Correspondence of Rizal to his Family 1876


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      I’m going to give you a so-so description of the Canal. It is not straight throughout its length; it has curves but small ones’, sometimes it flows into a lake where it is believed Moses passed, and again enters the desert. It crosses three lakes in its course. On both banks, which are all yellow and white, where it is a real jewel to find grass, are erected some telegraph stations placed at intervals. We have seen a young beggar eating sand and following the ship in order to pick up a cracker that may be thrown to him or not. A traveler on a camel and two magnificent Arabian horses. One of these, mounted by a customs officer, attracted the attention of everybody. Here I have tasted cherries, apricots, and green almonds. We have seen the curious spectacle of a mirage, which is the reflection on the desert of seas and islands that do not exist at all.

      I hope to receive a letter from you before the end of this month at Barcelona. I repeat I’m in good health and wish you to be the same.

      Foreigners in whose colonies the colonials are very much oppressed do not want to believe that I’m an Indio; others that I’m a Japanese. It is hard to make them believe the truth.

      Bless your son who will never forget you.


      You may tell my brothers as well as my brothers-in-law that I would be glad to receive letters from them.

      Regards to all, like my friends and acquaintances there, and may they excuse me for not writing them now, but when I shall be at Barcelona, they would get tired of me. I’ve a desire to speak Tagalog. It has been one month that I have not spoken one word. I’m familiarizing myself with French.


      (1) He was Arabi Pasha, an army officer, who led a revolt against the foreigners in Egypt with the slogan, "Egypt for the Egyptians." The anti-foreign agitation began with riots in Alexandria in June 1882 in which fifty Christians were killed. The disorder spread and the British intervened with armed force. They bombarded Alexandria on 11 July 1882 and then landed troops that clashed with those of Arabi. On 13 September Arabi was finally defeated at Tel-el-Kebir. He was captured and sent to Ceylon.

Travel impressions -- Port Said -- Napoli -- Marseille Sightseeing -- Barcelona -- Visits factories of porcelain, glass, ceramics -- Sees many things that are applicable in the Philippines

Barcelona, 23 June 1882

My Dear Parents and Brothers,

      I have the pleasure to write you today, the eve of the town feast there (Calamba), and a memorable day for me, although it is not the day of the departure of the mail boat. My last letter, dated in the Canal, must have informed you of the incidents of my trip; it remains for me then to relate what happened after that. We arrived at this important city, Port Said, which partakes much of Africa and Europe; commercial, gay, and quite beautiful, but, on the other hand, dirty and corrupt. There is a café-musical where an orchestra, an excellent one, according to those who know, plays the national songs of the different European countries, like the Marseillaise, God Save the Queen, and others. Its population is most heterogeneous: European, Turks, Greeks, Egyptians, and Negroes. Variety of fruits: the date about all; elegant stores with signs in French, Italian, Greek, and others, and dirty and dark booths adorn its animated streets. We were here for about three hours. It must be noted that we didn’t find even . . . (illegible)

      At the beginning, the sailing was good, we passed opposite Greece, the Island of Candia; on the 10th, with good weather, we sighted the coast of Italy; the first town we saw was . . . (illegible) with a very beautiful beach which at the time a train was crossing. Thence the sailing was very pleasant on account of the beauty of the Italian coasts, thickly populated and well cultivated, presenting a picturesque aspect, full of life and poetry. That resembled a Belen (1) on account of its many houses and little trees. On the same afternoon of the 10th we passed through the Strait of Messina with a sea so smooth that we didn’t notice a single wave. We saw the volcanoes Stromboli and Etna and other islands. Sicily and Naples, even if we have not yet passed them, appeared before our eyes bathed in the beautiful rays of the afternoon sun. The following day, at dawn, Napoli (Naples) appeared to us, a gigantic city that lies asleep beside Vesuvius, a volcano that seems to be guarding this wonderful city. Its extent from Pasilipo Mountain until the other extreme, all populated, would be the same as from the town of Calamba until beyond Los Baños. Elegant edifices, like that of the Royal Palace, the Castle of Santelmo or St. Telmo, numerous hotels, the Tower of Massaniello, and the lugubrious State prison. We were not allowed more than one hour to go ashore which I spent visiting Napoli at the risk of being left behind. Those of us who went ashore were four, and accompanied by a cicerone we went around the city. It was the first European city I passed through. From pleasure to pleasure, from surprise to surprise, in an elegant coach, guided by a cicerone who spoke French, I went through those streets, carefully paved with large, black, flat paving stones, and crossed by street cars. Statues, houses, stores and show-windows glittering for the lavish use of gilt and crystal, attract the attention of the traveler, above all if he comes from the colonies. A throng that speaks a melodious language come and go continually, elegant ladies and gentlemen walk through the streets. At the street corners are announcements or notices to the Freemasonry of the whole world concerning the death of Garibaldi. (2) I went to the telegraph station with various orders and afterwards in twenty minutes we went around the city, the Posilipo, various churches vyingly full of statues, squares with antique marble statues or copies of them, like those of Apollo, Faunus, Orestes, equestrian statues, the Fountain of the Four Seasons, represented by four superb lions, a museum of antiquities from Herculaneum and Pompeii.

      How sorry I am not to be able to stop and see it, study it, examine it more closely and a little more carefully. Almost one moment more and the boat would leave me behind. But all this magnificent panorama cost me much, because coachman and cicerone cheated me, charging me four times more than the agreed price. On the boat I found many peddlers of lava from Vesuvius made into elegant lockets and other jewels, views of Naples, and on the water alongside the boat were two divers or swimmers who, less aristocratic than the Negroes of Aden, were satisfied with fishing out small copper coins thrown far away into the water. When I compared these two good Italian lads with the Negroes of Aden with kinky hair, I couldn’t help but indulge in serious reflections.

      Also in a boat came two Italian women and two men, the women with guitars and bandores and the men with violins, to play for us, singing in sweet and melodious voice several opera selections and the Addio a Napoli. They received with an open umbrella all kinds of money thrown to them by the passengers.

      Four or five minutes after my arrival we left Napoli, and I became the butt of the questions of my fellow passengers who repented for not having gone ashore. Here we learned through the newspapers about the occurrences in Alexandria and Cairo -- the massacre of Europeans that took place when we were in the Canal. In my previous letter I must have told you something about my conversation with a physician, a partisan of Arabi Pasha, probably in the know of what was then being plotted. But the gentleman didn’t let anything leak out, and in the Canal we were calm and peaceful.

      From Napoli we sailed almost the whole day within sight of Italy, but the mistral (3) blew and gave us good jolts. The following day, the 12th, we passed near Corsica, native land of Napoleon. Its coasts were less populated, more mountainous and wild; they have much to envy the Italian coasts with regard to land development.

      In the evening, and after enough strutting and with a cold that compelled me to accept the shawl of Mrs. Salazar, despite my frock-coat and vest, we saw the lighthouse of Marseille. By this time the sun set at about 7:00, and as the twilight was very long, it was still daylight by 8:30. Thus, the coasts of France, which since five o’clock were vaguely outlined in the distance, would have appeared to us more beautiful had it not been for the wavering light of dusk. In the evening then, at about 10 or 11 o’clock, we dropped anchor, because it was forbidden to enter. Before us, among several islands, stood the celebrated Castle of If. A city viewed at night with beacons of different colors and electric lights that seemed to wander from one place to another seemed to me a monster with a thousand restless and distrustful eyes. We deferred then for the next day our curiosity. I am condemned to see cities at sunrise that surprise a traveler who sees a pleasant thing suddenly and not gradually. It is needless to give you a description of Marseille, because all that I can say about very big ships, forest of masts, poles, and chimneys, boats, buildings, churches, etc. -- all will be pale and cold, colder than the cold we felt then.

      I was on deck with my frock-coat and gloves on waiting eagerly for the permit to go down. Here farewells, meetings, tears, instructions in French everywhere, boatmen, porters who salute you very politely and offer you their services. Wicked money! At last my turn came to bid goodbye those who had become my new friends and acquaintances, foreigners and Spaniards, who gave me their cards and pictures. And followed by a boatman I went ashore to the customhouse. French politeness is evident even among the customs officers who begged for "Pardon" before searching me with all possible consideration. Taking a coach (coupé) I went to the Grand Hotel Noailles located on Rue Cannebiére. This is one of the best hotels, if not the best, in Marseille, with all the comforts, carpeted marble staircase, hydraulic elevators for going up and down all the floors without having to lift one foot, servants attired in dress coat with white necktie, clean and elegant, carpeted rooms with dressing-tables, velvet chairs with springs, electric bells, imperial bedsteads; in short, excellent service. I had one of these rooms for four francs a day without board. But it must be noted that here even the candle is paid for separately. On account of the excessive cold that penetrated everywhere I had to keep my room, which is full of embroidered curtains and carpeted, always closed. I was in Marseille two days and a half, but I got bored staying in my room alone, accustomed as I was to many people. Many of the passengers were lodged in the hotel. I strolled through those wide and clean streets, paved like those in Manila and full of people, attracting the attention of everybody who called me Chinese, Japanese, American, etc., but no one called me Filipino! Poor country, no one has heard of you!

