On February 28, 1888, a year after the publication of Noli Me Tangere, and six months after his arrival in the Philippines, José Rizal sailed from Manila again, by "advice" of the government. The letters he wrote back home show how his heart ached at going, yet his judgment told him that it was best for him to go. The phenomenal effect of Noli Me Tangere made it clear that Rizal could wield a mighty influence through his pen, but to write the truth he would have to go to some country where he would be free from spies or plots. The spot he chose was the Library of the British Museum, the greatest library in the world. Rizal's own story of his voyage to England, written to his friend Mariano Ponce after he reached London, will interest Filipinos and Americans alike. (01) Nearly every sentence of the first paragraph was packed with fateful significance: "When I set forth I was already ill, and soon became seasick. We reached Hong Kong, which delighted me. There I was introduced to some leading Spaniards, one of them Varanda, who was, they said, Secretary to General [Emilio] Terrero. I traveled about with him several days, especially on a trip which Varanda, Basa, and I took to Macao, to see that Portuguese colony; and to visit Mr. Lecaroz, in whose house we were guests. Lecaroz, Basa, and the other Filipinos of Hong Kong are partisans and promoters of the book Noli Me Tangere. In Hong Kong I investigated many important matters, for example concerning the riches of the Dominicans, concerning their missions, concerning the Augustinians, etc. There I came to know D. Balbino Mauricio, (02) an unfortunate man worthy of a better fate, and his acquaintanceship was useful for me, for it prepared me for a fate which may be much worse!" Let us pause to clarify several allusions:
(1) Varanda, the Spaniard, was under orders of the Spanish government not to leave Rizal out of his sight, and he seldom did.
José Maria Basa
(2) Mr. José Maria Basa had been exiled in 1872, a victim of Spanish vengeance for the uprising in Cavite, though he had not a shadow of guilt. A noble gentleman with a beautiful influence on Filipino youth, he became one of Rizal's most trusted friends from the time of this Hong Kong visit, and played a vital part in Rizal's career thereafter. (3) The study of the Dominicans which Rizal mentions, is to be remembered, because four years later a terrific arraignment of the wealth and greed of that society was found in his sister Lucia's baggage (That is, The Poor Friars), and led to Rizal's arrest, and ultimately to his execution. (4) Do not fail to notice the effect of D. Balbino Mauricio's suffering: "It prepared me for a fate which may be much worse!" From this time onward Rizal alludes frequently to a presentiment that tragedy lies ahead. He began to see that perhaps one way to save his country would be to go back and let himself be crucified for her.
O-Sei-San was a beautiful Japanese lady who Rizal courted briefly while in Japan
His letter continues:
"In about fifteen days I departed for Japan. I was quite seasick again, and arrived in Yokohama on February 28. A few minutes after I reached a hotel, before I had time to brush up, I received a notice that the Spanish chargé d'affaires was calling! They introduced themselves to me with much graciousness, extending me many offers, and proposing that I make my home at the Legation. After making a few excuses, I accepted frankly, for if at bottom they had a desire to watch me, I was not afraid to let them know what I did. I lived in the Legation a little over a month. I was examining some of Japan, at times alone, on other occasions accompanied by a member of the Legation, and sometimes by the interpreter. There I studied the Japanese, and also made a study of their theater. After several offers of employment, which I refused, I departed at length for America." Rizal modestly omits the fact that in that month he had learned to speak Japanese so well that he...
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