Republie of the Philippines
Department of Education & Culture
NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION
FERDINAND E. MARCOS
Republic of the Philippines
JUAN L. MANUEL
Secretary of Education & Culture
ESTEBAN A. DE OCAMPO
TEODORO A. AGONCILLO
HORACIO DE LA COSTA, S. J.
EMILIO AGUILAR CRUZ
GODOFREDO L. ALCASID
SERAFIN D. QUIASON
FLORDELIZA K. MILITANTE
RAMON G. CONCEPCION
Chief, Administrative Division
JOSE C. DAYRIT
Chief, Research &
BELEN V. FORTU
Chief, Budget & Fiscal Division
AVELINA M. CASTAÑEDA
Chief, Special & Commemorative
EULOGIO M. LEAÑO
Chief Historical Writer-Translator
& Publications Officer
ROSAURO G. UNTIVERO
Historical Researcher & Editor
GENEROSO M. ILANO
JOSE RIZAL (1861-1896)
THE FIRST FILIPINO
A Biography of José Rizal
LEÓN Ma. GUERRERO
with an introduction by
CARLOS QUI R INO
( Awarded First Prize in the Rizal Biography Contest
held under the auspices of the
José Rizal National Centennial Commission in 1961)
NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION
First Printing 1963
Second Printing 1965
Third Printing 1969
Fourth Printing 1971
Fifth Printing 1974
This Book is dedicated by the
the other Filipinos
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice,
Paint my picture truly like me, and not
flatter me at all ; but remark all those roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me.
— Oliver Cromwell.
Report me and my cause
aright. The rest is silence.
Shakespeare : OTHELLO
Like most Filipinos I was told about Rizal as a child,
and to me, like to most, he remained only a name.
In school I learned only that he had died for our
country, shot by the Spaniards. I read his two novels
in Spanish when I was still quite young, only half
understanding them, and half secretly because my pious
mother feared they would make me "lose my faith".
Then I translated his school journal and his poems
as a literary exercise. When I was commissioned by
a London publisher to translate his two novels and
to provide an introduction, I had perforce to write a
brief account of his life.
It was then I discovered that the way he died is
not so important as the way he lived, and, since his
life was essentially an apostleship, not so important
as what he thought and wrote.
Almost all the biographies of Rizal, including this
one, are written for Filipinos. This is a pity because
one cannot take a really objective view of the national
hero. On the other hand, he is practically a stranger
to the Filipinos of our times, a century after his birth,
and we can look at him with a certain freshness. He
is now as controversia) as when he was condemned
as a subversive agitator in the pay of foreign interests,
a corrupter of morals, a dissident from the established
Perhaps our generation of Filipinos, who have undergone the Japanese occupation and are subjected on all sides to the massive pressures of modern ideologies,
can best understand the problems of Rizal as a dissenter
in a conformist society, as a peace-loving man in an
age of violence, as a patriot who must lead the way
out of confusion. It is easier for us, than for the
optimistic generation of the 1910s and 1920s, to believe
in the terrors of the police state, the blunders and
excesses of governments with the best will in the would.
At the same time our generation of Filipinos do not
know the Philippines and the Spain of Rizal's time.
To write his biography it is necessary to read the history of Spain and to write the history of the Filipinos. I have tried to supply this lack of background, not,
I hope, to excess. I have also used Rizal's own...