Correspondence of Rizal to his Family 1876


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Money for the doctorate -- He wants Rizal to enlist as Filipino physician should the Franco-Prussian War break out -- One should not be ashamed of his nationality.

Philippine Islands, 10 February, 1884

      I did not intend to write you since you went to Paris, but as that already is past and one cannot refrain from doing so without neglecting certain interests, I'll now resume writing, though not so frequently, as I wish, on account of my numerous duties.

      Among the things that you tell us in your letters the first to which I should reply is that concerning your doctorate. What amount do you assign to that? I need to know it by return mail so that I can send you the amount on time.

      In another letter you say that war between France and Prussia is imminent. If your graduation coincides with the outbreak of hostilities and as they say that surgery is best practiced in military camps, I think you ought to go there, either as the correspondent of a newspaper, that has already disappeared, or to serve in the sanitary corps, and if possible, in the General Staff, which is still better, because it is not superfluous to learn other things that are almost essential, but you must present yourself as a Filipino, and not as a Japanese. There is no reason to be ashamed of one's nationality; we are proud to be Indios, because Indios feel and think like the rest of mankind. Notwithstanding this and as we are far from the theater of events, and we do not know the real dangers facing one who mixes in it or witnesses it, you, who are nearer there, can ascertain the consequences of such a step and if in fact one runs the risk of exposure to grave dangers, I'm the first one to oppose it, for I don't want many persons to be distressed through my advice. I believe that I have made my position sufficiently clear. If this proposition is acceptable to you, I'll furnish you with 200 pesos in addition to your allowance and more if you obtain a post in the corps, as I have said above.

      Some things are happening here that arouse one's curiosity, but are not necessary to know. I will not tell you about them, because I lack time and because I'm going to reveal myself more and I don't want my figure to show. One must be careful of this visionary and meticulous folk that sees things where there are none.


Rizal's graduation as physician -- Received congratulations -- Brilliant examination at the Universidad Central

Madrid, 28 June 1884

My Dear Parents and Brothers,

      After so long a time that I haven't been able to write you a letter on account of my numerous tasks, I now write you with eagerness to give you news about me to which I suppose you'll not be at all indifferent. It is a little less than two months that I haven't written you and this time has seemed to me very long, so much so that many times I have asked myself if I was not failing in my duty by not writing you in order not to set aside my studies. Moreover, I don't believe it will ever occur to you to think that my affection has cooled. I have sufficient reasons and moreover, as I'm alone, I have no one to write for me while I study. Now that I'm freer, I reiterate that I have great satisfaction in taking up the pen. I don't know if my sentiments find an echo in other parts. At last I'm a physician. Two or three friends embraced me effusively with genuine brotherly joy. L One friend wrote me also wishing me with all his heart good luck in the practice of my profession. I distributed three duros -- which I borrowed from one of these friends -- among the beadles of San Carlos who congratulated all students. This was all the celebration of the greatest event in my student life and to think that was for me the most eventful month. I shall enumerate them in order.

      On 5th June I took the examination in medical clinic 2nd course Bueno (Good);

      On the 6th clinical surgery, 2nd course Notable (Very good);

      On the 9th I filed my application for the degree;

      On the 11th I took my examination in Greek, 1st course, Sobresaliente (Excellent);

      On the 19th (my birthday) I was notified of the graduation exercises;

      On the 20th first exercises;

      On the 21st the second and last exercises for graduation Aprobado (Passed);

      On the 25 I won the first prize in Greek at the University, one of the 4 out of 200 students, and at night I delivered a speech about which I shall tell you later;

      On the 25th I won the first prize in Greek at the University, one of the 4 out of 200 students, and at night I delivered a speech about which I will tell you later.

      On the 26th examination in world history, 2nd course, Sobresaliente (Excellent); total: 3 sobresalientes, one prize, one Notable, one Bueno, and one Aprobado for the degree. I hope I shall not be accused of wasting time and I shall deserve the appreciation of some persons just as I have won the esteem of foreigners.

