End Of Veneration PDF online

For those interested in the Debate about Constantino’s Veneration Without Understanding I’ve provided a pdf version dowloadable from



Did They Get Their Medals

The first Filipino I ever met was a temporary teacher at West Byfleet Secondary School in Surrey. We were tall, obstreperous teenagers around 15 years old and he was a short, wiry man, probably in his 30s, with whipcord muscles and an easy smile who taught us PE (Physical Exercise). He was the only teacher I can recall who had the courage to mix it with us on the Rugby field. Rugby is a rough game, especially when played by 15 year old Brits, and the opportunity to cause some physical pain to a teacher was ever-present and taken advantage of. He was certainly Rizalian, he gave what he got, and he acted as an equal.

I can’t recall a single racist remark being made against him. In fact, we became rather proud of him as a sort of Local Hero when, spotting the lower floor of a house on fire and realising the occupants were asleep and unaware on the upper floor, had the presence of mind to throw a milk bottle through the upstairs window to wake them up. He undoubtedly saved their lives.

Sadly, like the Rose, I cannot recall his name.

I was reminded of him while flipping through the Rizal issue of the Philippine Republic for December 1925. What caught my eye was a small paragraph that may have been printed at the request of the Bureau of Insular Affairs in Washington possibly at the behest of the British Foreign Office. The British government was searching for five brave Filipinos in order to give them medals.

The Filipinos, identified only as E. Laxinto, R. Valencia, H. Sim, J Demerin and C. Fernandez, were apparently working aboard the President Lines passenger ship SS President Taft when they went to assist the crew of a shipwrecked British merchant vessel, the Mary Horlock. Says the report “Their conduct was of such meritorious character it was reported to the British government, which has awarded each of the five men a medal of gallantry”.

All I can find on the Mary Horlock is that she was a dry cargo carrier of 5,253 tons and served in WW1. She sank in the Western Pacific on January 26, 1924. As of the December 1925 issue those five Filipino heroes had yet to be found.

I wonder if they ever got their medals?

A Rizal Breakfast

If you want a taste of what Rizal had for breakfast first make some chocolat-e (chocolat-espesyal), use the tabletas, they’re not easy to find but they are around, one or more per cup. Preferably the unsweetened ones. DO NOT USE HERSHY’S!!!  Boil water enough for however many cups you’re making, drop in the tabletas, use whisk and whisk until the tableta’s are dissolved and you have a rich, thick chocolate. There’s theobromine in there by the way, which gives real chocolate something of a kick. With more water it’s called chocolat aguada.

In the Spanish era Philippine chocolate was so highly regarded that the best chocolate came to be known as Filipinos. A name which a biscuit maker still gives to its product in Spain and Latin America.

Next get some sardinas secas , that’s the posh name for common tuyo, small dried fish about the size of your finger common everywhere. Fry the tuyo a little, get yourself some rice and you’re done. Eat the tuyo, drink the chocolate while you’re thinking about what’s it’s like to be shot in the back.

A trick question, what did Rizal have for breakfast on the morning of his execution?

He had nothing. He was given a couple of boiled eggs but left them for the rats saying something alone the lines of ‘You might as well have a fiesta’.

Snazzing up a Soup

Ok, break time. Since I like cooking I prefer homemade soups but sometimes there just isn’t the time. I’m not a purist – When I was living modestly in the UK and broke I’d boil some spaghetti, make a nest of it in a heatproof bowl, fill the centre with Campbell’s condensed soup, cover the lot with slices of cheese and grill until the cheese was nicely brown. I hungrier I was, the better it tasted.

Here in the Philippines (Subic Bay, if you want to know) I have to depend mainly on powdered soups which usually taste like… well, powdered soups. Here some solutions I found worked and made guests think I was giving them something spiffy.

For those ‘cream of soups’ I mix a tablespoon of Alaska for each portion, combine with just enough water to liquefy it and add to the cooked soup. That’s a good start. You can also get small nobs of butter (Magnolia Gold or Anchor, not butter substitutes or Star margarine) and, when you’ve put the soup into individual bowls ready for serving drop a nob of butter onto each. You can get fancier by mashing the butter with garlic to make garlic butter and using that instead.

For spiff na spiff, separate an egg for each portion. Put the yolks into a bowl, pour on some warmish soup and mix well, and quickly, then pour the mix into the soup, warm and mix in and serve. Do all three, it’ll be rich enough to buy a senator.

