Jose Rizal meets the Governor General; we learn Ibarra is a Yellow

By Joe America

Jose Rizal covered many of the topics we discus today because the Philippines hasn’t changed much in 125 years.

I am reading Noli Me Tangere as translated by Leon Ma. Guerrero who, according to Manuel L. Quezon III, does the best job of highlighting the satirical qualities of Rizal’s writing while other translations are truer literal translations of the book. I like satire, and I love this book.

Shortly after Crisostomo Ibarra accosts Father Damaso for his insults to Ibarra’s family, he meets with the Governor General of the Philippines. Ibarra is in big trouble with the priests . . . they’ve excommunicated him . . . but not so with the Governor General.

Let’s listen in.


“Did you come across my family?”

“Your Excellency had just left for this post when I had the honor of making their acquaintance.”

“Then how is it that you came back without a letter of recommendation to me?”

“Sir,” answered Ibarra with a slight bow, “I did not return directly from Spain. Besides, having been told of Your Excellency’s character, I thought that a letter of recommendation would not only be useless but even offensive. All of us Filipinos are commended to your care.”

The old soldier smiled, and he replied slowly, as if measuring and weighing his words. “It flatters me that you think that, and that is how it should be! However, young man, you should know the burdens that rest on our shoulders in the Philippines. Here, we old soldiers must do everything and be everything. King, Ministers of State, of War, of the Interior, of Economic Development, of Justice and all that. What is worse, we must consult the home government on every point, and that distant government, according to the circumstances, approves or disapproves our proposals, sometimes without knowing anything about them. As we Spanish say: Jack of all trades, master of none! Furthermore we come, usually knowing little about the country, and leave it just when we are getting to know it. I can be frank with you; it would be useless to pretend that things are otherwise. So, if in Spain itself, where every branch of the Government has its own minister, born and bred in the country, where there is a press and public opinion, where a forthright opposition opens the eyes of the Administration and enlightens it, everything is still run imperfectly and defectively, it is a miracle that everything is not topsy-turvey here, where those advantages are lacking and where a more powerful opposition exists and plots under cover. We in the Government do not lack good intentions, but we are compelled to make use of the eyes and arms of others, whom we usually do not know, and who perhaps, instead of serving the interest of the country, only serve their own. That is not our fault but that of circumstances. The friars help us not a little out of our difficulties, but they are no longer enough. You interest me, and I would not want the imperfections of the present governmental system to do you any harm. But I cannot stand guard over everybody, and not everybody can appeal to me. Can I be of use to you in anything? Do you have anything to ask?”

Iberra reflected.

“Sir,” he answered, “my greatest desire is the happiness of my country, a happiness which I would wish to be due to the Motherland and to the efforts of my fellow citizens, one united to the others with eternal ties of common ideals and common interests. What I ask can only be given by the Government after many years of continuous work and the correct measures of reform.”

His Excellency looked him in the eyes for a few seconds, and Ibarra returned the look unaffectedly.

“You are the first in this country who has talked to me like a man,” the Governor General exclaimed, shaking Ibarra’s hand.

“Your Excellency has only met the opportunists who infest the capital. You have not visited the huts of our villages, on which so many calumnies have been poured. There Your Excellency would meet true men, if to be a man it is enough to have a generous heart and simple habits.”

The Governor General rose to his feet and paced up and down the hall. “Mr. Ibarra,” he said, stopping suddenly.

The young man stood up.

“I’m leaving this country, perhaps within a month. Your breeding and your way of thinking are not for this country. Sell what you have, pack up your things, and come with me to Europe. The climate will be healthier for you.”

“I will remember Your Excellency’s kindness as long as I live,” answered Ibarra who was rather touched. “But I must live in this country where my parents lived . . .”

“Where they died, would be more accurate. Believe me, perhaps I know your country better than you do. Ah, now I remember,” he cried, changing his tone, “you are marrying that adorable young lady, and I am keeping you here. Off with you now!” . . .


