A Short Biography
RIZAL A Short Biography
FILIPINO HERO SERIES
JOSE RIZAL - 1918
by Belgian Filipino Lovers
It is commonly said that the life of a good writer is best read in his works.
-- an autographic quotation from Rizal.
RIZAL’S OWN STORY
José Rizal wrote the first three chapters in 1878. He was seventeen years old at that time.
My Birth and Earliest Years in Kalamba.
I was born on Wednesday, the nineteenth of June, 1861. It was a few days before the full of the moon. I found myself in a village. I had some slight notions of the morning sun and of my parents. That is as much as I can recall of my baby days.
The training which I received from my earliest infancy is perhaps what formed my habits. I can recall clearly my first gloomy nights, passed on the azotea of our house. They seem as yesterday! They were nights filled with the poetry of sadness and seem near now because
at present my days are so sad. On moonlight nights, I took my supper on the azotea. My nurse, who was very fond of me, used to threaten to leave me to a terrible but imaginary being like the bogey of the Europeans if I did not eat.
I had nine sisters and a brother. Our father was a model parent. He gave us the education which was suitable for a family neither rich nor poor. He was thrifty. By careful saving, he was able to build a stone house. He also bought another house, and he put up a nipa cottage on our plot of irrigated ground. The cottage was shaded by bananas and trees.
At nightfall, my mother had us all say our prayers together. Then we would go to the azotea or to a window to enjoy the moonlight, and my nurse would tell us stories. Sometimes sad and sometimes gay, nurse’s stories were always oriental in their imagination. In these stories, dead people, gold, and plants on which diamonds grew were all mixed together.
When I was four years of age, my little sister Concha died, and for the first time, I cried because of love and sorrow. Till then I had shed tears only for my own faults, which my loving, prudent mother well knew how to correct.
I learned to write in my own village. My father looked after my education. He paid an old man, who had been his schoolmate, to teach me the first steps in Latin. This teacher lived in our house till he died, five months later. He had been in the almost perfect health and it was at the moment of death that he received extreme unction.
In June 1868, I went to Manila with my father. That was just after the birth of Trinidad, the third sister younger than myself. We went to a casco which turned out to be a clumsy boat. I shall not try to tell how happy I was at each new stop on the banks of the Pasig. Besides this same river, a few years later, I was to be very sad. We went to Cainta, Taytay, and Antipolo, and then to Manila. In Santa Ana I visited my eldest sister, Saturnina, who at that time was a student at La Concordia College. Then I returned to my village and remained until 1870.
My Schooling in Biñan. Biñan is a town about one and one-half hour’s drive from my own town, Kalamba. My father was born in Biñan, and he wished me to go there to continue the study of Latin, which I had just begun. He sent me over one Sunday in the care of my brother. The parting from my family was tearful on the side of my parents and my sisters, but I was nine years old and managed to hide my own tears. We reached Biñan at nightfall. We went to an aunt’s house where I was to live. When the moon came up, a cousin took me around the town. Biñan appeared to me large and wealthy but neither attractive nor cheerful.
My brother left me after he presented me to the schoolmaster, who, it seemed, had been his own teacher. The schoolmaster was a tall, thin man with a long neck and a sharp nose. His body leaned slightly forward. He wore a shirt of sinamay that had been woven by the deft fingers of Batangas women. He knew Latin and Spanish grammar by heart; but his severity, I believe now, was too great. This is all that I remember of him. His classroom was in his own house, only some thirty meters from my aunt’s home.
When I entered the classroom for the first time, he said to me:
“You, do you speak Spanish?”
“A little, sir,” I answered.
“Do you know Latin?”
“A little, sir,” I again answered.
Because of these answers, the teacher’s son, who was the worst boy in the class, began to make fun of me. He was some years my elder and was taller than I, yet we had a tussle. Somehow or other, I don’t know how I got the better of him. I bent him down over the class benches. Then I let him loose, having hurt only his pride. After this, possibly because of my small size, my schoolmates thought me a clever wrestler. Ongoing from the class one boy challenged me. He offered me my hold, but I lost and came near breaking my head on the sidewalk.
I do not want to take up time with telling about the beatings I got, nor shall I attempt to say how it hurt when I received the first ruler blow on my hand. I used to win in the competitions, for no one happened to be better than I. I made the most of these successes. But in spite of the reputation I had of being a good boy, rare were the days in which my teacher did not call me up to receive five or six blows on the hand. When I went out with my companions, they jokingly called me nicknames. But individually they used to be so kind to me that I thought little of their teasings. A few of them were very good and always treated me well. Among these few was a second cousin of mine. Later, some of them were my schoolmates in Manila and then it became my turn to tease.
