The Life of Jose Rizal: Philippine Patriot HTML version
The Period of Preparation
Rizal disembarked at Marseilles, saw a little of that famous port, and then went by rail to
Barcelona, crossing the Pyrenees, the desolate ruggedness of which contrasted with the
picturesque luxuriance of his tropical home, and remained a day at the frontier town of
Port-Bou. The customary Spanish disregard of tourists compared very unfavorably with
the courteous attention which he had remarked on his arrival at Marseilles, for the custom
house officers on the Spanish frontier rather reminded him of the class of employes found
At Barcelona he met many who had been his schoolmates in the Ateneo and others to
whom he was known by name. It was the custom of the Filipino students there to hold
reunions every other Sunday at the cafe, for their limited resources did not permit the
daily visits which were the Spanish custom. In honor of the new arrival a special
gathering occurred in a favorite cafe in Plaza de Catalonia. The characteristics of the
Spaniards and the features of Barcelona were all described for Rizal's benefit, and he had
to answer a host of questions about the changes which had occurred in Manila. Most of
his answers were to the effect that old defects had not yet been remedied nor incompetent
officials supplanted, and he gave a rather hopeless view of the future of their country.
Somewhat in this gloomy mood, he wrote home for a newly established Tagalog
newspaper of Manila, his views of "Love of country," an article not so optimistic as most
of his later writings.
In Barcelona he remained but a short time, long enough, however, to see the historic
sights around that city, which was established by Hannibal, had numbered many noted
Romans among its residents, and in later days was the scene of the return of Columbus
from his voyages in the New World, bringing with him samples of Redskins, birds and
other novel products of the unknown country. Then there were the magnificent
boulevards, the handsome dwellings, the interest which the citizens took in adorning their
city and the pride in the results, and above all, the disgust at all things Spanish and the
loyalty to Catalonia, rather than to the "mother-fatherland."
The Catalan was the most progressive type in Spain, but he had no love for his
compatriots, was ever complaining of their "manana" habits and of the evils that were
bound to exist in a country where Church and State were so inextricably intermingled.
Many Catalans were avowedly republicans. Signs might be seen on the outside of
buildings telling of the location of republican clubs, unpopular officials were hooted in
the streets, the newspapers were intemperate in their criticism of the government, and a
campaign was carried on openly which aimed at changing from a monarchy to a
democracy, without any apparent molestation from the authorities. All these things
impressed the lad who had seen in his own country the most respectfully worded
complaints of unquestionable abuses treated as treason, bringing not merely punishment,
but opprobrium as well.