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POETRY REVEALS an individual’s hopes, dreams, aspirations and goodbyes. The genius in Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero, has resulted to several poems during his childhood, schooling, life struggles and martyrdom. Let us take a peek at our national hero’s poetry.
1. TO MY FELLOW CHILDREN (Sa Aking Mga Kababata, 1869)
Note: Many scholars nowadays believe that Jose Rizal was not the real author of this poem. Ask your professor about it.
Whenever people of a country truly love
The language which by heav'n they were taught to use
That country also surely liberty pursue
As does the bird which soars to freer space above.
Is worse than any best or evil smelling fish.
To make our language richer ought to be our wish
The same as any mother loves to feed her young.
Tagalog and the Latin language are the same
And English and Castilian and the angels' tongue;
And God, whose watchful care o'er all is flung,
Has given us His blessing in the speech we calim,
Our mother tongue, like all the highest that we know
Had alphabet and letters of its very own;
But these were lost -- by furious waves were overthrown
Like bancas in the stormy sea, long years ago.
The famous poem was a nationalistic undertaking to promote the usage of Tagalog language by the Filipino people.
The poem “To My Fellow Children” was believed to be the national hero’s first written Tagalog poem at the age of eight. However, it was said that this poem was published posthumously a hundred years after his death sentence.
Doubts concerning the real author of this poem have emerged. Critics say that he could not possibly have written “Sa Aking mga Kababata” due to his juvenile age. Normally, the age ranging from 7 to 8 is the developmental age by which a child is just beginning to read. Hence, it is quite nonsensical that a child at this age could write a five-stanza poem with profound words at that. Besides, records say that Jose Rizal had correspondence with Paciano, his brother, concerning some of his difficulties in the Tagalog language particularly in translation.
Furthermore, the use of mature insights and terminologies is quite unrealistic for an eight year old boy. Allegedly, he had only encountered the word “kalayaan” (used several times in the poem) when he was already 21 years old.
From the National Library of the Philippines, records show that “Sa aking mga kabata” was not published in the original Tagalog but in a free Spanish translation of the Tagalog by Epifano delos Santos as “A mis companeros de ninez”.
The poem is still believed to be written by the hero, but the claim for authorship is still open.
2. MY FIRST INSPIRATION (Mi Primera Inspiracion, 1874)
of fragrance from the bowers
of the balmy flowers
upon this festive day?
Why from woods and vales
do we hear sweet measures ringing
that seem to be the singing
of a choir of nightingales?
Why in the grass below
do birds start at the wind's noises,
unleashing their honeyed voices
as they hop from bough to bough?
Why should the spring that glows
its crystalline murmur be tuning
to the zephyr's mellow crooning
as among the flowers it flows?
Why seems to me more endearing,
more fair than on other days,
the dawn's enchanting face
among red clouds appearing?
The reason, dear mother, is
they feast your day of bloom:
the rose with its perfume,
the bird with its harmonies.
And the spring that rings with laughter
upon this joyful day
with its murmur seems to say:
'Live happily ever after!'
And from that spring in the grove
now turn to hear the first note
that from my lute I emote
to the impulse of my love.
Most likely, Mi Primera Inspiracion was the first poem Jose Rizal wrote during his schooling stint in Ateneo. This poem was written in honor of his mother’s birthday as evidenced by the terms “perfume of the flowers”, “the songs of the birds”, “feast your day of bloom” and “festive day”.
Jose Rizal’s poetic verses show his eternal love and appreciation for his mother. This is somehow his way of paying tribute to all the efforts of her dear mother.
POEMS WRITTEN IN ATENEO MUNICIPAL DE MANILA
From 1872 to 1877, Jose Rizal studied at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila for his Bachiller en artes. The first poems of Rizal dealt with history emphasizing on heroes and battles.
3. FELICITATION (Felicitacion, 1875)
If Philomela with harmonious tongue
To blond Apollo, who manifests his face
Behind high hill or overhanging mountain,
So we as well, full of a sweet contentment,
Salute you and your very noble saint
With tender music and fraternal measures,
From all your sisters and your other kin
Receive most lovingly the loving accent
That the suave warmth of love dictates to them
Placid and tender.
From amorous wife and amiable Emilio
Sweetly receive an unsurpassed affection;
And may its sweetness in disaster soften
The ruder torments.
As the sea pilot, who so bravely fought
Tempestuous waters in the dark of night,
Gazes upon his darling vessel safe
And come to port.
So, setting aside all [worldly] predilections,
Now let your eyes be lifted heavenward
To him who is the solace of all men
And loving Father.
And from ourselves that in such loving accents
Salute you everywhere you celebrate,
These clamorous vivas that from the heart resound
Be pleased to accept.
The poem “Felicitation” was written by the Philippine National Hero in 1875 during his schooling in the Ateneo de Municipal. The 14 year old Rizal wrote this poem to congratulate his brother-in-law, Antonio Lopez (husband of his sister Narcisa), on Saint’s day.
4. THE EMBARKATION, a hymn to Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet (El Embarque: Himno a la Flota de Magallanes, 1875)
One beautiful day when in East
The sun had gaily brightened,
At Barrameda with rejoicing great
Activities everywhere reigned.
‘Tis cause on the shores the caravels
Would part with their sails a-swelling;
And noble warriors with their swords
To conquer unknown world are going.
And all is glee and all is joy,
All is valor in the city.
Everywhere the husky sounds of drums
Are resounding with majesty.
With big echoes thousands of salvos
Makes at the ships a roaring cannon
And the Spanish people proudly greet
The soldiers with affection.
Farewell! They say to them, loved ones,
Brave soldiers of the homeland;
With glories gird our mother Spain,
In the campaign in the unknown land!
As they move away to the gentle breath
Of the cool wind with emotion,
They all bless with a pious voice
So glorious, heroic action.
And finally, the people salute
The standard of Magellan
That he carries on the way to the seas
Where madly roars the hurricane.
Rizal wrote the above poem while he was a boarding student at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. It is believed to have been his first poem that had the honor of being read in a public programme held at that school. “Hymn to Magellanta’s fleet”talked about the departure of Ferdinand Magellan, the first man to colonize the Philippines.
5. AND HE IS SPANISH: ELCANO, THE FIRST TO CIRCUMNAVIGATE THE WORLD (Y Es Espanol: Elcano, el Primero en dar la Vuelta al Mundo, December 1875)
Where does that frail ship go
That proudly cruises on
And ploughs the distant seas
To seek the lands unknown?
Who's the brave and invincible,
That from far down the West
Sails on the expansive world
To yonder roseate East?
Of Spain he's a heroic son,
A Titan new of Pirene,
Who with fury fights against,
If it holds him, the hurricane.
He's Elcano who undertakes
A task that enchants the world ;
To accomplish it he vows
And its vastness him doesn't hold.
And to red-tailed eagle akin
That soars high in the wind
With an unequalled flight
And with a movement swift,
Of the blowing storm that roars,
He scorns the horrible hiss ;
And mocks with kingly air
The lightning's shattering noise.
And like a craggy rock
No impetuous ocean in rage
Or the fury of hurricanes
Him can change or disengage ;
Such is the invincible
Elcano, when cruising through
The waves, with his Spanish ships,
Their rage they might'ly subdue.
Triumphant crosses he
The vast roundness of the globe
With exceptional bravery
He measured the extensive orb.
A thousand laurels crown
Defender of Spain, your brow ;
And a brilliant diadem
Now proudly decorates you.
The poem “AND HE IS SPANISH: ELCANO, THE FIRST TO CIRCUMNAVIGATE THE WORLD”is about Juan Sebastián Elcano, a Spanish Basque, Ferdinand Magellan’s second in command, who upon Magellan’s death on the shores of Mactan in the Philippines, took over and completed the first circumnavigation of the world.
6.The Battle: Urbiztondo, Terror of Jolo (El Combate: Urbiztondo, Terror de Jolo, December 1875)
A hundred war-tried ships
At the mercy of the gentle wind,
Leave behind Manila bay
-The ruffled sea they plough.
A short while they descry
The Moros of Jolo
Who with pride they raise
A thousand waving flags.
And when the soldiers strong
Had alighted on the shores
And pointed all their guns
Against the enemy's wall,
With manly accent spoke
The general : "Soldiers of mine,
Upon your valor depends
The rich glory of victory.
"I would prefer to die
Rather than desist from attack ;
To thee the country entrusts
Her noble, sacred seals."
Said he ; and like Notus fierce
By horrid lightning hedged in
In furious tempests it sows
Sad weeping and mourning around ;
So Urbiztondo unsubdued
His soldiers following him,
He spreads death everywhere
With cold steel in his hand.
And like a lion in the woods
He roars, engendering fear,
As he looks upon the prey
That with havoc he devours;
So the noted fighting men
With fury and frenzied fright,
Approach the barricades
As they give a headlong assault.
And the Castiles' lion shakes
His forelock wrathfully
And readies his pointed claws
To spread tears everywhere.
Eight bastions, do surrender
Of the Moros of Jolo
To the furious rattle of Mars
And Urbiztondo's assault.
Ah ! They're the ones, noble Spain,
Like Lepanto's heroes they are,
At Pavia they're the ones
Who're the thunderbolt of war.
The fire consumes and devours
The castles and palaces
And all the Joloans own
At our soldiers fierce attack.
Perfidious Mahumat flees,
Tyrannical and godless Sultan,
And the warriors valorous
March into Jolo as they sing.
