Roy E. Howard, Ph.D.
Gallup Graduate Studies Center, Western New Mexico University
e-mail | Vita

sample of translation project, 1999, from the original Spanish

Life and Writings


Dr. José Rizal
Some Publications about The Phillipines

by W. E. Retana

Citizen of the Royal Academy of History; Member (the only one in Spain) of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands Indies of La Haya; of the Geography Societies of Berlin and Vienna; Citizen of the International Colonial Institute of Brussels; etc.

The Indian of Batango, Ethnographic Study, Third Edition
Phillipine Pamphlets, Four Volumes
Warnings and Prophecies
Statehood of the Phillipine Islands, by P. J. Martínez de Zúñiga, fully annotated and illustrated by W. E. Retana. Two Volumes. 25 Pesetas.
A Book of Aniterías. @
Phillipine Journalism. Six Pesetas.
The Ancient Alphabets of the Phillipines. Two Pesetas.
Spanish Politics in the Phillipines. Eight Volumes. 200 Pesetas.
Library Archives in the Phillipines. Five Volumes. 30 Pesetas.
The Command of General Weyler in the Phillipines. Four Pesetas.
History of Mindanao and Joló, by P. Combés, lengthened and annotated by W. E. Retana (with the collaboration of P. Pastells). 30 Pesetas.
Abbreviated Catalog of the Library of W. E. Retana. 30 Pesetas.
Bibliographic Apparatus of the General History of the Phillipines. 3 volumes in folio (2,000 pages) with many facsimiles. 150 Pesetas.
- The same work, large page edition. 400 Pesetas.
The works still in stock are for sale in the general Bookstore of Victoriano Suárez; Preciados, 48: Madrid.

Life and Writings
Dr. José Rizal
W. E. Retana

Illustrated Edition with photo plates

Prologue and Epilogue

Javier Gómez de la Serna
Miguel de Unamumo

General Bookstore of Victoriano Suárez
48, Preciados

Property of the Author
Rights Reserved

Printing was finished on the 30th day of June, 1907. Pending registration in the office of the literary property rights in the United States in accordance with the law in effect on March 3, 1907, requested by W. E. Retana.

Published June 3rd, 1907. Privilege of copyright in the United States reserved under the Act approved March 3rd, 1905 by W. E. Retana.

Madrid: M. Minuesa de los Ríos Press. Miguel Servet, 13.

the eminent ethnographer
and the principal phillipine scholar in the world
Professor F. Blumentritt
Rector of the Municipal Ateneo of Leitmeritz, Bohemia.

Your admirer and friend,
W. E. Retana

Madrid; June 20, 1907


Should this book be published?
This is the first thought that occurs to me considering the extraordinary sensitivity of the matter.
In other countries the execution of Rizal is classified as "assasination", and the pages of this work, intense and moving, perhaps give support to this sad argument.
Those that feel the savage patriotism spoken of by the illustrious Revilla, will believe that one should keep silent. Those of us who love truth and justice, as General Blanco, those of us who believe that Spain is innocent of this blood, affirm the beauty that it is a Spaniard who captures the cry of protest and anguish of his country upon learning of this act in all its enormity, and is the one who places a pious remembrance over the tomb of the disgraced poet.
Would anyone in England censure the great Macauley when he wrote the black pages of English colonization in India, relating horrible crimes, unnamed betrayals, horrendous robberies? What do Spain, England, or any mother have to do with the acts of a few evil children?
There are two Spains! One great and generous, with legendary qualities praised throughout the entire planet, with its legends of gentlemen, heroes of the home, of the world, sacrificing peace in life for a love, for an idea, for a military or scientific discipline: the Spain loved by Rizal until his death, for which he asked to go to Cuba to help in the hospitals of our wounded, and to which he officially asked to go when he was arrested... And another Spain, black, the one that imprisoned him in this glorious hour of his life; Spain each time reduced, that forms evil and inept ones, cruel and fanatic ones, heads without honor and honor without heads, with which one should not cooperate with silence. This is what you will see in this book. For this Retana wet his pen in the same inkwell as Macaulay.
The book should then, be published. It is the first breath of justice that goes from Spain to the Phillipines, and for our country will be a lesson of things. It will exalt Spain in the Archipelago and in Europe, because it proves that the stupid, deadly tradgedy of Manila was out of character, and that those imbeciles believed that it would affirm forever our dominion, and that it cut it off suddenly, because this method has had as many failures as successes in history. Did they not know that blood never confirmed the beliefs of the executioners, but of the victims?


