The Life of Jose Rizal

      Jose Rizal's life is as colorful as his character. This section details the important points of the young hero's life, from the experiences of a child to the death of a martyr.



The confidential file of Despujol is now public to prove that there was a trap laid for Rizal. He brought with him to Manila a scheme for a cooperative society to develop resources of the Philippines after the plan of Spain's Masonic cooperative society, C. Kadosh y Compaņia, which he had worked out at the suggestion of J.M. Basa, a Cavite '72 exile resident in Hong Kong. After Rizal had seen the Governor General and received the pardon of his brother and sisters who had been ordered into banishment in the South by Weyler, he took a trip up the new railway, then completed as far as Tarmac, and showed himself greatly interested in the progress Masonry was making among Filipinos. In Manila he was the guest of honor at a banquet given by the masters and wardens of the Filipino lodges and he had frequent consultations with the leading members. These activities can hardly be called political and the Masons suffered in the Philippines through the arbitrary power of unfriendly governors the society was not an unlawful one.

In the provinces Rizal seems to have been investigating the scandals connected with the raising of funds for propaganda. He had personally been a heavy sufferer as of the considerable amounts received from sales of "Noli Me Tangere" only a few pesos ever came to him.

While able to make a good living by his profession, he had saved over 5000 dollars during half-a-year's practice in his '87 visit, he gave his time to the cause of his country with a disregard for money which did not characterize all of his compatriots. So he was popular and it was easy to raise subscriptions in his name, the more often than not the funds never came into his possession.

The subject of a Filipino colony in British North Borneo was taken up with his numerous relatives, most of whom had suffered persecution for the relationship, and he proposed to charter a ship to take them all to al land not far from their old home but where they would live under a free government. "New Kalamba" was to be the name of the colony and the British government had made very liberal concessions so that by industry they could soon have homes as good as those they were abandoning because the law's injustice was making the Philippines intolerable. Especially was the contract of the English law system with the Spanish judicial iniquity pointed out as an inducement.

Dr. Rizal during all these journeys was constantly watched and the houses he visited were immediately afterwards searched, but it was not until the visits had been finished that he was arrested.

A memorandum in Governor General Despujol's handwriting still remains in the government archives to prove the unfair treatment planed for Rizal. The Governor General says he has heard that Dr. Rizal had been naturalized as a German subject and wants a legal opinion as to whether in that event he could be held a prisoner without a trial. He must have found out that Rizal was still a Filipino and so subject to his arbitrary power for the arrest was made and no trial or even hearing ever took place.

The charge was the pretended finding of five circulars entitled "Poor Friars" in the roll of bedding used by his sister on the steamer, a discovery reported to have been made in the custom house examination of the baggage, Rizal was ordered banished to Dapitan, in Northern Mindanao, while Dispujol wrote an apologetic decree which he commanded should not be shown to Rizal and evidently only intended for effect in Hong Kong. The newspapers there, however, were so outspoken that the Spanish consul found it necessary to assure them that Dr. Rizal was being treated with every consideration. The British consul general is said to have urged very strongly that he was at a loss to understand severe treatment without trial of a gentlemen whom his government had found worthy of the confidence shown in the North Borneo arrangement.

Rizal in Dapitan was given considerable liberty. He had his medical practice and put up a small hospital, bought a farm and planted on an ambitious scale, and carried on a school for fourteen boys of the neighborhood. The dam built by Dr. Rizal and his pupils, pioneers in industrial education in the Philippines, with the conduit supplying Dapitan with water and the raised map of Mindanao in the town plaza, as well as the exile's house, have recently been placed in a national reservation by the Commission in the exercise of its delegated power from the President.

Besides he made natural history collections that he exchanged with European friends for late books in science. He started a study, in English, of the Tagalog language because apparently he believed that of the European languages the English construction most nearly resembled his native tongue. He carried on, too, a discussion about religion with one of the Jesuit Fathers whom he had known at the Ateneo.

A little occurrence during this time shows something of Rizal's genius for learning languages. In addition to acquaintance with Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Arabic he could use Spanish, French, German, and English almost equally well, and read easily in Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese and Italian. He could act and did as interpreter in Japanese, could make himself understood in Canton, Amoy and Mandarin Chinese, in Catalan Spanish and had studied Malay and the Polynesian languages, besides translating the poetry of Schiller into his native Tagalog and knowing a good deal of Bisayan and some Ilocano. So it is no wonder that from a stray novel in that language which happened to come in to his hands in Dapitan he picked up Russians. As a linguist he was the marvel of his teachers both in the Philippines and in Europe.

Attempts were made by his friends to communicate with him but he no longer would take any action in politics. With his retirement the del Pilar influence had become all-powerful and from it had grown up an active revolutionary society with the common people and the new society told its members that he was their honorary president, hanging his portrait in the meeting room. Finally those who had been paying said it was time something else should be done.

A Dr. Valenzuela with a blind man to give an excuse, was sent to Dapitan to interview Rizal about a rebellion, but was so hotly upbraided for daring to use the Dapitan exile's name in such a mad enterprise that he hastily returned to Manila. He reported the failure of his mission to his chief, Andres Bonfacio, but the warehouse porter, who had gone revolution-mad from reading about France's reign of terror, said Rizal was a coward and forbade his lieutenant speaking to any one else of the matter Valenzuela, however, did in confidence tell a few and the Katipunan lost a number of members.

Rizal had tried to have his place of banishment changed to Northern Luzon, principally for the benefit of his health, and the denial of his petition he ascribed to the influence of Filipino politicians who feared that with the return of the people's idol, which they knew Rizal was, they would lose their importance. Dr. Blumentritt, an Austrian professor who was the most intimate of his friends, wrote that there was great suffering among the Spanish soldiers, so Dr. Rizal offered his services to Governor General Blanco to go to Cuba as a volunteer surgeon, a service of humanity which he considered a doctor's duty though undoubtedly in the warfare his sympathies were with the Cubans.

With the acceptance of the offer he was transferred to Manila and while on board a cruiser in the harbor awaiting the sailing of the mail steamer for Spain, the Katipunan revolt broke out. Nevertheless he was placed on the next boat with letters of recommendation praising his exemplary conduct as a prisoner and especially mentioning that he deserved the more credit that he was in no way concerned with the recent uprising. He was a passenger and went ashore at Singapore but refused to remain in that English territory saying his conscience was clear and he had no motive to flee. Pedro P. Roxas, who did desert the ship there and urged Rizal that in times of danger Spain forgot justice in her fear, lived to see his prophecy realized and was later acquitted of all guilt by an investigation held after the excitement had subsided.

      Craig, A. (1909). The Story of Jose Rizal.
          Manila, Philippine Education Publishing Co.

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