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12 MARCH 2013

Outline Page
Thesis: Rizal believed that a bloody revolution with ample preparations must only be a last resort, opting
instead for peaceful and diplomatic means to attain ends as much as possible.
I. Life, Works and Aims of Jose Rizal
a. Life and Works of Jose Rizal
b. Pacifism and Objectives of Rizal
c. Rizal, Katipunan and the revolution
II. izal s ie s o the e olutio
a. Pio Vale zuela s isit
b. His views on the revolution as seen in his works
III. Rizal and the Revolution

Rizal on the Revolution

Life, Work and Aims of Jose Rizal
Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda Rizal (commonly known as Jose Rizal) is a Filipino
nationalist, reformist and polymath. He was born on June 19, 1861 at Calamba, Laguna. He was the
seventh child of Francisco Mercado Rizal and Teodora Alonso y Quintos.
From a very young age, Rizal had an unquenchable thirst for learning. At 3, he was able to learn
the alphabet from his mother. At 5, he had shown his inclination to art (Montemayor, 2004). Later in
life, he was sent to the Colegio de San Juan de Letran for his studies, but only stayed there for three
months as he was sent off to Ateneo Municipal de Manila for his bold and radical questions which
angered the Dominican friars.
He excelled under the patronage of the Jesuit fathers at the Ateneo, where he was rated
sobresaliente during graduation. He then went to the University of Santo Tomas to take a preparatory
course in law. Knowing that his mother was going blind, he then switched to Medicine and eventually
became an ophthalmologist.
He later went to Madrid

ithout his pa e ts k o ledge o

88 , aged

to o plete his

medical studies. He later received a Licentiate in Medicine from the Universidad Central de Madrid. He
furthered his medical studies by attending lectures in medicine at the University of Paris and the
University of Heidelberg. Around this time, he also travelled widely around Europe, reaching Spain,
France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and even England.
Rizal was a polymath; besides excelling in medicine as an ophthalmologist, he was also
conversant on 22 languages. He was also an expert swordsman, and also possessed a good shot (Jose
Rizal, 2013). He was also a scientist on his own right, having collected specimens, observing nature, and
had corresponded with Adolf Meyer and Rudolf Virchow, two great names in the history of science. He

also improved the quality of life of Dapitenyos during his exile there; putting gas lamps to light up the
roads on the middle of the night, providing water to the locals and teaching the local boys some
agriculture and swimming, life skills needed for survival in the area.
He also excelled in the arts, having made many sculptures, portraits, poems and even novels.
The latter two media were used by him extensively to show his ardent nationalism and critical thinking,
which was evident from such a young age. He was even expelled by the Dominican fathers at Letran for
his critical questions and methods. The poem Sa Aking Mga Kabata, widely attributed to Rizal, was said
to be written by him while he was still eight years of age. This poe

sho s o e

a s lo e fo his ati e

tongue. His novels, the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, now required readings in Filipino high
schools a d olleges, la ded hi

o e i jail fo the su e si e a d e ellious o te t fou d i the

manuscripts. Even his swan song, presumably written during the night before his execution, was still
very patriotic in its tone. Entitled Mi Ultimo Adios, it was translated to 42 different languages and was
perhaps, the swan song with the greatest number of translations (Mi Ultimo Adios, 2013).
As mentioned, his works contained inflammatory remarks that angered the Spanish clergy and
government of his time. During his return from Europe on 1892, he was imprisoned, tried for charges of
rebellion, sedition and conspiracy due to his works and his establishment of La Liga Filipina. He was then
exiled to Dapitan, Zamboanga. He spent the next four years of his life there, making the life of the
people better. On October 1896, he applied as a medical doctor for the Spanish army in Cuba, ostensibly
to distance himself from the revolution which he did not support, and was accepted. But while sailing to
Cuba, he was arrested by Spanish authorities, sent back home on the same day, and was tried for
rebellion, sedition and conspiracy due to the outbreak of the Philippine revolution. The court martial
trying him recommended death by firing squad, and was done so on December 30, 1896 (Jose Rizal,