Some of my take-aways:

  • Today, Ibarra is best represented collectively by the Yellows. Educated. Honest. Progressive. If a specific person were to be named as being similar in character to Ibarra, it might be Vice President Robredo.
  • The Duterte Government is the same collection of self-dealers and problem-makers that the Governor General describes.
  • It would take time to move from the dysfunctional ways of the Philippines both then and now to a more modern, constructive society. That transition was missed with the loss of Mar Roxas in the 2016 presidential campaign. He would have added six years of substantially clean, constructive governance to the six of President Aquino. Instead, voters took the nation backward, back to square one. Back to . . . not a real nation, but a collection of self-dealing cabals.
  • Spain was not Rizal’s main complaint. Self-dealing by empowered Filipinos, and as we will see in future readings, the priests were his main complaints.
  • Rizal (through Ibarra) saw the common man as simple and good. Today, we’d have to debate if that is still true. Gullible. Ignorant. Fixated on Showtime and Face Book. I’d say most Filipinos are still good, but they are under a lot of nefarious pressure.
  • The Governor General recognizes the futility of living and working in the Philippines. Ibarra recognizes the riches.

I fear Dr. Jose Rizal would not be pleased with today’s Philippines.


63 Responses to “Jose Rizal meets the Governor General; we learn Ibarra is a Yellow”
  1. Andres 2018. says:

    Im not a fan of Rizal because he was an Ilustrado. They are land grabbers. Well, Rizal never fight for Philippine Sovereignty, he wanted the Philippines to be a province of Spain! Andres Bonifacio was the man, he started the Philippine Revolution against Spain.

    • Vhin AB says:

      @Andres – Yes, Jose Rizal was an ilustrado. Educated, enlightened and part of middle class family during his time. However, I have never known Jose Rizal himself as a land grabber unless you can enlighten all of us about it.

      I think Jose Rizal fought the colonists in his own style. Andres Bonifacio and other Katipuneros had their own as well as other heroes we look up to but that’s another story.

      • Andres 2018. says:

        Jose Rizal’s family were hacienderos, they cultivate vast lands and pay rent to the Dominican friars. Conflicts between the hacienderos and the friars arose because of the unfair rentals that the friars demanded. To Rizal, the system should be fair to both parties. This case was even heard in the Court of Madrid, where the Court ruled in favor of the friars. To cut it short, Rizal’s goal was to maintain the hacienda system, reform it and make it fair and equal to all parties. However, Rizal could have prayed for the abolishment of the entire hacienda system and gave it to every Filipinos, that is, if he truly cares for land reform. Now, in our present time, Rizal’s outlook of the land reform is that like of the land owners, who would pray for fair and equitable tax payments to the government, but avoid the idea of giving their lands to the agrarian reform beneficiaries.

        Yes, Rizal fought the colonists in his peaceful style for the equality of the Filipinos and the Spaniards, but not for the complete Philippine Independence. Rizal is a reformist, not a revolutionist.

        • So he should have been a socialist and everything would be fine? I will be doing more excerpts from the book and maybe they will shed more light on this haciendero goal of his . . . or his family’s, as projected on him by you. I agree he was not a revolutionist. I would only alert unknowing readers that your own political leanings, socialistic, would naturally place you at odds with Rizal. But we can explore this further as we work through excerpts of the book.

          • If you’d like to address my takeaways from this excerpt, please do so.

          • Andres 2018. says:

            The land reform issues during the time of Rizal was actually depicted in his novel, on the part about Kabesang Tales, i will not spoil, since it was in the second novel if i recall correctly.

            Rizal should have go with Bonifacio, both of them, together with the others, should have created the first independent Philippine government. But since Rizal do not like the idea of the revolution, the tandem was not materialized. (Spoiler Alert) This stance of Rizal was in fact, foreshadowed in Rizal’s Novel, in the chapter were Elias, a revolutionary, approached Ibarra and Ibarra ignored.

            • Thanks for the heads up. That’s next on my reading list. Ibarra did not ignore Elias, at this point of the book. Ibarra saved Elias’s life (the crocodile) and Elias saved Ibarra’s (collapsing cornerstone scaffolding). I’ll watch for the ‘ignoring’ part. Maybe it is coming. Elias certainly brings drama to the stage. Makes it an action book.

