The Official Censure of Noli me tangere
by Salvador Font, O.S.A
THE OFFICIAL CENSURE OF Noli me tangere
The notes in italics which are inserted are by Dr. Austin Craig who is assumed to be the translator from the Spanish.
The undersigned member of the Permanent Commission of Censorship of these Islands has read and examined with great attention the book entitled “Noli Me Tangere,” self-styled “A Tagalog Novel,” written by F. [sic.] Rizal, mestizo, a native of the Philippines, and printed, according to the title-page, in 1886 in Berlin (Berliner Buchdruckerei Actien Gesellschaft).
By the order of His Excellency the Governor-General, I have to report on this inflammatory libel, filled with falsehoods and calumnies, wherein the author reveals crass ignorance of the history of a country which was completely savage until the light of the Gospel shone on it. The country was as degraded as the idolatrous lands that neighbored it until the wise laws of our Spanish fatherland lifted it out of its wretched state of apathy and moral prostration. The undersigned feels it his duty to report that he deems the book merits the bitterest and severest censure and should be reprobated not only officially but privately by all honorable persons.
The author is inspired by the poorly concealed hatred which he cherishes in his heart against the mother that gave him life. He has learned from the scurrilous writings of envious foreigners (Dr. Feodor Jagor is meant) who have wanted to discredit one of the greatest works of generous Spain in these Islands. He affects the ways of modernism and the style of Voltaire with the chief object of discrediting, boldly and barefacedly, all the institutions planted by the metropolis in these faraway islands.
Rizal attacks, impiously and violently . . . (references to religion), the meritorious corps of the Civil Guard . . . not because of what it is but because he knows it for one of the two principal hindrances and impassable barriers to separatist liberty and the complete independence of the country. (The Friars were the other bulwark according to the omitted matter)
According to the author, Spain never brought here anything good, or if she did, the few rudiments of civilization which she possessed to impart have been so costly for the Islands that their former degradation, and even death, would be far preferable to living under the despotic Spanish government.
He considers corrupt and corrupting the courts of justice, the Governors-General are venal, the administration inept, and education a nullity although 60 out of every 100 adults in the country know how to read and write. He would abandon the archipelago to its own forces, looking on the Filipinos as slaves and seeking to arouse them with cries, as he yearns for a bloody revenge, by appealing to the recollection of Cavite, to shake off the yoke of the oppressing domination.
Few are the pages of Noli Me Tangere whereon there is not something offensive about reputable personages or institutions. It is an impossibility to note them all, so, in corroboration of the censure that in general terms has been stated, attention is called to the following points: (Attacks on the State Religion are omitted).
ATTACK ON THE ADMINISTRATION UPON GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AND ON THE COURTS OF JUSTICE
The author of Noli Me Tangere thinks, and affirms every time an opportunity offers, that in the Philippines bribery is the rule and that every official, absolutely without exception, from the Governor-General to the lowest 5th-class employee, is venal and corruptible, and that equally venal and corrupt are all from the Minister of Ultramar to the lowest court functionary. All peninsular Spaniards are included in this general condemnation.
On page 19 [Chapter 4 – rly (note: all page numbers will refer to the original first printing of the original Spanish)] where he hero of the novel is talking to a Spaniard long resident in the country the author puts in the latter’s mouth these words:
“We Spaniards who come to the Philippines are unfortunately not what we should be. (I say this with reference to one of your grandparents as well as to the enemies of your father.) The continuous changes, the corruption in the high positions, favoritism, the cheapness and the shortness of the voyage are to blame for everything. Here come the worst people of the Peninsula, and if a good man comes, the country soon corrupts him.”
Page 29 [Chapter 6 - rly], talking of Captain Tiago, a mestizo contractor who does business with all government offices:
“There was no doubt that he was on good terms with the government, however difficult this might seem to be. Incapable of conceiving any new idea, and content with his modus Vivendi, he was ever ready to obey the secondary clerks in all offices, to give away legs of ham, capons, turkeys, and fruits from China all any season of the year. If he heard anybody speaking ill of the natives, as he did not consider himself one, he joined the chorus and said the worst things. If the Chinese or Spanish mestizos were being criticized he would also join in the criticism, perhaps because he now considered himself a pure Iberian. He was the first to praise any imposition or tax, especially when he smelled a contract or concession in the offing. He always had an orchestra ready to greet or serenade all the governors, mayors, fiscals, and such, on their birthdays, saints’ days, or on the death of any relative, or when anything else happened to interrupt the monotony of life. For these events h would order laudatory poems and songs, eulogizing the gentle and kindly governor, brave and strong mayor, for whom a laurel wreath was waiting in heaven and all that sort of thing.”
