Letter: To the young Women of Malolos
London, 22 February 1889
TO MY COUNTRYWOMEN:
When I wrote the Noli me tangere I pondered long on whether or not courage was a common virtue of the young women of the country. Though I searched my memory diligently, though I recalled one by one all the young women I have known since childhood, only a few conformed to the ideal I longed for. It is true that many were endowed with sweet disposition, beautiful habits, gentle manners, modesty but withal were mingled complete deference and obedience to every work and request of the so-called fathers of the soul – as if the soul had any other father but God – due to excessive goodness, humility, or perhaps ignorance. They are like withered plants, sowed and grown in darkness. Though they may bloom, their flowers are without fragrance; though they may bear fruit, their fruit has no juice. However, now that news arrived here of what occurred in your town Malolos. I realized that I was wrong, and my joy was beyond bounds. I should not be blamed, for I did not know the town of Malolos nor its young women, except one Emilia and this one only by name. Now that you have responded to our vehement clamor for public welfare; now that you have shown a good example to you fellow young women who, like you, desire to have their eyes opened and to be lifted from their prostration, our hope is roused, now we are confident of victory. The Filipino woman no longer bows her head and bends her knees; her hope in the future is revived; gone is the mother who helps to keep her daughter in the dark, who educates her in self-contempt and moral annihilation. It is no longer the highest wisdom to bow the head to every unjust order, the highest goodness to smile at an insult, to seek solace in humble tear. You have found out that God’s command is different from that of the priest, that piety does not consist in prolonged kneeling, long prayers, large rosaries, soiled scapulars, but in good conduct, clean conscience and right thinking. You have discovered that it is not goodness to be too obedient to every desire and request of those who pose as little gods, but to obey what is reasonable and just, because blind obedience is the origin of crooked orders and in this case both parties sin. The head of the priest cannot say that he alone will be responsible for the wrong order because God gave each one his own mind and his own conscience so that he can distinguish between right and wrong. All are born without chains, free and no one can subject the will and spirit of another. Why would you submit to another your noble and free thought? It is cowardice and an error to believe that blind obedience is piety and arrogance to think and reflect. Ignorance is ignorance and not goodness and honor. God, fountain of wisdom, does not expect man, created in his image, to allow himself to be fooled and blinded. The gift of reason with which we are endowed must be brightened and utilized. An example is the father who gave each of his son a lamp to light his way in the darkness. Let them intensify its flame, take care of it, not extinguish it to depend on the light of others, but to help one another, seek each other’s counsel in the search of the way. He is exceedingly stupid and he can be blamed if he stumbles in following somebody else’s light, and the father could say to him: “What for did I give you a lamp of your own?” But one who stumbles by following his own light cannot be greatly blamed because perhaps his light is dim or else the road is very bad. The usual reply of those who want to fool others is this: He who depends on his own reason is arrogant. I believe that more arrogant is he who wishes to subject another’s will and dominate all men. More arrogant is he who poses as God, who pretends to understand every manifestation of God’s will. And exceedingly arrogant or blasphemous is he who attributes to God everything he says and desires and...