Memorias de Un Estudiante de Manila
(Memoirs of a Student in Manila)
by P. Jacinto
This is the student memoirs or reminiscences of José Rizal. He wrote it from 1879 to 1881, from the age of 17 to 20. The English translation is by the José Rizal National Centennial Commission. It is taken from the book José Rizal: Life, Works, and Writings of a Genius, Writer, Scientist, and National Hero by Gregorio F. Zaide and Sonia M Zaide (Metro-Manila: National Book Store Publishers).
Chapter 1: My Birth - Early Years
I was born in Calamba on 19 June 1861, between eleven and midnight, a few days before full moon. It was a Wednesday and my coming out in this vale of tears would have cost my mother her life had she not vowed to the Virgin of Antipolo to take me to her sanctuary by way of pilgrimage.
All I remember of my early days is I don’t know how I found myself in a town with some scanty notions of the morning sun, of my parents, etc.
The education that I received since my earliest infancy was perhaps what has shaped my habits, like a jar that retains the odor of the body that it first held. I still remember the first melancholy nights that I spent on the terrace [azotea - Zaide] of our house as if they happened only yesterday -- nights full of the saddest poem that made impression of my mind, the stronger the more tempestuous my present situation is. I had a nurse [aya - Zaide] who loved me very much and who, in order to make me take supper (which I had on the terrace on moonlit nights), frightened me with the sudden apparition of some formidable asuang, [ghosts], of a frightful nuno, or parce-nobis, as she used to call an imaginary being similar to the Bu of the Europeans. They used to take me for a stroll to the gloomiest places and at night near the flowing river, in the shade of some tree, in the brightness of the chaste Diana. . . . . Thus was my heart nourished with somber and melancholic thoughts, which even when I was a child already wandered on the wings of fantasy in the lofty regions of the unknown.
I had nine sisters and one brother. My father, a model of fathers, had given us an educational commensurate with our small fortune, and through thrift he was able to build a stone house, buy another, and to erect a little nipa house in the middle of our orchard under the shade of banana trees and others. There the tasty ate [atis] displays its delicate fruits and bends its branches to save me the effort of reaching for them; the sweet santol, the fragrant and honeyed tampooy, the reddish macupa, here contend for supremacy; farther ay are the plum tree, the casuy, harsh and piquant, the beautiful tamarind, equally gratifying to the eyes and delightful to the palate, here the papaya tree spreads its broad leaves and attracts the birds with its enormous fruits, yonder at the nangca, the coffee tree, the orange tree, which perfumes the air with the aroma of its flowers; on this side are the iba, the balimbing, the pomegranate with its thick foliage and beautiful flowers that enchant the senses; here and there are found elegant and majestic palm trees loaded with enormous nuts, rocking its proud crown and beautiful fronds, the mistresses of the forests. Ah! It would be endless if I were to enumerate all our trees and entertain myself in naming them! At the close of the day numerous birds came from all parts, and I, still a child of thee years at the most, entertained myself by looking at them with unbelievable joy. The yellow caliauan, the maya of different varieties, the culae, the maria capra, the martin, all the species of pitpit, joined in a pleasant concert and intoned in varied chorus a hymn of farewell to the sun that was disappearing behind the tall mountains of my town. Then the clouds, through a whim of nature, formed a thousand figures that soon dispersed, as such beautiful days passed away also, leaving behind them only the flimsiest remembrances. Alas! Even now when I look out...
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