Correspondence of Rizal to his Family 1876


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Paciano is against Rizal's return -- He may establish himself at Hong Kong -- Try to get some kind of employment -- Paciano asks for data on beet sugar in Europe -- Write to our parents things that will please them, he advises Rizal.

Calamba, Laguna

1 January 1885

Dear brother,

      We received your letter dated 16 November in which you tell us, among other things, that you are planning to return for the sake of the family. As this is somewhat a delicate matter, it is necessary to think it over before deciding on it. As for me, if I am asked my opinion, it seems to me, as no one will guarantee that your return will not cause our old parents any displeasure, as it is still easier for me to send you your monthly allowance than to send you at once the cost of your passage, and in short, as I have not given up hope of better times to come, I think that you should continue your studies there and end them when our resources are exhausted. And then I'll see if our parents will be allowed to visit you at Hong Kong, and I say Hong Kong, because as you know English or it will not be difficult for you to learn it, it will be easy for you to establish yourself there. In the meantime, if you find an opportunity to get a decent employment (writing, for example) there, without hurting your studies, you ought to take advantage of it. First, it will be in harmony with our interests and then for what might happen. It is difficult to get one, more than difficult, it is impossible, but one must live on dreams, otherwise real life is enough to kill one. I say this because I nourished myself with illusions, notwithstanding the turn of business, only that, instead of those beautiful and grandiose ones that I cherished before, I am now satisfied with what is purely necessary and without deceiving anyone, as many of our fellow townsmen do.

      If you think of writing us, tell me something about the sugar beet that is raised in Europe, gathering first reliable information in order to know what to expect. As it is the only one competing with sugar cane, if the owners there hold out for two or more years, we have no other course but to admit defeat. But if, as they say, many have already abandoned this business, because it is no longer profitable, or they are already bankrupt, then it is incumbent upon us to enforce the law. It is important therefore that your information be as accurate as possible.

      With reference to the disadvantageous position in which Philippine sugar has fallen due to the new rulings of the ministry of colonies, one has no reason to complain much. First, because before this decree, Cuban sugar paid at the Spanish ports four fifths more than Philippine sugar, and it is right that we now suffer the law of compensation; then, because 15 pesetas more or less per ton (which I believe is the customs duty imposed on Philippine sugar) will neither impoverish nor enrich the farmer; and lastly, because he who rules gives the orders, cartuchera en el cañon. (1) Our real misfortune is that we are located at a considerable distance from the great commercial centers.

      I suggest that you write our parents about things that can make them happy, even though putting a wrong construction on them, and in this way you will compensate them for your absence, so regretted by these old folks. Our duty is to sweeten in every way possible their remaining a few days.

      After the Three Kings, I'll begin the milling; perhaps it will last until May. During this time I shall be out of the house, except Sundays. Hence, maybe I'll not be able to writ you. We have plenty of cane and therefore a big crop, but as crops become losses, according to the present course of business, the greater the crop, the greater will be the loss.

      We are all in good health.

      Your brother,



     (1) Literally "a cartridge box in the cannon." The Spanish saying is Quien manda, manda y cartuchera en el cañon; that is, "He who rules gives the orders," signifying blind obedience.

Ubaldo wants to be assigned to Calamba -- He asks Rizal to write to Father Faura about it.

Albay, 25 April 1885

Mr. José Rizal

Esteemed José,

      I inform you that on 23 March we left Calamba for Manila and on the 25th we left Manila for this capital of Albay, my new post. Olimpia and the younger boy, Cesareo, came with me and we arrive here safely. We left the older boy, Aristeo at Calamba with them.

      They sent me here for meteorological work and observation and observation of the volcano. Father Faura came here on 23 April to give me instructions and to install with Father Batllo the meteorological apparatus. All sent you their regards and they left on the 25 instant for Atimonan and Tayabas for the same purpose, that is, for meteorological work. They gave me as gratuity 12.50 pesos for meteorological work. I receive 12.50 for the post office work, and my salary of 41 as second-class telegrapher and fifth class official of the service.

      In view of this, if you happen to write Father Faura, (1) request him to transfer me to Calamba, if possible. This priest has very great influence on the Inspector General of Telegraphs, the Director General of Civil Administration, Inspector General José Costa, and Director Barrantes. I believe that if Father Faura wishes it, these gentlemen cannot refuse, for they esteem him.

      We wish you good health and prompt return to these Islands.

      Until here. You know already you have a brother-in-law who esteems you and you can command at any time.



      We here in Albay are well. We don't know about those in Calamba, for we have not yet received a letter from them.


     (1) Father Federico Faura, S.J., was the director of the Observatory, who had been Rizal's teacher at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila.

Rizal suggests the abandonment of costly but useless feasts -- Filipino women are less advanced than the men -- He is worried about the evil consequences of fanaticism -- The older generation is beginning to support the younger -- Rizal's impression of the culture of the Europeans.

The following comprise of fragments of Rizal's reply to Paciano's letter dated 5 November 1884 (see letter 69), after his graduation as Licentiate in Medicine. He would like to study practical arts that would be useful in the Philippines.