Pages 51 and 52 [chapter 11- rly]. He tells of a governadorcillo and refers to the supposed general immorality in the appointments of municipal and other officials of the state thus:
“The person was an unhappy man who did not command but rather (the gobernadorcillo) obeyed. He did not scold anyone but was scolded; did not control anybody but was controlled. Rather, was he responsible to the alcalde mayor for what he had been ordered, directed, and instructed to do, as if everything had originated in his brain, although it should be stated to his credit that he had not stolen or usurped this office. It actually cost him five thousand pesos and much humiliation, and, considering what he gets out of it, he considers the price cheap enough.”
Page 184 [chapter 32 - rly]. In relating an unfortunate accident at a town fiesta, where an Indian was crushed under a cornerstone that had just been blessed for a new schoolhouse, he makes the alcalde say:
“‘Let this not prevent the fiesta from going on, Señor Ibarra!’ said the alcalde. ‘Praise be to the Lord! The dead man is no priest or Spaniard.
“‘Never mind the dead man was only a native.’
“‘Let the fiesta go on! Play on! Sadness will not make the man rise from the dead!’”
Page 190 [chapter 34 - rly]. At a banquet where are gathered a multitude of Spanish mestizos, curates and authorities, the author attributes these words to a high functionary who has had it suggested that doubtless he will become a cabinet minister:
“‘Well, no. . . to be a minister is not exactly my ambition, as any adventurer can become one. A small villa in northern Spain for spending the summer, a mansion in Madrid and an state in Andalusia for winter! . . . We will live remembering our dear Philippines! . . . Voltaire could not say of me: “We have lived among those people only to enrich ourselves and to slander them.”’”
Page 254 [chapter 46 - rly]. Speaking of the government revenues and the cockpits:
“Inasmuch as the government permits it and almost recommends it, even directing that it be given only in the ‘public plazas’ and on ‘holidays,’ so that everybody can see it and the game may be encouraged, ‘after high mass until dark.’
“Of the gate receipts contributed by all, the government receives a portion, a few hundreds of thousands of pesos per year. They say that with the money with which this vice pays for immunity, beautiful schools are built, roads and bridges are constructed, prizes are given to promote agriculture and commerce . . .”
Page 257 [chapter 46 - rly]. In a dialogue between the novel’s hero and two natives whom the author makes out to be victims of the greatest vexations, daily affairs without exception in the Philippines according to Rizal:
“Lucas scratched his head, pulled his camisa, and replied: ‘Yes, I know you. You are Tarsilo and Bruno, young and strong boys. I know that your brave father died as the result of the hundred daily lashes which the soldiers inflicted on him. I know that you do not intend to revenge him. . .’
“‘Do not meddle in our affairs,’ interrupted Tarsilo, the elder, ‘that will bring misfortune. If we did not have a sister we should have been hanged a long time ago.’
“‘Hanged! They only hang the coward, he who has no money or protection.’”
Page 319 [chapter 59 - rly]. Telling of the ease with which in the Ministry and at Rome a miter can be obtained [Note by Austin Craig: that is, a Friar can get promotion to be a Bishop, then a government position as well as a Church dignitary] he says:
“‘They give it for nothing, nowadays. I know one who got it doing less than that. He wrote a little work in chabacano [a Philippine dialect of Spanish - rly] – showing that the natives have no capacity for anything except craftsmanship. . . Pshaw . . . Common old stuff!’”
Pages 323-325 [chapter 59- rly]. The author makes the most serious charge possible against the honesty and integrity of the Governor-General, supposing him to be bribed by a P1,000 ring presented to him by a Trozo mestiza in order that her family shall not be implicated in an alleged conspiracy against the sovereignty of Spain.
