143. Rizal, Brussels,17 April 1890

  Rizal, historiographer and ethnographer - Various works on oriental countries - In search of light on the Philippines and the Malayans - Studies Dutch - Orders Kern's new book - Investigating the origin of the Malayan race.

  38 Rue Philippe de Champagne, Brussels
17 April 1890
  My Brother,

I have just received your most useful book, The Races of the Philippine Archipelago, and I leafed through it at once. It seems to me that it is of the greatest value to Philippinologists, and for me especially, as I am now devoting myself with earnestness to the study o everything related to the Far East. I have bought here various books on travel, history, etc. If you want them, write me and I shall send them to you. I have Marsden, History of Sumatra, Pagés, Voyage around the World, Dumont d' Urville, Picturesque Voyage around the World, Bougainville, Picturesque Voyage around the World, Thimberg Voyage in Africa and Asia (Java an Japan), Thompson, Malacca, Indochina, China, Malabar Coast; and in addition 16 volums in 4 of the History of Voyages until 1760. There is a great deal about the Philippines in this work. I have also Rienzi, Malaysia, (The Universe), Panthier, China and Gesantschappen an de Kaisaren van Japan. I am studying Dutch and I am searching the bookstores to complete my collection. I already wrote to Holland ordering Kern's new book.

I hope the money that will give impetus to our society will soon come; oh, money!

If you still want some copies of Morga, write me: you need not buy them.

Pages who has lived a long time among the natives, that is to say, among the Tagalogs, writes good things about their customs that the Spaniards could not understand.

Kern's statement that the Malalayan people may have originated in Indochina aroused greatly my interests, because in reading Marsden's Sumatra, I found many similarities between the customs of the Sumatrans and the Filipinos. However. I cannot draw the conclusion that the Filipinos had come from Sumatra. The similarity between two individuals does not necessarily mean that one is the father of the other. Both can be the children of a deceased person, and for this reason I believe it is difficult to decide whether we originated here or there before having studied thoroughly our respective histories, languages, and religions. I believe that nearly the whole life of a competent man will not he sufficiently long to throw light on the origin of the Malayan race. It seems to me that the Malayans should not be considered either the original or typical race. The Malayans have heen exposed to many foreign and powerful factors that have influenced their customs as well as their nature.

When shall I be allowed to make use of Dr. Hirth's translation of Chinese Commerce? I have been waiting for it a long time.

I am thinking of writing an article on the word Bathalà. The mre I study it the more convinced I am that this word is an error - an error of Chirino or some missionary older and ahead of him who has been recopied by subsequent historians, because the majority of the historians oE the Philippines are mere copyists. Despite the derivation of Deva, avatara, etc. it seems to me incredible that the Tagalogs had at all times in their mouth the name of their foremost God when they hardly pronounced the name of their parents - a custom that has been preserved throughout a period of three centuries, despite the efforts of the missionaries to make such reverence disappear, as Chirino observed. I believe that the Tagalogs never pronounced the name of their God, especially before strangers whom they considered their greatest enemies. They only called him Maykapal, a designation still used and understood by any Tagalog. Why is there no trace at all of the name Bathalà among the Tagalogs in the towns? And nevertheless, the Tagalogs in the towns use such words as Tikbalang, Asuang, Anito, Nuno, Tiyanak, etc., and they retain many pagan usages, many traditions, legends, stories of pagan origin. I believe that the old missionaries did not take much interest in knowing exactly the religion of the Filipinos, for, on account of their religious zeal, they considered it unworthy, diabolical, and for this reason they did not undertake a thorough investigation of it. I believe that the phrase Bathalà MayKapal that was adopted by the other historians after Chirino is nothing more than the phrase Bahala ang MayKapal, wrongly written, that is equivalent to Alla or Alah of the Muslims or to the Malayan Tuan AIla punia Kraja; because Bahalà ang MayKapal means "God will take care", a meaning given also in a dictionary to the phrase Bathalà May Kapal. However, the fact that the phrase Bathalà May Kapal is often encountered, makes me presume that it may be only a copy. There cannot be found another source where the word Bathalà is used but without the denomination May Kapal. The bird which, according to Morga, has been called Bathalà is not the omnipotent one; it may be the symbol of another divinity. As to the word Diwata as well as the word Diwa (Tag. Mens, intellectus, spiritus, Beurisstein), it is possible that they may be derived from Dewa, Diu, Diw, Deos, Ti, etc.

Iwant to know exactly your opinion before publishing my article, because it may have fatal consequences. If you now a better derivation, I beg you to let me know. The derivations of this word by Kern and Pardo de Tavera do not seem sufficient to me because they did not examine if the word was correctly written. You know already how it is possible to construct with etymology.

Consequently, I wish you good luck for your new book. I shall study it carefully and if I find something in it, allow me to give you my opinion.

Greetings to your family

  Yours,
Rizal

 

[Rizal-Blumentritt Correspondence] [Culture and History]
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created: July 30, 1996
updated: March 10, 1998
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