210. Rizal, en route to Spain, 28 September 1896

  Rizal en route to Spain to join the army in Cuba is arrested in his cabin for alleged complicity in the Philippine insurrection - Will be returned to Manila for trial - Tells Blumentritt what happened to him.

  S. S. Isla de Panay, Mediterranean
28 September 1896
  My very dear Friend,

A passenger on board has just told me a news that I can hardly believe and should it be true, would bring to an end the prestige of Philippine authorities.

You will remember that last year you notified me that physicians were lacking in Cuba, that many soldiers were dying without medical assistance. Instantly I presented myself to the authorities applying for the post of temporary physician for the duration of the campaign. Months and months elapsed and in view of the fact that I did not receive any reply, I started to build a wooden house and a hospital and thus earn my livelihood in Dapitan. On 30 July I received a letter from the governor general of the folowing tenor:

The Governor General of the Philippines
Manila, 1 July I896
Mr. José Rizal
My dear Sir,
I have informed the government of your desire, and acceding to it, it has no objection to your going to Cuba to render your services to our Army as Assistant Physician in the Corps of Military Health. Therefore, if you still entertain that idea, the Politico-Military Commander of that district will issue a pass to you to enable you to come to this Capital City where in my turn I shall give you a passport to the Peninsula where the Minister of War will assign you to the Army of Operations in Cuba as assistant in the Corps of Military health.

On this date I am writing to the Politico-Military Commander there and you can make the trip immediately.

It has been a satisfaction for me to have been able to please you.

Your attentive servant who kisses your hand,
          Ramon Blanco

This letter upset my plans, for I was not thinking of going anymore to Cuba in view of the fact that more than six months had already elapsed since I filed my application; but fearing that they might attribute to something else if I should now refuse to go, I decided to abandon everything and depart immediately. I went then to Manila with my entire family, leaving behind all my business. Unfortunately, I did not overtake the mail boat for Spain and fearing that my stay in Manila for one month might bring me troubles, I made known to the governor general my desire to be isolated from evervbody except my family while I was waiting on board. Whether due to this or something else the governor general sent me to the cruiser Castilla where I stayed incommunicado except with my family. During this interval, serious disturbances occur in Manila - disturbances that I regret - but which serve to show that I am not the one, as they believe, who stirs things. My absolute innocence has been demonstrated as can be seen in the two letters of introduction in his own writing to the ministers of war and colonies that the governor has given me as well as the accompanying letter which says:

The Commander-in-Chief of the Army oF the Philippines

Mr. José Rizal
My dear Sir,

Enclosed are two letters for the Ministers of War and Colonies which I think will be well received.

I have no doubt that you will justify me before the Government by your future behavior not only for your word of honor but because the present happenings must have shown you palpably that certain actions which are the product of foolish ideas yield no other result but hatred, destruction, tears, and blood.

May you be very happy is the wish of your attentive servant who kisses your hand,

            Ramon Blanco

Manila, 30 August

The texts of the two letters of introduction are identical and I shall copy only one:

The Captain General of the Philippines

            Manila, 30 August 1896

Most Excellent Marcelo de Azcárraga
My esteemed General and distinguished Friend,

I recommend to you with genuine interest Dr. José Rizal who is departing fur the Peninsula at the disposal of the Government, ever desirous of rendering his services as physician to the Army in Cuba.

His conduct during the four years that he was an exile in Dapitan has been exemplary, and he is, in my opinion, the more worthy of pardon and benevolence as he is in no way involved either in the chimerical attempt that we are lamenting these days or in any conspiracy or secret society, that they have been plotting.

With this object I have the pleasure to remain,
            Your most affectionate friend and
            colleague who kisses your hand,
            Ramón Blanco

The letter of recommendation to the Minister of Colonies is identical.

With these two letters I have come, confident that I would go to Cuba to win a name and undo calumnies. Now they tell me that they are sending me to Ceuta!!(1)

I cannot believe this for it would be the greatest injustice and the most abominable infamy, unworthy not of a military official but of the last bandit. I have offered to serve as a physician, risking life in the hazards of war and abandoning all my business. I am innocent and now in reward they are sending me to prison!!!

I cannot believe it! This is infamous, but if it turns out to be true, as everybody assures me, I am communicating to you these news so that you may appraise my situation.

José Rizal

(1) In Spanish Morocco, opposite Gibraltar.

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