There follows an animated discussion in which it is sought to prove that the administrative officials and the Government are venal and corruptible by any gift of value and for it will sell reason and justice.
“‘Now there, don’t cry! Inveni remedium, I have found the remedy.
“‘You, cousin, you go right now to the Captain-General and take a present to him . . . a gold chain or a ring. . . “Dadivae quebrantant peñas”; just tell him it is a Christmas present.’
“‘Do you know what I heard?’ asked a Creole lady who thus interrupted the conversation. ‘The wife of Capitán Tinoug . . . you remember him in whose house we danced and supped at the fiesta of Tondo? . . .’
“‘The one who has two daughters? And what about him?’
“‘His wife presented the Captain-General with a ring worth one thousand pesos this afternoon!’”
Page 335 [chapter 61 – rly]. One of the characters in the book advises a mestizo who is implicated in a conspiracy that he should leave the archipelago, and says:
“‘You have friends in Spain, you are rich, and you can get yourself pardoned. Anyway, a foreign country is a better country for you than your own.’”
ATTACKS ON THE CIVILGUARD CORPS
In an anonymous republishing of his censure this following note was added: If for nothing else, Rizal deserves to be imprisoned and brought to trial because he sympathizes with Centeño (a liberal Spanish high official who corrected the Spanish in the 1888 petition by municipal authorities to the Queen Regent for the expulsion of the Friars from the Philippines – note by Austin Coates). He was strolling peacefully about the streets of Manila when his novel arrived. If the little mestizo had come to the Islands when General Moriones was Governor-General that chief executive would have given him what he deserved, and filibusterismo would not have had the growth and taken on the importance that it now has in our remote colony.
According to Rizal, the meritorious Civil Guard is worse than a gang of ruffians. Its men are cruel, heartless and without mercy, a greater calamity for the Islands than the tulisanes (robbers) themselves, those wild beasts of the forest who bring desolation and mourning to the families and pillage and burn the towns of the archipelago. The tulisan, according to the author, would be quite humane, sympathetic and a law-abiding citizen if it were not for the Civil Guard, the foremost factor in bandolerismo (banditry) and filibusterismo (agitation for a better government).
Page 105 [Chapter 21 – rly]. A mother whose two sons were being sought by the Civil Guard made excuses that she did not know where they were:
“The civil guards are not people, they are just civil guards. They do not listen to prayers and are used to seeing tears shed.”
Page 146 [Chapter 26 – rly]. Speaking of a two festival in which they was going to be gambling, the Civil Guard is presented as back of the ruinous and prohibited games.
“‘The alferez has fifty pesos every night!’ whispers a small fat man in the ear of the new arrivals. ‘Capitán Tiago will come and they will start a monte game; Capitán Joaquin, is bringing eighteen thousand pesos; there will be a game of liampo in which the Chino Carlos will be the banker with ten thousand pesos; and there are big gamblers coming from Tanuaun, Lipa, and Batangas and also Santa Cruz. There’s going to be a gay time, I can tell you!’”
Page 227 [Chapter 40 – rly].
“‘That is all they are good for!’ shouted a woman, rolling up her sleeves and shaking her arms threateningly. ‘To disturb the peace of the town! They only persecute the honest men!’”
Page 256 [Chapter 46 – rly]. Amidst the confusion of a cock main on the important fiesta which he is describing, the author stops to speak to the Civil Guard in these terms:
“Among the multitude there are civil guards who are not wearing the uniform of their reputed corps nor are they dressed as civilians. They are wearing a disguise which is in harmony with their harmony with their conduct, consisting of ‘guingon’ trousers with a red stripe, a shirt spotted with faded blue and the regulation cap. They are betting and watching; disturbing, and speaking of preserving order.”
Page 270. “You say that the Civil Guard gives security to the towns. . .”
