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The Philippines a Century Hence

by Dr. Jose Rizal Mercado y Alonso

A Synthesis Paper in Partial Fulfillment of the Course Requirement in History 4: Life, Works and Writings of Rizal

Carmenila Inso Johannah Apacible

March 2013


Dr. Jose Rizal has made exemplary essays in the 19th century. One of which is entitled Filipinas dentro de cien aos which is translated as The Philippines a Century Hence. It was first published in La Solidaridad at Madrid, Spain on September 30, 1889 to February 1, 1890. The article is a collection of metaphors and enlightenment about the Philippines as an impoverished nation. Spains implementation of her military policies because of such laws, the Philippine population decreased dramatically. Poverty became more rampant than ever, and farmlands were left to wither. The family as a unit of society was neglected, and overall, every aspect of the life of the Filipino was retarded. Deterioration and disappearance of Filipino indigenous culture when Spain came with the sword and the cross, it began the gradual destruction of the native Philippine culture. Because of this, the Filipinos started losing confidence in their past and their heritage, became doubtful of their present lifestyle, and eventually lost hope in the future and the preservation of their race. Passivity and submissiveness to the Spanish colonizers one of the most powerful forces that influenced a culture of silence among the natives were the Spanish friars. Because of the use of force, the Filipinos learned to submit themselves to the will of the foreigners. Reading through the essays of Rizal, one could say that the hero is not just as great writer but a great Historian as well. His essay, The Philippines a Century Hence presents a radical prophesy of Rizal of how the Philippines would be through the century. Rizal presented a clear idea of how our Motherland will end up centuries later proposing that our country will end up in either of the three ways;(1) that the Philippines will remain to be a colony of Spain but will be in good terms with its captors;(2) that the Philippines will try to cut the ties of our Motherland from its captors through violent means;(3) and lastly that we will be colonized by another country. The thoughts of Rizal were not only based on his mere imagination, he tried to read in between the lines of the History of the many nations to come up with his recommendations of how the Philippines would look like. Rizal saw how the uprising in different nations started and thought that if Spain continuous to ignore the cries of its inhabitants, there will come a time that the oppressed will come into arms to recapture their lost freedom. In his essay, Rizal exposed the several issues that concern our country. The abuse of human rights, the lack of freedom of the press and the lack of representation in the Spanish Cortes are the key points discussed in the essay of Rizal. According to Rizal, the Filipinos must enjoy liberty of the press so that they can voice out their cries against the cruelty of the Spaniards. In addition, they must also have a representative in the Spanish Cortes to make known to the government and to the nation whether or not their decrees have been duly obeyed. Lastly, Filipinos are also seeking for justice and for human rights. Given these things, Rizal warned Spanish that if they wouldnt stop their

abuse to the natives, they will plot separatist movements putting justice into their own hands. As a reader of Rizal, we could see in the essay his urge to put freedom in our land through peaceful negotiations with the Spanish Government in Spain. The question then arises as to what had awakened the hearts and opened the minds of the Filipino people with regards to their plight. Eventually, the natives realized that such oppression in their society by foreign colonizers must no longer be tolerated. One question Rizal raises in this essay is whether or not Spain can indeed prevent the progress of the Philippines: Keeping the people uneducated and ignorant had failed. National consciousness had still awakened, and great Filipino minds still emerged from the rubble. Keeping he people impoverished also came to no avail. On the contrary, living a life of eternal destitution had allowed the Filipinos to act on the desire for a change in their way of life. They began to explore other horizons through which they could move towards progress. Exterminating the people as an alternative to hindering progress did not work either. The Filipino race was able to survive amidst wars and famine, and became even more numerous after such catastrophes. To wipe out the nation altogether would require the sacrifice of thousands of Spanish soldiers, and this is something Spain would not allow. Spain, therefore, had no means to stop the progress of the country. What she needs to do is to change her colonial policies so that they are in keeping with the needs of the Philippine society and to the rising nationalism of the people.

I. II. The Spanish authorities still continued to rule the destinies of the Philippine group. The Philippine people have remained faithful during the three centuries, giving up their liberty and their independence. Three centuries of brutalization and obscurantism have influenced the Filipinos. The country was denied representation in the Cortes and an authorized voice to cry out against all kinds of abuses. In order to read the destiny of the people, it is necessary to open the book of its past. The Philippines was depopulated, impoverished and retarded. It is necessary to presume an unlimited period of time, and in accordance therewith try to forecast future events.

