the King of Spain, their political
liege--might not always be so callously disregarded, but it could
be evaded and defied. From the Vatican came bull after bull, from the
Escorial decree after decree, only to be archived in Manila, sometimes
after a hollow pretense of compliance. A large part of the records of
Spanish domination is taken up with the wearisome quarrels that went
on between the Archbishop, representing the head of the Church, and
the friar orders, over the questions of the episcopal visitation and
the enforcement of the provisions of the Council of Trent relegating
the monks to their original status of missionaries, with the friars
invariably victorious in their contentions. Royal decrees ordering
inquiries into the titles to the estates of the men of poverty and
those providing for the education of the natives in Spanish were
merely sneered at and left to molder in harmless quiet. Not without
good grounds for his contention, the friar claimed that the Spanish
dominion over the Philippines depended upon him, and he therefore
confidently set himself up as the best judge of how that dominion
should be maintained.

Thus there are presented in the Philippines of the closing quarter of
the century just past the phenomena so frequently met with in modern
societies, so disheartening to the people who must drag out their lives
under them, of an old system which has outworn its usefulness and is
being called into question, with forces actively at work disintegrating
it, yet with the unhappy folk bred and reared under it unprepared for
a new order of things. The old faith was breaking down, its forms
and beliefs, once so full of life and meaning, were being sharply
examined, doubt and suspicion were the order of the day. Moreover,
it must ever be borne in mind that in the Philippines this unrest,
except in the parts where the friars were the landlords, was not
general among the people, the masses of whom were still sunk in their
"loved Egyptian night," but affected only a very small proportion of
the population--for the most part young men who were groping their
way toward something better, yet without any very clearly conceived
idea of what that better might be, and among whom was to be found the
usual sprinkling of "sunshine patriots" and omnipresent opportunists
ready for any kind of trouble that will afford them a chance to rise.

Add to the apathy of the masses dragging out their vacant lives amid
the shadows of religious superstition and to the unrest of the few,
the fact that the orders were in absolute control of the political
machinery of the country, with the best part of the agrarian wealth
amortized in their hands; add also the ever-present jealousies, petty
feuds, and racial hatreds, for which Manila and the Philippines,
with their medley of creeds and races, offer such a fertile field,
all fostered by the governing class for the maintenance of the old
Machiavelian principle of "divide and rule," and the sum is about
the most miserable condition under which any portion of mankind ever
tried to fulfill nature's inexorable laws of growth.





And third came she who gives dark creeds their power,
Silabbat-paramasa, sorceress,
Draped fair in many lands as lowly Faith,
But ever juggling souls with rites and prayers;
The keeper of those keys which lock up Hells
And open Heavens. "Wilt thou dare," she said,
"Put by our sacred books, dethrone our gods,
Unpeople all the temples, shaking down
That law which feeds the priests and props the realm?"
But Buddha answered, "What thou bidd'st me keep
Is form which passes, but the free Truth stands;
Get thee unto thy darkness."
SIR EDWIN ARNOLD, The Light of Asia.


"Ah, simple people, how little do you know the blessing that you
enjoy! Neither hunger, nor nakedness, nor inclemency of the weather
troubles you. With the payment of seven reals per year, you remain free
of contributions. You do not have to close your houses with bolts. You
do not fear that the district troopers will come in to lay waste your
fields, and trample you under foot at your own firesides. You call
'father' the one who is in command over you. Perhaps there will come
a time when you will be more civilized, and you will break out in
revolution; and you will wake terrified, at the tumult of the riots,
and will see blood flowing through these quiet fields, and gallows
and guillotines erected in these squares, which never yet have seen an
execution." [6] Thus moralized a Spanish traveler in 1842, just as that
dolce far niente was drawing to its close. Already far-seeing men had
begun to raise in the Spanish parliament the question of the future of
the Philippines, looking toward some definite program for their care
under modern conditions and for the adjustment of their relations
with the mother country. But these were mere Cassandra-voices--
the horologe of time was striking for Rome's successor, as it did
for Rome herself.

Just where will come the outbreak after three centuries of
mind-repression and soul-distortion, of forcing a growing subject
into the strait-jacket of medieval thought and action, of natural
selection reversed by the constant elimination of native initiative and
leadership, is indeed a curious study. That there will be an outbreak
somewhere is as certain as that the plant will grow toward the light,
even under the most unfavorable conditions, for man's nature is but
the resultant of eternal forces that ceaselessly and irresistibly
interplay about and upon him, and somewhere this resultant will
express itself in thought or deed.

After three centuries of Spanish ecclesiastical domination in
the Philippines, it was to be expected that the wards would turn
against their mentors the methods that had been used upon them,
nor is it especially remarkable that there was a decided tendency in
some parts to revert to primitive barbarism, but that concurrently a
creative genius--a bard or seer--should have been developed among a
people who, as a whole, have hardly passed through the clan or village
stage of society, can be regarded as little less than a psychological
phenomenon, and provokes the perhaps presumptuous inquiry as to whether
there may not be some things about our common human nature that the
learned doctors have not yet included in their anthropometric diagrams.

On the western shore of the Lake of Bay in the heart of the Philippines
clusters the village of Kalamba, first established by the Jesuit
Fathers in the early days of the conquest, and upon their expulsion
in 1767 taken over by the Crown, which later transferred it to the
Dominicans, under whose care the fertile fields about it became one
of the richest of the friar estates. It can hardly be called a town,
even for the Philippines, but is rather a market-village, set as it
is at the outlet of the rich country of northern Batangas on the
open waterway to Manila and the outside world. Around it flourish
the green rice-fields, while Mount Makiling towers majestically near
in her moods of cloud and sunshine, overlooking the picturesque
curve of the shore and the rippling waters of the lake. Shadowy
to the eastward gleam the purple crests of Banahao and Cristobal,
and but a few miles to the southwestward dim-thundering, seething,
earth-rocking Taal mutters and moans of the world's birth-throes. It
is the center of a region rich in native lore and legend, as it sleeps
through the dusty noons when the cacao leaves droop with the heat and
dreams through the silvery nights, waking twice or thrice a week to
the endless babble and ceaseless chatter of an Oriental market where
the noisy throngs make of their trading as much a matter of pleasure
and recreation as of business.

Directly opposite this market-place, in a house facing the village
church, there was born in 1861 into the already large family of one
of the more prosperous tenants on the Dominican estate a boy who was
to combine in his person the finest traits of the Oriental character
with the best that Spanish and European culture could add, on whom
would fall the burden of his people's woes to lead him over the via
dolorosa of struggle and sacrifice, ending in his own destruction
amid the crumbling ruins of the system whose disintegration he himself
had done so much to compass.

José Rizal-Mercado y Alonso, as his name emerges from the confusion
of Filipino nomenclature, was of Malay extraction, with some distant
strains of Spanish and Chinese blood. His genealogy reveals several
persons remarkable for intellect and independence of character, notably
a Philippine Eloise and Abelard, who, drawn together by their common
enthusiasm for study and learning, became his maternal grandparents, as
well as a great-uncle who was a traveler and student and who directed
the boy's early studies. Thus from the beginning his training was
exceptional, while his mind was stirred by the trouble already brewing
in his community, and from the earliest hours of consciousness he saw
about him the wrongs and injustices which overgrown power will ever
develop in dealing with a weaker subject. One fact of his childhood,
too, stands out clearly, well worthy of record: his mother seems to
have been a woman of more than ordinary education for the time and
place, and, pleased with the boy's quick intelligence, she taught
him to read Spanish from a copy of the Vulgate in that language,
which she had somehow managed to secure and keep in her possession--
the old, old story of the Woman and the Book, repeated often enough
under strange circumstances, but under none stranger than these. The
boy's father was well-to-do, so he was sent at the age of eight to
study in the new Jesuit school in Manila, not however before he had
already inspired some awe in his simple neighbors by the facility
with which he composed verses in his native tongue.

