Correspondence of Rizal to his Family 1876


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      What you tell me about the horse and what happened to Dandoy don't surprise me at all, for the one they have in the king's stable is reputed to be the most lively and unruly. Why should horses have more temper than. . . . ? At Barcelona I learned to ride the horses of this country and on the third day I already rode bareback and jumped barriers. For a long time I haven't ridden horseback because it is costly and therefore I'm afraid I may no longer know how to ride horseback.

      My sincerest congratulations to the Christmas singers and above all to "La Baguer" (2) of whom I keep pleasant memories of the harp, song, and moon that used to enter through the window. Here the moon is so heavily shaded and shy; there is such a lack of vegetation and poetry that I turn to the sky looking for it and I don't find it. I'm already getting so bored of Madrid that if I succeed to graduate this year, I'll go to Paris or Rome perhaps never to return to Spain, although here I know already families who appreciate me in their own way.

      I've already sent you the first bulletin of the C. H. F. (3) as well as the second, for I was a member; but as I wrote you in my previous letter, it is already dead and you will no longer receive any issue. "Pagong" or rather the "Marquis of Pagong" is Vicente Gonzalez with whom I'm living now -- that one who was there with me and Aguado, the one who put on your gauze shirt (Aroma).

      I'm thinking of the day when you'll come to tour Europe before I go home. It will be very useful to you to know French. At present I already write it with sufficient correctness. When I've mastered it, I shall begin English or German; I'm beginning to master Italian little by little. Fortunately I still speak Tagalog well and according to my companions, on many occasions I'm unintelligible to them. And so that you may see here goes a paragraph:

      Bagay sa sinabi mo sa aquin sa mga panaginip sa ating pinagusapan niyaon una isang simbangabi at di co nalilimutan at siya na lamang nagaayos ng aquin mga hacbang. Marami sa mga naninirá dine ay quinuculang lagui ng dugo at quinacapos ng hininga, ngunit di co matantó cung baquit ualang capanatilihan ang canilang mga nasa. Ang cabataan caya o sapagcat di sila nasusugatan sa canilang laman; may ilan ilan ding camucha ni F. R., ni B. V. na mga may tinagong init na mahahalata rin, anhin moi ang usoc ng bundoc na may tinagong apoy. Mayroong ditong dulós na dulós, pangal na pangal, na siya lamang catataunan ng ibá at hia ng casamahan. Baquit caya pinabayaang maglacbay bayan? Ang capangalan ay sumusuco dahilan sa aro aro yaong carapatan bagang italas ay ipinupurol at nagpapaquita ng capanganan. Uui ng culang: ang mga magaagandang ugali ng ating maga bayan ay nailimutan at an napupolot ay ang mga basahan ng taga rito. (4)

      Send me a list of those who died on the Lipa. I wish that when I return it would be as if I had left only yesterday; I don't want to be a stranger in my country.

      I don't know if the news of Madrid that I can give you would be of interest to you -- you who are neither curious nor do you know anybody in this place; but in exchange for yours I'll relate to you the scandals at the Court, scandals which the Manila press, canonized in life, will certainly not print.

      The Duke of La Torre, or rather General Serrano, head of the party called Izquierda Dinástica (Dynastic Left), who engaged in polemics with the ministry of Sagasta, a rather popular man and formerly considered the most influential man in the army, suffered a light stroke: a pamphlet. This pamphlet, published at Paris by Carreras, denounces before the whole world the crimes of the domestic life of the said duke with proofs and testimonies. The duke, according to the pamphlet, married off his hermaphrodite son to Miss De Santa Lucía with a million-peso dowry through forgery and fraud. The lad confessed to the wife on the first night that he was incapable of being and husband, until finally the lass asked the dukes for a divorce. It seems that the duchess answered her not to be stupid for she could look for a lover. The duke promised her that the marriage would be annulled within three years.... In short there is now a European lawsuit at Paris, because in Spain the duke would win. Carreras published the pamphlet; many newspapers agreed. The duke is very much discredited; nobody wants to attend his balls, and of a fallen tree, all make firewood. It is said that at the Congress they called him indecent, and Carreras is planning to publish another pamphlet on the death of Prim (5) in which he will bring to light important things. Cautiously it is said that a person, very powerful at present, a political enemy of the duke, was the instigator of the pamphlet. It is bottom wretchedness and corruption. Here all dance, and they are comical, to the tune of gold and jobs.