The poem “The Battle: Urbiztondo, Terror of Jolo” is a reflection of Rizal’s liking for history. It was written to hail Urbiztondo for the successful battle against the Muslims. In the poem, the hero narrated how the great warrior defeated the Moros under Sultan Mahumat of Jolo.
This poem recounts the tragic story of St. Eustace. However, it appears that the original manuscript of this no longer exists and may have been destroyed in the bombardment of the Second World War. But it was said that it had been published in installments in a magazine, Cultura Social of Ateneo University.
8. IN MEMORY OF MY TOWN (Un Recuerdo A Mi Pueblo, 1876)
When I remember the days
that saw my early childhood
spent on the green shores
of a murmurous lagoon;
when I remember the coolness,
delicious and refreshing,
that on my face I felt
as I heard Favonius croon;
When I behold the white lily
swell to the wind’s impulsion,
and that tempestuous element
meekly asleep on the sand;
when I inhale the dear
the flowers exude when dawn
is smiling on the land;
Sadly, sadly I recall
your visage, precious childhood,
which an affectionate mother
made beautiful and bright;
I recall a simple town,
my comfort, joy and cradle,
beside a balmy lake,
the seat of my delight.
Ah, yes, my awkward foot
explored your sombre woodlands,
and on the banks of your rivers
in frolic I took part.
I prayed in your rustic temple,
a child, with a child’s devotion;
and your unsullied breeze
exhilarated my heart.
The Creator I saw in the grandeur
of your age-old forests;
upon your bosom, sorrows
were ever unknown to me;
while at your azure skies
I gazed, neither love nor tenderness
failed me, for in nature
lay my felicity.
Tender childhood, beautiful town,
rich fountain of rejoicing
and of harmonious music
that drove away all pain:
return to this heart of mine,
return my gracious hours,
return as the birds return
when flowers spring again!
But O goodbye! May the Spirit
of Good, a loving gift-giver,
keep watch eternally over
your peace, your joy, your sleep!
For you, my fervent pryers;
for you, my constant desire
to learn; and I pray heaven
your innocence to keep!
Rizal loved his hometown Calamba in Laguna. He fondly remembered his memories of the said town. In 1876, a 15 years old student in the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, he wrote the poem “In Memory of My Town”. The poem was written to express his love and appreciation for the place where he grew up.
9. INTIMATE ALLIANCE BETWEEN RELIGION AND GOOD EDUCATION (Alianza Intima Entre la Religion y la Buena Educacion, 1876)
As the climbing ivy over lefty elm
Creeps tortuously, together the adornment
Of the verdant plain, embellishing
Each other and together growing,
But should the kindly elm refuse its aid
The ivy would impotent and friendless wither
So is Education to Religion
By spiritual alliance bound.
Through Religion, Education gains renown, and
Woe to the impious mind that blindly spurning
The sapient teachings of Religion, this
Unpolluted fountain-head forsakes.
As the sprout, growing from the pompous vine,
Proudly offers us its honeyed clusters
While the generous and loving garment
Feeds its roots; so the fresh’ning waters
Of celestial virtue give new life
To Education true, shedding
On it warmth and light; because of them
The vine smells sweet and gives delicious fruit.
Without Religion, Human Education
Is like unto a vessel struck by winds
Which, sore beset, is of its helm deprived
By the roaring blows and buffets of the dread
Tempestuous Boreas, who fiercely wields
His power until he proudly sends her down
Into the deep abysses of the angered sea.
As the heaven’s dew the meadow feeds and strengthens
So that blooming flowers all the earth
Embroider in the days of spring; so also
If Religion holy nourishes
Education with its doctrines, she
Shall walk in joy and generosity
Toward the Good, and everywhere bestrew
The fragrant and luxuriant fruits of Virtue.
Jose Rizal believed that religion is concomitant with good education, hence the strong relationship between education and faith. Accordingly, he wrote the poem “Intimate Alliance between religion and good education” at the age of fifteen while he was in Ateneo.
10.EDUCATION GIVES LUSTER TO THE MOTHERLAND (Por la Educacion Recibe Lustre la Patria, 1876)
Wise education, vital breath
Inspires an enchanting virtue;
She puts the Country in the lofty seat
Of endless glory, of dazzling glow,
And just as the gentle aura's puff
Do brighten the perfumed flower's hue:
So education with a wise, guiding hand,
A benefactress, exalts the human band.
Man's placid repose and earthly life
To education he dedicates
Because of her, art and science are born
Man; and as from the high mount above
The pure rivulet flows, undulates,
So education beyond measure
Gives the Country tranquility secure.
Where wise education raises a throne
Sprightly youth are invigorated,
Who with firm stand error they subdue
And with noble ideas are exalted;
It breaks immortality's neck,
Contemptible crime before it is halted:
It humbles barbarous nations
And it makes of savages champions.
And like the spring that nourishes
The plants, the bushes of the meads,
She goes on spilling her placid wealth,
And with kind eagerness she constantly feeds,
The river banks through which she slips,
And to beautiful nature all she concedes,
So whoever procures education wise
Until the height of honor may rise.
From her lips the waters crystalline
Gush forth without end, of divine virtue,
And prudent doctrines of her faith
The forces weak of evil subdue,
That break apart like the whitish waves
That lash upon the motionless shoreline:
And to climb the heavenly ways the people
Do learn with her noble example.
In the wretched human beings' breast
The living flame of good she lights
The hands of criminal fierce she ties,
And fill the faithful hearts with delights,
Which seeks her secrets beneficent
And in the love for the good her breast she incites,
And it's th' education noble and pure
Of human life the balsam sure.
And like a rock that rises with pride
In the middle of the turbulent waves
When hurricane and fierce Notus roar
She disregards their fury and raves,
That weary of the horror great
So frightened calmly off they stave;
Such is one by wise education steered
He holds the Country's reins unconquered.
His achievements on sapphires are engraved;
The Country pays him a thousand honors;
For in the noble breasts of her sons
Virtue transplanted luxuriant flow'rs;
And in the love of good e'er disposed
Will see the lords and governors
The noble people with loyal venture
Christian education always procure.
And like the golden sun of the morn
Whose rays resplendent shedding gold,
And like fair aurora of gold and red
She overspreads her colors bold;
Such true education proudly gives
The pleasure of virtue to young and old
And she enlightens out Motherland dear
As she offers endless glow and luster.
Our national hero, despite his young age, had expressed high regards for education. He believed in the significant role which education plays in the progress and welfare of a nation as evident in his writing of the poem “Education Gives Luster to the Motherland”.
Education gives knowledge, knowledge gives wisdom. Great wisdom benefits everyone. Jose Rizal believed that education is a vehicle for a country’s prosperity and success, hence through the poem he encouraged Filipinos to acquire education for them to be able to fulfill their dreams and to improve their motherland. His high regards for education was evident in his determination to seek the best education possible even across the shores of his country.
11. The Captivity and the Triumph: Battle of Lucena and the Imprisonment of Boabdil(El Cautiverio y el Triunfo: Batalla de Lucena y Prision de Boabdil, December 1876)
The proud Abencérage provokes
The soldiers brave of Castilla
Ferociously to humble him
After he had destroyed Montilla.
The Count of Cabra soon arrives
In his strong arm he displays his saber,
Like Death that lugubriously unfolds
Her black wings of death and slaughter.
Toward the troops of an impious race
Like a lion he dashes eagerly ;
As the radiant sun to the new-born day
With him goes Don Diego anxiously.
Thus like the fleeing fugitive stag
Evading the fleeting arrow
The haughty heart so filled with fright,
The Prophet's armies away go.
But not so the ferocious cavalry,
As shield its breast it exposes,
With gallantry it awaits the fight
To attack with utter harshness.
Boabdil encourages his hordes
With wrath and savage fury :
His anguish on his face he shows
With grit to the fleeing men speaks he :
"To where art thou led, Oh, Trickless Moors,
By the fear thee blinds and chases?
From whom do thee flee? With whom, hapless men,
The stout heart to fight refuses?"
Said he ; and with menace the trumpet sounds ;
Ours arrive and start the fighting,
And everywhere is heard alone
Of flashing steel the rattling.
Don Alonso Aguilar attacks
Them on one flank furious battle.
He wounds, beheads, devastates, and assaults
As a wolf does, the timid cattle.
Alas! The Muslim, stubborn and cruel
Implores his Prophet vainly
While against the Christians noble and strong,
The spear and the rein tightens he.
Amidst the fiery tumult of war
There did the commander brave die :
Into pieces broken: helmets, spears,
And horses on the ground lie.
His soldiers now terrified and tired
Flee before the Christian victors ;
Just as away the timorous dear
Run as the lion brave roars.
When the King, abandoned, finds himself
And seeing escape isn't too soon,
He gets down his horses terrified,
And hides in the woods like a poltroon.
Two unconquered Christians found him ;
And by royal symbols detected,
Instantly to Don Diego him they took
Like a royal captive defeated.
There at Lucena the Christians' God
Humbled down the arrogant's power
Who wanted to tie with a heavy chain
The Spaniard as downcast pris'ner.
At 12 years old, Rizal was believed to have read El ultimo Abencerraje, a Spanish translation of Chateaubriand's. novel, Le Dernier des Abencérages. This is the story of the last member of a famous family in the Muslim Kingdom of Granada in the 15th century which inspired him to compose the above poem as a student at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila.