Rizal was in favour of a revolution only if it has sufficient arms, solid plans and a capable
bureaucracy involving different members of the social strata. Even then, he said that a revolution, even
a fully prepared one, must only be a means of last resort. He believed that such a revolution, done
prematurely with no sufficient armaments, would not stand a chance; the revolutionists have a massive
shortage of armament and that their weapons and tactics would be much inferior compared to their
Spanish counterparts. Thus, he believed that a revolution would cause so much bloodshed and that too
many lives would be lost without attaining the goal of independence (Valenzuela, 1992). He was also not
in favour of the uneducated masses re olti g. The sa i g The sla es of toda
to o o

ill e o e the t a ts of

, often attributed to Rizal, wholly encapsulates the reasoning behind his reluctance to

suppo t the e olutio

the u edu ated

whole izal s ta d o

F eedo ,

asses, i pa ti ula , a d Bo ifa io s plotted evolution as a

. These views of Rizal were shown on his advices to the

Katipunan, and even in his literary works. Instead of taking the revolutionary way, he advocated
peaceful means of reform and universal education for everybody to the very end so that

o th of p aise . He did this through the establishment of the La Liga Filipina during his return from
Europe on July 1892.
The La Liga Filipina is a progressive organization whose main objectives are to make the people
more actively involved in the reform movement and unite the whole archipelago into one compact,
vigorous and homogeneous body (Capino, 1971). Specifically, the group aimed to: (1) unite the
Philippine provinces, (2) protect and assist all members, (3) Fight violence and injustice, (4) support
education and (5) study and implement reforms (La Solidaridad and La Liga Filipina, 2012). But shortly
after the establishment of the La Liga, Rizal was imprisoned and the La Liga was split into two, the
conservative and somehow pacifistic Cuerpo de Compromisarios, who wished to continue extending
support to the then-ailing La Solidaridad and the radical, revolutionary Katipunan, which Andres
Bonifacio had established (La Liga Filipina, 2013).

The Katipunan was established on August 1892 by Andres Bonifacio. Compared to the La Liga
which advocated peaceful reform, the Katipunan aimed to gain independence from Spain through an
armed revolution. It originated as a secret society, but four years later, on 1896, its identity was
discovered by the Spanish, causing them to tear their cedulas and revolt (prematurely) against Spanish
rule (Katipunan, 2013). O e of the Katipu a s

e s, Pio Vale zuela, a

edi al do to like izal,

as tasked of getti g izal s opinion on the revolution during his exile in Dapitan, way before the
revolution had even started.
izal s Vie s o the e olutio
The asse tio s o

izal s

ie s ega di g a

ed e olutio

p ese ted ea lie

substantiated with literary analyses of his works and his correspondence with Dr. Pio Valenzuela during
the latte s isit du i g his e ile in Dapitan.
Pio Valenzuela was a member of the Katipunan tasked by the secret society to head to Dapitan
asking for advice regarding the revolution. As a medical doctor by profession and a member of the
Katipunan Triumvirate, he was the Fiscal General and Surgeon General of the Katipunan. Among the
organization, he was said to have one of the highest academic degrees, and was sent to meet with Rizal
for this reason.
On June 15, 1896, Valenzuela boarded the ship SS Venus on a first-class ticket, under the
assu ed a e P o opio Bo ifa io . He as a o pa ied

u do Mata, a li d

a a d ufi o

Magos, the aide of the blind man. Incidentally, Josephine Bracken, Narcisa Rizal-Lopez and Angelica
Lopez, izal s

ist ess, siste a d


ie e espe ti el ,

e e also a oa d the ship

ith fi st-class

The ship arrived in Dapitan on the 21st of Ju e. Whe the a i ed at izal s ho e, he

as ot

there, but eventually revealed himself before them. Not long after, they ate dinner and Valenzuela
approached Rizal thereafter, wanting to talk in private; Rizal was assenting on his reply.
By this time, Rizal and Valenzuela were already in private. Valenzuela introduced Rizal to the
Katipunan. He told Rizal its objectives and the resolutions they arrived, which were (1) to attract the
intelligent and rich Filipinos to their fold, (2) collect contributions for the purpose of purchasing arms
and ammunition, (3) to send a delegation to Japan to take charge of the purchase of arms, (4) to bring
about the separation of the Philippines from Spain through violent means, (6) in the event that the rich
Filipi os o t oope ate, ea h

e of the so iet

ust o t i ute all that he possibly could.

