Rizal was phenomenonal. He earned his first degree at 16 in the Philippines and never looked back. At 18 he ran away to Europe and earned a medical degree in Spain, and followed it up with degrees in France. While in Europe and in many in other countries during his travels around the world, he taught himself fluency in Spanish, German, English, and French and he did it all in a short 35 years of life. From childhood, he was a prolific writer and he remained so right up until minutes before being a martyr.
Rizal’s reputation as a hero is well earned. He hated how the Spanish treated the natives of the Philippines, whom the Spanish called Indios. The novels and essays he wrote were aimed mostly at Spaniards back in Spain. His objective was to get them to stop the practices of Spanish friars and governors in colonial Philippines. I believe he was convinced that if the Spaniards in Europe knew of the cruelty and injustice going on in their colony for years, that they would finally interfere and stop the merciless brutality that had gone on for centuries. In Spain, Spaniards treated Rizal with respect and admiration, but for some reason the Spaniards in the Philippines were entirely different. They did not hesitate to use torture, terror and execution to keep their Indios under their complete control, and that included controlling Rizal as well.
Spanish priests who were called friars, who called the shots in his home land. after years away, he returned to Manila and almost immediately the friars found a means to get him out of the way. He was found guilty of spreading sedition based on his anti-friar novels written while he was overseas. These novels were not intended to cause a Spanish overthrow, but to show decent, liberal-minded Spaniards how unjust things were back in his beloved islands. Jose was found guilty and exiled hundreds of miles away to the very fringes of the archipelago to the tiny town of Dapitan on Mindanao. He spent years there, and during the...
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