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Home Sweet Home: Rizal Reasons of Going Home
“Noli Me Tangere” was published and went to circulation that resulted to hatred of the friars to Jose Rizal. His brother Paciano and other relatives and friends advised Jose Rizal not to go home but he did not heed the warnings for the following reasons:
1. To operate his mother’s eyes;
2. To assuage his loneliness of his parents and siblings;
3. To find out the reactions of Filipinos and Spaniards about his novel and other writings;
4. To serve his people;
5. To determine the cause of Leonor Rivera’s silence;
On July 3, 1887, Rizal boarded the streamer Djemnah from Europe, the same streamer he boarded on in going to Europe five years ago. On July 30, he arrived in Saigon and transferred to another streamer, Haiphong, and arrived in Manila on August 5. Three days after, he returned to Calamba and welcomed joyously by his family. Although they were happy seeing Jose Rizal, many of them were bothered of his safety. During the first few days after arrival, Paciano was always at his side to protect him from enemy assault. His father would not allow him to go out alone for something might happen to him.
He put up a medical clinic. His first patient was his mother, who was almost blind. He treated her eyes but filed to perform he surgical operation because her cataracts were not yet ripe. He became famous and his patients came from different places including Manila. He became known as “Doctor Uliman” because he came from Germany. He offered a reasonable price and even cured the poor for free. Within few months of practice, he was able to earn an amount of 900; by February he was able to save P5,000 as medical fees.
As if his service to his people was not enough, he opened a gymnasium for young folks and introduced European sports. He tried to motivate them in gymnastics, fencing and shooting to dissuade them in cockfights and gambling.
He longed to see Leonor Rivera and planned to go to Dagupan but his parents discouraged him. Having no choice but to follow the customs of his time that marriages must be arranged by the parents of both groom and bride.
Enemies of the Noli
While Rizal was leading a peaceful life and serving his people in Calamba, his enemies were brewing a plot against him. The first assault was when he received a letter from Governor General Emilio Terrero (1885-1888) requesting him to come to Malacanan Palace. Somebody influential informed the governor about the subversive ideas of “Noli Me Tangere”.
He appeared in Malacanan, the governor general of the charges informed him and he denied them by giving his side that his mere intention was to tell the truth and not to advocate subversive ideas. The governor weighed his explanation and was pleased. He only requested to have a copy of the Noli. Unfortunately Rizal had no longer a copy but he promised to secure one for the governor.
Nevertheless, he was able to secure one from another friend and gave it to the governor. Being a liberal minded, the good governor knew how powerful the enemies of Jose Rizal and his life was in danger. Showing compassion to the predicament of Jose Rizal, the governor general assigned a bodyguard to protect him from possible danger. A young Spanish Lieutenant by the name of Don Jose Taviel de Andrade, was assigned to him. From a noble family, Taviel was a cultured young man, a painter and knew how to speak English, French and Spanish.
The governor general did not find the Noli subversive but eh enemies of Jose Rizal persisted to prove that Jose Rizal was guilty of the accusation. Msgr. Pedro Payo (a Dominican), Archbishop of Manila send a copy of the Noli to Father Recto Gregorio Ecchavaria of the University of Santo Tomas for examination by the committee of the faculty. The committee, which composed of Dominican Professors, arrived into consensus that the novel, “Noli Me Tangere”, was “heretical, impious, and scandalous to the religious order and anti-patriotic, subversive of public order, injurious to the government of Spain and its function in the Philippine Islands in the political order”
Governor General Terrero was dissatisfied with the report of the Dominicans for he knew they were biased and had a deep-seated prejudiced against Jose Rizal. He sent the novel to the Permanent Commission in Censorship, which was composed of priests and laymen. On December 29, Father Salvador Font submitted a recommendation that “the importation, reproduction and circulation of this pernicious book in the islands be absolutely prohibited”. A newspaper published the written report of Font, consequently, Noli became popular and everybody wanted to read it.
To discredit Jose Rizal among the masses, Father Jose Rodriquez, a friar of Guadalupe, published a series of pamphlets under a general heading Cuestiones de Sumo Interes (Question of Supreme Interest) to attack the Noli and other anti-Spanish writings.
These were entitled as follows:
1. (Why should I not read them) “Porque no Los He de Leer?”
2. ( Beware of them. Why?) “Guardaos de Ellos. Porque?”
3. (And what can you tell me of plague?) “Y-que Me Dice Usted de la Peste?”
4. (Why do the impious triumph?) “Porque Triunfan los Impios?”
5. (Do you think there is really no purgatory?) “Cree Usted Que de Veras No Hay Purgatorio?”
6. (Is there or is there no hell?) “Hay o No Hay Infierno?”
7. (What do you think of these libels?) “Que le Parecce a Usted de Esos Libelos?”
8. (Confession or condemnation?) “Confesion o Condenacion?”
Copies of these pamphlets were sold daily in the churches after the mass. Filipinos had to buy in order to please the friars. Even in the session hall in the Spanish Cortes, various senators particularly, General Luis de Pando, General Jose de Salamanca, Sr. Fernando Vida, Spanish Academician of Madrid and Vicente Barrantes worthlessly attacked the Noli. But Rev. Fr. Vicente Garcia defended Jose Rizal. He wrote an article in Singapore using the pen name Justo Desiderio Magalang. He pointed out the arguments of Fr. Jose Rodriguez as follows:
- Jose Rizal cannot be an ignorant man, as Fr. Rodriquez alleged, because he was a graduate of Spanish Universities and was a recipient of scholastic honors;
- Jose Rizal does not attack the church and Spain as Fr. Rodriquez claimed, because what Rizal attacked in the Noli were the bad Spanish officials and not Spain and the bad and corrupt friars and not the church;
- Fr. Rodriquez said that those who read the Noli commit a mortal sin; since he (Rodriquez) had read the novel, therefore he also commits a mortal sin.
In the height of the controversy of Noli all copies were sold out and the price skyrocketed. According to Jose Rizal the price he set for the Noli were only five pesetas (equivalent to P1) but the price later reached to fifty pesos.
Because of the continuous attacks of his powerful and influential enemies, Jose Rizal was advised by the governor general to leave the Philippines for his own safety. Giving him a chance to escape from his enemy’s madness. He followed the advice not because he was afraid of his enemies but due to the following reasons:
- His presence in Calamba placed his families and friends in great danger;
- He could fight better his enemies and serve his country’s cause with greater efficacy by writing in foreign countries.
Before his departure, he wrote a poem as requested by his friends in commemoration of the town’s elevation to a villa (city). He dedicated the poem to the industrious folks of Lipa entitled “Himno al Trabajo” (Hymn to Labor).