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The Period of Propaganda: Life of Dr. Jose Rizal

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The Period of Propaganda: Life of Dr. Jose Rizal
« on: February 21, 2008, 09:33:26 PM »

The Period of Propaganda

The city had not altered much during Rizal's seven years of
absence. The condition of the Binondo pavement, with the same holes
in the road which Rizal claimed he remembered as a schoolboy, was
unchanged, and this recalls the experience of Ybarra in "Noli Me
Tangere" on his homecoming after a like period of absence.

Doctor Rizal at once went to his home in Kalamba. His first operation
in the Philippines relieved the blindness of his mother, by the removal
of a double cataract, and thus the object of his special study in
Paris was accomplished. This and other like successes gave the young
oculist a fame which brought patients from all parts of Luzon; and,
though his charges were moderate, during his seven months' stay
in the Islands Doctor Rizal accumulated over five thousand pesos,
besides a number of diamonds which he had bought as a secure way of
carrying funds, mindful of the help that the ring had been with which
he had first started from the Philippines.

Shortly after his arrival, Governor-General Terrero summoned Rizal by
telegraph to Malacanan from Kalamba. The interview proved to be due
to the interest in the author of "Noli Me Tangere" and a curiosity
to read the novel, arising from the copious extracts with which the
Manila censors had submitted an unfavorable opinion when asking for
the prohibition of the book. The recommendation of the censor was
disregarded, and General Terrero, fearful that Rizal might be molested
by some of the many persons who would feel themselves aggrieved by his
plain picturing of undesirable classes in the Philippines, gave him for
a bodyguard a young Spanish lieutenant, Jose Taviel de Andrade. The
young men soon became fast friends, as they had artistic and other
tastes in common. Once they climbed Mr. Makiling, near Kalamba,
and placed there, after the European custom, a flag to show that
they had reached the summit. This act was at first misrepresented by
the enemies of Rizal as planting a German banner, for they started
a story that he had taken possession of the Islands in the name of
the country where he was educated, which was just then in unfriendly
relations with Spain over the question of the ill treatment of the
Protestant missionaries in the Caroline Islands. This same story was
repeated after the American occupation with the variation that Rizal,
as the supreme chief and originator of the ideas of the Katipunan
(which in fact he was not--he was even opposed to the society as it
existed in his time), had placed there a Filipino banner, in token
that the Islands intended to reassume the independent condition of
which the Spanish had dispossessed them.

"Noli Me Tangere" circulated first among Doctor Rizal's relatives;
on one occasion a cousin made a special trip to Kalamba and took
the author to task for having caricatured her in the character of
Dona Victorina. Rizal made no denial, but merely suggested that the
book was a mirror of Philippine life, with types that unquestionably
existed in the country, and that if anybody recognized one of the
characters as picturing himself or herself, that person would do well
to correct the faults which therein appeared ridiculous.

A somewhat liberal administration was now governing the Philippines,
and efforts were being made to correct the more glaring abuses in
the social conditions. One of these reforms proposed that the larger
estates should bear their share of the taxes, which it was believed
they were then escaping to a great extent. Requests were made of the
municipal government of Kalamba, among other towns, for a statement
of the relation that the big Dominican hacienda bore to the town,
what increase or decrease there might have been in the income of the
estate, and what taxes the proprietors were paying compared with the
revenue their place afforded.

Rizal interested the people of the community to gather reliable
statistics, to go thoroughly into the actual conditions, and to leave
out the generalities which usually characterized Spanish documents.

He asked the people to cooeperate, pointing out that when they
did not complain it was their own fault more than that of the
government if they suffered injustice. Further, he showed the folly
of exaggerated statements, and insisted upon a definite and moderate
showing of such abuses as were unquestionably within the power of
the authorities to relieve. Rizal himself prepared the report, which
is an excellent presentation of the grievances of the people of his
town. It brings forward as special points in favor of the community
their industriousness, their willingness to help themselves, their
interest in education, and concludes with expressing confidence
in the fairness of the government, pointing out the fact that they
were risking the displeasure of their landlords by furnishing the
information requested. The paper made a big stir, and its essential
statements, like everything else in Rizal's writings, were never
successfully challenged.

