Rizal: The Tagalog Hamlet

By Miguel de Unamuno

I have just finished reading, for the second time, Vida y Escritos del Dr. Rizal, by W.E. Retana, and I close this reading with such a tempest of bitter reflections within the very core of my being; a tempest out of which emerges a truly brilliant figure that of Jose Rizal. He was a man of unlimited possibilities, a heroic soul, and today he is the idol of a people that will one day—I do not doubt—play a profound role in human civilization.

Who was this man?

I. The Man

With close interest I have been reviewing Retana's translation of the diary that Rizal kept in Madrid as a student. Underneath those succinct annotations breathes the soul of a dreamer, more so than what is found in the rhetorical manifestations of his fictional characters in his novels; in which these same hopes later appear.

Rizal studied Philosophy and Letters in Madrid about the same time that I was enrolled in the same university, although he was finishing his course when I was beginning mine. I must have seen this Tagalog more than once in those commonplace classrooms of the Universidad Central. More than once I must have crossed his path in those days when we were both dreaming, Rizal of his Philippines and I of my Basque Country.

In his diary he never fails to note his attendance in his Greek class which so fascinated him and in which he obtained excellent marks. I do not find this strange. Although I can assure you that Rizal was not particularly interested in Greek: like myself, Rizal was fascinated with our venerable teacher, Don Lázaro Bardon. In his Noli Me Tángere there are two details that can come only from Don Lázaro. One is Rizal's translation of the Gloria precisely as Bardon used to translate it: "Glory to God in the highest; on earth, peace; among men, goodwill." Don Lázaro was one of Rizal's great loves; of that I am certain because I, too, was a disciple of Don Lázaro's and can see traces of him as I read the diary and other works of Rizal.

Indeed, Don Lázaro, that very noble and simple villager, that childlike soul, that saintly man, who was a secularized priest, deserved such esteem. If only all the Spaniards whom Rizal knew had been like Don Lázaro!

I am certain we must have met in those classrooms of the Universidad Central, this Tagalog who was dreaming of his Philippines, and I, the Biscayan who was dreaming of my Basque Country. Both of us romantics.

Retana is right in saying that Rizal was always a romantic; if this is to mean one who is a dreamer, an idealist, and above all, a poet. Indeed, Rizal was a romantic, like all Filipinos, if we are to believe Mr. Taviel de Andrade.

Certainly Rizal was a tireless dreamer, and a poet. All his life he permitted his poet’s soul to reveal itself, not only in the rhythmic quality of his compositions, but in his entire work; and above all in the poetry that was his life …

His love for his country, the Philippines, was infused with poetry, with religious passion. He made a religion of his patriotism. It is precisely about this subject that I will speak later. And he also loved Spain with poetry and piety. And those that do not know or love poetry and religion brought him to his death.

Once, Retana called him an Oriental Don Quixote, and indeed this is an apt description. But, he was Quixote with the substance of Hamlet; he was Quixotic in thought; thoughts which were disgusted with the impurities of reality.

His exploits were his books and writings: Rizal's heroism is the heroism of a writer.

But it should be understood that his art was not that of the professional writer, one who thinks or feels in order to write, but that of a man overflowing with love, who writes because he has thought and felt so deeply. And this is a very important distinction—as Schopenhauer points out: To think in order to be able to write, and to write because one has been able to think.

Rizal as a poet, was a hero of thought, and not a man of action, but the master of that which is an act of thought: The Word. The Word, which existed in the beginning with God, and was God, and by which all things were made according to the Scriptures.

Retana tells us that when Rizal returned to Manila in 1892 he became involved in politics through the founding of La Liga and that the "mystic lyricist" was converted to a workman of prose; that the pendant of Tolstoy was transformed into the pendant of Becerra. He adds that perhaps, because of this, Rizal rendered greater service to the Filipino cause, but, as a result, his literary stature was diminished. Mr. Santos answers Retana with some reflections on this point, which the reader will find in note 312 on page 251 of this work.

The heroes of thought are invariably not the masters of their actions; the very strength of their spirit propels them to extremes which they would never have dreamed of entering. A certain poverty of imagination is needed in order to effectively control the external acts of one's life; and it is this very imaginative poverty that is wanting among the brave heroes of thought, those great spirits who are not afraid to forge ahead with bold ideas, accepting their consequences within the theoretical and ideal realms of experience. Yet strangely, they are rarely men with the same bold will in external affairs. Galileo, a hero of the mind, quailed before the Inquisition. Nor is this an uncommon instance, and seems psychologically valid, as in the teacher of Le Disciple of Bourget. One must study, if not the life of Spinoza, that of Kant and of many other heroic thinkers.

Rizal, the fearless dreamer, appears to me as having a will somewhat irresolute and weak for action and for life. His love for solitude, his reservedness, his frequently demonstrated lack of boldness, are forms of his predisposition to be Hamlet. To have been any kind of a practical revolutionist, Rizal would have needed the simple mindedness of an Andres Bonifacio (5). I suspect that he was introverted and was, in addition, a doubter.

These heroes of the past, these great conquerors of the inner worlds, when propelled into action also appear as titans, but titans by sheer force of action. Without prejudice one should read the life of Luther, that giant of heart, who never knew to where his destiny had taken him. He was the instrument of Providence, in much the same manner, so was Rizal.

Rizal foresaw his end, his tragic and glorious end, but like the principal character in a Greek tragedy, he foresaw it passively. It was not he who was the actor; rather it was as if some undertow had swept him into the role, and all he could say was, "Lord, Thy will be done, not mine!"

It is precisely the same story as that of so many men of destiny who fulfill a purpose without having themselves ever proposed it, and who solitarily build their dreams within themselves in order to bequeath consolation and hope to others, only to become its leader.

Retana asserts in one part of his work that Rizal was a mystic. Indeed he was a mystic, but like other mystics, from that very ivory tower, where his eyes raised to the sky and his arms held aloft, he guided his people into battle and onto life.

Rizal was a writer, or, we say rather, a man who wrote what he thought and felt. And as a writer, that was how he worked.

II. The Writer

I shall now discuss Rizal as a writer, in which he will be examined as a writer.