      Women abound even more and it is indeed shocking that in many places they intercept men and they are not the ugly ones either.

      With respect to morality there are also some who are models of virtue and innocence and others who have nothing womanly about them except their dress or at most their sex. Rightly it has been said that the women of the south of Europe have fire in their veins. However, here prostitution is a little more concealed than at Barcelona, though no less unrestrained.

      I don't know how the marriage plan of a young woman over there with a matured man that you told me about turned out. Has it failed maybe? It is strange that I don't know the one referred to, there being very few young women in the town.

      I close this letter recommending to you many of my friends who will probably go there to pay you a visit. I don't know if Santiago Carrillo has called on you as he promised me when he was here. When you write me, tell me about him and the reception accorded one who got married in Spain.

      With nothing more, regards to all your frinds and to mine, to our relatives and to other persons with whom I wish old sympathies to remain always.

      Your brother who loves you,

      José Rizal

      On shrove Tuesday we had a luncheon and dinner at the house of the Paternos, each one contributing one peso. With our fingers we ate rice, stewed chicken, adobo, (6) fritada, (7) and roast suckling pig. We were Felix Resurrección, Emilio and Estaban Villanueva, the two Paternos, the two Llorentes, Figueroa, Vicente Gonzalez, Raymundo Perio, Manuel de Iriar te (the initiator), Eduardo Lete, Juan Fernández, Federico Calero, and I. Ariarte got drunk. All of us ate very well, but as the rice expanded, we were attacked by buli-buli the whole day. After each dish, we walked about, and when any one came to inquire for the owners of the house, he was told they were not at home in order not to disturb the feast. Consumed were fourteen pounds of rice, five chickens, four pounds of beef, and of the suckling pig, that cost us a peso and a half, not a bone was left. There was an indescribable confusion. Valentin Ventura was also with us, so that we were sixteen Filipinos.

      We missed the sinigang. (8) The cook was Esteban Villanueva. During the meal we spoke Tagalog. This reminded Pansol when we ate there and Marianit cooked wonderful dishes.


     (1) Celadora was a lay sisterhood that attended to church needs, and the teaching of the Christian Doctrine. The elders in the sisterhood are called Hermana who acted as the leaders. Rizal's mother was a celadora.

     (2) See note 3, letter 35, ante.
     (3) The Circulo hispano-filipino, See note 1, letter 27, ante.
     (4) English translation: With regard to the dreams that we talked about before at a pre-Christmas Mass. I've not forgotten them and in fact they have always regulated my conduct. Many of these who are here are always lacking in spirit and vigor, but I don't understand why they have no fixed purpose. Is it because of their youth or because they have not been deeply hurt yet? However, there are some who are like F. R. and B. V. who have hidden warmth that is also noticeable, like the smoke rising from a mountain with hidden fire. There are some here who are so exceedingly dull that they are the laughing stock and shame of their companions. Why are they allowed to go abroad? Their dullness reaches the limit, because they don't improve every day as they should, thus manifesting their dullness. They will go home devoid of the beautiful customs of our towns, which they have forgotten, and being the rage of the people here that they have picked up.
     (5) General Juan Prim y Prats (1814 - 1870) led the insurrection that broke out in 1865. It was suppressed and Prim sought refuge in exile. Later he returned, deposed Queen Isabella, then restored the monarchy. He was murdered on 27 December 1870.
     (6) Adobo is a favorite dish of the Filipinos. It consists of either pork, beef, or chicken, or all of them mixed together, cooked in vinegar, with salt, garlic, and pepper.
     (7) Fritada is fried meat or fish.

     (8) Sinigang is stewed fish, pork, chicken, or beef with vegetables, seasoned with salt, some sour tamarind or other sour fruit or leaves that abound in the Philippines. Filipinos relish it much.

