Banishment to Dapitan
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 Compa˝ia, 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
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.