In this poem, he described the defeat and capture of Boabdil, last Moorish sultan of Granada.
12. TRIUMPHANT ENTRY OF THE CATHOLIC MONARCHS INTO GRANADA(Entrada triunfal de los Reyes Católicos en Granada, December 1876)
'Twas a quiet and gloomy night
Whose mem'ry hurts the heart,
A night ago in which the Muslim King
Treads the Alhambra's beautiful floor.
The face pale, loose his hair,
Tired eyes of frigid gaze,
Head low, recumbent his face,
The sad Muslim looks at his palaces.
The Muslim looks at them and abundant tears
Bathe his eyes, a-flowing down his cheeks,
And to the ceiling gilt and arabesque
He turns again his weary gaze.
Sand and tearful he remembers then
The Muslim exploits and the glorious jousts ;
And comparing the present ills
With the combats of past days,
"Goodbye, Alhambra," he says; "Alhambra, goodbye,
Abode of joy and abundant happiness ;
Goodbye, palace full of pleasures,
Inexhaustible fountain of delight.
Sad I leave you and now I'm going
To cruel exile, of hardships full,
In order not to see your towers high,
Your fountains clear and rich abodes."
He said ; and moaning the costly habiliments
Of the gilded apartments he removes ;
And of its beautiful decorations stripped
The huge halls, sad he withdraws,
And in the silence of the night
When the luckless Arabs were asleep,
When only the hissing of the winds
Through the peaceful city could be heard
And crossing the streets
Of that now forsaken realm,
Pale and petrified
Bathed in mortal sweat;
Only lamentations deep
Were heard everywhere,
And some doleful voice
Thrown in its wild complaint.
The king stopped; the towers he saw
He contemplated those walls;
The bottles remembered he
That he waged in happy times;
But he could not control himself
And he lowered his gazed to the ground
And mournfully said
As he bends his head:
"Alas! Granada what happened to you?
What became of your nights?
Alas! Where do your warriors sleep
That your anguish they don't see?
Indeed! I your unhappy King,
To the Libyan desert lands
Hurled and with chains
By fate I also go.
"Today I lose everything, everything,
Kingdom, palace, treasure
And so alone I sadly weep
What cruel grief prepares for me;
There was a time when your tow'rs
And they were the havoc and dread
Of squadrons in front."
He said and the squadrons he sees
Commanded by Talavera,
As he waves the flag
Of Christian religion;
That by royal order the forts
They were going to occupy
And to take possession of
The Alhambra and its rooms.
And to Fernando Talavera
Who rules the knights
With respect addresses himself
The unfortunate Boabdil ;
And in manner like this speaks to him
With mournful stress,
Into cruel anguish plunged
In a thousand anxieties submerged:
"Go my lord, go immediately
To take hold of those abodes
By the great Almighty reserved
For your powerful King;
Allah chastises the Moors;
Strip them of their property;
From their country he throws them out
For they did not keep his law."
He said no more ; on his way
The Mohammedan proceeds
And behind goes his faithful band
In silence and with grief.
Aback they didn't turn their gaze
To contemplate their ground,
For affliction perhaps would strike
Them with greater vehemence.
And in the distance they see
The Christians' camp did show
Signs of contentment and joy
Upon seeing the celestial Cross
That on the Alhambra is displayed
When the city was overrun ;
And 'twas the primary sign
Of the race that was subdued.
And th' unhappy Monarch hears
The voice of "Long live Castille !"
And he sees on their knees
The Spanish Combatants;
And from the trumpets he hears
And the brilliant helmets he sees
The bright sun shining on them.
His footsteps then he turns
Toward King Fernando
Who advances ordering
His troops with majesty;
And as he nears the King,
The Moor gives to him the keys,
The only treasure and sign
Of the Mohammedan pow'r.
"See there," Boabdil says to him,
What I can offer you,
And the only thing left to me,
Of the Arabic domain
My kingdom, trophies, men,
Fields, houses, victories,
Exalted honors, tow'rs
And gardens all, now are yours."
Boabdil thus did speak
And having paid his respect
From that place he withdraws
A thousand ills he saw
Continuing his slow pace
His warriors sending forth
A thousand doleful groans
As they leave the fair Genil.
Now, the warlike clarion
Of Fernando sounds th' entry
In Granada lovely and fair,
Now Christian with no infidel;
The captives of the defeated Moor,
Who sadly were dragging chains
And suff'ring torments and pains
With joy came to Isabel.
Like long-suff'ring warriors brave
The clement King greets them,
His gladness showing on his face
'Cause from evil he saw them freed;
And the Queen abundant alms
Distributes with benevolent hand
That Queen who's always of God
Ought to wear immortal crown.
And as the Muslims hear
The cries of festivity,
Sonorous beating of drums,
And the singing of delight,
They lamented their fate,
The glory they have lost,
Their race that was subdued,
Their country without peer.
Their mournful groans
They carefully hide,
Their tearful pray'rs,
To be heard they fear
Would augment the pride
Of that victory
That causes their woe.
Now the flag of Spain
Proudly waves o'er the walls
Of noble Granada now secure !
Now the Catholic Kings
From their seat opulent
Will decree wise laws
For the children of Genil.
Now delightful Granada, proud
Is Christians' dwelling place
And Granada belongs
To the faithful populace.
Now from Heaven God looks down
With joy the beautiful tow'rs
And merlons all full
Of Trophies and laurel.
The above poem of Jose rizal relates the triumphant entry of Ferdinand and Isabella, Spain's "Most Catholic Kings," into the city of Granada in 1492. This entry is one of the most powerful symbolic moments in Spanish history.
13. THE HEROISM OF COLUMBUS (El Heroismo de Colon, 1877)
Oh tell me, celestial Muse, who in the mind
Of Columbus infused a breath sublime,
Invested with noble courage and faith,
To plough the seas of the West?
Who gave him brav’ry whem imposing
The sea was angered. The wind roared,
That in his rage the bad angel called
Against the son of faithful Spain?
In the midst of solemn tranquility
When languid earth was asleep,
And the moon its trembling disc
Through the diaphanous sky did steer,
A man contemplates the wavy sea…
Seen painted on his smiling face
So magnificent clemency’s pow’r
Exuding kindness and intelligence.
The curly whitish waves of the sea
That bathe the spreading shore,
Like silver reflect the white light
To the soft breath of perfumed breeze;
And while from the shadows strange
Around danced winged multitude,
An old man, furious, fierce and grave
Fantastic rose from the sea profound.
He hold firm in his strong right hand
A heavy trident aflame…
“And your audacious heart hopes to subdue
The fierce sea’s terrible rage
That when the fiery tempest roars
In mass it rises gloomy and grave?
Oh! Who could calmly contemplate
The iron cold of bloody fate,
That the roar of the wind which resounds
In the abyss a sad tomb opes?
“What lies beyond? Only death,
The dark sea that dreadfully terrifies
And infuses fear in the stoutest heart,
Where at each instant darkly appears
The tempest, with the mariner in doubt
How to guide his ship in such calamity;
And the waters bury him in the depth
Where a thousand horrible monsters hide.
“But, alas, poor you! Alas, unhappy Spain
If you run in search of land remote!
I will excite the north wind’s rage
And the hatred cruel of all that the ocean holds. . .
And ere you step on the foreign shores,
War and discord I’ll put within your ship;
And I’ll not rest until I see your ruin,
If divine protection saves you not…
“Hush, deceitful monster, with son’rous voice
Christopher answers him, ignorance….”
Jose Rizal wrote this epic poem in December 1877 during his academic years in Ateneo Municipal de Manila. This poem praises Columbus, the discoverer of America.
14. Columbus and John II (Colon y Juan II)
"Christopher, to you, fame,
And immortal crown and great renown
Homage history pays !
Your august name reaches
Posterity and is amazed.
"Blesses you the world
In canticles of love and contentment
All that Lusitania
Holds proclaim instantly
Your faith's noble valor.
"Who, like you, is gentle,
Constant, resigned, and gen'rous?
Conquered thou the dreadful
Fury of the wavy sea
And the cowardly, treach'rous mariner.
"Hail, illustrious Adm'ral,
Firm of heart, fiery in the fight ;
To your constant valor
Kindly today I offer
Castles and honors together.
"I, your voice I shall be
To proclaim before my standards
Viceroy of good graces
And above the towers
I shall put your name in royal flags."
Thus did speak the sov'reign,
Portugal's Juan the enlightened.
Glory great beforehand
And the highest post in his palace
Offers he the veteran.
But . . . hurriedly he flees
Columbusfrom the treach'rous deceiver
Of the palace ambitious;
Runs he, flies to where dwells
Isabel the Christian, his benefactress.
This poem relates how King John II of Portugal missed fame and riches by his failure to finance the projected expedition of Columbus to the new world.
15. GREAT SOLACE IN GREAT MISFORTUNE (Gran Consuelo en la Mayor Desdicha, 1878)
This is a legend in verse of the tragic life of Columbus.
16. A FAREWELL DIALOGUE OF THE STUDENTS (Un Dialogo Alusive a la Despedida de los Colegiales)
This was the last poem written by Rizal in Ateneo which again amazed his teachers. It is a poignant poem of farewell to his classmates, written just before he graduated from the Ateneo Muncipal de Manila.
17. CHILD JESUS (Al Nino Jesus, November 1875) A translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin
Child-God, in a poor manger?