Conditions in Manila were at that time disturbed owing to the
precedence which had been given in a local festival to the Chinese,
because they paid more money. The Filipinos claimed that, being in
their home country, they should have had prior consideration and were
entitled to it by law. The matter culminated in a protest, which was
doubtless submitted to Doctor Rizal on the eve of his departure from
the Islands; the protest in a general way met with his approval, but
the theatrical methods adopted in the presentation of it can hardly
have been according to his advice.

He sailed for Hongkong in February of 1888, and made a short stay in
the British colony, becoming acquainted there with Jose Maria Basa, an
exile of '72, who had constituted himself the especial guardian of the
Filipino students in that city. The visitor was favorably impressed by
the methods of education in the British colony and with the spirit of
patriotism developed thereby. He also looked into the subject of the
large investments in Hongkong property by the corporation landlords
of the Philippines, their preparation for the day of trouble which
they foresaw.

Rizal was interested in the Chinese theater, comparing the plays with
the somewhat similar productions which existed in the Philippines;
there, however, they had been given a religious twist, which at
first glance hid their debt to the Chinese drama. The Doctor notes
meeting, at nearby Macao, an exile of '72, whose condition and patient,
uncomplaining bearing of his many troubles aroused Rizal's sympathies
and commanded his admiration.

With little delay, the journey was continued to Japan, where Doctor
Rizal was surprised by an invitation to make his home in the Spanish
consulate. There he was hospitably entertained, and a like courtesy
was shown him in the Spanish minister's home in Tokio. The latter
even offered him a position, as a sort of interpreter, probably,
should he care to remain in the country. This offer, however, was
declined. Rizal made considerable investigation into the condition
of the various Japanese classes and acquired such facility in the
use of the language that with it and his appearance, for he was "very
Japanese," the natives found it difficult to believe that he was not
one of themselves. The month or more passed here he considered one of
the happiest in his travels, and it was with regret that he sailed
from Yokohama for San Francisco. A Japanese newspaper man, who knew
no other language than his own, was a companion on the entire journey
to London, and Rizal acted as his interpreter.

Not only did he enter into the spirit of the language but with
remarkable versatility he absorbed the spirit of the Japanese artists
and acquired much dexterity in expressing himself in their style,
as is shown by one of the illustrations in this book. The popular
idea that things occidental are reversed in the Orient was amusingly
caricatured in a sketch he made of a German face; by reversing its
lines he converted it into an old-time Japanese countenance.

The diary of the voyage from Hongkong to Japan records an incident to
which he alludes as being similar to that of Aladdin in the Tagalog
tale of Florante. The Filipino wife of an Englishman, Mrs. Jackson,
who was a passenger on board, told Rizal a great deal about a
Filipino named Rachal, who was educated in Europe and had written a
much-talked-of novel, which she described and of which she spoke in
such flattering terms that Rizal declared his identity. The confusion
in names is explained by the fact that Rachal is a name well known
in the Philippines as that of a popular make of piano.

At San Francisco the boat was held for some time in quarantine because
of sickness aboard, and Rizal was impressed by the fact that the
valuable cargo of silk was not delayed but was quickly transferred to
the shore. His diary is illustrated with a drawing of the Treasury
flag on the customs launch which acted as go-between for their boat
and the shore. Finally, the first-class passengers were allowed to
land, and he went to the Palace Hotel.

With little delay, the overland journey was begun; the scenery through
the picturesque Rocky Mountains especially impressed him, and finally
Chicago was reached. The thing that struck him most forcibly in that
city was the large number of cigar stores with an Indian in front of
each--and apparently no two Indians alike. The unexpressed idea was
that in America the remembrance of the first inhabitants of the land
and their dress was retained and popularized, while in the Philippines
knowledge of the first inhabitants of the land was to be had only
from foreign museums.