The human figure of Rizal is worthy of profound study. He lived thirty five years; by twenty six he had circled the globe; he was a physician, novelist, poet, politician, philologist, teacher, agriculturalist, printer, polyglot (he spoke more than ten languages), sculptor, painter, naturalist, member of celebrated European scientific Centers who gave his name to various new species that he discovered; he lived and studied in the great capitals of Europe and America; the index of his books and writings occupies not a few pages of this volume. Various scientific societies and the world press dedicated soirees y obituaries at his death. This was the man we executed.
He left his country in 1882 as a student; he brilliantly completed studies in Medicine and Philosophy and Letters; he returned the Phillipines in '87 to leave in '88; he returned in '92 only to be expelled within a few days, and returned from his expulsion in '96 to be executed, in spite of having clarified that in the last four years of his life and exile he was not involved directly or indirectly in any political matter of his country.
A gentleman without blemish, giving, sweet, delicate and brave, such were the attractions of his virtues, the officials of our army who guarded him shared their intimacies: one was relieved to do so, for loving Rizal so much.
I knew him in Madrid. Clean and detailed; a sad and reflective countenance; always a smooth voice; never yelling or laughing uncontrollably; little interested in entertainment or vanities, without a doubt because he left latent, in his corner of the world, that first virginal love which in absence, if it does not die, makes one chaste for life...
What were his ideals? Do you ask about those of the inexperienced youth who still sees no problems, shades or gradiations? The immediate independence of his country at any cost, although the poor student did nothing to bring this about, nor could he. There was no sin in that generous, well born sentiment. Study and life tempered him and made him see the insurmountable difficulties of the task, the danger of another enslavement, the anarchistic convulsions of a country not well prepared; and the ideal of independence did not disappear, because it could not and should not disappear from the breast of the noble slave; but it transformed into the distant sun, toward which the march is constant, even though it takes centuries to arrive. It was decided suddenly, in the moment of his execution, to bring about, within Spain, the aspirations of her historical cycle: much public instruction, friars secluded in their convents, representation in Courts, the Spanish laws.
Even this he saw as distant: I remember how in Madrid, receiving news of the excesses of our Authorities in the Archipelago, and seeing in the Court his own countrymen more interested in women and entertainment than in serious thought, he said bitterly:
"It is not possible to expect anything, neither of the Spainiards over there or the Phillipinos here!"
He was of a type born for legend: he was completely unknown; he left his country as a student without anyone noticing him, indifferent to all; he returned for a few months at age twenty six. When he left at age thirty one, he was a celebrity; he was already and idol; everyone would have wanted to know him; but in a few days he left, banished. He returned for his execution, and it can be said that the mass of his countryment only saw him on this one day: the day of his death. They only retain a vision of him that is tragic and bloody!
He spoke, then, the truth about the process: he did not know hardly anyone in his own country, and no one knew him outside of his own family and that young English woman, madly in love with the dark eagle, abandoned her position, future, social life, to accompany him to a savage island. To make it more legendary, he was not even called Rizal, it is not even known when he was born, since the appropriate parish book was burned.
He was not, then, a conspirator nor separatist, that haughty thinker, in that the perpetual bitterness of the defeated combined with the manly breath of him who is never resigned to defeat. To his ideals of perfection in his country, in the shadow of Spain, he knew how to awaken the soul of his race with his books. Was this a crime? Then Rizal is a great delinquent.
But the first witness to testify on his behalf is General Blanco: when Rizal was about to embark for Cuba, to voluntarily perform a difficult, dangerous service for Spain, the insurrection breaks out, and Blanco, who proved him innocent, gave him a letter written in his own hand for the Minister of War, which said: ""His behavior during the four years he stayed in Dapitan has been exemplary, and is, in my judgement, greatly worthy of forgiveness and benevolence, such that it not result in any complication in this great purpose that we now mourn, neither in conspiracy nor in secret society he was involved in none of the plots." This General, well remembered, assured Mr. Retana that he would not have executed Rizal, begging him that he make this known publicly; and in another letter, understanding, as we do, that this book should be published, congratulated Mr. Retana for this purpose, given that "it could serve as an example and lesson to those who do not know or or don't want to be convinced that it is not by punishment and violence that people are to be governed in the Twentieth Century".
Blanco was replaced by another General, who after three days of command (it was absolutely impossible that he could have grasped the transcendence of the the act) ordered the execution of that man who his predecessor, with all the facts and proofs in hand, personally assured, by his signature, was innocent.
There was not one letter from Rizal, during his four years of exile, that reveals the least bit of complicity! The general governor Blanco, thirteen days before the execution, affirming innocence! Let us not be amazed at this process. We repeat, solely, that Spain is not a part of it.
Retana says it well: Spain did not execute Rizal in the Phillipines. What the native soldiers did, to whom for a refinement of the black Spain the order came to fire against the idol, was to execute Spain in the Phillipines, by order of some stupid sons of the Mother country.
Poor Rizal! I do not know if the picture I made will be found true: in these sketches of the pen there is always more of the painter than of the painted, and it is sure that if three of us started the work, it would probably result in three Rizales.


And against the prohibition of Retana, who, upon honoring me with the task of the prologue begged me not to speak of himself, I would like to say something about this author and his works.
No one here or anywhere couldwrite the study of Rizal with the copious facts that will astound the reader. His solid preparation, who none could do better about Phillipine history, served by a great energy and intelligence, has had this time the collaboration of a multitud of Phillipinos and Spaniards, participants or observers of the drama, in such a number that the principal events are reconstituted even to the minute. It is one of the most complete biographies I have read.
Retana, in Phillipine matters, has his road to Damascus like Saint Paul, although it is a Saint Paul in reverse, because instead of leaving liberty to obtain the priesthood, he left this to immerse himself in liberty. He was like a child in the Phillipines, and dominated by the subjugating prejudice that without friars the power of Spain would collapse. When he could think for himself, he strongly attacked that very false premise.
It happened to me the same with Retana as with Rizal; both were far from me: one on the right, the other on the left. Fifteen years ago I would not have been able to prologue books by either of the two. Today, the three of us would have similar beliefs.
Magnificent library, that of Retana! And how did he know how to extract the honey of that for his books, to receive praises from many celebrities, among whom is included Menéndez Pelayo!
I am going to discover now that besides being historian, he is a novelist, journalist, politician, has been a Governor, Deputy, etc.?
This is a good book and does not need the innumeration of extenuating circumstances. Finally, in Spain, Retana is Phillipinologist by definition.

Roy E. Howard, Ph.D.
Gallup Graduate Studies Center, Western New Mexico University
e-mail | Vita