And I haven't given any reason for it: To fear for me is to draw attention to me that is prejudicial, for I think only of treating and studying diseases. I believe that they ought to show a calm confidence, concomitant of innocence and security, for there will always be time to weep. And moreover our mother ought to have more confidence in that God whom they call just and to think at the same time that not all misfortunes make one unfortunate. There are misfortunes that make one happy. For this reason also I want to go home to prove that I fear nothing from anyone; there is no reason for it; that for the present I'm not yet exiled and I believe that the Spanish government, having already learned a lesson, will not punish this time an innocent man, for victims have the habit of haunting with their memory and killing for good the strongest powers. If you don't order otherwise, as for example, that I spend some months in England to study practical mechanics (3 months), in Germany, medicine and science, and an allowance equal to what I get now, if more is not possible, I shall go home and have the pleasure of finding myself among you, never to be separated again. However advantageous a foreign country may be for me, it is not so much that it could compensate for the very great sacrifice that you make for me. The previous letters I have written you abound with these ideas and I need your reply.

      You told me about the fire there at home. This fire starting from pyrotechnics has led me to a rather remote idea that we ought to think little by little of changing our customs making them more practical. You, for instance, with your prestige among the people there, ought to begin to instill in their minds the idea of abandoning festivals and other things that produce no immediate utility, such as Thanksgiving Masses and other things of the sort. The money that goes to certain coffers doesn't circulate and money that doesn't circulate brings about the impoverishment of the country. Furthermore, over there we are being exploited in every sense of the word and we ought to be tired of that now. Now that I think of the money that is spent on a feast, should that be used for the benefit of the people, would yield very much more profit.

      On your word I believe in the goodness of the curate, whom I greet from here, but an idea occurs to me. If the women of Calamba, having a curate who is not at all fanatical, through their own initiative are so fond of candles and images, what would become of them should a curate who is decidedly fanatical and an exploiter come and weigh on their consciences like the night and squeeze them like a press? You must agree that if our sex there is not so advanced, very much less so is the opposite sex that revolves and lives in that atmosphere that is found from the confessional to the sacristy and leads to great aberrations.

      At present there are here two Filipinos -- Messrs. Andrés and Arcaldio del Rosario. They are the type of the passing generation, but if it is passing, I believe that at least it sees the little lights that are beginning to shine. The other day Don Andrés was talking to me and he no longer maintains as at first certain axioms, he does not recognize any more the supposed facts, and at a dinner he declared himself on the side of youth and he offered a toast to it.

      Here the cold is becoming intense, but I'm still without chilblains, which surprises me, for now it is colder than in previous years. Here there had been and there are still earthquakes; but although they aren't comparable with ours, on the other hand, they surpass them in their effects, for already . . . have sunk . . . monastery of the Middle Ages, and nothing more of value. That is all. This is so sure that we have here at present four lawyers, graduates of the Universidad Real y Pontificia de Manila (Real y Pontificia Universidad de Sto. Tomás de Manila) with very good grades, one of them being noted and famous for having practiced a long time. Placed in the midst of modern civilization they are like the Seven Sleepers for their naiveté and backwardness, and like country-folk in a ballroom. And if this happens to them at Madrid, which is not very distinguished for its culture and enlightenment, how would they appear amidst the people of France, England, and Germany where everyone reads the newspapers, where the middle class possess an education that the Manila aristocracy don't have not anything like it. If we recall what I told you about my landlady at Paris, that Mme. Lesjardins, the chubby and plump little woman, and her husband who know fairly well general history and particularly that of their country, geography, and mathematics, and speak and write their native tongue correctly, how many of those great lords, who hold high positions can say the same thing about themselves? And I'm assured the German people are even more so, and the English also. Thus, when we say here to a foreigner, introducing a friend: "The gentleman is a lawyer, he has been a judge, notary public, etc., etc.," he is stuck and he looks at him with a bit of surprise asking how laws can palpitate and how justice can have life under such unfavorable conditions. And without going further, among my countrymen I'm considered one of the most studious and of sufficient ability, but when I compare myself with many young men I have known abroad, I confess frankly I see myself on a very much inferior level, and I deduce that in order to reach their height I need many years of study, much money, and much more ability, and those young men, notwithstanding, are younger than I. I don't mean the young men of this country among whom I know truly vulgar and it is not that they lack ability, no. They have much talent, much willingness, but the defective instruction makes them work hard though they profit less, as it happened to us over there; the kind of life they lead; cafés and billiard halls; the examples they see among the old ones and those who hold high positions; laziness and charlatan natures; the few inducements the government offers to scholars, like there too, with the sole difference that over there we would like the rulers not to meddle at all with the students but to leave them alone in peace; upon seeing that one rises to power through the tongue and intrigue, membership in this or that party -- all these contribute to the frustration of so many excellent abilities, so many young men who undoubtedly would amount to something if placed in another environment. What I regret most is that many of our countrymen, already poisoned by this atmosphere, join parties against their conscience; seek glory through money and at the cost of ridicule, not through their own merit, but through banqueting and farces, not realizing that such a glory is a paper flame that produces ashes which only soil and stain afterward. For this reason, if the nephews must come, I would not want him to go to Madrid unless they have to study law for which it is indispensable and even convenient inasmuch as here are the best law professors that can be found in Spain, and as it is a profession in which language is a principal factor, I believe Madrid is the best school for it on account of the people's character in all its phases.