Niagara Falls is the next impression recorded in the diary, which has
been preserved and is now in the Newberry Library of Chicago. The
same strange, awe-inspiring mystery which others have found in the
big falls affected him, but characteristically he compared this
world-wonder with the cascades of his native La Laguna, claiming for
them greater delicacy and a daintier enchantment.

From Albany, the train ran along the banks of the Hudson, and he was
reminded of the Pasig in his homeland, with its much greater commerce
and its constant activity.

At New York, Rizal embarked on the City of Rome, then the finest
steamer in the world, and after a pleasant voyage, in which his spare
moments were occupied in rereading "Gulliver's Travels" in English,
Rizal reached England, and said good-by to the friends whom he had
met during their brief ocean trip together.

Rizal's first letters home to his family speak of being in the free
air of England and once more amidst European activity. For a short
time he lived with Doctor Antonio Maria Regidor, an exile of '72,
who had come to secure what Spanish legal Business he could in the
British metropolis. Doctor Regidor was formerly an official in the
Philippines, and later proved his innocence of any complicity in the
troubles of '72.

Doctor Rizal then boarded with a Mr. Beckett, organist of St. Paul's
Church, at 37 Charlecote Crescent, in the favorite North West residence
section. The zooelogical gardens were conveniently near and the British
Museum was within easy walking distance. The new member was a favorite
with all the family, which consisted of three daughters besides the
father and mother.

Rizal's youthful interest in sleight-of-hand tricks was still
maintained. During his stay in the Philippines he had sometimes amused
his friends in this way, till one day he was horrified to find that
the simple country folk, who were also looking on, thought that he
was working miracles. In London he resumed his favorite diversion, and
a Christmas gift of Mrs. Beckett to him, "The Life and Adventures of
Valentine Vox the Ventriloquist," indicated the interest his friends
took in this amusement. One of his own purchases was "Modern Magic,"
the frontispiece of which is the sphinx that figures in the story of
"El Filibusterismo."

It was Rizal's custom to study the deceptions practiced upon the
peoples of other lands, comparing them with those of which his
own countrymen had been victims. Thus he could get an idea of the
relative credulity of different peoples and could also account
for many practices the origin of which was otherwise less easy to
understand. His investigations were both in books and by personal
research. In quest of these experiences he one day chanced to visit
a professional phrenologist; the bump-reader was a shrewd guesser,
for he dwelt especially upon Rizal's aptitude for learning languages
and advised him to take up the study of them.

This interest in languages, shown in his childish ambition to be
like Sir John Bowring, made Rizal a congenial companion of a still
more distinguished linguist, Doctor Reinhold Rost, the librarian of
the India Office. The Raffles Library in Singapore now owns Doctor
Rost's library, and its collection of grammars in seventy languages
attests the wide range of the studies of this Sanscrit scholar.

Doctor Rost was born and educated in Germany, though naturalized
as a British subject, and he was a man of great musical taste. His
family sometimes formed an orchestra, at other times a glee club, and
furnished all the necessary parts from its own members. Rizal was a
frequent visitor, usually spending his Sundays in athletic exercises
with the boys, for he quickly became proficient in the English sports
of boxing and cricket. While resting he would converse with the father,
or chat with the daughters of the home. All the children had literary
tastes, and one, Daisy, presented him with a copy of a novel which
she had just translated from the German, entitled "Ulli."

Some idea of Doctor Rizal's own linguistic attainments may be gained
from the fact that instead of writing letters to his nephews and nieces
he made for them translations of some of Hans Christian Andersen's
fairy tales. They consist of some forty manuscript pages, profusely
illustrated, and the father is referred to in a "dedication,"
as though it were a real book. The Hebrew Bible quotation is in
allusion to a jocose remark once made by the father that German was
like Hebrew to him, the verse being that in which the sons of Jacob,
not recognizing that their brother was the seller, were bargaining
for some of Pharaoh's surplus corn, "And he (Joseph) said, How is
the old man, your father?" Rizal always tried to relieve by a touch
of humor anything that seemed to him as savoring of affectation,
the phase of Spanish character that repelled him and the imitation
of which by his countrymen who knew nothing of the un-Spanish world
disgusted him with them.