Near the house of my teacher, Justiniano Aquin Cruz, lived his father-in-law, generally called Juancho. Juancho was an aged artist who let me help him with his paintings. I had already such a liking for this art that our schoolmates called José Guevarra, another pupil, and myself the class painters.
My Daily Life in Biñan
Many of us lived in the same house. There were my aunt, two cousins, and three half-cousins. My aunt was a very old lady, over seventy. She used to sit on the floor and read the Bible in Tagalog. One cousin was a maiden lady who liked very much to go to confession and to do penances. The other cousin, her brother, was a widower.
One of the half-cousins was something of a tomboy. She was quick to anger but frank and true-hearted. At times, we young folks played in the street at night. Our elders did not permit us to play in the house. The tomboy was two or three years older than I and taught me games. She always treated me as if I were her brother.
My manner of life was simple. I heard mass at four if there were a service so early, or studied my lessons at that hour and went to mass afterward. Then I went out in the yard and looked for mabolos. Then came breakfast, which generally consisted of a plate of rice and two dried sardines. There was classwork till ten o’clock and after lunch a study period. In the afternoon, there was the school from two o’clock until five. Next, there would be playing with my cousins for a while. Study and perhaps painting took up the remainder of the afternoon. By and by came supper, one or two plates of rice with a fish called ayungin. In the evening we had prayers and then if it was moonlight, a cousin and I would play in the street with the others. Fortunately,
I was never ill while away from home. From time to time, I went to my own village. How long the trip seemed going, and how short coming back!
Many things happened which it would be tiresome to read. Finally, there came a letter from my sister Saturnina which announced that the steamer Talim would stop for me on a certain day. I said goodbye to my numerous friends and teacher. To my teacher, I expressed my sadness at leaving and my gratitude for his instruction. Although he had punished me frequently, he did so, I now think, out of the kindness of his heart; and his heart was heavy when he did it.
I left Biñan on Saturday afternoon, the seventeenth of December, 1870. I was then nine years old. For the first time, I saw what a steamer really was. It seemed to me most beautiful and in every way admirable. But I heard my cousin, who was with me, make remarks to the banquero that were not complimentary to her speed. I was the only passenger from Biñan. Two sailors put my baggage into a cabin. Then I went to inspect it. I thought I was going to be without a cabin-mate, but a Frenchman, Arturo Camps, who was a friend of my father, looked after me. The journey seemed very long, but finally, we arrived at Kalamba.
Oh! how glad I was to see the shore! At once I wanted to jump into the first banca. A deckhand took me in his arms and put me into the captain’s boat. Then the Frenchman came and four sailors rowed us ashore. It is impossible to describe my joy when I saw a servant waiting for us with a carriage. I jumped in and soon found myself again in our home, happy in the love of my family. Here end my recollections of that period of mingled sadness and gladness, in which, for the first time, I came to know anybody of foreign birth.
The Injustice Done My Mother
(This chapter and the next one, Rizal wrote in 1879. At that time he was eighteen years old.)
Some days after my return to Kalamba, my parents decided that I should remain and that later, I should go to Manila. I wanted to study with a teacher of the town, even though I could learn no more than multiplication, so I entered the village school.
At this time, an uncle of mine, Don José Alberto, returned from Europe. He found that during his absence, his wife had left his home and abandoned her children. The poor man anxiously sought his wife and, at my mother’s earnest request, he took her back. They went to live in Biñan. Only a few days later the ungrateful woman plotted with a Guardia Civil officer who was a friend of ours. She accused her husband of poisoning her and charged that my mother was an accomplice. On this charge, the alcalde sent my mother to prison.
I do not like to tell of the deep grief which we all, nine sisters and brothers, felt. Our mother’s arrest, we knew, was unjust. The men who arrested her pretended to be friends and had often been our guests. Ever since then, child though I was, I have distrusted friendship. We learned later that our mother, away from us all and along in years, was ill. From the first, the alcalde believed the accusation. He was unfair in every way and treated my mother rudely, even brutally. Finally, he persuaded her to confess to what they wished by promising to set her free and to let her see her children. What mother could resist that? What mother would not sacrifice life itself for her children?
