27. Rizal, Berlin, 13 April 1887

  In order to know more about our history one has to go to German museums and read German books - Rizal in favor of Philippine studies - Nosce te ipsum - How many obstacles to the Penal Code! - To clear the forest of its brambles and briers - Youth should not be devoted to love or to static sciences - To sacrifice something on the altar of Politics - How Barrantes goes too far - Freed prisoners - Blumentritt should write our history.

  71 Jaegerstrasse, Berlin
13 April 1887
  Esteemed friend,

Many thanks for your precious and useful gift(1) that I received yesterday. I studied at once the map with my countryman and now we know a little more than before. Is it not sad, I said to my countryman,(2) that we have to learn from a foreigner about ourselves? Thanks to the German scholars we get accurate information about our country, and when everything in our country has been destroyed and we wish to verify the historical accuracy of certain facts we shall have to come to Germany to search for these facts in German museums and books! It is sad to arrive at this conclusion, but it is the truth. If I could only be a professor in my country, I would stimulate these Philippine studies which are like the nosce te ipsum that gives the true concept of one's self and drives nations to do great things. But never would they permit me to open a school in my country, despite the fact that I have obtained my professor's diploma in Madrid!(4) You see how many obstacles they place in one's path in order not to give way to our Penal Code, despite two ministers, despite the lawyers, judges, and the President of the Audiencia! And the opponents are not experts in the matter; they are the archbishop (or better the friars, because the archbishop is such a good man - that he does everything the friars want) and the Intendant of Finance! With this you can judge the political life in the Philippines! This is only a mere sketch. With more details it would appear incredible to a free European. For this reason, we still have to work a great deal. "And we have spent many difficult days clearing the forest of its brambles and deep roots", as Schiller said to the Swiss. For us it is still necessary to join the poetry of struggle to the dragon so that we can say to posterity:

Wir haben diesen Boden uns erschaffen Durch unser Hande Fleiss, den alten Wald, Der sonst der Bären wilde Wohnung war, Zu einem Sitz für Menschen umgewandelt; Die Brut des Drachen haben wir gebotet.(5) ...

And 24 stanzas more!

Our youth should not devote themselves to love or to the static speculative sciences as do the youth of fortunate nations. All of us have to sacrifice something on the altar of politics though we might not wish to do so. That is understood by our friends who publish our newspaper in Madrid. They are creole young men of Spanish descent, Chinese half-breeds, and Malayans; but we call ourselves only Filipinos. Almost all of us have been educated by the Jesuits, who certainly did not inculcate in us love of country, but they taught us the beautiful and the best! For that reason, I am not afraid of the differences in opinion that may possibly exist in our country. They can be combatted and repressed.

Mr. Barrantes is thc man (the one-handed person) I talk about in the chapter Patria e Intereses.(6) It was he who in October of 1883, at midnight, ordered locked up in a humid political prison 14 or 16 innocent but wealthy persons for an undisclosed pretext. After three days, the unfortunate prisoners were acquitted without any explanation and without revealing the cause of their detention and acquittal. Many of them contracted rheumatism and several lost hundreds of pesos. All of them were prominent residents of Tondo. Mr. Barrantes was also the one who did not want to protect that complaining nun of whom I speak in the Epilogue.(7) Until this day this gentleman has not received a merited punishment; but if there is a God, he ought to be flogged and tortured as he deserves, here or in the other world. I know a countryman of mine who is waiting for a propitious occasion to ask him for an accounting. Alba(8) was cruel, but he was so to serve his king and country. The Inquisition was also cruel, because it believed it was thus doing the best to serve religion and the faith; Both can be forgiven for their error; who does not commit a mistake when he thinks of doing good? But Mr. Barrantes, in doing such acts, did not serve either his king or his country, nor religion or the faith; he transgressed for his avarice, to enrich himself, and no one will forgive him for that.

Do not be surprised that you have not received news from Mr. Isabelo de los Reyes. It is almost three months already that I have not received letters from my family.

The Philippines should be grateful to you if you would write a complete history of our country from an impartial point oF view. I believe that you are the only one who could do it. I have the courage for it but I don't know enough. I have not read many books about my country and Spanish libraries are closed to me. Moreover, I need my time for other things and everything that I would say would always be suspicious for being inspired by a partisan spirit; but you will be regarded as an impartial judge. You have no selfish interests. As you have very well said, Austria has no colonies, does not covet our country, and so you don't have to alter historical truth either for the Filipinos or the Spaniards, and you can look upon the past calmly as any foreign observer. You profess the Catholic religion, but you dont have an iota of fanaticism. And you don't have to see the country personally; the historian contemplates the past. I believe that you are the best qualified for the task. We also will do everything we can to help you, furnishing you with data we may have at hand. But don't expect thanks and laurels - crowns of flowers and laurel are creations of free peoples - but perhaps your children may gather the fruit of what the father planted.

Iy compatriot and I greet you affectionately,

  Very respectfully yours,
J. Rizal

 
(1) It is the ethnographic map of the central region of Mindanao by Blumentritt, published by the Gotha Cartographic Institute. Serecal of its unnamed rivers were designated by Blumentritt with the names of General San Feliú and some Jesuits among whom was Fr. Sánchez.
(2)Dr. Máximo Viola.
(3) Know thyself.
(4) He obtained the Licentiate in Philnsophy and Letters in 1885 which qualified him to be a universitv professor.
(5) It refers tn Switzerland. "We have conquered this land with the diligence of our hand. the old forest, which formerly was the abode of wild bears, we have changed into the habitation of men; we have killed the spawn of the dragon."
(6) Chapter LIX in Noli me tángere, Berlin, 1887.
(7) In Noli me tángere.
(8) Duke of Alba ( 1508-1582) who suppressed cruelly the revolt in the Netherlands.

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created: July 30, 1996
updated: March 10, 1998
APSIS Editor Johann Stockinger