Another example of his versatility in language and of its usefulness
to him as well, is shown in a trilingual letter written by Rizal in
Dapitan when the censorship of his correspondence had become annoying
through ignorant exceptions to perfectly harmless matters. No Spaniard
available spoke more than one language besides his own and it was
necessary to send the letter to three different persons to find out
its contents. The critics took the hint and Rizal received better
treatment thereafter.

Another one of Rizal's youthful aspirations was attained in London,
for there he began transcribing the early Spanish history by Morga of
which Sir John Bowring had told his uncle. A copy of this rare book
was in the British Museum and he gained admission as a reader there
through the recommendation of Doctor Rost. Only five hundred persons
can be accommodated in the big reading room, and as students are
coming from every continent for special researches, good reason has
to be shown why these studies cannot be made at some other institution.

Besides the copying of the text of Morga's history, Rizal read
many other early writings on the Philippines, and the manifest
unfairness of some of these who thought that they could glorify Spain
only by disparaging the Filipinos aroused his wrath. Few Spanish
writers held up the good name of those who were under their flag,
and Rizal had to resort to foreign authorities to disprove their
libels. Morga was almost alone among Spanish historians, but his
assertions found corroboration in the contemporary chronicles of
other nationalities. Rizal spent his evenings in the home of Doctor
Regidor, and many a time the bitterness and impatience with which his
day's work in the Museum had inspired him, would be forgotten as the
older man counseled patience and urged that such prejudices were to be
expected of a little educated nation. Then Rizal's brow would clear as
he quoted his favorite proverb, "To understand all is to forgive all."

Doctor Rost was editor of Truebner's Record, a journal devoted to the
literature of the East, founded by the famous Oriental Bookseller and
Publisher of London, Nicholas Truebner, and Doctor Rizal contributed
to it in May, 1889, some specimens of Tagal folklore, an extract from
which is appended, as it was then printed:

Specimens of Tagal Folklore

By Doctor J. Rizal

Proverbial Sayings

Malakas ang bulong sa sigaw, Low words are stronger than loud words.

Ang laki sa layaw karaniwa 'y hubad, A petted child is generally naked
(i.e. poor).

Hampasng magulang ay nakataba, Parents' punishment makes one fat.

Ibang hari ibang ugail, New king, new fashion.

Nagpuputol ang kapus, ang labis ay nagdurugtong, What is short cuts
off a piece from itself, what is long adds another on (the poor gets
poorer, the rich richer).

Ang nagsasabing tapus ay siyang kinakapus, He who finishes his words
finds himself wanting.

Nangangako habang napapako, Man promises while in need.

Ang naglalakad ng marahan, matinik may mababaw, He who walks slowly,
though he may put his foot on a thorn, will not be hurt very much
(Tagals mostly go barefooted).

Ang maniwala sa sabi 'y walang bait na sarili, He who believes in
tales has no own mind.

Ang may isinuksok sa dingding, ay may titingalain, He who has put
something between the wall may afterwards look on (the saving man
may afterwards be cheerful).--The wall of a Tagal house is made of
palm-leaves and bamboo, so that it can be used as a cupboard.

Walang mahirap gisingin na paris nang nagtutulogtulugan, The most
difficult to rouse from sleep is the man who pretends to be asleep.

Labis sa salita, kapus sa gawa, Too many words, too little work.

Hipong tulog ay nadadala ng anod, The sleeping shrimp is carried away
by the current.

Sa bibig nahuhuli ang isda, The fish is caught through the mouth.


Isang butil na palay sikip sa buony bahay, One rice-corn fills up
all the house.--The light. The rice-corn with the husk is yellowish.

Matapang ako so dalawa, duag ako sa isa, I am brave against two,
coward against one.--The bamboo bridge. When the bridge is made of
one bamboo only, it is difficult to pass over; but when it is made
of two or more, it is very easy.