Bulacan handkerchiefs -- Beaded step-ins -- Guava jelly

Calamba, 14 March 1883

Mr. José Rizal

Dear Brother,

      We received your letter and we are informed of its content. The reason why we have not answered it earlier is that we are always distracted and when we remember it, the mail boat has left. I’m going to tell you that Loleng and that one named C. . . in blue dress with gold embroidery, it seems will finally get married secretly after the town fiesta. The Bulacan handkerchiefs that you received there were sent to you by our brother-in-law Ubaldo and Sra. Ipia, the beaded step-ins by; Sra. Neneng, and the jelly was made by Hilario as well as the preserved fish eggs. Our condition here is good, no one gets sick, and the children are often fighting over you, saying, “Uncle José is mine!” all four shouting. Well, it is very delightful when they are all hilarious, but it cannot be compared with the past when you were here.

      Many regards to you and command your sister.

      Josefa Rizal

She has stopped going to school -- Congratulations to Rizal on his ability to speak Italian after two month’s study

[Calamba, 14 March 1883]

Mr. José Rizal

Dear Brother,

      We received your letter dated 29 January on the 10th of this month of March and we understood all of its contents. Many thanks for the news and your good wishes. We are glad to know that you were able to speak Italian after two months’ study. May God grant that you succeed for your honor and advancement. And don’t expect anything from my schooling, because since the outbreak of cholera, Mother made me stop and I don’t go to school anymore.

      Trinidad Rizal

Rizal’s favorite chestnut horse -- Swiftest among the horses at Calamba

[Calamba, 14 May 1883]

Mr. José Rizal


Dear José,

      Though I have not answered your letter for a long time, I hope you will pardon me. I suppose that you understand the amount of work here now. Another reason is that I have no news to tell you except that our life is quiet and satisfactory.

      Though José got sick last February, he is now very stout. Father and Mother are well, thank God.

      The last news I can give you is that I’m now taking care of your chestnut horse and he is at the head of all the horses here at Calamba. He is so swift that until no other horse can beat him.

      We received your letter and are informed of its content. I have been planning to write you long ago but what happens is that the mails leave and we have not yet written.

      Many regards and I reiterate that I’m your willing servant.

      [I am] your affectionate and sincere servant who kisses your hand.

      Mariano Herbosa

She asks Rizal for a prescription for the itch -- News about town acquaintances and relatives.

[Calamba, 14 May; 1883]

Dear José,

      We received your letter and we read your news and your good advice. At the same time I’m grateful to you for your efforts for our well-being. I inform you that Aunt Gena, Lieutenant Bunaque, and Leoncia Albares died. Here many are dying of the itch and this disease attacks almost all of us so that [I ask you to] send us a good prescription. Marcosa is sending you regards and all of them are thankful to you because you don’t forget them. Marcosa became seriously ill. Antonio and Delfin often quarrel over you, each one claiming you.

      Many regards of this sister of yours who does not forget you.

      Lucía Mercado


      I did not write you about the seriousness of José’s sickness. When he became very grave, Coya Alben would not treat him any more. I’m not going to tell you any more what came into my mind. I said to myself that if he did not want to go to Spain, he was going to heaven. Perhaps because he was really going there, he suddenly improved.

      Perhaps I shall not suffer what Father did when you left because right now I’m trying to accustom myself little by little, especially since José is every day looking more and make like a man and it seems that he will not let anyone take advantage of him.

      The same

Sugar crop -- Rizal asks permission to go to Paris -- a portrait of Rizal at Leonor’s home painted by Resurrection Hidalgo -- Death of Father Leoncio López, Calamba’s parish priest -- Town fiesta of Biñan -- Incident with the civil guard -- Feast of Corpus Christi -- No receipt for payment of land rent -- The Philippines is the most heavily taxed country in the world.

Calamba, 26 May 1883

Dear Brother,

      Yesterday I finished milling 1,350 loaves of mediocre sugar, the result of the first trial of Pansol, and now I’m writing you immediately, thinking of your just impatience in not receiving any news from here during three or four months that the milling lasted.