He began his studies in a private house while waiting for an
opportunity to enter the Ateneo, as the Jesuit school is called,
and while there he saw one of his tutors, Padre Burgos, haled to
an ignominious death on the garrote as a result of the affair of
1872. This made a deep impression on his childish mind and, in fact,
seems to have been one of the principal factors in molding his ideas
and shaping his career. That the effect upon him was lasting and that
his later judgment confirmed him in the belief that a great injustice
had been done, are shown by the fact that his second important work,
El Filibusterismo, written about 1891, and miscalled by himself a
"novel," for it is really a series of word-paintings constituting a
terrific arraignment of the whole régime, was dedicated to the three
priests executed in 1872, in these words: "Religion, in refusing
to degrade you, has placed in doubt the crime imputed to you; the
government, in surrounding your case with mystery and shadow, gives
reason for belief in some error, committed in fatal moments; and all
the Philippines, in venerating your memory and calling you martyrs,
in no way acknowledges your guilt." The only answer he ever received
to this was eight Remington bullets fired into his back.

In the Ateneo he quickly attracted attention and became a general
favorite by his application to his studies, the poetic fervor with
which he entered into all the exercises of religious devotion, and
the gentleness of his character. He was from the first considered
"peculiar," for so the common mind regards everything that fails to fit
the old formulas, being of a rather dreamy and reticent disposition,
more inclined to reading Spanish romances than joining in the games of
his schoolmates. And of all the literatures that could be placed in
the hands of an imaginative child, what one would be more productive
in a receptive mind of a fervid love of life and home and country and
all that men hold dear, than that of the musical language of Castile,
with its high coloring and passionate character?

His activities were varied, for, in addition to his regular studies,
he demonstrated considerable skill in wood-carving and wax-modeling,
and during this period won several prizes for poetical compositions
in Spanish, which, while sometimes juvenile in form and following
closely after Spanish models, reveal at times flashes of thought and
turns of expression that show distinct originality; even in these
early compositions there is that plaintive undertone, that minor
chord of sadness, which pervades all his poems, reaching its fullest
measure of pathos in the verses written in his death-cell. He received
a bachelor's degree according to the Spanish system in 1877, but
continued advanced studies in agriculture at the Ateneo, at the same
time that he was pursuing the course in philosophy in the Dominican
University of Santo Tomas, where in 1879 he startled the learned
doctors by a reference in a prize poem to the Philippines as his
"patria," fatherland. This political heresy on the part of a native
of the islands was given no very serious attention at the time, being
looked upon as the vagary of a schoolboy, but again in the following
year, by what seems a strange fatality, he stirred the resentment of
the friars, especially the Dominicans, by winning over some of their
number the first prize in a literary contest celebrated in honor of
the author of Don Quixote.

The archaic instruction in Santo Tomas soon disgusted him and led to
disagreements with the instructors, and he turned to Spain. Plans
for his journey and his stay there had to be made with the utmost
caution, for it would hardly have fared well with his family had
it become known that the son of a tenant on an estate which was a
part of the University endowment was studying in Europe. He reached
Spanish territory first in Barcelona, the hotbed of radicalism,
where he heard a good deal of revolutionary talk, which, however,
seems to have made but little impression upon him, for throughout
his entire career breadth of thought and strength of character are
revealed in his consistent opposition to all forms of violence.

In Madrid he pursued the courses in medicine and philosophy, but a
fact of even more consequence than his proficiency in his regular
work was his persistent study of languages and his omnivorous
reading. He was associated with the other Filipinos who were working
in a somewhat spectacular way, misdirected rather than led by what
may be styled the Spanish liberals, for more considerate treatment of
the Philippines. But while he was among them he was not of them, as
his studious habits and reticent disposition would hardly have made
him a favorite among those who were enjoying the broader and gayer
life there. Moreover, he soon advanced far beyond them in thought by
realizing that they were beginning at the wrong end of the labor,
for even at that time he seems to have caught, by what must almost
be looked upon as an inspiration of genius, since there was nothing
apparent in his training that would have suggested it, the realization
of the fact that hope for his people lay in bettering their condition,
that any real benefit must begin with the benighted folk at home,
that the introduction of reforms for which they were unprepared would
be useless, even dangerous to them. This was not at all the popular
idea among his associates and led to serious disagreements with
their leaders, for it was the way of toil and sacrifice without any
of the excitement and glamour that came from drawing up magnificent
plans and sending them back home with appeals for funds to carry on
the propaganda--for the most part banquets and entertainments to
Spain's political leaders.

His views, as revealed in his purely political writings, may be
succinctly stated, for he had that faculty of expression which never
leaves any room for doubt as to the meaning. His people had a natural
right to grow and to develop, and any obstacles to such growth and
development were to be removed. He realized that the masses of his
countrymen were sunk deep in poverty and ignorance, cringing and
crouching before political authority, crawling and groveling before
religious superstition, but to him this was no subject for jest or
indifferent neglect--it was a serious condition which should be
ameliorated, and hope lay in working into the inert social mass the
leaven of conscious individual effort toward the development of a
distinctive, responsible personality. He was profoundly appreciative
of all the good that Spain had done, but saw in this no inconsistency
with the desire that this gratitude might be given cause to be ever
on the increase, thereby uniting the Philippines with the mother
country by the firm bonds of common ideas and interests, for his
earlier writings breathe nothing but admiration, respect, and loyalty
for Spain and her more advanced institutions. The issue was clear to
him and he tried to keep it so.

It was indeed administrative myopia, induced largely by blind greed,
which allowed the friar orders to confuse the objections to their
repressive system with an attack upon Spanish sovereignty, thereby
dragging matters from bad to worse, to engender ill feeling and finally
desperation. This narrow, selfish policy had about as much soundness
in it as the idea upon which it was based, so often brought forward
with what looks very suspiciously like a specious effort to cover
mental indolence with a glittering generality, "that the Filipino is
only a grown-up child and needs a strong paternal government," an idea
which entirely overlooks the natural fact that when an impressionable
subject comes within the influence of a stronger force from a higher
civilization he is very likely to remain a child--perhaps a stunted
one--as long as he is treated as such. There is about as much sense
and justice in such logic as there would be in that of keeping a babe
confined in swaddling-bands and then blaming it for not knowing how to
walk. No creature will remain a healthy child forever, but, as Spain
learned to her bitter cost, will be very prone, as the parent grows
decrepit and it begins to feel its strength, to prove a troublesome
subject to handle, thereby reversing the natural law suggested by the
comparison, and bringing such Sancho-Panza statecraft to flounder at
last through as hopeless confusion to as absurd a conclusion as his
own island government.

Rizal was not one of those rabid, self-seeking revolutionists who
would merely overthrow the government and maintain the old system
with themselves in the privileged places of the former rulers, nor
is he to be classed among the misguided enthusiasts who by their
intemperate demands and immoderate conduct merely strengthen the
hands of those in power. He realized fully that the restrictions
under which the people had become accustomed to order their lives
should be removed gradually as they advanced under suitable guidance
and became capable of adjusting themselves to the new and better
conditions. They should take all the good offered, from any source,
especially that suited to their nature, which they could properly
assimilate. No great patience was ever exhibited by him toward those
of his countrymen--the most repulsive characters in his stories are
such--who would make of themselves mere apes and mimes, decorating
themselves with a veneer of questionable alien characteristics, but
with no personality or stability of their own, presenting at best
a spectacle to make devils laugh and angels weep, lacking even the
hothouse product's virtue of being good to look upon.