Dala ako niya, dala ko siya, He carries me, I carry him.--The shoes.

Isang balong malalim puna ng patalim, A deep well filled with steel
blades.--The mouth.

The Filipino colony in Spain had established a fortnightly review,
published first in Barcelona and later in Madrid, to enlighten
Spaniards on their distant colony, and Rizal wrote for it from the
start. Its name, La Solidaridad, perhaps may be translated Equal
Rights, as it aimed at like laws and the same privileges for the
Peninsula and the possessions overseas.

From the Philippines came news of a contemptible attempt to reach
Rizal through his family--one of many similar petty persecutions. His
sister Lucia's husband had died and the corpse was refused interment
in consecrated ground, upon the pretext that the dead man, who had been
exceptionally liberal to the church and was of unimpeachable character,
had been negligent in his religious duties. Another individual with
a notorious record of longer absence from confession died about
the same time, and his funeral took place from the church without
demur. The ugly feature about the refusal to bury Hervosa was that the
telegram from the friar parish-priest to the Archbishop at Manila in
asking instructions, was careful to mention that the deceased was a
brother-in-law of Rizal. Doctor Rizal wrote a scorching article for
La Solidaridad under the caption "An Outrage," and took the matter
up with the Spanish Colonial Minister, then Becerra, a professed
Liberal. But that weakling statesman, more liberal in words than in
actions, did nothing.

That the union of Church and State can be as demoralizing to religion
as it is disastrous to good government seems sufficiently established
by Philippine incidents like this, in which politics was substituted
for piety as the test of a good Catholic, making marriage impossible
and denying decent burial to the families of those who differed
politically with the ministers of the national religion.

Of all his writings, the article in which Rizal speaks of this
indignity to the dead comes nearest to exhibiting personal feeling and
rancor. Yet his main point is to indicate generally what monstrous
conditions the Philippine mixture of religion and politics made

The following are part of a series of nineteen verses published in
La Solidaridad over Rizal's favorite pen name of Laong Laan:

  To my Muse

  (translation by Charles Derbyshire)

  Invoked no longer is the Muse,
  The lyre is out of date;
  The poets it no longer use,
  And youth its inspiration now imbues
  With other form and state.

  If today our fancies aught
  Of verse would still require,
  Helicon's hill remains unsought;
  And without heed we but inquire,
  Why the coffee is not brought.

  In the place of thought sincere
  That our hearts may feel,
  We must seize a pen of steel,
  And with verse and line severe
  Fling abroad a jest and jeer.

  Muse, that in the past inspired me,
  And with songs of love hast fired me;
  Go thou now to dull repose,
  For today in sordid prose
  I must earn the gold that hired me.

  Now must I ponder deep,
  Meditate, and struggle on;
  E'en sometimes I must weep;
  For he who love would keep
  Great pain has undergone.

  Fled are the days of ease,
  The days of Love's delight;
  When flowers still would please
  And give to suffering souls surcease
  From pain and sorrow's blight.

  One by one they have passed on,
  All I loved and moved among;
  Dead or married--from me gone,
  For all I place my heart upon
  By fate adverse are stung.

  Go thou, too, O Muse, depart,
  Other regions fairer find;
  For my land but offers art
  For the laurel, chains that bind,
  For a temple, prisons blind.

  But before thou leavest me, speak:
  Tell me with thy voice sublime,
  Thou couldst ever from me seek
  A song of sorrow for the weak,
  Defiance to the tyrant's crime.

Rizal's congenial situation in the British capital was disturbed
by his discovering a growing interest in the youngest of the three
girls whom he daily met. He felt that his career did not permit him
to marry, nor was his youthful affection for his cousin in Manila an
entirely forgotten sentiment. Besides, though he never lapsed into
such disregard for his feminine friends as the low Spanish standard
had made too common among the Filipino students in Madrid, Rizal was
ever on his guard against himself. So he suggested to Doctor Regidor
that he considered it would be better for him to leave London. His
parting gift to the family with whom he had lived so happily was a
clay medallion bearing in relief the profiles of the three sisters.