      This is the most elegant city that I have seen and it is cultured and rich with respect to its houses. The majority of these are decorated with statues, caryatids, bunches of flowers, sphinxes, busts, etc., etc., large, admirable for their richness in crystal and marble elegantly combined. The fact is nobody looked out the window on account of the cold; I was about the only one who stepped out on the balcony. The stores have their glass doors closed so that the cold may not get in, and at first I didn’t enter them believing that it was prohibited to do so. Almost all the articles displayed to the public have their prices beside them; and it must be noted that everything is cheap.

      But many people moved about; there were vendors of fruits, newspapers, and flowers; there were booths where oysters, mussels, and shrimps were sold. The sidewalks of Rue Cannebiére are as wide as an ordinary street and I was much struck that one enters a place with very elegant signs in gilt and crystal, the like of which cannot be found in Manila, and finds himself in a passable café.

      I saw the gallery of paintings where there were excellent pictures and statues, the zoological garden with its lions, bears, panthers, elephants, and a carabao. I was not able to see many animals because that was a very big place and I got tired. There was a department for monkeys from all parts of the world. There were some that resembled human beings, extending their hands to you as if asking about your health. The museum of natural history didn’t escape my curiosity.

      I saw also the Panorama that is a circular building. You go inside and you see dead soldiers beside a cannon, and they seem to be sculpture, and you come to a place where you see on all sides a real siege with cavalry, with soldiers surrendering their arms, skirmishes, etc. Everything there is an illusion. You think such a horse is moving, that the dead man is kicking, that the smoke of the fire is rising, that the howitzer is striking the snow of the distant mountain, far horizons, the snow, the chief who is shouting, so that we got into a discussion as to whether all of these were paintings or sculpture. Being there without looking through a cosmorama, you feel as if you are on the battlefield itself. The whole place is a continuous field and the rogues even offer you binoculars in order to see better.

      I left Marseille by express train on the afternoon of the 5th, because all the trains that go from Marseille to Barcelona are express. The ticket is very cheap -- 12 pesos and 3 pesetas, first class. You travel at full speed of from five to six leagues (4) per hour. By boat the trip costs almost as much and it’s more uncomfortable. We were going at such speed that when we met trains running in the opposite direction, it was physically impossible to look at them because your head would turn around. That was infernal; it seemed like lightning, a monster, a shooting star. We went through tunnels, or rather mountains, one of which was very long that at the speed we were going I believed we made it in more than five minutes. At one stop I was much frightened: a stop of 30 minutes was announced. I went down for some necessity and after five minutes, I saw the train pulling out taking along my luggage with my money in it. I ran after it; I didn’t overtake it. Fortunately, a gendarme informed me that it would return soon and that it would only change tracks. After that I didn’t go down again. The towns and countrysides that we pass are precious: Every inch of land is well cultivated and used for vineyards, olive trees, and planted to wheat and barley. France is thickly populated, for along the way there were houses almost without interruption until the Spanish boundary. We passed by the following towns and cities: Pas-de, Gamur, Regisal, Saint Chamas, Miramas, Tarascon, Le Cailar, Aimargues, Porllan, Montpellier, Cette, Narbonne, Perpignan, Cerbére. We spent the night at France; at dawn we arrived at the Spanish frontier town, Port Bou. There we had to change trains. Before that we were searched at the customhouse by the Spanish carabineers. Missing were the courtesy and polish of the French, but on the other hand, we had a delicious breakfast in a beautiful and pleasant room. Here can be seen posters in Spanish and French. It seems that one is in Manila for one sees Spanish Castilian phrases and one hears Spanish spoken. From here in another train we come to Barcelona passing also through two or five tunnels, one of which was quite long. Much work has been put into it according to the commander of the navy, this Spanish line that goes to France is the best. Although the country is perfectly cultivated, it is less populated than France. At the frontier we saw a frontier lad. He was wearing a costume half French and half Spanish, a clergyman’s cap, Catalan fiber sandals. The symbolism was funny, graphic and significant. The towns we passed were Pourt Bou, Llansá, Vilajuiga, Perelada, Figueras, Vilamalla, Tonya, San Miguel, San Jordi, Flassá, Bordils, Celrá, Galella, Arenys, Caldetas, Mataró, Premiá, Masnou, Mongat, and Badalona. It was about 12:00 when we arrived at Barcelona. My first impression of Barcelona was very unpleasant. After having seen Napoli and Marseille, I found this city poor and vulgar. Its streets were dirty, its houses of poor architecture, in short, I saw everything in an unfavorable light with the exception of the women who seemed to me more beautiful than the women of Marseille. I was very much disappointed especially when we arrived at the hotel where the service and accommodation were so poor that my companion Mr. Buil, chief of the telegraph office, said: "To come from Hotel Noailles and then drop on this!" I was very sad above all when I looked for the persons to whom I was recommended and I couldn’t find them. I was not able to see a single countryman, and on account of the large expenses I had encountered in my trip and the many cheatings I suffered, only 12 pesos remained to me. At last I found the Jesuit fathers who received me well and showed me an inexpensive and Christian house where I got board and room for 21 pesos a month. When I reached the hotel, my companion, having received a telegram, had left hurriedly, carrying my coat in which I kept my passport, my gloves, and I don’t know what else, and in exchange he left me many of his things. I learned that he had been informed of something serious when I saw the telegram on the table. Then I too left the hotel hurriedly, and in less than an hour my little money was further reduced by the dishonest hotel keeper, the coachman, and the porter who over-charged me. I moved to the house indicated to me by the Jesuit fathers and when the people there learned how much I had spent and paid the rogues, they exclaimed: "You have been terribly cheated. In fact they had taken advantage of your being a tyro!" Only seven pesos remained to me. As I looked at the house to which I had moved -- modest, humid, dark, and poorly ventilated -- located on San Severo Street, a dirty and old alley: as I looked at the brick floor of my room, the straw chairs, the hard and not so tidy bed, not a mirror, an old and broken wash-basin placed on a stand made of four pieces of iron, I accustomed to luxury and comfort, at least for the last forty days, became intensely dispirited and sad and more than ever with deep sorrow I remembered our house which is a thousand times more decent than that. Then a thousand sad thoughts invaded my mind upon finding myself in that world hitherto unknown to me, without friends, without relatives, especially when the landlord came (for until then I had met only the landlady, a good and gentle woman) who was rough, coarse, ugly in appearance, when I saw priests come out from all the rooms and heard everywhere the harsh Catalan language. Supper consisted of nothing more than a dish of vegetables and another of fish. I called the attention of the priests, the only guests of that house, and I observed that underneath that rough exterior a good disposition was hidden. Little by little those clouds were dissipated and they treated me with more consideration, especially a priest who had come from Cuba. Ah! I forgot to say that, having learned at the Jesuit College that Cuesta was boarding in the same house, I hurriedly went there to see my countryman, but I couldn’t talk with him because he had left for Manresa. I stayed then at that house to await him and also for reasons of economy. The following day, provided with a map of the city, I began walking through the streets of that labyrinth to look for my countrymen. Some were still sleeping. I went to the hospital to wait for them there and after waiting a long time, I was shown the house of a countryman. I found Cabangis (5) and since then I have had better days. Successively I found the others who received me very well, who found for me more decent and cheaper houses. I met Cuesta (6) who returned from Manresa. In short, since then until the present I like Barcelona and I’m getting to like it more and more. At present I occupy a room on the third floor of a building on Sitjes Street, number 3, together with Cabangis and other good students who are refined and courteous. I’m well served by a landlady, whose name is Doña Silvestra, who always says to me: "Don Pepe, do you want something? Have you already an appetite?" and so on. I have somewhat written at length about certain things in order to portray to you the impressions and situation of a tyro. Now I know Barcelona a little and it seems to me large and pretty and I remember Marseille and Napoli (Naples) as a glittering and vanished dream. I’m beginning to discover in this city gems and riches; pretty and elegant houses of varied architecture, Arabic and Greco-Roman. I’m getting used to it and I regard it with pleasure. The Jesuit fathers lent me money in case I should lack some and something happen to me. I have gone through their College and I’m making a study of various things to apply them there when I return. I’ve visited a porcelain factory that I liked very much and I intend to visit another of glass, clay, etc. Here are found many things that are applicable there.

      When some of you want to write me, which I hope you’ll do every mail boat, address me thus:

      Mr. José Rizal

      No.3, Floor 3 Sitjes Street


      If you could send me by registered mail through the next mail boat my birth certificate and a statement that I have my parents and family there, I would be much obliged.

      I don’t know if you have received my letters; I’ve written you at Singapore, Point Galle, Aden, Suez, and this time at Barcelona. I expect by next mail letters addressed to Father Ramón Vilalta. (7)

      Every moment I’m thinking of what you would be doing at this time; I’m behind you eight hours, so that generally you are sleeping when I’m awake. I trust that you are all in good health like me who is putting on weight.

      I’m sending the most affectionate regards to all of you and to all our relatives, and when you write me, tell me even about nephews and friends. Give my regards to the parish priest and to Capitán Juan (8) as well as to the others.

      And bless your son who wishes only your happiness.

      José Rizal

      Barcelona, 29 June

      Today, probably the feast on the beach (Calamba), (9) I close my letters with regret for not having received even one letter from you by the two mails that arrived from here.

      I believe that it would be better if there were a commercial firm here that would give me money at the beginning of every month. This can be done by means of a money order of a firm there. The family of Cabangis of Tondo that my brother knows . . .