Reduced to a definite form, the wish of the more thoughtful in the
new generation of Filipino leaders that was growing up was that the
Philippine Islands be made a province of Spain with representation in
the Cortes and the concomitant freedom of expression and criticism. All
that was directly asked was some substantial participation in the
management of local affairs, and the curtailment of the arbitrary power
of petty officials, especially of the friar curates, who constituted
the chief obstacle to the education and development of the people.

The friar orders were, however, all-powerful, not only in the
Philippines, but also in Madrid, where they were not chary of making
use of a part of their wealth to maintain their influence. The
efforts of the Filipinos in Spain, while closely watched, do not
seem to have been given any very serious attention, for the Spanish
authorities no doubt realized that as long as the young men stayed
in Madrid writing manifestoes in a language which less than one
per cent of their countrymen could read and spending their money
on members of the Cortes, there could be little danger of trouble
in the Philippines. Moreover, the Spanish ministers themselves
appear to have been in sympathy with the more moderate wishes of
the Filipinos, a fact indicated by the number of changes ordered
from time to time in the Philippine administration, but they were
powerless before the strength and local influence of the religious
orders. So matters dragged their weary way along until there was an
unexpected and startling development, a David-Goliath contest, and
certainly no one but a genius could have polished the "smooth stone"
that was to smite the giant.

It is said that the idea of writing a novel depicting conditions in
his native land first came to Rizal from a perusal of Eugene Sue's The
Wandering Jew, while he was a student in Madrid, although the model
for the greater part of it is plainly the delectable sketches in Don
Quixote, for the author himself possessed in a remarkable degree that
Cervantic touch which raises the commonplace, even the mean, into
the highest regions of art. Not, however, until he had spent some
time in Paris continuing his medical studies, and later in Germany,
did anything definite result. But in 1887 Noli Me Tangere was printed
in Berlin, in an establishment where the author is said to have worked
part of his time as a compositor in order to defray his expenses while
he continued his studies. A limited edition was published through the
financial aid extended by a Filipino associate, and sent to Hongkong,
thence to be surreptitiously introduced into the Philippines.

Noli Me Tangere ("Touch Me Not") at the time the work was written had
a peculiar fitness as a title. Not only was there an apt suggestion
of a comparison with the common flower of that name, but the term
is also applied in pathology to a malignant cancer which affects
every bone and tissue in the body, and that this latter was in the
author's mind would appear from the dedication and from the summing-up
of the Philippine situation in the final conversation between Ibarra
and Elias. But in a letter written to a friend in Paris at the time,
the author himself says that it was taken from the Gospel scene where
the risen Savior appears to the Magdalene, to whom He addresses these
words, a scene that has been the subject of several notable paintings.

In this connection it is interesting to note what he himself
thought of the work, and his frank statement of what he had tried
to accomplish, made just as he was publishing it: "Noli Me Tangere,
an expression taken from the Gospel of St. Luke,[7] means touch me
not. The book contains things of which no one up to the present time
has spoken, for they are so sensitive that they have never suffered
themselves to be touched by any one whomsoever. For my own part, I
have attempted to do what no one else has been willing to do: I have
dared to answer the calumnies that have for centuries been heaped
upon us and our country. I have written of the social condition and
the life, of our beliefs, our hopes, our longings, our complaints,
and our sorrows; I have unmasked the hypocrisy which, under the cloak
of religion, has come among us to impoverish and to brutalize us,
I have distinguished the true religion from the false, from the
superstition that traffics with the holy word to get money and to
make us believe in absurdities for which Catholicism would blush,
if ever it knew of them. I have unveiled that which has been hidden
behind the deceptive and dazzling words of our governments. I have
told our countrymen of our mistakes, our vices, our faults, and our
weak complaisance with our miseries there. Where I have found virtue I
have spoken of it highly in order to render it homage; and if I have
not wept in speaking of our misfortunes, I have laughed over them,
for no one would wish to weep with me over our woes, and laughter
is ever the best means of concealing sorrow. The deeds that I have
related are true and have actually occurred; I can furnish proof of
this. My book may have (and it does have) defects from an artistic
and esthetic point of view--this I do not deny--but no one can
dispute the veracity of the facts presented." [8]

But while the primary purpose and first effect of the work was to
crystallize anti-friar sentiment, the author has risen above a mere
personal attack, which would give it only a temporary value, and by
portraying in so clear and sympathetic a way the life of his people
has produced a piece of real literature, of especial interest now as
they are being swept into the newer day. Any fool can point out errors
and defects, if they are at all apparent, and the persistent searching
them out for their own sake is the surest mark of the vulpine mind,
but the author has east aside all such petty considerations and,
whether consciously or not, has left a work of permanent value to
his own people and of interest to all friends of humanity. If ever a
fair land has been cursed with the wearisome breed of fault-finders,
both indigenous and exotic, that land is the Philippines, so it is
indeed refreshing to turn from the dreary waste of carping criticisms,
pragmatical "scientific" analyses, and sneering half-truths to a story
pulsating with life, presenting the Filipino as a human being, with
his virtues and his vices, his loves and hates, his hopes and fears.

The publication of Noli Me Tangere suggests the reflection that
the story of Achilles' heel is a myth only in form. The belief that
any institution, system, organization, or arrangement has reached
an absolute form is about as far as human folly can go. The friar
orders looked upon themselves as the sum of human achievement in
man-driving and God-persuading, divinely appointed to rule, fixed
in their power, far above suspicion. Yet they were obsessed by the
sensitive, covert dread of exposure that ever lurks spectrally under
pharisaism's specious robe, so when there appeared this work of a
"miserable Indian," who dared to portray them and the conditions that
their control produced exactly as they were--for the indefinable
touch by which the author gives an air of unimpeachable veracity to
his story is perhaps its greatest artistic merit--the effect upon
the mercurial Spanish temperament was, to say the least, electric. The
very audacity of the thing left the friars breathless.

A committee of learned doctors from Santo Tomas, who were appointed
to examine the work, unmercifully scored it as attacking everything
from the state religion to the integrity of the Spanish dominions,
so the circulation of it in the Philippines was, of course, strictly
prohibited, which naturally made the demand for it greater. Large
sums were paid for single copies, of which, it might be remarked in
passing, the author himself received scarcely any part; collections
have ever had a curious habit of going astray in the Philippines.

Although the possession of a copy by a Filipino usually meant summary
imprisonment or deportation, often with the concomitant confiscation
of property for the benefit of some "patriot," the book was widely read
among the leading families and had the desired effect of crystallizing
the sentiment against the friars, thus to pave the way for concerted
action. At last the idol had been flouted, so all could attack
it. Within a year after it had begun to circulate in the Philippines a
memorial was presented to the Archbishop by quite a respectable part of
the Filipinos in Manila, requesting that the friar orders be expelled
from the country, but this resulted only in the deportation of every
signer of the petition upon whom the government could lay hands. They
were scattered literally to the four corners of the earth, some to
the Ladrone Islands, some to Fernando Po off the west coast of Africa,
some to Spanish prisons, others to remote parts of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the author had returned to the Philippines for a visit
to his family, during which time he was constantly attended by an
officer of the Civil Guard, detailed ostensibly as a body-guard. All
his movements were closely watched, and after a few months the
Captain-General "advised" him to leave the country, at the same
time requesting a copy of Noli Me Tangere, saying that the excerpts
submitted to him by the censor had awakened a desire to read the
entire work. Rizal returned to Europe by way of Japan and the United
States, which did not seem to make any distinct impression upon him,
although it was only a little later that he predicted that when
Spain lost control of the Philippines, an eventuality he seemed to
consider certain not far in the future, the United States would be
a probable successor.[9]

Returning to Europe, he spent some time in London preparing an edition
of Morga's Sucesos de las Filipinas, a work published in Mexico about
1606 by the principal actor in some of the most stirring scenes of
the formative period of the Philippine government. It is a record
of prime importance in Philippine history, and the resuscitation of
it was no small service to the country. Rizal added notes tending to
show that the Filipinos had been possessed of considerable culture and
civilization before the Spanish conquest, and he even intimated that
they had retrograded rather than advanced under Spanish tutelage. But
such an extreme view must be ascribed to patriotic ardor, for Rizal
himself, though possessed of that intangible quality commonly known
as genius and partly trained in northern Europe, is still in his own
personality the strongest refutation of such a contention.

