The danger of the dense ignorance in which their rulers kept the Filipinos showed itself in 1819, when a French ship from India having introduced Asiatic cholera into the Islands, the lowest classes of Manila ascribed it to the collections of insects and reptiles which a French naturalist, who was a passenger upon the ship, had brought ashore. However the story started, the collection and the dwelling of the naturalist fared badly, and afterwards the mob, excited by its success, made war upon all foreigners. At length the excitement subsided, but too much damage to foreign lives and property had been done to be ignored, and the matter had an ugly look, especially as no Spaniard had suffered by this outbreak. The Insular government roused itself to punish some of the minor misdoers and made many explanations and apologies, but the aggrieved nations insisted, and obtained as compensation a greater security for foreigners and the removal of many of the restraints upon commerce and travel. Thus the riot proved a substantial step in Philippine progress.
Following closely the excitement over the massacre of the foreigners in Manila came the news that Spain had sold Florida to the United States. The circumstances of the sale were hardly creditable to the vendor, for it was under compulsion. Her lax government had permitted its territory to become the refuge of criminals and lawless savages who terrorized the border until in self-defense American soldiers under General Jackson had to do the work that Spain could not do. Then with order restored and the country held by American troops, an offer to purchase was made to Spain who found the liberal purchase money a very welcome addition to her bankrupt treasury.
Immediately after this the Monroe Doctrine attracted widespread attention in the Philippines. Its story is part of Spanish history. A group of reactionary sovereigns of Europe, including King Ferdinand, had united to crush out progressive ideas in their kingdoms and to remove the dangerous examples of liberal states from their neighborhoods. One of the effects of this unholy alliance was to nullify all the reforms which Spain had introduced to secure English assistance in her time of need, and the people of England were greatly incensed. Great Britain had borne the brunt of the war against Napoleon because her liberties were jeopardized, but naturally her people could not be expected to undertake further warfare merely for the sake of people of another land, however they might sympathize with them.
George Canning, the English statesman to whom belonged much of the credit for the Constitution of Cadiz, thought out a way to punish the Spanish king for his perfidy. King Ferdinand was planning, with the Island of Cuba as a base, to begin a campaign that should return his rebellious American colonies to their allegiance, for they had taken advantage of disturbances in the Peninsula to declare their independence. England proposed to the United States that they, the two Anglo-Saxon nations whose ideas of liberty had unsettled Europe and whom the alliance would have attacked had it dared, should unite in a protectorate over the New World. England was to guard the sea and the United States were to furnish the soldiers for any land fighting which might come on their side of the Atlantic.
World politics had led the enemies of England to help her revolting colonies, Napoleon's jealousy of Britain had endowed the new nation with the vast Louisiana Territory, and European complications saved the United States from the natural consequences of their disastrous war of 1812, which taught them that union was as necessary to preserve their independence as it had been to win it. Canning's project in principle appealed to the North Americans, but the study of it soon showed that Great Britain was selfish in her suggestion. After a generation of fighting, England found herself drained of soldiers and therefore she diplomatically invited the cooeperation of her former colonies; but, regardless of any formal arrangement, her navy could be relied on to prevent those who had played her false from transporting large armies across the ocean into the neighborhood of her otherwise defenseless colonies. That was self-preservation.
President Monroe's advisers were willing that their country should run some risk on its own account, but they had the traditional American aversion to entangling alliances. So the Cabinet counseled that the young nation alone should make itself the protector of the South American republics, and drafted the declaration warning the world that aggression against any of the New World democracies would be resented as unfriendliness to the United States.
It was the firm attitude of President Monroe that compelled Spain to forego the attempt to reconquer her former colonies, and therefore Mexico and Central and South America owe their existence as republics quite as much to the elder commonwealth as does Cuba.
The American attitude revealed in the Monroe Doctrine was especially obnoxious to the Spaniards in the Philippines but their intemperate denunciations of the policy of America for the Americans served only to spread a knowledge of that doctrine among the people of that little territory which remained to them to misgovern. Secretly there began to be, among the stouter-hearted Filipinos, some who cherished a corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, the Philippines for the Filipinos.
Thoughts of separation from Spain by means of rebellion, by sale and by the assistance of other nations, had been thus put into the heads of the people. These were all changes coming from outside, but it next to be demonstrated that Spain herself did not hold her noncontiguous territories as sacred as she did her home dominions.
The sale of Florida suggested that Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines were also available assets, and an offer to sell them was made to the King of France; but this sovereign overreached himself, for, thinking to drive a better bargain, he claimed that the low prices were too high. Thereupon the Spanish Ambassador, who was not in accord with his unpatriotic instructions, at once withdrew the offer and the negotiations terminated. But the Spanish people learned of the proposed sale and their indignation was great. The news spread to the Spaniards in the Philippines. Through their comments the Filipinos realized that the much-talked-of sacred integrity of the Spanish dominions was a meaningless phrase, and that the Philippines would not always be Spanish if Spain could get her price.
Gobernadorcillo Mercado, "Captain Juan," as he was called, made a creditable figure in his office, and there used to be in Binan a painting of him with his official sword, cocked hat and embroidered blouse. The municipal executive in his time did not always wear the ridiculous combination of European and old Tagalog costumes, namely, a high hat and a short jacket over the floating tails of a pleated shirt, which later undignified the position. He has a notable record for his generosity, the absence of oppression and for the official honesty which distinguished his public service from that of many who held his same office. He did, however, change the tribute lists so that his family were no longer "Chinese mestizos," but were enrolled as "Indians," the wholesale Spanish term for the natives of all Spain's possessions overseas. This, in a way, was compensation (it lowered his family's tribute) for his having to pay the taxes of all who died in Binan or moved away during his term of office. The municipal captain then was held accountable whether the people could pay or not, no deductions ever being made from the lists. Most gobernadorcillos found ways to reimburse themselves, but not Mercado. His family, however, were of the fourth generation in the Philippines and he evidently thought that they were entitled to be called Filipinos.
A leader in church work also, and several times "Hermano mayor" of its charitable society, the Captain's name appears on a number of lists that have come down from that time as a liberal contributor to various public subscriptions. His wife was equally benevolent, as the records show.
Mr. and Mrs. Mercado did not neglect their family, which was rather numerous. Their children were Gavino, Potenciana (who never married), Leoncio, Fausto, Barcelisa (who became the wife of Hermenegildo Austria), Gabriel, Julian, Gregorio Fernando, Casimiro, Petrona (who married Gregorio Neri), Tomasa (later Mrs. F. de Guzman), and Cornelia, the belle of the family, who later lived in Batangas.
Young Francisco was only eight years old when his father died, but his mother and sister Potenciana looked well after him. First he attended a Binan Latin school, and later he seems to have studied Latin and philosophy in the College of San Jose in Manila.
A sister, Petrona, for some years had been a dressgoods merchant in nearby Kalamba, on an estate that had recently come under the same ownership as Binan. There she later married, and shortly after was widowed. Possibly upon their mother's death, Potenciana and Francisco removed to Kalamba; though Petrona died not long after, her brother and sister continued to make their home there.
Francisco, in spite of his youth, became a tenant of the estate as did some others of his family, for their Binan holdings were not large enough to give farms to all Captain Juan's many sons. The landlords early recognized the agricultural skill of the Mercados by further allotments, as they could bring more land under cultivation. Sometimes Francisco was able to buy the holdings of others who proved less successful in their management and became discouraged.
The pioneer farming, clearing the miasmatic forests especially, was dangerous work, and there were few families that did not buy their land with the lives of some of its members. In 1847 the Mercados had funerals, of brothers and nephews of Francisco, and, chief among them, of that elder sister who had devoted her life to him, Potenciana. She had always prompted and inspired the young man, and Francisco's success in life was largely due to her wise counsels and her devoted encouragement of his industry and ambition. Her thrifty management of the home, too, was sadly missed.
