Chapter III: 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 him.
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.
Thus Cuba, Mexico, South and Central America, and the Philippines were provided with the ablest Spanish advocates of modern ideas. In no other way could liberalism have been spread so widely or more effectively.
Besides these officeholders there had been from the earliest days noblemen, temporarily out of favor at Court, in banishment in the colonies. Cavite had some of these exiles, who were called "caja abierta," or carte blanche, because their generous allowances, which could be drawn whenever there were government funds, seemed without limit to the Filipinos. The Spanish residents of the Philippines were naturally glad to entertain, supply money to, and otherwise serve these men of noble birth, who might at any time be restored to favor and again be influential, and this gave them additional prestige in the eyes of the Filipinos. One of these exiles, whose descendants yet live in these Islands, passed from prisoner in Cavite to viceroy in Mexico.
Francisco Mercado lived near enough to hear of the "cajas abiertas" (exiles) and their ways, if he did not actually meet some of them and personally experience the charm of their courtesy. They were as different from the ruder class of Spaniards who then were coming to the Islands as the few banished officials were unlike the general run of officeholders. The contrast naturally suggested that the majority of the Spaniards in the Philippines, both in official and in private life, were not creditable representatives of their country. This charge, insisted on with greater vehemence as subsequent events furnished further reasons for doing so, embittered the controversies of the last century of Spanish rule. The very persons who realized that the accusation was true of themselves, were those who most resented it, and the opinion of them which they knew the Filipinos held but dared not voice, rankled in their breasts. They welcomed every disparagement of the Philippines and its people, and thus made profitable a senseless and abusive campaign which was carried on by unscrupulous, irresponsible writers of such defective education that vilification was their sole argument. Their charges were easily disproved, but they had enough cunning to invent new charges continually, and prejudice gave ready credence to them.
Finally an unreasoning fury broke out and in blind passion innocent persons were struck down; the taste for blood once aroused, irresponsible writers like that Retana who has now become Rizal's biographer, whetted the savage appetite for fresh victims. The last fifty years of Spanish rule in the Philippines was a small saturnalia of revenge with hardly a lucid interval for the governing power to reflect or an opportunity for the reasonable element to intervene. Somewhat similarly the Bourbons in France had hoped to postpone the day of reckoning for their mistakes by misdeeds done in fear to terrorize those who sought reforms. The aristocracy of France paid back tenfold each drop of innocent blood that was shed, but while the unreasoning world recalls the French Revolution with horror, the student of history thinks more of the evils which made it a natural result. Mirabeau in vain sought to restrain his aroused countrymen, just as he had vainly pleaded with the aristocrats to end their excesses. Rizal, who held Mirabeau for his hero among the men of the French Revolution, knew the historical lesson and sought to sound a warning, but he was unheeded by the Spaniards and misunderstood by many of his countrymen.
At about the time of the arrival of the Spanish political exiles we find in Manila a proof of the normal mildness of Spain in the Philippines. The Inquisition, of dread name elsewhere, in the Philippines affected only Europeans, had before it two English-speaking persons, an Irish doctor and a county merchant accused of being Freemasons. The kind-hearted Friar inquisitor dismissed the culprits with warnings, and excepting some Spanish political matters in which it took part, this was the nearest that the institution ever came to exercising its functions here.
The sufferings of the Indians in the Spanish-American gold mines, too, had no Philippine counterpart, for at the instance of the friars the Church early forbade the enslaving of the people. Neither friars nor government have any records in the Philippines which warrant belief that they were responsible for the severe punishments of the period from '72 to '98. Both were connected with opposition to reforms which appeared likely to jeopardize their property or to threaten their prerogatives, and in this they were only human, but here their selfish interests and activities seem to cease.
For religious reasons the friar orders combatted modern ideas which they feared might include atheistical teachings such as had made trouble in France, and the Government was against the introduction of latter-day thought of democratic tendency, but in both instances the opposition may well have been believed to be for the best interest of the Philippine people. However mistaken, their action can only be deplored not censured. The black side of this matter was the rousing of popular passion, and it was done by sheets subsidized to argue; their editors, however, resorted to abuse in order to conceal the fact that they had not the ability to perform the services for which they were hired. While some individual members of both the religious orders and of the Government were influenced by these inflaming attacks, the interests concerned, as organizations, seem to have had a policy of self-defense, and not of revenge.