      (1)Belen is the Tagalog and Spanish name for Bethlehem. The Tagalogs also called Créche Belén the reproduction of Christ’s birthplace that Christian Filipinos put up in their homes at Christmas time.

      (2)Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807 - 1882), Italian patriot, who labored for the unification of his native country.

      (3)It is a cold, dry, violent northern wind of the Mediterranean provinces of France.

      (4)A measure of distance varying for different times and countries from 3.9 to 7.4 kilometers.

      (5)Tomás Cabangis of a wealthy family of Tondo, Manila, who was studying medicine at Barcelona.

      (6)Máximo Cuesta of Pangasinan, student of law at Barcelona.

      (7)A Jesuit priest at Barcelona to whom Rizal was recommended.

      (8) The gobernadorcillo or capitain of Calamba from 1867-1868 whose house stood in front of Rizal’s family homestead.

      (9)The patron saint of the Calamba barrio on the lakeshore is St. Peter and St. Paul, 29th of June.

Rizal’s parents are sad on account of his departure -- Ubaldo wants to be transferred from Bulacan to Calamba.

Bulacan, 26 June 1882

Mr. José Rizal

Esteemed José,

      I thank you for your recommendation in my favor; I thank you for remembering us; and we are glad that you arrived safely in that country . . .

      I tell you that Father becomes exceedingly sad every time he remembers you, so that I always say to him that you are coming back soon and not to worry about you for you are going to meet [him] soon. What he does often is to go to Olimpia’s store and there amuse himself.

      Mother does not want anybody else but herself to send you money, so that whatever amount you may need, you should write to her.

      I’m here now in Bulacan, assigned as an agent, since the 23rd of this month, the day before the eve of the fiesta of Calamba. If you can do me a favor there by having me transferred to Calamba, recommend me to the Inspector General of Communications, the Most Illustrious Andrés de Caupa. I’m sure Don Paciano will also write you about me. They will certainly not listen to Mr. Buil at Manila, so you please work it out there at the Ministry, if possible. The whole family does not want us to be away from Calamba.

      Until here, many regards and command your brother-in-law who is ready at any time.

      Silvestre Ubaldo

Paciano sends more news on Calamba’s town fiesta -- Family news -- Rizal’s allowance.

Calamba, 24 July 1882

Dear Brother,

      I was not able to write you in the preceding mail about what occurred during the fiesta, because I was sure that Uncle Antonio would inform you about it; and then an indisposition that I had precisely on the day of the fiesta prevented me from finding out the date of the departure of the mail. Now that I know it, I’ll tell you more about it.

      Days before the fiesta, almost all the Manila newspapers talked about it and they talked so much that El Comercio offended the sensitiveness of the lieutenant of the civil guard of this town by announcement that in substance said that there would be plenty of cockfighting and other things. The good lieutenant has no reason to take this to heart because, if they make him blush on one hand, on the other they made it up to him liberally. In the meantime, the days were spent in the preparation of platforms, bamboo arches, and other things, and the day before the eve many people from other towns arrived, so that everybody predicted that the fiesta would be grand. I consider El Comercio right because it referred to this. On the eve of the fiesta there was a heavy rain that undoubtedly dissuaded many real visitors from nearby towns from coming. Hence, as for me nothing notable occurred on the first day, except at night in the yard of there theater where it was a little lively despite the cloudy sky, for there were gathered there almost all my friends and acquaintances of the gay group, of the Curia, that is, the secular and regular clergy and the civil guard who were seated on the side of the curtain, perhaps in order that their respectable seriousness might not be confounded with the people in the yard or to see better the actresses that came out to the platform inasmuch as they left at 4:00 after the performance was over. The second day was a repetition of the first, the only difference being the heavy downpour during the evening procession that soaked the Virgin and all the saints. Afterwards the fireworks and a larger number of people at the theater, leaving no space empty within the yard; here was the fiesta.

      At home we had less visitors than in any year; the same is true in other houses. By telling you that we had only Uncle Antonio, Ferrer, and Gella you can judge how we spent the fiesta. Notwithstanding, I ought not to omit the dinner on the second day which was gay and lasted two hours during which many things were talked about, among them being the difference between our hours and those in that place where you are. The rest of the conversation was at the expense of Doña Basilia. About myself I can tell you that since the eve, I had a headache and coughing and because of the affair of that night, I caught fever the following morning. I had a sudorific (1) which agreed with me, but in place of the fever, red spots appeared on my body which they say are measles. I had them for three days. In spite of everything, I enjoyed a little, watching the others. Then I lost my appetite for a long time, but now I am well again as before.

      Silvestre was assigned to Bulacan. He left sad on the day before the eve of the fiesta. It is really difficult to leave seeing festive preparations, to separate from his new family, and to bury himself in a town that is not of his liking. He said to me that he would write you about this; I don’t know if you have already received it. I have written to Basilio about the same matter, because his brother, while here, offered his services in such cases. Until now I have not received his reply but instead one from Uncle Antonio in which he tells me that, despite his sickness, Teodoro works in agreement with him.

      Apropos diseases: there is cholera in Manila and they say that they are hiding it very carefully, so that abroad they will not declare this port dirty and consequently create another obstacle to the export trade. In our town we had three cases in the course of one month and all of them were fatal.

      Lucía gave birth to a robust boy whom they named after you. There was a gathering on the day of the baptism. Tacio has completely recovered from his illness. This is the second letter I send you; probably I shall not be able to write you in every mail; I shall lack material for it on account of the monotonous life in this provincial town; one day is like all the rest in the year, neither more nor less; but if something happens I shall not fail to write you.

      As to your letters, the last we have received is dated at Suez, received here on the 20th. How letters are delayed!

      Uncle Antonio is in charge of your allowance from whom you will receive 35 pesos monthly. The preceding remittances were fifty pesos each.

      If you will receive anything different, don’t be surprised because there is no other way. The most valuable things that are in trust here cannot become our own property, as that is the order of the day.

      I know that we ought not to meddle in other people’s affairs, but as I want to fill the remaining blank space, I shall fail in my duty if I do not tell you about a certain young woman here who, on the day of your departure, was wooed by an old man, but now with the death of Mena, she is courted in due form by another ravenous old man who leaves her not a moment of rest and will end by subduing her, as it happens to all those women who defend themselves poorly.

      Farewell. When shall we receive your letters dated at the capital?

      Your brother,


      Today, the 25th, at 6:15 in the morning, [we had] a moderate earthquake; at 6:30 [we suffered] another one.


      (1) A drug that causes sweating.

Family news -- His brother-in-law, Antonio López, (1) generously offers to send Rizal money.

Calamba, 24 August 1882

Mr. José Rizal Mercado

      Dear José,

      We received your letter that you left with Uncle Antonio when you left Manila. We understood all that you said in it, as well as your best wishes for our welfare. Likewise, through the receipt of your last letters, we received your many regards to the children and us. For all this we thank without end first God and secondly you. We are also hoping that the Virgin Mother and Her Son may extend to you her valuable blessing and grant all that your heart desires that will redound to the benefit of yourself and all of us.

      Though it is too late, I wish to tell you of the sadness of the whole family when they received the news of your departure for Europe. All of them became numbed on account of the suddenness of the news. They could not understand what had happened. They pitied you, believing that you have left without the things needed by one who travels. But later the Almighty dispelled all their fears and gave them some relief when they learned you did not lack the necessary things.

      The first thing that I’m going to tell you is that Father and Mother, and all those in the house, Sra. Neneng and her husband, and Lucía, including all the children, are all in good health thank God, as we all here wish God would bestow on you.

      Lucía gave birth to a baby boy in June to whom they gave the name José. His godfather is Sr. Paciano, Sra. Neneng will undoubtedly deliver this month. After St. Peter and St. Paul’s Day, Ipia went to Bulacan where Ubaldo is assigned as officer-in-charge of the telegraph station. On the 11th of this month Mother and Maria visited them and at the same time attended, at their invitation, the town fiesta, which was celebrated on the 15th of this month.

      Here at Calamba, as well as in every barrio, (2) there is a procession every night praying God to spare the town of the plague. All foodstuffs that may cause illness, like those with a bad smell, such as small dried fish, pickled fish, and the like, are forbidden; therefore the town of Calamba is very clean.

      We have no other thing to send you but endless best regards and a tight embrace. Your nephews kiss your hand and you command your brother-in-law who awaits his orders eagerly.



      In case you need there something, like money, for which you are ashamed to ask your parents, let us know, as we are ready to send it to you. Don’t hesitate to ask us, because we offer you with all our heart whatever is within our means in view of our good relations.

      The Same


      Antonio López, husband of Rizal’s sister Narcisa.

      In the Philippines a political division of a municipality is called a barrio.

More family news -- Rizal’s letters are eagerly awaited -- Lack of town news.

(No day given, August 1882)

My Dear Brother,

      Our sadness at first has given way to endless joy in our heart. Every time we receive your letters we thank the Almighty that nothing untoward has happened to you, despite the great distance that separates us. Don’t resent our failure to write you in the last mail. Even though we don’t write you, we don’t forget you a singe moment, especially in our prayers to the Lord and the Virgin. The children also are always talking about you during their play. I often hear the three E., A., and Antonio, (1) discussing you. And when they hear your name mentioned in our conversations, they at once ask if you are coming home and where you are. Icang is good, because she can say that you are at Barcelona; E. says Colombo, and Antonia, Paña; (2) and so the three often have an argument; they cannot agree about you. María, Pangoy, and Trining say that they will not write you for the present because they have nothing more to tell you, as we have exhausted all the news. As you already know, here we lack news, so that our letters to you are devoid of news except family ones. However, the plague, that is said to be in Manila, has not yet reached our town, thank God. No one has yet died among our friends. T. Luis has a difficult ailment; he has gone to Manila for treatment but he has not improved. Icang has not yet become stout since you left; Chabeng is like a melon.