      At present, a classmate of mine is the physician Mr. Franco who was over there for a long time practicing his profession. He had been my professor, very notable above all for failing students, and who at the beginning of my course said he would fail all of us. Let Dandoy tell it when . . .

Rizal assures his mother of his prudence -- He prefers to live in obscurity -- He trusts in God -- He believes in the fundamental principles of the Catholic religion.

. . . . . . .

      might make you uneasy about me, I shall answer you that I do everything possible to please you. For more than a year now and following my father's suggestions, I have withdrawn whenever it has been possible for me to do so and I have tried not to draw the attention of anybody to my person. I have been told not to write; well, I've dropped the pen, the only instrument that I had which I was beginning to wield not very badly; and if sometimes I've picked it up, it was because powerful reasons have compelled me to do so, and even then I've concealed my name out of love for that obscurity that I need so much. If in spite of this I still have enemies, well let them be! It is so difficult to live without troubles, but misfortune does not mean dishonor and misfortune is welcome if it will banish vilification and degradation. So long as we can keep the esteem of those who know us, so long as our conscience is not hostile to us in our meditations, what does the rest matter? We have been born in the midst of a society whose political life is so anomalous that we have no other hope but to submit or to succumb: Whichever is preferable conscience will decide. Let us then trust in God and in the sincerity of our intentions. If wishing and desiring the good brings misfortune as reward, what should we do? The greatest legacy that parents can bequeath to their children is rectitude in judgment, generosity in rights, and steadfastness in adversity; the greatest honor that a son can pay to his parents is integrity and a good name, that the acts of the son may never make his parents leave with indignation or shame, and the rest God will provide. Sorrows and miseries pass away with life and individuals; the family inherits the memory and blesses or curses the departed. I should like that just as I can . . . I can repeat and say aloud that I'm the son of the most honorable man and most pious women of my town, and may my parents never repent for having brought me into the world and if possible, may they at least feel satisfaction, if not pride, in mentioning me.

      Concerning what you say about my duties as a Christian, I have the pleasure to be able to answer you that I haven't stopped a moment in believing in the fundamental principles of our religion. To the beliefs of my childhood have succeeded the convictions of youth that with time will take root in me. A belief that cannot withstand examination and the test of time ought to pass on the memory and leave the heart. I must not try to live on illusions and falsehoods. What I believe in now, I believe rationally, and it is because my conscience cannot accept more than is compatible with reason. I can bow my head before an act that is mysterious to me whenever it doesn't exist in fact, but never before an absurdity nor before a probability. Religion to me is the most sacred thing, the purest, and most ethereal, that eschews all human adulterations and I believe that I would fail in my duty as a rational being if I would prostitute my reason and intelligence, his most precious gift. I believe that, in order to honor Him more, all I can do is to present myself to Him making use of the best that He has given me, in the same way that in presenting myself before my parents I should wear the best dress they have given me. If some time I shall come to possess that divine spark that is called knowledge, I would not hesitate to use it for the service of God, and if in my ratiocinations, I should not make a mistake, commit an error, God will not punish me. . .

She asks Rizal to work for her husband's transfer to Calamba to be near her parents.

Albay, 12 June 1885

Mr. José Rizal

Dear Brother,

      Though you don't write me, I write you. I know you feel hurt, because I don't write you and don't remember you. Don't believe this because every time Silvestre writes you I join him. The reason you don't see my handwriting is that I'm very busy taking care of two very lively boys. So please excuse me for not writing you. We are now here in Albay; we have been here three months. The servant we brought here is Sinforosa, sister of Policarpio, whom we always take along wherever we go.

      Brother, if you want to do us a favor so that we shall remain permanently at Calamba, it is very easy for you to do so through Father Faura. Just write him and tell him that we shall write to him when we want to leave this place. Do something for us so that we shall be transferred to Calamba and write this to him. The head of the telegraph office cannot refuse him, because he has a high regard for him. The reason we have a great desire to return to Calamba is our father and mother who felt bad when we left. So do the best you can to write to Father Faura and perhaps you will succeed. With may regards from your sister who wishes to see you soon.

Rizal resents not having received letters from his brothers -- Family news.