The theory here advanced must wait for the judgment of the reader till the later events have been submitted. However, Rizal himself may be called in to prove that the record and policy is what has been asserted, for otherwise he would hardly have disregarded, as he did, the writings of Motley and Prescott, historians whom he could have quoted with great advantage to support the attacks he would surely have not failed to make had they seemed to him warranted, for he never was wanting in knowledge, resourcefulness or courage where his country was concerned.
No definite information is available as to what part Francisco Mercado took during the disturbed two years when the English held Manila and Judge Anda carried on a guerilla warfare. The Dominicans were active in enlisting their tenants to fight against the invaders, and probably he did his share toward the Spanish defense either with contributions or personal service. The attitude of the region in which he lived strengthens this surmise, for only after long-continued wrongs and repeatedly broken promises of redress did Filipino loyalty fail. This was a century too early for the country around Manila, which had been better protected and less abused than the provinces to the north where the Ilokanos revolted.
Binan, however, was within the sphere of English influence, for Anda's campaign was not quite so formidable as the inscription on his monument in Manila represents it to be, and he was far indeed from being the great conqueror that the tablet on the Santa Cruz Church describes him. Because of its nearness to Manila and Cavite and its rich gardens, British soldiers and sailors often visited Binan, but as the inhabitants never found occasion to abandon their homes, they evidently suffered no serious inconvenience.
Commerce, a powerful factor, destroying the hermit character of the Islands, gained by the short experience of freer trade under England's rule, since the Filipinos obtained a taste for articles before unused, which led them to be discontented and insistent, till the Manila market finally came to be better supplied. The contrast of the British judicial system with the Spanish tribunals was also a revelation, for the foulest blot upon the colonial administration of Spain was her iniquitous courts of justice, and this was especially true of the Philippines.
Anda's triumphal entry into the capital was celebrated with a wholesale hanging of Chinese, which must have made Francisco Mercado glad that he was now so identified with the country as to escape the prejudice against his race.
A few years later came the expulsion of the Jesuit fathers and the confiscation of their property. It certainly weakened the government; personal acquaintance counted largely with the Filipinos; whole parishes knew Spain and the Church only through their parish priest, and the parish priest was usually a Jesuit whose courtesy equalled that of the most aristocratic officeholder or of any exiled "caja abierta."
Francisco Mercado did not live in a Jesuit parish but in the neighboring hacienda of St. John the Baptist at Kalamba, where there was a great dam and an extensive irrigation system which caused the land to rival in fertility the rich soil of Binan. Everybody in his neighborhood knew that the estate had been purchased with money left in Mexico by pious Spaniards who wanted to see Christianity spread in the Philippines, and it seemed to them sacrilege that the government should take such property for its own secular uses.
The priests in Binan were Filipinos and were usually leaders among the secular clergy, for the parish was desirable beyond most in the archdiocese because of its nearness to Manila, its excellent climate, its well-to-do parishioners and the great variety of its useful and ornamental plants and trees. Many of the fruits and vegetables of Binan were little known elsewhere, for they were of American origin, brought by Dominicans on the voyages from Spain by way of Mexico. They were introduced first into the great gardens at the hacienda house, which was a comfortable and spacious building adjoining the church, and the favorite resting place for members of the Order in Manila.
The attendance of the friars on Sundays and fete days gave to the religious services on these occasions a dignity usually belonging to city churches. Sometimes, too, some of the missionaries from China and other Dominican notables would be seen in Binan. So the people not only had more of the luxuries and the pomp of life than most Filipinos, but they had a broader outlook upon it. Their opinion of Spain was formed from acquaintance with many Spaniards and from comparing them with people of other lands who often came to Manila and investigated the region close to it, especially the show spots such as Binan. Then they were on the road to the fashionable baths at Los Banos, where the higher officials often resorted. Such opportunities gave a sort of education, and Binan people were in this way more cultured than the dwellers in remote places, whose only knowledge of their sovereign state was derived from a single Spaniard, the friar curate of their parish.