A year after his sister Potenciana's death, Francisco Mercado married Teodora Alonzo, a native of Manila, who for several years had been residing with her mother at Kalamba. The history of the family of Mrs. Mercado is unfortunately not so easily traced as is that of her husband, and what is known is of less simplicity and perhaps of more interest since the mother's influence is greater than the father's, and she was the mother of Jose Rizal.
Her father, Lorenzo Alberto Alonzo (born 1790, died 1854), is said to have been "very Chinese" in appearance. He had a brother who was a priest, and a sister, Isabel, who was quite wealthy; he himself was also well to do. Their mother, Maria Florentina (born 1771, died 1817), was, on her mother's side, of the famous Florentina family of Chinese mestizos originating in Baliwag, Bulacan, and her father was Captain Mariano Alejandro of Binan.
Lorenzo Alberto was municipal captain of Binan in 1824, as had been his father, Captain Cipriano Alonzo (died 18O5), in 1797. The grandfather, Captain Gregorio Alonzo (died 1794), was a native of Quiotan barrio, and twice, in 1763 and again in 1768, at the head of the mestizos' organization of the Santa Cruz district in Manila.
Captain Lorenzo was educated for a surveyor, and his engineering books, some in English and others in French, were preserved in Binan till, upon the death of his son, the family belongings were scattered. He was wealthy, and had invested a considerable sum of money with the American Manila shipping firms of Peele, Hubbell & Co., and Russell, Sturgis & Co.
The family story is that he became acquainted with Brigida de Quintos, Mrs. Rizal's mother, while he was a student in Manila, and that she, being unusually well educated for a girl of those days, helped him with his mathematics. Their acquaintance apparently arose through relationship, both being connected with the Reyes family. They had five children: Narcisa (who married Santiago Muger), Teodora (Mrs. Francisco Rizal Mercado), Gregorio, Manuel and Jose. All were born in Manila, but lived in Kalamba, and they used the name Alonzo till that general change of names in 1850 when, with their mother, they adopted the name Realonda. This latter name has been said to be an allusion to royal blood in the family, but other indications suggest that it might have been a careless mistake made in writing by Rosa Realonda, whose name sometimes appears written as Redonda. There is a family Redondo (Redonda in its feminine form) Alonzo of Ilokano origin, the same stock as their traditions give for Mrs. Rizal's father, some of whose members were to be found in the neighborhood of Binan and Pasay. One member of this family was akin in spirit to Jose Rizal, for he was fined twenty-five thousand pesos by the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands for "contempt of religion." It appears that he put some original comparisons into a petition which sought to obtain justice from an inferior tribunal where, by the omission of the word "not" in copying, the clerk had reversed the court's decision but the judge refused to change the record.
Brigida de Quintos's death record, in Kalamba (1856), speaks of her as the daughter of Manuel de Quintos and Regina Ochoa.
The most obscure part of Rizal's family tree is the Ochoa branch, the family of the maternal grandmother, for all the archives,—church, land and court,—disappeared during the late disturbed conditions of which Cavite was the center. So one can only repeat what has been told by elderly people who have been found reliable in other accounts where the clews they gave could be compared with existing records.
The first of the family is said to have been Policarpio Ochoa, an employe of the Spanish customs house. Estanislao Manuel Ochoa was his son, with the blood of old Castile mingling with Chinese and Tagalog in his veins. He was part owner of the Hacienda of San Francisco de Malabon. One story says that somewhere in this family was a Mariquita Ochoa, of such beauty that she was known in Cavite, where was her home, as the Sampaguita (jasmine) of the Parian, or Chinese, quarter.
There was a Spanish nobleman also in Cavite in her time who had been deported for political reasons—probably for holding liberal opinions and for being thought to be favorable to English ideas. It is said that this particular "caja abierta" was a Marquis de Canete, and if so there is ground for the claim that he was of royal blood; at least some of his far-off ancestors had been related to a former ruling family of Spain.
Mariquita's mother knew the exile, since, according to the custom in Filipino families, she looked after the business interests of her husband. Curious to see the belle of whom he had heard so much, the Marquis made an excuse of doing business with the mother, and went to her home on an occasion when he knew that the mother was away. No one else was there to answer his knock and Mariquita, busied in making candy, could not in her confusion find a coconut shell to dip water for washing her hands from the large jar, and not to keep the visitor waiting, she answered the door as she was. Not only did her appearance realize the expectations of the Marquis, but the girl seemed equally attractive for her self-possessed manners and lively mind. The nobleman was charmed. On his way home he met a cart loaded with coconut dippers and he bought the entire lot and sent it as his first present.
After this the exile invented numerous excuses to call, till Mariquita's mother finally agreed to his union with her daughter. His political disability made him out of favor with the State church, the only place in which people could be married then, but Mariquita became what in English would be called a common-law wife. One of their children, Jose, had a tobacco factory and a slipper factory in Meisic, Manila, and was the especial protector of his younger sister, Regina, who became the wife of attorney Manuel de Quintos. A sister of Regina was Diega de Castro, who with another sister, Luseria, sold "chorizos" (sausages) or "tiratira" (taffy candy), the first at a store and the second in their own home, but both in Cavite, according to the variations of one narrative.
A different account varies the time and omits the noble ancestor by saying that Regina was married unusually young to Manuel de Quintos to escape the attentions of the Marquis. Another authority claims that Regina was wedded to the lawyer in second marriage, being the widow of Facundo de Layva, the captain of the ship Hernando Magallanes, whose pilot, by the way, was Andrew Stewart, an Englishman.
It is certain that Regina Ochoa was of Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog ancestry, and it is recorded that she was the wife of Manuel de Quintos. Here we stop depending on memories, for in the restored burial register of Kalamba church in the entry of the funeral of Brigida de Quintos she is called "the daughter of Manuel de Quintos and Regina Ochoa."
Manuel de Quintos was an attorney of Manila, graduated from Santo Tomas University, whose family were Chinese mestizos of Pangasinan. The lawyer's father, of the same name, had been municipal captain of Lingayan, and an uncle was leader of the Chinese mestizos in a protest they had made against the arbitrariness of their provincial governor. This petition for redress of grievances is preserved in the Supreme Court archives with "Joaquin de Quintos" well and boldly written at the head of the complainants' names, evidence of a culture and a courage that were equally uncommon in those days. Complaints under Spanish rule, no matter how well founded, meant trouble for the complainants; we must not forget that it was a vastly different thing from signing petitions or adhering to resolutions nowadays. Then the signers risked certainly great annoyance, sometimes imprisonment, and not infrequently death.
The home of Quintos had been in San Pedro Macati at the time of Captain Novales's uprising, the so-called "American revolt" in protest against the Peninsulars sent out to supersede the Mexican officers who had remained loyal to Spain when the colony of their birth separated itself from the mother country. As little San Pedro Macati is charged with having originated the conspiracy, it is unlikely that it was concealed from the liberal lawyer, for attorneys were scarcer and held in higher esteem in those days.
The conservative element then, as later, did not often let drop any opportunity of purging the community of those who thought for themselves, by condemning them for crime unheard and undefended, whether they had been guilty of it or not.
All the branches of Mrs. Rizal's family were much richer than the relatives of her husband; there were numerous lawyers and priests among them—the old-time proof of social standing—and they were influential in the country.
There are several names of these related families that belong among the descendants of Lakandola, as traced by Mr. Luther Parker in his study of the Pampangan migration, and color is thereby given, so far as Rizal is concerned, to a proud boast that an old Pampangan lady of this descent makes for her family. She, who is exceedingly well posted upon her ancestry, ends the tracing of her lineage from Lakandola's time by asserting that the blood of that chief flowed in the veins of every Filipino who had the courage to stand forward as the champion of his people from the earliest days to the close of the Spanish regime. Lakandola, of course, belonged to the Mohammedan Sumatrans who emigrated to the Philippines only a few generations before Magellan's discovery.