      As I told you, since the month of February, I have joined a review course, paying 6 pesos monthly in order to be up to date on the most modern ideas in medicine, which are German, inasmuch as the theories I studied at Manila, though good indeed, were all of the French school, and here almost all the professors belong to the modern school. June came and I took an examination in the subjects of my course in order to graduate as soon as possible and rest during the summer, as I do believe I'm entitled to a little rest. At San Carlos I as well as those who know were very much disappointed, for, to tell the truth, I expected better grades. I had the bad luck of having on the examining board Mr. Tomás Santero, who subscribed to very old Hippocratic doctrines and he failed the poor candidate even if he obtained a grade of excellent in the examination in modern theories. Here is the reason why I obtained only Aprobado, which is the second grade. This is not to excuse myself; my conscience is clear for having done the best I could. On the other hand at the Universidad Central they gave me Sobresaliente in history, 2nd course, which I believe I don't deserve. The professor (1) had heard me deliver a speech at the banquet (2) and he was so glad that he toasted calling the Filipinos "the glory of the universities" and he urged me to take the examination the following day. I told him that I was not prepared, and I was postponing it for September, to which he replied that he would fail me if I took it in September. I took the examination and luckily it fell to my lot to speak on the legend of Charlemagne and I acquitted myself well.

      They talked about giving Luna and Hidalgo a banquet for their triumph over all the Spanish painters and they would like . . . . (The rest of the letter is missing.)


     (1) He was Miguel Morayta, professor of history, liberal, and friend of the Filipinos.

     (2) At the banquet in honor of the Filipino painters Juan Luna and Felix Resurrección Hidalgo held on 25 June 1884, Rizal delivered a brilliant speech, though he had little time to prepare for it, being in the midst of his final examinations. He received repeated and prolonged applause. L On that same day he received the first prize in Greek, a high academic distinction but he was then penniless and did not eat the whole day. Read Reminiscences and Travels of Jose Rizal, Rizal Centennial Edition, 1961, p. 94.

Asks his family if they want him to enroll for the doctorate in medicine -- The cost of the course -- Swindling of a young Filipino at Madrid

Madrid, 29 August 1884

My Dear Parents and Brothers,

      I'm undecided as to what I should do this year, for the letter, I believe from my brother, I received towards the end of April expressed the desire that I leave Madrid for Europe, that is for abroad. I answered immediately, expounding the advantages and inconveniences that there might be and I'm vantages and the inconveniences that there might be and I'm waiting for his decision. Until this date I haven't received even a remote indication, but of course I should not wait for any letter from there, and nevertheless the month of matriculations begins already with September, lasting throughout that month. If I matriculate for the doctorate at Madrid, I shall have to spend 33 pesos, because each subject for the doctorate costs eleven pesos not including the stamps, an expense which is too much for me now that I have to order new winter clothes. Furthermore, in order to be near the University, having little to do not at San Carlos, I shall have to change my residence, give up this house and take No. 12, 2nd right, Pizarro Street. I don't know, therefore, what I should do. I don't believe that letter had been lost; if it were, it would be regrettable.