Does Fortune find you a stranger
from the moment of your birth?
Alas, of heavenly stock
now turned an earthly resident!
Do you not wish to be president
but the shepherd of your flock?
During his student days, the 14 year old Jose Rizal wrote “Al Niño Jesus” (Child Jesus), a brief religious ode which expressed his devotion to Catholicism.
18. VIRGIN MARY (A La Virgen Maria, to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage)
of suffering mortal: you are the fount whence springs
the current of solicitude that brings
unto our soil unceasing fecundation.
From your abode, enthroned on heaven's height,
in mercy deign to hear my cry of woe
and to the radiance of your mantle draw
my voice that rises with so swift a flight.
You are my mother, Mary, and shall be
my life, my stronghold, my defense most thorough;
and you shall be my guide on this wild sea.
If vice pursues me madly on the morrow,
if death harasses me with agony:
come to my aid and dissipate my sorrow!
The above undated poem was another religious writing Jose Rizal wrote in praise of the Virgin Mary, “A La Virgen Maria” (To the Virgin Mary).
19. TO THE PHILIPPINE YOUTH (A la Juventud Filipina, November 1879) A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin
Hold high the brow serene,
O youth, where now you stand;
Let the bright sheen
Of your grace be seen,
Fair hope of my fatherland!
Come now, thou genius grand,
And bring down inspiration;
With thy mighty hand,
Swifter than the wind's violation,
Raise the eager mind to higher station.
Come down with pleasing light
Of art and science to the fight,
O youth, and there untie
The chains that heavy lie,
Your spirit free to blight.
See how in flaming zone
Amid the shadows thrown,
The Spaniard'a holy hand
A crown's resplendent band
Proffers to this Indian land.
Thou, who now wouldst rise
On wings of rich emprise,
Seeking from Olympian skies
Songs of sweetest strain,
Softer than ambrosial rain;
Thou, whose voice divine
Rivals Philomel's refrain
And with varied line
Through the night benign
Frees mortality from pain;
Thou, who by sharp strife
Wakest thy mind to life ;
And the memory bright
Of thy genius' light
Makest immortal in its strength ;
And thou, in accents clear
Of Phoebus, to Apelles dear ;
Or by the brush's magic art
Takest from nature's store a part,
To fig it on the simple canvas' length ;
Go forth, and then the sacred fire
Of thy genius to the laurel may aspire ;
To spread around the fame,
And in victory acclaim,
Through wider spheres the human name.
Day, O happy day,
Fair Filipinas, for thy land!
So bless the Power to-day
That places in thy way
This favor and this fortune grand !
To the Philippine Youth
Unfold, oh timid flower!
Lift up your radiant brow,
This day, Youth of my native strand!
Your abounding talents show
Resplendently and grand,
Fair hope of my Motherland!
Soar high, oh genius great,
And with noble thoughts fill their mind;
The honor's glorious seat,
May their virgin mind fly and find
More rapidly than the wind.
Descend with the pleasing light
Of the arts and sciences to the plain,
Oh Youth, and break forthright
The links of the heavy chain
That your poetic genius enchain.
See that in the ardent zone,
The Spaniard, where shadows stand,
Doth offer a shining crown,
With wise and merciful hand
To the son of this Indian land.
You, who heavenward rise
On wings of your rich fantasy,
Seek in the Olympian skies
The tenderest poesy,
More sweet than divine honey;
You of heavenly harmony,
On a calm unperturbed night,
Philomel's match in melody,
That in varied symphony
Dissipate man's sorrow's blight;
You at th' impulse of your mind
The hard rock animate
And your mind with great pow'r consigned
Transformed into immortal state
The pure mem'ry of genius great;
And you, who with magic brush
On canvas plain capture
The varied charm of Phoebus,
Loved by the divine Apelles,
And the mantle of Nature;
Run ! For genius' sacred flame
Awaits the artist's crowning
Spreading far and wide the fame
Throughout the sphere proclaiming
With trumpet the mortal's name
Oh, joyful, joyful day,
The Almighty blessed be
Who, with loving eagerness
Sends you luck and happiness.
The above is a winning poem in 1879 submitted to the literary contest held by the Liceo Artistico-Literario (Artistic-Literary Lyceum) of Manila--a society of literary men and artists. The inspiring poem written by Jose Rizal at the age of eighteen was said to be of flawless form which aimed to implore the Filipinos to rise from indolence. It is said to be a classical piece of Philippine literature for reasons that (1) Spanish literary authorities recognize it as an impressive poem written in Spanish by a Filipino and (2) it was the foremost literary piece to display the nationalistic belief that Filipinos were the “fair hope of the Fatherland”
However, the poem hinted rebellion for the Spaniards. According to Bantug, one newspaper writer even said that the poet-doctor “had better devote his time to his doctoring than to his rhyming”.
20. ABD-EL-AZIS AND MOHAMMED (ABD-EL-AZIS Y MAHOMA, December 1879)
It was night: the moaning wind
Sighs as it kisses the towers tall
And on its wings carries mournfully
Thousands of confused noises agitating the space.
Aweful clouds bedim the peace
Of the dark night's beautiful star,
And a soft tint like a mantle of snow
Covers the fields that the Spaniard treads.
There, from the tall Moorish tow'r
Sings the owl on th' imposing peak,
Numberless evils and bloody fights
With fatidical accent foretells.
In the meanwhile on the soft bed
That the luxurious Moor makes of ivory,
Rest doth seek the weary, brave Abd-El-Azis,
Pleasant relief from the bygone" day.
Th' incense mild in silver tripods
That th' Arabian bark distills,
Burns and spreads intoxicating scent,
Of the sumptuous chamber soft delight.
Everything is silent : everyone sleeps ;
Only the sorrowful Moor keeps guard,
Contemplates the light that sadly
Penetrates through th' elegant arch.
But so sudden he beholds outlined
Dubious shadow that in the gentle light
Agitates him for a time, and his sullen face
Masculine contour acquires.
With a white turban covered in his head,
Animates his countenance a lengthy beard,
From his belt a curved cutlass hangs
Horribly dripping with ardent blood.
Like the mournful sound of hollow bronze
That deplores the agony of man,
Thus the sepulchral silence his voice
Ruffles, and the fatidical vision the Moor.
"Alas ! Alas ! It tells him, and resounded profound
Th' echo of his voice calm and cold,
Terrible echo that touches the soul,
Like the remembrance of a friendly voice.
"Alas, poor me ! Pity the nation brave
That the sandy Lybia saw on her breast !
Alas, poor Koran, sacred patrimony
That to the Muslim Allah once bequeathed !
Vainly did you conquer the flags
Of the Pow'rful Christian of Guadalete
On the green banks, for again
Raises he rebellious his captive head.
Pelayo, the great Pelayo, the noble Goth,
The illustrious son of fierce Favila,
On the hard rocks of Covadonga
Fights the forces of the Moor.
The Cross, the Cross, insignia idolized,
Follows its army that to conquer aspires:
Mary goes with them with her cloak
Shelters she with love the bodies weak.
But don't fear, for triumphant ever be
Will the Muslim in the combat crude,
And of no avail her protection would be
For only God helps the faithful with his arm.
But alas! If you sleep in the arms of delight
And my heavenly precepts you ignore
The throne that sustained Tarif will fall
To the rough blow of the sword profane
Like the overflowing river your blood
Will inundate the vales and fields
And the flourishing Iberia's ground
Th' Arab's cold tomb will become ;
And in numberless battles in eternal war,
Into your breasts will plunge
The proud Spaniard's knife, and the vile dust
Like the accursed .serpent you'll bite ;
And you'll yield the ground inch by inch
Fertilized by your blessed blood ;
The weak women and children slaves will be
In their sad affliction ;
Hurled again to the desert cruel,
Bitter tears for peace that was lost
You will shed, and in shameful torment
You will count the days of your return.
And rejoicing proudly at your distress
In their perfidy A thousand ships will arm,
And the beautiful ground where I rest in peace
They will threaten with fury never seen.
Arm yourself ! Run ! Quickly fly !
Cast your veteran army with the fight
And to the wind let the son'rous trumpet release
Warlike accent, to glory a toast.
Trembles the ground beneath the saddle light
Of the fiery steed that Arabia breeds
And like showy murex in burning red
Infidel blood tints your scimitar.
Before the Moon that my insignia displays
Make the Cross its fortress yield,
And forever victorious may they shine
The beneficent doctrines of the Koran."
Said he ; and like a lightly rising smoke
That a strong wind rapidly dissipates,
Thus disappeared the terrible fright
That the vision divine caused the Moor.
This epic poem was written by Jose Rizal in 1879 and declaimed by Manuel Fernandez on the night of December 8, 1879 in honor of the Ateneo’s Patroness.
It recalls the struggle between the Spaniards and the Moors in Spain.
21. To The Philippines, February 1880
A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin
as gracious and as pure as the break of dawn
when darling clouds take on a sapphire tone,
sleeps a goddess on the Indian shore.
The small waves of the sonorous sea assail
her feet with ardent, amorous kisses, while
the intellectual West adores her smile;
and the old hoary Pole, her flower veil.
My Muse, most enthusiastic and elate,
sings to her among naiads and undines;
I offer her my fortune and my fate.
With myrtle, purple roses, and flowering greens
and lilies, crown her brow immaculate,
O artists, and exalt the Philippines!
