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THE FIRST FILIPINO
Republie of the Philippines Department of Education & Culture NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION Manila
FERDINAND E. MARCOS President Republic of the Philippines JUAN L. MANUEL Secretary of Education & Culture ESTEBAN A. DE OCAMPO Chairman DOMINGO ABELLA Member
TEODORO A. AGONCILLO Membe1·
HORACIO DE LA COSTA, S. ,J. Member
EMILIO AGUILAR CRUZ Member
GODOFREDO L. ALCASID Ex-Oficio Member
· SERAFIN D. QUIASON Ex-Oficio Member
FLORDELIZA K. MILITANTE Executive Director RAMON G. CONCEPCION Chief, Administrative Division
JOSE C. DAYRIT Chief, Research & Publications Division
BELEN V. FORTU Chief, Budget & Fiscal Division
AVELINA M. CASTA:NEDA Chief, Special & Commemorative Events Division
EULOGIO M. LEA:NO Chief Historical Writer-Translator & Publications Officer
ROSAURO G. UNTIVERO Historical Researcher & Editor
GENEROSO M. ILANO .4.uditor
JOSE RIZAL ( 1861-1896)
THE FIRST FILIPINO A Biography oF Jose
by LEON Ma. GUfRRERO
with an introduction by
(Awarded First Prize in the Rizal Biography Contest held under the auspices of the Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission in 1961)
Man i I a 1974
First Printing 1963 Second Printing 1965 Third Printing 1969 Fourth Printing 1971 fifth Printing 1 97 4
This Book is dedicated by the Author to ull the other Filipinos
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice. - Shakespeare: Othello.
Paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all those roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me. -
Report me and my cause aright .. The rest is silence.
Like most Filipinos I was told about Rizal as a child, and to me, like to most, he remained only a name. In school I learned only that he had died for our country, shot by the Spaniards. I read his two novels in Spanish when I was still quite young, only half understanding them, and half secretly because my pious mother feared they would make me "lose my faith". Then I translated his school journal and his poems as a literary exercise. When I was commissioned by a London publisher to translate his two novels and to provide an introduction, I had perforce to write a brief account of his life. It was then I discovered that the way he died is not so important as the way he lived, and, since his life was essentially an apostleship, not so important as what he thought and wrote. Almost all the biographies of Rizal, including this one, are written for Filipinos. This is a pity because one cannot take a really objective view of the national hero. On the other hand, he is practically a stranger to the Filipinos of our times, a century after his birth, and we can look at him with a certain freshness. He is now as controversial as when he was condemned as a subversive agitator in the pay of foreign interests, a corrupter of morals, a dissident from the established order. Perhaps our generation of Filipinos, who have undergone the Japanese occupation and are subjected -on an sides to the massive pressures of modern ideologies, can best understand the problems of Rizal as a dissenter in a conformist society, as a peace-loving man in an age of violence, as a patriot who must lead the way out of confusion. It is easier for us, than for the optimistic generation of the 1910s and 1920s, to believe in the terrors of the police state, the blunders and exeesses of governments with the best will in the world. lX
At the same time our generation of Filipinos do not know the Philippines and the Spain of Rizal's time. To write his biography it is necessary to read the history of Spain and to write the history of the Filipinos. I have tried to supply this lack of background, not, I hope, to excess. I have also used Rizal's own language whenever possible; he should be allowed to speak for himself. All the translations in the text of Rizal's novels, essays and letters, and of other documents in Spanish, are mine. I have transcribed Rizal's poems in their original form because it is impossible to translate poetry.
I am aware that some aspects of this biography will prove to be controversial; it is not a hagiography but the story of a human being who, being human, was afflicted with "the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to". Rizal was not perfect, he was not always right, but I trust that those who read this story of his life will perceive that his humanity is precisely the secret of his greatness.