Don’t forget, too, hat a dash of booze works well. A little vodka in tomato soup, brandy in brown soups. The alcohol evaporates so the booze content will be low and it’s safe for kids.

What about egg whites. Always a question. If you’ve got an oven they’re good for browning pastries but my solution is to get some fresh or tinned (canned) fruit and whipped or whipping cream. Whip the egg whites until stiff. If you’ve got whipping cream whip it until its fairly firm, then carefully fold the egg whites and cream together, add sugar, brown is nice, some nutmeg or similar and fold them in, and slop in  little brandy like Emperador or Fundador fold that in and serve with the fruit.

Decoding Mi Ultimo Adios Verse 5

Verse 5

Ensueño de mi vida, mi ardiente vivo anhelo,

¡Salud te grita el alma que pronto va a partir!

¡Salud! Ah, que es hermoso caer por darte vuelo,

Morir por darte vida, morir bajo tu cielo,

Y en tu encantada tierra la eternidad dormir.

Dream of my life, my living and burning desire,

All hail! cries the soul that is now to take flight;

All hail! And sweet it is for thee to expire;

To die for thy sake, that thou mayst aspire;

And sleep in thy bosom eternity’s long night.

In talking of the ‘dream’ of his life and his “living, burning desire/fantasy” Rizal addresses the Patria of the imminent future, the Patria without sorrow, shame or stain, the Patria of his imagination, Filipinas as he would wish her to be and, more important, expects her to be for in line two he welcomes her arrival.

Salud has the sense of mabuhay, cheers, a votre sante, prosit, kampie, a term that is directly translatable into every language, Asian and Western. Significantly it is a term of distinctively positive value. Rizal welcomes the coming of the redeemed Patria at the moment his soul is about to depart as it verse three he refers to the imminent liberation of the country, its dawn of freedom.

His repetition of ‘salud’in the third line is the rousing cheer that greats a triumphal entry into the arena, the cheer of the crowd to a champion, bringing from the duplication of ‘Mis sueños cuando’, what was his dream is now a reality.

The sense of ‘it is beautiful to fall so that you can take flight/fly’ suggests that prehaps he expected his death to inspire the ongoing revolution or otherwise serve to liberate Patria. In flying, Patria, in the fourth verse becomes the sky, no longer in bondage but free and he is dying beneath her as the sky.

While Derbyshire uses quite abstract imagery in the last line Rizal gives us a very concrete image of Patria’s ‘enchanted earth’ (Other translators use this more correct terminology) . Notably he does not say ‘sacred earth’, perhaps because it would echo too much Christianity, in particular what Rizal perceived as the debased Christianity practiced in the Philippines. Enchantment also leads us, perhaps, to those ancient natural forces that surrounded the ancient pre-Hispanic Filipino and who, as spirits, ruled their daily lives. He rejects on and embraces, or is embraced by the other. At the same time. Enchantment implies the sense of captivation, enthrallment that Patria inspires. The earth of the Patria, therefore, has special, magical qualities.

The redemption of the Patria, in Rizal’s eyes was not a long-term objective but imminent, touchable and achievable.

Verse 6>

Decoding Mi Ultimo Adios Verse 4

Verse 4

Mis sueños cuando apenas muchacho adolescente,

Mis sueños cuando joven ya lleno de vigor,

Fueron el verte un día, joya del mar de oriente,

Secos los negros ojos, alta la tersa frente,

Sin ceño, sin arrugas, sin manchas de rubor.

My dreams, when life first opened to me,

My dreams, when the hopes of youth beat high,

Were to see thy lov’d face, O gem of the Orient sea,

From gloom and grief, from care and sorrow free

No blush on thy brow, no tear in thine eye. (Derbyshire)

Rizal now presents us with a flashback to the beginning of his love affair with the Patria. The Derbyshire translation however, removes some important contextual information. “My dreams when I was an adolescent boy/My dreams as a vigorous youth” writes Rizal in Spanish. Why does he specifically mention adolescence? It is a nod towards a man who, probably more than any other, sparked Rizal’s nationalism, the martyred Fr. Burgos who was executed when Rizal was almost 11 and, therefore, approaching adolescence.