This poem was written by Jose Rizal to serve as a reminder for Filipinos to love their motherland.
22. Al M.R.P. PABLO RAMON, 1881
Sweet is the breeze that at the break of dawn
The calyx of fragrant flowers shakes,
Alluring odors soft they spread
O'er the countryside ;
The placid murmur is sweet and soft
Of the gentle rivulet that with joy
Throws silv'ry foam on sands of gold
And drops of water white ;
Sweet are the trills of musical birds
Soft is th' aroma of motley flow'rs
And the perfumes of th' aurora white
Mellow and sweet;
But your name, oh, Father idolized,
Instills the purest joy in our breast,
Whence it diffuses most mellow rays
Of eternal glow.
The Almighty's hand affectionate
You show us, Father, whose love sincere
Throughout the bitter road of life
Does guide us with love.
Alas! What will become of youthful toil
That restlessly burns in our breast,
Without the guidance or your kind hand,
Your love, your zeal?
We're, Father, your sons; you do guide us
To the homes of eternal happiness.
The mind will not be disturbed by fright
With a pilot like you.
The great Apostle whose name you bear,
Whose footsteps with enthusiasm you trail,
With heavenly favor shower you,
A sacred treasure.
23. GOODBYE TO LEONOR, 1882 (A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin)
And so it has arrived -- the fatal instant,
the dismal injunction of my cruel fate;
so it has come at last -- the moment, the date,
when I must separate myself from you.
Goodbye, Leonor, goodbye! I take my leave,
leaving behind with you my lover's heart!
Goodbye, Leonor: from here I now depart.
O Melancholy absence! Ah, what pain!
Leonor was only 13 years of age when she met Jose Rizal in Dagupan. Due to the strong disapproval of Leonor’s parents of their love affair, they kept in touch by sending letters and photographs of each other. Their relationship lasted for over a decade. However, the marriage of Leonor to Henry Kipping brought great sadness to Rizal. Hence, the creation of this sorrowful poem for his lady love.
24. They Ask Me for Verses (Me Piden Versos, October 1882) A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin
They bid me strike the lyre
so long now mute and broken,
but not a note can I waken
nor will my muse inspire!
She stammers coldly and babbles
when tortured by my mind;
she lies when she laughs and thrills
as she lies in her lamentation,
for in my sad isolation
my soul nor frolics nor feels.
There was a time, 'tis true,
but now that time has vanished
when indulgent love or friendship
called me a poet too.
Now of that time there lingers
hardly a memory,
as from a celebration
some mysterious refrain
that haunts the ears will remain
of the orchestra's actuation.
A scarce-grown plant I seem,
uprooted from the Orient,
where perfume is the atmosphere
and where life is a dream.
O land that is never forgotten!
And these have taught me to sing:
the birds with their melody,
the cataracts with their force
and, on the swollen shores,
the murmuring of the sea.
While in my childhood days
I could smile upon her sunshine,
I felt in my bosom, seething,
a fierce volcano ablaze.
A poet was I, for I wanted
with my verses, with my breath,
to say to the swift wind: "Fly
and propagate her renown!
Praise her from zone to zone,
from the earth up to the sky!"
I left her! My native hearth,
a tree despoiled and shriveled,
no longer repeats the echo
of my old songs of mirth.
I sailed across the vast ocean,
craving to change my fate,
not noting, in my madness,
that, instead of the weal I sought,
the sea around me wrought
the spectre of death and sadness.
The dreams of younger hours,
love, enthusiasm, desire,
have been left there under the skies
of that fair land of flowers.
Oh, do not ask of my heart
that languishes, songs of love!
For, as without peace I tread
this desert of no surprises,
I feel that my soul agonizes
and that my spirit is dead.
Rizal had been a member of Circulo Hispano-Filipino (Hispano-Philippine Circle), a society of Spaniards and Filipinos in Madrid. In the New Year’s Eve reception of the Madrid Filipinos held in 1882, he declaimed his written “Me Piden Versos”, a poem he wrote due to the request of the society’s members. In March 31, 1889, this poem was published in the La Solidaridad.
25. To Miss C.O. y R., 1883
A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin
Why ask for those unintellectual verses
that once, insane with grief, I sang aghast?
Or are you maybe throwing in my face
my rank ingratitude, my bitter past?
Why resurrect unhappy memories
now when the heart awaits from love a sign,
or call the night when day begins to smile,
not knowing if another day will shine?
You wish to learn the cause of this dejection
delirium of despair that anguish wove?
You wish to know the wherefore of such sorrows,
and why, a young soul, I sing not of love?
Oh, may you never know why! For the reason
brings melancholy but may set you laughing.
Down with my corpse into the grave shall go
another corpse that's buried in my stuffing!
Something impossible, ambition, madness,
dreams of the soul, a passion and its throes
Oh, drink the nectar that life has to offer
and let the bitter dregs in peace repose!
Again I feel the impenetrable shadows
shrouding the soul with the thick veils of night:
a mere bud only, not a lovely flower,
because it's destitute of air and light
Behold them: my poor verses, my damned brood
and sorrow suckled each and every brat!
Oh, they know well to what they owe their being,
and maybe they themselves will tell you what.
Jose Rizal, though not really a handsome man in today’s perspective, attracts ladies easily. Perhaps his exceptional talents and charisma made him attractive to women. Furthermore, his gift of poetry made him even more likable. He composed a poem entitled “To Miss C.O. y R” to express his admiration to Consuelo Ortiga y Perez, the beautiful daughter of Don Pablo Ortiga y Rey. Nevertheless, he did not pursue his feelings for her due to the fact that he was still engaged to Leonor Rivera then and his friend, Eduardo de Lete also had feelings for Consuelo.
26. THE FLOWERS OF HEIDELBERG (A los Flores de Heidelberg , April 1886) A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin
Go to my country, go, O foreign flowers,
sown by the traveler along the road,
and under that blue heaven
that watches over my loved ones,
recount the devotion
the pilgrim nurses for his native sod!
Go and say say that when dawn
opened your chalices for the first time
beside the icy Neckar,
you saw him silent beside you,
thinking of her constant vernal clime.
Say that when dawn
which steals your aroma
was whispering playful love songs to your young
sweet petals, he, too, murmured
canticles of love in his native tongue;
that in the morning when the sun first traces
the topmost peak of Koenigssthul in gold
and with a mild warmth raises
to life again the valley, the glade, the forest,
he hails that sun, still in its dawning,
that in his country in full zenith blazes.
And tell of that day
when he collected you along the way
among the ruins of a feudal castle,
on the banks of the Neckar, or in a forest nook.
Recount the words he said
as, with great care,
between the pages of a worn-out book
he pressed the flexible petals that he took.
Carry, carry, O flowers,
my love to my loved ones,
peace to my country and its fecund loam,
faith to its men and virtue to its women,
health to the gracious beings
that dwell within the sacred paternal home.
When you reach that shore,
deposit the kiss I gave you
on the wings of the wind above
that with the wind it may rove
and I may kiss all that I worship, honor and love!
But O you will arrive there, flowers,
and you will keep perhaps your vivid hues;
but far from your native heroic earth
to which you owe your life and worth,
your fragrances you will lose!
For fragrance is a spirit that never can forsake
and never forgets the sky that saw its birth.
At some time in his life, Jose Rizal stayed in Heidelberg, a city in the state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany. In 1887, the 25-year old Rizal completed his eye specialization under the renowned Prof. Otto Becker in the University of Heidelberg. In spring, flowers bloom along the banks of Neckar River. Rizal admired particulary the light blue spring flower “forget-me-not”. These beautiful flowers made him think of their flowers in Calamba. Amid his homesickness of his hometown in the spring of 1886, he came up with a nice poem “A Las Flores de Heidelberg” (To the Flowers of Heidelberg) which expresses prayer for the wellbeing of his native land.
27. THE SONG OF MARIA CLARA, 1887
(A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin)
Sweet the hours in the native country,
where friendly shines the sun above!
Life is the breeze that sweeps the meadows;
tranquil is death; most tender, love.
Warm kisses on the lips are playing
as we awake to mother's face:
the arms are seeking to embrace her,
the eyes are smiling as they gaze.
How sweet to die for the native country,
where friendly shines the sun above!
Death is the breeze for him who has
no country, no mother, and no love!
This poem forms part of the Jose Rizal’s infamous novel, Noli Me Tangere. In the novel, one of the main characters, Maria, upon the insistent requests of her friends, rendered a beautiful song with the accompaniment of the harp.
28. Hymn to Labor, 1888
(A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin)
For the Motherland in war,
For the Motherland in peace,
Will the Filipino keep watch,
He will live until life will cease!
Now the East is glowing with light,
Go! To the field to till the land,
For the labour of man sustains
Fam'ly, home and Motherland.
Hard the land may turn to be,
Scorching the rays of the sun above...
For the country, wife and children
All will be easy to our love.
Go to work with spirits high,
For the wife keeps home faithfully,
Inculcates love in her children
For virtue, knowledge and country.
When the evening brings repose,
On returning joy awaits you,
And if fate is adverse, the wife,
Shall know the task to continue.
Hail! Hail! Praise to labour,
Of the country wealth and vigor!
For it brow serene's exalted,
It's her blood, life, and ardor.
If some youth would show his love
Labor his faith will sustain :
Only a man who struggles and works
Will his offspring know to maintain.
