TO THE YOUNG WOMEN OF MALOLOS
On February 22, 1889, Rizal wrote the famous letter now known as “To the Young Women of Malolos” as per the request of Marcelo H. del Pilar. This famous letter was written by Rizal in Tagalog while he was residing in London. The story behind this letter is as follows: On December 12, 1888, a group of 20 young women from Malolos petitioned Governor-General Weyler for permission to open a “night school” so that they could study Spanish under Teodoro Sandiko. As the Spanish parish priest Garcia openly expressed his opposition to the idea, the governor-general turned down the petition. The young women, however, risking incurring the friar’s wrath, bravely continued their agitation for the school, a matter unheard of in the Philippines in those times. The incident caused a great stir in the Philippines and Spain.
In the letter, Rizal discusses the rightful duties and responsibilities of the Filipino mother:
Raise your children close to the image of the true God… Awaken and prepare the mind of the child for every good and desirable idea—love for honor, a sincere and frim character, a clear mind, clean conduct, noble actions, love for one’s fellowmen, and respect for God. Teach these to your children… Teach your children to guard and love their honor, to love their fellowmen and their native land, and to perform their duties. Tell them repeatedly to prefer death with honor to life with dishonor. They should imitate the women of Spartan…. The country should not expect honor and prosperity as long as the education of the child is defective, as long as the women who raise the children are enslaved and ignorant.
In the letter, Rizal also gave the following advice to unmarried women:
Why does not a young woman ask of the man she is going to love for a noble and honorable name, a manly heart that can protect her weaknesses, a noble mind that will not permit him to be the father of slaves? Instill in his mind activity and industry, noble behavior, worthy sentiments, and do not surrender your young womanhood to a weak and timid heart. When she becomes a wife, she should help her husband in every difficulty, encourage him, share with him all perils, console him and drive away his woes, always bearing in mind that a heroic heart can endure any suffering and that no legacy is as bitter as the legacy of infamy and slavery.
In his letter to the young women of Malolos, Rizal showed his knowledge of Hellenic history. He urged the Malolos women to emulate the Spartan women, who were famous for their courage, fortitude, and patriotism. Like Herodotus, he told the anecdote of a Spartan mother who handed a shield to her son as he was marching to battle, with this admonition: Return home victorious with or dead on the shield.
In summary, Rizal’s letter to the young women of Malolos focused on five major points:
Filipino mothers should teach their children love of God, country, and fellowmen.
Filipino mothers should be glad and honored, like the Spartan mothers, to offer their sons in defense of their country.
Filipino women should know how to protect their dignity and honor.
Filipino women should retain their good racial values, but should also educate themselves.
Faith does not consist merely in reciting prayers and wearing religious pictures but also in living as a true Christian should, with good morals and manners.
LOVE OF COUNTRY
Rizal wrote his first essay, entitled “Love of Country”, when he first arrived in Madrid, at the age of 21. He used the pseudonym “Laong Laan”. It was published on August 21, 1882 in Diariong Tagalog, a Philippine newspaper, and then again on October 31, 1890 in La Solidaridad, in madrid. The essay is as follows:
It has been said that love has always been the most powerful force behind the most sublime actions. Well then, of all loves, that of country is the greatest, the most heroic, and the most disinterested. Read history, if not the annals, the traditions. Go to the homes, what sacrifices self-denial, and ears are held on the sacred altar of the nation! From Brutus, who condemned his sons charged with treason, to Guzman the Good who allowed his son to die in order not to fail in his duty, what dramas, what tragedies, what martyrdom have not been enacted for the welfare of that inexorable divinity who has nothing to give you in return for your children but gratitude and blessings! And notwithstanding, with the pieces of their hearts they raise glorious monuments to their motherland; with the work of their hands, with the sweat of their brow, they have sprinkled and made fruitful her sacred tree, and neither have they expected nor received any reward…
The motherland is in danger! Soldiers and leaders, as if by charm, spring form the ground. The father leaves his children, the sons leave their parents, and all rush to defend their common mother. They bid farewell to the quiet pleasures of the home and hide under the helmets the tears that tenderness draws. They all leave and die…
Some have sacrificed for their youth their pleasures; others have dedicated to her splendors of their genius; others shed their blood; all have died, bequeathing to their motherland an immense fortune: LIBERTY and GLORY…
Fair and grand is the Motherland when her children at the cry of the battle get ready to defend the ancient land of their ancestors; cruel and arrogant when she sees from her throne the terrified foreigner flee before the invincible phalanx of her sons. But when her sons, divided into rival factions, destroy one another, when anger and rancor devastate the fields, towns, and cities; then ashamed, she tears away her robe and, hurling her scepter, she puts on mourning clothes for her dead sons. Whatever our condition might be then, let us love her always and let us wish nothing but her welfare. Then we shall labor in conformity with the purpose of humanity dictated by God, which is the harmony and universal peace of these creatures. You who have lost the ideal of your souls, you who with wounded hearts have seen you illusions disappear one by one and, like the trees in autumn, find yourselves without flowers and without leaves, and desirous of loving, find no one worthy of you, there you have the Motherland: Love her.
Love her! Oh, yes! But not as they loved in other times by performing ferocious acts, denied and condemned by true morals and mother nature; by making a display of fanaticism, destruction, and cruelty, no. A more promising dawn appears in the horizon – a soft and gentle light, the messenger of life and peace – the dawn, in short, of true Christianity, the prelude to happy and peaceful days.
It is our duty to follow the arid but peaceful and productive paths of science, which lead to progress, and thence to the unity desired and shed by Jesus Christ on the night of his sorrow.
Barcelona, June 1882
SOBRE LA INDOLENCIA DE LOS FILIPINOS
“The Indolence of the Filipinos” is the longest of Rizal’s essays. It was first published in five installments in La Solidaridad, from July 15 to September 15, 1890. The essay is an insight into and a stimulating analysis of the “Filipino people’s indolence”, a symptom of the country’s indifference to its ills.
In this essay, Rizal cited the following as the causes of the indolence of the Filipinos during the Spanish period:
1. The foreign wars and sporadic insurrections provoked by Spanish imperialism and oppression, which paralyzed the work in the farms and the wheels of industry;
2. The wars waged by the Spaniards against the Moros when the former invaded Mindanao and Sulu, which led to the burning of Christian towns, the depletion of the Moro population, and the destruction of fields and industries;
3. The uncertainty of enjoying the fruits of one’s toil due to Spanish rapacity (“Man works for an object,” said Rizal, “remove hat object and man is reduced to inaction. How can the Filipino then go on with his work when he knows that his work will be the very cause of his misfortune, perhaps even his imprisonment or death?... Could anybody blame him if he stops working altogether?”).
4. The Spanish masters’ regard for labor as undignified and degrading (“NO wonder the Filipinos came to look on manual work as disgraceful. Why work if by laboring hard you will be classed with the beasts of burden?” – Rizal).
FILIPINAS DENTRO DE CIEN AÑOS
“The Philippines a Century Hence” was an essay written by Rizal that came out as a series of four articles in La Solidaridad on September 30, 1899, October 31, 1899, December 15, 1899, and February 1, 1890. It is an appeal to Spain to grant the reforms requested by the Filipino people, which, according to Rizal, when not granted, would lead the Filipinos to rise up in arms against the Spaniards and to win their freedom from them. Rizal also predicted in the essay that after the ousting of the Spaniards, another power (the United States) would come and take the Philippines. This prophecy was borne out by the subsequent events in the country. Significant is the last passage of the essay: “Spain, must we someday tell the Philippines that thou hast no ear for woes, and that, if she wishes to be saved, she must redeem herself?”