To recall relatives of Mrs. Rizal who were in the professions may help to an understanding of the prominence of the family. Felix Florentino, an uncle, was the first clerk of the Nueva Segovia (Vigan) court. A cousin-german, Jose Florentino, was a Philippine deputy in the Spanish Cortes, and a lawyer of note, as was also his brother, Manuel. Another relative, less near, was Clerk Reyes, of the Court of First Instance in Manila. The priest of Rosario, Vicar of Batangas Province, Father Leyva, was a half-blood relation, and another priestly relative was Mrs. Rizal's paternal uncle, Father Alonzo. These were in the earlier days when professional men were scarcer. Father Almeida, of Santa Cruz Church, Manila, and Father Agustin Mendoz, his predecessor in the same church, and one of the sufferers in the Cavite trouble of '72—a deporte—were most distantly connected with the Rizal family. Another relative, of the Reyes connection, was in the Internal Revenue Service and had charge of Kalamba during the latter part of the eighteenth century.
Mrs. Rizal was baptized in Santa Cruz Church, Manila, November 18, 1827, as Teodora Morales Alonzo, her godmother being a relative by marriage, Dona Maria Cristina. She was given an exceptionally good fundamental education by her gifted mother, and completed her training in Santa Rosa College, Manila, which was in the charge of Filipino sisters. Especially did the religious influence of her schooling manifest itself in her after life. Unfortunately there are no records in the institution, because it is said all the members of the Order who could read and write were needed for instruction and there was no one competent who had time for clerical work.
Brigida de Quintos had removed to the property in Kalamba which Lorenzo Alberto had transferred to her, and there as early as 1844 she is first mentioned as Brigida de Quintos, then as Brigida de Alonzo, and later as Brigida Realonda.
Rizal's Early Childhood
JOSE PROTASIO RIZAL MERCADO Y ALONZO REALONDA, the seventh child of Francisco Engracio Rizal Mercado y Alejandro and his wife, Teodora Morales Alonzo Realonda y Quintos, was born in Kalamba, June 19, 1861.
He was a typical Filipino, for few persons in this land of mixed blood could boast a greater mixture than his. Practically all the ethnic elements, perhaps even the Negrito in the far past, combined in his blood. All his ancestors, except the doubtful strain of the Negrito, had been immigrants to the Philippines, early Malays, and later Sumatrans, Chinese of prehistoric times and the refugees from the Tartar dominion, and Spaniards of old Castile and Valencia—representatives of all the various peoples who have blended to make the strength of the Philippine race.
Shortly before Jose's birth his family had built a pretentious new home in the center of Kalamba on a lot which Francisco Mercado had inherited from his brother. The house was destroyed before its usefulness had ceased, by the vindictiveness of those who hated the man-child that was born there. And later on the gratitude of a free people held the same spot sacred because there began that life consecrated to the Philippines and finally given for it, after preparing the way for the union of the various disunited Chinese mestizos, Spanish mestizos, and half a hundred dialectically distinguished "Indians" into the united people of the Philippines.
Jose was christened in the nearby church when three days old, and as two out-of-town bands happened to be in Kalamba for a local festival, music was a feature of the event. His godfather was Father Pedro Casanas, a Filipino priest of a Kalamba family, and the priest who christened him was also a Filipino, Father Rufino Collantes. Following is a translation of the record of Rizal's birth and baptism: "I, the undersigned parish priest of the town of Calamba, certify that from the investigation made with proper authority, for replacing the parish books which were burned September 28, 1862, to be found in Docket No. 1 of Baptisms, page 49, it appears by the sworn testimony of competent witnesses that JOSE RIZAL MERCADO is the legitimate son, and of lawful wedlock, of Don Francisco Rizal Mercado and Dona Teodora Realonda, having been baptized in this parish on the 22d day of June in the year 1861, by the parish priest, Rev. Rufino Collantes, Rev. Pedro Casanas being his godfather."—Witness my signature. (Signed) LEONCIO LOPEZ.
Jose Rizal's earliest training recalls the education of William and Alexander von Humboldt, those two nineteenth century Germans whose achievements for the prosperity of their fatherland and the advancement of humanity have caused them to be spoken of as the most remarkable pair of brothers that ever lived. He was not physically a strong child, but the direction of his first studies was by an unusually gifted mother, who succeeded, almost without the aid of books, in laying a foundation upon which the man placed an amount of well-mastered knowledge along many different lines that is truly marvelous, and this was done in so short a time that its brevity constitutes another wonder.
At three he learned his letters, having insisted upon being taught to read and being allowed to share the lessons of an elder sister. Immediately thereafter he was discovered with her story book, spelling out its words by the aid of the syllabary or "caton" which he had propped up before him and was using as one does a dictionary in a foreign language.
The little boy spent also much of his time in the church, which was conveniently near, but when the mother suggested that this might be an indication of religious inclination, his prompt response was that he liked to watch the people.
To how good purpose the small eyes and ears were used, the true-to-life types of the characters in "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo" testify.
Three uncles, brothers of the mother, concerned themselves with the intellectual, artistic and physical training of this promising nephew. The youngest, Jose, a teacher, looked after the regular lessons. The giant Manuel developed the physique of the youngster, until he had a supple body of silk and steel and was no longer a sickly lad, though he did not entirely lose his somewhat delicate looks. The more scholarly Gregorio saw that the child earned his candy money—trying to instill the idea into his mind that it was not the world's way that anything worth having should come without effort; he taught him also the value of rapidity in work, to think for himself, and to observe carefully and to picture what he saw.
Sometimes Jose would draw a bird flying without lifting pencil from the paper till the picture was finished. At other times it would be a horse running or a dog in chase, but it always must be something of which he had thought himself and the idea must not be overworked; there was no payment for what had been done often before. Thus he came to think for himself, ideas were suggested to him indirectly, so he was never a servile copyist, and he acquired the habit of speedy accomplishment.
Clay at first, then wax, was his favorite play material. From these he modeled birds and butterflies that came ever nearer to the originals in nature as the wise praise of the uncles called his attention to possibilities of improvement and encouraged him to further effort. This was the beginning of his nature study.
Jose had a pony and used to take long rides through all the surrounding country, so rich in picturesque scenery. Besides these horseback expeditions were excursions afoot; on the latter his companion was his big black dog, Usman. His father pretended to be fearful of some accident if dog and pony went together, so the boy had to choose between these favorites, and alternated walking and riding, just as Mr. Mercado had planned he should. The long pedestrian excursions of his European life, though spoken of as German and English habits, were merely continuations of this childhood custom. There were other playmates besides the dog and the horse, especially doves that lived in several houses about the Mercado home, and the lad was friend and defender of all the animals, birds, and even insects in the neighborhood. Had his childish sympathies been respected the family would have been strictly vegetarian in their diet.
At times Jose was permitted to spend the night in one of the curious little straw huts which La Laguna farmers put up during the harvest season, and the myths and legends of the region which he then heard interested him and were later made good use of in his writings.
Sleight-of-hand tricks were a favorite amusement, and he developed a dexterity which mystified the simple folk of the country. This diversion, and his proficiency in it, gave rise to that mysterious awe with which he was regarded by the common people of his home region; they ascribed to him supernatural powers, and refused to believe that he was really dead even after the tragedy of Bagumbayan.
Entertainment of the neighbors with magic-lantern exhibitions was another frequent amusement, an ordinary lamp throwing its light on a common sheet serving as a screen. Jose's supple fingers twisted themselves into fantastic shapes, the enlarged shadows of which on the curtain bore resemblance to animals, and paper accessories were worked in to vary and enlarge the repertoire of action figures. The youthful showman was quite successful in catering to the public taste, and the knowledge he then gained proved valuable later in enabling him to approach his countrymen with books that held their attention and gave him the opportunity to tell them of shortcomings which it was necessary that they should correct.
Almost from babyhood he had a grown-up way about him, a sort of dignity that seemed to make him realize and respect the rights of others and unconsciously disposed his elders to reason with him, rather than scold him for his slight offenses. This habit grew, as reprimands were needed but once, and his grave promises of better behavior were faithfully kept when the explanation of why his conduct was wrong was once made clear to him. So the child came to be not an unwelcome companion even for adults, for he respected their moods and was never troublesome. A big influence in the formation of the child's character was his association with the parish priest of Kalamba, Father Leoncio Lopez.