They terrified and deceived my mother as they would have any other mother. They threatened to condemn her if she did not say what they wished. She submitted to the will of her enemies and lost her spirit. The case became involved until the same alcalde asked pardon for her. But this was only when the matter was before the Supreme Court. He asked for the pardon because he was sorry for what he had done. Such was his meanness that I felt afraid of him. Attorneys Francisco de Marcaida and Manuel Masigan, Manila’s leading lawyers, defended my mother and they finally succeeded in having her acquitted. They proved her innocence to her judges, her accusers and her hosts of enemies. But after how much delay? --After two and a half years.
Meanwhile, my father decided to send me to Manila with my brother Paciano. I was to take the entrance examinations for the secondary course in the Ateneo Municipal. I arrived in Manila on June 10th, 1872. I found out for the first time what examinations were like. My examinations were in Christian doctrine, arithmetic, and reading, in San Juan de Letran College. They gave me a passing mark and I returned to my home. A few days later came the celebration of the town festival, after which I went to Manila. But even then, I felt that unhappiness was in store for me.
A Student in Manila. As I had hoped, I was taken to the Jesuit priest at that time in charge of the Ateneo Municipal. He was Father Magin Fernando. At first, he was unwilling to admit me. One reason was I had come late. Other reasons were that I did not seem strong and was very small for my age. I was then eleven. But later, Doctor Manuel Xeres Burgos, a nephew of the ill-fated Padre Burgos, spoke in my favor; and Father Fernando admitted me.
I dressed in the uniform like the other students, wearing a white coat, or Americana, and a necktie, and entered the chapel of the Jesuit Fathers to hear mass. What fervent prayers did I address to God!
After mass, I went to the classroom. There I saw a number of boys, Spanish, mestizos and natives, and a Jesuit teacher. Father José Bech, the teacher, was a tall man, thin and somewhat stooping, but quick in his movements. His face was thin and pale, yet lively. His eyes were small and sunken, his nose sharp and Grecian. His thin lips curved downwards. He was a little eccentric, sometimes being out of humor and intolerant; at other times amusing himself by playing like a child.
Some of my schoolmates were interesting enough to warrant mentioning them by name. Florencio Gavino Oliva, a young man from my own province, had great talent but he did not work steadily. The same thing was true of Moisés Santiago, a mathematician, and a penman. It was also true of Gonzalo Manzano, who then held the position of “Roman Emperor.”
In Jesuit colleges, they divide the boys into two groups or “empires,”--one Roman and the other Greek. These two “empires” are always at war. The boys of one “empire” always want to outdo those of the other empire in all kinds of contests. Each group has a leader who is called “Emperor.” The “Emperor” wins his place by doing the best work and standing the highest of anyone in his group. I was put at the end of the line. I could scarcely speak Spanish, but I already understood it.
After the religious exercises, I went out and found my brother waiting to take me to my lodgings, which were about twenty-five minutes’ walk from the college. My brother did not wish to leave me in the Walled City, which seemed very gloomy to me.
I lodged in a small house on Calle Caraballo, near an Estero. The house consisted of a dining room, a sala, a bedroom and a kitchen. An awning covered the small space between the door and the steps. My landlady was a maiden lady called Titay, who owed our family three hundred pesos. Her mother, a good old woman, lived with her. There were besides a crazy woman, quite harmless, and some Spanish mestizos in the house.
I must not speak of my sufferings, or of my troubles and pleasures. I shall record only what happened in school during that year. By the end of the first week, I was going up in the class. Then I began to spend the siesta-time studying at Santa Isabel College. For this, I paid three pesos a month. I went there with Pastor Millena, a boy of my own age. A month later, I was “Emperor”.
How pleased I was when I won my first prize, a religious picture! In the first quarter, I gained another prize, with the grade “Excellent.” After that, I did not care to apply myself. I had foolishly become dissatisfied because of something my teacher said. Unfortunately, this continued until the end of the year and I gained only second place in all my subjects. This gave me the grade of “Excellent” but without any prize.
I spent the vacation at home and went with my eldest sister, Nening, to Tanawan, for the town festival. This was in 1873. But our pleasure was marred by the fact that our mother was not with us. I had gone alone to see my mother without first sending word either to her or to my father. This was at the close of the term in which I held second place. I thought with what joy I would surprise her. Instead, we wept in each other’s arms. We had not seen each other for more than a year.
After vacation was over, I returned to Manila and enrolled in the second year. Then I hunted lodgings in the Walled City. It was too tiring to live so far away. I found a place at 6 Calle Magallanes in the house of an elderly widow, Doña Pepay. Her daughter, also a widow, lived with her. The name of the daughter was Doña Encarnación, and her four sons were José, Rafael, Ignacio, and Ramón.
