The Life of Jose Rizal: Philippine Patriot HTML version
Liberalizing Hereditary Influences
The hope of the Binan landlords that by changing from Filipino to Chinese tenantry they
could avoid further litigation seems to have been disappointed. A family tradition of
Francisco Mercado tells of a tedious and costly lawsuit with the Order. Its details and
merits are no longer remembered, and they are not important.
History has recorded enough agrarian trouble, in all ages and in all countries, to prove the
economic mistake of large holdings of land by those who do not cultivate it. Human
nature is alike the world over, it does not change with the centuries, and just as the
Filipinos had done, the Chinese at last objected to paying increased rent for
improvements which they made themselves.
A Spanish judge required the landlords to produce their deeds, and, after measuring the
land, he decided that they were then taking rent for considerably more than they had
originally bought or had been given. But the tenants lost on the appeal, and, as they
thought it was because they were weak and their opponents powerful, a grievance grew
up which was still remembered in Rizal's day and was well known and understood by
Another cause of discontent, which was a liberalizing influence, was making itself felt in
the Philippines about the time of Domingo's death. A number of Spaniards had been
claiming for their own countrymen such safeguards of personal liberty as were enjoyed
by Englishmen, for no other government in Europe then paid any attention to the rights of
the individual. Learned men had devoted much study to the laws and rights of nations,
but these Spanish Liberals insisted that it was the guarantees given to the citizens, and not
the political independence of the State, that made a country really free. Unfortunately,
just as their proposals began to gain followers, Spain became involved in war with
England, because the Spanish King, then as now a Bourbon and so related to a number of
other reactionary rulers, had united in the family compact by which the royal relatives
were to stamp out liberal ideas in their own dominions, and as allies to crush England, the
source of the dissatisfaction which threatened their thrones.
Many progressive Spaniards had become Freemasons, when that ancient society, after its
revival in England, had been reintroduced into Spain. Now they found themselves
suspected of sympathy with England and therefore of treason to Spain. While this could
not be proved, it led to enforcing a papal bull against them, by which Pope Clement XII
placed their institution under the ban of excommunication.
At first it was intended to execute all the Spanish Freemasons, but the Queen's favorite
violinist secretly sympathized with them. He used his influence with Her Majesty so well
that through her intercession the King commuted the sentences from death to banishment
as minor officials in the possessions overseas.