      A young man from Nagcarlan (1) called Pedro Tobino has been here. According to him, he came to Europe for pleasure, bringing with him 1,150 pesos. As the young man is not one of the more smart ones -- he could hardly be understood in Spanish -- he didn't study. He is one of those who prefers the advice of a Spaniard to that of his countrymen. He happened to live on a bad street of Madrid, where they found out that he had money. A few days later, they swindled him of everything that remained to him leaving him without a cent. Here they call timar robbery through astuteness, deceiving the innocent ones. The procedure they used with Tobino was the grossest and most vulgar. Perhaps there was . . . to allow himself to be deceived. He was walking behind a man who let drop a pocketbook. A lad wanted to pick it up, but he offered it to the owner. Very grateful, he told him that he was a stranger and had they taken away his pocketbook he would have been left without a cent, and in fact he showed him the pocketbook full of bank notes. And they went on talking. At this point, an Englishman approached them, who told them that if they would accompany him to the consulate, he would give each one five pesos. Tobino said that he would accompany him to the consulate, but he would not accept the five pesos -- two strangers will accompany the Englishman. On the way the Spanish stranger offered to the Englishman that Tobino and he would act as his cicerones to see Madrid that "they knew perfectly." And in order that the Englishman wouldn't distrust him, he showed him his pocketbook full of bank notes, urging Tobino to do the same and the very stupid one showed his 750 pesos that remained to him. The Spaniard placed Tobino's bank notes in his pocketbook and handed over to him the pocketbook for safety. The Englishman said that he would like to change 500 pesos in gold that he was carrying into bills and he showed him many rolls of coins. They asked Tobino for a handkerchief in which they put the rolls and the pocketbook that they also handed to Tobino. The Spaniard told him to go to the moneychanger while he would wait with the Englishman at the café and they even asked him for one peso. When Tobino was about to change, he couldn't find the pocketbook, but only the rolls of coins that, upon being opened, turned out to be pellets. Now Tobino hasn't a cent, roaming the streets of Madrid, dressed grotesquely, with a large silver star of false stones on his necktie and a sailor's chain. I already advised him to return to Manila immediately, but he doesn't want to, and he wants to get a job at any cost and to enjoy himself.


     (1) A town in the Province of Laguna.

     (2) Guides who explain the history and chief features of a place to sightseers

Local comments on Rizal's speech at the Luna and Resurrection Hidalgo banquet -- Their effect on his mother -- Low price of sugar -- Bad times -- Rizal's family homestead almost burnt down -- Rizal asks permission to study in Germany -- The new parish priest and his sense of humor.

Calamba, 5 November 1884

Dear Brother,

      I suppose you must be querulous of us for not receiving letters from here and for the irregularity of the remittance of your pension. You have reason to be so, inasmuch as you don't know what is happening to us. Imagine that on account of the low price of sugar, we lost more than three thousand and we are in debt for four thousand for the new machine, since the month of June until now, we are without a peseta. Add to this our Mother's sickness, which at first I thought was nothing more than indigestion, so much so that I gave her a purgative, hoping that it would cure her; but it did not turn out that way, and she remained in bed at the time, weak, unable to eat or sleep, and after one week, I was already very much worried about her health, when I observed that now and then she was sighing. Then I supposed that it was more of a moral rather than physical ailment, and so I told Sra. Neneng to take her to the house and amuse her in panguingue (1) as in fact she did, and she got well. You are the cause of her sickness and I'll tell you why. About that time the talk here was the speech you delivered at the banquet in honor of the Filipino painters and commenting on it, there was one who asserted that you would not be able to come back, some that it would be desirable for you to remain there; others that you have made enemies; in short, there was not even wanting one who asserted that you have lost friends; but all are unanimous in saying that it was not convenient for you to return here. These gratuitous suppositions were the ones that afflicted very much our mother and made her sick. For this, like the sugar business, they blame me also, as if I could stop your going abroad from the mountain where I was then at the time, working to improve other people's lands. All this vexed me and at the same time explains the delay in the remittance of your allowance and my little inclination to write. But now the sugar has been sold, though at a very low price, our obligations have been paid, and the spirits are gayer, because there is less tenseness. I hope you will not complain any more about your allowance, thought not altogether about the letters.

      Don't believe that these things happen only at our house, for there are many complaining also about their financial situation and others about other things; like Capitán Juan, who walks dejected after the death of his only heir; Eusebio, son of Capitán Quico, who is losing his sight, according to the examination of the oculist González; Narcisa who has lost Isabel and Lucía, José; many who are facing bankruptcy; you, suffering privations and I, this year's crop, my best hope, cheated in its price. There is nothing it sees that we can do but throw a ring into the sea as Polycrates did, in order to avoid greater misfortunes, with the only difference that that ancient figure had enjoyed the blessings of fortune while we are just the opposite.

      At midnight in the month of September our mother woke us up saying that there was fire in the pantry. I rose up and saw in fact that the fire from the hanging settee was already licking the roof. It was not difficult for us to put it out, so much so that the neighbors did not know about it. The fire came from the Bengal light that could not be lighted on the day of St. John and was stored there, and it seems that it burn spontaneously as the pyrotechnics here affirm, because at that time everybody was sleeping. If the house had been burnt and also the warehouse nearby, the fiesta could not be more complete.

