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Annotation to Morga

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  • September 17, 2012
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Dr. José Rizal's annotation of Antonio Morga's "Historical Events of the Philippines".1609

In 1889-1890, Dr. José Rizal spent several months in London first, to do his historical research on pre-colonial Philippines and second, to improve his English language skills.  He lived  as a boarder with the Beckett family on 37 Chalcot Crescent,  Primrose Hill, Camden town, Greater London.  Today, if you visit London, you will see a Rizal plaque on this building's façade.  It announces proudly:  Dr. Jose Rizal. 1861-1896, Writer, and National Hero of the Philippines lived here.  Rizal had a burning desire to know exactly the conditions of the Philippines when the Spaniards came ashore to the islands.   His theory was the country was economically self-sufficient and prosperous.  Rizal entertained the idea that it had a lively and vigorous community enriched with the  collective and sensitive art and culture of the native population.  He believed the conquest of the Spaniards contributed in part to the decline of the Philippine's rich tradition and culture. In order to support this argument, he had to find out a credible account of the Philippines before and at the initial Spanish encounter.  According to Dr. Ferdinand Blumentritt, the noted Filipinologist, and Rizal's friend,  the Spanish historian Dr. Antonio Morga  wrote  Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas which was  published in Mexico in 1609.  Many scholars considered this history of the Philippines a much better and honest description of  the conditions in the country pertaining to the Spanish conquest.  Morga writes on his dedication page:  ....this small book ....is a faithful narrative, devoid of any artifice and ornament....regarding the discovery, conquest and conversion of the Philippine Islands, together with the various events in which they have taken part...specifically describing their original condition... Rizal spent his entire stay in that fog-draped city of London at the British Museum's reading room....