Calamba, 16 July 1885

Dear Brother-in-law,

      You are very resentful because I or we have not written you for a long time and you have reason to complain, inasmuch as we are a closely-knit family and for our inner satisfaction we ought to be fully informed by our respective situations. We have not written you in view of the fact that every time your letters to our parents and Paciano arrive, we all read them and felicitate ourselves on your good health, your progress in your studies and in that society, and in their letters to you they do not fail to tell you about us, so that you are well informed about our situation. For this reason, you will please excuse us, as everything, save some very rare exception, is forgiven within the family. I nave no news to give you, as Brother Paciano tells them all in his letter, and with reference to your little nephews, your sister is in charge of telling them you about them. I tell you only that her, or in Manila, according to what they say, there is a case of cholera morbus now and then, and I say according to what they say, for I don't know anything for certain and the government has not recognized it as such. With regard to this, what is that Ferran virus, a preventive against that disease? May it be true and through it at least may be lessened the effect of this terrible scourge on mankind.

      If you find there Rousseau's Emile in Spanish, I should like a copy here it cannot be found in any bookstore. We send you millions of love and you know how much this brother-in-law of yours loves you. Silvestre has been in Albay for six months. We have information that he will be returned here, but he is contented there. He earns ninety pesos a month as salary and for various duties.

      Manuel Timoteo de Hidalgo


I forgot to tell you the most important news. We are better here, like our dear parents and brothers.

Sends Rizal 100 pesos for the doctorate -- Family news -- Advises Rizal to study obstetrics -- Will send him a picture of her son Alfredo

Calamba, 16 July 1885

Dear José,

      Don't resent your failure to receive letters from me. I always read your letters to father and I see that you are well there. Receive 100 pesos for your doctorate that your brother-in-law Meneng and I are sending you.

      I have two children now, the first-born is Alfredo and the second is Adela. I'm eight months now on the family way. Study obstetrics very well. Because we are many, there will always be some who will have difficulty in childbirth.

      In case you have time to study the method of painting leaves, buy me the best cutter and mold for flower leaves.

      When we go to Manila, I shall have Alfredo photographed and I shall send his picture to you so that you may see the likeness of this lively body.

      I hope I shall have safe delivery and we may see each other again.

      Regards and I shall write you again. The bearer of this letter is in a hurry.

      Your ever-loving sister,

      Saturnia Rizal

Rizal complains of the irregularity of the remittance of his allowance -- He will go to Germany or England to study ophthalmology -- Something on the management of the Calamba Estate -- The splendor of the religious processions proceed unabated despite crisis and hunger

Calamba, 16 July 1885

Dear Brother,

      Today we received at the same time your two letters dated 10 and 30 of March last. I don't understand why these letters have taken so long to arrive when ordinarily it does not take more than 45 days. If this happens to your letters, the same thing, and perhaps worse, will happen to ours, hence the recession and apparent cooling off of our relations, aside from the aversion that pen and paper inspire me, convinced as I am that they hardly change family feelings, and in proof of this let our parents speak. With this explanation we should henceforth restrain our desires, as they should be.

      You are very correct in saying that you are not being sent your allowance not due to lack of will but indeed to the economic crisis, or lack of work, if the contrary were supposed. This responsibility rests on me solely from the moment I approved it. It was a pardonable approval as it was in consonance then with the course of our business, but as this has taken a turn entirely contrary to our expectations, hence the irregularity of your allowance and the misery we are going through, remaining ever at the bottom, despite our great and good will.

      Notwithstanding the benefit of assimilation of the Philippine sugar to that of Cuba and Puerto Rico due to the magnanimity of the King and of Mr. T. de Valdosera, Calamba sugar loaves remain in an imperturbable calm without being disturbed apparently by this important measure. This does not mean to say that we don't appreciate the value of this improvement, though until the present, it has not produced the desired effect. Perhaps it is no longer in their hands, but in those of the owners of sugar beets. It is enough to render to justice what it deserves and everybody is very much contented. It is said that by August this commodity will be active. Whether or not it shall be, we are going to sell our sugar in that month and then I shall send you by telegraph all that is due you and even something more. In the meantime you dispose of your jewelry.

      In one of your former letters you said that you would go to Germany after your graduation to study ophthalmology, and now in your latest letter you say that you are going to England and on this matter you ask my opinion. It is perfectly the same to me whether you study in one country or another, because this especially would be very useful to the family and because few or nobody practices this branch of medicine.

      Choleng is again with Mrs. Basilia. (1) They took her when I was not at home. If Mrs. Basilia dies, then we shall have Choleng definitively at home.

      Nothing important has occurred in the town except the inspection of the Estate this year. Comes the month of June and contrary to custom, all the tenants had not paid their obligations, which was enough to scandalize all the friars, especially the administrator, who, without stopping to investigate what could be the cause of this insolvency, whether it is lack of will, physical impossibility, bad harvest, low price, or the progressive increase in the land rent, he declares vacant all the lands of the Estate, (2) at the same time inviting the citizens of other towns to take over all the vacant lands as punishment for this lack of punctuality. Frightened, some paid their obligations with the proceeds of the distress sale of their sugar. Others, now encouraged because they saw that nobody or few responded to he invitation, being brave men, they put off their payments, and all giving excuse to the lay brother manager who, seeing the lack of unity, managed it in such a way that the relations between administrator and tenants return to their normal condition. All were satisfied with this solution, except four or five who were really victimized by this comedy, having been deprived of their holdings in favor of the good servants and of a fellow who received from the Father Visitor a fisticuff on his head, giving amicably, for having justified the penury of the town during his visit. Affection or insult, the fact was that it was returned with a completely frigid laughter. This momentary confusion in the business of the Estate brought about by the administrator and his tenants was looked upon unfavorably by the Corporation (Dominican) itself and it caused his transfer to another place, his position being filled by the lay brother in Biñan, who, they say, does not like any one to dance attendance on him.

