The Philippine Revolution

by Apolinario Mabini


Copyright 1969
By Leon Ma.Guerrero


Permission to post this text on the Austrian-Philippine Website is provisionally granted by the estate of Leon Ma. Guerrero. It is intended for academic use. Commercial exploitation of this is explicitly prohibited. Copyright Estate of Leon Ma. Guerrero. All rights reserved.


Scanning and proofreeding of the text by Robert L. Yoder


Rizal's Novels

Articles published in a fortnightly were obviously not enough to attract the attention of the Spanish government. Seeing that Marcelo del Pilar was editing the paper with rare ability, assisted by a sufficient number of competent contributors, Rizal left its staff to give his work a more fit and forceful vehicle. It was necessary to, picture the miseries of the Filipinos more movingly, so that the abuses, and the afflictions they caused might be publicly revealed in the most vivid colours of reality. Only a novel could combine all these attractions, and Rizal set himself to writing novels. The preface of the "Noli me tangere" states the purpose of its author, which was no other than to expose the sufferings of the Filipino people to the public gaze, as the ancients did with their sick so that the merciful and generous might suggest and apply a suitable care. The principal character of the novel was the only scion of a wealthy family of mixed Spanish and Filipino blood. Ibarra, for that was the name he bore, had been enrolled at a very early age in the Ateneo, the Manila municipal school run by the Jesuits; afterward his father had sent him to Europe to complete his studies. Having had little to do there with his countrymen, it was not to be wondered at that upon his return to the islands Ibarra should know so little about his own country that when Elias a approached him in the name of the persecuted and oppressed, appealing to him to work for the reforms that could mitigate their fate he should answer that he was convinced it was not yet time to change the existing regime in the islands because it was the most suitable for the present state of development of the Filipinos. It could not be doubted that Ibarra really loved his country, and yet, in all faith, he believed what he said because he was happy, because he loved with all his heart a childhood friend, the daughter of the friar who was the parish priest of his hometown, and his love as tenderly returned. In one of those poet ic outbursts proper to those in love, he promised his sweetheart, the personification of his native land, that he would undertake at his own cost the construction of public works much needed in the town, such as a good building for a public school.

For his part the parish priest could not allow, and felt it his obligation to prevent, the union of his daughter with Ibarra because the Filipinos and their families were subjected to a thousand persecutions and it were better for her to marry a Spaniard that she might live peacefully in the company of her children. Besides, Ibarra was a subversive who did not even kiss his hand and whose attitude, although polite, was far from the servile submission required from natives. His anger knew no bounds when the town mayor informed him of Ibarra's plan to build a school-house, and he exploded into such terrible fulminations of reprisal against any who might collaborate in the project that the young man had to have recourse to the provincial governor, the director general of civil administration, and the governor general himself. These authorities lent him their support, but, at the laying of the cornerstone of the school, only Elias saved him by a miracle from certain death.

The young man's situation became more crucial when another friar fell hopelessly in love with his sweetheart. No Filipino in those times could doubt that the enemy of one friar was the enemy of his Order, and that the enemy of two friars was that of all the religious Orders put together. So it came to pass that, when least expected, a riot broke out to murder the parish priest who, oddly enough, was not to be found in the parish-house, while the constabulary, on the other hand, was able to surprise and capture a number of the rioters. Whoever among the latter refused to point to Ibarra as the leader and instigator of the insurrection was tortured to death; the stronger ones preferred to die rather than to lie, but many gave in to the severity of their sufferings and in the face of death. Ibarra, warned in time by Elias, was able to escape from the torture and fled to Manila, turning himself in to the higher authorities, who had him shut up in Fort Santiago. Elias saved him anew and, once outside the fortress, told Ibarra that he had buried the latter's money and treasure in a place he described, adding that with these resources Ibarra could live abroad and work from there for the deliverance of his countrymen. Ibarra, because of his wealth and greater learning, would be more useful than Elias, and for this reason Elias, in an effort to save Ibarra from a constabulary pursuit party that was almost upon him, drew them off the track and was killed.

The book contains various other scenes from Philippine life as it actually was, which are arranged artistically in the novel to give unity of time and place and heighten the interest of the reader. The work's second volume, entitled "El Fulibusterismo", continues the story: Ibarra had escaped abroad where he had grown wealthy from trade; moving on to Cuba, as a jeweler, he had won the friendship of the governor general of the island with expensive gifts, and lent them the money needed to secure from the Ministry a transfer to the Philippines, where the governorship was more lucrative. Thus, under another name and with the security afforded by his position as the new governor general's intimate friend and confidante, his eyes always covered by enormous dark glasses to avoid his being recognized, Ibarra was able to return to. the Philippines and dedicate himself, heart and soul, to his campaign of subversion.

This consisted in deepening the blindness and .inciting the base passions of the authorities so that, by carrying to an extreme the abuses and oppressions inflicted on the natives, they should drive the latter from exasperation to rage and thus to revolution. The lamentations of the oppressed reached up to heaven, and, if they did not move the oppressors to compassion, it was because their hearts were harder than stone. But in spite of all, the people did not rise, their patience was. greater. than Ibarra's, whose heart burnt with the desire to avenge his ruined future and lost happiness. Unable to Wait any longer, he prepared a great banquet to be attended by the higher authorities and principal families of Manila, and planted a dynamite mine under the house which would explode. before the end of the feast. Then, taking advantage of the confusion such a disaster would cause, lbarra, at. the head of a gang of outlaws who were at his orders, would force his way Into Intramuros, take his sweetheart away from the Santa Clara nunnery, and escape with her. A Filipino, to whom Ibarra confided his plans, was so horrified by the proposed crime that he frustrated it, and this led to the discovery of the plot, Ibarra, pursued and mortally wounded, took refuge in the house of Father Florentino, who made him see the, error of his ways. Shortly thereafter, overcome by sorrow and remorse because he had not spent his time on useful benefactions, Ibarra died. Father Florentino, to whom lbarra had left a chest filled with jewels, threw into the, sea all the wealth which had been the cause. And origin of untold sufferings, so that it might cease to work evil, calling instead on the virtuous youths ready to offer the sacrifice of their pure and stainless blood to obtain from heaven the salvation of the native land.

The foregoing extract from his works shows that Rizal made it his purpose to give, in particular, two pieces of advice which might serve as warnings not only to the Spaniards but also to the Filipinos. By the first, he served notice on the Spaniards that, if the Spanish government in order to please the friar remained deaf to the demands of the Filipino people, the latter would have recourse in, desperation to violent means and seek in independence relief for its sorrows; and by the second, he warned the Filipinos that, if they should take up their country's cause motivated by personal hatred and ambition, they would, far from helping it, only make it suffer all the more. He wanted to say that only those actions would benefit the Filipinos which were dictated by true patriotism, which not only demands the sacrifice to the common good of personal revenges and ambitions, but also requires, when necessary, the disinterestedness and abnegation of Elias. Did the Spaniards know how to profit by this advice to them? Or the Filipinos by that given to them? If the reader has the patience to follow me in this brief study, which I shall try to make impartial so it may be the more enlightening, I hope that at its conclusion he may answer these questions for himself. For the time being let him be content with the observation that very few Spaniards read Rizal's novels because they had been written by a subversive, and that not many Filipinos read them either because their publication and reading in the islands were prohibited. Sin, says the proverb, is its own expiation.

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created: September 8, 1998
updated: December 22, 1998
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