Above all, it should be noted, and Retana does not overlook it, that Rizal wrote his works in Castilian, and that Castilian was not his native mother tongue, nor the indigenous and natural language of his people. Castilian in the Philippines, as it is in my Basque Country, is an adventitious language of recent introduction; and one must suppose that even those for whom it was the language of the cradle, having imbibed it with their mother's milk, and having learned to say their prayers in it, have still not been able to be entirely rooted in it.

If I judge myself by the same: It was in Castilian that I first learned to speak and indeed Castilian was spoken in my home; but it was the poor, timid, Castilian of Bilbao, a Castilian still in the state of infancy, and often it was a poor translation from the Basque language. Those of us who learned it in this manner were later compelled, in order to express what we truly thought and felt, to remodel it with some difficulty and make for ourselves our own language. In one respect, it is this, which has been one of our weaknesses as writers; but at the same time it is our strength.

Because our language is not a caput mortuum, it is not a system of words which we have received passively, not a routine, but something alive and beating. It has become something through which our endeavors can be seen. Our words are living words. We resurrect from the dead and reinvigorate with life those who languish through it. We knead our language, which is ours by right of conquest, with our very heart and minds.

Retana applies to Rizal the well-known distinction between language and style: That one can have his own effective and fluent style, with a correspondingly defective language. On the other hand, he can be most correct and careful in diction, but fail absolutely to achieve a style of his own. This distinction has been made a thousand times, but those savages who think in Castilian by right of inheritance and usage but never really come to comprehend it, are always more concerned about grammar and lack of ornamentation. Their extreme spiritual poverty hinders them from feeling this difference. One must abandon such people. All their miserable literature will sink into oblivion and in a short time no one will ever remember their barbaric phrases of the sixteenth or seventeenth century; nor will anyone ever care about their worn-out and vacuously sonorous language.

The style of Rizal is frequently delicate, sinuous, without either rigidity or roughness. Its faults, if any, are in its diffusion. It is an oratorical style full of conceptual abstractions; it is the style of a Hamlet, full of indecision in the very midst of such firmness of central purpose. But it is not the style of one who is dogmatic.

Like Plato, Rizal presents his ideas in dialogues, for his novels are nothing more than sociological and, at the same time, philosophical, dialogues. The very multiplicity of his spirit makes it necessary to present himself in more than one of his characters. Retana insists that Rizal is the Ibarra but not the Elías of Noli Me Tángere. I think that he is both Ibarra and Elías, and this is especially true when they contradict each other. Because Rizal himself is the spirit of contradiction, a soul that dreads the revolution, although deep within himself he consummately desires it: He is a man who at the same time both trusts and distrusts his own countrymen and racial brothers; who believes them to be the most capable and yet the least capable—the most capable when he looks at himself as one of their blood; the most incapable when he looks at others. Rizal is a man who constantly pivots between fear and hope, between faith and despair. All these contradictions are merged together in that love, his dreamlike and poetic love for his adored country, the beloved region of the sun, Pearl of the Orient, his lost Eden.* (1*) (6)

This Tagalog Quixotic Hamlet found the most profound affection, his most truly religious passion, as I will point out later, in the cult of his country, the Philippines. If these feelings were religious, they were also the focus of his contradictions and constitute the end for which this enthusiasm for his culture existed. Rizal wanted culture, but he wanted it for his people only in order to redeem them and to exalt them. His constant theme is that the Filipinos must have culture and education in order to make them complete men. The revolution itself was repugnant to him because he feared that it would endanger the work of culture. And yet, in spite of these fears, he must have desired it nonetheless.

Rizal, a deeply religious soul, felt strongly that freedom is not an end, but a means; that it is not enough for a man or a people to desire to be free if no clear idea can be formed as to the use of that freedom later on.

Rizal was not a supporter of Philippine independence; this clearly follows in all his writings. This he never advocated because he did not believe that his country was prepared for independent nationhood, believing that Spain should provide the protection and patronage that she needed until she reached the age of emancipation. Those who persecuted Rizal could clearly see all these thoughts in his writing—those unfortunate Spaniards who never had so much as a human notion of what a city should be and who simply thought that the colonies were like real estate inhabited by natives, in much the same manner as domestic animals, there to be exploited.

And how they exploited that land! With what disdain for the Spanish-Filipino, their colonial com­patriots! It was this very contempt, rather than the oppressions and vexations of other kinds, this barbarous and anti-Christian disdain that was to be the eternal thorn in Rizal's heart. He felt within all the humiliations of his race: For he was the symbol of that race.

III. The Tagalog

Rizal was, in effect, a symbol in both the ethnological and original sense of this word: He was the compendium, if not the epitome of his race. Like other men who were to become the symbol and compendium of an entire people, he was one of the few men who were representatives of humanity in general.

Today it is understandable why Rizal should be the idol, the saint of the Malayan Filipinos: He is the very man who seems to say to them, "You can lift yourselves up to where I am; you can be what I am because you are the flesh of my flesh and the blood of my blood."

It is something like the Unitarian Protestants, who do not admit the dogma of the Trinity nor the divinity of Christ, saying instead that Jesus was pure man and no more than a man, a man like the rest of humanity, although one who was endowed with a clearer and more alive consciousness of filial piety toward God; they believe this is much more pious and consoling than to believe that Christ was a God-Man, the incarnated second person of the Trinity. For if Christ was man, it would be possible for other men to rise as high as Him; but if he was indeed God, it would be impossible for us to be like Him.

I have been reading from a Mexican writer how the life and work of the great Indian, Benito Juárez, has been the example and the redemption of many Mexican Indians; who have seen in him one of their very own, one of pure American blood who became in certain moments the incarnation of their country and its living conscience; one who would carry along with it in his stoic and religious soul, its very destiny. Many of the Caucasians and Mexicans of mixed blood who were around Juárez may have had more intelligence and more education than he; but no one of them was as warmhearted, as deeply and passionately patriotic as that native lawyer of pure American blood, who did not even learn Castilian until he was full-grown. Upon losing his faith in the Catholic dogmas in which he was brought up by a relative who was a priest, Juárez transferred that closely felt faith, indeed like some divine power, to the principles of law which he had learned in the classroom, so that he could apply them to Mexico, his country.