Teach, us ye the laborious work
To pursue your footsteps we wish,
For tomorrow when country calls us
We may be able your task to finish.
And on seeing us the elders will say :
"Look, they're worthy 'f their sires of yore!"
Incense does not honor the dead
As does a son with glory and valor.
Jose Rizal wrote the poem “Himno Al Trabajo” before he left Calamba in 1888. This poem is in response to the request of his friends from Lipa, Batangas. They wanted a hymn to commemorate the elevation of Lipa from a town to a city in January 1888. Dedicated to the industrious folks of Lipa, the poem consisted of lyrical conversations of men, wives, maidens and children.
29. TO MY MUSE (A Mi, 1890, incl. in La Solidaridad)
(A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin)
No more is the muse invoked;
the lyre is out of fashion;
no poet cares to use it;
by other things are the dreamy
young inspired to passion.
Now if imagination
demands some poesies,
no Helicon is invoked;
one simply asks the garçon
for a cup of coffee please.
Instead of tender stanzas
that move the heart’s sympathy,
one now writes a poem
with a pen of steel,
a joke and an irony.
Muse that in the past
inspired me to sing of the throes
of love: go and repose.
What I need is a sword,
rivers of gold, and acrid prose.
I have a need to reason,
to meditate, to offer
combat, sometimes to weep;
for he who would love much
has also much to suffer.
Gone are the days of peace,
the days of love’s gay chorus,
when the flowers were enough
to alleviate the soul
of its sufferings and sorrows.
One by one from my side
go those I loved so much:
this one dead, that one married;
for fate seals with disaster
everything that I touch.
Flee also, muse! Go forth
and seek a region more fine,
for my country vows to give you
fetters for your laurels,
a dark jail for your shrine.
If to suppress the truth
be a shame, an impiety,
would it not then be madness
to keep you by my side
deprived of liberty?
Why sing when destiny calls
to serious meditation,
when a hurricane is roaring,
when to her sons complains
the Filipino nation?
And why sing if my song
will merely resound with a moaning
that will arouse no one,
the world being sick and tired
of someone else’s groaning?
For what, when among the people
who criticize and maltreat me,
arid the soul, the lips frigid,
there’s not a heart that beats
with mine, no heart to meet me?
Let sleep in the depths of oblivion
all that I feel, for there
it well should be, where the breath
cannot mix it with a rhyme
that evaporates in the air.
As sleep in the deep abyss
the monsters of the sea,
so let my tribulations,
my fancies and my lyrics
slumber, buried in me.
I know well that your favors
you lavish without measure
only during that time
of flowers and first loves
unclouded by displeasure.
Many years have passed
since with the ardent heat
of a kiss you burned my brow
That kiss has now turned cold,
I have even forgotten it!
But, before departing, say
that to your sublime address
ever responded in me
a song for those who grieve
and a challenge for those who oppress.
But, sacred imagination, once again
to warm my fantasy you will come nigh
when, faith being faded, broken the sword,
I cannot for my country die.
You’ll give me the mourning zither whose
chords vibrate with elegiac strains
to sweeten the sorrows of my nation
and muffle the clanking of her chains.
But if with laurel triumph crowns
our efforts, and my country, united,
like a queen of the East arises,
a white pearl rescued from the sty:
return then and intone with vigor
the sacred hymn of a new existence,
and we shall sing that strain in chorus “
though in the sepulcher we lie.
It was against a background of mental anguish in Brussels, during those sad days when he was worried by family disasters, Rizal wrote his pathetic poem, “A Mi…”(To my Muse).
Translation from Zaide
love shies away, joy stands apart.
Neglected by its leaders and defeated,
the country was subdued and it submitted.
But O the sun will shine again!
Itself the land shall disenchain;
and once more round the world with growing praise
shall sound the name of the Tagalog race.
We shall pour out our blood in a great flood
to liberate the parent sod;
but till that day arrives for which we weep,
love shall be mute, desire shall sleep.
The word “kundiman” connotes a traditional Filipino love song usually used by a man to serenade a woman being wooed. The above “Kundiman” is a poem written by Jose Rizal to express his intense love for his motherland. In the verses, we can see that Rizal is optimistic that the Philippines will be freed from inequality and oppression.
31. WATER AND FIRE (EL AGUA Y EL FUEGO, 1891)
Water are we, you say, and yourselves fire,
so let us be what we are
and co-exist without ire,
and may no conflagration ever find us at war.
but, rather, fused together by cunning science
within the cauldrons of the ardent breast,
without rage, without defiance,
do we form steam, fifth element indeed:
progress, life, enlightenment, and speed!
This is a very short composition excerpt from the novel El Filibusterismo, Chapter El Cubierta. In this poem, Jose Rizal expressed his great dream for the Philippines: its freedom and advancement.
32. SONG OF THE WANDERER/TRAVELER(EL CANTO DEL VIAJERO, 1895)
Dry leaf that flies at random
till it's seized by a wind from above:
so lives on earth the wanderer,
without north, without soul, without country or love!
Anxious, he seeks joy everywhere
and joy eludes him and flees,
a vain shadow that mocks his yearning
and for which he sails the seas.
Impelled by a hand invisible,
he shall wander from place to place;
memories shall keep him company
of loved ones, of happy days.
A tomb perhaps in the desert,
a sweet refuge, he shall discover,
by his country and the world forgotten
Rest quiet: the torment is over.
And they envy the hapless wanderer
as across the earth he persists!
Ah, they know not of the emptiness
in his soul, where no love exists.
The pilgrim shall return to his country,
shall return perhaps to his shore;
and shall find only ice and ruin,
perished loves, and gravesnothing more.
Begone, wanderer! In your own country,
a stranger now and alone!
Let the others sing of loving,
who are happybut you, begone!
Begone, wanderer! Look not behind you
nor grieve as you leave again.
Begone, wanderer: stifle your sorrows!
the world laughs at another's pain.
There came a time in Cuba where there was a raging yellow fever epidemic and they got short of physicians to attend to the needs of the Cuban people. Rizal’s friend, Blumentritt advised Jose Rizal who was then in exile in Dapitan, to offer his services as a military doctor in Cuba.
A letter from Governor Ramon Blanco notified him that his offer was accepted. Aside from the fact that his humanitarian offer was granted, he will also be able to travel to Europe and then to Cuba. His delight in the receiving the news led him in writing his “El Canto del Viajero” (The Song of the Traveler/Wanderer)
33. TO JOSEPHINE, 1895
Who to these shores have come
Looking for a nest, a home,
Like a wandering swallow;
If your fate is taking you
To Japan, China or Shanghai,
Don't forget that on these shores
A heart for you beats high.
Rizal dedicated this poem to an Irish woman, Josephine Bracken, whom we called his “dulce extranjera”(sweet foreigner). The poem somehow manifests that Rizal is “smitten” with Josephine.
When Josephine was eighteen years of age, she visited Manila for the purpose of seeing Dr. Jose Rizal to accompany her adoptive father for an eye operation. Then, she developed affection towards Dr. Rizal despite her stepfather’s objection. Despite several lady loves in the past, Josephine alone was the one Dr. Jose Rizal sought for marriage.
Josephine prematurely gave birth to an eight-month baby boy, who existed only for hours. Rizal’s lost son was named “Francisco” in honor of the hero’s father, Don Francisco.
34. HYMN TO TALISAY, October 1895
firm and faithful,
land, sea and air
The sandy beach of Dapitan
and the rocks of its lofty mountain
are your throne. O sacred asylum
where I passed my childhood days!
In your valley covered with flowers
and shaded by fruitful orchards,
our minds received their formation,
both body and soul, by your grace.
We are children, children born late,
but our spirits are fresh and healthy;
strong men shall we be tomorrow
that can guard a family right.
We are children that nothing frightens,
not the waves, nor the storm, nor the thunder;
the arm ready, the young face tranquil,
in a fix we shall know how to fight.
We ransack the sand in our frolic;
through the caves and the thickets we ramble;
our houses are built upon rocks;
our arms reach far and wide.
No darkness, and no dark night,
that we fear, no savage tempest;
if the devil himself comes forward,
we shall catch him, dead or alive!
Talisayon, the people call us:
a great soul in a little body;
in Dapitan and all its region
Talisay has no match!
Our reservoir is unequalled;
our precipice is a deep chasm;
and when we go rowing, our bancas
no banca in the world can catch!
We study the problems of science
and the history of the nation.
We speak some three or four languages;
faith and reason we span.
Our hands can wield at the same time
the knife, the pen and the spade,
the picket, the rifle, the sword
companions of a brave man.
Long live luxuriant Talisay!
Our voices exalt you in chorus,
clear star, dear treasure of childhood,
a childhood you guide and please.
In the struggles that await the grown man,
subject to pain and sorrow,
your memory shall be his amulet;
Rizal conducted his school at his home in Talisay, near Dapitan, where he had his farm and hospital. He frequently met with his boys underneath a talisay tree. A poem entitled “In honor of Talisay”, was written for his pupils to sing, that they know how to fight for their rights. The poem speaks about the place Talisay and how Rizal obtained a serene life in exile.
35. MY RETREAT (Mi Retiro, 1895)
(A Translation from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin)
Beside a spacious beach of fine and delicate sand
and at the foot of a mountain greener than a leaf,
I planted my humble hut beneath a pleasant orchard,
seeking in the still serenity of the woods
repose to my intellect and silence to my grief.