              • Andres 2018 says:

                Not “ignoring” per se, but rather ignoring Elias call for him to be part of the revolution. (Spoiler Alert) At some point, Ibarra will offer Elias that both of them should escape to Europe and live there. At that point i dislike Ibarra. Elias and Ibarra are basically Bonifacio and Rizal. (Spoiler Alert) With his novel, it is interesting to note that Rizal even predicted how Bonifacio (thru Elias) will die.

              • Ok. I’m not there yet.

            • kasambahay says:

              revolution! had bonifacio lived today, he would have been successful. joma would be fan, npa would have fully supported him too, sharing same ideologies sila, and abu sayyaf would also give begrudging support. and with all their combined and concerted effort, they could have easily bring down a govt, the 9 dash line slashed with katipunero’s bolo, haha.

              sayang, bonifacio was born in the wrong time, wrong moment, met the wrong people.

              had bonifacio been alive today, he would have supported rallies and marched with students and with his organizational skill, the whole nation would be his. there would be power sharing, less corruption and cleaner politicians.

    • He was a student, linguist, traveler, doctor, builder, lover, humanist, writer and a far, far superior thinker than you or me. What’s not to like about that? Like the friars of that time, you’d have to make stuff up or have really crooked values not to appreciate such a person. He did not like the corrupt. He struggled to get money to publish his books. He lived off the generosity of people who admired him. Calling him names is just overlaying today’s cheap-shotting onto a Filipino who was exceptional, as a human being.

      • I found that author , Joe. it’s Ambeth Ocampo, he used to write these newspaper columns on Rizal (and other historical figures there), then compiled said columns into books. I read his books.

        I only read the Rizal ones though. Ocampo also has original works in book form. But the novels by Rizal you’re reading now will be well colored IMHO having read it along side his journals via Ambeth Ocampo’s perspective.

        Ambeth Ocampo is surely a Filipino’s historian.

        I ‘ve only picked up Rizal’s two novels (Ambeth Ocampo does try to assemble Rizal’s third novel). but I thought the two novels were rather too elementary. Maybe it has to be read in its original Spanish.

        I mention Ambeth Ocampo because Rizal’s journal, the biographical stuff, not his novels, is where it’s at. Rizal’s outing with the Luna brothers is hilarious, and his other European adventures. Rizal shines as himself, humor, humanity and humidity (that’s the tropical part).

        His time in Dapitan is how you’ll understand his future plans, thus negating Andres2018‘s views above. He was like Kobe (RIP) and his Mamba Academy (who planned to insert women into the NBA, not the WNBA), Rizal had 20 or more students he taught in Dapitan, his curriculum which Ocampo outlines is very telling that

        had Rizal lived another 10-20 years, he would ‘ve inserted his padawans (to use a Star Wars term for Jedi apprentices) thru out the Philippines. Thus affecting his own brand of revolution, a long-term well-thought out thorough plan…

        opposite of Bonifacio’s upstart, haphazard, ill-planned one.

        So in essence using your blog here as analogy, Bonifacio would be DU30; Rizal is Mar (though I stress, if you read closely Rizal’s curriculum in Dapitan, I don’t have any of Mr. Ocampo’s book with me no more, you

        would see that his academy was the opposite of Mar’s BPO industry). 🙂

        • Isk says:

          @ LCpl

          So in essence using your blog here as analogy, Bonifacio would be DU30

          I think the analogy is way off! lol

          Duterte has none of these qualifying character of Bonifacio, courage, bravery and patriotism.

          • Isk,

            Sorry, didn’t mean to (or to demean) Bonifacio by equating him to DU30. My intention was to illustrate that Bonifacio didn’t compare to Rizal… not even by a long shot.

            I know there was an undercurrent to diminish Rizal while building up Bonifacio over there.

            Which I totally don’t agree with. Bonifacio was a common Filipino organizer, ie. too many Chiefs not enough injuns. w/ ill thought out plans or no plans at all.

            Frats over there;the Masons, all sorts of groups, people just wanna make groups so they can make themselves “chairman” or “supremo”, Barangay captains, or whatever. Everyone wants to be the leader,

            thus too many organizations for orgs sake.

            I’m saying Bonifacio was common, while Rizal was your sui generis that needs to be brought up more often. in this regard, only in this regard, Bonifacio is like DU30. Not saying Bonifacio went around kissing pretty ladies, or cussing.