Rizal also derived his Tagalog consciousness from the classroom, these very classrooms where he learned too well from the scornful, arrogant, and unfeeling white man. In Chapter XIV, "A House For Students" of his novel, El Filibusterismo, Rizal himself is the one saying to us: "The barriers built by politics between nations disappear in the classrooms as if melted away by the warmth of science and youth." This is what he desired for his country: Science and youth—youth, not childhood, so that it would destroy the barriers between races.

It was the barriers established by custom, even more than those established by law, which tormented Rizal's generous heart. The consciousness he had of his own race, the deep understanding given him by his own personal superiority nurtured by education—this consciousness was one of pain. In the deepest poetic sense he calls the Philippines in his last farewell: Mi patria idolatrada, dolor de mis dolores! Indeed, his homeland was his very conscience, because through him the Philippines gained consciousness and through his suffering, as their Christ, Rizal redeemed them.

Above all, Rizal suffered the wanton brutality of the white man, for which there is no other word but the Greek word: authadía. This means self-complacency, the smugness over tolerating what one is with mere amusement; and certainly in the vulgar sense, arrogance and insolence. This defines the white man: Arrogant, insolent, and authádico. His arrogance stems from his lack of understanding for the feelings of others, because of asimpatía, which means his incapability of ever understanding the rest of humanity, or to see and feel as they do.

It would be most interesting to review all the banality and nonsense which we men of the white, or Caucasian race, have invented in order to establish our claim to a native and natural superiority over other races. In this kind of a review, both biblical and pseudo-Darwinian fantasies would have to be included, not omitting, of course, that of the dólico-rubio and other similar extravagances. Whatever qualities distinguish us as a race is a privilege, and those that we lack are defects. But when we find a case, like the most recent one from Japan [The Russo-Japanese War], we do not know how to concoct a valid explanation.

Rizal had this same ethnological preoccupation with race, and on pages 137 and 138 of this book will be found his conclusions about these matters. On many occasions, particularly in his annotations on Dr. Antonio de Morga's Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, one can see how Rizal attempted to vindicate his countrymen of the white man's racial charges leveled against them.

On page three of this book the reader will note how Prof. Blumentritt connects Rizal's resentment, even from boyhood, to being treated by Spaniards with discernible contempt simply because he was an indio. Blumentritt's observations on this point are only too well taken.

To almost all Spaniards who have dallied in the Philippines, the indio is a little boy who never reaches the age of maturity. When we recall how the grave Egyptian priests used to consider the Greeks as mere children, we should consider whether our own Spaniards did not play the role of decadent Egyptians among the incipient Greeks, Greeks in their social infancy.

Others may talk about the servility of the indio, but in this respect, let me discuss what usually happens in the Peninsula when natives of a certain region who, perhaps possessing a far more developed sense of inner freedom and dignity, are considered the most servile. Either a street-sweeper with his broom always about the street or a water-carrier with his bucket is capable of, and usually has, a finer sentiment of personal dignity and independence than the hungry hidalgo who so disdains him, but goes about begging for employment or for favors. Here we find servility clad in the garments of the hidalgo's arrogance, his arrogance veiling the insolent beggar within. Our own picturesque literature has much to say in this respect.

Rizal had a refined sense of social hierarchy and always observed the proper courtesy ascribed to each one. It is interesting to note in Retana's account of the official receptions in Dapitan (9)that while Rizal used to greet the people present in their hierarchal order; but in familiar gatherings, he would first always greet the ladies, even if they were indias. This kind of gesture, similar to the Japanese manner, could never have been fully appreciated in its full value by officials who were insolent with their subordinates, but fawning in the presence of their superiors; nor by the uncouth friars who were fed up with corn-bread and rye in their own country, but addressed every indio with curt familiarity.

A character in Noli Me Tángere says: "The most dissolute of the Peninsula comes here, and if a good man arrives, the country soon corrupts him." I shall not discuss the degree of accuracy of this statement—an affirmation which, with all its unfairness, has been repeated a thousand times in Spain; but what kind of Spaniards must have mingled with Rizal in the Philippines! And above all, what manner of friars! Because in Spain friars were generally recruited from the most uneducated classes, from among the most uncouth and rustic! They would abandon the plough handle or the shovel in order to enter the convent. Here, the hair they had grown in the cow-pastures would be trimmed with barbaric Latin and scholastic indigestion. Later they would find themselves converted into priests, now the object of veneration of not a few people, although they were still as uncouth and clumsy as when they had entered the convent for the first time. What would prevent them from developing authadía, or that gratuitous haughtiness? Then to transfer a man in this condition to a country like the Philippines: Place him among the shy, simple, uneducated and fanatical indios and tell me what the outcome would be!

I remember once when I could not stand the petulant insolence of a certain Scotman, and, confronting him' I said: "Before proceeding, allow me to make an observation: Like me you will admit that England, being regarded on the whole, as a nation more advanced and more cultured than either Portugal or Albany cannot tolerate the spectacle of the most unpolished and uncultured of Englishmen believing themselves to be superior to the most intelligent and cultured Portuguese or Albanians, would you not?" Seeing that the man assented, I concluded: "Very well, you belong in England as you have demonstrated by your behavior today, to the lowest stratum of that culture; and I to Spain, and I say this to you with characteristic modesty, to its highest stratum. Therefore we are finished; because from me to you there is greater distance than from Spain to England, but in the reverse order." I believe that many indios and ordinary mestizos (10) could very well say this to those portentous and habited fathers who so despised them.

On page 35 of this book, one reads how Rizal, in 1880, went to Malacañan (11) Palace for the first time after having been run over and wounded one dark night by the Guardia Civil, because he had passed in front of a shadow without saluting, and it happened to be the lieutenant that headed the detachment. One must draw a connection between this event and the later translation in Tagalog by Rizal of Schiller's William Tell, in which Tell is imprisoned for not having saluted the cane on which was crowned the hat of the tyrant, Gessler.

Such humiliations wounded the gentle heart and sensibilities of our poet; he could not suffer the white, the uncouth, and the unimaginative, of these clumsy Sansones Carrascos, those harsh Spaniards who kneaded with chickpeas or indian corn.