Nothing worth telling happened that year. My professor was the same as in the previous year, but I had different schoolmates. Among them, I found three who had been with me in Biñan. At the end of this year, I won a medal and returned to my town.
I again went alone to visit my mother in prison. Like another Joseph, I prophesied to her from a dream that her release would take place within three months. This prediction happened to come true.
At this time, I began to devote my leisure to reading novels. Years before, I had read one, but it was not with any great interest. Imagine how a romantic youngster of twelve would delight in the Count of Monte Cristo! Under the pretext that I should have to study general history, I persuaded my father to buy me a set of Cesar Cantu y Diós’ histories.
I gained much by reading them. In spite of my only half applying myself and of my indifferent Spanish, I was able to win prizes in the quarterly examinations. I should have gained the medal if I had not made some slips in Spanish, which I spoke very poorly. This gave the place to a Spanish lad who spoke his mother tongue better than I could. Thus, then, I finished my third year.
When I next returned to Manila, I found my former landlady’s house full. I had to take a room in the house with my brother, Paciano Mercado, in company with a boy from my town named Quintero. My life was not so free as formerly, for I was under close supervision. The regular hours, however, were better for me. I prayed and played with my landlord’s children.
A portrait of General Paciano Rizal-Mercado should appear here, but he has never had his picture taken. In September, 1896, he was cruelly tortured in an unsuccessful endeavor to get him to sign a statement that his brother was the leader of the rebellion. Rizal’s last letter, from the Fort Santiago death-cell, tells how much the younger brother owed to the elder:
“My dear brother: Now that I am about to die, it is to you that I write my last letter. I am thinking of how you worked to give me my career....
... I believe that I have tried not to lose my time ... I know how much you have suffered for my sake. ... I assure you, brother, that I die innocent of this crime of rebellion.”
A little later my mother was proved innocent and she was set free. She came to embrace me as soon as she was free. After the vacation, in that memorable year of my mother’s release, I again had my lodgings in the Walled City. The house was in Calle Solana and belonged to a priest. My mother had not wanted me to return to Manila, saying that I already had sufficient education. Did she have a presentiment of what was going to happen to me? Can it be that a mother’s heart gives her double vision?
My future profession was still unsettled. My father wanted me to study metaphysics, so I enrolled in that course. But my interest was so slight that I did not even buy a copy of the textbook. A former schoolmate, who had finished his course three months before, was my only intimate friend. He lived in the same street as I did. My companions in the house were from Batangas and had only recently arrived in Manila.
On Sundays and other holidays, this friend used to call for me and we would spend the day at my great-aunt’s house in Trozo. My aunt knew his father. When my youngest sister entered La Concordia College, I used to visit her, too, on the holidays. Another friend had a sister in the same school, so we could go together. I made a pencil sketch of his sister from a photograph which she lent me. On December 8th, the festival of La Concordia, some other students and I went to the college. It was a fine day and the building was gay with decorations of banners, lanterns, and flowers.
Shortly after that, I went home for the Christmas holidays. On the same steamer, was a Kalamba girl who had been a pupil in Santa Catalina College for nearly five years. Her father was with her. We were well acquainted but her schooling had made her bashful. She kept her back to me while we talked. To help her pass the time, I asked about her school and studies but I got hardly more than “yes” and “no” in answer. She seemed to have almost, if not entirely, forgotten her Tagalog. When I walked into our house in Kalamba, my mother at first did not recognize me. The sad cause was that she had almost lost her sight. My sisters greeted me joyfully and I could read their welcome in their smiling faces. But my father, who seemed to be the most pleased of all, said least.
The next day we were expecting friends from Manila to arrive, on their way to Lipa. But the steamer landed its passengers at Biñan because of a storm. So I saddled a pony and rode over there to meet them. My horse proved to be a good traveler and when I got back to Kalamba I rode on, by the Los Baños road, to our sugar mill. There I tied the horse by the roadside and for a time watched the water flowing through the irrigation ditch. Its swiftness reminded me of how rapidly my days were going by. I am now twenty years old and have the satisfaction of remembering that in the crises of my life I have not followed my own pleasure. I have always tried to live by my principles and to do the heavy duties which I have undertaken.
MY FIRST READING LESSON
This tells how he himself became an intelligent student. It was probably written while he was studying the schools of Saxony. These were the models for America so that the present educational system here is along the lines he advocated. As a child, he had written a poem, “By Education, the Fatherland Gains in Splendor”.