as asse ti g i his epl , sa i g that The esolutio s of the asso iatio a e e


patriotic and above all, timely because now Spain is weakened by the revolution in Cuba. I approve
these resolutions and suggest that they be complied with as early as possible to take advantage of the
oppo tu it . Vale zuela the
ithout a

espo ded I elie e that the e olutio


eak out p e atu el , e e

s , to hi h izal eplied u easil , that, I do ot app o e. A evolution without arms should

never be started against an armed nation. Its consequences will be fatal and disastrous to the country.
The Filipinos will ne essa il lose due to la k of a

As they continued their dialogue, Rizal advised Valenzuela that as leaders, it is their duty to
prevent the secret society from being known by the Spaniards and to prevent the premature flow of
blood as much as possible. When Rizal asked Valenzuela for the membership details of the Katipunan,
the latter revealed that only a hundred or so belonged to the middle class and higher, while the rest
e e poo . izal the said The e is o othe e ed tha to att a t to ou asso iatio all the i h a d
influential persons of Manila and the provinces. You may avail yourselves of the services of Antonio
Lu aHe is a e

i tellige t

ho has a f ee a ess to the ho es of ealth Filipi os. Lu a, at the

sa e ti e, a di e t the a paig i

ase hostilities

eak out . izal fu the

a ed the

that should

the revolution start prematurely, the wealthy Filipinos would then be their worst enemies (Valenzuela,
This sho t dialogue a o e e apsulates izal s ie s o

the e olutio . Although he


assenting on the resolutions reached by the Katipunan, he was sceptical of a revolution per se. He
advised them instead to prepare for it very well, and invoke the help of the rich and intelligent Filipinos,
who will serve as financiers and leaders of the army. As Rizal believed in education so much as an
emancipatory key, he was also sceptical of the revolution by the masses. The Rizal sa i g The sla es of

ill e the t a ts of to o o

as easo ed out

izal i su h a a that the gift of easo ,

with which we are endowed, must be brightened and utilized in order to overcome ignorance which
auses sla e

. This is the easo

h izal asse ti g i i oki g the help of the i tellige t a d


class Filipinos (ilustrados). Rizal also reasoned out his perennial scepticism of an armed revolution by the
masses through this uote: efo


a e uphea als

ust also o e f o

a o e, e ause the efo

hi h a e oth iole t a d t a sito . Thus, the uppe

s that o e

lass, the i h, elite

members of society must be involved so that the resulting reforms would be peaceful and long-lasting,
minimizing loss of money and life, in addition to being potential sources of funds for a full-scale of
revolution. The funds would then be used for armaments, supplies and rations in case a revolution will
eak out izal s ta d on Freedom, 2013).
izal s politi al ie s,

ost espe iall his sta d o the e olutio , a also e see i his o ks.

In the Noli Me Tangere (published on 1887), he allowed the abuses to go unpunished, killing the
character that could incite a rebellion from below, Elias. Elias has all the hatred and the connections for
a revolution. Although he may not have sufficient arms, Rizal could allow him to play an important role
in the revolution. But why did Rizal do this? Rizal did this because Elias did not receive proper education,