Monastic training consists in withdrawing from the world and living isolated under strict rule, and this would scarcely seem to be the best preparation for such responsibility as was placed upon the Friars. Troubles were bound to come, and the people of Binan, knowing the ways of the world, would soon be likely to complain and demand the changes which would avoid them; the residents of less worldly wise communities would wait and suffer till too late, and then in blind wrath would wreak bloody vengeance upon guilty and innocent alike.
Kalamba, a near neighbor of Binan, had other reasons for being known besides its confiscation by the government. It was the scene of an early and especially cruel massacre of Chinese, and about Francisco's time considerable talk had been occasioned because an archbishop had established an uniform scale of charges for the various rites of the Church. While these charges were often complained of, it was the poorer people (some of whom were in receipt of charity) who suffered. The rich were seeking more expensive ceremonies in order to outshine the other well-to-do people of their neighborhood. The real grievance was, however, not the cost, but the fact that political discriminations were made so that those who were out of favor with the government were likewise deprived of church privileges. The reform of Archbishop Santo y Rufino has importance only because it gave the people of the provinces what Manila had long possessed-a knowledge of the rivalry between the secular and the regular clergy.
The people had learned in Governor Bustamente's time that Church and State did not always agree, and now they saw dissensions within the Church. The Spanish Conquest and the possession of the Philippines had been made easy by the doctrine of the indivisibility of Church and State, by the teaching that the two were one and inseparable, but events were continually demonstrating the falsity of this early teaching. Hence the foundation of the sovereignty of Spain was slowly weakening, and nowhere more surely than in the region near Manila which numbered Jose Rizal's keen-witted and observing great grandfather among its leading men.
Francisco Mercado was a bachelor during the times of these exciting events and therefore more free to visit Manila and Cavite, and he was possibly the more likely to be interested in political matters. He married on May 26, 1771, rather later in life than was customary in Binan, though he was by no means as old as his father, Domingo, was when he married. His bride, Bernarda Monicha, was a Chinese mestiza of the neighboring hacienda of San Pedro Tunasan, who had been early orphaned and from childhood had lived in Binan. As the coadjutor priest of the parish bore the same name, one uncommon in the Binan records of that period, it is possible that he was a relative. The frequent occurrence of the name of Monicha among the last names of girls of that vicinity later on must be ascribed to Bernarda's popularity as godmother.
Mr. and Mrs. Francisco Mercado had two children, both boys, Juan and Clemente. During their youth the people of the Philippines were greatly interested in the struggles going on between England, the old enemy of Spain, and the rebellious English-American colonies. So bitter was the Spanish hatred of the nation which had humiliated her repeatedly on both land and sea, that the authorities forgot their customary caution and encouraged the circulation of any story that told in favor of the American colonies. Little did they realize the impression that the statement of grievances-so trivial compared with the injustices that were being inflicted upon the Spanish colonials-was making upon their subjects overseas, who until then had been carefully guarded from all modern ideas of government. American successes were hailed with enthusiasm in the most remote towns, and from this time may be dated a perceptible increase in Philippine discontent. Till then outbreaks and uprisings had been more for revenge than with any well-considered aim, but henceforth complaints became definite, demands were made that to an increasing number of people appeared to be reasonable, and those demands were denied or ignored, or promises were made in answer to them which were never fulfilled.
Francisco Mercado was well to do, if we may judge from the number of carabaos he presented for registration, for his was among the largest herds in the book of brands that has chanced to be preserved with the Binan church records. In 1783 he was alcalde, or chief officer of the town, and he lived till 1801. His name appears so often as godfather in the registers of baptisms and weddings that he must have been a good-natured, liberal and popular man.
Mrs. Francisco Mercado survived her husband by a number of years, and helped to nurse through his baby ailments a grandson also named Francisco, the father of Doctor Rizal.
Francisco Mercado's eldest son, Juan, built a fine house in the center of Binan, where its pretentious stone foundations yet stand to attest how the home deserved the pride which the family took in it.
At twenty-two Juan married a girl of Tubigan, who was two years his elder, Cirila Alejandra, daughter of Domingo Lam-co's Chinese godson, Siong-co. Cirila's father's silken garments were preserved by the family until within the memory of persons now living, and it is likely that Jose Rizal, Siong-co's great-grandson, while in school at Binan, saw these tangible proofs of the social standing in China of this one of his ancestors.
