‘Patapangin ang puso sa ano mang panganib’

/ 05:38 AM January 01, 2019

This line seized me, reading over the holidays. “At dahil ang buhay ay puno ng pighati’t sakuna, patibayin ang loob sa ano mang hirap, patapangin ang puso sa ano mang panganib.” Rizal wrote that almost 130 years ago, to the women of Malolos, but it speaks to me and perhaps many others, too at this difficult time. “And because life is full of pain and suffering, strengthen the will against any difficulty, steel the heart against any danger.”

On second thought, “steel the heart” does not fully capture the act of encouragement that is Rizal’s appeal. “Patapangin ang puso” quite literally means “make the heart brave.” Or, since the context is Rizal’s notion of women’s responsibility to raise the next generation right, perhaps the better translation is “form brave hearts.”


Rizal’s letter to the women of Malolos, written in February 1889 at the prompting of Marcelo del Pilar, is entirely in Tagalog. It is not Rizal’s only letter in Tagalog, but it is certainly the longest. It is also an extraordinary social document, one that simultaneously shows Rizal as both a man of his time and a man ahead of it.

I have translated the paragraph from which the passage comes, as follows:


“Let us take time to reflect, and open our eyes, especially you women, because you are the ones who open people’s minds. Think, that the good mother is different from the mother fooled by the friars; you should raise the child, so to speak, near the portrait of the true God, the God who cannot be bribed, the God who is not greedy for money, the God who is the father of all, who favors no one, the God who does not fatten on the blood of the poor, who does not take joy in the cries of the miserable, and blinds the intelligent. Awake and prepare the mind of the child according to these good principles: love for integrity, sincere and earnest heart, clear mind, good manners, noble action, love for fellowmen, praise for the Creator: this is what you should teach your child. And because life is full of pain and suffering, strengthen the will against any difficulty, make the heart brave against any danger. The nation should not wait for innocence and relief, if children are raised crookedly, if the women who will raise our children lie prostrate and ignorant. We cannot drink from a dirty and bitter source; a sour plant does not bear sweet fruit.”

Rizal’s notion of this particular responsibility, of women raising the next generation right, is formed in large part by his own experience, having himself learned at the foot of his erudite mother. But he also profited from the example of his many sisters, none of whom may have been as learned as their mother, but all of whom demonstrated profound integrity, sincere and earnest hearts, love for their fellowmen. When I read the Tagalog original, as copied by Mariano Ponce and published in the “Epistolario Rizalino,” I imagine Rizal reaching deep into his memory, and finding his mother and his sisters there:

Maghunos-dili nga tayo, at imulat natin ang mata, lalong lalo na kayong mga babai, sa pagkat kayo ang nagbubukas ng loob ng tao. Ysipin, na ang mabuting ina ay iba, sa inang linalang ng fraile; dapat palakhin ang anak na malapit baga sa larawan ng tunay na Dios, Dios na di nasusuhulan, Dios na di masakim sa salapi, Dios na ama ng lahat, na walang kinikilingan, Dios na di tumataba sa dugo ng mahirap, na di nagsasaya sa daing ng naruruhagui, at nanbubulag ng matalinong isip. Gisingin at ihanda ang loob ng anak sa balang mabuti at mahusay na akala: pagmamahal sa puri, matapat at timtimang loob, maliwanag na pagi-isip, malinis na asal, maginoong kilos, pagibig sa kapua, at pagpipitagan sa Maykapal, ito ang ituro sa anak. At dahil ang buhay ay puno ng pighati’t sakuna, patibayin ang loob sa ano mang hirap, patapangin ang puso sa ano mang panganib. Huag mag antay ang bayan ng puri at ginhawa, samantalang liko ang pagpapalaki sa bata, samantalang lugami at mangmang ang babaying magpapalaki ng anak. Walang mai-inom sa labo at mapait ng bukal; walang matamis na bunga sa
punlang maasim.

On Twitter: @jnery_newsstand.
E-mail: [email protected]

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