Ferdinand Blumentritt: An Austrian Life for the Philippines

Harry Sichrovsky (1983/87)


It is one of the ironies of history that Dr. Ferdinand Blumentritt is better known and honored in the Philippines than in his native Austria. As the author says hardly anyone in Austria today knows Dr. Blumentritt.

On the other hand, every Filipino schoolboy is familiar with his patronage of the Filipino patriots who imposed on themselves a veritable life of self-exile in Europe in order to carry out their propaganda movement for the reform of the Spanish colonial administration in the Philippines. Dr. Blumentritt lent his distinguished scholarship in support of the noble efforts of those patriots whose aspirations were in complete accord with his liberal spirit. For his scholarship and for his active contribution to their cause, he was made an adopted son of Pasig and an honorary member of the Philippine Academy.

But Dr. Blumentritt is best remembered by Filipinos for his enduring friendship with their national hero, Dr. José P. Rizal. Both men had a natural chemistry for each other, brought about by their mutual respect for each other s intellect. They carried on a long and famous correspondence. It was Blumentritt who encouraged Rizal to finish his two social tracts, the Noli Me Tangere and the El Filibusterismo when the latter was about to be discouraged. And it was Blumentritt who singled out Rizal among his distinguished peers in the Philippine propaganda movement, saying that "not only is Rizal the most famous man of his own people, but the greatest man the Malayan race has produced".

It is perhaps a truism that a prophet is not known in his own Nazareth. And for this reason, I especially welcome the scholarship of Harry Sichrovsky to make known not only to his countrymen but also to the rest of the world the life of a distinguished Austrian whose name and memory is secured in Philippine history.

                CARLOS P. ROMULO
                Former Foreign Minister
                Republic of the Philippines

*This is the 1983 Foreword to the German Edition

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created: March 28, 1998
updated: March 28, 1998
APSIS Editor Johann Stockinger