      The monetary crisis here is not so acute as it might be believed, as there is still money to spend on processions and Masses of Grace and enough money for the purchase of a silver frontal and a pair of bells. It is true that the majority eat only twice a day, if they do not fast by force, and are always stragglers with respect to their small tax, but do not think that because of this, we are all unhappy, for though there is scarcity for some on one hand, on the other, noise and luster are more than necessary, which are enough compensation. The new gobernadorcillos are now exercising their functions. Appointed were many of those, who figure in the first place in the ternary, few in the second and third places, three or four without being included in the ternary were appointed like May rain, (3) and I say Mary rain, because even those from Calamba (and not a few) who formerly avoided this position, new sigh and sweat for it. The key to this enigma is perhaps the falla (4) and as reforms are about to be introduced, we hope that this will disappear.

      It is said that very soon justices of the peace courts will be established at the provincial capitals and towns that are heads or districts. The citizens of those towns are to be congratulated because with these reforms they will have less dealing with desk officials, while we shall continue the same as before until the reform is extended to towns of some importance.

      Thank God our parents are robust and strong. As they are now, they may live many more years. If you want o stay there for four or five years more and return later, probably you will find them still in good health as when you left them.

      Your brother,



     (1) Mrs. Basila Benzene de Lye, a relative of the Rizal family

     (2) The Hacienda de Calamba (Calamba Estate) consisting of the town of Calamba and the surrounding agricultural lands, belonging to the Order of St. Dominic (Domingo de Gunman, 1170 - 1221 or Dominican Order, one of the four powerful and wealthy religious corporations in the Philippines. The other three are the Franciscan, Augustinian and Recollect orders.
     (3) In the Philippines, rain in May is rare, being the dry season.
     (4) Falla under the Spanish regime was the fine paid by Filipinos for leaving work.

He would like to serve physician in Spanish towns infested with cholera or travel in France, Switzerland, or Holland -- Awaiting parental consent

Madrid, 30 July 1885 (1)

My dear parents,

      I have not received any letter from you or from anybody of the family and, in the complete absence of news, I venture to make you a proposition.

      As, after all, there is cholera in Spain and also at Madrid, were fortunately cases don't exceed 34 daily, if I don't receive by the next mail a letter from you or instruction, I'm going to enlist to take care of cholera patients in the towns were there are no physicians, for they say that they give 12 pesos daily, though without board and lodging, and if this is true, I can earn in one month some 250 pesos sufficient to support me for five months, which is not a little saving. At any rate, if the cholera gets me at Madrid, it is better than if I have to die, I die doing some good, and it is not a little thing to earn 250 pesos, because in those infected towns everything is now dear and in case I go, my board and lodging will not cost me less than 4 pesos a month. I believe this suits me. In this way I can begin earning my livelihood and helping the family a little. I don't believe there is much danger of contagion because, of the physicians, who had gone to those towns very few got sick and those who died don't go beyond four. I'm in good health, I'm young, and I'm not afraid of cholera, which matters a great deal.

      I could leave Spain and go abroad. Several friends have proposed it to me, offering to pay for the round trip and my stay in France, Switzerland, or Holland, everything gratis; but I haven't accepted and I have told them so -- P. Paterno, Luna, and others. First, because I don't want to owe this kind of favor, being able to owe it to my parents, and secondly, because I don't want to happen to me again what occurred to me when I went to Paris without waiting for your consent -- a trip that, though it yielded me very great benefits, on the other hand caused me so many troubles that I have decided not to take any step that may hurt you, unless there is a very powerful reason or urgent necessity for it.

      One of my house companions, Julio Llorente, has married and now lives with his wife. The other one, Ceferino de Leon, went to Galicaia. . . . .


     (1) A fragment of a Rizal letter.