The Kalamba church and convento, which were located across the way from the Rizal home, were constructed after the great earthquake of 1863, which demolished so many edifices throughout the central part of the Philippines.
The curate of Kalamba had a strong personality and was notable among the Filipino secular clergy of that day when responsibility had developed many creditable figures. An English writer of long residence in the Philippines, John Foreman, in his book on the Philippine Islands, describes how his first meeting with this priest impressed him, and tells us that subsequent acquaintance confirmed the early favorable opinion of one whom he considered remarkable for broad intelligence and sanity of view. Father Leoncio never deceived himself and his judgment was sound and clear, even when against the opinions and persons of whom he would have preferred to think differently. Probably Jose, through the priest's fondness for children and because he was well behaved and the son of friendly neighbors, was at first tolerated about the convento, the Philippine name for the priest's residence, but soon he became a welcome visitor for his own sake.
He never disturbed the priest's meditations when the old clergyman was studying out some difficult question, but was a keen observer, apparently none the less curious for his respectful reserve. Father Leoncio may have forgotten the age of his listener, or possibly was only thinking aloud, but he spoke of those matters which interested all thinking Filipinos and found a sympathetic, eager audience in the little boy, who at least gave close heed if he had at first no valuable comments to offer.
In time the child came to ask questions, and they were so sensible that careful explanation was given, and questions were not dismissed with the statement that these things were for grown-ups, a statement which so often repels the childish zeal for knowledge. Not many mature people in those days held so serious converse as the priest and his child friend, for fear of being overheard and reported, a danger which even then existed in the Philippines.
That the old Filipino priest of Rizal's novels owed something to the author's recollections of Father Leoncio is suggested by a chapter in "Noli Me Tangere." Ibarra, viewing Manila by moonlight on the first night after his return from Europe, recalls old memories and makes mention of the neighborhood of the Botanical Garden, just beyond which the friend and mentor of his youth had died. Father Leoncio Lopez died in Calle Concepcion in that vicinity, which would seem to identify him in connection with that scene in the book, rather than numerous others whose names have been sometimes suggested.
Two writings of Rizal recall thoughts of his youthful days. One tells how he used to wander down along the lake shore and, looking across the waters, wonder about the people on the other side. Did they, too, he questioned, suffer injustice as the people of his home town did? Was the whip there used as freely, carelessly and unmercifully by the authorities? Had men and women also to be servile and hypocrites to live in peace over there? But among these thoughts, never once did it occur to him that at no distant day the conditions would be changed and, under a government that safeguarded the personal rights of the humblest of its citizens, the region that evoked his childhood wondering was to become part of a province bearing his own name in honor of his labors toward banishing servility and hypocrisy from the character of his countrymen.
The lake district of Central Luzon is one of the most historic regions in the Islands, the May-i probably of the twelfth century Chinese geographer. Here was the scene of the earliest Spanish missionary activity. On the south shore is Kalamba, birthplace of Doctor Rizal, with Binan, the residence of his father's ancestors, to the northwest, and on the north shore the land to which reference is made above. Today this same region at the north bears the name of Rizal Province in his honor.
The other recollection of Rizal's youth is of his first reading lesson. He did not know Spanish and made bad work of the story of the "Foolish Butterfly," which his mother had selected, stumbling over the words and grouping them without regard to the sense. Finally Mrs. Rizal took the book from her son and read it herself, translating the tale into the familiar Tagalog used in their home. The moral is supposed to be obedience, and the young butterfly was burned and died because it disregarded the parental warning not to venture too close to the alluring flame. The reading lesson was in the evening and by the light of a coconut-oil lamp, and some moths were very appropriately fluttering about its cheerful blaze. The little boy watched them as his mother read and he missed the moral, for as the insects singed their wings and fluttered to their death in the flame he forgot their disobedience and found no warning in it for him. Rather he envied their fate and considered that the light was so fine a thing that it was worth dying for. Thus early did the notion that there are things worth more than life enter his head, though he could not foresee that he was to be himself a martyr and that the day of his death would before long be commemorated in his country to recall to his countrymen lessons as important to their national existence as his mother's precept was for his childish welfare.
When he was four the mystery of life's ending had been brought home to him by the death of a favorite little sister, and he shed the first tears of real sorrow, for until then he had only wept as children do when disappointed in getting their own way. It was the first of many griefs, but he quickly realized that life is a constant struggle and he learned to meet disappointments and sorrows with the tears in the heart and a smile on the lips, as he once advised a nephew to do.
At seven Jose made his first real journey; the family went to Antipolo with the host of pilgrims who in May visit the mountain shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Safe Travel. In the early Spanish days in Mexico she was the special patroness of voyages to America, especially while the galleon trade lasted; the statue was brought to Antipolo in 1672.
A print of the Virgin, a souvenir of this pilgrimage, was, according to the custom of those times, pasted inside Jose's wooden chest when he left home for school; later on it was preserved in an album and went with him in all his travels. Afterwards it faced Bougereau's splendid conception of the Christ-mother, as one who had herself thus suffered, consoling another mother grieving over the loss of a son. Many years afterwards Doctor Rizal was charged with having fallen away from religion, but he seems really rather to have experienced a deepening of the religious spirit which made the essentials of charity and kindness more important in his eyes than forms and ceremonies.
Yet Rizal practiced those forms prescribed for the individual even when debarred from church privileges. The lad doubtless got his idea of distinguishing between the sign and the substance from a well-worn book of explanations of the church ritual and symbolism "intended for the use of parish priests." It was found in his library, with Mrs. Rizal's name on the flyleaf. Much did he owe his mother, and his grateful recognition appears in his appreciative portrayal of maternal affection in his novels.
His parents were both religious, but in a different way. The father's religion was manifested in his charities; he used to keep on hand a fund, of which his wife had no account, for contributions to the necessitous and loans to the irresponsible. Mrs. Rizal attended to the business affairs and was more careful in her handling of money, though quite as charitably disposed. Her early training in Santa Rosa had taught her the habit of frequent prayer and she began early in the morning and continued till late in the evening, with frequent attendance in the church. Mr. Rizal did not forget his church duties, but was far from being so assiduous in his practice of them, and the discussions in the home frequently turned on the comparative value of words and deeds, discussions that were often given a humorous twist by the husband when he contrasted his wife's liberality in prayers with her more careful dispensing of money aid.
Not many homes in Kalamba were so well posted on events of the outside world, and the children constantly heard discussions of questions which other households either ignored or treated rather reservedly, for espionage was rampant even then in the Islands. Mrs. Rizal's literary training had given her an acquaintance with the better Spanish writers which benefited her children; she told them the classic tales in style adapted to their childish comprehension, so that when they grew older they found that many noted authors were old acquaintances. The Bible, too, played a large part in the home. Mrs. Rizal's copy was a Spanish translation of the Latin Vulgate, the version authorized by her Church but not common in the Islands then. Rizal's frequent references to Biblical personages and incidents are not paralleled in the writings of any contemporary Filipino author.
The frequent visitors to their home, the church, civil and military authorities, who found the spacious Rizal mansion a convenient resting place on their way to the health resort at Los Banos, brought something of the city, and a something not found by many residents even there, to the people of this village household. Oftentimes the house was filled, and the family would not turn away a guest of less rank for the sake of one of higher distinction, though that unsocial practice was frequently followed by persons who forgot their self-respect in toadying to rank.
Little Jose did not know Spanish very well, so far as conversational usage was concerned, but his mother tried to impress on him the beauty of the Spanish poets and encouraged him in essays at rhyming which finally grew into quite respectable poetical compositions. One of these was a drama in Tagalog which so pleased a municipal captain of the neighboring village of Paete, who happened to hear it while on a visit to Kalamba, that the youthful author was paid two pesos for the production. This was as much money as a field laborer in those days would have earned in half a month; although the family did not need the coin, the incident impressed them with the desirability of cultivating the boy's talent.