L. Ma. G. Embassy of the Philippines in London 19th June 1960
TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface
lnt roduct ion by Carlos Quirino PROLOGUE:
The Last Spaniard
PART ONE I. Something to Remember . . ...... . .. . ....... ...... ... .... .... ... I I. The "Principales" ......... .. ... ... . ... Ill. A Child of Good Family ..... ...... ........... IV. Religion, Race and Rhetoric ... ........ V. University Life ............... .... .... VI. A Hidden Purpose ..... ..... ... .. VII. A Voyage to a New World . ...... . .. .......... .... ........
3 18 30
37 54 68 87
PART TWO VIII. IX. X. XI. XII. XIII. XIV.
A Student's Teachings . .... .. .. . . ..... A Novelist's Diagnosis ... .... . ... An Advocate's Trials ......................... ... ....... .... . . The Nostalgic Historian ............................................ The Prophetic Journalist ........ . .... . . . ..... ... . ... A Politician Without Ambition .... ........ .. ... ..... The Reluctant Revolutionary .......................................
101 119 154 194 220 244 271
PART THREE XV. XVI. XVII. XVIII. XIX. XX. XXI.
A Choice of Islands ............................................................... Climax and Anti-Climax ........................................................ A Commerce in Butterflies ................................................ A Race with Revolution ...................................................... A Leader Overtaken .............................................................. The Hounds of Heaven ...................................................... An End and a Beginning ....................................................
326 341 368 396
The First Filipino .......................................................... 492
A Working Bibliography ...................................................................... 503
Annotated References to Sources ................................................. 507 Index of Names ..... .
SPANISH HISTORY of. the Philippines begins and ends with the friar. He was the most dangerous of men- one combining great power with a sense of devotion to his mission- a self-justified ruler of bodies and governor of souls. Moreover, the friar would be a loyal Spaniard to the end, even if he were to be the last Spaniard in the Philippines. He, then, became the great antagonist of the first Filipino, Jose Rizal. On this theme Le6n Ma. Guerrero has woven the latest, and undoubtedly the best, biography of the national hero of the Philippines, Dr. Jose Rizal, who awakened the latent nationalism of his countrymen with his two incendiary novels and molded them into a homogeneous and vigorous nation. Guerrero did not write the biography of Rizal as a complete stranger. In the first place, he studied in the same school as our national hero, the Ateneo de Manila, in its prewar site in the old Intramuros of the Spanish regime. The educational system of the Jesuits had not changed so radically under the direction of the American members of that Society that the young Guerrero could not fail to savor the method of instruction and the milieu surrounding the school at the time of Rizal. Next, his interest in the foremost graduate of his school was heightened by an English translation.he had made in 1950 of Rizal's memoirs as a student; and in the ensuing decade he made a modern translation of Rizal's two novels, the Noli Me Tangere and the Filibusterismo, which were published in Great Britain and the United States by a London publisher. These two translations immediately evoked comment in the islands. They were not, for one thing, literally faithful to the originals in Spanish; and were therefore questioned by some Rizalists who believed that the translator had "desecrated" the language used by the hero. "I have tried in this version," explained Guerrero in his introduction to the Noli, "to provide a corn-
pletely new one that would give the contemporary reader 'the ease of original composition', the Noli as Rizal might have written it if he had been writing in English for the present generation of Filipinos." However much one may or may not agree with Guerrero's version, there can be gainsaying the fact that he had presented a new and fresh approach which no other translator had ever done to these celebrated novels. All these studies on the life and novels of Rizal were but a preparation to Guerrero's most serious effort: the writing of the biography of the Great Malay. The biography contest on Rizal sponsored by the Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission came opportunely. He submitted his work under the pseudonym "Aries", his zodiacal sign, and the Board of Judges, headed by former Justice Alex Reyes of the Supreme Court, unanimously deemed it the winner over half a dozen other entries. Guerrero