Thursday, April 17, 2008

Did Jose Rizal Ever Write or Publish in Tagalog?

I've been asking this question among knowledgeable friends and acquaintances, both here and abroad because I honestly do not know the answer and cannot myself point to any verifiable work of his that would qualify in the affirmative. Whenever the Language Wars flare up I often get thrown in my face the following quotation attributed to him:

Ang siyang hindî nagmamahal sa sariling wikà,

Ay mas mabantot pa sa bulok at malansang isdâ

But can anyone tell me when and where he is supposed to have written or said this and what might be the authoritative reference for the oft-repeated claim. We know of course that he wrote the most masterful Español and was quite literate in French, German and English, with a smattering of Japanese thanks to sometime paramours and girlfriends. (His common law wife Josephine Bracken, with whom he fathered a son, spoke English, though badly we are told.)

My good friend the antiquarian and goldsmith Ramon Villegas also points to Makamisa, alleged by Ambeth Ocampo to be an unfinished novel in Tagalog. But half a chapter hardly qualifies as "an unfinished novel" and I consider the report apocryphal, though I am largely ignorant of the details of the supporting research.

If you know of any other works by Rizal in Tagalog please let me know in the Comment Thread.

For those interested in how to raise money for NGOs and foundations, please visit the weblog of another good friend, John Silva. who is also associated with the National Museum.

Long on my blogroll and a favorite is this Bikolnon poet.

Sacre bleu! -- The French worry about Anglospheric hegemony.

Many thanks to "Angela Stuart Santiago" in the Comment Thread for pointing out a poem by Jose Rizal that contains the line cited above about smelly fish and those who loathe their own native language. Given the valuable info I found Spanish and English translations of that poem (Sa Aking Kababata -- A Mis Companeros De Ninez -- To My Childhood Companions) in the 1961 book, The Complete Poems of Jose Rizal in Spanish and English, "Where Slaves There Are None". Lo and behold, the translation from Tagalog into Spanish is by Epifanio de los Santos (EDSA!) . The English Translations are by Alfredo S. Veloso. The book is illustrated by Alfredo R. Roces. and was published by Vasquez Bros. & Co. Inc. for the Rizal Centenary in 1961. There are only one or two things that bother me about this however. Angela's reference says the original in Tagalog was written in 1869, when Rizal was but eight years old. But then again all the rest of the poems and plays in the book are equally sophisticated. The second observation is this IS the only poem in the whole volume said to be originally in Tagalog. The others are all Spanish, as most of Rizal's written works are. Thanks again to everyone who contributed to this post, especially Angela Stuart Santiago. I think we shall see more of Rizal's poetry around here and read on my poetry site as well, Reading Poetry Out Loud.


blackshama said...

Rizal tried to write in Tagalog but found that the language couldn't express his political ideas and of course satire. So he abandoned the idea. Tagalog had not the vocabulary to express political ideas then.

The "mabahong isda" poem is attributed to Rizal but some scholars have questioned this. For one thing Rizal never wrote another poem or essay in Tagalog.

If we want a Tagalog writing ilustrado then that is no other than Marcelo H del Pilar. He was able to wield Tagalog for satire which Rizal couldn't do.

Rizal didn't write English much too. The only documents in which Rizal used English are personal letters. The hero who has better English competency than Rizal and was self taught in the language is none other than Apolinario Mabini.

As I wrote to A/prof Pefianco-Martin, the use of any language is linked to liberty and that shouldn't be used against him/her.

DJB Rizalist said...

"...the use of any language is linked to liberty..."

Well said, Ben!

But it's beginning to really bug me that I can't find out the provenance of the quote about the smelly fish!

blackshama said...

That "Sa aking mga kabata" poem is considered as Rizal juvenalia but it is not as good as other works. Compare that with his "A la Juventud Filipina".

BTW I am mistaken, Rizal did write another Tagalog poem "Kundiman" when he was 8 years old. This is infinitely much better than his first one.

These juvenalia poetry should be taken in its proper context. While Rizal had shown nationalism here, it is still Tagalista (the same nationalist trap that Andres Bonifacio as an adult never escaped!)

We are sure that Rizal abandoned Tagalog poetry when he attended the Ateneo Municipal. Here he develops the concept of Filipino.

Ambassador Leon Ma Guerrero is right Rizal is the First Pinoy!

DJB please allow me to self-promote. :) My essay on Rizal as a somewhat radical Darwinist will soon come out in Star Science. This should rock Rizal venerators and our local Catholic "Taliban" as you say

DJB Rizalist said...

If you will let me, I will cross post your essay here at Philippine Commentary. You know of course that your blog is featured on my rotator at the bottom of the index page.

Jego said...

Looking forward to that essay, blackshama.

stuart-santiago said...

from a U.P. Philippine Studies textbook: "Kalipunan ng mga Sinulat ni Dr. Jose P. Rizal (Tula, Dula, Sanaysay, Nobela, Liham)" edited by Jesus Fer. Ramos, Ligaya Tiamson-Rubin, Nancy C. Sena 1997. page 8:


Kapagka ang baya'y sadyang umiibig
sa kanyang salitang kaloob ng langit,
sanlang kalayaan nasa ring masapit
katulad ng ibong nasa himpapawid.