Its roof is fragile nipa; its floor is brittle bamboo;
its beams and posts are rough as rough-hewn wood can be;
of no worth, it is certain, is my rustic cabin;
but on the lap of the eternal mount it slumbers
and night and day is lulled by the crooning of the sea.
The overflowing brook, that from the shadowy jungle
descends between huge bowlders, washes it with its spray,
donating a current of water through makeshift bamboo pipes
that in the silent night is melody and music
and crystalline nectar in the noon heat of the day.
If the sky is serene, meekly flows the spring,
strumming on its invisible zither unceasingly;
but come the time of the rains, and an impetuous torrent
spills over rocks and chasms hoarse, foaming and aboil
to hurl itself with a frenzied roaring toward the sea.
The barking of the dog, the twittering of the birds,
the hoarse voice of the kalaw are all that I hear;
there is no boastful man, no nuisance of a neighbor
to impose himself on my mind or to disturb my passage;
only the forests and the sea do I have near.
The sea, the sea is everything! Its sovereign mass
brings to me atoms of a myriad faraway lands;
its bright smile animates me in the limpid mornings;
and when at the end of day my faith has proven futile,
my heart echoes the sound of its sorrow on the sands.
At night it is a mystery! Its diaphanous element
is carpeted with thousands and thousands of lights that climb;
the wandering breeze is cool, the firmament is brilliant,
the waves narrate with many a sigh to the mild wind
histories that were lost in the dark night of time.
‘Tis said they tell of the first morning on the earth,
of the first kiss with which the sun inflamed her breast,
when multitudes of beings materialized from nothing
to populate the abyss and the overhanging summits
and all the places where that quickening kiss was pressed.
But when the winds rage in the darkness of the night
and the unquiet waves commence their agony,
across the air move cries that terrify the spirit,
a chorus of voices praying, a lamentation that seems
to come from those who, long ago, drowned in the sea.
Then do the mountain ranges on high reverberate;
the trees stir far and wide, by a fit of trembling seized;
the cattle moan; the dark depths of the forest resound;
their spirits say that they are on their way to the plain,
summoned by the dead to a mortuary feast.
The wild night hisses, hisses, confused and terrifying;
one sees the sea afire with flames of green and blue;
but calm is re-established with the approach of dawning
and forthwith an intrepid little fishing vessel
begins to navigate the weary waves anew.
So pass the days of my life in my obscure retreat;
cast out of the world where once I dwelt: such is my rare
good fortune; and Providence be praised for my condition:
a disregarded pebble that craves nothing but moss
to hide from all the treasure that in myself I bear.
I live with the remembrance of those that I have loved
and hear their names still spoken, who haunt my memory;
some already are dead, others have long forgotten
but what does it matter? I live remembering the past
and no one can ever take the past away from me.
It is my faithful friend that never turns against me,
that cheers my spirit when my spirit’s a lonesome wraith,
that in my sleepless nights keeps watch with me and prays
with me, and shares with me my exile and my cabin,
and, when all doubt, alone infuses me with faith.
Faith do I have, and I believe the day will shine
when the Idea shall defeat brute force as well;
and after the struggle and the lingering agony
a voice more eloquent and happier than my own
will then know how to utter victory’s canticle.
I see the heavens shining, as flawless and refulgent
Jose Rizal’s Essays and Articles
© 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog
THE NATIONAL HERO Dr. Jose Rizal composed several brilliant writings in his lifetime. These writings awakened the Filipino patriotism and paved the way for Philippine Revolution. Moreover, his writings were living proofs that “The pen is mightier than the sword.” The following are some of his timeless articles:
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Articles in Diariong Tagalog
“El Amor Patrio” (The Love of Country)
This was the first article Rizal wrote in the Spanish soil. Written in the summer of 1882, it was published in Diariong Tagalog in August. He used the pen name “Laong Laan” (ever prepared) as a byline for this article and he sent it to Marcelo H. Del Pilar for Tagalog translation.
Written during the Spanish colonization and reign over the Philippine islands, the article aimed to establish nationalism and patriotism among the natives. Rizal extended his call for the love of country to his fellow compatriots in Spain, for he believed that nationalism should be exercised anywhere a person is.
“Revista De Madrid” (Review of Madrid)
This article written by Rizal on November 29, 1882 wasunfortunatelyreturned to him because Diariong Tagalog had ceased publications for lack of funds.
Articles in La Solidaridad
“Los Agricultores Filipinos” (The Filipino Farmers)
This essay dated March 25, 1889 was the first article of Rizal published in La Solidaridad. In this writing, he depicted the deplorable conditions of the Filipino farmers in the Philippines, hence the backwardness of the country.
“A La Defensa” (To La Defensa)
This was in response to the anti-Filipino writing by Patricio de la Escosura published by La Defensa on March 30, 1889 issue. Written on April 30, 1889, Rizal’s article refuted the views of Escosura, calling the readers’ attention to the insidious influences of the friars to the country.
“Los Viajes” (Travels)
Published in the La Solidaridad on May 15, 1889, this article tackled the rewards gained by the people who are well-traveled to many places in the world.
“La Verdad Para Todos” (The Truth for All)
This was Rizal’s counter to the Spanish charges that the natives were ignorant and depraved. On May 31, 1889, it was published in the La Solidaridad.
"Vicente Barrantes’ Teatro Tagalo”
The first installment of Rizal’s “Vicente Barrantes” was published in the La Solidaridad on June 15, 1889. In this article, Rizal exposed Barrantes’ lack of knowledge on the Tagalog theatrical art.
“Defensa Del Noli”
The manuscripts of the “Defensa del Noli” was written on June 18, 1889. Rizal sent the article to Marcelo H. Del Pilar, wanting it to be published by the end of that month in the La Solidaridad.
“Verdades Nuevas”(New Facts/New Truths)
In this article dated July 31, 1889, Rizal replied to the letter of Vicente Belloc Sanchez which was published on July 4, 1889 in ‘La Patria’, a newspaper in Madrid. Rizal addressed Sanchez’s allegation that provision of reforms to the Philippines would devastate the diplomatic rule of the Catholic friars.
“Una Profanacion”(A Desecration/A Profanation)
Published on July 31, 1889, this article mockingly attacked the friars for refusing to give Christian burial to Mariano Herbosa, Rizal’s brother in law, who died of cholera in May 23, 1889. Being the husband of Lucia Rizal (Jose’s sister), Herbosa was denied of burial in the Catholic cemetery by the priests.
Dated August 15, 1889, this was Rizal’s witty defense of Blumentritt from the libelous attacks of his enemies.
Published on September 15, 1889, this article countered the biased article entitled “Old Truths” which was printed in La Patria on August 14, 1889. “Old Truths” ridiculed those Filipinos who asked for reforms.
The Spanish Pablo Mir Deas attacked Antonio Luna in the Barcelona newspaper “El Pueblo Soberano”. As Rizal’s defense of Luna, he wrote this article which was published on November 30, 1889.
“Llanto Y Risas” (Tears and Laughter)
Dated November 30, 1889, this article was a condemnation of the racial prejudice of the Spanish against the brown race. Rizal remembered that he earned first prize in a literary contest in 1880. He narrated nonetheless how the Spaniard and mestizo spectators stopped their applause upon noticing that the winner had a brown skin complexion.
“Filipinas Dentro De Cien Anos” (The Philippines within One Hundred Years)
This was serialized in La Solidaridad on September 30, October 31, December 15, 1889 and February 15, 1890. In the articles, Rizal estimated the future of the Philippines in the span of a hundred years and foretold the catastrophic end of Spanish rule in Asia. He ‘prophesied’ Filipinos’ revolution against Spain, winning their independence, but later the Americans would come as the new colonizer
The essay also talked about the glorious past of the Philippines, recounted the deterioration of the economy, and exposed the causes of natives’ sufferings under the cruel Spanish rule. In the essay, he cautioned the Spain as regards the imminent downfall of its domination. He awakened the minds and the hearts of the Filipinos concerning the oppression of the Spaniards and encouraged them to fight for their right.
Part of the essays reads, “History does not record in its annals any lasting domination by one people over another, of different races, of diverse usages and customs, of opposite and divergent ideas. One of the two had to yield and succumb.” The Philippines had regained its long-awaited democracy and liberty some years after Rizal’s death. This was the realization of what the hero envisioned in this essay.
Dated January 15, 1890, this article was the hero’s reply to Governor General Weyler who told the people in Calamba that they “should not allow themselves to be deceived by the vain promises of their ungrateful sons.” The statement was made as a reaction to Rizal’s project of relocating the oppressed and landless Calamba tenants to North Borneo.
“Sobre La Nueva Ortografia De La Lengua Tagala” (On The New Orthography of The Tagalog Language)
Rizal expressed here his advocacy of a new spelling in Tagalog. In this article dated April 15, 1890, he laid down the rules of the new Tagalog orthography and, with modesty and sincerity, gave the credit for the adoption of this new orthography to Dr. Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, author of the celebrated work “El Sanscrito en la Lengua Tagala” (Sanskrit in the Tagalog Language) published in Paris, 1884.
“I put this on record,” wrote Rizal, “so that when the history of this orthography is traced, which is already being adopted by the enlightened Tagalists, that what is Caesar’s be given to Caesar. This innovation is due solely to Dr. Pardo de Tavera’s studies on Tagalismo. I was one of its most zealous propagandists.”