I remember the time when I had not seen any other river than the one near my town. It was as clear as crystal, and joyous, too, as it ran on its course. But it was shaded by bamboos whose boughs bent to every breeze as if always complaining. That was my only world. It was bounded at the back by the blue mountains of my province. It was bounded in front by the white surface of the lake. The lake was as smooth as a mirror. Graceful sails were to be seen everywhere on it.
At that age, stories pleased me greatly and, with all my soul, I believed whatever was in the books. There were good reasons why I should. My parents told me to be very careful with my books. They urged me to read and understand them. But they punished me for the least lie.
My first recollection of reciting my letters reaches back to my babyhood. I must have been very little then, for when they rubbed the floor of our house with banana leaves I almost fell down. I slipped on the polished surface as beginners in skating do on the ice. It took a great effort for me to climb into a chair. I went downstairs step by step. I clung to each round of the baluster.
In our house, as in all others in the town, kerosene oil was unknown. I had never seen a lamp in our town, nor a carriage on our streets. Yet I thought Kalamba was a very gay and lively town. One night, all the family, except for my mother and myself, went to bed early. Why I do not know, but we two remained sitting alone. The candles had already been put out. They had been blown out in their globes by means of a curved tube of tin. That tube seemed to be the finest and most wonderful plaything in the world. The room was dimly lighted by a single light of coconut oil. In all Filipino homes, such a light burns through the night. It goes out just at day-break to awaken people by its spluttering.
My mother was teaching me to read in a Spanish reader called “The Children’s Friend.” This was quite a rare book and an old copy. It had lost its cover and my sister had cleverly made a new one. She had fastened a sheet of thick blue paper over the back and then covered it with a piece of cloth.
This night my mother became impatient with hearing me read so poorly. I did not understand Spanish and so I could not read with expression. She took the book from me. First, she scolded me for drawing funny pictures on its pages. Then she told me to listen and she began to read. When her sight was good, she read very well. She could recite well, and she understood verse-making, too. Many times during Christmas vacations, my mother corrected my poetical compositions, and she always made valuable criticisms.
I listened to her, full of childish enthusiasm. I marveled at the nice-sounding phrases which she read from those same pages. The phrases she read so easily stopped me at every breath. Perhaps I grew tired of listening to sounds that had no meaning for me. Perhaps I lacked self-control. Anyway, I paid little attention to the reading. I was watching the cheerful flame. About it, some little moths were circling in playful flights. By chance, too, I yawned. My mother soon noticed that I was not interested. She stopped reading. Then she said to me: “I am going to read you a very pretty story. Now pay attention.”
On hearing the word “story” I at once opened my eyes wide. The word “story” promised something new and wonderful. I watched my mother while she turned the leaves of the book as if she were looking for something. Then I settled down to listen. I was full of curiosity and wonder. I had never even dreamed that there were stories in the old book which I read without understanding. My mother began to read me the fable of the young moth and the old one. She translated it into Tagalog a little at a time.
My attention increased from the first sentence. I looked toward the light and fixed my gaze on the moths which were circling around it. The story could not have been better timed. My mother repeated the warning of the old moth. She dwelt upon it and directed it to me. I heard her, but it is a curious thing that the light seemed to me each time more beautiful, the flame more attractive. I really envied the fortune of the insects. They frolicked so joyously in its enchanting splendor that the ones which had fallen and been drowned in the oil did not cause me any dread.
My mother kept on reading and I listened breathlessly. The fate of the two insects interested me greatly. The flame rolled its golden tongue to one side and a moth which this movement had singed fell into the oil, fluttered for a time and then became quiet. That became for me a great event. A curious change came over me which I have always noticed in myself whenever anything has stirred my feelings. The flame and the moth seemed to go farther away and my mother’s voice sounded strange and uncanny. I did not notice when she ended the fable. All my attention was fixed on the fate of the insect. I watched it with my whole soul. I gave it my every thought. It had died a martyr to its illusions.
As she put me to bed, my mother said: “See that you do not behave like the young moth. Don’t become disobedient, or you may get burnt as it did.” I do not know whether I answered or not. I don’t know whether I promised anything or whether I cried. But I do remember that it was a long time before I fell asleep. The story revealed to me things until then unknown. Moths no longer were, for me, insignificant insects. Moths talked; they knew how to warn. They advised, just like my mother. The light seemed to be more beautiful. It had grown more dazzling and more attractive. I knew why the moths circled the flame.
The advice and warnings sounded feebly in my ears. What I thought of most was the death of the heedless moth. But in the depth of my heart, I did not blame it. My mother’s care had not had quite the result she intended.