      • Isk, I submit proof of Rizal’s badassery above.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    When critics hear or read yellow they are quick to enumerate the faults of Pnoy and Mar and some congressmen and senators, others even mention Cory.

    Same with Rizal as demonstrated by Andres above but his(Andres) gripes are akin to Digong!s I hate oligarchs but I love Uy, Villar and Marcos.

  3. popoy says:

    If there’s breaking news, there too
    Must be Breaking Blogs

    In LA’s Staples Center
    Celebrities and nobodies were there
    Many even those who did not know him
    Were there in his life’s hoops court.

    His media of skills and achievement
    He may have feet of clay and
    Raptured Achilles heel yet he was
    More stainless than tarnished.

    Celebrated in tears
    and booming silence
    Kobe Bryant was TRUTH
    Of excellent fatherhood
    And genius basketball for
    All colors of mankind.

    His President should have
    Been there not to extol
    Nor say a word about him
    But just be a dot in solitude
    Among the American
    racial multitudes.

    And so it will come to pass
    Unforgotten in the annals of NBA
    The truth that the President in person
    wasn’t there at all.
    ****February 1, 2020

    • Micha says:

      Hey popoy, could you please avoid posting comments that have nothing to do with the subject matter of the current blog? Thank you.

      • popoy says:

        So sori Micha, you are not TSoH, just delete or don’t read my post as I do to most of your postings.

        • Micha says:

          Hey popoy, it’s a request for you to self-moderate on your out of topic postings so as not to entirely ruin the subject matter at hand. Oki?

          I don’t think that Joe America is happy with declining viewership of his blog partly because of your out of topic and irrelevant comments.

          • popoy says:

            I am sorry Joe America for causing your unhappiness due to my out of topic and irrelevant comments. I apologise JoeAm for the declining viewership for reasons of intellect or idiocy of which my postings have no hand on their being. Just say scram and I will evaporate.

    • Micha says:

      This is not a chat site. It is a forum for thoughtful discussion.

      – JoeAm’s policy and terms.

      Thoughtful discussion preferably on current blog topic.

      • popoy says:

        Thanks Micha for initiating with me a thoughtful discussion.

        • Micha says:

          Actually, no. I am not interested in your idiotic flowery verses inducing verbal diarrhea.

          It is my understanding that this site is not a hang out place for some bored octogenarian who has nothing better to do than post Youtube lyrics of Frank Sinatra songs.

  4. Rizal I think processed a lot of his own doubts via his novels.

    1) a) Noli for me has the prototype of the later red vs. yellow dispute, aka Elias and Ibarra
    b) it also has crab on steroids, the hate unleashed against Ibarra by the village, much like the hate against yellow back in 2016. There is also a bit of yellow do-gooder naiveness on the part of Ibarra.

    2) Fili is Ibarra turned bitter, angry Simoun, a character much like Duterte but smarter. There is Basilio grown up and Isagani, both students. There are killings, students arrested, sedition.

    3) Finally Rizal when exiled to Dapitan went a way similar to that of Leni Robredo or Gang Badoy – helping the poor with small projects (but low-key to not attract crabs) and teaching commoners.

    He found an evolutionary grassroots approach, dropping Ibarra’s elitist developmental approach, Elias’ simplistic revolutionary approach and Simoun’s martial law approach as inappropriate.

    Ilustrado BTW meant more than propertied. It mean educated. Cynthia Villar is NOT an ilustrada. The 19th-century bourgeois ideal was to cultivate oneself, not merely be a materialistic person.

    The Noli was written in Berlin, Jagerstr. 71, not too far from the later Checkpoint Charlie. One of Rizal’s friends in Berlin was the medical scientist Rudolph Virchow. Thinking of 2019nCov..

    The publisher of the Noli, Maximo Viola, is somehow related to Raissa Robles’ mother, I recall. Just like the Visayan ilustrado Graciano Lopez Jaena is a great-uncle of journo Inday Espina-Varona. Real members of these old ilustrado families are modest and rarely if ever mention their ancestry.