Other regretful good-bys were said to a number of young Filipinos
whom he had gathered around him and formed into a club for the study
of the history of their country and the discussion of its politics.

Rizal now went to Paris, where he was glad to be again with his friend
Valentin Ventura, a wealthy Pampangan who had been trained for the
law. His tastes and ideals were very much those of Rizal, and he had
sound sense and a freedom from affectation which especially appealed
to Rizal. There Rizal's reprint of Morga's rare history was made, at
a greater cost but also in better form than his first novel. Copious
notes gave references to other authorities and compared present
with past conditions, and Doctor Blumentritt contributed a forceful

When Rizal returned to London to correct the proofsheets, the old
original book was in use and the copy could not be checked. This led to
a number of errors, misspelled and changed words, and even omissions
of sentences, which were afterwards discovered and carefully listed
and filed away to be corrected in another edition.

Possibly it has been made clear already that, while Rizal did not
work for separation from Spain, he was no admirer of the Castilian
character, nor of the Latin type, for that matter. He remarked on
Blumentritt's comparison of the Spanish rulers in the Philippines
with the Czars of Russia, that it is flattering to the Castilians
but it is more than they merit, to put them in the same class as
Russia. Apparently he had in mind the somewhat similar comparison in
Burke's speech on the conciliation of America, in which he said that
Russia was more advanced and less cruel than Spain and so not to be
classed with it.

During his stay in Paris, Rizal was a frequent visitor at the home
of the two Doctors Pardo de Tavera, sons of the exile of '72 who
had gone to France, the younger now a physician in South America,
the elder a former Philippine Commissioner. The interest of the
one in art, and of the other in philology, the ideas of progress
through education shared by both, and many other common tastes and
ideals, made the two young men fast friends of Rizal. Mrs. Tavera,
the mother, was an interesting conversationalist, and Rizal profited
by her reminiscences of Philippine official life, to the inner circle
of which her husband's position had given her the entree.

On Sundays Rizal fenced at Juan Luna's house with his distinguished
artist-countryman, or, while the latter was engaged with Ventura,
watched their play. It was on one of these afternoons that the Tagalog
story of "The Monkey and the Tortoise"[2] was hastily sketched as a
joke to fill the remaining pages of Mrs. Luna's autograph album, in
which she had been insisting Rizal must write before all its space
was used up. A comparison of the Tagalog version with a Japanese
counterpart was published by Rizal in English, in Truebner's Magazine,
suggesting that the two people may have had a common origin. This
study received considerable attention from other ethnologists, and
was among the topics at an ethnological conference.

At times his antagonist was Miss Nellie Baustead, who had great
skill with the foils. Her father, himself born in the Philippines,
the son of a wealthy merchant of Singapore, had married a member of
the Genato family of Manila. At their villa in Biarritz, and again
in their home in Belgium, Rizal was a guest later, for Mr. Baustead
had taken a great liking to him.

The teaching instinct that led him to act as mentor to the Filipino
students in Spain and made him the inspiration of a mutual improvement
club of his young countrymen in London, suggested the foundation of
a school in Paris. Later a Pampangan youth offered him $40,000 with
which to found a Filipino college in Hongkong, where many young men
from the Philippines had obtained an education better than their
own land could afford but not entirely adapted to their needs. The
scheme attracted Rizal, and a prospectus for such an institution
which was later found among his papers not only proves how deeply
he was interested, but reveals the fact that his ideas of education
were essentially like those carried out in the present public-school
course of instruction in the Philippines.

Early in August of 1890 Rizal went to Madrid to seek redress for a
wrong done his family by the notorious General Weyler, the "Butcher"
of evil memory in Cuba, then Governor-General of the Philippines. Just
as the mother's loss of liberty, years before, was caused by revengeful
feelings on the part of an official because for one day she was obliged
to omit a customary gift of horse feed, so the father's loss of land
was caused by a revengeful official, and for quite as trivial a cause.