Years have passed since then. The child has become a man. He has crossed the most famous rivers of other countries. He has studied beside their broad streams. He has crossed seas and oceans. He has climbed mountains much higher than the Makiling of his native province, up to perpetual snow. He has received from experience bitter lessons, much more bitter than that sweet teaching which his mother gave him. Yet, in spite of all, the man still keeps the heart of a child. He still thinks that light is the most beautiful thing in creation and that to sacrifice one’s life for it is worthwhile.
MY CHILDHOOD IMPRESSIONS
One of numerous rough drafts evidently written for practice. Published as “Mi Primer Recuerdo,” in El Renacimiento, Manila, February 2, 1908.
I spent many, many hours of my childhood down on the shore of the lake, Laguna de Bay. I was thinking of what was beyond. I was dreaming of what might be over on the other side of the waves. Almost every day, in our town, we saw the Guardia Civil lieutenant caning and injuring some unarmed and inoffensive villager. The villager’s only fault was that while at a distance he had not taken off his hat and made his bow. The alcalde treated the poor villagers in the same way whenever he visited us.
We saw no restraint put upon brutality. Acts of violence and other excesses were committed daily. The officers whose duty it was to protect the people and keep the public peace were the real outlaws. Against such lawbreakers, our authorities were powerless. I asked myself if, in the lands which lay across the lake, the people lived in this same way. I wondered if there they tortured any countryman with hard and cruel whips merely on suspicion. Did they there respect the home? Or over yonder also, in order to live in peace, would one have to bribe tyrants?
THE SPANISH SCHOOLS OF MY BOYHOOD
From the introduction which Doctor Rizal put to his Spanish version of an article on “The Transliteration of Tagalog”. His advocacy of the English style used in other Malay countries as more akin to the genius of Filipino dialects was considered extremely unpatriotic by most Spaniards.
You perhaps attended a village Spanish school to learn your letters. Possibly, you have had to teach the letters in Spanish to others smaller than yourself. In either case, you must have noticed what I have, that children find great difficulty in mastering certain syllables. These are ca, ce, ci, co, ga, ge, gua, gui, etc. It is because Filipino children do not understand the reasons for such irregularities. Nor do they know the cause for the changes in value of the sounds of certain consonants.
In the old times, blows fell like rain. Many pupils were whipped every day. Sometimes the schoolmaster broke the ferrule and sometimes he broke the children’s hands. The first pages of their primers fell to pieces from long and hard use. The children cried. Even the monitors had to suffer at times. Yet those syllables which cost the children so many tears are of no use to them.
Those syllables are necessary only in the learning of Spanish, which language in my time only three boys in a thousand ever really learned. These three learned it in Manila, by hearing Spanish spoken, and by committing to memory book after book. I often wondered what was the use of learning it at all when in the end one spoke only Tagalog. But I kept my wonder to myself. I felt that to try to make reforms in the Philippines at that time would be to embark on a stormy voyage.
After I grew up, I had to write letters in Tagalog. I was shocked at my ignorance of its spelling. I was surprised, too, to find the same word spelled differently in the different works which I consulted. This proved to me how foolish it was to try to write Tagalog in the Spanish way. The spelling in use today by all Filipino scholars is a great improvement over the old style. I want to place the credit for this change where it belongs. These improvements are due to the studies in Tagalog of Dr. T. H. Pardo de Tavera alone. I have only been one of the most zealous champions of the change from the Spanish style.
THE TURKEY THAT CAUSED THE KALAMBA LAND TROUBLE
This account was given Captain Carnicero, the Spanish commander of the Dapitan district where Rizal was in exile, in 1892.
My father was a friend of the owners of the Kalamba estate. He was intimate, too, with the manager in charge of the plantation. Frequently, important visitors came to the plantation house. Then the manager asked my father for whatever he needed. He very often asked for a turkey, and my father gladly gave it to him. The poultry yard at our house was always full of turkeys because my father was a fancier of these fowls.
But one season there came some epidemic and almost all the turkeys died. Only a few pairs, which were being kept for breeding, were left. Just at this time the manager one day sent for the customary turkey. Naturally, my father had to tell the messenger that he had no turkeys to spare because the greater part of them had died. This reply made the manager furiously angry. He wound up his abuse by saying, “You will pay for this in the end!” A few days later my father received a note from the manager, saying that he was going to raise the rent on the land which my father occupied. He said the rent would be one-third more than father was then paying.
The reason for this decision was clear. It was because my father had refused to give the manager the turkey. The proof of this was that no other tenant received any such notice.