To emancipate the soul, and not the corporeal body of his country, was Rizal's dream in its entirety. For this he was prepared to give everything to the Philippines! In speaking of this cause which he defended and for which he dedicated his talents, Rizal wrote Fr. Pastells, a Jesuit, the following: "The bamboo grows in this soil in order to support nipa huts and not the weight of massive edifices of Europe." This is a most subtle thought, the sheer scope of its meaning I doubt whether either Fr. Pastells, or any other Spanish Jesuit fully understood, in spite of the fact that there they were among the best of them.

Rizal thought insatiably about the Philippines, never of anything else; neither did Jesus ever wish to leave Judea, telling the Canaanite that He had been sent only for the lost sheep of the Kingdom of Israel. But from there, from that little place upon the Earth where He beheld the first and final light of day, His doctrine radiated to the whole world.

Rizal, the living conscience of the Filipino, dreamed of an ancient Tagalog civilization. This is a most natural mirage, the very sort that gives birth to the legend of Paradise. A similar thing has happened in my Basque Country, where in a similar manner an ancient Basquecivilization with a patriarch, Aitor, and a complete fantastical history which could have been sketched in the clouds. We Basque people believe that our ancestors adored the Cross long before the coming of Christ. But this is pure poetry.

It was in this poetry that I once fondled the dreams of my own youth; for they were cradled by an extraordinary man, a poet thoroughly, named Sabino Arana, for whom the time for complete recognition has not yet arrived. In Madrid—that horrid Madrid, whose blustering social castes epitomize our Spanish lack of understanding—Arana was always taken either comically or grudgingly; he, too, was despised and insulted, but not understood. Not a single one of the unfortunate pamphlet writers who wrote of Arana have ever really understood his work, much less the man.

It is because he has such a close similarity to Rizal, that I mention Sabino Arana, that ardent poetic and dreaming soul. Like Rizal, he died misunderstood by his own people and by others. And like Rizal he was called a filibustero, or other such epithet were given to Arana.

They were so alike, even in those details which seem to show them to excess, but which are, nonetheless significant. If only it were not for the length of this essay, I would expand my views on the significance of Arana's undertaking the reform of the Basque orthography and of Rizal's undertaking that of the Tagalog.

This indio was educated by Spain, and Spain made him Spanish.

IV. The Spaniard

Spanish, yes, he was truly Spanish, far more Spanish than the wretched —forgive them, Lord, for they knew not what they were doing it—whom, while his body was still warm, continued to insult heaven, the sacrilegious! Long live Spain!

Spanish, yes.

He thought in the Spanish language, and in the Spanish language he spoke and taught his brothers. To his homeland he sang his final and most tender goodbye in Spanish. And it is in this language that the song will endure; in Spanish as well was written the Bible of the Philippines.

“To do what you are now with your teaching of Castilian,” says Simoun in El Filibusterismo, to claim that it would be ridiculous, if the consequences were not so deplorable? Shall you add another language to the forty odd languages which are spoken in the islands for you to be understood less and less!

Basilio responded: "On the contrary, if we understood Castilian, we could understand our government. Through this we bind all our islands!"

This is in fact a cogent argument.

When the Romans came to Spain, they must have met Spaniards who spoke different languages, like when my countryman Legazpi came to the Philippines. Latin became the way of life; it helped form our motherland, just as Castillan and Spanish, and not Tagalog, form the very soul of the Philippines.

In a recent letter to me from the Philippines by D. Felipe G. Calderón, a Filipino doctor and scholar, he said:

"To disprove that V may have no explanation, and for us this is perfectly understandable, I am pleased to say that, today, Castilian is spoken by many here in our country. Educational institutions have focused on the teaching of Castilian; there is also a greater movement to publish books and newspapers in this language, without censorship, in order to counter the iron hand of the Spanish friar that for so long banned any attempt to study Spanish."

“As you have read in Noli Me Tangere, there are efforts to fight the obstructionism of the Castilian friar, as in the chapter "Adventures of a School Teacher". The famous Academy of Castilian mentioned in El Filibusterismo is real, an institution to which I was part of and to which D. Benigno Quiroga Ballesteros, then Director of Civil Administration, belonged.”

“Public schools here use English as the medium of instruction. Despite its use, the results are not too encouraging. Students use both English and Castilian, since it is the language used in social occasions, just as English is the official language and the language used at home.”

“To prove to V. the little success that English has, the following fact might suffice: The Code for Civil Procedure enacted in 1901 set that for the year courts of law would use English; but given the fact that neither Filipino judges nor lawyers, and even Supreme Court justices, accepted this, reform to extend the use of the Castillan language in courts for another ten years was needed.”(12)

“As a result of such a law, the Filipino people have seen that even without the English system they can go on with their daily tasks and, without effort, learn the language.”

Spanish, the language of Rizal, is the language of society of the Philippines. Of all, should not Rizal be the one pursuing the conservation of this language in this country, where its spirit could be best cultivated? This is the destiny of our Spanish language! The language itself is loved and respected, just as it is a language of dominance. In the former colonies of Spain, this language is used more, when the colonies no longer depend on the motherland. It brings justice, after it the burden of learning it is removed. This happened in Cuba, throughout South America, and in the Philippines. Knowing this, could we say that there are two Spains?

As those who read this essay have previously read the book by Retana, it will be futile to try and prove that Rizal wanted Spain, whose spirit he imbibed as his own, to be the same spiritual mother of the Philippines, his homeland. This spirit is loved by the smart and intellectual, unlike the brutal and blind instincts of those who launched sacrilegious attacks over the corpse of the great Tagalog.

Rizal lived in and was educated in Spain, and met other Spaniards who were friars and employees in the country.

The adventures of Rizal throughout Spain, which were of moderation, of serenity, of fulfillment, and of affection, were very much different from his experience with the barbarians that intended to launch attacks against Spain—barbarians who did not have the brain, the heart, nor the will, but whose brutish nature was the source of their anger. They could not understand the love Rizal had for Spain; theirs was a cold sentiment towards the blazing yellow and red colors of the Spanish flag. (And this is because the gualda and the sword were their constant guides.)

It is useless to insist on this.

Retana says, "During the Spanish era, it was a source of pride, without limits, to be a Spaniard; he did not want to be less a Spaniard, than those who thought they were the greatest. For this precisely, for being so Spanish, he was judged as a “filibustero.”

