Dr. Jose Rizal is an ideal man of intellect; a man of fascinating records not just in his own country but even in foreign lands. His literary contributions stirred up the spirit of nationalism which aim is to liberate a nation, not by force, but by means of intellectual revolution. His writings, his sayings, his peaceful approach to national problem, and his contributions in the field of science opened the way to win the respect and admiration of the world including those citizens of the very country that conquered his mother land. But when the man of knowledge blown his criticisms against the hypocrites of the Church, the ideal records of a hero was sealed with a shameful fate.
Some of Rizal’s writings contained expositions and direct attacks to the Catholic Church’s cruelties and hypocrisy in spite of the claim that the friars were given the authority to forgive sins. He boldly exposed the intense corruption and the selling of God’s grace by these friars as part of the gospel they preached among the unlearned subjects of their Spanish King. Since Rizal was a distinctive man, and not just a man among slaves, it would be a great shame for the Church if such talent will die living before us a bunch of writings exposing the corruptions of the Catholic Church. Hence, they formulated a myth that made our hero less credible in front of his admirers – the Myth of Rizal’s Retraction.
At least four texts of Rizal’s retraction have surfaced. (READ). The fourth text appeared in El Imparcial on the day after Rizal’s execution; it is the short formula of the retraction.
The first text was published in La Voz Española and Diaro de Manila on the very day of Rizal’s execution, Dec. 30, 1896. The second text appeared in Barcelona, Spain, on February 14, 1897, in the fortnightly magazine in La Juventud; it came from an anonymous writer who revealed himself fourteen years later as Fr. Balaguer. The “original” text was discovered in the archdiocesan archives on May 18, 1935, after it disappeared for thirty-nine years from the afternoon of the day when Rizal was shot.
We know not that reproductions of the lost original had been made by a copyist who could imitate Rizal’s handwriting. This fact is revealed by Fr. Balaguer himself who, in his letter to his former superior Fr. Pio Pi in 1910, said that he had received “an exact copy of the retraction written and signed by Rizal. The handwriting of this copy I don’t know nor do I remember whose it is. . .” He proceeded: “I even suspect that it might have been written by Rizal himself. I am sending it to you that you may . . . verify whether it might be of Rizal himself . . . .” Fr. Pi was not able to verify it in his sworn statement.
This “exact” copy had been received by Fr. Balaguer in the evening immediately preceding Rizal’s execution, Rizal y su Obra, and was followed by Sr. W. Retana in his biography of Rizal, Vida y Escritos del Jose Rizal with the addition of the names of the witnesses taken from the texts of the retraction in the Manila newspapers. Fr. Pi’s copy of Rizal’s retraction has the same text as that of Fr. Balaguer’s “exact” copy but follows the paragraphing of the texts of Rizal’s retraction in the Manila newspapers.
Regarding the “original” text, no one claimed to have seen it, except the publishers of La Voz Espanola. That newspaper reported: “Still more; we have seen and read his (Rizal’s) own hand-written retraction which he sent to our dear and venerable Archbishop…” On the other hand, Manila pharmacist F. Stahl wrote in a letter: “besides, nobody has seen this written declaration, in spite of the fact that quite a number of people would want to see it. “For example, not only Rizal’s family but also the correspondents in Manila of the newspapers in Madrid, Don Manuel Alhama of El Imparcial and Sr. Santiago Mataix of El Heraldo, were not able to see the hand-written retraction.
Neither Fr. Pi nor His Grace the Archbishop ascertained whether Rizal himself was the one who wrote and signed the retraction. (Ascertaining the document was necessary because it was possible for one who could imitate Rizal’s handwriting aforesaid holograph; and keeping a copy of the same for our archives, I myself delivered it personally that the same morning to His Grace Archbishop… His Grace testified: At once the undersigned entrusted this holograph to Rev. Thomas Gonzales Feijoo, secretary of the Chancery.” After that, the documents could not be seen by those who wanted to examine it and was finally considered lost after efforts to look for it proved futile.
On May 18, 1935, the lost “original” document of Rizal’s retraction was discovered by the archdeocean archivist Fr. Manuel Garcia, C.M. The discovery, instead of ending doubts about Rizal’s retraction, has in fact encouraged it because the newly discovered text retraction differs significantly from the text found in the Jesuits’ and the Archbishop’s copies. And, the fact that the texts of the retraction which appeared in the Manila newspapers could be shown to be the exact copies of the “original” but only imitations of it. This means that the friars who controlled the press in Manila (for example, La Voz Española) had the “original” while the Jesuits had only the imitations.
We now proceed to show the significant differences between the “original” and the Manila newspapers texts of the retraction on the one hand and the text s of the copies of Fr. Balaguer and F5r. Pio Pi on the other hand.
First, instead of the words “mi cualidad” (with “u”) which appear in the original and the newspaper texts, the Jesuits’ copies have “mi calidad” (with “u”).
Second, the Jesuits’ copies of the retraction omit the word “Catolica” after the first “Iglesias” which are found in the original and the newspaper texts.
Third, the Jesuits’ copies of the retraction add before the third “Iglesias” the word “misma” which is not found in the original and the newspaper texts of the retraction.
Fourth, with regards to paragraphing which immediately strikes the eye of the critical reader, Fr. Balaguer’s text does not begin the second paragraph until the fifth sentences while the original and the newspaper copies start the second paragraph immediately with the second sentences.
Fifth, whereas the texts of the retraction in the original and in the manila newspapers have only four commas, the text of Fr. Balaguer’s copy has eleven commas.