      In your letter you say that you want to take graduate work in medicine in German schools. I'm very agreeable to this, but our critical situation will not permit an increase in your allowance. If we were not going through these bad times, the initiative would come from here.

      The curate here is a clergyman, but until now his status is that of a trustee. He is as good, or perhaps better, than his predecessor, though not so learned. One day the members of the Third Order of St. Francis, on the occasion of a religious festival, asked him what dress they should wear, whether the brown habit of St. Francis or that of Dominic. He replied that, as he did not understand a word of what they were asking him, they could wear what they wished, except that of Eve. Olimpia gave birth to a boy as robust and developed as her older son. Perhaps for this reason, she did not have as easy a delivery as they wanted. We are all in good health.

      Your brother,


      P.S. Now they tell me that the son-in-law of Sra. Basilia died during the voyage.


     (1) Panguingue is a popular card game in the Philippines. It is a favorite pastime of Filipinos, especially women. Spanish playing cards are used in it.

Dark future for Philippine sugar -- Spain seeking a market for sugar in the United States -- Rizal wishes to return home to save his family more sacrifices -- He wants to work and help the family

13, 2nd right, Pizarro, Madrid
16 November 1884

My dear parents and brothers,

      Enclosed with Uncle Antonio's letter of 1st October I received the sum of 50 pesos corresponding to my allowance for September, if I'm not mistaken in my calculations. I'm matriculated in eight subjects and I try to study them as best I can. I'm in good health and I wish you would be the same.

      The news that arrived here from that dear country concerning commercial as well as social life is very distressing and it prompts me to write you the following considerations. The future of Philippine sugar will go from bad to worse. A few days ago I was at the house of Mr. P. Ortiga who is at present working, according to him, to see if the minister of colonies can make the damage to our commercial fortune the least possible. You should know more or less that, as a result of the present situation or the attitude of Cuba, the Spanish Government, always mindful of the welfare of its colonies, is negotiating a treaty with the United States for the free entry of Cuban and Puerto Rican sugar into the New York market. England, informed of this, is also taking steps that the same privilege be granted to her colonies. Neither do you ignore that the only markets of Philippine sugar are New York, London, and Spain that it enters thanks to a big surcharge. If England succeeded in entering into this treaty, Cuban and Puerto Rican sugar will also have to be admitted to London and therefore, Philippine sugar, after a long voyage, paying high freight and duties, will be in a very unfavorable position and in little demand in the markets of the Peninsula, America, and England, and hence its complete and total ruin. This is what Don Pablo was saying to me. He is drafting a memorial to be presented to the learning minister of colonies to see if at least the duties that the Philippines pay could be reduced to one half and from which Cuba had been completely exempted, in order that this dear Spanish colony of the Orient may not be ruined rapidly, for instance, in less than three years. This is truly hard, but thanks to this profoundly wine measure, the integrity of our native land may be saved, which is the most precious thing for us to look after. Thanks to it Cuba will not again adopt such a menacing attitude that, though it may be rich in results, on the other hand, it is very painful for us who have different sentiments and preserve in our hearts indelible memories of benefits received. Don Pablo, however, has little hope in the favorable result of his efforts and fears that things will not continue as they are. I, fully aware of these circumstances, wish to return as soon as possible to our town to avoid more sacrifices on the part of our modest family. If at another time I accepted its support, it was because the future was smiling on us; but now that times have changed, I believe that it is my duty to go home and try with my work and savings to contribute as much as possible to our livelihood. To my way of thinking, the training that I have is enough for me to live in a town like Calamba, certain that they'll not include me among the dullest. Without doubt my aspirations were very high and alluring, but more than aspirations they were the dreams of my youth and their realization would be madness, if not censurable egoism. Never in truth did I believe myself incapable of carrying out this or that idea or undertaking and I have relied much on the faculties with which Nature has endowed me; but this is no . . . .


