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The Indolence of the Filipino   By: (1861-1896)

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Prepared by Jeroen Hellingman





Mr. Charles Derbyshire, who put Rizal's great novel Noli me tangere and its sequel El Filibusterismo into English (as The Social Cancer and The Reign of Greed), besides many minor writings of the "Greatest Man of the Brown Race", has rendered a similar service for La Indolencia de los Filipinos in the following pages, and with that same fidelity and sympathetic comprehension of the author's meaning which has made possible an understanding of the real Rizal by English readers. Notes by Dr. James A. Robertson (Librarian of the Philippine Library and co editor of the 55 volume series of historical reprints well called The Philippine Islands 1493 1898, so comprehensive are they) show the breadth of Rizal's historical scholarship, and that the only error mentioned is due to using a faulty reprint where the original was not available indicates the conscientiousness of the pioneer worker.

An appropriate setting has been attempted by page decorations whose scenes are taken from Philippine textbooks of the World Book Company and whose borders were made in the Drawing Department of the Philippine School of Arts and Trades.

The frontispiece shows a hurried pencil sketch of himself which Rizal made in Berlin in the Spring of 1887 that Prof. Blumentritt, whom then he knew only through correspondence, might recognize him at the Leitmeritz railway station when he should arrive for a proposed visit. The photograph from which the engraving was reproduced came one year ago with the Christmas greetings of the Austrian professor whose recent death the Philippine Islands, who knew him as their friend and Rizal's, is mourning.

The picture perhaps deserves a couple of comments. As a child Rizal had been trained to rapid work, an expertness kept up by practice, and the copying of his own countenance from a convenient near by mirror was but a moment's task. Yet the incident suggests that he did not keep photographs of himself about, and that he had the Cromwellian desire to see himself as he really was, for the Filipino features are more prominent than in any photograph of his extant.

The essay itself originally appeared in the Filipino forthrightly review, La Solidaridad, of Madrid, in five installments, running from July 15 to September 15, 1890. It was a continuation of Rizal's campaign of education in which he sought by blunt truths to awaken his countrymen to their own faults at the same time that he was arousing the Spaniards to the defects in Spain's colonial system that caused and continued such shortcomings.

To day there seems a place in Manila for just suets, missionary work as The Indolence of the Filipino aimed at. It may help on the present improving understanding between Continental Americans and their countrymen of these "Far Off Eden Isles", for the writer submits as his mature opinion, based on ten years' acquaintance among Filipinos through studies which enlisted their interest, that the political problem would have been greatly simplified had it been understood in Dewey's day that among intelligent Americans the much talked of lack of "capacity" referred to the mass of the people's want of political experience and not to any alleged racial inferiority. To wounded pride has the discontent been due rather than to withholding of political privileges.

Spanish Philippine history has curiously repeated itself during the fifteen years of America's administration of this archipelago.

Just as some colonial Spaniards seemed to the Filipinos less creditable representatives of the metropolis than the average of those who remained in the Peninsula, so not all who now pass for Americans in the Philippines are believed here to measure up to the highest homestandard.

Sitters in swivel chairs underneath electric fans hold hopeless the future of the land where men do not desire to be drudges just as did their predecessors who in wide armed lazy seats, beneath punkahs, talked of Filipino indolence... Continue reading book >>

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