He is uncomplaining -- Would like to earn his living to cease being a burden to his family -- Difficulty of obtaining employment in Spain -- Politics controls everything -- Manuel work is considered humiliating -- Though a Spanish subject, Rizal regards himself as a foreigner in Spain -- In financial straits he may be obliged with regret to sell his ring and books -- Would rather go home now than later. (1)

      . . . . to abuse the affection of brothers much more when they don't see each other for a long time and they are separated; one can well afford to lose one minute every six month. I'm very much afraid that you may frown at what I'm telling you and think that I'm little forbearing at my age while you, younger, already could help our family. I, too, have suffered much here, and since I have been in Europe twice I have seen the day pass without eating, for not having a real and I didn't complain. I suffered the cold and the rain and I couldn't take the streetcar for not having anything to pay the fare when my feet were swollen and aching. I don't forget even a single moment the sacrifices that I cause the family and how greatly I'm lessening our modest fortune, and you can understand how I wish to be able to earn my living in order to cease being a burden to the family. In Madrid, as in almost the greater part of Spain, there are certain prejudices to which one has to adjust himself however independent he may be. To earn my living here, in my conditions, without giving occasion to murmuring, I would have to resort to employment, to politics, for manual work here is usually considered humiliating and frankly I have no courage to drag myself to the office of the minister to beg with my salutations for a salary that would make you as well as myself ashamed. Here politics is the soul of everything: It is injected into the trades, arts, letters, and sciences. Even the bullfighters, poets, and others who are worthless must join politics. The learned man, if he is not a politician, is not learned. Even cholera has been made a political question, even the bacillus itself, the origin of disease. If you haven't lived here, make an effort to imagine how one lives here. I, who have always considered myself a foreigner and as such I have always called myself and have not concealed my indifference from all those who have proposed to me the political parties, cannot now solicit their patronage without incurring in contradiction. Moreover, for every position that appears in the horizon there are some fifteen or fourteen aspirants, or all these who wait at the doors and halls of the ministers, who have to walk away fleeing from them.

      Whenever the time for examinations or matriculation comes, my expenses increase considerably as I have been enrolled in two courses (2) both of which cost me with their six or seven subjects from 30 to 40 pesos in normal times; but in the case of the subjects for the doctorate, as it happened this year, the payment is double. This year precisely three months passed without my getting my allowance. Fortunately, Valentin (3) was here who loaned me money for my sustenance. This year owing to my graduation in Philosophy and Letters and the examinations for the doctorate I have had to spend much, and as my allowance has been reduced and nothing has been sent me for this purpose, I have had to borrow from Ventura before he went to Paris with the intention of paying him back with what I can economize, if my former allowance of 50 pesos would be restored. Unfortunately it couldn't be so. When the cholera broke out, there was a rumor that physicians who would treat cholera patients would be well paid; it was said that they would be paid 10 pesos; but upon further inquiry, I learned that they paid only five pesos and still it was not known when. Many advised me not to get into those troubles and besides, there was the inconvenience of not having yet my diploma, because I had to use the money destined for it to pay Ventura and meeting other expenses, for you owed me three months allowance during the previous course as at present. I would never have wished to tell you this, but in the present circumstances I think it is best not to hide the truth from you, because you would hear about it anyway. However, never would I let our parents believe that I'm undergoing the least hardship. If no money comes by the next mail, I shall be compelled to sell my ring at a loss, as well as my books acquired during three years of force of economy and patience and whose cost amounts to 250 pesos. Scarcely would they give me 50 pesos for them, for here they take advantage of one's necessity. It is a pity that these books should be lost for there are some among them that are very valuable. They have the inconvenience of being in French, English, German, and several other languages. With these books and those that are there you will surely have the best library in the province, for I don't believe that there are there books of the kind I have bought. It is a pity if they are lot. I'll see if I find a friend who is willing to give 50 pesos on condition of reversion and in that way you may be able to get them back. If I receive enough money I myself will get them back.

      I believe that it is easier now rather than later to acquire to collect some 400 pesos for my return trip, because I tell you that if things go on as now and I'm abroad, neither you nor I will fare well. (4) There I could help you, if not much, a little. If I were abroad, at London, for example, where there is a countryman who they say protects. . . .


     (1) Fragment of a Rizal letter to his brother Paciano.
     (2) Postgraduate course in medicine and philosophy and letters.
     (3) Valentin Ventura, a wealthy Filipino, residing at Madrid.
     (4) He refers to the economic crisis the Philippines was suffering.

Letters of recommendation to Barrantes and Father Faura regarding his transfer to Calamba -- News about relatives in Albay.

Albay, 26 August 1885

Dear José,

      Your letter of 28 June last with letters to Mr. Barrantes and Father Faura enclosed is enclosed is in my possession. On the 15th of this month I sent them to their respective destinations, that for Mr. Barrantes being registered, so that it would not be lost; but until this date I have no information of their result. I'll write you about what their result may be. Thanks for your great interest and I wish that we should be reunited in Calamba on the day of your arrival. We congratulate on your success and progress in your career as well as on your good health. I'm glad that the cholera there is subsiding.

      I have already given your regards to the family of Uncle Rufino and they thank you. Yes, it is true he has two good-looking daughters; Nena is the better looking, but very soon she will marry one Pedro Villanueva of the town of Tabaco of this province of Albay, and the other is called Eugenia. Their brother Sergio is studying bookkeeping at Manila, but the other one to whom you referred in your letter is deceased (may he rest in peace) and so also is your friend Glicerio Anson. You have here another relative. Uncle Honorio of Binando, with his three daughters, also single, fairly pretty. He is the shopkeeper of Messrs. Muñoz Hermanos of the town of Legazpi. We spend pleasant hours in his hours and he picks us up in his carriage. The girls are very fold of dancing. Lieutenant Jancho was a victim of the cholera of 1883. You can commend him to God, as he was your good friend. So you have no one any more with whom to debate?