      It seems that the last letter from here was the one you received from Zamora. At the time it was written, it was said that the secret was not greatly respected so that after it was written, it was sent to Manila to be placed in the mailbox; but there they thought that there was great interest in making it get there when it was all the contrary, as you can easily understand by the signature.

      In return for that we have received all your letters, or what is the same thing: one by mail. In the majority of them you tell us of your desire to go to Paris, asking permission and funds for it from our parents, who however, are silent on the matter, a silence that I interpret as refusal, based on estimates that until a certain point are reasonable this very day. As for me, I think that you can go there after you have finished your medical course, for once having taken the first step one ought not to go back for flimsy reasons. This idea of yours today was mine since the beginning and still is. I expounded it to you after making some inquiries, but you insisted on going to Barcelona and I kept quiet thinking that you might be more lucky in your choice, but now we are undeceived, because we have not counted on the antipathy and incompatibility of character. So that, if at the receipt of this you persist in that plan, reply by return mail, telling us when you will finish the medical course so that we may furnish you with what you want and also let me know whether life in Paris for one with an allowance like yours is better or worse than in Madrid. There you can get better information from here.

      I picked up in Manila your five photographs delivering each one to its owner. I left the oil portrait (1) there so that they can bring it themselves on the day of the fiesta. Concerning the picture: At first glance I did not recognize you so much so that I paid no attention to it. But as it was a new decoration at Uncle Antonio’s house, I approached it out of curiosity and I saw the signature. Then I supposed it could be yours that you announced to us in your letter. Later they assured me that at a certain distance the likeness can be noted. I could not stop to admire it longer because I was in a hurry. However, it is admired for the signature and artistic expression that is still hidden from the eyes of the layman.

      During the three or four months that I did not write you, many interesting things happened in our town which you will be glad to know, as you state in your 1st letter received yesterday. I’ll begin with the death that occurred at the capital of our parish priest, (2) regretted by those ho had known him, especially by his family. As soon as the Government of the City of Manila learned about it, it hastened to present to the family a niche in the pantheon of the Manila aristocracy, a consideration that is very rarely bestowed by that body. During the absence in Manila of the parish priest, the vicar decided to appoint as acting parish priest a coadjutor from Biñan who, parenthetically speaking, is not even a shadow of the deceased. After two days at the convent, without any ground for it, he began to criticize the people here and praise those of Biñan. He knew more about the town than the church and so he left after having committed some barbarities in the canonical books. Father Domingo (whom we know) succeeded him for some weeks and now we have a trustee appointed by the archbishop, a commendable person for possessing one of the qualities of Father Leoncio, which is not to meddle in things alien to the Church. As soon as his death was known, the vicar, Father Villafranca, came to get the church funds recorded in the books, but as it happened that the safe was locked and the key was in Manila, by virtue of the key of St. Peter, he ordered the appearance before him at the house of the Hacienda of our priest where he compelled him to advance the amount kept in the safe, threatening him that he would inform the archbishop of the secrets of the deceased that would involve a member of our family. The priest, in view of this pressure, had to advance in gold what will be returned to us in silver at the end of three weeks. Intimidating an old man and threatening to unearth secrets that he may perhaps have, is truly a repugnant behavior. When this happened, I was precisely out of the house.

      Just as there was a change of personnel in the church so was there at the police headquarters, with the difference that here threw were not so many incidents, with the exception of the departure of the lieutenant. He told us that he would be away only a few days, but in reality his departure was definitive and he carried away three books of ours, one of which is valuable. (3)

      On the 15 of this month was the town fiesta of Biñan. There was nothing special about it. Had it not been for two mediocre music bands and fireworks, it would have been just like a Sunday. We, Antonio, Dandoy, and I, and others who had the bad luck to attend the blessed fiesta were required by the civil guard to show our personal cedula (identification paper). We replied that we did not have the habit of carrying it, but we were ready to go wherever they wanted to take us. With this explanation, they let us free. We on our part hurriedly left, cursing the idea that led us to this town.