    • kasambahay says:

      dr jose rizal did not have his visa cancelled unlike majority of duterte’s admin. citizen of the world rizal is like what some filipinos are now these days. north, east, west and south anywhere in the world may pinoys. lapland included. I nearly drop dead 1st time I saw moose.

      rizal never forgot his roots and his beginning. he brings the sad plight of the filipinos to world, how oppressed we were, how marginalized, how bastado our colonizers were. he made powerful enemies and much determined detractors. and rizal faced them all right up to the end. his life what what he believe.

      thanks, ireneo.

    • Thanks for the perspectives. Clearly, he went through transitions, as we are when forced to deal with our life’s circumstances. Thanks for clarifying the Ilustrado term. I always considered it a compliment and it is interesting that, to a socialist, it is an insult. Thus we have the patterns underlying today’s waves of trolling.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Now I understand why Raisa reacted on Joe’s tweet about Guerrero’s translation.

  5. karlgarcia says:

    To confirm definition of ilustrado

    Andres has a way of passing on his confusion

    • kasambahay says:

      andres2018 bombed out on pisa exam, haha. anyway, had bonifacio been alive today, I very much doubt the usurper would be buried in libingan.

    • NHerrera says:

      Thanks for the blog article, Joeam. Surely, Rizal was a man of his time.

      From the link provided by karl, here is a photo of the three prominent Ilustrados in Spain in 1890: Dr. José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Mariano Ponce  (from left to right).

      I love the poses of the three Ilustrados in the photo [which must have been taken in a studio] — in the order, left to right. The standing pose of Rizal attired as shown is similar to the ones we usually see of him, such as in statues. [I wonder if he had several pairs, hahaha.] His pose and attire is such as to attract the ladies? I note, if Irineo can correct if I am mistaken, that Rizal is only about 5 feet.

      Another one I saw Rizal that impressed me is his standing with sword in hand, ready for a fencing exercise. [After having taken a semester class in foil fencing, I have come to love the “romance” associated with fencing and the “duel.”]

      Oops. I better stop chatting about the physical Rizal. I will not add to Rizal and his mind and ideas at the the moment. I am enjoying reading the comments on this latter aspect as they are.

  6. NHerrera says:


    Sorry, this departs from the spirit of the blog article.

    The Philippines has the first death from the 2019-nCoV virus. This from 2 confirmed cases as reported internationally.

    • karlgarcia says:

      The man who died was asymptomatic, no symptoms but still dropped dead. Plus the lab tests sent out toAustralia came out negative, what will they report tomorrow?

      • karlgarcia says:

        I should have stopped at asymptomatic, I will reconfirmed what I said by the man testing negative.

          • kasambahay says:

            I cannot explain, karlg, but I think I was there when the 44yr old coronavirus man died. he died in the morning around 10-ish, momentarily alone in isolation when death called on him. he was not contorted in pain, not bitter and not combative like he was only 44yrs and still have so much to live. instead, he was calm and resigned like he knew he was going to die and has accepted death. not long after, 3doctors in hasmat suits called on him and pronounced him dead. the dead was wearing white kamisita? sleeveless. for a chinese, he did not have pale skin, brownish siya the color of coffee with milk. maybe it was the virus that changed his color, I dont know.

            he was well cared and given dignity, considering our hospital is not really comparable to those in rich countries in resources, facilities and technologies. his beddings changed regularly, he was given punas when showering cannot be had. kahit hindi na niya kayang kumain, food was still brought to him to instill in him that life goes on, that he was still part of the human race, until then. well documented siya from admittance to death. something like discharge summary will be sent his family, stating cause of death.

            the room he was in was small but clean, I was listening for the tell tale hiss of negative air pressure common in isolation rooms when I got cut off.

            I’ll pray for the repose of the soul of this man I did not know.

    • The format is still open discussion, although we should attend to the article mainly.

  7. popoy says:

    Honorables or not readers should have the chance to read factual info in TSoH. Like this
    BREAKING BLOG like the one above by NHerrera.

  8. NHerrera says:

    Thanks for the links, karl and popoy, on what DOH has done and is doing about the coronavirus infections in the PH, including about the person who died, etc.

    The PH is noted for bayanihan in times of natural disasters. We should do the same about this crisis.