Later, in Ghent, he published El Filibusterismo, called by him a
continuation of Noli Me Tangere, but with which it really has no
more connection than that some of the characters reappear and are
disposed of.[10] There is almost no connected plot in it and hardly
any action, but there is the same incisive character-drawing and
clear etching of conditions that characterize the earlier work. It
is a maturer effort and a more forceful political argument, hence
it lacks the charm and simplicity which assign Noli Me Tangere to a
preeminent place in Philippine literature. The light satire of the
earlier work is replaced by bitter sarcasm delivered with deliberate
intent, for the iron had evidently entered his soul with broadening
experience and the realization that justice at the hands of decadent
Spain had been an iridescent dream of his youth. Nor had the Spanish
authorities in the Philippines been idle; his relatives had been
subjected to all the annoyances and irritations of petty persecution,
eventually losing the greater part of their property, while some of
them suffered deportation.

In 1891 he returned to Hongkong to practise medicine, in which
profession he had remarkable success, even coming to be looked
upon as a wizard by his simple countrymen, among whom circulated
wonderful accounts of his magical powers. He was especially skilled
in ophthalmology, and his first operation after returning from his
studies in Europe was to restore his mother's sight by removing a
cataract from one of her eyes, an achievement which no doubt formed
the basis of marvelous tales. But the misfortunes of his people were
ever the paramount consideration, so he wrote to the Captain-General
requesting permission to remove his numerous relatives to Borneo to
establish a colony there, for which purpose liberal concessions had
been offered him by the British government. The request was denied,
and further stigmatized as an "unpatriotic" attempt to lessen the
population of the Philippines, when labor was already scarce. This
was the answer he received to a reasonable petition after the homes
of his family, including his own birthplace, had been ruthlessly
destroyed by military force, while a quarrel over ownership and rents
was still pending in the courts. The Captain-General at the time was
Valeriano Weyler, the pitiless instrument of the reactionary forces
manipulated by the monastic orders, he who was later sent to Cuba to
introduce there the repressive measures which had apparently been so
efficacious in the Philippines, thus to bring on the interference
of the United States to end Spain's colonial power--all of which
induces the reflection that there may still be deluded casuists who
doubt the reality of Nemesis.

Weyler was succeeded by Eulogio Despujols, who made sincere attempts to
reform the administration, and was quite popular with the Filipinos. In
reply to repeated requests from Rizal to be permitted to return to
the Philippines unmolested a passport was finally granted to him and
he set out for Manila. For this move on his part, in addition to the
natural desire to be among his own people, two special reasons appear:
he wished to investigate and stop if possible the unwarranted use of
his name in taking up collections that always remained mysteriously
unaccounted for, and he was drawn by a ruse deliberately planned and
executed in that his mother was several times officiously arrested
and hustled about as a common criminal in order to work upon the
son's filial feelings and thus get him back within reach of the
Spanish authority, which, as subsequent events and later researches
have shown, was the real intention in issuing the passport. Entirely
unsuspecting any ulterior motive, however, in a few days after his
arrival he convoked a motley gathering of Filipinos of all grades of
the population, for he seems to have been only slightly acquainted
among his own people and not at all versed in the mazy Walpurgis
dance of Philippine politics, and laid before it the constitution
for a Liga Filipina (Philippine League), an organization looking
toward greater unity among the Filipinos and coöperation for economic
progress. This Liga was no doubt the result of his observations in
England and Germany, and, despite its questionable form as a secret
society for political and economic purposes, was assuredly a step in
the right direction, but unfortunately its significance was beyond
the comprehension of his countrymen, most of whom saw in it only an
opportunity for harassing the Spanish government, for which all were
ready enough.

All his movements were closely watched, and a few days after his
return he was arrested on the charge of having seditious literature
in his baggage. The friars were already clamoring for his blood, but
Despujols seems to have been more in sympathy with Rizal than with
the men whose tool he found himself forced to be. Without trial Rizal
was ordered deported to Dapitan, a small settlement on the northern
coast of Mindanao. The decree ordering this deportation and the
destruction of all copies of his books to be found in the Philippines
is a marvel of sophistry, since, in the words of a Spanish writer of
the time, "in this document we do not know which to wonder at most: the
ingenuousness of the Governor-General, for in this decree he implicitly
acknowledges his weakness and proneness to error, or the candor of
Rizal, who believed that all the way was strewn with roses." [11]
But it is quite evident that Despujols was playing a double game,
of which he seems to have been rather ashamed, for he gave strict
orders that copies of the decree should be withheld from Rizal.

In Dapitan Rizal gave himself up to his studies and such medical
practice as sought him out in that remote spot, for the fame of his
skill was widely extended, and he was allowed to live unmolested
under parole that he would make no attempt to escape. In company
with a Jesuit missionary he gathered about him a number of native
boys and conducted a practical school on the German plan, at the same
time indulging in religious polemics with his Jesuit acquaintances by
correspondence and working fitfully on some compositions which were
never completed, noteworthy among them being a study in English of
the Tagalog verb.

But while he was living thus quietly in Dapitan, events that were to
determine his fate were misshaping themselves in Manila. The stone had
been loosened on the mountain-side and was bounding on in mad career,
far beyond his control.





He who of old would rend the oak,
Dream'd not of the rebound;
Chain'd by the trunk he vainly broke
Alone--how look'd he round?
BYRON.


Reason and moderation in the person of Rizal scorned and banished,
the spirit of Jean Paul Marat and John Brown of Ossawatomie rises
to the fore in the shape of one Andres Bonifacio, warehouse porter,
who sits up o' nights copying all the letters and documents that he
can lay hands on; composing grandiloquent manifestoes in Tagalog;
drawing up magnificent appointments in the names of prominent
persons who would later suffer even to the shedding of their life's
blood through his mania for writing history in advance ; spelling
out Spanish tales of the French Revolution; babbling of Liberty,
Equality, and Fraternity; hinting darkly to his confidants that the
President of France had begun life as a blacksmith. Only a few days
after Rizal was so summarily hustled away, Bonifacio gathered together
a crowd of malcontents and ignorant dupes, some of them composing
as choice a gang of cutthroats as ever slit the gullet of a Chinese
or tied mutilated prisoners in ant hills, and solemnly organized
the Kataastaasang Kagalang-galang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan,
"Supreme Select Association of the Sons of the People," for the
extermination of the ruling race and the restoration of the Golden
Age. It was to bring the people into concerted action for a general
revolt on a fixed date, when they would rise simultaneously, take
possession of the city of Manila, and--the rest were better left to
the imagination, for they had been reared under the Spanish colonial
system and imitativeness has ever been pointed out as a cardinal trait
in the Filipino character. No quarter was to be asked or given, and
the most sacred ties, even of consanguinity, were to be disregarded
in the general slaughter. To the inquiry of a curious neophyte as to
how the Spaniards were to be distinguished from the other Europeans,
in order to avoid international complications, dark Andres replied that
in case of doubt they should proceed with due caution but should take
good care that they made no mistakes about letting any of the Castilas
escape their vengeance. The higher officials of the government were to
be taken alive as hostages, while the friars were to be reserved for
a special holocaust on Bagumbayan Field, where over their incinerated
remains a heaven-kissing monument would be erected.