Father paid this increase on the day set, without a single word of protest, being among the first to pay. But after a few months, there came another note. In it, the manager gave notice that the rent would be doubled. This, he said, was because my father was growing rich from the rented land where he had installed machinery for making sugar.
My father could not pay this price. Then he was summoned to appear in court, and finally, the alcalde ordered him to leave the land. So he lost his houses and machinery, all because of a turkey.
FROM JAPAN TO ENGLAND ACROSS AMERICA
From letters written en route to his friend Mariano Ponce and first published in Manuel Artigas’ Biblioteca Nacional Filipina, Manila, June, 1910.
On February 28th, 1888, I arrived in Yokohama. A few moments after reaching the hotel, I received the card of the official in charge at the Spanish Legation. I had not even had a chance to brush up when he called. He was very pleasant and offered to assist me in my work. He even invited me to live at the legation, and I accepted. If at the bottom, there was a desire to watch me, I was not afraid to let them know all about myself. I lived at the legation a little over a month and traveled in some of the nearby provinces of Japan. At times, I was alone; at others, with the Spanish official himself, or with the interpreter. While there, I learned to speak Japanese and made a slight study of the Japanese theatre. After many offers of employment, which I refused, I sailed at last for America, about April 13th.
On the steamer, I met a half-Filipino family, the wife being a mestiza, the daughter of an Englishman named Jackson. They had with them a servant from Pangasinan. The son asked me if I knew “Richal,” the author of Noli Me Tangere. Smiling, I answered that I did; and, as he began to speak well of me, I had to make myself known and say that I was the author. The mother paid me compliments, too. I made the acquaintance of a Japanese who was going to Europe. He had been a prisoner for being a radical and editor of an independent newspaper. As the Japanese spoke only Japanese, I acted as interpreter for him until we arrived in London.
During this voyage, I was not seasick.
I visited the larger cities of America, where I saw splendid buildings. The Americans have magnificent ideals. America is a homeland for the poor who are willing to work.
I traveled across America and saw the majestic cascade of Niagara. I was in New York, the great city, but there everything is new. I went to see some relics of Washington, that great man whom I fear has not his equal in this century.
I embarked for Europe on the “City of Rome”, said to be the second largest steamer in the world. On board, a newspaper was published up to the end of the voyage.
I made the acquaintance of many people. They wondered at my taking about with me a foreigner who could not make himself understood. The Europeans and Americans were astonished to see how I got along with him. I could speak to everyone in his own language and understand what he said.
MY DEPORTATION TO DAPITAN
First published in the Biblioteca National Filipina, Manila. The account was secretly sent by Rizal to his friends very shortly after his arrival at his place of exile. The reference to the school is from a letter to Doctor Blumentritt.
I arrived in Manila on the 26th of June, 1892. It was on a Sunday, at 12 o’clock, noon. A number of carbineers, including a major, met me. A captain and a sergeant of the Guardia Veterana were there in civilian clothes. I disembarked with my luggage, and they inspected it at the custom house.
From there, I went to the Oriente Hotel. I occupied Room No. 22, which overlooks the Binondo Church.
That afternoon, at four, I presented myself to His Excellency, Governor-General Despujol. He told me to return at seven in the evening and I did so. He granted my petition for the liberty of my father, but not for the liberty of my brother and sisters. He told me to return on Wednesday evening at half-past seven.
From there, I went to see my sisters. First I saw my sister Narcisa, afterward Neneng (Saturnina). On the following day, Monday, at six o’clock in the morning, I was at the railway station, bound for Bulacan and Pampanga. I visited Malolos, San Fernando, and Tarlac. On the return I stopped at Bacolor, reaching Manila on Tuesday at five o’clock in the afternoon.
Seven-thirty on Wednesday saw me with His Excellency. But not even then did I get him to revoke the deportation decrees. Still, he gave me hope for my sisters. As it was the festival of Saints Peter and Paul, our interview ended at 9:15. I was to present myself on the following day, at the same hour.
That day, Thursday, we spoke on unimportant matters. I thanked him for having revoked the order to banish my sisters and told him that my father and brother would come by the first mail-steamer. He asked me if I wished to return to Hongkong and I answered, “Yes”. He told me to come again on Wednesday.
Wednesday he asked me if I persisted in my intention of returning to Hongkong. I told him that I did. After some conversation, he said that I had brought political circulars in my baggage. I replied that I had not. He asked me who was the owner of the roll of pillows and petates with my baggage. I said that they belonged to my sister. He told me that because of them he was going to send me to Fort Santiago.