Reiterates his desire to return home soon -- He does not need the doctorate, inasmuch as he has no hope of getting a professorship -- Would like to study some trades and visit famous clinics in ophthalmology -- Huge demonstration of liberal students -- The police attack the University -- Bloodshed in the university building -- Resignation of the rector -- Rizal criticizes the new rector -- He would not want his diploma to be signed by him.

13, 2nd right, Pizarro, Madrid

My dear parents and brothers,

      In my previous letter of the 19th I expressed to you my desire to return there as soon as possible, seeing the trend of our business and foreseeing what may happen. I now reiterate my desire then and I repeat it here in case the letter has been lost, that I wish to return to that country as soon as possible in order to take part in the work of earning a livelihood, for I have already spent much money for a long time without my being able to put in something. Thank God, I have already finished my medical studies. The doctorate is not of much usefulness to me now, because though that is needed to become a professor, I don’t believe that they will ever appoint me as such at the College of Santo Tomás. I say the same thing about the degree in philosophy and letters that is needed also for the professorship, which I doubt the Dominican fathers will give me. Besides, there are other serious incidents that occurred here which I shall relate to you presently. I believe then that with what I have studied, with my profession, with a short trip that I can make (if possible, without causing any great inconvenience, to England and Italy), I ought to be there by the month of May or July 1885. On this trip to London and Italy that I should like to make, I would like to study and see a few things, to stay at some shops to work and learn some trade at the same time visit some famous centers of ophthalmology or eye diseases, to which study I should like to devote myself a little. Some two months will be sufficient for this and for which I don’t intend to spend more than two hundred pesos, and from Naples take the boat for the Philippines. This, if it is easily possible, and if not, leave this place, tour Italy and embark at Naples, which will mean to me the expenditure of some fifty pesos of my pension, which I intend to spend only on this trip. This is what I should like to do, but if it is still excessive, I plan to depart from Marseilles and take a boat of the Messageries Maritimes for the Philippines. I’m not taking a Spanish boat to avoid serious “embarrassments” (1) that perforce must occur. I am not returning through this line, if I should return safe and sound and in peace. I only enjoin you -- as I owe one hundred pesos to a countryman who esteems me, inasmuch as you have not sent me my two month’s allowance and I had to matriculate -- so please send me this amount to settle my account. Once there, I shall try to work as much as I can in order to heal these tremendous “saber wounds.” Without doubt my former plan was alluring and beautiful: Travel after my doctorate through Germany, England, Italy, France, learn their languages, study their progress, etc. etc. But now, not only is it impossible to carry it out, but also it is highly prejudicial and stupid, considering the present and the future. I’ll satisfy myself with this; may God provide the rest. I await then your reply.

      The incidents to which I referred casually at the beginning of my letter are the following:

      A professor here, Dr. Morayta, (2) read a speech at the opening of the academic year in which he proclaimed academic freedom. The bishops excommunicated him for this speech, and there was even a student who wanted to excommunication of the bishops. Then the liberal students held an imposing demonstration against the excommunication and as the liberals formed the immense majority, the demonstration was big. As they went through the streets there were shouts of “Long live!” and “Down!” That was enough to make the police chase the students, some of whom were wounded and others were taken prisoner. The following day the students were greatly enraged and students of medicine, law, philosophy and letters and others joined together. It was then that the police committed the barbarous outrage without equal in the history of the country. They attacked the University with sabers and revolvers in their hands, 200 of them, upon order of the governor, the rector notwithstanding. Many were wounded, blood was spilled on the stairways and corridors of the University, they laid their hands on the rector, seized the secretary, insulted the professors, wounded the children, [and] there was shooting. I was then at the University, but I was in the class. When I came out, the thing had already taken another turn. . . This occurred on 20 November at 12 noon. After more or less tumultuous scenes, we were allowed to go out one by one between two rows of soldiers. The University was closed and in the afternoon all the streets were already guarded by a multitude of policemen and civil guards; there were at least seven or eight on every street corner. On that day there were also several encounters at the College of Medicine, many were wounded, and four or five were in very serious condition, one professor was held as a prisoner. Madrid at night was silent and deserted. There was fear of an uprising. The jails were filled with students and the infirmaries with the wounded. The whole city was indignant. The rector, (3) who is very much liked by many, protested energetically and resigned; but the minister of development, (4) as a corrective provocation, appointed in his place a neophyte (Creus), a very unpopular man, disliked by everybody. . . The following day when the new rector went to assume office, tempers were highly irritated, and blood could still be seen. It was agreed not to return to the classes until we were given satisfaction and the rector removed. There were repeated shouts of “Down with Creus!” I was also there. Today evidences new encounters, new fights, with many wounded, and clubbings, imprisonments, etc. etc. This very day, the 21st, a police lieutenant and secret service man wanted to seize Ventua and me but we slipped away. Two Filipinos were jailed.