as a

e of the Ilust ados to hi h izal did elo g. A e olutio f o

that runs contrary to izal s a d his lass s ideals. Fu the

Elias lass is so ethi g

o e, this e hoes izal s ie s that Wh

revolt, if the sla es of toda

ill e o e the t a ts of to o o ? In the same line of reasoning, Rizal

su sta tiated that Politi s,

he it lazes et ee t a ts a d opp essed peoples, has o hea t o

ai s, ut fa gs, poiso a d e gea e. These

from below. izal elie ed that edu atio is e

e e the easo s why Rizal was against a revolution

i po ta t, su h that he e a ked The ause of the

a k a d ess a d ig o a e of the Filipi os is the la k of

ea s of edu atio . It is through these

teachings that Rizal gave utmost importance to the participation of all classes in the event of a
revolution, as well as the education of the future leaders of the country.
After all, Rizal wrote the Noli Me Tangere to stir the patriotism of the Filipinos. He also wrote it
to expose the problems of the Spanish governance in the Philippines, as well as offer solutions and
encourage other people to provide solutions to the said problems. At the very least, Rizal wrote the
novel for the Filipinos, and wished that all Filipinos can read it (Capino, 1971). Rizal, therefore, must
have thought of a revolution due to his works, but he remained reluctant to the end, as shown in his El
Elias s death gives way for a revolution from all classes as Rizal had wanted during the sequel
and in reality. Rizal used Simoun on the El Filibusterismo (published on 1891), as the instigator of the
revolution, involving the rich (in Simoun), the educated youth (Isagani, Basilio) and the masses
(tulisanes). But even the e olutio

as foiled

Isaga i, sho i g izal s total reluctance in a bloody

Afte all, the easo izal pu lished the El Fili uste is o as to put his ideas of e e ge agai st
his enemies, but only what is for the good of those who are suffering; for the rights of the Tagalog race,

a d

ot ha e good featu es! . He dedi ated the o ks to the th ee

a t ed p iests,

Padre Jacinto Zamora, Padre Mariano Gomez and Padre Jose Burgos, who were unjustly executed on
February 17, 1872 (Capino, 1971).
In a separate literary analysis, Rizal was shown to have presented the Noli Me Tangere as an
idealistic novel with an idealistic protagonist in Ibarra. Through it, Rizal espoused that a revolution was
not necessary; the Filipinos are not yet ready for it and should it happen, it would only end disastrously.
Through the novel, Rizal espoused education for his fellow Filipinos as a key to self-improvement and
development. Through the El Filibusterismo however, Rizal showed his revolutionary side. Although the
El Filibusterismo details a sinister plot for a revolution, Rizal foiled it in the end, showing his overall
disag ee e t

ith the e olutio . The lite a

a al sts see this su h that the

a o e the hea t . Despite izal s disag ee e t ith the e olutio , the lite a

i d must always be

a al sts elie e that izal

did something for the revolution. In conjunction with other Rizal scholars and academics, they believe
that the revolution would not e possi le if ot fo izal s o els. His o els also sho ed the Filipi os
how wrong the system was for them. His views on this however, as shown in his works, make him a
reformist (instead of a revolutionary) in the end (Rizal: Repormista o Rebolusyonaryo?, n.d.).
Rizal and the Revolution

izal s o espo de es ith D . Pio Vale zuela, as ell as f o

the lite a

a al ses of his

works, it can be concluded that Rizal was in favour of an armed revolution, only if it is the last resort, if
there are sufficient armaments, the rich and poor take part in the revolution together and that the
leade s a e edu ated. As

u h as possi le, izal a ted a pea eful

ea s to attai o e s e ds th ough

the education and the homogenization of the Filipinos. From this, it can be known that Rizal, for all his
life, was a reformist, a nationalist, but never a revolutionary.

Capino, D. (1971). Jose Rizal: Character, Teaching and Example. Quezon City, Philippines.
Jose Rizal. (2013). Retrieved on March 7, 2013 from
Katipunan (2013). Retrieved on March 10, 2013 from
La Liga Filipina (2013). Retrieved on March 10, 2013 from
La Solidaridad and La Liga Filipina (2012). Retrieved on March 10, 2013 from
Mi Ultimo Adios. (2013). Retrieved on March 7, 2013 from
Montemayor, T. D. (2004). Jose Rizal: A Biographical Sketch. Jose Rizal University. Retrieved on March 7,
2013 from
Rizal: Repormista o Rebolusyonaryo (n.d.). Retrieved on March 10, 2013 from
izal s ta d o F eedo
9, 2013.

. A ala Fou datio , I .: Filipi as He itage Li a . et ie ed o Ma h

Valenzuela, A. E. Jr. (1992). Dr. Pio Valenzuela and the Katipunan. Manila, Philippines: National Historical