    The media has a substantial role to play here.

    • NHerrera says:

      I took note of this comment from our Editor:

      The Society of Honor says:
      February 2, 2020 at 7:58 pm

      The format is still open discussion, although we should attend to the article mainly.

      And I say — AMEN.

  9. popoy says:

    A person I do not (may be even lots of TSoH people) do not personally know have written this address to popoy:

    Micha says:
    February 2, 2020 at 12:38 am
    “Actually, no. I am not interested in your idiotic flowery verses inducing verbal diarrhea.
    It is my understanding that this site is not a hang out place for some bored octogenarian who has nothing better to do than post Youtube lyrics of Frank Sinatra songs.”

    TO WHICH popoy begs to reply:

    Octogenarians with few months or years to live have no more time to get bored anymore because of commitments to finish some paintings, some two or more books to edit and publish. Intelligent young or old, even those doing with useless or unworthy things with normal minds don’t get bored, more so if they observe and respect their grandparents. From grade school to dropping out of doctoral courses it is possible not to experience boredom. For the next guy though, hanging out can be a cure for boredom. Music is about truth and not for the untruthful.
    Poems or flowery verses are written not for imbeciles who may not appreciate or understand them. The quality of critical words we write on paper or the internet for arguments or whatever purpose reveals our character, the kind of parents we have, the kind of upbringing we might have given to the children.

    Popoy is an adapted nom de plume from four upright persons, two artists, an entrepreneur, and a mentor of higher education. He hides not his identity for reasons of safety or money or corrupt past. When one is lucky to be octogenarian, one is ready to go, to leave behind with a chuckle his failure or modicum of success.

    Popoy’s second volume of poetry with a preface written by Joe America has this blurb:
    Constant Winds: Up Close and Personal Volume 2 is Andy’s second series of Andy’s Poems & Poetry Collection. This outstanding collection of eighty poems selected for Constant Winds: Seven Decades of Life Journey Revealed brings together Andy Ibay’s intimate thoughts on humanity, his shared memories on family & friends, and honest opinions on socio-politics events -some quite controversial yet unique unto itself. Andy didn’t mince any words in his poems. Many are his personal favorites and represent his bold experiments in writing and intellectual explorations. His original thoughts may require a thinking audience. The short verse offers a glimpse of his ideas, depth, and diverse realm.

    This poetry book could potentially be used as part of a learning curriculum in a college or major university. Between the covers of this book, you’ll find a myriad of different themes: living, loving, and laughing. There are some images of successful attempts on art & painting. He shared deep thoughts and self-introspection about mortality, relationships, and dealing with grief, loss.
    This poetry collection is a great book not only for teachers, students, and educators alike but for Filipino “Pinoy” immigrants and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) as well.

    For poetry lovers and book enthusiasts, this book transports us to the different places around the world he lived in and visited: Guadalupe, Makati City Philippines, Milton, Ontario Canada, and New Jersey, USA. He also shared random memories of life experiences as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and as United Nations (UN) Volunteer in East Timor. If you have never purchased a book of poetry before, purchase this Volume 2 series. It is a must-have, second of the seven books in the works.

    Business (about money) is not the business of popoy; he is planning ways to entice overseas Filipinos to buy the books as sentimental donations to their elem. and high schools at home in the provinces. It might help in getting the youth to read more and improve their comprehension skills.

  10. popoy says:

    When I read the words: open discussion, a question pronto comes to mind: what is a closed discussion? Who wants a closed discussion? But I am being a nuisance and must recess for a while to finish in oil, portraits pro bono of may be eight people I admire. Gad, I still wrestle with the problem of likeness.

  11. karlgarcia says:

    From the Noli Wiki.

    “I have had better thoughts, and I believe that making my father’s wishes come true is worth more than weeping for him, and much more than avenging him.” ― Ibarra[source]

    Ibarra’s father was branded a filibuster because he accidentally killed a Spaniard, and died in prison, but he had a dream to educate the youth.

    First thing that came to mind was FPnoy.
    Though different circumstances, Ninoy had a lot of dreams which FPnoy might wanted fulfilled.

    Ironically,mint was Marcos who accidentally killed someone, but was acquitted eventually.

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