V. The Filibustero

We have a calling for such: the chibolete. (2*)

We hear this from Rizal in chapter XXXV of the Noli Me Tangere, entitled "Commentary":

“The white fathers called Don Crisostomo (13) plibastero. It is a name worse than tarantado and saragata (14), worse than betelapora (bete a la pora, meaning “go fly a kite”), worse than to spit on the host on Good Friday. You will remember ispichoso (espechoso meaning “suspected’), that could be applied to a man that the Civil Guards of Villa Abrille would bring to the desert or to prison; plibastiero (sic). As the telegraph operator said, el directorcillo (meaning “the little director”)plibastiero said by a Christian to a priest or to a Spaniard or another Christian like us, it seems santus teus con requimiternam; If they call you at one time plibastiero, you better go to confession and pay your debts, because that’s the only thing you can do instead of being hanged.”

Such an illuminating passage! The liveliness of this passage shows us how you can use words in place of ideas that are meager or abhored! That terrible name plibastero or filibuster, like today's separatist, was a chibolete, a word with no meaning like ¡viva España!; which was used and had to be used for the sake of being proper.

Retana is correct in saying: "If the Rizal’s enemies had seen the picture he drew depicting his home in Calamba, a picture he gave to Professor Blumentritt, they would exclaim that the drawing was that of a filibustero!" (Page 145) And he has reason to add that the beliefs of Rizal, with respect to the Philippines, were not so different from the views of Catalan and the Basque Country held by many catalans and Basques who had left their homelands, for today at least, to live in peace.

They were the Spaniards, of them I must speak highly, they were mostly the friars—the boorish and myopic friars—that were pushing Rizal towards separatism. And this is being repeated today, as other Spaniards who are insisting on driving Catalans and Basques towards separatism

Let us hear what chapter XVI of the Noli Me Tangere has to say through one character, whom like many characters in the novel personifies Rizal. The passage reads:

"They have opened my eyes, they have made me see the blight upon the land, and have forced me to be a criminal! And since they have wanted it, I will become a filibuster! Nay a true filibustero; I will call to all the wretched! We, for three centuries, we extend them our hand, we asked them for love, we yearned to call them our brothers; How do they answer us? With insults and mockery, they have denied us the dignity of being human."

And then appeared Bonifacio, the bodeguero, the non-intellectual, the man who made a revolution.

Filibustero! Read again page 262 of this book what the press of the Metropolis, this wretched and imperceptive press, one of the principal causes of our disaster, read what they said of Rizal. This is same that was said of Arana.

Retana is right in saying that the separatist ideal is legitimate, as an idea, in the Peninsula. They can discuss the Motherland, indeed,it must be discussed. Just  the act of speaking of a country aids in understanding it. Our misfortune is that the idea of Spain does not mean anything to the vast majority of Spaniards: A nation, like an individual, languishes and eventually perishes if its life is nourished by nothing more than the mere instinct for self-preservation.

The Spain of the obscene—¡viva España!—which was launched over the cadaver of Rizal is the Spain of exploiters, of brutes and imbeciles; the Spain of tyrants and their slaves; the Spain of petty landowners and masters of grand estates; the Spain where only those without ideals may live.

Rizal wanted to bring the real Spain to the Philippines, to fill the emptiness left by the brutes and friars, for this Rizal was accused for being a filibustero.

The most tragic legal accusation against the great Spaniard and great Tagalog – of which I will discuss immediately – it was said in Spain that there was sufficient vigor and energy to no longer tolerate the Spanish flag being raised in those regions,, regions which were discovered and conquered through the intrepidness and fearlessness of our forefathers; this is detestable and malicious rhetoric, as Retana puts it fairly. The Philippines was, in effect, not conquered with courage and boldness, but was won through persuasion and agreements made with the local warlords. This was done with no blood ever being spilled. "The commander-in-chief of the conquest, Retana adds, "was named Miguel López de Legazpi, a kind gentleman and old writer, who in those days of his life, drew his rapier.”

Yes, the Philippines was conquered for Spain by my countryman Legazpi, one of the most distinguished sons of the Basque race, as Urdaneta was also truly representative of the Basque race, yours and mine—and he won by using thought and the idea of peace, unlike conquistadors like Pizarro who found their bravery in other instruments of violence, like the sword and cudgel.

Thus, it is with the brain that Legazpi, that kindly Basque scribe, succeeded. But how did they lose it? We are about to see.

Let us examine the trial of Rizal.

VI. The Trial

 This part of my work overwhelms me both with great sadness and,the  knowledge of the gravity of what I have to say. The details that I intend to examine already belong to history, although most of the actors involved remain living. For them I personally desire the most consideration. God and Spain will forgive them for what they did; considering they did not know what they were doing and why they were acting in such a manner. They did this not as individuals with freewill, but as members of a community, of a body driven by fear. For it is fear and fear alone, that dehumanizing sense of fear, that pushed the military tribune to condemn Rizal.

Retana, when talking about the execution of Rizal says that, " Fortunately, Spain is not burdened with the responsibility for the mistakes made by some of her children." (p.188) I beg to differ with Retana here. I think, in fact, that unfortunately Spain has to be accountable for such crimes. The more I consider, and I say this because I believe it: I think it was Spain that shot Rizal. Because he shot them through with fear.

With fear, yes. A long time ago, all errors committed by public institutions, all crimes committed in Spain, were committed  out of fear. Along time ago, even before all this, all groups and institutions, starting with the Military, did not work but in the shadow of fear. Fear was discussed, and it was fear that helped them strike. They stuck with fear. Fearing Rizal, they shot him, out of fear the Army requested for abhorrent and irrational jurisdictional control, and out of fear so voted the Parliament.

The indictment of teniente fiscal D. Enrique de Alcocer and R. De Vaamonde is, like the opinion of Auditor General D. Nicolás de la Peña, a truly shameful and deplorable thing. This is also to say, they should have worked as free individuals, not as pieces of an institution and members of a society undone by fear. Retana has shredded the wrongheaded and nonsensical accusation of Sr. Alcocer.