      On the third day, Saturday, the 22nd, the new rector, Creus, called the police to occupy the University from the top down to the great disgust of the professors and the great ire of the students. Today, because the police were staring at me so much, I don’t know why, I had to disguise myself three times. No one went to class. This followed with more clubbings, wounds, saber blows, etc. etc. More than 80 civil guards occupied the University up and down; in the auditorium were their guns and bugles. Cavalry, cannons and soldiers occupied the Prado promenade. Therefore we swore not to return today to the dishonored University where the rector asserts himself by force, threat, and treats us like people without dignity, and we have sworn not to return while we are not given complete satisfaction and the old rector is reinstated and Creus is removed, who is the shame of the physicians who are trying to expel him from the Academy for his lack of dignity and delicacy in accepting a position that another had left with much dignity! This rector, in order to escape the hissing and the insults of the students entered and left the University through a false door in the garden. All the newspapers in Madrid and the provinces, excepting those of the ministry were in favor of us and they criticized the government severely. The people also are on our side and the students in the provinces to us. A rich banker offered ten thousand pesos to the ex-rector to bail out the student prisoners; the father of a boy paid 50 pesos for the expenses of the lawsuit. The city council itself and all the students are in favor of us, so much so that they take our cause as their own. I had the good luck of not having received a single cane blow nor being taken as prisoner nor detained, and although in my double roles as a student of medicine and of philosophy and letters, I had to see many friends and find out what was happening. Whether or not it was a coincidence, the fact that wounded old men, women, children, military men, and foreigners were there, while I didn’t even have to run.

      Here is the reason why I say that studying at Madrid disillusions me. It can no longer be an honor to anyone to come from this institution, dishonored, outraged, debased, oppressed, and tyrannized. Knowledge ought to be free and the professor as well. I shall not get my medical degree so long as Creus is the rector. I don’t want my mot glorious diploma to be signed by a man detested by all, thrown out of the Academy of Medicine and Surgery, a man without delicacy, without dignity, though very learned. Should he sign it I would tear it up. If he remains in power, perforce I shall have to give up the Doctorate of Philosophy and Letters, for it is not possible for me to remain at the University. I’ll try to send you some newspapers. Senators, deputies, the entire University faculty, journalists, businessmen who have been imprisoned and maltreated by the police are going to protest. Nobody knows how this question will end. There was one Filipino who was mauled and beaten with a saber. No Filipino was wounded, but Cubans and Spaniards . . .


     (1) Apparently Rizal as already aware that the Spaniards in the Philippines were watching him, knowing his patriotic sentiments. Hence, he would like to avoid unpleasant incidents.

     (2) Dr. Miguel Morayta, professor of history at the Universidad Central delivered the address at the opening of the academic year in which he dwelt on the academic freedom of the university professor, limited only by his prudence.
     (3) The name of the rector who supported Morayta was Francisco de la Pisa Pajares.
     (4) Ministro de Formento.

"Don't meddle in things that can give me displeasure," says the mother -- "Don't fail in your duties as a true Christian; at times knowledge leads us to perdition." -- A little note from Leonora (Taimis)

Manila, 11 December 1884

My dear son,

      Maria and I are at the house of our beloved and she is the one looking if my pen writes, on account of the weakness of my eyes.