      According to a letter from Calamba, they are all well. Narcisa delivered a boy on . . . . of last July who is named Leoncio.

      I'm anxious to reach Calamba to see Aris (Aristeo) and if they transfer me there, the day they again send me to another post, I'll resign; for now I realize that it is difficult and painful to be separated from one's children, as Aris is separated from us. Though he is in very good condition, nevertheless it is painful for me to have him away from my side. Loleng is married to Córdova; she has one girl, but I believe I have already written you about it long ago. For the present I cannot give you persona news for I'm most secluded and withdrawn in the Station. My thoughts are to return to Calamba.

      Until the next, receive the embraces of your brother-in-law, who loves you,

      Silvestre Ubaldo

They send him money -- Price of sugar is fairly good.

Calamba, 10 September 1885

Dear Brother,

      Enclosed is a draft for two hundred pesos. I don't send it to you by telegraph as I promised you in my preceding letter because it was our mother who went to Manila and brought the draft and then because I saw by your last letter that you still count in some resources.

      As you don't tell me that you have received the sum I sent you at the beginning of April, I send you the second draft in case you have not received the first one.

      We have already sold the sugar this year at two pesos and four reales and three pesos a loaf -- prices which are fairly better, relatively speaking, than those of previous years and though they may not enrich the farmer neither do they ruin him.

      I should like more information on sugar beet. The idea of serving cholera stricken towns ought to be practiced only when one has no other recourse, but when one can find elsewhere one or two pesos a day, such an idea ought to be laid aside for family considerations.

      In my preceding letter I forgot to tell you that we make cigars at home (one table) and under the present circumstances they are a real aid to sugar.

      Your brother,


      Brother-in-law Manuel sent you one hundred pesos in August.

Father Faura replies sharply -- He is disgusted with Rizal and Ubaldo.

Albay, 13 September 1885

Esteemed José,

      On 10 August I sent the letters for Mr. Barrantes and Father Faura as I told you in my preceding letter, but as I have not received any information on the purpose of those letters, I thought it was timely to send to your dear Father Faura a telegram, with prepaid reply, of the following tenor:

      Rev. Fr. Faura, Manila

      I beg you to tell me if Rizal's Petition will be granted,


      The reply:

      Mr. Ubaldo, Albay

      I'm disgusted with you and Rizal. Everyone should be in the place where he is ordered to be. I have not asked nor will I ask for anything.


      When I received this reply, I became pensive, unable to explain to myself the displeasure that Father Faura had of us two. Or had he written two or three lines, I would have been so informed. In view of this and as he has the full confidence of Mr. Barrantes, who undoubtedly had been in accord with him, I decided to resign from my position so that you will not receive any more displeasure on my account. When they approve my separation from the service and I return to Calamba, I'll write you. From here I cannot give you news of any kind. When we return to Manila and Calamba, I'll indeed give you more detailed news.

      With nothing more for the present, may you be in good health and take very great care for, according to the newspapers, cholera cases there are increasing. When are you coming?

      Tight embraces of your brother-in-law who loves you.


Rizal plans to go to Germany where the cost of living is lower than in England -- Valentin Ventura sends him money -- The German language would be useful -- "Our duty is to love our country. . ."

Madrid, 1 October 1885

My dear parents,

      On the 1st of this month we gave up the house we had taken in order to be able to live more economically and freely and the three of us -- Ceferino, Lete, and I -- have moved to this new house which costs us almost double, for they charge us for the room alone two pesetas a day. As I don't intend to stay here more than 15 days, until the arrival of the mail boat on which I plan to depart, should I have money, I've paid the six pesos they asked me. It is possible, now that it seems my allowance will not be increased, that I may not go to England where the cost of living is much higher, but to Germany where they have assured me one can live at Berlin with the same allowance as here at Madrid. If this is true, as I'm assured, I'll do that. L And if I don't receive money, my fate will decide what it shall be. From Paris Valentin has sent me money, spending for money order fees and other things. It is a good and friendly gesture, but I believe it ought not to be abused.

      German will be of the greatest usefulness to me in the future when German commerce and preponderance shall prevail over there in the neighboring regions. It is moreover a language few Filipinos possess. I know a little, but as all that I know I have learned by myself, it turns out that though I have facility in translating written German, on the other hand, I can't understand a single word when they speak to me, for my ears are not accustomed to the sound of the words.

      If I receive 200 pesos, I leave immediately for Germany; if I receive 600 pesos, I shall finish the doctorate, and if not, happen what may happen. I already owe three and a half months board. Since 1st July, when I should receive money, I have been without any and without letters.