Juan Mercado was three times the chief officer of Binan-in 1808, 1813 and 1823. His sympathies are evident from the fact that he gave the second name, Fernando, to the son born when the French were trying to get the Filipinos to declare for King Joseph, whom his brother Napoleon had named sovereign of Spain. During the little while that the Philippines profited by the first constitution of Spain, Mercado was one of the two alcaldes. King Ferdinand VII then was relying on English aid, and to please his allies as well as to secure the loyalty of his subjects, Ferdinand pretended to be a very liberal monarch, swearing to uphold the constitution which the representatives of the people had framed at Cadiz in 1812. Under this constitution the Filipinos were to be represented in the Spanish Cortes, and the grandfather of Rizal was one of the electors to choose the Representative.
During the next twenty-five years the history of the connection of the Philippines with Spain is mainly a record of the breaking and renewing of the King's oaths to the constitution, and of the Philippines electing delegates who would find the Cortes dissolved by the time they could get to Madrid, until in the final constitution that did last Philippine representation was left out altogether. Had things been different the sad story of this book might never have been told, for though the misgovernment of the Philippines was originally owing to the disregard for the Laws of the Indies and to giving unrestrained power to officials, the effects of these mistakes were not apparent until well into the nineteenth century.
Another influence which educated the Filipino people was at work during this period. They had heard the American Revolution extolled and its course approved, because the Spaniards disliked England. Then came the French Revolution, which appalled the civilized world. A people, ignorant and oppressed, washed out in blood the wrongs which they had suffered, but their liberty degenerated into license, their ideals proved impracticable, and the anarchy of their radical republic was succeeded by the military despotism of Napoleon.
A book written in Tagalog by a friar pointed out the differences between true liberty and false. It was the story of an old municipal captain who had traveled and returned to enlighten his friends at home. The story was well told, and the catechism form in which, by his friends' questions and the answers to them, the author's opinions were presented, was familiar to Filipinos, so that there were many intelligent readers, but its results were quite different from what its pious and patriotic author had intended they should be.
The book told of the broadening influences of travel and of education; it suggested that liberty was possible only for the intelligent, but that schools, newspapers, libraries and the means of travel which the American colonists were enjoying were not provided for the Filipinos.
They were further told that the Spanish colonies in America were repeating the unhappy experiences of the French republic, while the "English North Americans," whose ships during the American Revolution had found the Pacific a safe refuge from England, had developed considerable commerce with the Philippines. A kindly feeling toward the Americans had been aroused by the praise given to Filipino mechanics who had been trained by an American naval officer to repair his ship when the Spaniards at the government dockyards proved incapable of doing the work. Even the first American Consul, whose monument yet remains in the Plaza Cervantes, Manila, though, because of his faith, he could not be buried in the consecrated ground of the Catholic cemeteries, received what would appear to be a higher honor, a grave in the principal business plaza of the city.
The inferences were irresistible: the way of the French Revolution was repugnant alike to God and government, that of the American was approved by both. Filipinos of reflective turn of mind began to study America; some even had gone there; for, from a little Filipino settlement, St. Malo near New Orleans, sailors enlisted to fight in the second war of the United States against England; one of them was wounded and his name was long borne on the pension roll of the United States.
The danger of the dense ignorance in which their rulers kept the Filipinos showed itself in 1819, when a French ship from India having introduced Asiatic cholera into the Islands, the lowest classes of Manila ascribed it to the collections of insects and reptiles which a French naturalist, who was a passenger upon the ship, had brought ashore. However the story started, the collection and the dwelling of the naturalist fared badly, and afterwards the mob, excited by its success, made war upon all foreigners. At length the excitement subsided, but too much damage to foreign lives and property had been done to be ignored, and the matter had an ugly look, especially as no Spaniard had suffered by this outbreak. The Insular government roused itself to punish some of the minor misdoers and made many explanations and apologies, but the aggrieved nations insisted, and obtained as compensation a greater security for foreigners and the removal of many of the restraints upon commerce and travel. Thus the riot proved a substantial step in Philippine progress.
