The Influence of GOMBURZA on Artist Jose Rizal

At the age of three, Jose Rizal learned the alphabet and prayers from his mother, Doña Teodora Alonso, who encouraged him to write poems, upon discovering that he has a talent for poetry. Jose Rizal’s three uncles, namely, Tio Gregorio, who is a scholar and lover of books, inspired him to read good books; Tio Manuel, a big and strong man, awaken Rizal’s interest in sports (swimming, rowing, fencing, and wrestling); and Tio Jose who motivated him to paint, sketch, and make statues of clay. In Biñan, Rizal improved his knowledge of Spanish and Latin under the guidance of Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz. In Ateneo, he took up painting under a prominent Spanish painter and professor of art named Don Agustin Saez, and sculpture under a famous Filipino sculptor named Romualdo de Jesus.

The three priests Father Mariano Gomez, Father Jose Apolonio Burgos, and Father Jacinto Zamora also known for the acronym GOMBURZA, suffered the Spanish authorities’ hatred in connection with the Cavite Mutiny which happened in 1872. Soldiers of the Engineering and Artillery Corps were previously exempted to personal taxes, leading them to the rebellion known as Cavite Mutiny. GOMBURZA stand up for the equal rights of priests and led the campaign against the obnoxious Spanish friars. They fought on unsettled secularization issues in the Philippines which gave rise to a clash among religious regulars and church seculars. Spanish prosecutors bribed a witness to testify against the three priests then the three priests were charged with sedition and treason, which led to their death by garrote in February 17, 1872.

The GOMBURZA’s death aroused rage and hatred among the Filipinos. This misfortune has united the Filipinos. The death of the martyred priests helped inspire the Propaganda Movement (Rizal was a member of it), which aimed to seek recognition of the Philippines as a province of Spain, equality in the status of Filipinos and Spaniards, Philippine representation in the Spanish Cortes, secularization of parishes, and recognition of human rights.

The execution of GOMBURZA left a great impact on many Filipinos, especially to Jose Rizal, who dedicated his second novel, El Filibusterismo in memory of these three martyred priests.

After five days of sailing, the Spanish Steamer, Salvadora, reached Singapore and Rizal stayed in Hotel dela Paz for two days. After two days of resting in Singapore, Rizal boarded a French steamer, Djemnah, for Marseilles, France, which stopped for a short time at Colombo. On June 11, it docked at Naples, a city in Italy well-known for its songs. The next day it reached Marseilles where Rizal stayed for three days. Continuing his travel by train, he arrived in Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city.

Enlightenment education is a European intellectual movement in the 17th and 18th centuries in which ideas about God, nature, reason, and humanity were integrated to expose the use of reason, and the power of humans to understand and improve his condition. While Rizal was in Europe to study medicine, he read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book entitled “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which according to Rizal, it described the Filipino culture in a backward and sluggish motion. The Filipinos were not leaned toward growth and advancement; instead, it has adopted the system of anti-intellectualism. This influenced Rizal in his novel Noli Me Tangere to expose his readers of the theory of “natural revelation” as a substitute of Christian revelation. Natural revelation gears towards the use of the cognitive mechanisms of reasoning instead of living through the concepts of faith, traditions, revelations, and the advancement of knowledge through scientific methods.

Agrarian conflicts in the Philippines during the 19th century were apparently known to Jose Rizal. These issues were undoubtedly observed in his works. The Calamba Hacienda Dispute began from the prolonged irrational increase of rentals, land confiscation, and other manipulative practice of the hacienda management, which caused financial struggles to the tenants (including Rizal’s family and some relatives), and deteriorated by other factors such as poor harvests, crops devastated by unfavorable weather and plague. Rizal got involved in this case because the besieged tenants of Calamba asked for his help to conduct an investigation concerning the contentious fertile lands owned by the Dominican friars. Rizal found out that the hacienda of the Dominican Order cover not only the lands around Calamba, but the whole town of Calamba; the profits of the Dominican Order continually increased because of the illogical increase of the rentals paid by the tenants; the hacienda owner never contributed a single centavo for the commemoration of the town fiesta, for the education of the children, and for the improvement of agriculture; residents who spent much labor in clearing the lands were driven out of the said lands for unconvincing reasons; high rates of interest randomly charged the tenants for delayed payment of rentals; and when the rentals could not be paid, the hacienda management seized the working animals, tools, and farm implements of the tenants.