      Our relatives, friends, and above all we, your brothers who can never forget you, send you our best regards. Father and Mother bless you at all times. Don’t expect them to write you because their eyes are already weak. Don’t fail to include them in your prayers and ask the Lord to grant them a long life and strength so that on your return you may receive the tight embrace and blessing of our dearest parents.

      Your sister who esteems you tenderly.

      Narcisa Rizal (3)


     (1)Emilio, Angélica (Icang), and Antonio (Tonio) are the names of the children of his sister Narcisa, married to Antonio López.

     (2)That is España (Spain).

     (3)This letter was translated from the Tagalog by Encarnacíón Alonza 14 July 1958.

Rizal’s allowance -- Ravages of cholera -- Closing of schools at Manila

Calamba, 25 August 1882

Dear Brother,

      As the curate and Antonino are writing you, I will take advantage of this opportunity to tell you something. Your last letter received here is dated at Barcelona; I don’t know if any letter is missing; it would therefore be desirable that henceforth you number them all. In that letter, among other things, you say that I contact some foreign firm or commercial house from which you can get your allowance regularly. This is good and I’ll do it, though not now, because I cannot go down to Manila on account of my work and other things; but, as soon as I can go there, I’ll try without fail to arrange with one. You who are there will know better what it costs to live there decently, so that I hope you will write me the amount of allowance that I ought to send you.

      I have many things to tell you but I shall reserve them for the next mail. The only thing I can tell you now is that Calamba, or better Biga, is a veritable Tower of Babel. All the students and non-students, college girls and not college girls are there and for three days and are under observation if they carry the plague on their bodies. Everybody is going home on account of the closing of the educational establishments for both sexes. Every province is virtually isolated from the others. The cholera inspires such fear that the court, the civil guard, and the telegraph are very busy.

      We are in good health.

      Your brother,

      Paciano (1)


      (1) Translated from the Spanish by Encarnación Alonza 14 July 1958.

More ravages of the cholera -- Earthquakes -- Work in Pansol -- Family news.

Calamba, 15 September 1882

Mr. José Rizal

      Your letter dated 31 July at Barcelona is the latest one that we received here on 12 September; it takes the mail from there to here from 40 to 45 days then. How many things can happen during that time!

      In my last letter I mentioned something about the prevailing cholera here; this time I’ll tell you about it at length. When it was officially declared in Manila, land and sea communications were somewhat interrupted. Ships coming from filthy ports were forbidden to stop here. The steamers that come from Manila go directly to Sta. Cruz (Laguna) to be fumigated and are quarantined for twelve hours. Towns are not allowed to communicate with each other or enjoy any consideration, except with the permission of the government. This is with respect to the relations between the towns. As to the social life in our town, many people go to church in the morning to attend daily prayers as prescribed by the Archbishop’s pastoral letter. There is a continuous movement of men carrying bottles to get medicine. The priests are always riding in vehicles to bring spiritual aid to where they are called. In the afternoon there are bonfires in many places to serve as disinfectant and the people again go to church to recite the novena to St. Roch. At night processions, sometimes three, cross one another in the streets until the late hours. At their conclusion the participants eat at the house of the leader, who prepares food and fireworks as much as his resources permit. What I admire in these things is the contrast between the sentiments of the old and young people. The old grieve when they ought to rejoice because the plague makes them see their end closer. The young rejoice when they ought to grieve because they are in danger of not being able to fulfill the object for which they have come to this world.

      Now that the plague is at its peak, an average of 15 persons die daily. From night to morning healthy and robust men become corpses or at least, so completely unrecognizable and emaciated, hovering between life and death. Those who succumb to any other diseases deserve to be envied, because at least, they are attended and taken care of at their homes, they are taken to church and are buried in the cemetery but the victims of this scourge cannot comfort themselves that they are treated thus. Their relatives, even the close ones, flee away; they are not taken care of and if sometimes they are attended to, they become a heavy burden to their companions in the house who fear contagion. They are wrapped up and buried with the Chinese. It is a sad thing to die under these circumstances and of this disease; dogs devour the exposed. I doubt very much if the grave has a depth of two spans, and there is a throng of dogs around. If we were of the Brahmin caste, this kind of transmigration would be the most natural thing for us, but as we are Catholics, as such we wish our ashes to be respected.

      Notwithstanding, it is now time to begin the works in Pansol. I’m going to postpone it in order not to be separated from the family under these circumstances, though it is true that they are all enjoying perfect health and above all the old folks. Nevertheless, they do not fail to redouble their carefulness. This punishment seems to be taking roots in this town; it has been here one month. You will miss many people upon your return.

      We have at home Sra. Neneng and Sisa with her family. They left their houses to avoid contagion from cholera patients.

      Yesterday our elder sister (1) gave birth to a boy, red like a tomato. They are thinking of naming him Porfirio. To me this does not sound well, because it is difficult to pronounce. In my opinion the names do not honor individuals but individuals, their names. Brutus is the ugliest name ever and nevertheless, for the deeds of the fellow that bore it, it is pronounced with respect and admiration. I have not said anything to them on this.

      With the plague came the earthquakes -- a double penalty for one who lives in a house like ours and at the same time who has life to lose.

      The question of Quintero ended as yours, or perhaps better, because it was settled the following morning to the satisfaction of the stronger party, administering, according to what they said, some cudgeling to the offender inside his house. It is useless to expect complete reparation in these cases in accordance with the principles of justice while we are in this world.

      Tacio (2) has recovered from his terrible sickness. Lucino, his physician, has thereby gained a good reputation and six hundred pesos.

      I cannot go down to Manila now. The bank draft, like that of Cabangis, that I promised you, cannot be sent to you until about November or December.

      If in this letter I have painted things with a pale color, I should not be accused of being a pessimist, because I see things only under that point of view. I don’t know if this is a sickness, but the truth is that it is not a vice, and indeed it has a large portion of truth in it.


      When we received the telegram that asked for one hundred pesos without any letter of yours and without explanations, we were frightened, believing that something might have happened to you.

      See if something good can be done for Silvestre there.

      As this letter did not overtake the last mail, for the ships did not stop here then, it leaves today, 27th of September. Last night we received your letter with another addressed to Ubaldo. Now, cholera cases are very rare; they are found in the barrios.

      All the family is in good health, thank God.


     (1)Saturnina (Sta. Neneng) married to Manuel Hidalgo. See the following letter, number 22.

     (2)Anastacio Bonatin, son of Capitán Juan, gobernadorcillo of Calamba, 1867-1868.

Family news -- Birth of Alfredo -- Simple baptismal ceremony -- Death of family friends.

Calamba, Laguna

24 September 1882

Mr. José Rizal

Dear Brother-in-law,

      I begin this letter with news of a notable event in the family. Your sister gave birth to a baby boy at 11:45 this morning at the house of our parents, after having gone through the pains of childbirth for a period of 24 hours. He was baptized today at 10:00 o’clock in the morning with the name Alfredo Porfirio, the sponsors being the couple Mr. Narciso Paterno and Mrs. Emilia Venegas of Sta. Cruz, Manila, represented by Paciano and Narcisa. There was no pomp in the baptismal ceremony, except for some strokes of the bells (not chimed, which as you know, are what our bells can give), some music that conducted the baby home, some large and small firecrackers that made little noise. The only attendants were Pangoy, Trining, your nephews Antoñito, Emilio, and Icang, but you cannot imagine the noisy clamor they made, the promoter being the grand Emilio. At the house of our parents there was only a simple lunch of bread soup for the orchestra and the family and thus it was concluded.

      Because of the length of Paciano’s news I’ll say something, but not much, about the cholera that wrought havoc here. Your nursemaid Ina, Munda, her husband and another daughter died within an interval of only a few days, as well as various families on our street. For that reason, your sister as well as the entire family of Antonino endeavored to move in a hurry to our parents’ house. At our house, cholera attacked our houseboys, Flaviano and Evaristo, but thanks to local remedies (sambong, pepita, garlic, etc.) they were saved. Alfonso, Narcisa’s servant, died. An average of 16 die daily. Today, thanks to God, it is decreasing in the town. The calamity is, in fact, in the barrios, but it is not causing more deaths here than in the town, relatively speaking. Ah! I have forgotten to tell you some better-known persons and in a certain way, dear ones, like Judge Saturnino, Aligui, daughter Gregoria, and Cuya Ticio, have died. Narcisa with Antonino and family stopped today at the convent because the curate is very ill. (1)

      Millions of regards and tender kisses to you and you know you are greatly loved by your most humble brother-in-law. Your sister sends you tender regards.

      Manuel de Hidalgo


      (1) Father Leoncio López.