      Corpus Christi was celebrated day before yesterday with more splendor than in previous years for the reason that the chapels were more luxurious, having been entrusted to the members of the Dominican and Franciscan associations and I don’t know what other groups who spent a whole night decorating them only to knock them down the next morning after the Mass.

      Ahead we have the town fiesta. They are talking about contributions, one third of which is assigned to Masses, at the regret of many, about fifteen mysteries in the style of Biñan, about new alms for the confraternity that is in great difficulty but not a word about public entertainment. In short, it seems that we imitate wholly Biñan, the model town in the opinion of some.

      This is the time to pay land rent at the Hacienda and contrary to the general custom they accept the money without issuing any receipt to anyone. Hs this any relation to the important reforms of the general or is it nothing more than one of the arbitrary nets of the administrator? I’m more inclined to the latter one, though I would like it to be the former one.

      Of the important news at the capital I don’t want to tell you anything, because I would do better to guess them than to read them in the newspapers. And if in the future I should be curious to know things that are not church functions, arrest of gamblers or persons without identification papers, fights of the Chinese, or things of that kind, I would write you so that you may furnish me with the information. Drinking water in Manila is bad; the good water is kept in the cisterns.

      The country which is most burdened with taxes, in the opinion of various persons, is the Philippines, as much for the quota that partakes more of the poll tax than of the income tax as for the method of collecting them in the provinces that in some cases it costs the taxpayer double on account of traveling expenses and the time involved. If it is entrusted to the gobernadorcillo (municipal mayor) or the agent of stamped papers, persons of responsibility, this heavy burden will be lightened. With a little confidence and another little pity for the taxpayers, expenses and time uselessly employed will be saved.

      Anastacio was expelled from school. His father asked me to accompany him to plead. I agreed, though without any hope of succeeding as it really happened. They told me that Del Rosario was very dear to the priests. I went to his house and told him that you advised me that if anything should happen to Tacio, of whom you had been guardian, that I should make use of him. He was gladdened and said that he would do everything in his power to return Tacio to school. He requested me to express in my letter to you his sincere friendship and desire to be able to serve you.

      Capitán Juan married Dámasa. She is the bachelor woman whom I mentioned in my letter who was besieged by Banatin and Buenaventura.

      Paciano Rizal


     (1) Painted by the noted Filipino painter, friend of Rizal, “Felix Resurréccion Hidalgo (1855-1913).
     (2) Father Leoncio López. See Rizal’s letter number 55 infra.
     (3) Rizal resented this. See his letter number 74 infra.

From Madrid to Paris -- A stroll through Paris -- Laennec Hospital -- Lariboisiere Hospital -- Jardin d’Acclimatation.

Paris, 21 June 1883

My Dear Parents and Brothers,

      As I informed you in my previous letter written at Madrid a day before my departure, I’m now at Paris -- Hotel de Paris, 37 Rue de Maubeuge -- since the morning of the 17th, Sunday. My trip was one of the best and fastest I have ever made for it lasted only 36 hours from Madrid through an express train. I passed through Avila, Villadolid, crossing all of Old Castile, San Sebastian, and Yrun. Until this last place I traveled in Spain. The landscape of Old Castile, if such can be called those bare fields formed by monotonous lines, without trees or the play of light, accompanies the traveler until the Basque provinces where the mountains have more vegetation, more luxuriant foliage, and better cultivated, though they are sparsely populated, a characteristic of these provinces. The Basque type is tall, masculine, ordinarily the face shaven, long rather than oval; small eyes, aquiline nose, and the general aspect reflects honesty, ruggedness, and frank affability. The women are exceedingly industrious, so much so that they plow and I have seen not a few pulling carts. A stone or iron bridge separates Spain from France, like that between Santa Rosa and Cabuyao, and the first French town one sees is Hendaye where travelers generally stop for lunch. From there one notices a great difference: a smiling landscape, numberless chalets, or country-houses, with vines and flowers beautifying the road; pines and olive groves compete for every inch of ground, which is all planted, all utilized.

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