Jose was nine years old when he was sent to study in Binan. His master there, Justiniano Aquino Cruz, was of the old school and Rizal has left a record of some of his maxims, such as "Spare the rod and spoil the child," "The letter enters with blood," and other similar indications of his heroic treatment of the unfortunates under his care. However, if he was a strict disciplinarian, Master Justiniano was also a conscientious instructor, and the boy had been only a few months under his care when the pupil was told that he knew as much as his master, and had better go to Manila to school. Truthful Jose repeated this conversation without the modification which modesty might have suggested, and his father responded rather vigorously to the idea and it was intimated that in the father's childhood pupils were not accustomed to say that they knew as much as their teachers. However, Master Justiniano corroborated the child's statement, so that preparations for Jose's going to Manila began to be made. This was in the Christmas vacation of 1871.
Binan had been a valuable experience for young Rizal. There he had met a host of relatives and from them heard much of the past of his father's family. His maternal grandfather's great house was there, now inhabited by his mother's half-brother, a most interesting personage.
This uncle, Jose Alberto, had been educated in British India, spending eleven years in a Calcutta missionary school. This was the result of an acquaintance which his father had made with an English naval officer who visited the Philippines about 1820, the author of "An Englishman's Visit to the Philippines." Lorenzo Alberto, the grandfather, himself spoke English and had English associations. He had also liberal ideas and preferred the system under which the Philippines were represented in the Cortes and were treated not as a colony but as part of the homeland and its people were considered Spaniards.
The great Binan bridge had been built under Lorenzo Alberto's supervision, and for services to the Spanish nation during the expedition to Cochin-China—probably liberal contributions of money—he had been granted the title of Knight of the American Order of Isabel the Catholic, but by the time this recognition reached him he had died, and the patent was made out to his son.
An episode well known in the village—its chief event, if one might judge from the conversation of the inhabitants—was a visit which a governor of Hongkong had made there when he was a guest in the home of Alberto. Many were the tales told of this distinguished Englishman, who was Sir John Bowring, the notable polyglot and translator into English of poetry in practically every one of the dialects of Europe. His achievements along this line had put him second or third among the linguists of the century. He was also interested in history, and mentioned in his Binan visit that the Hakluyt Society, of which he was a Director, was then preparing to publish an exceedingly interesting account of the early Philippines that did more justice to its inhabitants than the regular Spanish historians. Here Rizal first heard of Morga, the historian, whose book he in after years made accessible to his countrymen. A desire to know other languages than his own also possessed him and he was eager to rival the achievements of Sir John Bowring.
In his book entitled "A Visit to the Philippine Islands," which was translated into Spanish by Mr. Jose del Pan, a liberal editor of Manila, Sir John Bowring gives the following account of his visit to Rizal's uncle:
"We reached Binan before sunset .... First we passed between files of youths, then of maidens; and through a triumphal arch we reached the handsome dwelling of a rich mestizo, whom we found decorated with a Spanish order, which had been granted to his father before him. He spoke English, having been educated at Calcutta, and his house—a very large one—gave abundant evidence that he had not studied in vain the arts of domestic civilization. The furniture, the beds, the table, the cookery, were all in good taste, and the obvious sincerity of the kind reception added to its agreeableness. Great crowds were gathered together in the square which fronts the house of Don Jose Alberto."
The Philippines had just had a liberal governor, De la Torte, but even during this period of apparent liberalness there existed a confidential government order directing that all letters from Filipinos suspected of progressive ideas were to be opened in the post. This violation of the mails furnished the list of those who later suffered in the convenient insurrection of '72.
An agrarian trouble, the old disagreement between landlords and tenants, had culminated in an active outbreak which the government was unable to put down, and so it made terms by which, among other things, the leader of the insurrection was established as chief of a new civil guard for the purpose of keeping order. Here again was another preparation for '72, for at that time the agreement was forgotten and the officer suffered punishment, in spite of the immunity he had been promised.
Religious troubles, too, were rife. The Jesuits had returned from exile shortly before, and were restricted to teaching work in those parishes in the missionary district where collections were few and danger was great. To make room for those whom they displaced the better parishes in the more thickly settled regions were taken from Filipino priests and turned over to members of the religious Orders. Naturally there was discontent. A confidential communication from the secular archbishop, Doctor Martinez, shows that he considered the Filipinos had ground for complaint, for he states that if the Filipinos were under a non-Catholic government like that of England they would receive fairer treatment than they were getting from their Spanish co-religionaries, and warns the home government that trouble will inevitably result if the discrimination against the natives of the country is continued.
The Jesuit method of education in their newly established "Ateneo Municipal" was a change from that in the former schools. It treated the Filipino as a Spaniard and made no distinctions between the races in the school dormitory. In the older institutions of Manila the Spanish students lived in the Spanish way and spoke their own language, but Filipinos were required to talk Latin, sleep on floor mats and eat with their hands from low tables. These Filipino customs obtained in the hamlets, but did not appeal to city lads who had become used to Spanish ways in their own homes and objected to departing from them in school. The disaffection thus created was among the educated class, who were best fitted to be leaders of their people in any dangerous insurrection against the government.
However, a change had to take place to meet the Jesuit competition, and in the rearrangement Filipino professors were given a larger share in the management of the schools. Notable among these was Father Burgos. He had earned his doctor's degree in two separate courses, was among the best educated in the capital and by far the most public-spirited and valiant of the Filipino priests.
He enlisted the interest of many of the older Filipino clergy and through their contributions subsidized a paper, El Eco Filipino, which spoke from the Filipino standpoint and answered the reflections which were the stock in trade of the conservative organ, for the reactionaries had an abusive journal just as they had had in 1821 and were to have in the later days.
Such were the conditions when Jose Rizal got ready to leave home for school in Manila, a departure which was delayed by the misfortunes of his mother. His only, and elder, brother, Paciano, had been a student in San Jose College in Manila for some years, and had regularly failed in passing his examinations because of his outspokenness against the evils of the country. Paciano was a great favorite with Doctor Burgos, in whose home he lived and for whom he acted as messenger and go-between in the delicate negotiations of the propaganda which the doctor was carrying on.
In February of '72 all the dreams of a brighter and freer Philippines were crushed out in that enormous injustice which made the mutiny of a few soldiers and arsenal employes in Cavite the excuse for deporting, imprisoning, and even shooting those whose correspondence, opened during the previous year, had shown them to be discontented with the backward conditions in the Philippines.
Doctor Burgos, just as he had been nominated to a higher post in the Church, was the chief victim. Father Gomez, an old man, noted for charity, was another, and the third was Father Zamora. A reference in a letter of his to "powder," which was his way of saying money, was distorted into a dangerous significance, in spite of the fact that the letter was merely an invitation to a gambling game. The trial was a farce, the informer was garroted just when he was on the point of complaining that he was not receiving the pardon and payment which he had been promised for his services in convicting the others. The whole affair had an ugly look, and the way it was hushed up did not add to the confidence of the people in the justice of the proceedings. The Islands were then placed under military law and remained so for many years.
Father Burgos's dying advice to Filipinos was for them to be educated abroad, preferably outside of Spain, but if they could do no better, at least go to the Peninsula. He urged that through education only could progress be hoped for. In one of his speeches he had warned the Spanish government that continued oppressive measures would drive the Filipinos from their allegiance and make them wish to become subjects of a freer power, suggesting England, whose possessions surrounded the Islands.
Doctor Burgos's idea of England as a hope for the Philippines was borne out by the interest which the British newspapers of Hongkong took in Philippine affairs. They gave accounts of the troubles and picked flaws in the garbled reports which the officials sent abroad.
Some zealous but unthinking reactionary at this time conceived the idea of publishing a book somewhat similar to that which had been gotten out against the Constitution of Cadiz. "Captain Juan" was its name; it was in catechism form, and told of an old municipal captain who deserved to be honored because he was so submissively subservient to all constituted authority. He tries to distinguish between different kinds of liberty, and the especial attention which he devotes to America shows how live a topic the great republic was at that time in the Islands. This interest is explained by the fact that an American company had just then received a grant of the northern part of Borneo, later British North Borneo, for a trading company. It was believed that the United States had designs on the Archipelago because of treaties which had been negotiated with the Sultan of Sulu and certain American commercial interests in the Far East, which were then rather important.
