Noli Me Tangere
“My proposal on the book,” he wrote on January 2, 1884, “was unanimously approved. But afterwards difficulties and objections were raised which seemed to me rather odd, and a number of gentlemen stood up and refused to discuss the matter any further. In view of this I decided not to press it any longer, feeling that it was impossible to count on general support…”
“Fortunately,” writes one of Rizal’s biographers, the anthology, if we may call it that, was never written. Instead, the next year, Pedro Paterno published his Ninay, a novel sub-titled Costumbres filipinas (Philippines Customs), thus partly fulfilling the original purpose of Rizal’s plan. He himself (Rizal), as we have seen, had ‘put aside his pen’ in deference to the wishes of his parents.
But the idea of writing a novel himself must have grown on him. It would be no poem to forgotten after a year, no essay in a review of scant circulation, no speech that passed in the night, but a long and serious work on which he might labor, exercising his mind and hand, without troubling his mother’s sleep. He would call it Noli Me Tangere; the Latin echo of the Spoliarium is not without significance. He seems to have told no one in his family about his grand design; it is not mentioned in his correspondence until the book is well-nigh completed. But the other expatriates knew what he was doing; later, when Pastells was blaming the Noli on the influence of German Protestants, he would call his compatriots to witness that he had written half of the novel in Madrid a fourth part in Paris, and only the remainder in Germany.
“From the first,” writes Leon Ma. Guerrero, Rizal was haunted by the fear that his novel would never find its way into print, that it would remain unread. He had little enough money for his own needs, let alone the cost of the Noli’s publication… Characteristically, Rizal would not hear of asking his friends for help. He did not want to compromise them.
Viola insisted on lending him the money (P300 for 2,000 copies); Rizal at first demurred… Finally Rizal gave in and the novel went to press. The proofs were delivered daily, and one day the messenger, according to Viola, took it upon himself to warn the author that if he ever returned to the Philippines he would lose his head. Rizal was too enthralled by seeing his work in print to do more than smile.
The printing apparently took considerably less time than the original estimate of five months for Viola did not arrive in Berlin until December and by the 21st March 1887, Rizal was already sending Blumentritt a copy of “my first book.”
Rizal, himself, describing the nature of the Noli Me Tangere to his friend Blumentritt, wrote, “The Novel is the first impartial and bold account of the life of the tagalogs. The Filipinos will find in it the history of the last ten years…”
Criticism and attacks against the Noli and its author came from all quarters. An anonymous letter signed “A Friar” and sent to Rizal, dated February 15, 1888, says in part: “How ungrateful you are… If you, or for that matter all your men, think you have a grievance, then challenge us and we shall pick up the gauntlet, for we are not cowards like you, which is not to say that a hidden hand will not put an end to your life.”
A special committee of the faculty of the University of Santo Tomas, at the request of the Archbishop Pedro Payo, found and condemned the novel as heretical, impious, and scandalous in its religious aspect, and unpatriotic, subversive of public order and harmful to the Spanish government and its administration of theses islands in its political aspect.
On December 28, 1887, Fray Salvador Font, the cura of Tondo and chairman of the Permanent Commission of Censorship composed of laymen and ordered that the circulation of this pernicious book” be absolutely prohibited.
Not content, Font caused the circulation of copies of the prohibition, an act which brought an effect contrary to what he desired. Instead of what he expected, the negative publicity awakened more the curiosity of the people who managed to get copies of the book.
Assisting Father Font in his aim to discredit the Noli was an Augustinian friar by the name of Jose Rodriguez. In a pamphlet entitled Caiingat Cayo (Beware). Fr. Rodriguez warned the people that in reading the book they “commit mortal sin,” considering that it was full of heresy.
As far as Madrid, there was furor over the Noli, as evidenced by an article which bitterly criticized the novel published in a Madrid newspaper in January, 1890, and written by one Vicente Barrantes. In like manner, a member of the Senate in the Spanish Cortes assailed the novel as “anti-Catholic, Protestant, socialistic.”
It is well to note that not detractors alone visibly reacted to the effects of the Noli. For if there were bitter critics, another group composed of staunch defenders found every reason to justify its publication and circulation to the greatest number of Filipinos. For instance, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, cleverly writing under an assumed name Dolores Manapat, successfully circulated a publication that negated the effect of Father Rodriguez’ Caiingat Cayo, Del Pilar’s piece was entitled Caiigat Cayo (Be Slippery as an Eel). Deceiving similar in format to Rodriguez’ Caiingat Cayo, the people were readily “misled” into getting not a copy o Rodriguez’ piece but Del Pillar’s.