Nening wants to send Rizal a diamond ring -- He wants his family to write him in Tagalog

Calamba, Laguna

26 September 1882

Dearest Brother,

      I have read that you want to hear the Tagalog language, or our language, in order that you may not forget your origin and we your brothers. Papa always says, whenever we talk about you, that perhaps you will stay there so long that you may not see each other before he leaves this world. I was going to write you long ago, but I thought that my letter might reach Barcelona ahead of you. Moreover, every time I pick up your letters, I cannot hold my tears, especially the first one you wrote on your departure in which you said that you passed by here Monday morning when you were going down to Manila and as I was sleeping you did not see me any more. And then Mama says that you are carrying little money, so that I’m always thinking of how you are getting along. For this reason, I want to send you a diamond ring and write me to whom I should send it, so that it may reach you there. We are well, thank God; I have no ailment of any kind; what I don’t know is whether I shall get over the difficulties ahead.

      With regard to the town fiesta, what I can tell you is that Sra. Julia with the whole family and others from Sta. Cruz stayed here a long time -- two weeks. Aunt Betang did not come because she had guests she could not leave behind. I’ll write you longer later because the bearer is in a hurry.

      Your sister who loves you dearly.

      Saturnina Rizal.

Will keep Rizal informed of notable happenings at home

[Calamba, Laguna]

26 September 1882

My Dear Brother-in-law and Distinguished Friend,

      To save you pain I’ll not describe to you what our parents, brothers, your brothers-in-law, and we felt on account of your sudden departure. I’ll only tell you that, in view of certain counsels, they became resigned. You had a magnificent idea in not bidding us farewell for thus you saved us from the immense anguish of leave-taking that must be very painful.

      In the belief that Uncle Antonio and Paciano have already given you an account of the happenings here in these towns and because you know that news is scarce here, I give you none. In the future I’ll keep you informed of every notable happening. Think of coming home after some time, which I hope will be soon.

      Millions of affectionate regards,

      Manuel T. Hidalgo

Ravages of the cholera in Bulacan -- Its origin -- Death of sister Maria

Bulacan, 5 October 1882

Mr. José Rizal,

My Dear Brother-in-law,

      I received your letter dated 17 August on the first of this month and I am informed of its contents.

      I should be grateful if I’m recommended to Mr. Costa, but I’m sure that with God’s mercy I shall be returned to Calamba, because my uncle is working for me. My transfer seems to be certain I’ll write you about the result.

      Olimpia has been here in Bulacan since 4th of July.

      We are grateful to God that you are well there and you do not get sick. This is our desire and what we ask the Lord.

      I inform you that my sister Maria died at Manila last September. Her sickness was cholera. She was already well but on the eleventh day she had a relapse and she died. This is the prevailing sickness in Manila that is causing much hardship since 20 August. It began in San Nicolás, spread to Tondo, and in those towns (1) from 30 to 40 died daily, for or five dying in one house alone. Those who brought this disease were two crewmen of the steamer Eolus from Zamboanga where there was an epidemic. When the crewmen went ashore at San Nicolás they spit in a small house. The next day all the occupants of that house, as well as the crewmen died. In accordance with the decision of sanitary boards that house was ordered burned. From that time, the epidemic spread to the whole of Manila, but there not as many people died as in San Nicolás and Tondo. Then it reached Bulacan. At this capital there are deaths daily, as many as 25. Even Muñiz, the prosecuting attorney here, caught it at three o’clock in the morning and by noon he was dead. Baliuag, Guingua, and Malolos are the hardest hit here. In each of these towns about 30 die daily. This epidemic spread almost all over the Philippines so that the General ordered many flannel blankets, as well as medicine, in Hongkong and sent them to the provinces for the sick. Almost every day the General goes around the public markets in Manila and orders spoiled fruits, meat, or fish to be thrown away. Every town has a hospital where the sick are gathered. The University, San Lázaro, and the house of Dr. Marti in Meisic were turned into hospitals. Here in the provinces the chapels of manzanilla flower was exhausted and there is a shortage of cognac in the groceries and its price became doubled and none can be obtained. All the colleges were ordered closed and all students including the seminary students were sent home, but the students of medicine in the third year were assigned to the hospitals with pay and if you were here, you would also be compelled to serve. All the dead, even Spaniards, whoever they may be, are not taken any more to church but they are immediately taken to the mountain without fees. The officers of justice go around the town, ordering the cleaning and taking away of the dead immediately. They have their own cart and stretcher, the art for the dead, and the stretcher for the sick. However, if the family refuses to give up the body they let it alone, but they order the dead, even the sick, to be brought down and they are not put in coffins. Now it is subsiding; here in Bulacan, since the 4th, there have been no cases.

      We are all well, thank God; so are all of them at Calamba according to their letter to us. We here drink manzanilla (2) and tea as our drinking water, and smudge and clean the house constantly. Enclosed is Olimpia’s letter with news.

      Command your brother-in-law,

      S. Ubaldo (3)


      (1)San Nicolás and Tondo, here called towns, are really districts of Manila.
      (2)A Spanish sherry
      (3)translated from the Tagalog by Encarnación Alzona 17 July 1958.

Family news -- More on the ravages of cholera -- She tells Rizal to try to come home soon.

Bulacan, 5 October 1882

Mr. José Rizal

My Dear Brother,

      We received your letter and we are informed of its content.

      I’m here because Silvestre is the officer-in-charge here. Since I came here on the 4th of July until now I have not been home.

      Nanay (Mama) and Maria, accompanied by Pomuceno, visited me and attended the town fiesta on 15 August, the Assumption who is the patron saint of this town. They stayed here at the station (1) for four days.

      I wish to tell you that Sra. Neneng delivered on the 15 September after a labor of 24 hours. The baby was baptized on the 24th, the sponsors being Mr. Narciso Paterno and Mrs. Emilia Venegas of Sta. Cruz, represented by Sr. Paciano and Sra. Sisa. Lucia also gave birth in the month of July; I don’t know if they have written you about it. José is the name and the godfather is Sr. Paciano. The name of Sra. Neneng’s son is Alfredo Porfirio.

      With regard to the epidemic that is spreading here in the province of Bulacan and Laguna, sixteen persons more or less die daily. Iná, her daughter, her husband, and another daughter are all dead; so also are the servant of Sra. Sisa, Punzo, and our relative Sra. Victoria of Meisic. On account of God’s mercy; we brothers and our parents have not caught this disease and this is what I always ask the Virgin day and night that, if possible, not to take any one of us until we meet again. Therefore, try hard to come home soon and you know that our parents are already old.

      This is all. Regards to you and if you ask about us, we are well and do not get sick like before, thank the Lord. I inform you that Millong, Icang and Chabeng also are all robust, and Trining is now a young lady.

      Your sisters,

      Olimpia Rizal


      (1) The telegraph station of which her husband was the officer-in-charge.

Family news -- More on the ravages of cholera -- She tells Rizal to try to come home soon.

Bulacan, 5 October 1882

Mr. José Rizal

My Dear Brother,

      We received your letter and we are informed of its content.

      I’m here because Silvestre is the officer-in-charge here. Since I came here on the 4th of July until now I have not been home.

      Nanay (Mama) and Maria, accompanied by Pomuceno, visited me and attended the town fiesta on 15 August, the Assumption who is the patron saint of this town. They stayed here at the station (1) for four days.

      I wish to tell you that Sra. Neneng delivered on the 15 September after a labor of 24 hours. The baby was baptized on the 24th, the sponsors being Mr. Narciso Paterno and Mrs. Emilia Venegas of Sta. Cruz, represented by Sr. Paciano and Sra. Sisa. Lucia also gave birth in the month of July; I don’t know if they have written you about it. José is the name and the godfather is Sr. Paciano. The name of Sra. Neneng’s son is Alfredo Porfirio.

      With regard to the epidemic that is spreading here in the province of Bulacan and Laguna, sixteen persons more or less die daily. Iná, her daughter, her husband, and another daughter are all dead; so also are the servant of Sra. Sisa, Punzo, and our relative Sra. Victoria of Meisic. On account of God’s mercy; we brothers and our parents have not caught this disease and this is what I always ask the Virgin day and night that, if possible, not to take any one of us until we meet again. Therefore, try hard to come home soon and you know that our parents are already old.

      This is all. Regards to you and if you ask about us, we are well and do not get sick like before, thank the Lord. I inform you that Millong, Icang and Chabeng also are all robust, and Trining is now a young lady.

      Your sisters,

      Olimpia Rizal


      (1) The telegraph station of which her husband was the officer-in-charge.

Enrolled in medicine and law -- In good health but poor in money -- Attends meeting of Círculo hispano-filipino -- Would like to know five or six languages -- Enjoins her younger sisters to study.

Madrid, 10 October [1882]

My Dear Parents and Brothers,

      Although I haven’t received letters from you to answer nor do I have much news to tell you, nevertheless I write you to give you news about myself and to have the pleasure of communicating with you even through writing, since I can’t do it now in a better and more direct way.

      On Monday, the second, our classes began in all seriousness. More than one hundred attend each class. Among my professors of medicine is the Marquis of Busto in the obstetrical clinic, a highly cultured person, but unfortunately is suffering from gout, an ailment peculiar to the aristocratic class. He goes to class from time to time, and when he does, liveried attendants accompany him.