Pagka't ang salita'y isang kahatulan
sa bayan, sa nayo't mga kaharian,
at ang isang tao'y katulad, kabagay
ng alin mang likha noong kalayaan.

Ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salita
mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda,
kaya ang marapat pagyamaning kusa
na tulad sa inang tunay na nagpala.

Ang wikang Tagalog tulad din sa Latin,
sa Ingles, Kastila at salitang anghel,
sapagka't ang Poong maalam tumingin
ang siyang naggawad, nagbigay sa atin.

Ang salita nati'y huwad din sa iba
na may alfabeto at sariling letra,
na kaya nawala'y dinatnan ng sigwa
ang lunday sa lawa noong dakong una.

Jose P. Rizal
Calamba, 1869

juvenalia? say ng editors of the anthology: "Sa unang malas ay simple ang tula, ngunit sa kalaunan at malalimang pagsisiyasat, nagkakaroon ng makabuluhang pagpapakahulugan. Sa edad na walong taong gulang pa lamang ay nagpakita na si Rizal ng kasariwaan, ngunit malalim na pag-unawa sa lipunang kanyang kinabibilangan.

"Ngunit dahil din sa kalaliman ng tema ng tula, maraming mananaliksik ang nag-iisip na maaaring sinimulang isulat ni Rizal ang tula sa gulang na walo, ngunit sinasapantaha na natapos ang nasabing tula noong siya's nagkakagulang na."

the editors however do not say if all the poems, plays, essays, and letters included in the book were originally written in Tagalog or if some were translations by someone else or translations by rizal himself, such as Huling Paalam?

but i'm sure rizal was writing in tagalog pa rin during the run-up to the revolution (and maybe later?). in Roots of the Filipino Nation (1989 vol. II page 207-208) o.d.corpuz quotes from an october 1891 letter of rizal to his former colleagues in barcelona in "the original Tagalog" :

'... Kung sakali at ako'y kapusin ng hininga bago mag bunga ang punla, ay marahil ipaani ng magmamana. Tunay at masama ang panahon, payat ang lupa, mabalang, mabagyo at inililipad ng hangin ang tanim, nguni at sa kaiingat ay may palos na matutuklasan...'

rizal had two pen names: Dimasalang and Laong Laan. corpuz quotes from another tagalog text where rizal is "asserting that Filipinas must not place her hopes in her sons abroad; she must rely only upon her own strength."

'Kung ang inaasahan ng ating mga kababayan ay tayo rito sa Europa, ay totoo silang namamali. Ako'y ayaw mag daya sa kanino man. Kung walang salapi ay wala tayong malaking magagawa. Ang ating maitutulung sa kanila, ay ang ating buhay sa ating bayan. Yaon kamalian ng lahat, na tayo'y makatutulong dito sa malayo, ay salang sala mandin.Ang gamot ay dapat ilapit sa may sakit. . .

'!Ang karamihan ng mga kababayan sa Europa, ay takot, layo sa sunog, at matapang lamang habang layo sa panganib at nasa payapang bayan! Huag umasa ang Filipinas; umasa sa sariling lakas.' LAONG LAAN (predestined)

soon after he wrote this, he left for hongkong. a few months later in june 1892 he left for manila. in july he was exiled to dapitan.

mbw said...

There was another poem written by Rizal when he was a child about loving one's mother tongue. Don't remember it anymore but he did write in Tagalog, didn't he?

DJB Rizalist said...

very good stuart-santiago!
but i wonder about that 1869 date. that would make pepe rizal just 8 years old since he was born June 19, 1861. if accurate, our appreciation of his genius would have to be upped a notch or two! that poem seems like the product of a very sophisticated and precocious mind. i remember now that somewhere in my library is a little volume of his poetry and plays published by UST in 1961 as part of the Centennial celebration of his birth. have to look that up.

cvj said...

Very interesting exchange of info! Kudos to DJB for bringing up this matter.

blackshama said...

Rizal was really unmatched. We are the one's found lacking when we try to plumb his thought.

At least this exchange of ideas is much better than the Rizal hash we were dished out in school and the popular media!

stuart-santiago said...

call it synchronicity. i just happened to have all my history and rizal books out, doing research on the revolution for background to my lola's memoirs - she was 10 when rizal was executed, a boarder in a private school in tondo where rafael palma's sisters were also studying. so she had some accounts attributed to palma about the katipunan and bonifacio and of course rizal, but her chronology was sorta mixed up. she was almost 90 after all by the time she wrote these memoirs.

MLQ3 said...

apparently rizal attempted a translation, of the rights of man (in french) into tagalog. per ambeth ocampo, whom i asked about it (mentioned in one of his recent columns) it's in escritos varios or escritos politicos de rizal, titled "manga kaparatan ng tao" (droit l'homme).