I have seen for myself the evidence, in your own handwriting, that must have convicted you. The original of a letter you wrote in 1893, in your own elegant hand, presented at Trial in 1896, but hidden for nearly a hundred years in a Spanish monastery. Words you wrote from the depths of your heart in dark Dapitan, proclaiming, defending and glorying in the Shipwreck of your Faith! A veritable handwritten confession to Capital Apostasy that merited, in the eyes of the Court, no less than execution and death. But how and why such stunning and definitive evidence came before the honorable Court transcends all other mysteries surrounding the events leading up to December 30. Why that evidence was then hidden away by the Jesuits is for me the most telling sign of a guilty and uneasy conscience on their part. In shame and guilt, they just had to HIDE the murder weapon. It would seem that your "friends" and "mentors" tried to bend you to their will one last time, but in failing to do so, succumbed themselves to the essential vanity and venality of absolute power: the power over the right to life, and not just liberty or the pursuit of happiness. They failed to win your surrender by dangling the possibility of a Catholic marriage to Josephine, insisting you "retract" to win such permission. They did not know about the Miscarriage, it seems... But never, never had these Men in Skirts suffered such a bitter intellectual and moral defeat as at your hands with, "Nego supositum!" Three hundred years of Jesuit pride of place in the Archipelago were not to be upended by one willful and self-aggrandizing indio, who somehow managed to master the Castillian language and refute three centuries of Spanish colonial education policy.
Pablo Pastells convicted you after realizing how you had toyed with him and refuted the dogmatism he thought still prevailed in the world. They had no choice. Here was an utterly religious man of science who denied their version of Catholicism. The Jesuits silently pronounced the first of what has become a famous annual imperative (or expletive): Fuego!
Your family knew the truth, which is why in 1911, when you had become, by American ingenuity and genuine admiration of your fellow countrymen, the National Hero, your sisters refused the Jesuit Order the high honor of officiating at your final funerary rites. The honor was bestowed on the Masonic Temple of Tondo, in honor of many fallen revolutionary heroes, for your transfer from digs at the old Paco Chinese Cemetery to the present lonely Monument by the Sea at the Luneta.
There of course, to this day, you are guarded day and night, lest you get out and cause more trouble. Martyrdom becomes you.
In some ways, Pepe, you had to die. Just like Jesus Christ before you, and Ninoy Aquino and Benazir Bhutto...
Your literature broke the hypnotic spell of the Spanish Taliban, the stifling hand that for centuries endeavored by official fiat and conscious policy to deprive the indios of the knowledge of the world, of language and tradition, of history and religion. You proved that morality is not the same as religion. You stole the light of language and lit a prairie fire with it that singed the Spanish to their balls and their armpits. As the inventor of Damaso and Ibarra, of Maria Clara, Dona de Espadana, Basilio, Simoun, Padre Florentino, and dozens of other memorable characters with Shakespearean vitality and variety, you have yourself become immortal as part of our imagination and history. Your thoughts and words, your literature, are already there, suffusing our hearts and minds even before we know it.
I think I know why the Americans chose you. They sensed a creative kindred spirit, like Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin in you, though I prefer an analogy to Miguel de Cervantes cum Mark Twain. Too bad neither Andres Bonifacio nor Emilio Aguinaldo amounted to George Washington.
But you Sir, belong to the Aristocracy of all humanity. Even America sensed that immediately. You would be right at home in the 21st Century. And of course, here at Philippine Commentary, you most certainly are.
Here, you are loved and cherished, not worshipped.