This Katipunan seems to have been an outgrowth from Spanish
freemasonry, introduced into the Philippines by a Spaniard named
Morayta and Marcelo H. del Pilar, a native of Bulacan Province who was
the practical leader of the Filipinos in Spain, but who died there in
1896 just as he was setting out for Hongkong to mature his plans for a
general uprising to expel the friar orders. There had been some masonic
societies in the islands for some time, but the membership had been
limited to Peninsulars, and they played no part in the politics of the
time. But about 1888 Filipinos began to be admitted into some of them,
and later, chiefly through the exertions of Pilar, lodges exclusively
for them were instituted. These soon began to display great activity,
especially in the transcendental matter of collections, so that their
existence became a source of care to the government and a nightmare to
the religious orders. From them, and with a perversion of the idea in
Rizal's still-born Liga, it was an easy transition to the Katipunan,
which was to put aside all pretense of reconciliation with Spain,
and at the appointed time rise to exterminate not only the friars
but also all the Spaniards and Spanish sympathizers, thus to bring
about the reign of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, under the benign
guidance of Patriot Bonifacio, with his bolo for a scepter.

With its secrecy and mystic forms, its methods of threats and
intimidation, the Katipunan spread rapidly, especially among the
Tagalogs, the most intransigent of the native peoples, and, it should
be noted, the ones in Whose territory the friars were the principal
landlords. It was organized on the triangle plan, so that no member
might know or communicate with more than three others--the one
above him from whom he received his information and instructions
and two below to whom he transmitted them. The initiations were
conducted with great secrecy and solemnity, calculated to inspire
the new members with awe and fear. The initiate, after a series of
blood-curdling ordeals to try out his courage and resolution, swore
on a human skull a terrific oath to devote his life and energies
to the extermination of the white race, regardless of age or sex,
and later affixed to it his signature or mark, usually the latter,
with his own blood taken from an incision in the left arm or left
breast. This was one form of the famous "blood compact," which, if
history reads aright, played so important a part in the assumption of
sovereignty over the Philippines by Legazpi in the name of Philip II.

Rizal was made the honorary president of the association, his
portrait hung in all the meeting-halls, and the magic of his name
used to attract the easily deluded masses, who were in a state of
agitated ignorance and growing unrest, ripe for any movement that
looked anti-governmental, and especially anti-Spanish. Soon after
the organization had been perfected, collections began to be taken
up--those collections were never overlooked--for the purpose of
chartering a steamer to rescue him from Dapitan and transport him to
Singapore, whence he might direct the general uprising, the day and
the hour for which were fixed by Bonifacio for August twenty-sixth,
1896, at six o'clock sharp in the evening, since lack of precision
in his magnificent programs was never a fault of that bold patriot,
his logic being as severe as that of the Filipino policeman who put
the flag at half-mast on Good Friday.

Of all this Rizal himself was, of course, entirely ignorant, until
in May, 1896, a Filipino doctor named Pio Valenzuela, a creature of
Bonifacio's, was despatched to Dapitan, taking along a blind man as a
pretext for the visit to the famous oculist, to lay the plans before
him for his consent and approval. Rizal expostulated with Valenzuela
for a time over such a mad and hopeless venture, which would only bring
ruin and misery upon the masses, and then is said to have very humanly
lost his patience, ending the interview "in so bad a humor and with
words so offensive that the deponent, who had gone with the intention
of remaining there a month, took the steamer on the following day, for
return to Manila." [12] He reported secretly to Bonifacio, who bestowed
several choice Tagalog epithets on Rizal, and charged his envoy to
say nothing about the failure of his mission, but rather to give the
impression that he had been successful. Rizal's name continued to be
used as the shibboleth of the insurrection, and the masses were made
to believe that he would appear as their leader at the appointed hour.

Vague reports from police officers, to the effect that something
unusual in the nature of secret societies was going on among the
people, began to reach the government, but no great attention was
paid to them, until the evening of August nineteenth, when the parish
priest of Tondo was informed by the mother-superior of one of the
convent-schools that she had just learned of a plot to massacre all
the Spaniards. She had the information from a devoted pupil, whose
brother was a compositor in the office of the Diario de Manila. As is
so frequently the case in Filipino families, this elder sister was
the purse-holder, and the brother's insistent requests for money,
which was needed by him to meet the repeated assessments made on
the members as the critical hour approached, awakened her curiosity
and suspicion to such an extent that she forced him to confide the
whole plan to her. Without delay she divulged it to her patroness,
who in turn notified the curate of Tondo, where the printing-office
was located. The priest called in two officers of the Civil Guard, who
arrested the young printer, frightened a confession out of him, and
that night, in company with the friar, searched the printing-office,
finding secreted there several lithographic plates for printing
receipts and certificates of membership in the Katipunan, with a
number of documents giving some account of the plot.

Then the Spanish population went wild. General Ramon Blanco was
governor and seems to have been about the only person who kept his
head at all. He tried to prevent giving so irresponsible a movement a
fictitious importance, but was utterly powerless to stay the clamor
for blood which at once arose, loudest on the part of those alleged
ministers of the gentle Christ. The gates of the old Walled City,
long fallen into disuse, were cleaned and put in order, martial law
was declared, and wholesale arrests made. Many of the prisoners were
confined in Fort Santiago, one batch being crowded into a dungeon
for which the only ventilation was a grated opening at the top, and
one night a sergeant of the guard carelessly spread his sleeping-mat
over this, so the next morning some fifty-five asphyxiated corpses
were hauled away. On the twenty-sixth armed insurrection broke out at
Caloocan, just north of Manila, from time immemorial the resort of bad
characters from all the country round and the center of brigandage,
while at San Juan del Monte, on the outskirts of the city, several
bloody skirmishes were fought a few days later with the Guardia Civil
Veterana, the picked police force.

Bonifacio had been warned of the discovery of his schemes in time to
make his escape and flee to the barrio, or village, of Balintawak,
a few miles north of Manila, thence to lead the attack on Caloocan
and inaugurate the reign of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity in
the manner in which Philippine insurrections have generally had a
habit of starting--with the murder of Chinese merchants and the
pillage of their shops. He had from the first reserved for himself
the important office of treasurer in the Katipunan, in addition to
being on occasions president and at all times its ruling spirit,
so he now established himself as dictator and proceeded to appoint a
magnificent staff, most of whom contrived to escape as soon as they
were out of reach of his bolo. Yet he drew considerable numbers about
him, for this man, though almost entirely unlettered, seems to have
been quite a personality among his own people, especially possessed
of that gift of oratory in his native tongue to which the Malay is
so preeminently susceptible.

