Originally published in El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal, translated by Leon Ma. Guerrero.

The glory of saving a country cannot be given to one who has contributed to its ruin. You believed that what crime and iniquity had stained and deformed, more crime and more iniquity could cleanse and redeem. This was error. Hate only creates monsters; crime, criminals; only love can work wonders, only virtue can redeem. If our country is some day to be free, it will not be through vice and crime, it will not be through the corruption of its sons, some deceived, others bribed; redemption presupposes virtue; virtue, sacrifice, and sacrifice, love!

We must win our freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual, loving what is just, what is good, what is great, to the point of dying for it.

As long at the Filipino people do not have a sufficient vigor to proclaim, head held high and chest bared, their right to a life of their own in human society, and to guarantee it with their sacrifices, with their very blood; as long as we see our countrymen feel privately ashamed, hearing the growl of their rebelling and protesting conscience, while in public they keep silent and even join the oppressor in mocking the oppressed; as long as we see them wrapping themselves up in their selfishness and praising with forced smiles the most despicable acts, begging with their eyes for a share of the booty, why give them independence?

What is the use of independence if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow?

As long as our people are not prepared, and enter the struggle deceived or compelled, without a clear idea of what they are to do, the best planned movements will fail and it is better that they should fail, for why give the bride to the groom if he does not love her enough and is not ready to die for her?

Where are the youths who will dedicate their innocence, their idealism, their enthusiasm to the good of the country? Where are they who will give generously of their blood to wash away so much shame, crime and abomination? Pure and immaculate must the victim be for their sacrifices to be acceptable. Where are you, young men and young women, who are to embody in yourselves the life-force that has been drained from our veins, the pure ideals that have grown strained in our minds, the fiery enthusiasm that has been quenched in our hearts?

We await you, come for we await you!

Debrief

José Rizal wrote El Filibusterismo after he experienced the negative repercussions of his first book, Noli Me Tángere. His initial account of the injustices within the Philippines angered those who held political power – specifically the friars. This led to an increase in oppression towards his family, who faced a lot of unnecessary persecutions and legal attacks, and eventually, exile from the Philippines.

This second novel is a little bit more analytical, diving into the political powers at play in the Philippines, while still continuing the story of Crisóstomo Ibarra from the Noli. The idea of revolt and a militant uprising is played with throughout the book, with the above excerpt at the end of the novel.

It’s interesting to note that during the time of publication, there was a lot of talk within the Philippines about independence from Spain and the possibility of a revolution. I believe that this book was Rizal’s thesis and point of view on what should be done in terms of an uprising. Up to his death, he never formally endorsed a militant uprising, and even denied deep involvement with the Katipunan, though he did support the pursuit of independence for the Philippines – the method of attainment just varied.

Takeaway:

We must win our freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual, loving what is just, what is good, what is great, to the point of dying for it.

I believe that the best way to move forward is to improve the quality of life and being of the Filipino. This starts from a healthy and useful form of education. Not just basic arithmetic and language skills, but a deep understanding of core values and human rights must be achieved. There must be standards and values set to encourage the development of integrity and free thought. That is the beginning of true freedom and independence.

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