Burgos was a friend of Rizal’s elder brother, Paciano, who infact was living with the priest in 1872, the year of his execution. It is to Burgos that Rizal refers in Noli Me Tangere as Ibarra passes the killing field of Bagumbayan: “He thought on the man who had opened the eyes of his intelligence and made him understand what was good and what was just”.

In a letter to Mariano Ponce in 1889, Rizal traced the emergence of nationalism to the deaths of Burgos and explains “At the sight of those injustices and cruelties, though still a child, my imagination awoke, and I swore that I would dedicate myself to avenge one day so many victims…”

Adolescence, the limbo between childhood and adulthood, is the time of sexual awakening and the attitudes and relationships of this period often become the templates for those of the rest of our lives. It was the moment of Rizal’s first crush, on a 14 year old colegiala called Segunda Katigbak at the still-extant Concordia College. His description of that relationship is revealing.

They were obviously attracted to each other yet, in the Guerro translation of his Memorias he writes: “I adopted a course of silence, determined that until I should see greater proofs of sympathy between us, I would not subject myself to her yoke, or tell her that I love her.” Later, in words of heartbreak he says: “Ended at an early hour, my first love!… My illusions will return, yes, but indifferent, uncertain, ready for the first betrayal on the path of love”

From then on Rizal shows a reluctance to dive into the pool of love wholeheartedly and his fear of betrayal survived into his last relationship, with Josephine Bracken.

Of Segunda, Rizal says “I realized that she was the woman who satisfied completely the yearning of my heart, and I told myself that I had lost her”.

It is legitimate to wonder whether the imagery of the redeemed, honorable Partia with dark eyes and head held high is an echo of Segunda Katigbak, Rizal’s first love.

In this verse Rizal tells us when and by whom his love for the Patria was ignited, when he began to dream of Patria with her dark eyes dry and her head held high and proud, without sorrow or shame. Here we have Rizal’s personification of the Patria as a sorrowing, shamed woman to be redeemed.

Yet where does Patria’s shame come from? She has not, by her actions, shamed herself. The answer may have its inspiration close to Rizal’s own home: His mother was illegitimate at a time when social mores held illegitimacy itself to be a cause of shame, a background shared by his heroine, Maria Clara. Rizal adored his mother yet, like Patria, she was tainted by the circumstances of her birth, just as the Patria is tainted by the morally illicit complicity between Filipinos and Spaniards. The Patria’s shame can only be redeemed by Filipinos themselves.

Verse  5>

Decoding Mi Ultimo Adios – Verse 3

Yo muero cuando veo que el cielo se colora

Y al fin anuncia el día tras lóbrego capuz;

si grana necesitas para teñir tu aurora,

Vierte la sangre mía, derrámala en buen hora

Y dórela un reflejo de su naciente luz.

I die just when I see the dawn break,

Through the gloom of night, to herald the day;

And if color is lacking my blood thou shalt take,

Pour’d out at need for thy dear sake,

To dye with its crimson the waking ray. (Derbyshire)

It was line four of this verse that first brought home the inadequacy of most translations. Rizal talks of his blood being shed “en buen hora”, or, in a literal English translation, at ‘the good hour”. Derbyshire has this as “Pour’d out at need”, a version by Frank Hilario has it as “pour at such beneficial hour,” while Victor Elazio has it a “at a good hour”. A version used in the Sound and Light Presentation in Intramuros has it as ‘in good hour’.

In fact, en buen hora is a term that has equivalents in several Latinate languages, in French it is la bonne heure, but no real equivalent in English and the literal translation “the good hour” does not really represent the same meaning. Thus the Derbyshire, Hilario and Elazio translations (The Intramuros translation is nonsensical) give it the sense of shedding Rizal’s blood at an appropriate time.

The term refers to early dawn, at, and shortly, after sunrise when the air is fresh and clear and the day is new, the precise time, in fact, when he was executed. It’s hardly likely that Rizal would be offering to shed his blood at an opportune moment, as suggested in the translations, if he was already dead, whatever his belief might be in the afterlife, he has already shed it.

The message here is that our lack of familiarity with Rizal’s language necessarily separates us from its meaning. This should be a matter of concern. Verse 3, and its various translations demonstrate why.

Just a verse 2 relates to verse 1 through sacrifice for the redemption of the Patria, verse 3 builds on verse 2 – for Rizal, he is to die as the moment of redemption is at hand.