In Manila a special tribunal was constituted and worked steadily,
sometimes through the siesta-hour, for there were times, of which
this was one, when even Spanish justice could be swift. Bagumbayan
began to be a veritable field of blood, as the old methods of
repression were resorted to for the purpose of striking terror into
the native population by wholesale executions, nor did the ruling
powers realize that the time for such methods had passed. It was a
case of sixteenth-century colonial methods fallen into fretful and
frantic senility, so in all this wretched business it is doubtful whim
to pity the more: the blind stupidity of the fossilized conservatives
incontinently throwing an empire away, forfeiting their influence over
a people whom they, by temperament and experience, should have been
fitted to control and govern; or the potential cruelty of perverted
human nature in the dark Frankenstein who would wreak upon the rulers
in their decadent days the most hideous of the methods in the system
that produced him, as he planned his festive holocaust and carmagnole
on the spot where every spark of initiative and leadership among
his people, both good and bad, had been summarily and ruthlessly
extinguished. There is at least a world of reflection in it for the
rulers of men.

In the meantime Rizal, wearying of the quiet life in Dapitan and
doubtless foreseeing the impending catastrophe, had requested leave
to volunteer his services as a physician in the military hospitals
of Cuba, of the horrors and sufferings in which he had heard. General
Blanco at once gladly acceded to this request and had him brought to
Manila, but unfortunately the boat carrying him arrived there a day
too late for him to catch the regular August mail-steamer to Spain,
so he was kept in the cruiser a prisoner of war, awaiting the next
transportation. While he was thus detained, the Katipunan plot was
discovered and the rebellion broke out. He was accused of being
the head of it, but Blanco gave him a personal letter completely
exonerating him from any complicity in the outbreak, as well as a
letter of recommendation to the Spanish minister of war. He was placed
on the Isla de Panay when it left for Spain on September third and
traveled at first as a passenger. At Singapore he was advised to land
and claim British protection, as did some of his fellow travelers,
but he refused to do so, saying that his conscience was clear.

As the name of Rizal had constantly recurred during the trials
of the Katipunan suspects, the military tribunal finally issued a
formal demand for him. The order of arrest was cabled to Port Said
and Rizal there placed in solitary confinement for the remainder
of the voyage. Arrived at Barcelona, he was confined in the grim
fortress of Montjuich, where; by a curious coincidence, the governor
was the same Despujols who had issued the decree of banishment in
1892. Shortly afterwards, he was placed on the transport Colon, which
was bound for the Philippines with troops, Blanco having at last been
stirred to action. Strenuous efforts were now made by Rizal's friends
in London to have him removed from the ship at Singapore, but the
British authorities declined to take any action, on the ground that
he was on a Spanish warship and therefore beyond the jurisdiction
of their courts. The Colon arrived at Manila on November third and
Rizal was imprisoned in Fort Santiago, while a special tribunal was
constituted to try him on the charges of carrying on anti-patriotic
and anti-religious propaganda, rebellion, sedition, and the formation
of illegal associations. Some other charges may have been overlooked
in the hurry and excitement.

It would be almost a travesty to call a trial the proceedings which
began early in December and dragged along until the twenty-sixth. Rizal
was defended by a young Spanish officer selected by him from among
a number designated by the tribunal, who chivalrously performed so
unpopular a duty as well as he could. But the whole affair was a
mockery of justice, for the Spanish government in the Philippines had
finally and hopelessly reached the condition graphically pictured by
Mr. Kipling:


Panic that shells the drifting spar--
Loud waste with none to check--
Mad fear that rakes a scornful star
Or sweeps a consort's deck!


The clamor against Blanco had resulted in his summary removal by royal
decree and the appointment of a real "pacificator," Camilo Polavieja.

While in prison Rizal prepared an address to those of his countrymen
who were in armed rebellion, repudiating the use of his name and
deprecating the resort to violence. The closing words are a compendium
of his life and beliefs: "Countrymen: I have given proofs, as well as
the best of you, of desiring liberty for our country, and I continue
to desire it. But I place as a premise the education of the people,
so that by means of instruction and work they may have a personality
of their own and that they may make themselves worthy of that same
liberty. In my writings I have recommended the study of the civic
virtues, without which there can be no redemption. I have also written
(and my words have been repeated) that reforms, to be fruitful, must
come from above, that those which spring from below are uncertain and
insecure movements. Imbued with these ideas, I cannot do less than
condemn, and I do condemn, this absurd, savage rebellion, planned
behind my back, which dishonors the Filipinos and discredits those
who can speak for us. I abominate all criminal actions and refuse any
kind of participation in them, pitying with all my heart the dupes who
have allowed themselves to be deceived. Go back, then, to your homes,
and may God forgive those who have acted in bad faith." This address,
however, was not published by the Spanish authorities, since they did
not consider it "patriotic" enough; instead, they killed the writer!

Rizal appeared before the tribunal bound, closely guarded by two
Peninsular soldiers, but maintained his serenity throughout and
answered the charges in a straightforward way. He pointed out the
fact that he had never taken any great part in politics, having
even quarreled with Marcelo del Pilar, the active leader of the
anti-clericals, by reason of those perennial "subscriptions," and that
during the time he was accused of being the instigator and organizer of
armed rebellion he had been a close prisoner in Dapitan under strict
surveillance by both the military and ecclesiastical authorities. The
prosecutor presented a lengthy document, which ran mostly to words,
about the only definite conclusion laid down in it being that the
Philippines "are, and always must remain, Spanish territory." What
there may have been in Rizal's career to hang such a conclusion
upon is not quite dear, but at any rate this learned legal light was
evidently still thinking in colors on the map serenely unconscious in
his European pseudo-prescience of the new and wonderful development
in the Western Hemisphere--humanity militant, Lincolnism.

The death sentence was asked, but the longer the case dragged on the
more favorable it began to look for the accused, so the president
of the tribunal, after deciding, Jeffreys-like, that the charges had
been proved, ordered that no further evidence be taken. Rizal betrayed
some sunrise when his doom was thus foreshadowed, for, dreamer that
he was, he seems not to have anticipated such a fatal eventuality
for himself. He did not lose his serenity, however, even when the
tribunal promptly brought in a verdict of guilty and imposed the
death sentence, upon which Polavieja the next day placed his Cúmplase,
fixing the morning of December thirtieth for the execution.

So Rizal's fate was sealed. The witnesses against him, in so far
as there was any substantial testimony at all, had been his own
countrymen, coerced or cajoled into making statements which they have
since repudiated as false, and which in some cases were extorted from
them by threats and even torture. But he betrayed very little emotion,
even maintaining what must have been an assumed cheerfulness. Only one
reproach is recorded: that he had been made a dupe of, that he had
been deceived by every one, even the bankeros and cocheros. His old
Jesuit instructors remained with him in the capilla, or death-cell,[13]
and largely through the influence of an image of the Sacred Heart,
which he had carved as a schoolboy, it is claimed that a reconciliation
with the Church was effected. There has been considerable pragmatical
discussion as to what form of retraction from him was necessary,
since he had been, after studying in Europe, a frank freethinker, but
such futile polemics may safely be left to the learned doctors. That
he was reconciled with the Church would seem to be evidenced by
the fact that just before the execution he gave legal status as
his wife to the woman, a rather remarkable Eurasian adventuress,
who had lived with him in Dapitan, and the religious ceremony was
the only one then recognized in the islands.[14] The greater part of
his last night on earth was spent in composing a chain of verse; no
very majestic flight of poesy, but a pathetic monody throbbing with
patient resignation and inextinguishable hope, one of the sweetest,
saddest swan-songs ever sung.