At the bottom of all this is nothing more than the fear and hatred of intelligencefear and hatred are very natural to the institutions to which Messrs Alcocer and Peña belong. Retana says that Rizal being shot for the reasons provided is as if Russia tried to shoot Tolstoy. I believe that peoples good intentions are shared by no small number. I know that when I was staying in Barcelona, years ago, there was a terrorist attack at the Lyceum; the Military Tribunal who acted on it had a collection of articles which my fellow faculty member Sr. Dorado Montero, a prominent crime investigator, and I collaborated on, which gave him cause to say: “To these, these two gentlemanly scholars if only I could catch them, that would be good.” If this has taken place in the Philippines, I have no doubt that at this moment, my companion Señor Dorado Montero and myself would be sleeping the eternally, with those brave martyrs of intellectualism!

The most terrible aspect of military rule is that it does not know how to provide justice: The education that military men receive is almost opposite to what is needed by those who will judge. They commit errors not by dereliction of duty, but rather by ineptness and by incompetence. Further, at times they commit errors because they dogmatically adhere, more or less, to the letter of the law.

In any rigid institution, particularly the military, individual intelligence and independent judgment come to be regarded as dangerous. The one in charge is considered to hold the final say. Discipline requires the individual to subsume personal judgment to that of the hierarchy. At this cost, so is the institution strengthened. And in the military, and even in the academic world, the objective is to spread a culture that insidiously spreads the hatred and suspicion of individual thought. Known these are condemnations of the Holy Fathers: Know that this what they have said about those who are considered wise. Intelligence, they say, breeds pride; it must submit to judgment.

And this, which is natural and excusable, because it starts as a principle of life in any organization or institution, becomes exacerbated in those institutions that exist in a state of rudimentary development. The less perfect an institution is, as it develops, the greater becomes its fear for and its hatred of intelligence. And our army, like any army—as well as our priests, academics, and teachers—are in at a state of rudimentary development. Their collective intelligence is less than the average intelligence of each individual that composes it: Even considering that the average intelligence, in Spain, is not very high. But this rudimentary collective intelligence has some awareness, though obscured, of its fundamental flaws, and for this reason tries to defend itself against the corrosive influence of individuality. I doubt there is a military that harbors such indifference, if not outright disdain, with respect to the intelligence of individuals within it, than ours, and certainly there is no other that worships the cult of blind obedience and witless courage. It is legion, those Spanish military  who would answer as they have been trained to answer, primly to a foreign commander who would ask how guerillas are created; they are legion, these people who continue to believe, despite lessons experienced and not just taught, that one does not wage war primarily using the brain, but with the ‘other’. And yet that ‘other’ is not what it most valuable. Because bravery is more than just testicular fortitude. Which in any case is helpful.

And let it be clearly understood, that what I say of our army I apply mutatis mutandis to other institutions, beginning with the one to which I belong.

So, someone tell me, where in the trial of Rizal, did auditors of war, real lawyers, walk! The lawyer that joins the military, to eventually join the military legal service, as well as other auxiliary bodies, becomes brainwashed by the traditions of the military. The uniform, narrow and rigid, means more to them than the wide toga.

From the very day the keel of a warship is lain in the shipyard, the ship already has its full complement, and from then the commander is more in charge than the naval engineer. Once a naval doctor said to me: "Would you believe than when you enter a burning ship, and the artillery needs to be saved, your every move is subject to the orders of the artillery officer? Maybe not, señor; but it is the commander that is in charge. And if the wounded are not treated, or mass is not said, that is because they despise these functions.

This is so in all of the military. The soldiers, whose task it is to fight, look down upon the auxiliary staff. But these they, the auxiliary staff, always try to endear themselves to the soldiers, although perhaps also subtly disdaining them. Disdain compounded by disdain is a truly Spanish formula.

The lawyers who were involved in the trial of Rizal were like soldiers, and like soldiers were influenced by those contemptible priests and similar men, they were dominated by fear.

In light of these agonizing considerations, you must read the shameful indictment of Rizal, and the opinion and transcript. Admittedly, the defense of Taviel de Andrade is a document of sincerity and keen judgment; but what forced timidity exists in it! They are there, anyway, to save the defender; for fear did not prey upon him.

The lowly auditor Señor Peña was tasked to judge the intellectual capacity of the accused; and this incident reminds me of the foolish magistrate who acquitted Madame Bovary, of Flaubert, which earned him the judgment of the great novelist,. Who could not agree with a vulgar magistrate criticizing the accused from his seat of judicial authority.

It is natural that with the climate of fear that pervaded Manila during the trial of Rizal, it would prove difficult to escape this disease. You must read in this book how the ministers of Christ preached for his extermination. It is their way; they want to embed the faith in the minds of others, or whatever, even by breaking them under the cross.

I repeat, it was Spain that executed Rizal. And if you said to me that you cannot be killed for your ideas here and that here Rizal would not be killed for his ideas I will answer that is correct; but, we can only say this because we are close to Europe. And yet Europe,  when it comes to atrocities that its nation commits in its colonies, shrugs, then which of the European nations is free of this guilt? The ethics of a European nation are a double standard and change when it comes to its colonies.

And all of these orders were sanctioned by General Polavieja, whose mentality matched, according to my reports, that of the primitive, for it was that primitive collective intelligence, under the sway of fear, that handed down the judgment.

Rizal was condemned to death; but there was another act, and it is the conversion. The sword ended his duty—a duty which did not serve the sword—by which it failed to purify, for it is a duty that does not serve purification.

Let us proceed to the conversion.

VII. The Conversion

Rizal, educated in Catholicism, was not in fact a freethinker, but was a believer in liberty. To the Jesuits that visited him when he was in a Protestant chapel, he appeared to be a Protestant, of Protestantism, or a sympathizer of Protestants, and a Germanophile, of which was true on more than one count.

Among us, the Spanish, it is hard to fathom what Protestantism is and what it means; the Spanish Catholic clergy is really quite ignorant on this matter. There is nothing more nonsensical than the idea of Protestantism a Spanish priest holds, even among those who pass as enlightened. There are many who adhere to the book, no matter how feeble and poor, of Balmes, and there are those who simply repeat the popular and rather miserable argument of Bossuet.

To help corroborate and perpetuate this concept, they listen to orthodox Protestants who stumble in argument, to the Protestants of open churches, and to pastors who draw their salaries from Bible Societies, because protestant orthodoxy is mean and poor, more dilapidated the catholic and is lamentable in its superstitious cult worship of the Book, of the Bible, and its dead letters.