Here are three translations from those mentioned earlier:

I die just when I see the dawn break,

Through the gloom of night, to herald the day; (Derbyshire)

I die as I see the sky flushes with color
And announces day at last, after a dark night; (Hilario)

And at last, the day breaks clad in a mournful cape (Elazio)

What Rizal actually writes is:

Yo muero cuando veo que el cielo se colora

Y al fin anuncia el día tras lóbrego capuz;

While Elizio concatenates the first two lines he retains an significant word which he translates as ‘cloak’ but which can also translate as ‘cowl’ – capuz. Hilario wisely retains the reference to colour which is lost in the Derbyshire translation. Another translation has the phrase “as dawn unfurls its colours’. The significant word is colora but the most significant image is of dawn.

Dawn appears frequently in Rizal’s writings in the context of liberation. In a letter left with a friend in Hong Kong to be published after his death he writes: “I shall die blessing my country and wishing her the dawn of redemption”. Through Padre Florentino in El Filisterismo he says “When the people rise to this height, God provides the weapon, and the idols fall, the tyrants fall like a house of cards, and freedom shines in the first dawn.” (My italics).

That Rizal is using the same image reference in the third verse of Mi Ultimo Adios is certainly not speculation nor over-reading. “I die seeing the dawn colour”, or ‘become coloured’ or “as I see the colours of the dawn’, are not unreasonable paraphrases into English. The colour of dawn, in this imagery is red, the colour of blood, the colour of combat and he sees the dawn of freedom as something imminent.

Other layers of meaning are worth noting. The term ‘colour’ can also refer to a flag. When a ship, or a regiment, go into battle they ‘raise their colours’, their identifying symbol in combat. Rizal has already referred to this combat in verse 2.

When we get to “Y al fin anuncia el día tras lóbrego capuz;” Elazio is way off mark except for the reference to the cape. Here the dawn announces or heralds ‘el dia’ through, or beneath, the cowl of gloom or darkness. ‘El dia’ is the day of freedom, the dawn of which has just broken. Implicit in this imagery is the presence of the sun, light, liwanag, against which darkness cannot prevail.

The capuz, cowl or cape, is without question a reference to the friars whom he had criticized, not always fairly, throughout his writings. Hatred of the friars was far from universal outside the Tagalog provinces and Rizal had, as the Brits say, a bone to pick with the Dominicans whom he felt had unfairly evicted the Mercado family, his family, from their property.

Nevertheless, through the 19th century, as Spain lost the power to administer its colonies it came more and more to depend on the friar orders to impose some form of control. In effect the friars acted as an autonomous arm of government in a form of symbiosis with the Spanish administration. It was not always a comfortable relationship since the friars inevitably represented conservative attitudes that were challenged by Spain’s periodic shift to anti-clerical liberal government. Whatever liberalizing winds came from the peninsular, however, were well-minimised by the time they reached the archipelago.

As independent agents of Spain with tremendous moral force in the Philippines the friars stood in the way of independence. As agents for the conservative mindset they stood in the way of liberalizing the lot of the Filipino.

One should, however, be wary of accepting these perceptions as representing the actual situation, at least outside the Tagalog provinces. In the Cordilleras, and elsewhere, the friars became the protectors of the hillsmen against the depredations of Spanish military personnel, a problem which, when resolved, usually resulted in the hillsmen requesting the removal of the friars in a cycle of dialogue that shows the hillsmen knew well how to work the system.

In Samar, where there were no friar lands, the friars led defensive and offensive against slave raiders with such success that creating an export industry in hemp and coconut oil became viable, whereupon the friars proceeded to provide the wherewithal to develop such industries for the progress of the island.

Till, to Rizal it was the gloomy capuz of the friar orders that prevented progress and liberty.

In the third line and fourth line, Rizal offers his blood to the Patria if she needs it more red for the colours of the day, that she should take it en buen hora, the good hour, the hour of his execution, to match/reflect/dye the naciente luz.

The naciente luz, returns us to the sun as liwanag, the light that leads to that state of grace implied by kalayaan, a state of ease, where there are no slaves or tyrants. This is not merely a physically rising sun but Father Florentino’s first dawn in which the light of freedom shines reflected in Rizal’s blood.

Verse 4 >