Following closely the excitement over the massacre of the foreigners in Manila came the news that Spain had sold Florida to the United States. The circumstances of the sale were hardly creditable to the vendor, for it was under compulsion. Her lax government had permitted its territory to become the refuge of criminals and lawless savages who terrorized the border until in self-defense American soldiers under General Jackson had to do the work that Spain could not do. Then with order restored and the country held by American troops, an offer to purchase was made to Spain who found the liberal purchase money a very welcome addition to her bankrupt treasury.
Immediately after this the Monroe Doctrine attracted widespread attention in the Philippines. Its story is part of Spanish history. A group of reactionary sovereigns of Europe, including King Ferdinand, had united to crush out progressive ideas in their kingdoms and to remove the dangerous examples of liberal states from their neighborhoods. One of the effects of this unholy alliance was to nullify all the reforms which Spain had introduced to secure English assistance in her time of need, and the people of England were greatly incensed. Great Britain had borne the brunt of the war against Napoleon because her liberties were jeopardized, but naturally her people could not be expected to undertake further warfare merely for the sake of people of another land, however they might sympathize with them.
George Canning, the English statesman to whom belonged much of the credit for the Constitution of Cadiz, thought out a way to punish the Spanish king for his perfidy. King Ferdinand was planning, with the Island of Cuba as a base, to begin a campaign that should return his rebellious American colonies to their allegiance, for they had taken advantage of disturbances in the Peninsula to declare their independence. England proposed to the United States that they, the two Anglo-Saxon nations whose ideas of liberty had unsettled Europe and whom the alliance would have attacked had it dared, should unite in a protectorate over the New World. England was to guard the sea and the United States were to furnish the soldiers for any land fighting which might come on their side of the Atlantic.
World politics had led the enemies of England to help her revolting colonies, Napoleon's jealousy of Britain had endowed the new nation with the vast Louisiana Territory, and European complications saved the United States from the natural consequences of their disastrous war of 1812, which taught them that union was as necessary to preserve their independence as it had been to win it. Canning's project in principle appealed to the North Americans, but the study of it soon showed that Great Britain was selfish in her suggestion. After a generation of fighting, England found herself drained of soldiers and therefore she diplomatically invited the cooperation of her former colonies; but, regardless of any formal arrangement, her navy could be relied on to prevent those who had played her false from transporting large armies across the ocean into the neighborhood of her otherwise defenseless colonies. That was self-preservation.
President Monroe's advisers were willing that their country should run some risk on its own account, but they had the traditional American aversion to entangling alliances. So the Cabinet counseled that the young nation alone should make itself the protector of the South American republics, and drafted the declaration warning the world that aggression against any of the New World democracies would be resented as unfriendliness to the United States.
It was the firm attitude of President Monroe that compelled Spain to forego the attempt to reconquer her former colonies, and therefore Mexico and Central and South America owe their existence as republics quite as much to the elder commonwealth as does Cuba.
The American attitude revealed in the Monroe Doctrine was especially obnoxious to the Spaniards in the Philippines but their intemperate denunciations of the policy of America for the Americans served only to spread a knowledge of that doctrine among the people of that little territory which remained to them to misgovern. Secretly there began to be, among the stouter-hearted Filipinos, some who cherished a corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, the Philippines for the Filipinos.
Thoughts of separation from Spain by means of rebellion, by sale and by the assistance of other nations, had been thus put into the heads of the people. These were all changes coming from outside, but it next to be demonstrated that Spain herself did not hold her noncontiguous territories as sacred as she did her home dominions.
The sale of Florida suggested that Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines were also available assets, and an offer to sell them was made to the King of France; but this sovereign overreached himself, for, thinking to drive a better bargain, he claimed that the low prices were too high. Thereupon the Spanish Ambassador, who was not in accord with his unpatriotic instructions, at once withdrew the offer and the negotiations terminated. But the Spanish people learned of the proposed sale and their indignation was great. The news spread to the Spaniards in the Philippines. Through their comments the Filipinos realized that the much-talked-of sacred integrity of the Spanish dominions was a meaningless phrase, and that the Philippines would not always be Spanish if Spain could get her price.
