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Jose Rizal (1861 - 1896)

Lot 76: Very Rare & Important Letter from José Rizal to His Sister Maria Rizal -

Leon Gallery

March 5, 2022
Makati City, Philippines

More About this Item


Description


signed by José Rizal dated HongKong, 9-12-1891
written in Tagalog single sheet, writing on both sides pen and ink on lined paper
10 3/4” x 8” (27 cm x 20 cm)



PROVENANCE From José Rizal (1861-1896) to Maria Rizal (1859-1945), from thence by descent to her only daughter Encarnacion Cruz

LITERATURE Letters of Jose Rizal to His Family (1876-1896), José Rizal with a foreword by Alejandro R. Roces, National Historical Institute, 1993. Pages 329, 330
For an artist, anything connected, or any work done at a significant time of his life or at a time when he also produced his most beautiful masterpieces is deemed important. For our nation, José Rizal is the foremost hero of the country. His works and writings as part of the Propaganda Movement in lobbying for reforms, including his political essays, history annotations in the work of Antonio de Morga, and his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo are part of the works that imagined and inspired the birth of the nation and changed our history. Yet, although most agree that his works and writings while in Europe are extremely significant as landmarks in our history, some argue that he was not able to translate his ideas into action. Many historians even suggest that Rizal does not deserve to become our National Hero because he did not even talk about being a nation in the first place, he only wanted us to become Hispanized Filipinos. Thus, he did not have a concept of a Filipino nation. But as Floro Quibuyen, author of the book A Nation Aborted: Rizal, American Hegemony, and Philippine Nationalism, correctly pointed out, Rizal had an action plan of creating the nation, albeit implicitly, in planning to organize a social group which aims to, “To unite the whole archipelago into one compact, vigorous, and homogenous body.” If they were already a body or a group. What “one body” are you going to create as you unite? It can only be the nation. And on the other aims he listed his vision for what we should be as the nation, “Mutual protection in every want and necessity; Defense against all violence and injustice; Encouragement of instruction, agriculture, and commerce; and Study and application of reforms.” He thought of organizing Filipinos in the islands itself after having some conflicts with his compatriots in Europe and realizing, as he wrote Mariano Ponce, “the battlefield is in the Philippines.” But before coming home, he stayed in Hongkong from 20 November 1891 to June 1892. There, he was able to finally establish a clinic at No. 2 Rednaxela Terrace, D’ Aguilar Street, and in a way, officially became part of what would be the “Overseas Filipino Workers Phenomenon.” This is where he wrote the Constitution of the La Liga Filipina. It was also here that Rizal was able to reunite with his family after all the pain and anxieties bought by Rizal’s patriotic ideas and the family’s subsequent eviction from their childhood home by their Dominican landlords. In the 9 December 1891 Rizal letter to his sister Maria written in Tagalog, the uncertainty is so evident you really cannot tell if he was worried, joking or asking for pity, “I have not written you for such a long time that I no longer know whether you are still alive or if you still remember me.” By that time, he was already accompanied by his father Francisco Mercado, his brother, Paciano and his brother-in-law Silvestre Ubaldo (Bestre), as all the men in the family were already being persecuted in one way or the other. He reported his father as “always cheerful, …always walking around.” In the letter, he asked Maria to kiss his mother Teodora Alonso and his other sisters Panggoy and Trinidad if she was with them. He then told them of his plan to settle and create a plan in Sandakan, North Borneo. In telling her sister to take care of their nephews and other sisters, Rizal struck a hopeful note, “They must be patient and our day will come.” Unfortunately, the plan for a Sandakan settlement did not bear fruit, but his mother and sisters were able to follow him to Hongkong and they welcomed the New Year 1892 together. Thus, his stay, and this letter, are an important part of our history. With his parents, brother and sisters with him, and with his fame as an ophthalmologist, a rare profession at the time, on the rise, one could only wonder what great reason Rizal could have to leave everything in Hongkong behind and return to the lion’s den? It seems that the establishment of the La Liga Filipina was top priority, and he deemed it extremely important. Rizal returned to the Philippines on 26 June, and immediately travelled the new