Thus he was left at the last, entirely alone. As soon as his doom
became certain the Patriots had all scurried to cover, one gentle
poetaster even rushing into doggerel verse to condemn him as a
reversion to barbarism; the wealthier suspects betook themselves
to other lands or made judicious use of their money-bags among the
Spanish officials; the better classes of the population floundered
hopelessly, leaderless, in the confused whirl of opinions and passions;
while the voiceless millions for whom he had spoken moved on in dumb,
uncomprehending silence. He had lived in that higher dreamland of
the future, ahead of his countrymen, ahead even of those who assumed
to be the mentors of his people, and he must learn, as does every
noble soul that labors "to make the bounds of freedom wider yet,"
the bitter lesson that nine-tenths, if not all, the woes that afflict
humanity spring from man's own stupid selfishness, that the wresting of
the scepter from the tyrant is often the least of the task, that the
bondman comes to love his bonds--like Chillon's prisoner, his very
chains and he grow friends,--but that the struggle for human freedom
must go on, at whatever cost, in ever-widening circles, "wave after
wave, each mightier than the last," for as long as one body toils in
fetters or one mind welters in blind ignorance, either of the slave's
base delusion or the despot's specious illusion, there can be no final
security for any free man, or his children, or his children's children.






"God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!
Why look'st thou so?"--"With my cross-bow
I shot the Albatross!"
COLERIDGE.


It was one of those magic December mornings of the tropics--the very
nuptials of earth and sky, when great Nature seems to fling herself
incontinently into creation, wrapping the world in a brooding calm of
light and color, that Spain chose for committing political suicide
in the Philippines. Bagumbayan Field was crowded with troops, both
regulars and militia, for every man capable of being trusted with
arms was drawn up there, excepting only the necessary guards in other
parts of the city. Extra patrols were in the streets, double guards
were placed over the archiepiscopal and gubernatorial palaces. The
calmest man in all Manila that day was he who must stand before the
firing-squad.

Two special and unusual features are to be noted about this
execution. All the principal actors were Filipinos: the commander of
the troops and the officer directly in charge of the execution were
native-born, while the firing-squad itself was drawn from a local
native regiment, though it is true that on this occasion a squad of
Peninsular cazadores, armed with loaded Mausers, stood directly behind
them to see that they failed not in their duty. Again, there was but
one victim; for it seems to have ever been the custom of the Spanish
rulers to associate in these gruesome affairs some real criminals
with the political offenders, no doubt with the intentional purpose
of confusing the issue in the general mind. Rizal standing alone,
the occasion of so much hurried preparation and fearful precaution,
is a pathetic testimonial to the degree of incapacity into which the
ruling powers had fallen, even in chicanery.

After bidding good-by to his sister and making final disposition
regarding some personal property, the doomed man, under close guard,
walked calmly, even cheerfully, from Fort Santiago along the Malecon
to the Luneta, accompanied by his Jesuit confessors. Arrived there, he
thanked those about him for their kindness and requested the officer
in charge to allow him to face the firing-squad, since he had never
been a traitor to Spain. This the officer declined to permit, for
the order was to shoot him in the back. Rizal assented with a slight
protest, pointed out to the soldiers the spot in his back at which
they should aim, and with a firm step took his place in front of them.

Then occurred an act almost too hideous to record. There he stood,
expecting a volley of Remington bullets in his back--Time was, and
Life's stream ebbed to Eternity's flood--when the military surgeon
stepped forward and asked if he might feel his pulse! Rizal extended
his left hand, and the officer remarked that he could not understand
how a man's pulse could beat normally at such a terrific moment! The
victim shrugged his shoulders and let the hand fall again to his side
--Latin refinement could be no further refined!

A moment later there he lay, on his right side, his life-blood
spurting over the Luneta curb, eyes wide open, fixedly staring at
that Heaven where the priests had taught all those centuries agone
that Justice abides. The troops filed past the body, for the most
part silently, while desultory cries of "Viva España!" from among the
"patriotic" Filipino volunteers were summarily hushed by a Spanish
artillery-officer's stern rebuke: "Silence, you rabble!" To drown
out the fitful cheers and the audible murmurs, the bands struck
up Spanish national airs. Stranger death-dirge no man and system
ever had. Carnival revelers now dance about the scene and Filipino
schoolboys play baseball over that same spot.

A few days later another execution was held on that spot, of members
of the Liga, some of them characters that would have richly deserved
shooting at any place or time, according to existing standards, but
notable among them there knelt, torture-crazed, as to his orisons,
Francisco Roxas, millionaire capitalist, who may be regarded as the
social and economic head of the Filipino people, as Rizal was fitted
to be their intellectual leader. Shades of Anda and Vargas! Out there
at Balintawak--rather fitly, "the home of the snake-demon,"--not
three hours' march from this same spot, on tile very edge of the city,
Andres Bonifacio and his literally sansculottic gangs of cutthroats
were, almost with impunity, soiling the fair name of Freedom with
murder and mutilation, rape and rapine, awakening the worst passions
of an excitable, impulsive people, destroying that essential respect
for law and order, which to restore would take a holocaust of fire and
blood, with a generation of severe training. Unquestionably did Rizal
demonstrate himself to be a seer and prophet when he applied to such
a system the story of Babylon and the fateful handwriting on the wall!

But forces had been loosed that would not be so suppressed, the time
had gone by when such wild methods of repression would serve. The
destruction of the native leaders, culminating in the executions
of Rizal and Roxas, produced a counter-effect by rousing the
Tagalogs, good and bad alike, to desperate fury, and the aftermath
was frightful. The better classes were driven to take part in the
rebellion, and Cavite especially became a veritable slaughter-pen,
as the contest settled down into a hideous struggle for mutual
extermination. Dark Andres went his wild way to perish by the
violence he had himself invoked, a prey to the rising ambition of
a young leader of considerable culture and ability, a schoolmaster
named Emilio Aguinaldo. His Katipunan hovered fitfully around Manila,
for a time even drawing to itself in their desperation some of the
better elements of the population, only to find itself sold out and
deserted by its leaders, dying away for a time; but later, under
changed conditions, it reappeared in strange metamorphosis as the
rallying-center for the largest number of Filipinos who have ever
gathered together for a common purpose, and then finally went down
before those thin grim lines in khaki with sharp and sharpest shot
clearing away the wreck of the old, blazing the way for the new:
the broadening sweep of "Democracy announcing, in rifle-volleys
death-winged, under her Star Banner, to the tune of Yankee-doodle-do,
that she is born, and, whirlwind-like, will envelop the whole world!"


MANILA, December 1, 1909





What? Does no Caesar, does no Achilles, appear on your stage now?

Not an Andromache e'en, not an Orestes, my friend?


No! there is nought to be seen there but parsons, and syndics of
commerce,

Secretaries perchance, ensigns and majors of horse.


But, my good friend, pray tell, what can such people e'er meet with

That can be truly call'd great?--what that is great can they do?


SCHILLER : Shakespeare's Ghost.

(Bowring's translation.)