Gobernadorcillo Mercado, "Captain Juan," as he was called, made a creditable figure in his office, and there used to be in Binan a painting of him with his official sword, cocked hat and embroidered blouse. The municipal executive in his time did not always wear the ridiculous combination of European and old Tagalog costumes, namely, a high hat and a short jacket over the floating tails of a pleated shirt, which later undignified the position. He has a notable record for his generosity, the absence of oppression and for the official honesty which distinguished his public service from that of many who held his same office. He did, however, change the tribute lists so that his family were no longer "Chinese mestizos," but were enrolled as "Indians," the wholesale Spanish term for the natives of all Spain's possessions overseas. This, in a way, was compensation (it lowered his family's tribute) for his having to pay the taxes of all who died in Binan or moved away during his term of office. The municipal captain then was held accountable whether the people could pay or not, no deductions ever being made from the lists. Most gobernadorcillos found ways to reimburse themselves, but not Mercado. His family, however, were of the fourth generation in the Philippines and he evidently thought that they were entitled to be called Filipinos.
A leader in church work also, and several times "Hermano mayor" of its charitable society, the Captain's name appears on a number of lists that have come down from that time as a liberal contributor to various public subscriptions. His wife was equally benevolent, as the records show.
Mr. and Mrs. Mercado did not neglect their family, which was rather numerous. Their children were Gavino, Potenciana (who never married), Leoncio, Fausto, Barcelisa (who became the wife of Hermenegildo Austria), Gabriel, Julian, Gregorio Fernando, Casimiro, Petrona (who married Gregorio Neri), Tomasa (later Mrs. F. de Guzman), and Cornelia, the belle of the family, who later lived in Batangas.
Young Francisco was only eight years old when his father died, but his mother and sister Potenciana looked well after him. First he attended a Binan Latin school, and later he seems to have studied Latin and philosophy in the College of San Jose in Manila.
A sister, Petrona, for some years had been a dressgoods merchant in nearby Kalamba, on an estate that had recently come under the same ownership as Binan. There she later married, and shortly after was widowed. Possibly upon their mother's death, Potenciana and Francisco removed to Kalamba; though Petrona died not long after, her brother and sister continued to make their home there.
Francisco, in spite of his youth, became a tenant of the estate as did some others of his family, for their Binan holdings were not large enough to give farms to all Captain Juan's many sons. The landlords early recognized the agricultural skill of the Mercados by further allotments, as they could bring more land under cultivation. Sometimes Francisco was able to buy the holdings of others who proved less successful in their management and became discouraged.
The pioneer farming, clearing the miasmatic forests especially, was dangerous work, and there were few families that did not buy their land with the lives of some of its members. In 1847 the Mercados had funerals, of brothers and nephews of Francisco, and, chief among them, of that elder sister who had devoted her life to him, Potenciana. She had always prompted and inspired the young man, and Francisco's success in life was largely due to her wise counsels and her devoted encouragement of his industry and ambition. Her thrifty management of the home, too, was sadly missed.
A year after his sister Potenciana's death, Francisco Mercado married Teodora Alonzo, a native of Manila, who for several years had been residing with her mother at Kalamba. The history of the family of Mrs. Mercado is unfortunately not so easily traced as is that of her husband, and what is known is of less simplicity and perhaps of more interest since the mother's influence is greater than the father's, and she was the mother of Jose Rizal.
Her father, Lorenzo Alberto Alonzo (born 1790, died 1854), is said to have been "very Chinese" in appearance. He had a brother who was a priest, and a sister, Isabel, who was quite wealthy; he himself was also well to do. Their mother, Maria Florentina (born 1771, died 1817), was, on her mother's side, of the famous Florentina family of Chinese mestizos originating in Baliwag, Bulacan, and her father was Captain Mariano Alejandro of Binan.
Lorenzo Alberto was municipal captain of Binan in 1824, as had been his father, Captain Cipriano Alonzo (died 1805), in 1797. The grandfather, Captain Gregorio Alonzo (died 1794), was a native of Quiotan barrio, and twice, in 1763 and again in 1768, at the head of the mestizos' organization of the Santa Cruz district in Manila.
Captain Lorenzo was educated for a surveyor, and his engineering books, some in English and others in French, were preserved in Binan till, upon the death of his son, the family belongings were scattered. He was wealthy, and had invested a considerable sum of money with the American Manila shipping firms of Peele, Hubbell & Co., and Russell, Sturgis & Co.