Mr. Mercado was a great poultry fancier and especially prided himself
upon his fine stock of turkeys. He had been accustomed to respond to
the frequent requests of the estate agent for presents of birds. But
at one time disease had so reduced the number of turkeys that all that
remained were needed for breeding purposes and Mercado was obliged
to refuse him. In a rage the agent insisted, and when that proved
unavailing, threats followed.

But Francisco Mercado was not a man to be moved by threats, and
when the next rent day came round he was notified that his rent had
been doubled. This was paid without protest, for the tenants were
entirely at the mercy of the landlords, no fixed rate appearing
either in contracts or receipts. Then the rent-raising was kept on
till Mercado was driven to seek the protection of the courts. Part
of his case led to exactly the same situation as that of the Binan
tenantry in his grandfather's time, when the landlords were compelled
to produce their title-deeds, and these proved that land of others
had been illegally included in the estate. Other tenants, emboldened
by Mercado's example also refused to pay the exorbitant rent increases.

The justice of the peace of Kalamba, before whom the case first came,
was threatened by the provincial governor for taking time to hear the
testimony, and the case was turned over to the auxiliary justice, who
promptly decided in the manner desired by the authorities. Mercado at
once took an appeal, but the venal Weyler moved a force of artillery
to Kalamba and quartered it upon the town as if rebellion openly
existed there. Then the court representatives evicted the people
from their homes and directed them to remove all their buildings
from the estate lands within twenty-four hours. In answer to the
plea that they had appealed to the Supreme Court the tenants were
told their houses could be brought back again if they won their
appeal. Of course this was impossible and some 150,000 pesos' worth
of property was consequently destroyed by the court agents, who were
worthy estate employees. Twenty or more families were made homeless
and the other tenants were forbidden to shelter them under pain of
their own eviction. This is the proceeding in which Retana suggests
that the governor-general and the landlords were legally within their
rights. If so, Spanish law was a disgrace to the nation. Fortunately
the Rizal-Mercado family had another piece of property at Los Banos,
and there they made their home.

Weyler's motives in this matter do not have to be surmised, for
among the (formerly) secret records of the government there exists
a letter which he wrote when he first denied the petition of the
Kalamba residents. It is marked "confidential" and is addressed to the
landlords, expressing the pleasure which this action gave him. Then
the official adds that it cannot have escaped their notice that the
times demand diplomacy in handling the situation but that, should
occasion arise, he will act with energy. Just as Weyler had favored
the landlords at first so he kept on and when he had a chance to do
something for them he did it.

Finally, when Weyler left the Islands an investigation was ordered into
his administration, owing to rumors of extensive and systematic frauds
on the government, but nothing more came of the case than that Retana,
later Rizal's biographer, wrote a book in the General's defense,
"extensively documented," and also abusively anti-Filipino. It has been
urged (not by Retana, however) that the Weyler regime was unusually
efficient, because he would allow no one but himself to make profits
out of the public, and therefore, while his gains were greater than
those of his predecessors, the Islands really received more attention
from him.

During the Kalamba discussion in Spain, Retana, until 1899 always
scurrilously anti-Filipino, made the mistake of his life, for he
charged Rizal's family with not paying their rent, which was not
true. While Rizal believed that duelling was murder, to judge from a
pair of pictures preserved in his album, he evidently considered that
homicide of one like Retana was justifiable. After the Spanish custom,
his seconds immediately called upon the author of the libel. Retana
notes in his "Vida del Dr. Rizal" that the incident closed in a way
honorable to both Rizal and himself--he, Retana, published an explicit
retraction and abject apology in the Madrid papers. Another time,
in Madrid, Rizal risked a duel when he challenged Antonio Luna,
later the General, because of a slighting allusion to a lady at a
public banquet. He had a nicer sense of honor in such matters than
prevailed in Madrid, and Luna promptly saw the matter from Rizal's
point of view and withdrew the offensive remark. This second incident
complements the first, for it shows that Rizal was as willing to risk a
duel with his superior in arms as with one not so skilled as he. Rizal
was an exceptional pistol shot and a fair swordsman, while Retana was
inferior with either sword or pistol, but Luna, who would have had the
choice of weapons, was immeasurably Rizal's superior with the sword.

