|Rizal .....Painting by P. Gonzales|
It is a common belief in Philippine History that Rizal never supported the idea of an armed struggle. In fact works I encountered written by authors and experts on Rizal, most mentioned that José Rizal was more for autonomy than independence. There are also those who are in the opinion that substantial research and studies are still needed to really conclude Rizal's true stance on the Katipunan and the armed struggle it espoused.
Primary sources and established facts points out clearly that José Rizal disowned the 1896 Revolution led by Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan. In his manifesto to the Filipino people written during his trial he wrote:
"On my return from Spain, I learned that my name had been used as a war cry among some who were in arms". ....
Then he wrote further: "From the beginning, when I had news of what was being planned, I opposed it, fought it, and demonstrated its absolute impossibility. this is the truth, and there are living witnesses of my words. I was convinced that the idea (the revolution) was highly absurd and what was worse, would bring suffering. I did more. When later, in spite of my counsels, the movement broke out. I spontaneously offered not only my services but my life and even my name to be used in any manner
thought opportune in order to suppress the rebellion.
Finally ending with this words: "Holding this ideas, I cannot do less than to condemn, and I do condemn, this absurd and savage rebellion, plotted behind my back, which dishonors the Filipinos and discredits those who could can be our advocates. I abhor this criminal activities and reject any manner of participation in them, condoling with all heartfelt sadness with those who have been unwary enough to have been fooled. Return then, to your homes, and may God forgive those who have acted in bad faith."
The said manifesto was never published. The Spanish Judge Advocate General recommended to Governor Polavieja to suppressed it. Many historians believes that Rizal was saved from shame of his manifesto being misinterpreted and disobeyed by the Filipinos in arms.
In his defense against charges of his association with the Katipunan Rizal pointed out to the court: "I know nothing of the Katipunan and have had no relations or correspondence with them. I do not know Andres Bonifacio, even by name...
Further on with his defense:"I have absolutely nothing to do with politics from the 6th July 1892 until the 1st of July 1896 when I was informed by Pio Velenzuela that an uprising would be attempted, I advised against it and tried to reason him out of it.
Flashback: Before 1896
On 3rd July 1892, a week after his return from Hong Kong, Jose Rizal founded the "Liga Filipina." It was inaugurated that July night at No.176 Ilaya , Tondo Manila with Ambrosio Salvador elected as President, Agustin de la Rosa, Fiscal; Bonifacio Arevalo, Treasurer: and Deodato Arellano, Secretary. On that same event, Rizal also met prominent patriots, members of the newly formed "Liga", who would later then play a big role in our history. Patriots like Apolinario Mabini, Andres Bonifacio, Pedro Serrano Laktaw, Timoteo Paez etc. The aims of the "Liga Filipina" were:
1. To unite the whole archipelago into one compact and homogeneous body.
2.Mutual protection in every want and necessity.
3. Defense against all violence and injustice.
4. Encouragement of instruction, agriculture and commerce
5. Study and application of reforms.
Four days after the founding of the "Liga Filipina", Rizal was arrested then deported to Dapitan. His deportation, signaled the end of the moderate path. It was the start of the belief in arm struggle. On that same day, in a secret conclave Andres Bonifacio and his colleagues in the beleaguered "Liga ", founded the Kataastaasan Kagalangalangan Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or simply, Katipunan. It was a more radical group for it's main objective was the independence of the whole archipelago through armed struggle; Revolution.
I cannot think of a better Tagalog word to translate the Spanish "La Liga" only one word fits: Katipunan
The secret society grew from day to day. But even in exile José Rizal played a prominent role at least in it's rituals and daily practices. Teodoro Agoncillo in his book "The revolt of the Masses" wrote "In studying the method, procedure, structure of the Katipunan, one is inevitably moved to the conclusion that the society, such as it was, drew its inspiration from Masonry in matters of initiation rites and partly from Rizal's La Liga Filipina in matters affecting structures."
Rizal name was a Katipunan pass word and a battle cry. His pictures adorned most of it's secret conclave. To simply state it: José Rizal was the living inspiration of the Katipunan.
Never Knew or heard the Katipunan before?
One is now tempted to ask; When was the first time Rizal heard the existence of this secret society? (A society that was becoming from day to day, evident even to the Spanish authorities) If he ever heard the word "Katipunan" did it came to him that it was somehow almost a perfect translation to the word Liga? Was he too busy with exile and with Josephine Bracken not to bother?
The Women's Chapter of the Katipunan (A Clear Evidence?)
And when Pio Velenzuela consulted Rizal in Dapitan, he came on the same ship which Trinidad took....... coincidence?
A Family Oppressed
If there was a family in 19th century Philippines who we can say suffered heavily under the yoke of the friars and a disfunctional colonial system then it would have to be the Mercado-Rizal family of Calamba Laguna.
