204. Rizal, Dapitan, 20 November 1895

  Blumentritt masters the Spanish language - What elegance in his expression! - Rizal is forgetting little by little the German he has learned - Oh, those rustic excursions in Germany! - Wander through the forests, gather strawberries, drink Rhine wine, eat heartily, and sleep under the pine trees .... - Rizal studies Malay and writes on the bewitched - Tagalog Versication at the Ethnographic Society of Berlin - A wooden machine for making bricks - Will apply, for post of military physician in Cuba - Busy with philological works.

  Dapitan, 20 November 1895
  My faithful Brother,

I will see if I can still write in German; but it is marvelous to hear how you express your ideas in Spanish. What refinement, what elegance! You alrearly have a complete mastery of the language. As for me, I am now forgetting little by little what I have learned with so much pain for lack of practice and association.

I have received your letter of 7 September as well as a post card. I am very glad that you are enjoying your excursions to the country. Oh, excursions to the country in Germany! One walks through the forests, gathers strawberries, and at the nearest tavern one orders Rhine wine, and makes strawberry drink with sugar and Waldmeister if there is some! (I think Waldmeister in Spanish is aspérula). Afterwards one reaches a little town, orders a meal at the restaurant, one eats heartily, and later one goes to sleep under the pine trees, on the soft carpet of pine needles. How I would like to feel now the cold of the Northern climate!

I have had to suspend my study of Tagalog grammar on account of my study of Malay, and because recently they asked me from Manila to write something about Filipino quacks. I have written an article on witchcraft in the Philippines. I am planning to enlarge it and write an extensive book on superstitions, the mysterious, and the like which in the Philippines are still believed in.

While I was in Berlin, I published in the bulletin of the Ethnographic Society a study on the Metrical Art of the Tagalogs. The study is in German; I have nothing to add to it.

Concerning your advice on going to Cuba as physician, it seems to me most excellent and right now I am going to write to the Governor General. The climate here is, with slight difference, like-that over there and one dies here as everywhere else, when God so decrees. I am a little fatalistic. I believe, as you say, in serving the cause of humankind.

Here we have a new governor, a charming person, and desirous of promoting the welfare of the district, as he shows in his acts.

I have made a wooden machine for making bricks and I believe that with it I can make at least 6,000 a day; well now, I lack an oven. When I was in Belgium, I saw bricks being made outdoors, without ovens; and at Baden I saw also a pile of bricks in a field. I suppose that in Bohemia they also bake bricks outdoors sometimes. If that is so, please tell me how they arrange the bricks so that the heat may not escape too much.

I am on the way to deciphering the meaning of babailan. As we already suspected, there is here an error in transcription, as in babailana to which they have added the affix a to render it feminine. Among the Subanos the religious ceremony is called Balean. I believe that this e is a contraction of ai, Balaian; Balai is house. I do not go further for I am not sure. I will have more data. I think too that I shall be able to prove the origin of certain rituals; for the religious songs of the Subanos will come to me in a language unknown to them. What a pity that my work would not let me stay with them two or three months! These Subanos are the ideal people that ought to inhahit these mountains. They work, they do not steal, they are very peaceful. On the other hand, they ace rather filthy, but the rich are already clean and neat.

I think I have already announced to you my discovery of the change of the Tagalog i into the Bisayan o; how this process was effected that all the words with i in Tagalog have to be with o in Bisayo. I think that my discovery will have to attract a little the attention of the Philippinists.

I wish you would remain healthy, happy, and with the spirit to undertake great things. My respects to Frau Rosa and Fräulein Loleng and my friendship to Fritz and Kurt.

I end here; I embrace you, kiss the children, and greet on my behalf your good wife.

  Ever yours,
José Rizal

  I am sending you sampaguita flowers for your daughter.

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updated: March 10, 1998
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