has an advantage over previous biographers of Rizal: over W enceslao E. Retana, the prolific Spanish bibliographer who suffered from the defect of trying to depict his ertswhile adversary as ever loyal to Spain; over Austin Craig, the American history professor who began the hagiographical trend; and over Rafael Palma, the first to interpret correctly the feelings and aspirations of Rizal, but whose Masonic convictions prevented him from rendering an impartial judgment on the religious aspects of the hero's life. Guerrero is an improvement on all three: he is a conscientious and indefatigable researcher at a time when practically all facets of the hero's life have been made known; he has a wide historical background of his own and other countries; and he interprets the motivations of Rizal as a Filipino proud of his country's heritage, but is sufficiently an internationalist to rise above pure chauvinism. To Guerrero, Rizal is the greatest man produced by the Malay race; but he does not depict him as a saint or a stuffed shirt- rather, as a very human person with faults common to many men, · and even with "an eye for the fair sex", a failing which some of our countrymen, who want to canonize the hero, would rather omit or gloss over. xiv
Le6n Maria Ignacio Agapito Guerrero y Francisco, to give his full baptismal name, was born on March 24, 1915, in the district of Ermita, Manila, the son of Dr. Alfredo Le6n Guerrero and Filomena Francisco, the first Filipino woman pharmacist. His family had been prominent residents of Ermita as long as they could remember, that genteel suburb south of Intramuros noted during the Spanish era as the producer of finely woven hand-embroideries and fine-mannered and beautiful mestiza women. His grandfathers were Leon Maria Guerrero, after whom he was named, a distinguished botanist and a delegate to the Malolos Congress as well as a member of the first Philippine Assembly; and Gabriel Beato Francisco of Sampaloc, a journalist who had been manager of El Comercio, the foremost mercantile newspaper during the Spanish regime. One of his uncles was Fernando Maria Guerrero, the revolutionary poet and journalist; another was Manuel Severino Guerrero, the discoverer of tiki-tiki, a local cure for beri-beri or scurvy. With such intellectual forebears, it is not surprising that young Leoni, neck and neck with his two friends and rivals for eight years, Father Horacio de la Costa and the late Jesus A. Paredes, Jr., was made a bachelor of arts summa cum laude by the Ateneo in 1935, equalling the scholastic record st~t two generations earlier by our hero from Calamba. He studied law at night in the Philippine Law School while working as a staff member of the Philippines Free Pre::;s. One result of this journalistic interlude was a serialized novel, "His Honor the Mayor", which satirized the foibles of Manila politics. One year prior to his law graduation, also summa cum laude, he married the beauteous Anita Corominas of Cebu in 1938, and for a honeymoon went to the island of Bali in Indonesia, prompting; some of his waggish friends to remark that it was like bringing coals to Newcastle. After passing the bar examinations among the first fifteen, he joined the Solicitor General's Office and, while there, was given the unenviable task of preparing the brief on appeal against a young and brilliant fellow barrister, F'erdinand Marcos, now President of the Philippines.
Supreme Court acquitted the accused of the crime of murder, but the decision was no reflection on the prosXV
ecutor who had to rest his case on the unreliable confession of an alleged member of a conspiracy who had turned state witness. Upon the outbreak of the Japanese War, Guerrero, together with a fellow-journalist and friend, Salvador P. L6pez. now President of the State University. volunteered
to join the press relations staff of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East under Carlos P. Romulo, serving as a first lieutenant in Bataan and, after its fall, on Corregidor. The isolation and subsequent surrender of the USAFFE led to a disenchantment with America's unfulfilled promises to protect the Philippines and this marked the beginning of his pragmatic attitude towards the United States. During the first years of the Japanese occupation, using the pseudonym of "Ignacio Javier" (the combined names of the two greatest Jesuits) which he had already popularized in broadcasts before the war, he gave a series of nightly commentaries which were widely listened to and in which listeners readily discerned a double entendre supporting the Allied rather than the Axis cause. This was probably the reason why after Japan's surrender, he was not detained by the Americans in Sugamo prison in Tokyo, whither he had gone as first secretary of the Philippine