Pieces of the National Hero
Three original letters of Jose Rizal will be up for auction next weekend at Leon Gallery, and I am curious to see if they will meet or exceed the estimated price of P1 million each. All the letters are legible, well-preserved, and signed with Rizal’s trademark flourish. These are personal letters to his sister Maria that give us a sense of his life in exile first in Hong Kong and then in Dapitan. A lot of press attention has been generated for this sale, but none provides the full text of the letters, translated from the original Tagalog.
On Dec. 28, 1891, Rizal wrote to his sister Maria from Hong Kong:
“They have all arrived and I am informed of all that is happening to you.
“I do wish very much to see you but, according to my information, you have three children and it seems that I have to go there. Endure all the hardships in this life and you may rest assured that in the other life you will have only joy and happiness. Our life is short and our hardships ephemeral. Suffer everything for your name, Rizal, and your children.
“I’m told that your children are very pretty and bright. May God have mercy on all. When there is sadness, there is happiness.
“Please ask Kabesang Tika for the papers that Kabesang Sallo left with Albino and get them. In case Sixto Lopez will go there to get my book, please give it to him.
“This is all. May God give you a happy and prosperous New Year and make your children models of goodness. Kisses for your children. This is all.”
From Dapitan on July 21, 1895, Rizal wrote:
“I received your letter and noted its contents. I received all that you have sent me. The rice, however, is lacking, as only two sacks were delivered. The tubes are large.
“Miss B. (Josephine Bracken) sends her regards and asks me to tell you that the scissors have been lost. Perhaps on the next boat she would take the aparador that I got back from Capitan Venancio. Of your debtors no one has paid me yet. Please tell Sr. Pedro that if he cannot come here by October, he had better wait for my message because I may transfer to Ponot.
“Don’t send me anything except: rice, salt, soap, and postage stamps. I was able to save the Alferez, thank God. They say that Suan scolded the sobrecargo because of your coming here without your name appearing on the list of passengers. They say you might have brought me some news. Sr. Cipriano got sick here when he came to get your money for freight.
“They say Tamarong had died of fever. He left 30,000 in addition to land and houses. Arrieta and Ina Pedro have a quarrel over house rentals. Please send me a Compendio de Geografia and tell me how much it costs. This is all and command me.”
Again from Dapitan, on Oct. 22, 1895, Rizal wrote:
“My dear sister:
“I have received your letter and noted its contents. No fish hooks have arrived and I have not received the passion fruit (granadillas).
“Please tell Sr. Pedro that if he does not really need my medical assistance, he should not take the trouble of travelling here. He might think that I badly need his help. Some day he might blame me for his coming here. If there is any other doctor there, he should go to him. Please tell him this and also Trining, and don’t urge anyone to come to me here. It seems that they do not have such a great desire to be treated by me and they are waiting to be urged. God willing, I can get along through thrift. I don’t wish them to remind me of my indebtedness to them and to almost enslave me and interfere in my personal affairs. Therefore, let the sick who really need me come, but not those who think that they would help me with their doctor’s fees. Tell this to Mang Pedro and to Trining’s acquaintances.
“If because of what I have said and if there is a doctor there who can treat him, Sr. Pedro will not come here, you may let Morris and Tan come with Tom and Mate and I can teach them here. In that case I’m going to build a large house in which my nephews can live. Miss B. is sending you her regards.
“List of my remittance: one demijohn of honey, 2 Tagikanes (one for Sra. Concha, the other for Sra. Tikang), two canes, Durian for Sr. Paciano, Lansones for all, Gogo for all, Mangosteen skins.”
This is the first time Rizal’s letters have come on the market, so this sale will determine how much people are willing to pay to own a piece of the National Hero.
Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
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