Owing to a schism a rival arose against the old Masonry and finally
the original organization succumbed to the offshoot. Doctor Miguel
Morayta, Professor of History in the Central University at Madrid, was
the head of the new institution and it had grown to be very popular
among students. Doctor Morayta was friendly to the Filipinos and a
lodge of the same name as their paper was organized among them. For
their outside work they had a society named the Hispano-Filipino
Association, of which Morayta was president, with convenient clubrooms
and a membership practically the same as the Lodge La Solidaridad.

Just before Christmas of 1890, this Hispano-Filipino Association
gave a largely attended banquet at which there were many prominent
speakers. Rizal stayed away, not because of growing pessimism,
as Retana suggests, but because one of the speakers was the same
Becerra who had feared to act when the outrage against the body of
Rizal's brother-in-law had been reported to him. Now out of office,
the ex-minister was again bold in words, but Rizal for one was not
again to be deceived by them.

The propaganda carried on by his countrymen in the Peninsula did not
seem to Rizal effective, and he found his suggestions were not well
received by those at its head. The story of Rizal's separation from
La Solidaridad, however, is really not material, but the following
quotation from a letter written to Carlos Oliver, speaking of the
opposition of the Madrid committee of Filipinos to himself, is
interesting as showing Rizal's attitude of mind:

"I regret exceedingly that they war against me, attempting to discredit
me in the Philippines, but I shall be content provided only that my
successor keeps on with the work. I ask only of those who say that
I created discord among the Filipinos: Was there any effective union
before I entered political life? Was there any chief whose authority
I wanted to oppose? It is a pity that in our slavery we should have
rivalries over leadership."

And in Rizal's letter from Hongkong, May 24, 1892, to Zulueta,
commenting on an article by Leyte in La Solidaridad, he says:

"Again I repeat, I do not understand the reason of the attack, since
now I have dedicated myself to preparing for our countrymen a safe
refuge in case of persecution and to writing some books, championing
our cause, which shortly will appear. Besides, the article is impolitic
in the extreme and prejudicial to the Philippines. Why say that the
first thing we need is to have money? A wiser man would be silent
and not wash soiled linen in public."

Early in '91 Rizal went to Paris, visiting Mr. Baustead's villa in
Biarritz en route, and he was again a guest of his hospitable friend
when, after the winter season was over, the family returned to their
home in Brussels.

During most of the year Rizal's residence was in Ghent, where he had
gathered around him a number of Filipinos. Doctor Blumentritt suggested
that he should devote himself to the study of Malay-Polynesian
languages, and as it appeared that thus he could earn a living in
Holland he thought to make his permanent home there. But his parents
were old and reluctant to leave their native land to pass their last
years in a strange country, and that plan failed.

He now occupied himself in finishing the sequel to "Noli Me Tangere,"
the novel "El Filibusterismo," which he had begun in October of 1887
while on his visit to the Philippines. The bolder painting of the
evil effects of the Spanish culture upon the Filipinos may well have
been inspired by his unfortunate experiences with his countrymen in
Madrid who had not seen anything of Europe outside of Spain. On the
other hand, the confidence of the author in those of his countrymen
who had not been contaminated by the so-called Spanish civilization,
is even more noticeable than in "Noli Me Tangere."

Rizal had now done all that he could for his country; he had shown
them by Morga what they were when Spain found them; through "Noli Me
Tangere" he had painted their condition after three hundred years of
Spanish influence; and in "El Filibusterismo" he had pictured what
their future must be if better counsels did not prevail in the colony.

These works were for the instruction of his countrymen, the fulfilment
of the task he set for himself when he first read Doctor Jagor's
criticism fifteen years before; time only was now needed for them to
accomplish their work and for education to bring forth its fruits.

Produced by Jeroen Hellingman and Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders


A Study of the Growth of Free Ideas in the Trans-Pacific American






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