Just as there are those who do not understand that Darwinists are more Darwinist than Darwin, well there are also those who do not understand, or do not want to understand, that there are Lutherans who are more Lutheran than Luther, that is to say that their spirits are enthralled by the specific principles of Protestantism, those that to him, differentiated from, and caused him to separate from, the Catholic Church; theirs is a faith of consequences which early Protestants could not suppress and could not even make them back down. Because a doctrine that divides others divides itself more, and this is the very principle the Protestantism had in common with Catholicism, as it was more specific and differential to theirs.

Protestantism proclaimed the principle of free inquiry and the justification of faith—with a concept of faith, as it is understood, very much distinct from Catholicism —and to some degree the value of the sacraments; but it continued to adhere to all non-evangelical dogmas, including the divinity of Christ, which is due to the work of the Greek and Latin fathers of the first five centuries; specifically this pertains to the foundational dogmas and specifically the Catholic tradition. However, the principle of free inquiry ushered in freedom and rigorous scientific explanation, and this exegesis, a Protestant base, has worked to destroy dogmas, leaving evangelical Christianity standing, in place of vague, indeterminate, and non-positive dogmas. Nothing represents this trend better than Unitarianism—as seen in Channing's sermons, or in a position like that of Harnack. And orthodox Protestants loathe this more than Catholics, and thus forgetting what St. Paul said with respect to denying this in the name of Christianity.

Such a position could be arrived at in Rizal, as I understand his writings. In such a position, not without hesitation and Hamletian doubts, and whenever I review the foundation of Catholicism, [I see] the layers of their childhood. For every poet brings from his childhood the flower of his soul, and lives by it.

That Rizal was drawn by Protestantism, in a letter to P. Pastells, inserted on page 105 of this book, one could see them share and talk about their adventures, in las soledades de Odenwald, with a Protestant pastor. I do not think, on the one hand, they mention the Jesuits in Rizal, and his work reads: "Everything written by Protestants and rationalists, and collected all their arguments." There is no need to exaggerate. Rizal's religious culture was not, as his own writing follows, about the ordinary among us, but it was not also far from what was extraordinary. The examples cited the Jesuits—see note 116 of this work—as they were most commonly seen and reflected the principles of the recent century. It is only sufficient for a man very aware of Protestant and rationalist literature, which probes into the Spanish Jesuits, to know even less than what Rizal knew, and thus proceeds with moderation and carefulness.

The grand and shameful ignorance that reigns among us, in this respect, is what Rizal had as a freethinker. No, he was a believer of freedom, which is a different thing. Rizal, I assure you, had not been tried by Büchner or Haeckel.

Just read page 22 of this book in an insightful and probing manner, like how Rizal explained the principle of knowing only from a relative perspective, to understand that he was not a dogmatic of rationalism, a backsliding theologian, but rather a believer of liberty that had a tinge of agnosticism and the sentimentality of Christianity. In its most basic form, and this bears repeating: Catholicism, both in its early and popular stages and sans theology, is the Catholicism of one's childhood, the Catholicism of the former secretary of the Congregation of St. Louis. I would know some of this, as I was for fifteen years secretary of this very congregation.

That Rizal was Protestant and a Germanophile, one would immediately be aware of what this means for us. In Spain, and for Spaniards, to be a protestant, or something like it, is worse than being an atheist. Catholicism is naturally passed for atheism, because, as Channing puts it, and as in speaking of Spain in general terms, false doctrines and absurd believes foster a general trend of skepticism in those who are without formation, as there are those who believe too little while there are those who believe too much. It is common to hear in Spain one declare that he is not Catholic, and that he must be an atheist or anarchist; Protestantism however is term that is the middle ground which neither requires reason nor faith. And when someone says that he is Protestant, he must have been bought with English gold. The Protestant appears to us, even more than anti-Catholic, as anti-Spanish. Atheism remains to be the oldest form of Protestantism, while heresy is a crime against the motherland even more than a crime against religion.

And we are provided with an opportunity to comment on the sacrilegious confusion between faith and nation, that unfortunate marriage of Altar and Throne—which is no less wretched than the marriage of the Cross and Sword—and the many disastrous consequences of what has been done in the name of the Altar and in the name of the Throne. Thus, it is difficult to know whether such a conspiracy has degraded religion first before the country, or the other way around.

In footnote 387, which corresponds to page 306 of this book, one could find an astounding edict of the governor from Pangasinan, D. Carlos Penaranda, that encourages heads of the barangays to hear mass on days of obligation, with the penalty of fining them should they not do so. This was a brutal attack to the freedom and dignity of Spanish citizens, and at once manifested impiousness. Forcing a faithful Catholic to comply with religious obligations with professional and civil sanctions is nothing more than wickedness, since to worship and to restrict spiritual offering is to violate the freedom of the Christian conscience. If the friars that formed the priesthood in Pangasinan had the true religious sense of a Christian and Catholic, they would be the first to protest.

And later, read again this deplorable incident that is a result of the deportation of Rizal, as ordered by General Despujol. It led, as said, to a de-catholization that is the equal of denationalizing of Spain—as seen today—and for the Catholic Philippines. It bedevils the mind to read such things; and for those of us who believe in the nationalization of Spain, it is to de-catholization, within that sense, that Despujol and his spiritual counselors brought Catholicism. Well, there is no other way than to say that the Roman Catholic Church has been de-catholicized.

Rizal passed for a Protestant, a rationalist, a freethinker, and in any case as an anti-Catholic. But I am convinced that he had always been a Christian believer of freedom, who had undecided and uncertain feelings about religiosity than of religion, one with a certain regard for the Catholicism and the poetry of his youth. I do not contest that, not keeping the dogmas in mind, he heard mass occasionally in different places, since one born and raised as a Catholic may be better in any Catholic church outside their homeland, rather than adhering to the illusion of being in it.

With Rizal sentenced to death, he was made hostage by his fear of the judgment, he was brought down to seek comfort from his former teachers the Jesuits, and dismantled the burden he carried. It is but a sad struggle.

Here a few more things that can enlighten us on poor Rizal's relations with the Jesuits, his former teachers. In them he found an excellent formation; his respect and his gratitude go to those teachers who had treated, and in general, treated him as an indio in a more humane, reasonable, and Christian way than the friars.