Americans, too, had become known in the Philippines through a soldier of fortune who had helped out the Chinese government in suppressing the rebellion in the neighborhood of Shanghai. "General" F. T. Ward, from Massachusetts, organized an army of deserters from European ships, but their lack of discipline made them undesirable soldiers, and so he disbanded the force. He then gathered a regiment of Manila men, as the Filipinos usually found as quartermasters on all ships sailing in the East were then called. With the aid of some other Americans these troops were disciplined and drilled into such efficiency that the men came to have the title among the Chinese of the "Ever-Victorious" army, because of the almost unbroken series of successes which they had experienced. A partial explanation, possibly, of their fighting so well is that they were paid only when they won.
The high praise given the Filipinos at this time was in contrast to the disparagement made of their efforts in Indo-China, where in reality they had done the fighting rather than their Spanish officers. When a Spaniard in the Philippines quoted of the Filipino their customary saying, "Poor soldier, worse sacristan," the Filipinos dared make no open reply, but they consoled themselves with remembering the flattering comments of "General" Ward and the favorable opinion of Archbishop Martinez.
References to Filipino military capacity were banned by the censors and the archbishop's communication had been confidential, but both became known, for despotisms drive its victims to stealth and to methods which would not be considered creditable under freer conditions.
RIZAL'S first home in Manila was in a nipa house with Manuel Hidalgo, later to be his brother-in-law, in Calle Espeleta, a street named for a former Filipino priest who had risen to be bishop and governor-general. This spot is now marked with a tablet which gives the date of his coming as the latter part of February, 1872.
Rizal's own recollections speak of June as being the date of the formal beginning of his studies in Manila. First he went to San Juan de Letran and took an examination in the Catechism. Then he went back to Kalamba and in July passed into the Ateneo, possibly because of the more favorable conditions under which the pupils were admitted, receiving credit for work in arithmetic, which in the other school, it is said, he would have had to restudy. This perhaps accounts for the credit shown in the scholastic year 1871-72. Until his fourth year Rizal was an externe, as those residing outside of the school dormitory were then called. The Ateneo was very popular and so great was the eagerness to enter it that the waiting list was long and two or three years' delay was not at all uncommon.
There is a little uncertainty about this period; some writers have gone so far as to give recollections of childhood incidents of which Rizal was the hero while he lived in the house of Doctor Burgos, but the family deny that he was ever in this home, and say that he has been confused with his brother Paciano.
The greatest influence upon Rizal during this period was the sense of Spanish judicial injustice in the legal persecutions of his mother, who, though innocent, for two years was treated as a criminal and held in prison.
Much of the story is not necessary for this narrative, but the mother's troubles had their beginning in the attempted revenge of a lieutenant of the Civil Guard, one of a body of Spaniards who were no credit to the mother country and whom Rizal never lost opportunity in his writings of painting in their true colors. This official had been in the habit of having his horse fed at the Mercado home when he visited their town from his station in Binan, but once there was a scarcity of fodder and Mr. Mercado insisted that his own stock was entitled to care before he could extend hospitality to strangers. This the official bitterly resented. His opportunity for revenge soon came, and was not overlooked. A disagreement between Jose Alberto, the mother's brother in Binan, and his wife, also his cousin, to whom he had been married when they were both quite young, led to sensational charges which a discreet officer would have investigated and would assuredly have then realized to be unfounded. Instead the lieutenant accepted the most ridiculous statements, brought charges of attempted murder against Alberto and his sister, Mrs. Rizal, and evidently figured that he would be able to extort money from the rich man and gratify his revenge at the same time.
Now comes a disgruntled judge, who had not received the attention at the Mercado home which he thought his dignity demanded. Out of revenge he ordered Mrs. Rizal to be conducted at once to the provincial prison, not in the usual way by boat, but, to cause her greater annoyance, afoot around the lake. It was a long journey from Kalamba to Santa Cruz, and the first evening the guard and his prisoner came to a village where there was a festival in progress. Mrs. Rizal was well known and was welcomed in the home of one of the prominent families. The festivities were at their height when the judge, who had been on horseback and so had reached the town earlier, heard that the prisoner, instead of being in the village calaboose, was a guest of honor and apparently not suffering the annoyance to which he had intended to subject her. He strode to the house, and, not content to knock, broke in the door, splintered his cane on the poor constable's head, and then exhausted himself beating the owner of the house.
These proceedings were revealed in a charge of prejudice which Mrs. Rizal's lawyers urged against the judge who at the same time was the one who decided the case and also the prosecutor. The Supreme Court agreed that her contention was correct and directed that she be discharged from custody. To this order the judge paid due respect and ordered her release, but he said that the accusation of unfairness against him was contempt of court, and gave her a longer sentence under this charge than the previous one from which she had just been absolved. After some delay the Supreme Court heard of this affair and decided that the judge was right. But, because Mrs. Rizal had been longer in prison awaiting trial than the sentence, they dated back her imprisonment, and again ordered her release. Here the record gets a little confused because it is concerned with a story that her brother had sixteen thousand pesos concealed in his cell, and everybody, from the Supreme Court down, seemed interested in trying to locate the money.
While the officials were looking for his sack of gold, Alberto gave a power of attorney to an overintelligent lawyer who worded his authority so that it gave him the right to do everything which his principal himself could have done "personally, legally and ecclesiastically." From some source outside, but not from the brother, the attorney heard that Mrs. Rizal had had money belonging to Alberto, for in the extensive sugar-purchasing business which she carried on she handled large sums and frequently borrowed as much as five thousand pesos from this brother. Anxious to get his hands on money, he instituted a charge of theft against her, under his power of attorney and acting in the name of his principal. Mrs. Rizal's attorney demurred to such a charge being made without the man who had lent the money being at all consulted, and held that a power of attorney did not warrant such an action. In time the intelligent Supreme Court heard this case and decided that it should go to trial; but later, when the attorney, acting for his principal, wanted to testify for him under the power of attorney, they seem to have reached their limit, for they disapproved of that proposal.
Anyone who cares to know just how ridiculous and inconsistent the judicial system of the Philippines then was would do well to try to unravel the mixed details of the half dozen charges, ranging from cruelty through theft to murder, which were made against Mrs. Rizal without a shadow of evidence. One case was trumped up as soon as another was finished, and possibly the affair would have dragged on till the end of the Spanish administration had not her little daughter danced before the Governor-General once when he was traveling through the country, won his approval, and when he asked what favor he could do for her, presented a petition for her mother's release. In this way, which recalls the customs of primitive nations, Mrs. Rizal finally was enabled to return to her home.
Doctor Rizal tells us that it was then that he first began to lose confidence in mankind. A story of a school companion, that when Rizal recalled this incident the red came into his eyes, probably has about the same foundation as the frequent stories of his weeping with emotion upon other people's shoulders when advised of momentous changes in his life. Doctor Rizal did not have these Spanish ways, and the narrators are merely speaking of what other Spaniards would have done, for self-restraint and freedom from exhibitions of emotion were among his most prominent characteristics.
Some time during Rizal's early years of school came his first success in painting. It was the occasion of a festival in Kalamba; just at the last moment an important banner was accidentally damaged and there was not time to send to Manila for another. A hasty consultation was held among the village authorities, and one councilman suggested that Jose Rizal had shown considerable skill with the brush and possibly he could paint something that would pass. The gobernadorcillo proceeded to the lad's home and explained the need. Rizal promptly went to work, under the official's direction, and speedily produced a painting which the delighted municipal executive declared was better than the expensive banner bought in Manila. The achievement was explained to all the participants in the festival and young Jose was the hero of the occasion.
During intervals of school work Rizal found time to continue his modeling in clay which he procured from the brickyard of a cousin at San Pedro Macati.