      Your Uncle Antonio read to me your two letters to him and I understood that you were resentful for not having received letters from us. Don't expect me to write you often, for you know how difficult it is for me to do it.

      You don't know the sadness that I feel every time I hear about you from people with whom I talk, so that I request you again and again not to meddle in things that will distress me. Well, I leave it to you to take pity on me.

      All of us were exceedingly happy about your graduation. At the same time I'm thinking our Lord for having bestowed on you an intelligence surpassing that of others.

      I was going to write you then, but I could not do so on account of our numerous tasks and our care for the children, your nephews, who got sick and finally died, as your Aunt Betang wrote you.

      Now, what I earnestly ask you, my son, first of all, is not to fail in your duties as a true Christian, which is sweeter to me than for you to become exceedingly learned, because learning sometimes leads us to greater dangers. Perhaps this will be my last letter to you, so that remember this very well, which is my greatest desire.

      [I remain] your mother who wishes to embrace you soon and wishes you to be a good Christian.

      Teodora Alonso de Rizal


      This is the copy of your mother's letter that I have copied, lest you may not understand some of the words in her letter though neither do I have good penmanship nor is the letter well written, for I could not understand well some words whose meaning I don't know. It is enclosed herewith.

      Tamis (1)

      Mr. Jose Rizal y Mercado

      Letter of your dear mother Mrs. Teopdora Alonzo.


     (1) Leonora Rivera, Rizal's Fiancée

The student agitation worsening -- Decline of Philippine sugar trade -- Rizal is not receiving his allowance --His expenses

13-2nd right, Pizarro Madrid

17 December 1884

My dear parents and brothers,

      Although the most important thing that I have to tell you, which is my return to those Islands was already mentioned in my previous two letters, nevertheless I wrote you this third one, fearful that on account of the singular condition of the system of communications there, my letters might have been lost and you are prevented from knowing my plans. Moreover, as the year ends with the joyful holidays of Christmas and the New Year, I wish you to celebrate them in the family with all my sisters, brothers-in-law, and nephews as when I was there. Such a celebration furnishes all the joys that the most splendid and sumptuous tables of the English lords can give. It is said that this holiday is the dearest to the English heart, which I believe they call Christmas, if I'm not mistaken.

      I noticed in my baptismal certificate that there is now a new parish priest -- Gabino de los Reyes. I don't know if he is a friar, but if we are to judge by the surname, he must be a Filipino, because that is not used here; I don't know anyone here with such a surname. If my conjectures don't turn out wrong, so much the better. In that way there will be less cause for trouble.

      The school problem is getting worse. Castelar, Moret, Sagasta, Martos, Labra, Moyano, Comas, and Silvela are going to interpellate severely the government on these happenings that have caused so much harm. Five young men belonging to very good families have been punished by being dropped from the course. For this reason their parents are going to undertake an active campaign against this imprudent government and it is believed the government will fall. We haven't returned to our classes and the students of Rome, Parma, and Turin (Italy), Liege (Belgium), Coimbra (Portugal) and Vienna in Austria have done the same thing. I don't know how this will end. All of us who hold scholarships have lost them. I lost two in Arabic and Spanish Literature, which is unfair, inasmuch as these scholarships are acquired through competition rather than through favor. Much will be said about this also.

      I told you in my two previous letters that in view of the condition and future of our modest business, I don't wish to prolong further my stay in Europe, as I wanted to, for I believe that it must be very burdensome for the family. I laid it before your consideration. I told you that I was ready to go home as soon as possible, if you wish. Circumstances have changed in such a way that we ought to change our plans also, lest we suffer unfortunate and irreparable consequences. I told you that in view of the government's blunder, the Philippine sugar trade will inevitably die within two or three years, because the clever minister of colonies has just negotiated a treaty with the United States -- a death sentence for the Filipinos. We couldn't have fallen into better hands. If Sagasta or any other party except this, a party which is not so blind and ignorant, would come to power, perhaps this evil might be remedied somewhat. If we had deputies, a newspaper, or Filipino members in the Consejo de Filipinas (1) (Council of the Philippines) we would get something, or at least the imprudent steps taken by the clever minister of colonies, Mr. Tejada de Valdosera, could have been stopped.