Don Ramón Despujol, his nephew, and aide, took me in one of the palace carriages. At Fort Santiago Don Enrique Villamor, the commander received me. He assigned me to an ordinary room containing a bed, a dozen chairs, a table, a washstand, and a mirror. The room had three windows. One, without bars, looked out on a court; another had bars, and overlooked the wall and the beach; the third served also as a door and had a padlock. Two artillerymen were on guard as sentinels. They had orders to fire on anyone who tried to make signs from the beach. I could not talk with anyone except the officer of the guard, and I was not allowed to write.
Don Enrique Villamor, the commander of the fort, gave me books from the library.
Each day the corporal of the guard proved to be a sergeant. They cleaned the room every morning. For breakfast, I had coffee with milk, a roll, and coffee-cake. Lunch was at 12:30, and consisted of four courses. Dinner was at 8:30, and was similar to the lunch. Commander Villamor’s orderly waited on me.
On Thursday, the 14th, about 5:30 or 6 p. m., the nephew notified me that at ten o’clock that night I should sail for Dapitan. I prepared my baggage, and at 10 was ready, but as no one came to get me, I went to sleep. At 12:15, the aide arrived with the same carriage which had brought me there. By way of the Santa Lucia gate, they took me to the Malecon, where were General Ahumada and some other people. Another aide and two of the Guardia Veterana were waiting for me in a boat.
The “Cebu” sailed in the morning at nine. They gave me a good stateroom on the upper deck. Above the doors could be read “Chief”. Next to my cabin was that of Capt. Delgras, who had charge of the party.
Ten from each branch of the military service was at the party. There were artillery, the infantry of the 70th, 71st, 72nd, 73rd, and 74th regiments, carbineers, cavalry and engineers, and Guardia Civil. Of artillerymen, there were at least twelve.
We were carrying prisoners loaded with chains, among whom were a sergeant and a corporal, both Europeans. The sergeant was to be shot because he had ordered his superior officer, who had misbehaved while in Mindanao, to be tied up. The soldiers who obeyed orders and tied the officer up were given twenty years’ imprisonment, and the officer himself was dismissed from the service because he had let them tie him up.
I ate in my stateroom, the food is the same as the officers had. I always had a sentinel and a corporal on guard. Every night, Captain Delgras took me for a promenade on deck till 9 o’clock.
We passed along the east coast of Mindoro and the west coast of Panay. We came to Dapitan on Sunday, at seven in the evening. Captain Delgras and three artillerymen accompanied me in a boat rowed by eight sailors. There was a heavy sea.
The beach seemed very gloomy. We were in the dark, except for our lantern, which showed a roadway grown up with weeds.
In the town, we met the governor, or commandant, Captain Ricardo Carnicero. There was also a Spanish ex-exile, and the practicante, Don Cosme. We went to the town hall, which was a large building.
My life now is quiet, peaceful, retired and without glory, but I think it is useful too. I teach reading, Spanish, English, mathematics, and geometry to the poor but intelligent boys here. Moreover, I teach them to behave like men. I have taught the men how to get a better way of earning their living and they think I am right. We have begun and success is crowning our trials.
ADVICE TO A NEPHEW
Written from Dapitan. Rizal took great interest in the education of his sisters’ children and in Germany had made for them a translation into Tagalog of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. This he embellished with many appropriate drawings and wrote out very plainly, making a book of eighty pages.
I think that I ought to mention to you a slight error which I have noticed in your letter. It is a little error which many in society make.
One should not say, “I and my sisters greet you,” but “My sisters and I greet you.” Always you have to put yourself last. You should say: “Emilio and I,” “You and I,” “My friend and I,” and so on. For the rest, your letter is well written. In it, you express your thoughts clearly. You use only the necessary words, and your spelling is good.
Keep on advancing. Learn, learn and think much about what you learn. Life is a very serious matter. It goes well only for those who have intelligence and heart. To live is to be among men, and to be among men is to strive.
But this strife is not a brute-like, selfish struggle,--nor with men alone. It is a strife with men, and at the same time with one’s own passions. It is a struggle with the proprieties, with errors, with prejudices. It is a never-ending striving, with a smile on the lips and the tears in the heart.
On this battlefield, man has no better weapon than his intelligence. He possesses no more force than he has spirit. Bring out your intelligence, then, and improve it. Strengthen and educate yourself that you may be prepared for the struggle.
ABOUT THE EBOOK
Title: A Short Biography RIZAL
Editing & Publishing: BELGIAN FILIPINO LOVERS
Available for Download: https://belgianfilipinolovers.be/
Original Title: Rizal’s own story of his life
Author: José Rizal
Original Year: 1918
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