The Noli Me Tangere found another staunch defender in the person of a Catholic theologian of the Manila Cathedral, in Father Vicente Garcia. Under the pen-name Justo Desiderio Magalang. Father Garcia wrote a very scholarly defense of the Noli, claiming among other things that Rizal cannot be an ignorant man, being the product of Spanish officials and corrupt friars; he himself who had warned the people of committing mortal sin if they read the novel had therefore committed such sin for he has read the novel.
Consequently, realizing how much the Noli had awakened his countrymen, to the point of defending his novel, Rizal said: “Now I die content.”
Fittingly, Rizal found it a timely and effective gesture to dedicate his novel to the country of his people whose experiences and sufferings he wrote about, sufferings which he brought to light in an effort to awaken his countrymen to the truths that had long remained unspoken, although not totally unheard of.
Jose Alejandro, one of the new Filipinos who had been quite intimate with Rizal, said, “in writing the Noli Rizal signed his own death warrant.” Subsequent events, after the fate of the Noli was sealed by the Spanish authorities, prompted Rizal to write the continuation of his first novel. He confessed, however, that regretted very much having killed Elias instead of Ibarra, reasoning that when he published the Noli his health was very much broken, and was very unsure of being able to write the continuation and speak of a revolution.
Explaining to Marcelo H. del Pilar his inability to contribute articles to the La Solidaridad, Rizal said that he was haunted by certain sad presentiments, and that he had been dreaming almost every night of dead relatives and friends a few days before his 29th birthday, that is why he wanted to finish the second part of the Noli at all costs.
Consequently, as expected of a determined character, Rizal apparently went in writing, for to his friend, Blumentritt, he wrote on March 29, 1891: “I have finished my book. Ah! I’ve not written it with any idea of vengeance against my enemies, but only for the good of those who suffer and for the rights of Tagalog humanity, although brown and not good- looking.”
To a Filipino friend in Hong Kong, Jose Basa, Rizal likewise eagerly announced the completion of his second novel. Having moved to Ghent to have the book published at cheaper cost, Rizal once more wrote his friend, Basa, in Hongkong on July 9, 1891: “I am not sailing at once, because I am now printing the second part of the Noli here, as you may see from the enclosed pages. I prefer to publish it in some other way before leaving Europe, for it seemed to me a pity not to do so. For the past three months I have not received a single centavo, so I have pawned all that I have in order to publish this book. I will continue publishing it as long as I can; and when there is nothing to pawn I will stop and return to be at your side.”
Inevitably, Rizal’s next letter to Basa contained the tragic news of the suspension of the printing of the sequel to his first novel due to lack of funds, forcing him to stop and leave the book half-way. “It is a pity,” he wrote Basa, “because it seems to me that this second part is more important than the first, and if I do not finish it here, it will never be finished.”
Fortunately, Rizal was not to remain in despair for long. A compatriot, Valentin Ventura, learned of Rizal’s predicament. He offered him financial assistance. Even then Rizal’s was forced to shorten the novel quite drastically, leaving only thirty-eight chapters compared to the sixty-four chapters of the first novel.
Rizal moved to Ghent, and writes Jose Alejandro. The sequel to Rizal’s Noli came off the press by the middle of September, 1891.On the 18th he sent Basa two copies, and Valentin Ventura the original manuscript and an autographed printed copy.
Inspired by what the word filibustero connoted in relation to the circumstances obtaining in his time, and his spirits dampened by the tragic execution of the three martyred priests, Rizal aptly titled the second part of the Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo. In veneration of the three priests, he dedicated the book to them.
“To the memory of the priests, Don Mariano Gomez (85 years old), Don Jose Burgos (30 years old), and Don Jacinto Zamora (35 years old). Executed in the Bagumbayan Field on the 28th of February, 1872.”
“The church, by refusing to degrade you, has placed in doubt the crime that has been imputed to you; the Government, by surrounding your trials with mystery and shadows causes the belief that there was some error, committed in fatal moments; and all the Philippines, by worshipping your memory and calling you martyrs, in no sense recognizes your culpability. In so far, therefore, as your complicity in the Cavite Mutiny is not clearly proved, as you may or may not have been patriots, and as you may or may not cherished sentiments for justice and for liberty, I have the right to dedicate my work to you as victims of the evil which I undertake to combat. And while we await expectantly upon Spain some day to restore your good name and cease to be answerable for your death, let these pages serve as a tardy wreath of dried leaves over one who without clear proofs attacks your memory stains his hands in your blood.”
Rizal’s memory seemed to have failed him, though, for Father Gomez was then 73 not 85, Father Burgos 35 not 30 Father Zamora 37 not 35; and the date of execution 17th not 28th.
The FOREWORD of the Fili was addressed to his beloved countrymen, thus:
“TO THE FILIPINO PEOPLE AND THEIR GOVERNMENT”
Credits to: http://rizalinfo.weebly.com/jose-p-rizal.html
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