      Tell me my sister Narcisa that her friend Maria Lecaroz is already married to Mr. Ordónez, director of welfare, and now they live at Madrid. They say that she speaks French, English, German, and Italian. She lives in the modern way.

      I'm in good health, thank God, and I wish you also to be like me or better. According to a letter I received in the month of June, my sister Olimpia was then on the family way. I suppose that at this date she must have already delivered. If I'm not mistaken, it is her first or second child. I'm so little informed of what is happening there that I hope she wouldn't be surprised or feel bad that I should not know if she is a mother or not. If her habits haven't changed yet, I fear very much for the skin of the boy: how many pinchings he will get.

      They have also written me -- I not responsible for the accuracy of the news -- that José, Marianito's son, and Angélica have died. That is really a pity and I sincerely regret it.

      I wish you to answer me, even though briefly, so that I may adjust my plan according to what you may resolve.

      I forgot to add that as you owe me three months allowance, a friend of mine has been helping me all this time, sometimes to pay my matriculation fees, sometimes to pay for the house and food, because with fifty pesos one cannot make money miracles at Madrid. I would be grateful then to you should you send me that amount if I have to go home, so that I can settle my account with this good friend and he may have no cause to say absolutely anything about me. On a certain occasion I was able to render him a little service in gratitude for which he has wanted to come to my assistance in all my difficulties, always lending me money whenever I needed it. And as here in Europe one has to be dressed all day from the moment one rises to the time one goes to bed, as one must use strong and double clothes on account of the climate, we have to get clothes every year and every season. Here nothing is done for charity. There is a story here about a gentleman who, meeting a tired Galician who could neither walk nor take a step, taking pity on him, invited him to ride horseback with him. The Galician did so and after a few seconds he said to the good gentleman: "Señuritu, cuantu vuy ganaudu?" (Master, how much do I earn?)

      I wish you to keep always well and healthy in the company of the family, all enjoying the joy and festivities of these days.

      Your son and brother who embraces you,



     (1) Consejo de Filipinas, an advisory body presided over by the minister of colonies, with one vice president, a secretary, and twelve members, all Spaniards. Pablo Ortiga y Rey, mentioned often by Rizal in his letters, was vice president at that time.

Rizal resents the lending of his books -- Urges his family to save his books.

      . . . your companions that the letters may not be lost and I address you as an officer because I don't know what rank you hold. If you only knew how sorry I am that a letter of mine had been lost -- a reply to one of my sisters and to Choeping. (1) I'm afraid they may say that I don't answer their annual letter that I have been receiving. However, as I haven't received again a letter from them since that date until now, I hope to receive within a few months the one corresponding to this year. The previous one was dated '83.

      When you write me, tell me about yourselves, your children, my brothers-in-law, and nephews inasmuch as it seems it is not so painful for you to write. Tell me if the book taken away by a military man (2) has been returned already, and if not, what kind of book it was. How nice is it that while I economize in order to buy books, anyone can get away with them. I'm tempted to buy all books in German with certainty that no lieutenant of the civil guard will understand them, but for your sake I don't do it for you'll get no benefit from them. If German were easy, I would do it, but I believe you would get tired studying it. Most of my books are in French, but I hope that you men and women would be able to translate them in fifteen days; this costs nothing. The books I have here are as many or more than those over there. See to it that none is lost, for . . . (illegible) that those gentlemen put up a library with involuntary donations.

      Give many regards on my behalf to the other brothers-in-law and many greetings to our brothers. . . .


     (1) Chopeng is a pet name for Sofia López, a sister of Antonio López, Rizal's brother-in-law.

     (2) He refers to a lieutenant of the civil guard who took with him three books from the family library when he left the town, according to Paciano's letter (No. 50 ante.) This fragment of a letter, without date, address and signature, by its content seems to be written in 1884 and addressed to his brother-in-law Antonio López, according to the letter's son Leoncio López Rizal. Translated from the Spanish by Encarnación Alzona on 7 September 1959.

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