Rizal's uncle, Jose Alberto, had played a considerable part in his political education. He was influential with the Regency in Spain, which succeeded Queen Isabel when that sovereign became too malodorous to be longer tolerated, and he was the personal friend of the Regent, General Prim, whose motto, "More liberal today than yesterday, more liberal tomorrow than today," he was fond of quoting. He was present in Madrid at the time of General Prim's assassination and often told of how this wise patriot, recognizing the unpreparedness of the Spanish people for a republic, opposed the efforts for what would, he knew, result in as disastrous a failure as had been France's first effort, and how he lost his life through his desire to follow the safer course of proceeding gradually through the preparatory stage of a constitutional monarchy. Alberto was made by him a Knight of the Order of Carlos III, and, after Prim's death, was created by King Amadeo a Knight Commander, the step higher in the Order of Isabel the Catholic.
Events proved Prim's wisdom, as Alberto was careful to observe, for King Amadeo was soon convinced of the unfitness of his people for even a constitutional monarchy, told them so, resigned his throne, and bade them farewell. Then came a republic marked by excesses such as even the worst monarch had not committed; among them the dreadful massacre of the members of the filibustering party on the steamer Virginius in Cuba, which would have caused war with the United States had not the Americans been deluded into the idea that they were dealing with a sister republic. America and Switzerland had been the only nations which had recognized Spain's new form of government. Prim sought an alliance with America, for he claimed that Spain should be linked with a country which would buy Spanish goods and to which Spain could send her products. France, with whom the Bourbons wished to be allied, was a competitor along Spain's own lines.
During the earlier disturbances in Spain a party of Carlists were sent to the Philippine Islands; they were welcomed by the reactionary Spaniards, for devotion to King Carlos had been their characteristic ever since the days when Queen Isabel had taken the throne that in their opinion belonged to the heir in the male line. Rizal frequently makes mention of this disloyalty to the ruler of Spain on the part of those who claimed to be most devoted Spaniards.
Along with the stories of these troubles which Rizal heard during his school days in Manila were reports of how these exiles had established themselves in foreign cities, Basa in Hongkong, Regidor in London, and Tavera in Paris. At their homes in these cities they gave a warm welcome to such Filipinos as traveled abroad and they were always ready to act as guardians for Filipino students who wished to study in their cities, Many availed themselves of these opportunities and it came to be an ambition among those in the Islands to get an education which they believed was better than that which Spain afforded. There was some ground for such a belief, because many of the most prominent successful men of Spanish and Philippine birth were men whose education had been foreign. A well-known instance in Manila was the architect Roxas, father of the present Alcalde of Manila, who learned his profession in England and was almost the only notable builder in Manila during his lifetime.
Paciano Rizal, Jose's elder brother, had retired from Manila on the death of Doctor Burgos and devoted himself to farming; in some ways, perhaps, his career suggested the character of Tasio, the philosopher of "Noli Me Tangere." He was careful to see that his younger brother was familiar with the liberal literature with which he had become acquainted through Doctor Burgos.
The first foreign book read by Rizal, in a Spanish translation, was Dumas's great novel, "The Count of Monte Cristo," and the story of the wrongs suffered by the prisoner of the Chateau d'If recalled the injustice done his mother. Then came the book which had greatest influence upon the young man's career; this was a Spanish translation of Jagor's "Travels in the Philippines," the observations of a German naturalist who had visited the Islands some fifteen years before. This latter book, among other comments, suggested that it was the fate of the North American republic to develop and bring to their highest prosperity the lands which Spain had conquered and Christianized with sword and cross. Sooner or later, this German writer believed, the Philippine Islands could no more escape this American influence than had the countries on the mainland, and expressed the hope that one day the Philippines would succumb to the same influence; he felt, however, that it was desirable first for the Islanders to become better able to meet the strong competition of the vigorous young people of the New World, for under Spain the Philippines had dreamed away its past.
The exact title of the book is "Travels in the Philippines. By F. Jagor. With numerous illustrations and a Map London: Chapman and Hall, 193, Piccadilly. 1875." The title of the Spanish translation reads, "Viajes por Filipinas de F. Jagor Traducidos del Aleman por S. Vidal y Soler Ingeniero de Montes Edicion illustrada con numerosos grabados Madrid: Imprenta, Estereopidea y Galvanoplastia de Ariban y Ca. (Sucesores de Rivadencyra) Impresores de Camara de S. M. Calle del Duque de Osuna, num 3. 1875," The following extract from the book will show how marvelously the author anticipated events that have now become history:
"With the altered condition of things, however, all this has disappeared. The colony can no longer be kept secluded from the world. Every facility afforded for commercial intercourse is a blow to the old system, and a great step made in the direction of broad and liberal reforms. The more foreign capital and foreign ideas and customs are introduced, increasing the prosperity, enlightenment, and self-esteem of the population, the more impatiently will the existing evils be endured.
England can and does open her possessions unconcernedly to the world. The British colonies are united to the mother country by the bond of mutual advantage, viz., the produce of raw material by means of English capital, and the exchange of the same for English manufactures. The wealth of England is so great, the organization of her commerce with the world so complete, that nearly all the foreigners even in the British possessions are for the most part agents for English business houses, which would scarcely be affected, at least to any marked extent, by a political dismemberment. It is entirely different with Spain, which possesses the colony as an inherited property, and without the power of turning it to any useful account.
Government monopolies rigorously maintained, insolent disregard and neglect of the half-castes and powerful creoles, and the example of the United States, were the chief reasons of the downfall of the American possessions. The same causes threaten ruin to the Philippines; but of the monopolies I have said enough.
Half-castes and creoles, it is true are not, as they formerly were in America, excluded from all orificial appointments; but they feel deeply hurt and injured through the crowds of place-hunters which the frequent changes of Ministers send to Manilla. The influence, also, of the American element is at least visible on the horizon, and will be more noticeable when the relations increase between the two countries. At present they are very slender. The trade in the meantime follows in its old channels to England and to the Atlantic ports of the United States. Nevertheless, whoever desires to form an opinion upon the future history of the Philippines, must not consider simply their relations to Spain, but must have regard to the prodigious changes which a few decades produce on either side of our planet.
For the first time in the history of the world the mighty powers on both sides of the ocean have commenced to enter upon a direct intercourse with one another—Russia, which alone is larger than any two other parts of the earth; China, which contains within its own boundaries a third of the population of the world; and America, with ground under cultivation nearly sufficient to feed treble the total population of the earth. Russia's further role in the Pacific Ocean is not to be estimated at present.
The trade between the two other great powers will therefore be presumably all the heavier, as the rectification of the pressing need of human labour on the one side, and of the corresponding overplus on the other, will fall to them.
"The world of the ancients was confined to the shores of the Mediterranean; and the Atlantic and Indian Oceans sufficed at one time for our traffic. When first the shores of the Pacific re-echoed with the sounds of active commerce, the trade of the world and the history of the world may be really said to have begun. A start in that direction has been made; whereas not so very long ago the immense ocean was one wide waste of waters, traversed from both points only once a year. From 1603 to 1769 scarcely a ship had ever visited California, that wonderful country which, twenty-five years ago, with the exception of a few places on the coast, was an unknown wilderness, but which is now covered with flourishing and prosperous towns and cities, divided from sea to sea by a railway, and its capital already ranking the third of the seaports of the Union; even at this early stage of its existence a central point of the world's commerce, and apparently destined, by the proposed junction of the great oceans, to play a most important part in the future.
In proportion as the navigation of the west coast of America extends the influence of the American element over the South Sea, the captivating, magic power which the great republic exercises over the Spanish colonies will not fail to make itself felt also in the Philippines. The Americans are evidently destined to bring to a full development the germs originated by the Spaniards. As conquerors of modern times, they pursue their road to victory with the assistance of the pioneer's axe and plough, representing an age of peace and commercial prosperity in contrast to that bygone and chivalrous age whose champions were upheld by the cross and protected by the sword.