      I don't know how the Caroline question (1) will end. It seems that Bismark will get away with his pretensions. It is necessary that we prepare for what may happen so that we shall not be more exploited than we are now. Whenever they asked me here for our opinion I replied: "I believe that all Filipinos only want either to be Spanish or be independent." I don't know if I have interpreted correctly the wish of our countrymen, but if not, I suppose I haven't hurt them. When I was asked if we would fight in defense of the Spanish flag against the German, I answered them that we would always fight in fulfillment of our duty and in obedience to our conscience. "What then is your duty and what does your conscience dictate?" "Our duty", I replied, "is to love our country and our conscience dictates that we do everything that our duty implies."

      As I haven't heard any news from there, it is difficult for me to speak of persons who are dead or have disappeared.

      Those of the Filipino colony have not yet returned from their summer excursions. On the 1st of this month Valdés, Calero, and Cabangis, two physicians and one future one, left for home.

      If I had taken advantage of the summer to go abroad to study languages, as I did during the first year of my arrival in this by going to Paris, this summer I would have gone to Germany or Switzerland, and now I would be earning two pesos a day with gratuity in addition, for in the . . . .


     (1) In 1885 the German Empire pursued a vigorous policy of colonial expansion. Finally in 1899 Spain sold Germany to the Caroline Islands including the Ladrone, except Guam, for $4,000,000.

Why he was against Rizal's trip to Paris -- Rizal sends an image of Christ and a chess set to his family -- A letter of Rizal that made his mother shed tears -- Sale of Rizal's chestnut horse -- Low price of sugar -- Paciano always an optimist.

Mr. José Rizal

Dear brother,

      We received your two letters, one by mail and the other through the kindness of Mr. Basilio together with an image of Christ and a chess set. I accept all your censure therein, so much more justifiable as I believed myself with sufficient strength to support my family, which was nothing more than a vain presumption on my part. But you should have taken into account my laziness and aversion to writing especially with regard to disagreeable things that cannot be remedied. With respect to my opposition to your trip to Paris, it was due rather to the critical situation that we were going through then than to strictness toward you. What was one hundred pesos more or less, but when the Chuidian firm refused to grant us a loan and we had none of our own, it seemed to me there was reason to disapprove that trip, not because of its purpose but of what it would cost. On the other hand, once permission to go to Europe was granted, one step further, forward or backward, mattered very little to one who does not know these latitudes. Moreover, you would be the first to feel sorry should anything happen to our family, like what is happening to all here (with the exception of four) whose properties have been all confiscated or neglected. They hardly have enough to meet their liabilities. From all this is deduced that you there and we here still live in these times of trial when patience and more prudence are necessary, because it is nonsensical not to eat having jewels to pawn, for I believe they were sent to you precisely for that purpose. You made our mother shed copious tears with this letter.

      With this letter I send you a draft for two hundred pesos. Probably by February I shall send you another two hundred pesos which will be the proceeds of the sale of your chestnut horse, and if I don't find a trusted person to bring to you the chronometer watch that I intend to give you as a gift and which is worth three hundred pesos with the chain, I shall sell it and send you the proceeds.

      Today we received the news that the king had died. I don't know if you are still there. It is convenient for us to have your exact address so that letters, and especially drafts, would not be delayed in reaching you.

      Though sugar has no price, we begin work on the sugarcane in the midst of envy and with many bandits and more landlords' collectors around. Despite everything, I still feel strong enough and I persist in my error that I can still support our family.

      In this town nothing important happens, unless it be the robberies and the effrontery of that one who called on us one day. If he could be made to jump the river, now that things have altered, it would have been a worthy act.

      Your brother,


Rizal is registered at Dr. Wecker's clinic -- Learning much about eye diseases -- Dr. Wecker esteems Rizal and invites him to his house.

65 Arago Boulevard, Paris
4 December 1885 *


My dear parents,

      In my last letter I told you about my study of eye diseases at the clinic of Dr. Wecker. I continue going there every day and I learn not a little and each time I see a new operation, a new disease. Dr. Wecker had me register at his clinic and ordered me to buy an ophthalmoscope -- an apparatus that is used to look into what is going on inside the eyes -- that costs only twelve pesos. The professor, who continues to esteem me, told me that I should go to his house on Sundays, giving me his card. According to those who have seen it, the house or hotel of the doctor is a palace, a marvel in gems and artistic objects of which he has the most beautiful collections. The gentleman is very rich; he has properties in various . . . esteemed at many million those . . . alone. It is true that he is the first . . . the Duchess of Medinacelli called him . . . for a day he was paid 40,000 francs . . . lost. Thus it is already possible to treat ailments . . . to be a sufficiently passable surgeon . . . with the fifth part I would be satisfied.

      Here it is very cold and there is much . . . which compels us to exercise to keep us warm. The king of Spain has died and we have a regent, Doña María Cristina . . . that history records.

      I still hope to receive some money from you, practice by the side of Wecker . . . . I am costing much money . . . useful one day. The instruments and . . . town is very dear almost as much . . . this last town for not knowing . . .

      In Germany, according to a friend . . .


      * A fragment of a Rizal letter.

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