Starting with matriarch Doña Teodora Alonzo, who was arrested on malicious charges of attempting to poison her brother's wife, She was ordered to walk from Calamba to to the provincial capital of Santa Cruz, a distance of 50 km. She was then imprisoned in the capital for almost 2 and a half years.
Then there was the Calamba land row in the 1890's, were the Rizals and other families of the town were forcibly evicted from their homes and from the land they were tilling by the Spanish authorities acting on the request of the alleged owner of the estate, the Domnicans. Paciano and two brothers in law were exiled to Mindoro another was banished in Bohol. Doña Teodora and sisters Josefa and Trinidad was then summoned by the authorities. And for the second time Doña Teodora was a victim of another absurd accusation. She was charged of declaring her name improperly. The authorities pointed out that she should declare herself as Teodora Realonda y Rizal and not the mere Teadora Alonso. For the second time the mother of Rizal, by that time aged 64 and almost blind, was forced again to walk the whole afternoon going to Santa Cruz, with a daughter guiding her steps.
With this kind of injustice...who would not turn radical? Who would not find the Katipunan unattractive? I believe the women of the Rizal family had seen the Katipunan as a means to gain justice to the wrongs done to them. Revenge?
Jose Rizal in Survival Mode
The defense of Rizal, including his denial of the Katipunan I believe, was the time when our national hero switched to "Survival Mode", What went into his mind? Somehow there could be this thought of trying to evade death. Surviving to fight another day. I am convinced that he already knew the existence of the Katipunan long before that meeting with Pio Valenzuela. He discouraged the armed struggle, not because he was against it completely but because it was simply premature.
That time, it could be that he still held two options in his mind. First option was reform through negotiation and positive action. the last option; Revolution. It was too late to realize that he has no option after all. From the very beginning, events would actually find a way to resolve itself.
Overtaken by Event...Devoured by Saturn
Overtaken by the events, overtaken by the revolution, that's how historians described Rizal during his last days. Pondering upon it deeper it was not only Rizal who was overtaken by the events. I guess everybody involved in this history were overtaken. Bonifacio, the Katipunan, the Rizal Family, the entire country. The idea that Rizal spread, the inspiration of 1872 etc., was like a wildfire that went out of control. The changes Rizal dreamed of, the kind of revolution he wished had acquired a different face. It has become a monster.
|Goya's opus "Saturn devouring his children"|
Like that painting of Spanish artist Francisco de Goya "Saturn devouring his Children"....one by one the children of the revolution were devoured. Rizal was one of the first victims. Bonifacio would follow others would be swallowed. Same was true with the Katipunan as an organization itself.
Did Rizal rectify the issues about him and the Katipunan? Perhaps he did. Before his execution he stacked his shoes and maybe also his clothes with papers and with messages. One of those those could be another manifesto supporting the revolution? (Please consult my Blog:"Look In My Shoes") We will never know or perhaps we will in the future.
Days after the execution the Rizal family retrieved a piece of paper inside Rizal's gas burner. It was a verse, his swan song, the poem now known as "Ultimo Adios. The first who got hold of a copy were the Katipuneros, sent to them by the Rizals.
|Paciano- Older brother of Jose Rizal|
It was Paciano during his early association with father Burgos who opened the sensibilities of the young Rizal towards socio- political issues, like the events of the Cavite Mutiny of 1872. Brothers are said to have made a mutual pledge, that Jose Rizal would continue his studies for the redemption of the country. It was Paciano who sent his brother Jose to Spain. It was Paciano who guided him trough in his studies.(Even deciding whats the best school for his younger brother) Paciano was the the leader of the Calamba tenants who challenged the Dominicans. Paciano was tortured and questioned by the authorities about his brother's association with the Katipunan. He was also the one who discouraged the planed rescue of Rizal by the Katipunan.
Paciano was the "hidden Katipunero" of the family, (even reached the rank of General). Judging from the command he had among it's leaders one could not help conclude that he had long association with them. Again I stress, longer than we thought.
But after the revolution and America took over. Paciano became silent. It was said that he never talked about his younger brother ever again. Why the uncommon silence? Something heavy to bear?
Rizal is an enigma. Despite all the contradictions we see, he still looms larger and ever there, a beacon. Truly the Laong Laan and the Dimas Alang that he wished to be.
In the end, whether he had foreknowledge of the Katipunan or whether he supported it or not, Rizal would still be the foremost Filipino, surely our hero for the ages.
|Rizal Monument, Manila|
The Revolt of the Masses by Teodoro A. Agoncillo
RIZAL-Filipino nationalist and Patriot by Austin Coates
The Trial of Rizal by Horacio de la Costa S.J
Kartilyang Makabayan: Mga Tanong at Sagot ukol kay Bonifacio at K.K.K ni Herminigildo Cruz
The First Filipino by Leon Ma. Guerrero
Veneration Without Understanding by Renato Constantino