      I’m in a very good health though very poor in money. Through my letter before this (28 September) you must have been informed of the expenses I incurred and of the money they sent me for three months. I paid for the three months indicated and I still owe the Jesuit fathers 25 pesos. Excepting this particular circumstance, I’m well and I’m growing stout. I believe that the cold agrees with me and especially the house in which I live where, though I’m not very well fed as there at home, I have enough to eat and above all utmost cleanliness in food, my room, and all my belongings. This is the principal thing to keep away bed bugs and fleas that are found in other boarding houses. The cold weather lasts a few days and afterwards passes away. About two or three days ago I had to walk almost running with my hands in my pockets, but now I’m well, enjoying a very pleasant weather.

      I was at the Circulo hispano-filipino (1) last Saturday. There several matters were taken up which pertain to our country.

      We continue meeting every Sunday at the house of Mr. Ortiga (Pablo) vice president of the Council of the Philippines. I believe I told you about him in my previous letters.

      Sangciano, author of Progreso de Filipinas (Philippine Progress) is going there and plans to return soon. If you wish to send me something through him, you can do so; such as jewelry, sweets, jellies, bagoong, (2) pickled mangoes, tamarind; all these, it is understood, must be well packed in a single box so that they will not be too bothersome; and give him freight-money, for it would be odd to make him spend his own money besides making him carry things of no concern to him.

      Tell me when you write what things you are sending or will send me. It is not necessary however that you send me all the things I mention above. I believe that the tamarind and guava or mango jelly would be the best, although it is not the mango season. Pickled mangoes do not keep and they get spoiled quickly. In short you know better than I what you want or can send me. If it is possible, a good finger ring, inasmuch as there are many there, which will be of great usefulness to me under all circumstances.

      I’m very sorry not to be able to devote myself at present to my favorite studies, such as language, painting, sculpture, and literature, for medicine and law take up all my time. In the following years I shall be able to study two or three languages more for I should like to know five or six languages before going home.

      Vicente González (3) was here this morning and was reminding me of our pastimes there including the card-game that we played when we took a bath at the Real, the songs of Sulá (4) the harp, etc. etc. He was asking me when we would return to those places. Vicente has grown a beard but he is ever the same. He told me to give you all his regards just as he does to his family for me.

      I hope to receive letters and help from you by the next mail, which is still too far away that I have to wait for fifteen days more. Don’t send me money or anything through anyone except Sangciano, Paterno, Anacleto, Locsin, or others like them, to avoid what happened to a Visayan whose family sent him through an employee three hundred pesos which have not shown up until the present, nor do I believe they will ever show up. Be very careful in this matter, for here not to pay one’s debts is held to be better than to pay them. Just imagine that.

      I have not yet met either Nena or Aring. I would be pleased to see and meet them to recall things. It is always pleasant to see one who has been in his hometown.

      In the previous mail I wrote to Maneng, Sra. Neneng, my brother, and to you. Tell me about Silvestre, whether he has already returned or not to the town. It is better if you send me the drafts through the French mail boat, inasmuch as the Spanish boats are delayed a long time and here everything must be paid for in advance. It would also be better to arrange with a firm like that of Tuason, for example, so that every first of the month, its correspondent at Madrid may give me a certain amount. In that way I don’t have to depend upon the arrival or departure of the ships. Only when you want to give me a gift, as for example, for Christmas, you may send me a bank draft.

      May God grant that you didn’t suffer anything during the months in which that terrible guest, cholera, was there.

      I beg my very beloved parents to always bless their son who never forgets the sacrifices that they do for him nor the benefits that he owes them. I trust within a short time to have the pleasure of embracing them and never separate from them again, live with them, help them in everything, and contribute towards the common welfare. I embrace also my sisters, entreating Pangoy and Trining to study and write, especially the last one, for here I see very pitiful examples. One afternoon I saw a girl of about 15 or 16 years, pale, sick, sad, ragged, lying down in the hollow of a wall on a dark street, begging for alms. She was so weak, thin, and sick, that she couldn’t speak, and she only extended an emaciated hand. She must have been very beautiful judging by her big and languid eyes. It was cold and she was shivering. As I had no money with me I couldn’t give her anything.

      Regards to all our relatives, friends, and acquaintances, kisses to the nephews and nieces.

      J. Rizal



     (1)An association of Filipino students and Spaniards interested in Philippine affairs, founded shortly before Rizal’s arrival in Spain. It published a magazine with the support of Mr. Juan Atayde, a Spaniard born at Manila and a military officer.

     (2)Bagoong is a Philippine sauce made of small fish or shrimp with plenty of salt.
     (3)A Spanish mestizo, dubbed "Marquis of Pagong" (pagong is Tagalog for turtle) and a friend of Rizal at Manila.
     (4)A sister of his brother-in-law, Mariano Herbosa, who played the harp and sang. Her full name is Ursula.

Rizal’s allowance is insufficient -- Paciano promises to increase it after the sale of their sugar crop.

Calamba, Laguna

12 November 1882

Dear Brother

      I received your letter in which you tell me that the allowance you get is not enough for you. From the beginning I realized that with that sum you would be in rather straitened circumstances. I made it so only because our sugar had not been sold yet. Now that there are buyers you will receive what you wish.

      Until May or June don’t expect from me long letters as I would like to write. I don’t stay at home except on Sundays to attend to the people. I spend the other days in the mountain. You must not fail to write though, whenever you have an opportunity to do so.

      I have not yet gone down to Manila to get the bank draft that you told me about; it will not be long now before I go there.

      Here all of us are in good health, cholera cases are very rare.

      Olimpia is still in Bulacan.

      Your brother,


Rizal’s parents are losing their sight -- Slippers and beaded sandals for Rizal -- Family news

Calamba, 13 November 1882

Dear Brother,

      We are writing you only now because we have no news to tell you and whatever we want to say is already in Sr. Paciano’s letter. Concerning the typhoon that passed through here, it did not cause any damage, except that the water rose and all the people on the shore came to town, the matter in front of Pio’s house being so deep it reached until the neck.

      The casco (1) was able to enter our river and many young women went canoeing and fishing. We have also read your orders in the letter. You will receive them from Paterno, rest assured. We hope that you will become fair and stout and will look like a Spaniard. We are already eating at the table you ordered made.

      Josefa Rizal

      I wish to tell you that the eyes of Nanay and Tatay (2) are already very dim and they certainly cannot write to you or read your letters. What Tatay is always doing is to wrap up your letters and take them to Sra. Neneng and have them read there. Iná, Munda, and Juan succumbed to cholera. You will receive from Paterno the slippers, beaded sandals, and other things ordered by you. Lucío moved to Biñang with his store. Tatay is asking you if you have not seen there a comet like the one we used to see during the cholera epidemic at four o’clock in the morning. Andeng is back with us. Illo, Turninong, Bastian, and Lucas were jailed for burying a dead child they picked up in the river. Millong is sending regards to his Uncle José. Delfina, Icang, and Toñong are always asking when you will come home.

      Command your sister, who loves you,

      María Mercado

      Loleng, Sulo, Victoria, and Marcosa are sending you many, many regards.


     (1)A casco is a rather large river craft, partly covered, that take passengers and freight. These river craft plied between Manila and towns along the navigable rivers and lakeshores.
     (2)Tagalog for "Mamma" and "Papa."

The Calamba River -- Death of Diariong Tagalog

Calamba, 13 November 1882

Mr. José Rizal

Esteemed Brother-in-law,

      This is my second letter to you. The first news that I’ll tell you is that you have a handsome nephew and, if possible, find him a place there, so that even if he does not overtake you there, at least he may follow in your footsteps. That is why we call him José also. Now he is stout, strong, and not sick for he is going to travel to a faraway place.

      We had not two very strong typhoons on 20 October and 5 November but the water rose. Our houses were not damaged. Sra. Neneng’s house’s lost a portion of its roof, so also did Antonino’s house. Our river became very lively, its water rising so high as never before in the memory of old folks, and people rode in bancas (1) from the talasay (2) tree to the sea. Water destroyed the houses on the seashore. The water also entered the sugar warehouses and a lot of sugar belonging to the people of Tanawan was lost. Very many people bathed and fished in the river. One day Turnino, son of Cabesang Bastian, Lucas, son of Cabesang Mosés Ustar . . . and your friend Basilio Salgado found floating in the river the body of a newly born baby boy whose umbilical cord was still uncut. What they did was to bury the body near the river without notifying the authorities. When the government learned about it, they were jailed and sent to the provincial capital. The body was exhumed and they are looking for the mother of the baby.

      The cholera epidemic is now gone, though there are still some isolated cases. Perhaps, according to some, the typhoons drove it away. In our town more than five hundred died, including those who were not natives of this place. I don’t know exactly the number of those who died.

      This and the typhoons are given as the cause for the death of Diariong Tagalog, (3) which I deeply regret. In its fairway, it said it had to fold up for lack of personnel.

      I’m not going to write you about what I have heard concerning the typhoon and cholera in Manila, because you must have already been told about them, and moreover I have not been in Manila since I went there soon after your departure. It seemed that I was the only one who had the luck to see you before you left and it was because Lucia was going to have a find baby boy. If I could only talk to God, I would ask Him not to take him away from us yet, because the work is not finished.

      Since the cholera disappeared, Paciano and I have been staying in the mountain and we sleep there, coming down on Saturdays only and on Monday we go up again because Paciano is having a sugar mill installed. This is another reason why I could not write you. When I inquired about the mail it had already left. Great indeed is my desire to write you by every mail. In fact your letters hardly stay here, for even the curate wants to read them. While I’m writing this, Uncle Aben’s letter from Niñan came and he says that the water there rose too and the church was flooded and in front of their gate the water was knee-deep.