[for both references, chapter 49 - rly]
“‘The security of the towns?’ exclaimed Elias bitterly. ‘It will soon be fifteen years since these towns have had their civil guard; yet note that we still have bandits, we still hear about the robbing of towns and they are still waylaying travelers on the roads. Robbery continues and the guilty ones are never discovered. Crime exists but the real criminal enjoys more freedom than the peaceful residents of the towns. Ask each honest resident if he looks upon this institution as a blessing, or as an instrument of protection of the government instead of an imposition, a despotic organization whose abuses are more injurious than the violence of the criminals. Is it true that the violence is at times great, but it is rarely so, and we are empowered to defend ourselves against it, while even a protest is not permitted against the abuses of a lawful force which, although not so great, are, however, continuous and tolerated. What is the effect of this institution upon the life of our towns? It paralyzes communication, because everyone fears to be ill treated for trivial reasons. More attention is given to technicalities than to the essence of things – the first symptom of incapacity. One is tied by the hands and maltreated because one has forgotten his work all day. Isn’t this enough? During the fiesta, gambling was indulged in with impunity while they brutally interfered with the amusements permitted by the authorities. You have seen what the people have thought of it. What have the gained by restoring their anger and trusting in the justice of men? Ah, sir, if you call this the maintenance of peace! . . .’
“‘Before the creation of the corps all the evildoers, with the exception of a very few, became so because of hunger. They robbed and pillaged in order to live, but as soon as the starving was over, the roads were again free and the imperfect weapons of the poor but brave cuadrilleros – so much abused by those who have written about our country, and whose right it is to die, whose duty it is to fight, and whose compensation is mockery – were sufficient to drive them away. Now there are bandits who will remain so for the rest of their lives A fault committed, a crime punished inhumanely, resistance against the abuse of power, fear of atrocious tortures are the causes which forever drive them from society, and they are condemned to kill or to die. The policy of terrorism of the civil guard closes to them the gates of repentance, ad inasmuch as a bandit fights and defends himself in the mountains better than does the soldier whom he laughs at, it turns out that we are not able to extinguish the evil that we have created. Remember the result of the prudent act of Captain-General De la Torre. His pardon extended to those unfortunate people reminded us that in those mountains there are human hearts still beating and only awaiting forgiveness. Terrorism is useful when the people are slaves, when the mountains have no caves, when the authorities can post a guard behind every tree, and when the body of the slave only contains a stomach and intestines; but when the desperate man who struggles for his life feels that his arm is strong and his heart is beating and that his life is embittered, can terrorism quench a fire which itself it has fed?’”
Page 272 [continuing in chapter 49 – rly].
“‘Go from town to town, from house to house, and listen to the secret sighs of the families and you will become convinced that the evils which the civil guard remedies are at least equal to, if not less than, those it continually commits.’”
Page 272 [continuing in chapter 49 – rly]. Answering an observation in which it was pointed out that Spain had a Civil Guard and that it rendered great services, one of the debaters replied:
“‘I have no doubt about it. Perhaps it is better organized there, and the members are better selected. Perhaps also because Spain needs it and the Philippines does not. Our customs, our psychology, which are always invoked whenever a right is denied us, are utterly forgotten when they wish to impose something on us. And tell me, sir, why have not the other nations adopted this organization, the countries which in view of their proximity to Spain ought to be more like it than the Philippines? Maybe this is the reason why they have less train robberies, less riots, less murders, and there are less stabbing brawls in their large capitals.’”
Page 339 [chapter 61 - rly]. One of the Carbineers says:
“At this revenue station, the sentry was sleepy and, seeing that the banca was empty and had no booty to seize according to the traditional custom of his corps, and for the use of that post, he let them pass.”
ATTACKS ON THE INTEGRITY OF SPAIN
The most important part of Noli Me Tangere is that which refers to the separatist liberty and independence of the country, the point toward which all the thoughts and poisoned reflections of the author converge.
The author takes as the chief character in his work a young man of great heart and high patriotic sentiments who was educated abroad. The father of this youth, who is named Ibarra, died wretchedly, persecuted by the Spanish authorities according to the story.
From here on Rizal represents the Philippines as a slave tied hand and foot. The Archipelago is the victim of the Civil Guard’s violence, as well as suffers from the fanaticism and despotic arbitrariness of the missionaries; it is delivered over to the greed and immorality of the courts of justice, plundered by the constituted authorities, and forgotten and abandoned by the Government of Spain. The Archipelago has neither liberty of action nor means of demanding from the Spanish Cortes its inalienable rights. The author pretends to burst its bonds, open its eyes, purify its religion, and to cause it to move and rise up, the powerful giant that it is, to seek its freedom and national independence.