CONTENTS




Author's Dedication

I A Social Gathering
II Crisostomo Ibarra
III The Dinner
IV Heretic and Filibuster
V A Star in a Dark Night
VI Capitan Tiago
VII An Idyl on an Azotea
VIII Recollections
IX Local Affairs
X The Town
XI The Rulers
XII All Saints
XIII Signs of Storm
XIV Tasio: Lunatic or Sage
IV The Sacristans
XVI Sisa
XVII Basilio
XVIII Souls In Torment
XIX A Schoolmaster's Difficulties
XX The Meeting in the Town Hall
XXI The Story of a Mother

XXII Lights and Shadows
XXIII Fishing
XXIV In the Wood
XXV In the House of the Sage
XXVI The Eve of the Fiesta
XXVII In the Twilight
XXVIII Correspondence
XXIX The Morning
XXX In the Church
XXXI The Sermon
XXXII The Derrick
XXXIII Free Thought
XXXIV The Dinner
XXXV Comments
XXXVI The First Cloud
XXXVII His Excellency
XXXVIII The Procession
XXXIX Doña Consolación
XL Right and Might
XLI Two Visits
XLII The Espadañas
XLIII Plans
XLIV An Examination of Conscience
XLV The Hunted
XLVI The Cockpit
XLVII The Two Señoras
XLVIII The Enigma
XLIX The Voice of the Hunted

L Elias's Story
LI Exchanges
LII The Cards of the Dead and the Shadows
LIII Il Buon Dí Si Conosce Da Mattina
LIV Revelations
LV The Catastrophe
LVI Rumors and Belief
LVII Vae Victis!
LVIII The Accursed
LIX Patriotism and Private Interests
LX Maria Clara Weds
LXI The Chase on the Lake
LXII Padre Damaso Explains
LXIII Christmas Eve

Epilogue
Glossary





Author's Dedication


To My Fatherland:


Recorded in the history of human sufferings is a cancer of so malignant
a character that the least touch irritates it and awakens in it the
sharpest pains. Thus, how many times, when in the midst of modern
civilizations I have wished to call thee before me, now to accompany
me in memories, now to compare thee with other countries, hath thy
dear image presented itself showing a social cancer like to that other!

Desiring thy welfare, which is our own, and seeking the best treatment,
I will do with thee what the ancients did with their sick, exposing
them on the steps of the temple so that every one who came to invoke
the Divinity might offer them a remedy.

And to this end, I will strive to reproduce thy condition faithfully,
without discriminations; I will raise a part of the veil that covers
the evil, sacrificing to truth everything, even vanity itself, since,
as thy son, I am conscious that I also suffer from thy defects and
weaknesses.

THE AUTHOR


EUROPE, 1886








CHAPTER I

A Social Gathering


On the last of October Don Santiago de los Santos, popularly known as
Capitan Tiago, gave a dinner. In spite of the fact that, contrary to
his usual custom, he had made the announcement only that afternoon,
it was already the sole topic of conversation in Binondo and adjacent
districts, and even in the Walled City, for at that time Capitan
Tiago was considered one of the most hospitable of men, and it was
well known that his house, like his country, shut its doors against
nothing except commerce and all new or bold ideas. Like an electric
shock the announcement ran through the world of parasites, bores,
and hangers-on, whom God in His infinite bounty creates and so kindly
multiplies in Manila. Some looked at once for shoe-polish, others
for buttons and cravats, but all were especially concerned about how
to greet the master of the house in the most familiar tone, in order
to create an atmosphere of ancient friendship or, if occasion should
arise, to excuse a late arrival.

This dinner was given in a house on Calle Anloague, and although we do
not remember the number we will describe it in such a way that it may
still be recognized, provided the earthquakes have not destroyed it. We
do not believe that its owner has had it torn down, for such labors are
generally entrusted to God or nature--which Powers hold the contracts
also for many of the projects of our government. It is a rather large
building, in the style of many in the country, and fronts upon the arm
of the Pasig which is known to some as the Binondo River, and which,
like all the streams in Manila, plays the varied rôles of bath, sewer,
laundry, fishery, means of transportation and communication, and even
drinking water if the Chinese water-carrier finds it convenient. It
is worthy of note that in the distance of nearly a mile this important
artery of the district, where traffic is most dense and movement most
deafening, can boast of only one wooden bridge, which is out of repair
on one side for six months and impassable on the other for the rest
of the year, so that during the hot season the ponies take advantage
of this permanent status quo to jump off the bridge into the water,
to the great surprise of the abstracted mortal who may be dozing
inside the carriage or philosophizing upon the progress of the age.

The house of which we are speaking is somewhat low and not exactly
correct in all its lines: whether the architect who built it was
afflicted with poor eyesight or whether the earthquakes and typhoons
have twisted it out of shape, no one can say with certainty. A wide
staircase with green newels and carpeted steps leads from the tiled
entrance up to the main floor between rows of flower-pots set upon
pedestals of motley-colored and fantastically decorated Chinese
porcelain. Since there are neither porters nor servants who demand
invitation cards, we will go in, O you who read this, whether friend or
foe, if you are attracted by the strains of the orchestra, the lights,
or the suggestive rattling of dishes, knives, and forks, and if you
wish to see what such a gathering is like in the distant Pearl of
the Orient. Gladly, and for my own comfort, I should spare you this
description of the house, were it not of great importance, since we
mortals in general are very much like tortoises: we are esteemed and
classified according to our shells; in this and still other respects
the mortals of the Philippines in particular also resemble tortoises.

If we go up the stairs, we immediately find ourselves in a spacious
hallway, called there, for some unknown reason, the caida, which
tonight serves as the dining-room and at the same time affords a
place for the orchestra. In the center a large table profusely and
expensively decorated seems to beckon to the hanger-on with sweet
promises, while it threatens the bashful maiden, the simple dalaga,
with two mortal hours in the company of strangers whose language and
conversation usually have a very restricted and special character.

Contrasted with these terrestrial preparations are the motley paintings
on the walls representing religious matters, such as "Purgatory,"
"Hell," "The Last Judgment," "The Death of the Just," and "The Death
of the Sinner."

At the back of the room, fastened in a splendid and elegant framework,
in the Renaissance style, possibly by Arévalo, is a glass case in
which are seen the figures of two old women. The inscription on this
reads: "Our Lady of Peace and Prosperous Voyages, who is worshiped in
Antipolo, visiting in the disguise of a beggar the holy and renowned
Capitana Inez during her sickness." [15] While the work reveals little
taste or art, yet it possesses in compensation an extreme realism,
for to judge from the yellow and bluish tints of her face the sick
woman seems to be already a decaying corpse, and the glasses and other
objects, accompaniments of long illness, are so minutely reproduced
that even their contents may be distinguished. In looking at these
pictures, which excite the appetite and inspire gay bucolic ideas, one
may perhaps be led to think that the malicious host is well acquainted
with the characters of the majority of those who are to sit at his
table and that, in order to conceal his own way of thinking, he has
hung from the ceiling costly Chinese lanterns; bird-cages without
birds; red, green, and blue globes of frosted glass; faded air-plants;
and dried and inflated fishes, which they call botetes. The view is
closed on the side of the river by curious wooden arches, half Chinese
and half European, affording glimpses of a terrace with arbors and
bowers faintly lighted by paper lanterns of many colors.

In the sala, among massive mirrors and gleaming chandeliers, the
guests are assembled. Here, on a raised platform, stands a grand
piano of great price, which tonight has the additional virtue of not
being played upon. Here, hanging on the wall, is an oil-painting of
a handsome man in full dress, rigid, erect, straight as the tasseled
cane he holds in his stiff, ring-covered fingers--the whole seeming
to say, "Ahem! See how well dressed and how dignified I am!" The
furnishings of the room are elegant and perhaps uncomfortable and
unhealthful, since the master of the house would consider not so
much the comfort and health of his guests as his own ostentation,
"A terrible thing is dysentery," he would say to them, "but you
are sitting in European chairs and that is something you don't find
every day."

This room is almost filled with people, the men being separated from
the women as in synagogues and Catholic churches. The women consist of
a number of Filipino and Spanish maidens, who, when they open their
mouths to yawn, instantly cover them with their fans and who murmur
only a few words to each other, any conversation ventured upon dying
out in monosyllables like the sounds heard in a house at night, sounds
made by the rats and lizards. Is it perhaps the different likenesses
of Our Lady hanging on the walls that force them to silence and a


 


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