Sixth, the most important of all, Fr. Balaguer’s copy did not have the names of the witnesses from the texts of the newspapers in Manila.
In his notarized testimony twenty years later, Fr. Balaguer finally named the witnesses. He said “This . . .retraction was signed together with Dr. Rizal by Señor Fresno, Chief of the Picket, and Señor Moure, Adjutant of the Plaza.” However, the proceeding quotation only proves itself to be an addition to the original. Moreover, in his letter to Fr. Pi in 1910, Fr. Balaguer said that he had the “exact” copy of the retraction, which was signed by Rizal, but her made no mention of the witnesses. In his accounts too, no witnesses signed the retraction.
How did Fr. Balaguer obtain his copy of Rizal’s retraction? Fr. Balaguer never alluded to having himself made a copy of the retraction although he claimed that the Archbishop prepared a long formula of the retraction and Fr. Pi a short formula. In Fr. Balaguer’s earliest account, it is not yet clear whether Fr. Balaguer was using the long formula of nor no formula in dictating to Rizal what to write. According to Fr. Pi, in his own account of Rizal’s conversion in 1909, Fr. Balaguer dictated from Fr. Pi’s short formula previously approved by the Archbishop. In his letter to Fr. Pi in 1910, Fr. Balaguer admitted that he dictated to Rizal the short formula prepared by Fr. Pi; however; he contradicts himself when he revealed that the “exact” copy came from the Archbishop. The only copy, which Fr. Balaguer wrote, is the one that appeared ion his earliest account of Rizal’s retraction.
Where did Fr. Balaguer’s “exact” copy come from? We do not need long arguments to answer this question, because Fr. Balaguer himself has unwittingly answered this question. He said in his letter to Fr. Pi in 1910:
“…I preserved in my keeping and am sending to you the original texts of the two formulas of retraction, which they (You) gave me; that from you and that of the Archbishop, and the first with the changes which they (that is, you) made; and the other the exact copy of the retraction written and signed by Rizal. The handwriting of this copy I don’t know nor do I remember whose it is, and I even suspect that it might have been written by Rizal himself.”
In his own word quoted above, Fr. Balaguer said that he received two original texts of the retraction. The first, which came from Fr. Pi, contained “the changes which You (Fr. Pi) made”; the other, which is “that of the Archbishop” was “the exact copy of the retraction written and signed by Rizal” (underscoring supplied). Fr. Balaguer said that the “exact copy” was “written and signed by Rizal” but he did not say “written and signed by Rizal and himself” (the absence of the reflexive pronoun “himself” could mean that another person-the copyist-did not). He only “suspected” that “Rizal himself” much as Fr. Balaguer did “not know nor … remember” whose handwriting it was.
Thus, according to Fr. Balaguer, the “exact copy” came from the Archbishop! He called it “exact” because, not having seen the original himself, he was made to believe that it was the one that faithfully reproduced the original in comparison to that of Fr. Pi in which “changes” (that is, where deviated from the “exact” copy) had been made. Actually, the difference between that of the Archbishop (the “exact” copy) and that of Fr. Pi (with “changes”) is that the latter was “shorter” be cause it omitted certain phrases found in the former so that, as Fr. Pi had fervently hoped, Rizal would sign it.
According to Fr. Pi, Rizal rejected the long formula so that Fr. Balaguer had to dictate from the short formula of Fr. Pi. Allegedly, Rizal wrote down what was dictated to him but he insisted on adding the phrases “in which I was born and educated” and “[Masonary]” as the enemy that is of the Church” – the first of which Rizal would have regarded as unnecessary and the second as downright contrary to his spirit. However, what actually would have happened, if we are to believe the fictitious account, was that Rizal’s addition of the phrases was the retoration of the phrases found in the original which had been omitted in Fr. Pi’s short formula.
The “exact” copy was shown to the military men guarding in Fort Santiago to convince them that Rizal had retracted. Someone read it aloud in the hearing of Capt. Dominguez, who claimed in his “Notes’ that Rizal read aloud his retraction. However, his copy of the retraction proved him wrong because its text (with “u”) and omits the word “Catolica” as in Fr. Balaguer’s copy but which are not the case in the original. Capt. Dominguez never claimed to have seen the retraction: he only “heard”.
The truth is that, almost two years before his execution, Rizal had written a retraction in Dapitan. Very early in 1895, Josephine Bracken came to Dapitan with her adopted father who wanted to be cured of his blindness by Dr. Rizal; their guide was Manuela Orlac, who was agent and a mistress of a friar. Rizal fell in love with Josephine and wanted to marry her canonically but he was required to sign a profession of faith and to write retraction, which had to be approved by the Bishop of Cebu. “Spanish law had established civil marriage in the Philippines,” Prof. Craig wrote, but the local government had not provided any way for people to avail themselves of the right…”
In order to marry Josephine, Rizal wrote with the help of a priest a form of retraction to be approved by the Bishop of Cebu. This incident was revealed by Fr. Antonio Obach to his friend Prof. Austin Craig who wrote down in 1912 what the priest had told him; “The document (the retraction), inclosed with the priest’s letter, was ready for the mail when Rizal came hurrying I to reclaim it.” Rizal realized (perhaps, rather late) that he had written and given to a priest what the friars had been trying by all means to get from him.
Neither the Archbishop nor Fr. Pi saw the original document of retraction. What they was saw a copy done by one who could imitate Rizal’s handwriting while the original (almost eaten by termites) was kept by some friars. Both the Archbishop and Fr. Pi acted innocently because they did not distinguish between the genuine and the imitation of Rizal’s handwriting. (SOURCE)