The most rabid Cuban partisan would not say more. Now examine the foundations for these assertions of mine:
Page 16 [chapter 3 - rly].
“‘And what is the country you like best in Europe?’ asked the blond young man.
“‘After Spain, my second country, any country in free Europe.’”
Page 43 [chapter 8 - rly]. After a drive to renew his acquaintance with Manila’s streets and plazas, young Ibarra, the Filipino educated in Germany says:
(Censor’s Note: The mound now is no longer there, fronted the sea, near the barrio of Ermita. There criminals were executed and there the chiefs of the Cavite uprising of 1872 were garroted. By “those who opened his eyes” Rizal means those who were his separatist teachers, and the old priest was the Bacoor, Cavite parish priest, a Chinese mestizo fanatically anti-Spanish. He held no less a station in the archdiocese than Vicor-forane, was very shrewd and on good terms with the Spaniards whom he entertained lavishly with exquisite hypocrisy. [Note by Austin Coates: Father Mariano Gomez was well-to-do, had made a name for himself nearly half a century before in settling land troubles, and helped finance the Filipino clergy’s campaign in Spain to recover the rights that the great church council in Trent in the 16th century had granted but which still in the Philippines in the 19th century were withheld from them. Rizal’s reference, however, was probably double for most of his characters were combinations of two or more characters in real life. The priest perhaps Leoncio Lopez, parish priest of Kalamba, who died in the Calle Concepcion neighborhood and the teacher was Father Burgos.])
“‘On the other side is Europe!’ thought the young man, ‘Europe, with its splendid countries constantly stirring, seeking happiness, dreaming every morning and getting disillusioned when the sun sets but happy in the midst of its catastrophes! Yes, on the other side of the wide sea are the spiritual nations, which, although not belittling matter, are more spiritual even than those which pride themselves on adoring the spirit.’
“However these thoughts fled from his imagination when he saws the small hillock in the field of Bagumbayan. The little hillock which stands apart but close to the Luneta now attracted his attention and set him to meditating.
“He was thinking of the man who had opened the eyes of his intelligence and enabled him to understand what was good and just. The ideas with which he had inspired him were few but they were not vain repetitions. They were convictions which could withstand the light of progress and enlightenment. That man was an old priest, and the words he had spoke to him at their farewell meeting still sounded in his ears now: ‘Do not forget that if understanding is the heritage of humanity, they only inherit it who have hearts. I have tried to convey to you what I received from my teachers, a treasure which I have endeavored to add to as much as I could and which I bequeath to the rising generation. Do you do the same with regard to those who follow you, and you can treble this wealth, seeing that you are going to wisdom-rich countries.’ He had also added smilingly: ‘They have come in search of gold, so go you also to their country to seek another kind of gold that we need, remembering, however, that “All that glitters is not gold.”’ And the old man died there.”
Page 139. [Chapter 25 -rly]. In an animated discussion in which one of the debaters tried to defend the Government and gave Spain credit for generous intentions toward the Philippines, this reply was made by a Filipino philosopher represented as having studied in the University of Sto. Tomas:
“‘The government! The government you say!’ said the philosopher, raising his eyes to the ceiling. ‘Howsoever desirous it may be of advancing the country for its own benefit and for that of the Mother Country; howsoever one or more officials may remember the generous spirit of the Catholic kings in their hearts, -- the government itself will not see, hear, or judge more than what the priest or the provincial makes them see, hear or judge. Compare, if you dare, our governmental system with that of other countries you have visited . . .’
“‘The people do not complain because they have no voice; they do not move because they are under a spell of lethargy, and still you say that they do not suffer because you have not seen how their hearts bleed. But some day you will see and hear! Unhappy those who allow themselves to be deceived and work in the night thinking that everyone sleeps! When the light of the day shines upon the deeds of the night then shall the terrible reaction follow! Such forces repressed during centuries; such poison distilled drop by drop and such stifled sighs appear in the light and explode! . . . Who shall then pay those accounts the people have presented in different epochs and which History records in pages smeared with blood?’