The Dominicans brought the case to the Justice of the Peace in Calamba but lost it so they appealed to the Provincial Court of Sta. Cruz and won the case. The court then ordered the nonpaying residents to leave the lands owned by the hacienda. The tenants rejected the order, so the agents of the court together with 50 soldiers, stand by to keep the peace, affecting the order of eviction, which lead to the burning of some houses and injury to some tenants. Shortly, the evicted tenants began to go back to their land, pressuring Governor-General Valeriano Wyler in 1891 to order the expulsion of 25 individuals (including Paciano Rizal and his brothers-in-law Antonio Lopez and Silvestre Ubaldo) to Mindoro; and another brother-in-law, Manuel Hidalgo, was later exiled to Bohol. Rizal’s family, siblings, friends, and even Gov. Terrero got alarmed when Rizal began to receive anonymous threats, thus advising him to leave the country.

Rizal reached Hong Kong on February 8 and stayed there for two weeks and studied the Chinese language, drama, and customs. Then Rizal arrived at Yokohama where he was amazed of Japan’s culture: the aesthetic appeal of the country (flora and fauna, and landforms and bodies of water), the happy and industrious Japanese people, kimono, hospitality of the people, gift-giving, politeness thru bowing, clean houses, and even few beggars and thieves on the streets; and he also met a pretty Japanese girl named Seiko Usui and he called her O-Sei-San. In America, Rizal was astonished by the prosperity and energy of the American people, the physical beauties of the land, and the vast fields and busy factories, but one thing he did not like in America was its discrimination of the black people. In London, Rizal became good friends with Dr. Reinhold Rost, an old English scholar, librarian of the India Office in London, and editor of Trubner’s Record; and upon his request, Rizal contributed two articles in English: Specimens of Tagal Folklore and Two Eastern Fables. When he arrived in Paris, he could not get a room in any hotel because of the International Exposition, so he stayed at the house of his friend, Valentin Ventura, and later moved to a small room with two other Filipinos, Capitan Justo Trinidad, and Jose Albert; and they (Filipinos) gather four times a week to sing kundiman, to eat sotanghon and adobo.

Towards the end of March 1889, he established a society called Kidlat Club, which aims to bring together the Filipino youth so that they could enjoy their stay in the city during the international exposition. The Indios Bravos, another society established by Rizal, replaced the Kidlat Club. The members of this club vowed to excel in intellectual and physical dexterity to impress the Spaniards. Rizal also established the Sociedad R.D.L.M. (Redencion de los Malayos) which aimed to promulgate all useful knowledge in the Philippines. The International Association of Filipinologists aimed to study the Philippines in scientific and historical views but was never accredited by the French government leading to its termination in August 1889.

In Paris, Rizal published his annotated edition of Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (Events in the Philippine Islands) to inform the Filipinos and foreigners that the Filipino people were already civilized before the arrival of the Spaniards. Rizal’s A La Defensa calls the readers’ attention to the treacherous influences of the friars of the country. Rizal published Una Profanacion on July 31, 1889, which criticized the friars for not giving his brother-in-law, Mariano Herbosa, a Christian burial. Rizal’s Llanto y Risas (Tears and Laughter) was a criticism of the racial prejudice of the Spanish against the brown race. The article Differencias (Differences) opposed the biased article “Old Truths”, which ridiculed the Filipinos who asked for reforms.

During Rizal’s exile in Dapitan, he established a school where he taught his 21 students about Spanish, English, and Mathematics. Together with his students, they explored on jungles and coasts to hunt for some specimens which he sent to Europe and in return gave them scientific equipment. He also practiced medicine and gave the people free treatment and medicines. Rizal also engaged in the business industry of fishing, hemp, and copra in partnership with Ramon Carreon. He developed the town plaza and embellished it with a huge relief map of Mindanao, which he used as a stimulating device in teaching geography and history to his pupils during his lonely but productive exile in Dapitan from July 17, 1892, to July 31, 1896.

On December 26, 1896, the trial of Rizal was held in Manila, presided over by Lt. Col. Jose Togores Arjona, and tried by a Spanish military court, where he was accused of rebellion and organizing illegal societies. After the trial, he was detained in a cell at Fort Santiago, where he wrote his last letters to his family and Professor Blumentritt, and his last poem which had no title, but it was later called the Last Farewell. At 4:00 P.M., December 29, Rizal was visited by his mother Doña Teodora, and his sister Trinidad, whom he secretly gave his last poem hidden in an alcohol cooking stove. Early in the morning of December 30, Rizal received his last communion; heard his last Mass with Father Vicente Balaguer officiating and married him and Josephine; and gave Josephine a religious book, Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis, as a wedding gift. About 6:30 A.M., after saying goodbye to Josephine, Rizal began his death march from Fort Santiago to Bagumbayan; at a spot near the shore of Manila Bay, the death march stopped, he bravely faced the sea, and at the command “Fire!”, Rizal turned and fell dead on the ground at 7:30 A.M, December 30, 1896.


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07 July 2022
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