A considerable portion of Spanish America already belongs to the United States, and has since attained an importance which could not possibly have been anticipated either under the Spanish Government or during the anarchy which followed. With regard to permanence, the Spanish system cannot for a moment be compared with that of America. While each of the colonies, in order to favour a privileged class by immediate gains, exhausted still more the already enfeebled population of the metropolis by the withdrawal of the best of its ability, America, on the contrary, has attracted to itself from all countries the most energetic element, which, once on its soil and, freed from all fetters, restlessly progressing, has extended its power and influence still further and further. The Philippines will escape the action of the two great neighbouring powers all the less for the fact that neither they nor their metropolis find their condition of a stable and well-balanced nature.
It seems to be desirable for the natives that the above-mentioned views should not speedily become accomplished facts, because their education and training hitherto have not been of a nature to prepare them successfully to compete with either of the other two energetic, creative, and progressive nations. They have, in truth, dreamed away their best days."
This prophecy of Jagor's made a deep impression upon Rizal and seems to furnish the explanation of his life work. Henceforth it was his ambition to arouse his countrymen to prepare themselves for a freer state. He dedicated himself to the work which Doctor Jagor had indicated as necessary. It seems beyond question that Doctor Rizal, as early as 1876, believed that America would sometime come to the Philippines, and wished to prepare his countrymen for the changed conditions that would then have to be met. Many little incidents in his later life confirm this view: his eagerness to buy expensive books on the United States, such as his early purchase in Barcelona of two different "Lives of the Presidents of the United States"; his study of the country in his travel across it from San Francisco to New York; the reference in "The Philippines in a Hundred Years"; and the studies of the English Revolution and other Anglo-Saxon influences which culminated in the foundation of the United States of America.
Besides the interest he took in clay modeling, to which reference has already been made, Rizal was expert in carving. When first in the Ateneo he had carved an image of the Virgin of such grace and beauty that one of the Fathers asked him to try an image of the Sacred Heart. Rizal complied, and produced the carving that played so important a part in his future life. The Jesuit Father had intended to take the image with him to Spain, but in some way it was left behind and the schoolboys put it up on the door of their dormitory. There it remained for nearly twenty years, constantly reminding the many lads who passed in and out of the one who teachers and pupils alike agreed was the greatest of all their number, for Rizal during these years was the schoolboy hero of the Ateneo, and from the Ateneo came the men who were most largely concerned in making the New Philippines. The image itself is of batikulin, an easily carved wood, and shows considerable skill when one remembers that an ordinary pocketknife was the simple instrument used in its manufacture. It was recalled to Rizal's memory when he visited the Ateneo upon his first return from Spain and was forbidden the house by the Jesuits because of his alleged apostasy, and again in the chapel of Fort Santiago, where it played an important part in what was called his conversion.
The proficiency he attained in the art of clay modeling is evidenced by many of the examples illustrated in this volume. They not only indicate an astonishing versatility, but they reveal his very characteristic method of working—a characteristic based on his constant desire to adapt the best things he found abroad to the conditions of his own country. The same characteristic appears also in most of his literary work, and in it there is no servile imitation; it is careful and studied selection, adaptation and combination. For example, the composition of a steel engraving in a French art journal suggested his model in clay of a Philippine wild boar; the head of the subject in a painting in the Luxembourg Gallery and the rest of a figure in an engraving in a newspaper are combined in a statuette he modeled in Brussels and sent, in May, 1890, to Valentina Ventura in place of a letter; a clipping from a newspaper cut is also adapted for his model of "The Vengeance of the Harem"; and as evidence of his facility of expressing himself in this medium, his clay modeling of a Dapitan woman may be cited. One day while in exile he saw a native woman clearing up the street in front of her home preparatory to a festival; the movements and the attitudes of the figure were so thoroughly typical and so impressed themselves on his mind that he worked out this statuette from memory.
In a literary way Rizal's first pretentious effort was a melodrama in one act and in verse, entitled "Junta al Pasig" (Beside the Pasig), a play in honor of the Virgin, which was given in the Ateneo to the great edification of a considerable audience, who were enthusiastic in their praise and hearty in their applause, but the young author neither saw the play nor paid any attention to the manner of its reception, for he was downstairs, intent on his own diversions and heedless of what was going on above.
Thursday was the school holiday in those days, and Rizal usually spent the time at the Convent of La Concordia, where his youngest sister, Soledad, was a boarder. He was a great friend of the little one and a welcome visitor in the Convent; he used to draw pictures for her edification, sometimes teasing her by making her own portrait, to which he gave exaggerated ears to indicate her curiosity. Then he wrote short satirical skits, such as the following, which in English doggerel quite matches its Spanish original:
"The girls of Concordia College Go dressed in the latest of styles— Bangs high on their foreheads for knowledge— But hungry their grins and their smiles!"
Some of these girls made an impression upon Jose, and one of his diary entries of this time tells of his rude awakening when a girl, some years his elder, who had laughingly accepted his boyish adoration, informed him that she was to marry a relative of his, and he speaks of the heart-pang with which he watched the carromata that carried her from his sight to her wedding.
Jose was a great reader, and the newspapers were giving much attention to the World's Fair in Philadelphia which commemorated the first centennial of American independence, and published numerous cuts illustrating various interesting phases of American life. Possibly as a reaction from the former disparagement of things American, the sentiment in the Philippines was then very friendly. There was one long account of the presentation of a Spanish banner to a Spanish commission in Philadelphia, and the newspapers, in speaking of the wonderful progress which the United States had made, recalled the early Spanish alliance and referred to the fact that, had it not been for the discoveries of the Spaniards, their new land would not have been known to Europe.
Rizal during his last two years in the Ateneo was a boarder. Throughout his entire course he had been the winner of most of the prizes. Upon receiving his Bachelor of Arts diploma he entered the University of Santo Tomas; in the first year he studied the course in philosophy and in the second year began to specialize in medicine.
The Ateneo course of study was a good deal like that of our present high school, though not so thorough nor so advanced. Still, the method of instruction which has made Jesuit education notable in all parts of the world carried on the good work which the mother's training had begun. The system required the explanation of the morrow's lesson, questioning on the lesson of the day and a review of the previous day's work. This, with the attention given to the classics, developed and quickened faculties which gave Rizal a remarkable power of assimilating knowledge of all kinds for future use.
The story is told that Rizal was undecided as to his career, and wrote to the rector of the Ateneo for advice; but the Jesuit was then in the interior of Mindanao, and by the time the answer, suggesting that he should devote himself to agriculture, was received, he had already made his choice. However, Rizal did continue the study of agriculture, besides specializing in medicine, carrying on double work as he took the course in the Ateneo which led to the degree of land surveyor and agricultural expert. This work was completed before he had reached the age fixed by law, so that he could not then receive his diploma, which was not delivered to him until he had attained the age of twenty-one years.
In the "Life" of Rizal published in Barcelona after his death a brilliant picture is painted of how Rizal might have followed the advice of the rector of the Ateneo, and have lived a long, useful and honorable life as a farmer and gobernadorcillo of his home town, respected by the Spaniards, looked up to by his countrymen and filling an humble but safe lot in life. Today one can hardly feel that such a career would have been suited to the man or regret that events took the course they did.
Poetry was highly esteemed in the Ateneo, and Rizal frequently made essays in verse, often carrying his compositions to Kalamba for his mother's criticisms and suggestions. The writings of the Spanish poet Zorilla were making a deep impression upon him at this time, and while his schoolmates seemed to have been more interested in their warlike features, Jose appears to have gained from them an understanding of how Zorilla sought to restore the Spanish people to their former dignity, rousing their pride through recalling the heroic events in their past history. Some of the passages in the melodrama, "Junta al Pasig," already described, were evidently influenced by his study of Zorilla; the fierce denunciation of Spain which is there put in the mouth of Satan expresses, no doubt, the real sentiments of Rizal.
In 1877 a society known as the Liceo Literario-Artistica (Lyceum of Art and Literature) offered a prize for the best poem by a native. The winner was Rizal with the following verses, "Al Juventud Filipino" (To the Philippine Youth). The prize was a silver pen, feather-shaped and with a gold ribbon running through it.