“‘God, the Government, and Religion will not allow such a day to arrive!’ replied Crisostomo, greatly impressed in spite of himself. ‘The Philippines is religious and loves Spain, and she will realize how much the Mother Country is doing for her. Of course there are abuses and defects, -- we cannot deny that; but Spain is working out plans of reform to remedy them. She is maturing certain projects – she is not selfish.’
“‘I know it, and that’s the worst of it. The reforms which come from the highest sources are annulled in the lower spheres, thanks to the vices of all, as for example, the mad desire for getting rich quickly, and the ignorance of the people, who consent to everything. Abuses cannot be corrected by a royal decree, if zealous authorities do not watch over its execution, and while freedom of speech against the excesses of the petty tyrants is not granted. Projects remain as projects, and abuses continue to be abuses, and the minister, satisfied, sleeps more quietly nevertheless. Furthermore if a high official comes with great and generous ideas, he soon hears such advice as this, while behind his back he is taken for a madman: “Your Excellency does not know the country, and the character of the natives; your Excellency will spoil them; your Excellency will do well to trust So and So, and so on.” And as His Excellency really does not know the country, which heretofore he had thought was somewhere in America, and besides, has weaknesses and faults of his own like any other mortal, he finally allows himself to be convinced. His Excellency will also remember that in order to obtain his office he had to work hard and suffer more and that he will only hold it for three years and that he is getting old and it won’t pay to start quixotic enterprises, but that he should rather think of his future: of a small mansion in Madrid, a small country home, and a good income on which to live in luxury at court, -- that is what he must seek in the Philippines. Let us not expect miracles or a hearty interest in the welfare of the country from the foreigner who only comes to make his fortune and then departs hence. What does he care about the blessings or the curses of a country which he does not know, where he has no memories, for which he has no love? In order that glory may be satisfying it must resound in the ears of those we love, in the atmosphere of our hearts or of the country which is to guard our ashes. We desire that Glory should sit on our graves in order that her rays may warm the coldness of death so that we may not be reduced to naught but that something of ourselves may endure. We cannot promise any of these things to those who come to take charge of our destinies.’”
Page 251 [chapter 45 – rly]. The hero Ibarra, educated in Germany, that spiritual nation so much praised by the author, after lamenting over the infamies of which he is supposed to be the victim says:
Censor’s Note: It should not be forgotten that in the petition presented to Señor Centeno in the notorious demonstration of 1888 [Note by Austin Coates of municipal authorities to the Queen Regent for the expulsion of the Friars from the Philippines] there were entire paragraphs taken from Noli Me Tangere, and still Sr. Centeno did not get his eyes opened nor see the transcendent importance of the unfortunate demonstration. It was even reported in Manila that Sr. Centeno made some corrections of the style of the petition in his own handwriting.
“‘The discontented people are gathering under my command, my enemies are increasing the strength of my camp, and when the day comes that I feel myself strong, I will descend to the plains and extinguish in fire my vengeance and my own life! And that day will come; otherwise there is no God!’
“And the old man arose, greatly moved and, with burning eyes and in a cavernous voice, added, smoothing back his long hair: ‘A curse, a curse be upon me who withheld the avenging hand of my sons! I have murdered them! I should have let the guilty man die, I should have trusted less to the justice of God and of men; then I should have my sons with me, fugitives perhaps, but I should have them, just the same, and they would not have died by torture! I was not born to be a father and that is why I have not got them now! A curse be upon me who did not, in spite of all my years, learn from the fear in which I lived! However, I will revenge ye, my boys, by fire and blood, and by my own death!’”
Page 280 [chapter 53 – rly]. The author has a native character, who is waiting for the moment to take the field to fight for independence, reply thus to the doubts and fears of Ibarra:
“‘Alone we are truly helpless. But espouse the cause of the people, join the people, and do not disregard their voice; give the example to others; show the idea of what is called a country!’
“‘What the people ask is impossible. We must wait.’
“‘To wait means to suffer.’
“‘If I asked it they would laugh at me.’
“‘If I asked it they would laugh at me.’
“‘And if the people support you. . . .’