The family story is that he became acquainted with Brigida de Quintos, Mrs. Rizal's mother, while he was a student in Manila, and that she, being unusually well educated for a girl of those days, helped him with his mathematics. Their acquaintance apparently arose through relationship, both being connected with the Reyes family. They had five children: Narcisa (who married Santiago Muger), Teodora (Mrs. Francisco Rizal Mercado), Gregorio, Manuel and Jose. All were born in Manila, but lived in Kalamba, and they used the name Alonzo till that general change of names in 1850 when, with their mother, they adopted the name Realonda. This latter name has been said to be an allusion to royal blood in the family, but other indications suggest that it might have been a careless mistake made in writing by Rosa Realonda, whose name sometimes appears written as Redonda. There is a family Redondo (Redonda in its feminine form) Alonzo of Ilokano origin, the same stock as their traditions give for Mrs. Rizal's father, some of whose members were to be found in the neighborhood of Binan and Pasay. One member of this family was akin in spirit to Jose Rizal, for he was fined twenty-five thousand pesos by the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands for "contempt of religion." It appears that he put some original comparisons into a petition which sought to obtain justice from an inferior tribunal where, by the omission of the word "not" in copying, the clerk had reversed the court's decision but the judge refused to change the record.
Brigida de Quintos's death record, in Kalamba (1856), speaks of her as the daughter of Manuel de Quintos and Regina Ochoa.
The most obscure part of Rizal's family tree is the Ochoa branch, the family of the maternal grandmother, for all the archives,-church, land and court,-disappeared during the late disturbed conditions of which Cavite was the center. So one can only repeat what has been told by elderly people who have been found reliable in other accounts where the clews they gave could be compared with existing records.
The first of the family is said to have been Policarpio Ochoa, an employe of the Spanish customs house. Estanislao Manuel Ochoa was his son, with the blood of old Castile mingling with Chinese and Tagalog in his veins. He was part owner of the Hacienda of San Francisco de Malabon. One story says that somewhere in this family was a Mariquita Ochoa, of such beauty that she was known in Cavite, where was her home, as the Sampaguita (jasmine) of the Parian, or Chinese, quarter.
There was a Spanish nobleman also in Cavite in her time who had been deported for political reasons-probably for holding liberal opinions and for being thought to be favorable to English ideas. It is said that this particular "caja abierta" was a Marquis de Canete, and if so there is ground for the claim that he was of royal blood; at least some of his far-off ancestors had been related to a former ruling family of Spain.
Mariquita's mother knew the exile, since, according to the custom in Filipino families, she looked after the business interests of her husband. Curious to see the belle of whom he had heard so much, the Marquis made an excuse of doing business with the mother, and went to her home on an occasion when he knew that the mother was away. No one else was there to answer his knock and Mariquita, busied in making candy, could not in her confusion find a coconut shell to dip water for washing her hands from the large jar, and not to keep the visitor waiting, she answered the door as she was. Not only did her appearance realize the expectations of the Marquis, but the girl seemed equally attractive for her self-possessed manners and lively mind. The nobleman was charmed. On his way home he met a cart loaded with coconut dippers and he bought the entire lot and sent it as his first present.
After this the exile invented numerous excuses to call, till Mariquita's mother finally agreed to his union with her daughter. His political disability made him out of favor with the State church, the only place in which people could be married then, but Mariquita became what in English would be called a common-law wife. One of their children, Jose, had a tobacco factory and a slipper factory in Meisic, Manila, and was the especial protector of his younger sister, Regina, who became the wife of attorney Manuel de Quintos. A sister of Regina was Diega de Castro, who with another sister, Luseria, sold "chorizos" (sausages) or "tiratira" (taffy candy), the first at a store and the second in their own home, but both in Cavite, according to the variations of one narrative.
A different account varies the time and omits the noble ancestor by saying that Regina was married unusually young to Manuel de Quintos to escape the attentions of the Marquis. Another authority claims that Regina was wedded to the lawyer in second marriage, being the widow of Facundo de Layva, the captain of the ship Hernando Magallanes, whose pilot, by the way, was Andrew Stewart, an Englishman.