Embassy, and why he was not prosecuted in the People's Court for collaboration with the enemy. His stint in Tokyo spurred him to write a newspaper serial, "Twilight in Tokyo", on the last days of the Laurel Republic in Japan, and another on his. war experiences and opinions, "Passion and Death of the USAFFE." Congressional reaction to this controversal work, which led to the suppression of his item as Chief of Protocol in the Department of Foreign Affairs, moved him to resign his position against the wishes and advice of his superior, the then Vice-President Elpidio Quirino, concurrently Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Appointed legal and legislative counsel of the Senate by the then Senate President Jose Avelino, he eventually" broke politically with Don Elpidio, and, still hankering for the life of a diplomat because of his long-standing interest in international affairs and a weakness for the glamor and glitter of the diplomatic life, became a close associate of Senator Claro M. Recto, both in the practice xvi
of law and in opposition to the then administration's foreign policy. Having served the opposition both as a foreign policy spokesman and as legal counsel in political and electoral cases, Guerrero had a choice, upon the election of ~am6n Magsaysay to the Presidency in 1953, of the Undersecretaryship of Justice or of Foreign Affairs. He chose the latter, sponsored an "independent" and "pro-Asian" ("Asia for the Asians") foreign policy, and caused a long-drawn-out controversy which ended when he offered to resign his position and accept the Ambassadorship to the Court of St. James. Serving there from mid-1954 to 1962, when he was named Ambassador to Madrid, he devoted much time to historical research on the British occupation of the Philippines and published "Alternatives for Asians" and "An Asian on Asia", two collections of his speeches and articles in London. Lawyer, diplomat, and bon vivant, Guerrero has never forgotten his first love, writing, now mainly historical and political writing. He belongs to the generation of Filipinos, now in their late forties, who use English as their vehicle of expression. With Nick Joaquin, Jose Garcia Villa, N. V. M. Gonzalez, Horacio de la Costa, Teodoro M. Locsin, Estrella Alf6n, Leopoldo Yabes, Re care do Demetillo, Manuel Viray, Kerima Polo tan, Celso Carunungan, and others, among them his sister Carmen Maria Guerrero Nakpil, he has fashioned an adopted language into a new tongue which is neither the English of the Americans nor that of the British, but is distinctly that of the modern educated Filipino. Nick J oaquin writes English with a Spanish flavor; N. V. M. Gonzalez cannot escape his Tagalog background; but, among all his contemporaries, Guerrero is nearest to the King's English because of his Ateneo education and his seven and a half years in London. He writes as a pragmatist who analyzes motives and deeds from a faintly cynical point of view. The reader will surely gather this as he goes through the pages of this biography of Dr. Jose Rizal. CARLOS QUIRINO Director of Public Libraries
Manila, January 31. 1968 XVll
There are two Spains: one great, generous, with all those legendary qualities extolled throughout the globe, with her knightly legions, heroes at home and in the world, serenely giving their lives for love, for an idea, in military discipline or in scientific dedication; the Spain that Rizal loved to the day he died . . . ·and another "black'' Spain that seized him in a glorious hour of his life, a Spain that grows ever smaller, composed of the evil and the clumsy, the cruel and the fanatical, heads without honor and honors without brains, with whom one must not share even the complicity of silence. -
Javier G6mez de la Serna
The Spanish history of the Philippines begins and ends with the friar. In the beginning he was Andres de Urdaneta, a formidable Basque, his face burnt and twisted by two powder magazine explosions. Elcano's assistant at seventeen on the Loaysa expedition, after its defeat a merchant-pirate in the Indies, where he fathered an Indonesian half-breed, companion of the Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado in America, turned Augustinian friar at the age of forty-four, he was commissioned personally by Felipe II to pilot the Legazpi expedition and retraced the route to the Philippines against his conscience for he thought they belonged to Portugal. u> Then he was Domingo de Salazar, first Bishop of Manila, who called a council to condemn the enslavement of the Filipinos by the encomenderos and threatened with hellfire those who thus betrayed Spain's sacred mission. Faithful to the Dominican doctrine of peaceful conquest and the natural rights of pagans, lately adopted formally by Felipe, he and his brothers XIX