“‘Never! I shall never be the man to lead the multitude to obtain by force what the government does not consider convenient to give. No! And if I ever saw that multitude arm itself, I would side with the government, and fight against the people, because I would not recognize my country in the mob. I desire the country’s welfare; that is why I have constructed a school. I seek it through education, and through progressive advancement. Without light there can be no way.’
“‘Without struggle there also is no liberty!’ answered Elias.
“‘Well, I do not want that kind of liberty!’
“‘Without liberty, there is no light!’ replied the pilot with animation. ‘You say that you know very little of your country and I believe you. You do not see the struggle which is brewing nor the cloud arising on the horizon. The fight begins on the plane of ideas in order to materialize in the arena, which will be steeped in blood. I hear the voice of God – unhappy they who may resist it! History has not been written for them!’
“Elias was transfigured. He stood there bare-headed, and his manly features illumined by the moonlight had something out of the ordinary about them. He tossed back his long hair and continued:
“‘Don’t you see that everything is awakening? The sleep lasted for centuries but one day lightning fell, and as it destroyed it, it called life into being. Since then new tendencies have been followed by earnest minds and these, which are not separated, will eventually be united by God. God has not failed the other peoples and neither will He fail us. His cause is the cause of liberty!”
Page 280 [chapter 53 - rly]. Speaking of the present state of the Filipinos in the field of science and of their political aspirations, the author makes a pretended Filipino philosopher use these words:
“‘Man has at last realized that he is a man; refused to analyze his God and penetrate the immaterial which he can not see, to deduce laws from the fantasies of his mind. Man realizes that his heritage is the vast world the dominion of which is within his grasp. Tired of his useless and presumptuous work, he bows in humility and examines everything which surrounds him. Look at our present poets; the Muses of nature are little by little opening their treasures to us and beginning to smile on us in order to encourage us in our labor. The experimental sciences have already yielded their first fruits and their perfection is now only a matter of time. The new lawyers are adapting themselves to the new views of the philosophy of law.’”
Page 292 [chapter 53 – rly].
“‘But in what direction were we heading?’ he asked, changing his tone. ‘Oh, we are speaking of the present conditions in the Philippines . . . Yes, we are now entering the period of struggle, I mean to say, young people are. Our generation belongs to the nigh, so we are going. The struggle will be between the Past, which stubbornly tries to cling to the tottering feudal castle with clutching hands and with curses on its lips, and the Future whose triumphant song is heard from afar in the splendor of a dawning day, bringing the good news from other countries . . . Who will fall and be buried in the ruins?’”
Page 321 [chapter 59 – rly]. A character in the book advises a man implicated in a conspiracy that he should at once present himself to the Spanish authorities.
Censor’s Note: Father Burgos, a Spanish mestizo, was educated in Sto. Tomas University where from boyhood he had been a student, and was very much of an ingrate to the Spaniards, especially to the Dominican Fathers who made him the man he was. He was a dignitary of the Manila metropolitan Cathedral. Others garroted [Note by Austin Coates: besides Fathers Gomez and Burgos] were Father Zamora, vicar of the Cathedral parish, and Zaldua, a military man. The other conspirators and chiefs of the insurrection were cleverer and better advised than the foregoing. Mostly they were lawyers or government employees, and they were deported to the Marianes Islands [= Guam]. The insurgents were to assassinate in the vilest and most treacherous manner all the Spaniards who came into their hands and the plan was to kill every Spaniard in the whole Archipelago at one given moment. They were more savage than the rebels in Mexico, Peru, Chile, etc. [Note by Austin Coates: The few facts undeniably known prove these assertions to be the reverse of the truth, sheer falsehoods.]
“‘Never mind that. You should go just the same and offer yourself as they of ’72 did, and so saved themselves.’
“‘Yes! The same thing was done by Father Burg. . .”
“But he was unable to completely pronounce the name because his wife ran to him and stopped his mouth with her hand.
“‘Yes, go ahead! Go on and pronounce it s they will hang you tomorrow on the Bagumbayan! Don’t you know that pronouncing it is enough to cause one to be sentenced without the formality of a trial? Go ahead and pronounce it!’