“Sobre La Indolencia De Los Filipinas” (The Indolence of the Filipinos)
This logical essay is a proof of the national hero’s historical scholarship. The essay rationally countered the accusations by Spaniards that Filipinos were indolent (lazy) during the Spanish reign. It was published in La Solidaridad in five consecutive issues on July (15 and 31), August (1 and 31) and September 1, 1890.
Rizal argued that Filipinos are innately hardworking prior to the rule of the Spaniards. What brought the decrease in the productive activities of the natives was actually the Spanish colonization. Rizal explained the alleged Filipino indolence by pointing to these factors: 1) the Galleon Trade destroyed the previous links of the Philippines with other countries in Asia and the Middle East, thereby eradicating small local businesses and handicraft industries; 2) the Spanish forced labor compelled the Filipinos to work in shipyards, roads, and other public works, thus abandoning their agricultural farms and industries; 3) many Filipinos became landless and wanderers because Spain did not defend them against pirates and foreign invaders; 4) the system of education offered by the colonizers was impractical as it was mainly about repetitive prayers and had nothing to do with agricultural and industrial technology; 5) the Spaniards were a bad example as negligent officials would come in late and leave early in their offices and Spanish women were always followed by servants; 6) gambling like cockfights was established, promoted, and explicitly practiced by Spanish government officials and friars themselves especially during feast days; 7) the crooked system of religion discouraged the natives to work hard by teaching that it is easier for a poor man to enter heaven; and 8) the very high taxes were discouraging as big part of natives’ earnings would only go to the officials and friars.
Moreover, Rizal explained that Filipinos were just wise in their level of work under topical climate. He explained, “violent work is not a good thing in tropical countries as it is would be parallel to death, destruction, annihilation. Rizal concluded that natives’ supposed indolence was an end-product of the Spanish colonization.
Other Rizal’s articles which were also printed in La Solidaridad were “A La Patria” (November 15, 1889), “Sin Nobre”(Without Name) (February 28, 1890), and “Cosas de Filipinas”(Things about the Philippines) (April 30, 1890).
Historical Commentaries Written in London
This historical commentary was written by Rizal in London on December 6, 1888.
“Acerca de Tawalisi de Ibn Batuta”
This historical commentaryis believed to form part of ‘Notes’ (written incollaboration with A.B. Meyer and F. Blumentritt) on a Chinese code in the Middle Ages, translated from the German by Dr. Hirth. Written on January 7, 1889, the article was about the “Tawalisi” which refers to the northern part of Luzon or to any of the adjoining islands.
It was also in London where Rizal penned the following historical commentaries: “La Political Colonial On Filipinas” (Colonial Policy In The Philippines), “Manila En El Mes De Diciembre” (December , 1872), “Historia De La Familia Rizal De Calamba” (History Of The Rizal Family Of Calamba), and“Los Pueblos Del Archipelago Indico (The People’s Of The Indian Archipelago)
Other Writings in London
“La Vision Del Fray Rodriguez” (The Vision of Fray Rodriguez)
Jose Rizal, upon receipt of the news concerning Fray Rodriguez’ bitter attack on his novel Noli Me Tangere, wrote this defense under his pseudonym “Dimas Alang.” Published in Barcelona, it is a satire depicting a spirited dialogue between the Catholic saint Augustine and Rodriguez. Augustine, in the fiction, told Rodriguez that he (Augustine) was commissioned by God to tell him (Rodriguez) of his stupidity and his penance on earth that he (Rodriguez) shall continue to write more stupidity so that all men may laugh at him. In this pamphlet, Rizal demonstrated his profound knowledge in religion and his biting satire.
“To The Young Women of Malolos”
Originally written in Tagalog, this famous essay directly addressed to the women of Malolos, Bulacan was written by Rizal as a response to Marcelo H. Del Pilar’s request.
Rizal was greatly impressed by the bravery of the 20 young women of Malolos who planned to establish a school where they could learn Spanish despite the opposition of Felipe Garcia, Spanish parish priest of Malolos. The letter expressed Rizal’s yearning that women be granted the same chances given to men in terms of education. In the olden days, young women were not educated because of the principle that they will soon be wives and their primary career would be to take care of the home and children. Rizal however advocated women’s right to education.
Below are some of the points mentioned by Rizal in his letter to the young women of Malolos: 1) The priests in the country that time did not embody the true spirit of Christianity; 2) Private judgment should be used; 3) Mothers should be an epitome of an ideal woman who teaches her children to love God, country, and fellowmen; 4) Mothers should rear children in the service of the state and set standards of behavior for men around her;5) Filipino women must be noble, decent, and dignified and they should be submissive, tender, and loving to their respective husband; and 6) Young women must edify themselves, live the real Christian way with good morals and manners, and should be intelligent in their choice of a lifetime partner.
Writings in Hong Kong
“Ang Mga Karapatan Ng Tao” (The Rights Of Man)
This was Rizal’s Tagalog translation of “The Rights of Man” which was proclaimed by the French Revolution in 1789.
“A La Nacion Espanola”(To The Spanish Nation)
Written in 1891, this was Rizal’s appeal to Spain to rectify the wrongs which the Spanish government and clergy had done to the Calamba tenants.
“Sa Mga Kababayan” (To My Countrymen)
This writing written in December 1891 explained the Calamba agrarian situation.
“Una Visita A La Victoria Gaol” (A Visit To Victoria Gaol), March 2, 1892
On March 2, 1892,Rizal wrote this account of his visit to the colonial prison of Hong Kong. He contrasted in the article the harsh Spanish prison system with the modern and more humane British prison system.
“Colonisation Du British North Borneo, Par De Familles De Iles Philippines” (Colonization Of British North Borneo By Families From The Philippine Islands)
This was Rizal’s elucidation of his pet North Borneo colonization project.
“Proyecto De Colonization Del British North Borneo Por Los Filipinos” (Project Of The Colonization Of British North Borneo By The Filipinos)
In this writing, Rizal further discussed the ideas he presented in “Colonization of British North Borneo by Families from the Philippine Islands.”
“La Mano Roja” (The Red Hand)
This was a writing printed in sheet form. Written in Hong Kong, the article denounced the frequent outbreaks of fires in Manila.
“Constitution of The La Liga Filipina”
This was deemed the most important writing Rizal had made during his Hong Kong stay. Though it was Jose Ma. Basa who conceived the establishment of Liga Filipina (Philippine League), his friend and namesake Jose Rizal was the one who wrote its constitution and founded it.
Articles for Trubner’s Record
Due to the request of Rizal’s friend Dr. Reinhold Rost, the editor of Trubner’s Record (a journal devoted to Asian Studies), Rizal submitted two articles:
Specimens of Tagal Folklore
Published in May 1889, the article contained Filipino proverbs and puzzles.
Two Eastern Fables(June 1889)
It was a comparative study of the Japanese and Philippine folklore. In this essay, Jose Rizal compared the Filipino fable, “The Tortoise and the Monkey” to the Japanese fable “Saru Kani Kassen” (Battle of the Monkey and the Crab).
Citing many similarities in form and content, Rizal surmised that these two fables may have had the same roots in Malay folklore. This scholarly work received serious attention from other ethnologists, and became a topic at an ethnological conference.
Among other things, Rizal noticed that both versions of the fable tackled about morality as both involve the eternal battle between the weak and the powerful. The Filipino version however had more philosophy and plainness of form whereas the Japanese counterpart had more civilization and diplomacy.
“Pensamientos De Un Filipino” (Reflections of A Filipino)
Jose Rizal wrote this in Madrid, Spain from 1883-1885. It spoke of a liberal minded and anti-friar Filipino who bears penalties such as an exile.
This was a witty satire authored by “Dimas Alang” (one of the hero’s pen names) ridiculing the Catholic monk Font, one of the priests who masterminded the banning of the “Noli”. Published in booklet form in Barcelona, Spain, it narrated in a funny way the telephone conversation between Font and the provincial friar of the San Agustin Convent in Manila.
This pamphlet showed not only Rizal’s cleverness but also his futuristic vision. Amazingly, Rizal had envisaged that overseas telephonic conversations could be carried on—something which was not yet done during that time (Fall of 1889). It was only in 1901, twelve years after Rizal wrote the “Por Telefono,” when the first radio-telegraph signals were received by Marconi across the Atlantic.
“La Instruccion” (The Town Schools In The Philippines)
Using his penname “Laong Laan”, Rizal assessed in this essay the elementary educational system in the Philippines during his time. Having observed the educational systems in Europe, Rizal found the Spanish-administered education in his country poor and futile. The hero thus proposed reforms and suggeted a more significant and engaging system.
Rizal for instance pointed out that there was a problem in the mandated medium of instruction—the colonizers’ language (Spanish) which was not perfectly understood by the natives. Rizal thus favored Philippine languages for workbooks and instructions.
The visionary (if not prophetic) thinking of Rizal might have been working (again) when he wrote the essay. Interestingly, his call for educational reforms, especially his stand on the use of the local languages for instruction, is part of the battle cry and features of today’s K to 12 program in the Philippines. (© 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog)
Jensen DG. Mañebog, the contributor, is a book author and professorial lecturer in the graduate school of a state university in Metro Manila. His unique textbooks and e-books on Rizal (available online) comprehensively tackle, among others, the respective life of Rizal’s parents, siblings, co-heroes, and girlfriends. (e-mail:email@example.com)
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