Dr. Jose Rizal in Dapitan and the Katipunan

Thursday December 15, 2011 ()

The Spanish government could have been satisfied of Rizal's innocence of any treasonable designs against Spain's sovereignty in the Islands had it known how the exile had declined an opportunity to head the movement which had been initiated on the eve of his deportation. His name had been used to gather the members together and his portrait hung in each Katipunan lodge hall, but all this was without Rizal's consent or even his knowledge.

The (Katipunan) members, who had been paying faithfully for four years, felt that it was time that something besides collecting money was done. Their restiveness and suspicions led Andres Bonifacio, its head, to resort to Rizal, feeling that a word from the exile, who had religiously held aloof from all politics since his deportation, would give the Katipunan leaders more time to mature their plans. So he sent a messenger to Dapitan, Pio Valenzuela, a doctor, who to conceal his mission took with him a blind man. Thus the doctor and his patient appeared as on a professional visit to the exiled oculist. But though the interview was successfully secured in this way, its results were not so satisfactory.

Far from feeling grateful for the consideration for the possible consequences to him which Valenzuela pretended had prompted the visit, Rizal indignantly insisted that the country came first. He cited the Spanish republics of South America, with their alternating revolutions and despotisms, as a warning against embarking on a change of government for which the people were not prepared. Education, he declared, was first necessary, and in his opinion general enlightenment was the only road to progress. Valenzuela cut short his trip, glad to escape without anyone realizing that Rizal and he had quarreled.

Bonifacio called Rizal a coward when he heard his emissary's report, and enjoined Valenzuela to say nothing of his trip. But the truth leaked out, and there was a falling away in Katipunan membership.

Doctor Rizal's own statement respecting the rebellion and Valenzuela's visit may fitly be quoted here:

"I had no notice at all of what was being planned until the first or second of July, in 1896, when Pio Valenzuela came to see me, saying that an uprising was being arranged. I told him that it was absurd, etc., etc., and he answered me that they could bear no more. I advised him that they should have patience, etc., etc. He added then that he had been sent because they had compassion on my life and that probably it would compromise me. I replied that they should have patience and that if anything happened to me I would then prove my innocence. Besides, said I, don't consider me, but our country, which is the one that will suffer. I went on to show how absurd was the movement. Then later, Pio Valenzuela testified. -He did not tell me that my name was being used, neither did he suggest that I was its chief, or anything of that sort."

"Those who testify that I am the chief (which I do not know, nor do I know of having ever treated with them), what proofs do they present of my having accepted this chiefship or that I was in relations with them or with their society? Either they have made use of my name for their own purposes or they have been deceived by others who have. Where is the chief who dictates no order and makes no arrangement, who is not consulted in anything about so important an enterprise until the last moment, and then when he decides against it is disobeyed? Since the seventh of July of 1892 I have entirely ceased political activity. It seems some have wished to avail themselves of my name for their own ends."

This was Rizal's second temptation to engage in politics, the first having been a trap laid by his enemies. A man had come to see Rizal in his earlier days in Dapitan, claiming to be a relative and seeking letters to prominent Filipinos. The deceit was too plain and Rizal denounced the envoy to the commandant, whose investigations speedily disclosed the source of the plot. Further prosecution, of course, ceased at once.

The visit of some image vendors from Laguna who never before had visited that region, and who seemed more intent on escaping notice than interested in business, appeared suspicious, but upon report of the Jesuits the matter was investigated and nothing really objectionable was found.

The Katipunan, which had been organized on the eve of Rizal's deportation but had done little since, took on new life through the zeal and ability of Emilio Jacinto, a young student whose patriotic mother, a nurse (midwife) was sister of a Liga Filipina and Masonic leader later shot. Jacinto epitomized the Filipinos' historic grievances in an impressively simple but dramatic initiation ceremony that taught Philippine history and developed patriotism so successfully that the thousands who now crowded into the revolutionary society were eager to, and did risk everything in their country's cause.

Lineage, life and labors of Jose Rizal, Philippine patriot: a study of the growth of free ideas in the trans Pacific American territory, Austin Craig, Yonkers-on-Hudson: World book co., 1914 (via The United States and its Territories, 1870 - 1925: The Age of Imperialism, University of Michigan Digital Library)


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