Page 336 [chapter 61 – rly]. Ibarra advises Elias to go abroad with him in order not to witness what is happening in the Philippines, and later replies:
“‘That is impossible! It is true I can no longer love nor be happy in my country but I can suffer and die in it and perhaps for it, and that is something. Let the misfortunes of my country be my own, and since you and I are not united by the same noble ideal, seeing that our hearts do not beat from the same impulse, at least let a common misfortune unite me to my countrymen, and at least let me bewail with them our common sorrows, and let the same wretchedness oppress our hearts!’
Page 337 [Chapter 61 - rly]. Hatred of Spain and the frenzied desire for liberty, for independence and for revenge reach their climax in these lines.
“‘And now I see the horrible cancer which is gnawing at this social structure, which is acquiring a firmer grip on its flesh and demands violent extirpation. They have opened my eyes, have shown me the sore and have impelled me to be a criminal! And since they wish it, I will be a filibustero, but a real filibustero; I will call all the unfortunate ones, all who feel a bleeding heart beating in their breast, those who sent you to me . . . No, I shall not be a criminal, because he who struggles for his country is never one, but just the opposite! For three centuries we have held out our hands to them asking them for love, and been anxious to call them our brothers, and how have they responded? With insults and sarcasm, denying us even our status as human beings! There is no God, there is no hope, no human feeling – there is only the right of might!’”
Page 337 [Chapter 61 – rly]. When Elias was asked whence he came, he answered:
“‘From Manila, where I delivered grass (“zacate”) to the magistrates and priests.’”
Page 338 [Chapter 61 – rly].
“‘I will call those ignorant masses and show them their misery; and let them not think of brothers because there are only wolves who devour each other; and I will tell them that it is the eternal right of man to rise up and protest against this oppression, in order to conquer his liberty!’”
Page 349 [Chapter 63 – rly].
“‘I die without seeing the Day dawning on my country . . . You who will see it, greet it . . . and forget not those who fell in the Night!’’
Censor’s Note: “Those who fell in the Night!” refers to all the anti-Spaniards who because of the sanguinary conspiracies died in 1812, 1823, 1848, 1852, and 1872 etc. A history of all the separatist uprisings in the Islands would be of curious interest. Almost all were discovered and denounced by Indian women who are very loyal to Spain. Always the leaders have been priests, lawyers, and native-born military men, for the most part mestizos. The Chinese have constantly aided whatever was against Spain. During the British invasion, they openly rebelled.
Basing it on the quotations I have made, my recommendation is that the authorities prohibit absolutely the importation, reproduction and circulation of this pernicious book in these Islands.
Besides attacking directly the state religion, and institutions and personages entitled to respect by their official character, the book is filled with foreign teachings and doctrines whose substance inspires in the submissive and loyal sons of Spain in these remote islands a deep and bitter hatred of the Mother-Fatherland, placing her behind foreign nations in progress, particularly Germany, for whom the author of Noli Me Tangere seems to have especial preference. The book’s sole purpose is to secure the absolute independence of the country, seeking with impious and hateful hand to break the sacred integrity of the Fatherland, of that Fatherland which gave him existence, which nursed him on her noble bosom, fed him with the bread of civilization and which, out of an ignorant and degraded idolatrous land has made the Philippines the Catholic country par excellence, the first and most enlightened of the peoples under the immediate protection of the European nations. The Filipinos are the happiest race which has lived under the beneficent shadow of the paternal Laws of the Indies – that monument which heroic and peerless Spain has raised amidst modern civilizations to protect and assimilate infantile peoples whom God has entrusted to her, not to enslave ad degrade them, as other nations have done, but to instruct and enlighten them, and to make to shine upon them the dawn of Christian liberty and the resplendent sun of a new life, of social culture and modern civilization.
It is the judgment of the undersigned that the circulation of this book should be absolutely prohibited, but, nevertheless, His Excellency the Governor-General, by his great understanding and higher criticism will decide what is most prudent and proper.
Friar SALVADOR FONT, O.S.A.
Manila, December 29, 1887
Source: Rizal’s Political Writings: Nation Building, Race Differences, Basic Principles of Good Government. ed., Austin Craig (Manila: Oriental Commercial Company, 1933), pages 281-305.