He also saw in them the hopeless vulgarity and vulnerability of the Spanish Jesuits in their cloaks, their diligence and their wisdom, which they tried to maintain and present anew—but he saw their incapacity to elevate their philosophical conception of things.

In footnote 363, which refers to page 293 of this book, Retana says that the Jesuits offered to publish this one day, and adds that without irony: "We respect the reason why they need to keep the unpublished letters confidential." I, for my part, believe that while Rizal should not be surprising, much less controversial, as a religious polemicist; and I said I have not spent a dilettante in such matters as in others—as people must hold the Jesuits in a rough manner. Because they must be careful in being ignorant, vulgar, and controversial since they are Spaniards! Suffice it to say: Treading around P. Murillo, and to allow one to write investigations and talk about Harnack and the Abbe Loisy, but to do so in scholarly manner and with insipiencia that accounts fear.

It is no more foolish to read about Jesuit science, and about the science of religiosity. They are detestable theologians, and worse, tragic exegetes.

Only a Spanish Jesuit, P. Pastells, attempted to gift Rizal, in an effort to convert him, the works of Sarda and Salvany. This provides a glimpse of his state of mind, or the poor background which formed Rizal. He failed to add these from P. Franco. With this, one must read between the lines when trying to understand the story of Jesuits, the needs and vulgarities that P. Balaguer had impressed on Rizal.

And so with it all, Rizal may appear defeated, drowning, and retracting. But, with  reason. Defeated, yes; but convinced, no. This is the reason Rizal did not write just anything in his works. He was a poet; he was a poet that saw the nearness of death; he was a poet even before the Riddle of the Sphinx would consume him and beyond the problem presented him; he was a poet that, with the image of the Sacred Heart, carved using his own hands in more tranquil days with the memories of his childhood. He was the masterstroke of the Jesuits, and was worth more than all their foolish rationalities.

The poor Tagalog Christ in his chapel had an olive, and was useless as a stoic figure without heart. "I cannot dominate reason!" exclaimed this poor being to P. Balaguer; he signed his retraction. This is after reading the Kempis. He stood before the great mystery, and this poor Hamlet, the Tagalog Hamlet, said to himself: "And what if there is? For there is! His spirit passes through me, in a manner similar to the passing of that other great spirit, which enters the man of robust reason, but senses that it is greater than reason. It is what Pascal calls: il faut s'abêtir,the belief to be brutalized." And he was commended to take holy water, despite the fact that he still did not believe, in order to simply complete that ritual of belief.

The story of the last moments of Rizal, his true spiritual agony, is indeed a sad story. "We are headed to Calvary!" And his way to Calvary was this: Thinking of it as in itself a death march; he was overwhelmed by this great feeling that is sobrecojido, to those before the gates of death.

"What a beautiful day, Father!" No longer would days be like this: Beautiful. Others would see better days, but they would not die. Would he still see the beautiful days of the Philippines?

"Seven years I spent there!" And before his spirit dreams, he had seven years of solemnity and sweetness, as though he were a stream finding its way in a green valley.

"In Spain and abroad, I had lost myself." What does he mean by saying he was lost? The boy stammered on it.

"I did not betray my country and the Spanish motherland!" No, he was not a traitor. Spain betrayed him.

"My great pride, Father, has brought me here!" What arrogance! And who has his head on his shoulders and his heart pinned to his chest? How's that for arrogance! Even the superb confesses. The proud were the others, the proud were the savages that attacked his body, as an insult to God, and for the sacrilegious "Viva España!"

"My pride I have lost!" This was said in a mind that once worked with hands to carve the image of the Sacred Heart, the mind of an innocent, of a poet. And it was telling the truth. His pride, yes, he lost this race so that he may win—for whomever saves his soul will lose it and he who loses it saves it.  His pride, yes, his holy pride in knowing that he lived a wise, noble, and idealistic life: The pride of standing equal to the white men who despised him; this noble pride is lost to you.

In La Solidaridad, dated July 15, 1890, in the article "A hope," Rizal wrote: "God has promised to man his redemption after death: Man fulfills his duty and God will fulfill his!"

Rizal fulfilled his duty. And the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, considering that God has fulfilled his, has canonized the great Tagalog: Saint Jose Rizal.

VIII. Saint Jose Rizal

Saint Jose Rizal, why not? Why not give the award of holiness to the martyred heroes?

I am thinking of writing one day about the strange Iglesia Filipina Independiente, whose publication I owe to the kindness of D. Isabelo de los Reyes: to write about this strange church, which is clothed in Christian rationalism combined with Catholic symbolism and traditions, and whose future is very much in doubt. There are no thinkers that establish religions nor institute reform. For me, it is easier that, on the basis of the Christian Catholic sentiment there left Spain, to convert itself to that country—just as in the Philippines where it appears that there is a pilgrimage towards a celestial Philippines where Rizal lives in spirit.

I do not know if Rizal, with his defined religious philosophy, and with the absence of a great culture in this regard, would approve of church that traces its origins to a schismatic priest and follows the footprints of friars and the disciples.

There is a need to be careful with schismatic priests or heretical or renegade priests. Even if it is an atheist, the cure wants to remain the cure, and intends to maintain an atheist Church in which he will continue as priest. The reform of the religious must be viewed from that of a professional.

But be that as it may, and with whatever naive rationalism the Iglesia Filipina Independiente may hold to and teach, despite being both agnostic and scientific, it is true that they have canonized Rizal, the only church to so successfully do so. Like all other things, from the smell of European books, to the volumes in the Library of Alcan, and this, it seems that the birth of a movement is in the soul of the people. And that religions are made, not by thinkers, but by people: The people with their hearts and passion, and not the thinkers with their minds.

The act, therefore, most transcendent of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente is sanctioning the canonization of Rizal, an act already proclaimed by the Filipino people.

Miguel de UNAMUNO.
Salamanca, 19 and 20, V, 1907.

Notes by Unamuno

1. Perhaps there are some Filipinos who do not know that Tennyson in his poem, "To Ulysses" called the Philippines oriental Eden-isles.

2. In my work, Tres Ensasyos, I have explained what chibolete means.

3. It should be noted that the Jesuits, despite their not being superior in the arts and culture as compared to other religious orders, and despite being considered more petulant and ignorant, surpass others in education and conduct. They usually recruit from other social classes.