The spirit of the nation has been aroused and a common misfortune, a common debasement has united all the Filipinos. The advancement and ethical progress of the Philippines are inevitable. The Philippines will remain under Spanish domination, but with more law and greater liberty, or they will declare themselves independent after steeping themselves and the mother country in blood.

III. If the Philippines must remain under the control of Spain, they will necessarily have to be transformed in a political sense, for the course of their history and the needs of their inhabitants so required. Some governors have realized this truth, and impelled by their patriotism, have them trying to introduce needed reforms but have produced scanty results. The reforms have a palliative character and are not only ineffectual but even prejudicial when the government is confronted with evils that must be cured radically. The Philippines have no liberty of the press. A government that rules a country from a great distance is the one that has the most need for a free press more so even than the government of the home country, if it wishes to rule rightly. A nation acquires respect, not by abetting and concealing abuses, but by rebuking and punishing them. Justice is the foremost virtue of the civilizing races. The Philippines will remain Spanish if they enter upon the life of law and civilization, if the rights of their inhabitants are respected, if the other rights due them are granted, if the liberal policy of the government is carried out without meanness, without subterfuges or false interpretations.

IV. Necessity is the most powerful divinity the world knows, and necessity is the resultant of physical forces set in operation by ethical forces. An avoidable concomitant of those catastrophes is the accumulation of acts of injustice committed against the innocent and peaceful inhabitants. If the Philippines secure their independence after heroic and stubborn conflicts, they can rest assure that neither England nor Germany, nor France and still less Holland will dare to take up what Spain has been unable to hold. The Philippines will defend with inexpressible valor the liberty secured at the price of so much blood and sacrifice.

Spain, thou has remained deaf, and wrapped up in thy pride, has pursued thy fatal course and accused us of being traitors, merely because we love our country, because we tell thee the truth and hate all kinds of injustice.

Rizal has made such profound and evocative words to address the need of the Filipino people in achieving independence from their colonizing country, Spain. The article was able to articulate about the sensitiveness of the country which was the chief attribute of the Filipinos that made them touched and was willing to suffer and die under a foreign flag. It was a reality that the Filipinos were greatly astonished by the Spanish influence that made them lose their ancient traditions. Rizal was able to discern about learning from the past, knowing the present and most especially, thinking what the future of the Philippines would be. This idea was a great opportunity for the people to decide and reflect for the future. It was a breakthrough to struggle for the rights of integrity and humanity.

Liberty is the essence of the article. It is something which the Filipinos were deprived of for three centuries. The country cannot remain in the condition they are without requiring from the mother country, Spain, for Liberty. Three centuries of brutalization and injustice was long enough for the Filipinos to suffer for. Because some people were enlightened enough for change, there were inhabitants who chose to leave the country and obtain education abroad. These inhabitants greatly led to progress in achieving the liberty they yearned of. As these individuals embraced with each other, they wholeheartedly established patriotism and ethical advancement. Through unity, the hope of reaching for freedom was then made possible.

If the Philippines must remain under the control of Spain, they will necessarily have to be transformed in a political sense, for the course of their history and the needs of their inhabitants so required. This transformation will be violent and fatal if it proceeds from the ranks of the people, but peaceful and fruitful if it emanates from the upper classes. The Philippines will remain Spanish if they enter upon the life of law and civilization, if the rights of their inhabitants are respected, if the other rights due them are granted, if the liberal policy of the government is carried out without trickery or meanness, without subterfuges or false interpretations.

Very likely the Philippines will defend with inexpressible valor the liberty secured at the price of so much blood and sacrifice. With the new men that will

spring from their soil and with the recollection of their past, they will perhaps strife to enter freely upon the wide road of progress, and all will labor together to strengthen their fatherland, both internally and externally, with the same enthusiasm, with which a youth falls again to tilling the land of his ancestors who long wasted and abandoned through the neglect of those who have withheld it from him. Perhaps the country will revive the maritime and mercantile life for which the islanders are fitted by their nature, ability and instincts, and once more free, like the bird that leaves its cage, like the flower that unfolds to the air, will recover the pristine virtues that are gradually dying out and will again become addicted to peace cheerful, happy, joyous, hospitable and daring.