      This is all for the present. I repeat that here you have a brother-in-law who loves you and may God grant that we meet again.

      At your command,

      Mariano Herbosa


     (1)A small boat.

     (2)A shade tree, Terminalia catappa, L.
     (3)The bilingual -- Tagalog and Spanish --newspaper founded by Marcelo H. del Pilar.

Regrets not having talked with her brother before his departure -- Wants her son to emulate Rizal

Calamba, [13 November 1882]

Mr. José Rizal

Dear José,

      On the day you left this town, I heard you said that you would be late. When I got up, I saw only the back of the vehicle. So when Uncle Antonio’s letter came, saying that you embarked on the steamship Salvadora, I deeply regretted that we were not able to talk together, especially since you would be away for a long time. At that time also, I was in the hands of our Lord; I was big with baby José. Thank God, I went through that danger safely. I amuse myself with José’s ear, which is like yours. I tell you that it is rally like yours, but I pray that the likeness does not stop there, but that he may have your disposition, your goodness, and diligence in good works. Help me pray God that we may meet again and not get sick. Your sister who loves you,

      Lucía Mercado

      Don’t show to anyone this letter, because I was very sleepy when I wrote it.

Barghosi, a human locomotive -- Behavior of the Madrid public

Madrid, 27 November 1882

Mr. Manuel T. Hidalgo

My Dear Brother-in-law:

      I received your letter on the 19th instant. I rejoice at the happy news it brought, regretting that I cannot in any way share the common joy.

      As to news about myself, I have few to give you, having already told them in my letter to our parents. Political news may be found in the Dariong Tagalog to which I sent a review.

      However, I’ll tell you about an incident that has attracted much attention, because it is a characteristic and graphic portrayal of a people. There was here an Italian runner named Barghosi who is called a human locomotive. He went to Zaragoza and they say an Argonese called Bielsa beat him. Again they held a contest in Madrid and Barghosi won. The public, furious because their fellow-countryman was defeated, turned against the Italian. They threw stones, bottles, shoes, and bread etc., etc. at him. What would the Italian say?

      Please present my condolence to the families who have lost relatives or friends; that is to say the families who understand and expect this formality.

      Tender embraces for all and a little kiss for Alfredo and try to give him good care so that he would grow healthy and strong.

      Your brother,


Family news -- Birth and baptism of a new nephew, Alfredo -- Calamba inundated -- Damage to crops -- A new, strange disease

Calamba, 14 December 1882

Beloved Brother,

      We received your dearest letter dated 29 September. I’m grateful to you for your good wishes and I’m sure that your prayers helped me in having a safe delivery. My labor began at eight o’clock at night lasting until 11:45 in the morning. I delivered on the 15th and the baptism took place on the 25th, so that the name you like was not given to him, your letter having arrived late. The name of the boy is Alfredo Porfirio; the godfather is Narcisco Paterno, the baby looks . . . (This portion of the letter was destroyed by termites.) and has a well-shaped body, he is stout, round-faced, having a sharp nose, small chin and eyes, flat head, bald on the left side. When we go to Manila, we shall have his picture and mine taken and will send them to you. I’m stouter now than before, but I have a slight ailment, feeling a pain in my right arm.

      Ipia was here in November, but she went back, for it seems that Ubaldo did not get the post here. Ipia had a miscarriage last May after coming from the fiesta in Biñang and again on the 20th in Bulacan. Sisa and her family moved to the ground floor where the drugstore is. Lucio is now in Biñang and Porsoro is now occupying his house here. Since the 20th of October until now this town has been flooded. Many houses wee damaged by the water. One can ride on a banca in the street until the front of Capitán Quico’s warehouse, though last month the water reached only until the first talisay tree.

      You ask who is the godfather of José; it is Paciano. The baby is now sick with a fever and his feet and hands are cold; Coya Aben is treating him with water. I’m not sending you anything except the solitaire diamond ring and beaded step-ins. Excuse their somber design and color, because the Biñang makers cannot attend to the work. As to the epidemic, there are still a few who are attacked, like Compadre Isidoro, our neighbor Loleng, Geño, Ugoc, Faustino, Titoy’s father, Dimo, Margarita’s husband, Acia. Timoteo and Juancho are now seriously ill. Pedro, your godson, was also gravely ill, but he is better now.

      It was said during the rice harvest that there would be famine, because many rice lands were flooded and water carried away the harvest. Our rice lands, thank God, did not suffer, but there were others that were a total loss. Fortunately, rice from Saigon and other places arrived, so that the price did not go up too much. Plenty of sugar belonging to those in the mountains was lost on the seashore. Among them was Capitán Paulino who lost 3,000 more or less. Maneng lost about 100 Pesos worth of his sugar.

      There is a new disease prevailing here now. It starts with the swelling of the feet and the legs until the knee, then difficulty in breathing ensues, and two hours later the patient is dead. Toneng, mother of Pangoy, died of this disease; Comadre Geña Paño is gravely ill of this disease also. Your compadre Capitán Andrés was the one who bought Toneng’s house, so that they are now on our street. We now live on the ground floor; we moved on the 5th of October. My father-in-law is well now and sending you best regards.

      Two children of Aunt Tomasa died. One of them was Ate Ave; I don’t know who the other one was. Uncle Bindoy died. Perhaps you will not like this news very much as they are sad, but I want you to know everything.

      Now I’m going to tell you about the young women. Ursula and Victoria are studying the songs for the Mass on Christmas Eve. Their teacher is Antonino. Father Domingo calls them Boerna and Trafol. Loleng is industrious now. She does not wear a kerchief around her neck when she goes to church, except on Sundays. Loleng is different now.

      Antonio wants to be put in the box to be sent to you even if he is nailed in. He says he wants to go there to you. Fruits for preserves are very scarce here. That is why we can only send you jelly. Later, we will send you some more, if you still want it. I have ordered handkerchiefs woven in Lipa and I still send them to you through the next one who will go there. You will let us know if the sweet meat is in good condition on its arrival and how best to send you things. I’ll give you other news in my next letter, because this is already two long.

      Freding (1) is sending you regards. He is not yet three months old and he already wants to converse. Your sister who loves you truly,

      Saturnina Rizal


      (1) Pet name for Alfredo, her son.

Inquiring about the codes -- civil, criminal, administrative, and commercial

[Calamba, 14 December 1882]

My dear brother-in-law:

      Your sister has taken charge of giving you all the news that I can tell you. Consequently I’m excused.

      Please write me when the reforms of the civil, criminal, administrative, and commercial codes and their corresponding laws or procedures will be finished.

      You know already that I am very fond of you and for that reason you may unlimitedly command both me and those attacked to me. I send millions of regards. How I wish to see you and be able to embrace you!

      Your brother-in-law

      Manuel T. Hidalgo

"Dry cholera" -- Poor milling -- Feast of St. Francis -- Rizal’s horse -- A prophetic dream? -- Something of politics

Calamba, 29 December 1882

Dear Brother,

      Yesterday we received a letter of yours dated 31 August. In it you complain that you have not received any letter from our parents. They do not write you, not because they do not want to, but because at their age they no longer can, and I, who am here, believe that their silence is worth much more than the best-written letter. Instead of our parents, I suppose that our sisters, being less busy, will write you regularly. As for me, I have more than enough work and I lack topics, as it is happening to me now. I don’t know what to write that might have some interest, but as you like even the most insignificant things concerning our town, I’m going to tell you something about it in the best way I can.

      Cholera cases have greatly decreased, but it appears in another guise. Here it is called dry cholera. It is not manifested by evacuations and vomits; its symptoms are extreme fatigue and cramps and the patient succumbs after a few hours. They say that it is very difficult to combat this disease, and it is true, for all the cases were fatal. Fortunately there were very few cases. We have relatives in Biñan and San Pedro Makati who succumbed to it. Very few families are not in mourning these days, whether for near or distant relatives. Inside the church the dominant color is black just as it was white before. When I hear Mass on Sundays, I feel I’m attending the commemoration of the dead in November, there being no other difference except the absence of the catalogue and the candles, the hush and the lugubrious aspect being the same.

      The immediate effect of this scourge is the shortage of workmen for the rice harvest. Very few go to the fields. The majority stays at home either for fear of the disease or for having to take care of the sick. In the meantime, days pass and the palay (1) is spoiled. Of what use is a good crop if part of it will remain on the ground? May the sugar cane not meet the same fate as the palay, because then we would exclaim: "It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good."

      The heavy rains that fell this year have greatly damaged the sugar cane plantations so that our crop is below average. Every week, the rivers that flow into the lake overflow, augmented by water from other sources, and they have no other outlet except the Pasig River. The Pasig River rises rapidly overflowing its banks and their inhabitants are compelled to move out. At no other time has the beach been so large as now, reaching until the talasay tree on the road to the sandbar.

      The third orders of St. Francis of both sexes celebrated the feast of St. Francis on the 4th of this month with a procession in the patio after which the woman-warden gave breakfast and lunch at her house attended by many members, some chiefs, and Fr. Domingo. The women did not want to eat in the dining room, preferring to eat in the kitchen. As there were no preparations there, everyone took his plate and managed as best he could. In fact, everything was in confusion there. After the breakfast, the most God-fearing gathered around one who was reading the life and miracles of their father, St. Francis. The less God-fearing formed another group, among whom rather profane jokes were in order. After the reading was over and conversation lagged, I took the oracle of Napoleon, the fortune-book and pictures of the gods of Greece and Rome. The most credulous and serious women consulted about their future while the incredulous, many of them the old women who have nothing to ask, contented themselves with chewing buyo. (2) The young women enjoyed looking at the pictures. The luncheon was more orderly, because they prepared a table outside for those who did not want to eat inside the house. After this, the pious sisters of the Third Order left and thus ended the fiesta. We helped a little in this fiesta to satisfy our mother.

