|Image credit: National Historical Commission - National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1189762.|
Although difficult of attainment,
May be realized through constant endeavor
And honest effort.”
When I began the secondary course, I longed to ask my parents for good clothes for the Christmas holidays, pointing out the example of my companions. In order to satisfy my longing, my mother sold all her coffee which she had gathered at harvest time in the barrio of Papaya, Lipa, and brought to me every bit of the money in order that I might buy whatever pleased me. That show of abnegation and affection moved me so much that I desisted in my desire of buying luxurious clothing, since I suspected that, with the money, she had given me a very part of her life and blood.
In the traditional chivalry of ancient times a nation’s respect for women figured as the principal virtue of a knight ‘without fear and without reproach,’ because the habit of protecting the honor and the life of the weak and defenseless shows a certain greatness of heart and nobility of soul. And I assert that this virtue was not alone a necessity in the legendary epoch of Romanticism, but it is as well one of the greatest necessities in the life of a people; since if the woman within the sphere in which she customarily moves meets always with respect and consideration, at once she will acquire that sense of dignity which transmitted to her sons will inspire them with courage and fortitude for great enterprises, for heroic acts.
Mother of mine: In the midst of my misfortune, your memory is not painful to me since the idea consoles me that fate spared you the pain of seeing them; but if unexpectedly happy days should come to me, perhaps I would complain that you had not been permitted to reap the reward of my well-being.
Mother of mine: When still a child I told you that I wished to study to please you above everything else, because your golden dream was to have your son a priest; to be a minister of God was to you the greatest honor to which a man could aspire in this world.
Seeing that you were too poor to suffer the expenses of my education, you weakened yourself in working, without giving heed to either sun or rain, until you contracted the illness which brought you to the grave.
Fate has not wished me to be a priest, nevertheless, convinced that a true minister of God is not alone he who wears the long habiliments, but all those who proclaim His glory by means of good and useful service to the greatest possible number of His creatures, I will try to be faithful to your wishes while I do not lack strength for this end.
Wishing to deposit above your tomb a crown devised by my own hands, I dedicate this little book to your memory; it is poor and unworthy of you, but up to this time it is the best crown that the inexpert hands of your son has been able to fashion.
Many speak of liberty without understanding it; many believe that by having liberty, one can act without restraint, for evil as well as for good, which is a great mistake. Liberty is only for good and never for evil; it is always in accord with man’s reason and with his upright and honorable conscience. When a thief steals, he is not free, because he allows himself to be dragged by evil; he makes himself a slave of his passions; and when we confine him, we punish him precisely because he would not use true liberty.
It is necessary that you should not forget these considerations, because if, instead of using liberty, you should abuse it, we not only will fail to attain our improvement but we will be in a worse condition than before. Furthermore, in order that we may build the true edifice of our social regeneration, we must change radically, not only our institutions, but also our conduct and thoughts.
* * * (he) believed that he could only serve his country with honor and glory in an elevated position, which is an error perilous for the common welfare. This error is the principal cause of the civil wars which impoverish and destroy many states, and contributed greatly to the failure of the Revolution. He alone possesses true patriotism who, whatever the position he fills, be it high or low, strives to do for his countrymen the most good possible. A little good done in a humble position, gives little to honor and glory; while a little good in an elevated post is a sign of negligence and inaptitude. True honor is gained by cultivating our intellects in order to learn to know the truth, and educating our hearts to accustom them to love it. Through the knowledge of the truth we come to know our duties
and justice, and by complying with our duties and doing justice we shall be respected and honored, whatever our stations in life. Let us never lose sight of the fact that we are on the first step in our national life, and that we are called upon to go up, and that we can only ascend by the ladder of virtue and heroism; above all, let us not forget that if we do not grow, we must die without having been great, without being able to reach manhood, which is the way of a degenerate race.
Fearing that my infirmity might have been the principal cause of the inefficiency of my labor and that it might unfit me for the work which is demanded by the great problems of the present situation, I am going back to the obscure position from which impelled by circumstances, I have come, in order to hide my shame and anguish, not for having committed an unworthy act but for not having been able to do better service. It is true that I am not the one called on to declare whether I proceeded well or not, rightly or wrongly; however, I will not conclude without saying that I have no other balm with which to soothe the bitterness of my painful life than the satisfaction produced by the conviction of not having committed any error knowingly. May I say the same at the hour of my death.