It is certain that Regina Ochoa was of Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog ancestry, and it is recorded that she was the wife of Manuel de Quintos. Here we stop depending on memories, for in the restored burial register of Kalamba church in the entry of the funeral of Brigida de Quintos she is called "the daughter of Manuel de Quintos and Regina Ochoa."
Manuel de Quintos was an attorney of Manila, graduated from Santo Tomas University, whose family were Chinese mestizos of Pangasinan. The lawyer's father, of the same name, had been municipal captain of Lingayan, and an uncle was leader of the Chinese mestizos in a protest they had made against the arbitrariness of their provincial governor. This petition for redress of grievances is preserved in the Supreme Court archives with "Joaquin de Quintos" well and boldly written at the head of the complainants' names, evidence of a culture and a courage that were equally uncommon in those days. Complaints under Spanish rule, no matter how well founded, meant trouble for the complainants; we must not forget that it was a vastly different thing from signing petitions or adhering to resolutions nowadays. Then the signers risked certainly great annoyance, sometimes imprisonment, and not infrequently death.
The home of Quintos had been in San Pedro Macati at the time of Captain Novales's uprising, the so-called "American revolt" in protest against the Peninsulars sent out to supersede the Mexican officers who had remained loyal to Spain when the colony of their birth separated itself from the mother country. As little San Pedro Macati is charged with having originated the conspiracy, it is unlikely that it was concealed from the liberal lawyer, for attorneys were scarcer and held in higher esteem in those days.
The conservative element then, as later, did not often let drop any opportunity of purging the community of those who thought for themselves, by condemning them for crime unheard and undefended, whether they had been guilty of it or not.
All the branches of Mrs. Rizal's family were much richer than the relatives of her husband; there were numerous lawyers and priests among them-the old-time proof of social standing-and they were influential in the country.
There are several names of these related families that belong among the descendants of Lakandola, as traced by Mr. Luther Parker in his study of the Pampangan migration, and color is thereby given, so far as Rizal is concerned, to a proud boast that an old Pampangan lady of this descent makes for her family. She, who is exceedingly well posted upon her ancestry, ends the tracing of her lineage from Lakandola's time by asserting that the blood of that chief flowed in the veins of every Filipino who had the courage to stand forward as the champion of his people from the earliest days to the close of the Spanish regime. Lakandola, of course, belonged to the Mohammedan Sumatrans who emigrated to the Philippines only a few generations before Magellan's discovery.
To recall relatives of Mrs. Rizal who were in the professions may help to an understanding of the prominence of the family. Felix Florentino, an uncle, was the first clerk of the Nueva Segovia (Vigan) court. A cousin-german, Jose Florentino, was a Philippine deputy in the Spanish Cortes, and a lawyer of note, as was also his brother, Manuel. Another relative, less near, was Clerk Reyes, of the Court of First Instance in Manila. The priest of Rosario, Vicar of Batangas Province, Father Leyva, was a half-blood relation, and another priestly relative was Mrs. Rizal's paternal uncle, Father Alonzo. These were in the earlier days when professional men were scarcer. Father Almeida, of Santa Cruz Church, Manila, and Father Agustin Mendoz, his predecessor in the same church, and one of the sufferers in the Cavite trouble of '72-a deporte-were most distantly connected with the Rizal family. Another relative, of the Reyes connection, was in the Internal Revenue Service and had charge of Kalamba during the latter part of the eighteenth century.
Mrs. Rizal was baptized in Santa Cruz Church, Manila, November 18, 1827, as Teodora Morales Alonzo, her godmother being a relative by marriage, Dona Maria Cristina. She was given an exceptionally good fundamental education by her gifted mother, and completed her training in Santa Rosa College, Manila, which was in the charge of Filipino sisters. Especially did the religious influence of her schooling manifest itself in her after life. Unfortunately there are no records in the institution, because it is said all the members of the Order who could read and write were needed for instruction and there was no one competent who had time for clerical work.
Brigida de Quintos had removed to the property in Kalamba which Lorenzo Alberto had transferred to her, and there as early as 1844 she is first mentioned as Brigida de Quintos, then as Brigida de Alonzo, and later as Brigida Realonda.