      This unfinished letter, written in September and forgotten among my clothes, now that I find it, I send it to you with later news.

      Since the cholera has subsided, I went out to the mountain to attend to the preparations for the milling that is almost finished on this date. In going back and forth, I don’t ride your horse because I fear that it may become thin, having to spend there whole weeks, and without a stable. On the other hand, the animal has become very brave and ferocious, so that I leave it at home. With regard to the horse: Dandoy dared to try him one Sunday afternoon at the time when the best race horse of Lipa was here. When the two horses were already at top speed, you horse made a frolicsome bound with the hind legs as it is used to do, so that Dandoy, in spite of being a good jockey, jumped from the saddle and fell clear into the middle of the plaza. This reminds me that his horse, the chestnut one, threw me down. We are even now.

      This Christmas was just like that of previous years, the only difference being that the sopranos this year were Victoria, Ursula, and Pangoy who were very good in the practice but very poor in the inauguration. Ursula is Calamba’s Raguer. (3)

      This year there was more water and less animation due to the fact that sugar is still unsold and there is good reason for it.

      Yes, Gregorio is leaving before anyone else. You will probably receive the box from him that contains I know not what things, the ring, the step-ins of Sra. Neneng, Olimpia’s handkerchiefs, and Fifty Pesos of Antonino for your allowance, which he delivered to Uncle Antonino in person.

      They brought me the first numbers of C. S. I would not be surprised if you receive it where you are, for here the most insignificant thing scandalizes people and they see a pile where there are only shadows. For this reason, it is not advisable for me to have it here. However, if you insist that I subscribe, so be it, but the copies must remain there. Who is that Pagong? (4)

      As it is very possible that you may forget Tagalog, your native tongue, I’ll conclude this letter in that language.

      Do you remember what you told me one dawn, after the night Mass, that you dreamed that our family will go through a great trouble, but you could not tell whether it would enrich or impoverish us, being only a dream? I still remember this and now it is becoming fresh again in my memory, because of what I dreamed, not once but twice, similar to yours, the only difference being that mine is rather clear as to the improvement. Nevertheless, as I’m not much of a believer in dreams that occur in the darkness of sleep, I cannot believe in it, though all of this can happen. May God keep all of us, especially S. and P.

      These two roads we are going through should not be the guide of the one who wishes to return to his place of origin, because he cannot expect any improvement. Any road leads to Rome, but if he does not think of going back, he can choose the best. In my opinion the best is the welfare of the majority.


      Tell me if you there are all razors in comparison to many of us who are dull tools, because if that is so, there is no remedy for us.


     (1)Palay is unhusked rice.

     (2)Buyo consists of a tiny piece of betel nut, lime, and a piece of betel pepper mixed together and chewed.
     (3)An allusion to the actress La Raguer who came to the Philippines in 1880 and took into her theatrical company Filipinos like Práxedes Fernandez, Patrocinio Tagaroma, José Carvajal, Nemesio Ratia, and others, who became celebrated actors.
     (4)As referred to in letter 27. The Tagalog word pagong is turtle. A Spanish mestizo, dubbed "Marquis of Pagong" was a friend of Rizal at Manila.

Living expenses at Madrid are higher than at Barcelona -- Importance of knowing European languages -- Invites young men with means to study abroad

Madrid, 30 December 1882

Mr. Paciano Rizal

My Dear Brother,

      I received your letter of 12 November and I’m informed of its content.

      From Uncle Antonio I received 50 pesos that I believe didn’t come from home and nevertheless they came at the right time for I was waiting for my December allowance. Hitherto, I thought that the last 100 pesos I received were for my winter clothing and matriculation fee.

      I’m very glad that you have understood that the amount you used to send me, while more than enough for Barcelona, is not so here where expenses are double. Living economically forty pesos are enough, if clothing expenses were excluded. With this amount one can go to the theater once a week but not more often. Perhaps he may have a surplus of one or tow pesos a month if he has not had extraordinary expenses. One of the things that further deplete my money is laundry, chocolate, and coffee, because, living as I do in one house, where I’m admirably comfortable, and lunching at another, I have to take breakfast elsewhere, for they don’t give it where I lunch. With 50 pesos on is well off and still can save for bad times.

      I consider it a great blessing of Providence that we have not been ruined by so many calamities, such as has occurred over there. I hope you’ll make a profit and harvest the sugar with your usual tact and good luck, because, in that way, can be fulfilled one of my wishes, which is to see you here for a year or two, and Marianito, Maneng, and the others successively. You must travel.

      I intend to go to Paris or Rome in June. I don’t know yet whether I should improve further my French, which I already know fairly well, or see Rome and her monuments and learn Italian. It would be very desirable that before you come I should know how to speak French, English, and German so that we would not be fooled in our travels. For not knowing any of these languages once spends much and travels poorly.

      I don’t know if you have received a letter from Sir Albert Croates, dealer in steam engines, concerning an arrangement that would turn out cheaper for you.

      Be informed of the contents of my other letters.

      Tell your friends -- those who have means -- that I invite their sons to come to these countries. I should like the coming generation -- the generation that will govern and lead Calamba by the beginning of the 20th century -- to be enlightened, brilliant, intelligent, and progressive.

      Your brother,

      J. Rizal

Enjoins his sister María to save his letters to his parents and brothers -- And look up their former servants and help them -- Hopes to treat the eyes of his mother upon his return -- Rizal saw the comet seen by his father.

Madrid, 30 December 1882

Mrs. María Rizal

My Dear Sister,

      I received your short but meaty letter, full of pleasant and funny news. I don’t expect Father and Mother to write me any more, especially Mother whose eyesight is poor. I’m thinking of treating her eyes when I get home. I’m only sorry that I’ve not kept a letter of Father that I can read now and then. I should like you to keep all my letters in Spanish beginning, Mis queridos padres y hermanos,(1) because in them I relate all that have happened to me. When I get home, I shall collect them and clarify them.

      Found out the situation of . . . (illegible) and the requests of the pitiful ones who took care of us. With your kind heart I’m hoping they will not be abandoned.

      Tell Father I saw the comet with the long tail one night when Sanciango, Paterno, and I were returning from the house of Don Pablo. The tail was long and it was visible from one to six o’clock in the morning.

      It is good that Andeng is staying with us; after all she is an old acquaintance. It seems to me that Tibusi was there when I left. Sidra . . . (illegible)

      I thought you were already very tired of angling and boating in the river, fishing day and night. If I were there, then we would still go fishing. Has our river become deeper than it was formerly? When I get home, I’ll indulge in bathing to satiety. You wouldn’t believe it that since the middle of August I haven’t taken a bath and I haven’t perspired either. That is so here. It is very cold and a bath is expensive. One pays thirty-five cents for one . . . (illegible)

      Give my many, many regards to Milo, if he is no longer cross-eyed. Also to Icang, Delfina, and Toño. I’m neither in Culambo nor Paña (2) nor Barcelona; I’m at Madrid. My companion in the house is Vicente Gonzalez; we are only two. Every day he loses a tooth and he always has a toothache. Our house is like this: (sketch). We have four big mirrors. Give my regards to Sra. Ipa, and Baldo. Also to Loleng, Sulá, Marcosa, and Victoria. Tell them not to forget me.

      Your brother,



     (1) My beloved parents and dear brothers,
     (2) Corruption of Colombo and España

Asks his sisters to write him often -- Will wear Filipino costume at the carnival -- Regrets not having brought with him his nito salacot

[Madrid, 30 December 1882]

Miss Josefa Rizal

Dear Pangoy,

      Yesterday I receive your letter together with that of Sra. María. So that you may not say that I don’t answer you, I’m now going to write you, although it seems I shall lack time. I have already finished fourteen letters and yours is the shortest, because I have run out of things to say. I’m waiting to receive some guava jelly, which I guess is made by Father or Sra. Neneng, because some one here has asked me for it. Don’t put me to shame. At the forthcoming carnival I’ll wear my gauze shirt. If my salacot made of horn were here, I think it will attract attention. What a pity I didn’t order it!

      Trining doesn’t write me. I don’t mind Choleng, because she is not at home; maybe they wouldn’t let her write or she is not ordered to write. At any rate, all of you or you alone write me often, so that you’ll get used to it. Put together all your letters in one envelope and weigh them. If they are less than 15 grams, then they will not require more than one stamp. I say this because it seems that you are afraid the letter would become heavy. I said the same to Sra. Sisa.

      I suppose that you are very noisy when the little ones go there. You can’t understand one another across the ipil (1) dining table. I should like to see you through a cosmorama. Don’t expect me to become white and look like a Spaniard.

      Is Sra. Ipia there already? Do her eyes still become small when she laughs? Regards to Trining.

      Your brother,

      J. Rizal.


      (1) Ipil is a Philippine hardwood.

      Translated from the Tagalog by Encarnación Alzona 23 July 1958.

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