Manila-Dagupan Railroad to meet friends that might help the cause. On 3 July, Rizal established the La Liga Filipina in the house of Doroteo Ongjungco. In attendance, Andres Bonifacio, who eventually founded with his friends the Kataastaasang Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Highest and Venerable Association of the Sons of the People). But his arrest, only three days after the meeting, frustrated his dream of organizing himself his concept of the nation. On 17 July, he arrived in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte, which could be considered at that time one of the farthest corners of the colony. Beyond its border is already the Sultanate of Maguindanao. The exile was meant to break his spirit. Rizal, a well-travelled Filipino, a cosmopolitan man, is now boxed within a provincial setup between a colony. Despite being “on lockdown,” Rizal tried to be productive. It is in Dapitan that he tried to crystallize his vision of the La Liga Filipina. When he wins a prize in the Manila lottery with his warden, Comandante Politico-Militar of Dapitan Don Ricardo Carnicero, he buys a piece of land he called “Talisay.” This is where he got into agriculture, engaged in organizing the Dapitanons into a cooperative, opened a clinic where the poor could come free of charge, and organized a small school for both his nephews and the local kids with attention paid to the aptitude of each child. He also engaged in civic work, using his environment as a pedagogical tool, he created a relief map of Mindanao in the town plaza. One time, Rizal realized that even though Dapitan was beside the sea, no one knew modern fishing. So, he asked her sisters to send him a fishing net, and then, he asked them to send two fishermen to Dapitan, not only to teach fishing to Dapitanons but because it can be lucrative. With this, Quibuyen said that Rizal was ahead of his time, saying that he was able to demonstrate in Dapitan three things—progressive education, social entrepreneurship, and community development. This is what he could and would have done if given a chance to be a public servant. He was a one-man NGO. But as Noel Villaroman wrote in his definitive book Dapitanon, despite his productivity, Rizal had episodes of depression, that is why he would request the authorities for some of his family to be allowed to stay with him in Dapitan. In his letter to his sister Maria on 28 August 1895, Rizal said, “If they will come here and can endure our situation, I would not wish to leave this place anymore, and I would just engage in farming as long as they live.” He reiterated his wish in his letter to Maria on 6 June 1895 and extended it to other relatives, “Please tell Sra. Lucia that she can send me her children as soon as I am settled.” There was a time when his mother, sisters and nephews stayed with him. In the letter dated 3 June 1896, two months before he left Dapitan on 3 June 1896, he wrote his mother in Spanish thanking her for her love and affection and also thanking her for the food that was sent to him. It gives us a glimpse of his relationship with and his love for his parents. Simply put, the letters show us Rizal, the Dapitanon, very human, longing for family as he went through perhaps the most important part of his life, when he attempted to socially engineer the little town to be a little more dynamic — and how he was able to accomplish many things despite his human frailties. The Hongkong and Dapitan eras in Rizal’s life must always be connected because it is in this time of his life, he tried to make it real the nation he imagined by empowering the people of a most sleepy town. We must remember Rizal and hold him dear as a reminder of the price he had to pay, with the ultimate sacrifice of his life. 11, 14 February 2022, Room 604, Citadines Metro Central Dubai / Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates Rizal addresses the letter to Maria Rizal Mercado and writes from HongKong. (Maria is the elder sister closest to his age and was believed to be his confidante in the family.) He reports that his father, brother Paciano and ‘Bestre are there and “we are well off here.” He confides their plan for the future and that is to quit the Philippines : “We have hopes of moving to Borneo to live there and engage in farming.” It seems to be a happier time but there are dark forebodings. In one paragraph, he asks Maria “to take care of our nephews and other sisters there. They must be patient and our day will come.” One of his last instructions is : “Don’t forget those letters I left with Brother Isidoro. Look for them secretly so that the priests may not know about them.” so Rizal had just published his second novel ‘El Filibusterismo’ in that same year, 1891; and he was in the crosshairs of the Spanish colonial government.

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