Rizal Tales

Andres At Bagumbayan

The Rayadillo General stopped himself to investigate the raucus caused by the neighing Peta and Pira way down back of the garetta. Peta had took a shine on the finely groomed Pira who had nothing to do with the Stinky old Peta. So she kicked him exactly where it should hurt.

With Grandfather and Isko separating the horses, the general took another drag on his American cigarette. It was getting dark and he might as well finish the story now, he thought, because next time he comes he will continue to translate for them Rizal’s second book. He then continued his narration…..

Andres At Bagumbayan

by Cool_Ambo

The thin, small eye doctor proceeded to the kitchen with gusto and, with the same ardor, vehemently worked the wooden batidor all the while telling me some jokes that I supposed were standard jokes from among his ilustrado friends in Europe. I did not laugh before he did though, because I could never know when he was serious or not. This man was serious in disposition, I once concluded, only to realize that it was worse. He was really a dreary, fate-beaten, gloomy man who appeared to be under the weather all the time. His glee that he exhibited for me were downright profound, though. He didn’t have many friends, that was for sure.

He glanced at me more than once through the doorway of the kitchen to perhaps keep the conversation going and to make sure that I didn’t depart early because he prepared for this occasion and that the milk had to be ladled in before it spoils.

And so, over the frothy and thick tsokolate espanol in tiny teacups, he talked about the firebrand, Andres. He saw this man first when he came in the church to hear mass, among other things. He was seated spread-eagled over half the length of the pew. When their eyes met. Rizal gave Andres a nod of hello for which Andres nodded back in a bow. The Cura saw them nod at each other, nods which may have been interpreted as an approval of a scheduled secret meeting. The priest knew about Andres’ secret group and, at this instance, he now deduced that Rizal was in on it too, particularly when he saw both of them after mass talking to each other.

Andres introduced himself to Rizal after the mass, declaring his amenities and respect for Rizal and recalling the two books that Rizal wrote. Both had mutual respect for each other, the doctor recounts, but he did not join Andres’ secret group.

Rizal described Andres as a hyperactive person who could not stay seated for long without fidgeting. He had to pace around to burn anxiety. He appeared to be very clean as if a daily bath was a habit, or diving for pearls was an occupation. He was built well and had the makings of a bull pulling a plow. At any rate, Rizal confided in me that he told Andres of his fear that a carnage would follow should there be a revolution now, to which Andres replied what would happen will happen. With this in mind, Rizal declined to speak to the secret group of Andres.

Several meetings followed this. Sometimes they met in church, at the dalampasigan, tiangge, anywhere but this his place of business where we were. This is being watched I was sure of this, which is why he wrapped the two books he gave me with red Chinese paper, the kind they wrap rice cakes with. In these meetings, Rizal told Andres what to tell his group as if Rizal was speaking to the group, and he told me he was glad of the news that the group was getting bigger with some distinguished and educated people joining. He was assured that the group would have some capable people to take over and run the government should it fall. And this was probably the main reason for the tsokolate espanol celebration, and the jokes. But that evening was delightful despite the fact that we had to be suspicious of every sounds of hob-nailed boots from the outside walk.

The next time I saw Dr. Jose Rizal was not the best of times. He had his elbows tied together behind his back while marching between two rows of guardia civiiles towards a spot in Bagumbayan.

As they marched past me, I peered thru the line of people and waved the red wrapping paper at him. He smiled as he recognized me and smiled. He remembered the red chinese paper snd nodded his head a number of times. He was elated to know that I have read the books and that I have agreed to retell it to the people. And then he saw what I thought was the figure of Andres at the opposite row of the crowd. There were some peop;le with him who looked as restless and as anxious as Andres, who suddenly barged through the crowd as if grimly waiting for a signal from the doctor. Rizal did not nod this time. he shook his head, instead, with more vigor the second and the third time around. With a pouted mouth, he pointed towards his shoe which he appeared to be shaking off the dust. Andres gave him a questioning stare. But Rizal might have been giving Andres a clue that there is something hidden in his shoe, most probably the Order of Battle for the revolution. The Lieutenant of the firing squad came up to see what is holding up the march. And thusly did Andres and his men fade away towards their boats.

The doctor declined his blindfold. The Teniente refused to make him face the firing squad. At the last moment, though, the doctor spun around to receive the shots at the front.

At that precise moment, the General stopped to appraise the impact of his last sentence to his audience. Some were heard sobbing. More so because the night was upon them and that their faces could not be recognized. The coughs are still distinctive, only that their faces are distinguished only from the light of their balulang cigarettes when they puff. The hush was also the cue for Isko to harness Peta to the calesa. It also gave the General the time to comment on Andres. He said that Andres possessed a splendid physique and a magnetic personality which was so commanding that when Andres says ‘tara na’ to his men the General finds himself preparing to go for no reason at all.

Andres would charge a rampart with or without men following him, ignoring any effort to restrain him from doing so. Such a big heart for battle earned him full adoration from his men. But he did go against the level-headed tactics of the other generals. There were disagreements all around, and when finally he realized that to win battles military tactics are needed. This he knew little about. The time that he gave in and followed the orders of the other generals was about the time when he was brought down.

Tragic, very tragic, decried the Rayadillo General.

Somebody handed the General a lit cigarette and he took a drag from it. Too late, he smoked a balulang! And so he started to cough hard, even harder as he climbed Isko’s calesa, up to the time that the calesa rounded the bend, a cough here, a spit there—clearly audible from the garetta, peopled with faces dimly-lit from cigarette embers.

And as the cacophony of sounds faded into the distance, the General’s coughings gradually merged contrapuntal with the clippity-clop-clippity-clop of the horse of Isko, Peta.


The General’s Story

(As the Rayadillo General continues his story, it would be fair to warn the readers that while history suggests that this story is factual, it still remains as a product of my imagination. In other words, this narrative is not to be taken as the gospel truth in history. There is no need to break in the National Archives to verify that what I write is true. There is no existing proof to be found in writing, anyway. And since this story has been handed down several times over, something has to be amiss as regards the truth in this. Should you be bothered by what you read, just consider the events portrayed in this as mere possibilities.

A second warning though, since this is a product of my mental faculties, anybody or any group using these events and possibilities for commercial purposes may be found guilty of copyright infringement. This story was published so many years earlier than today. This idea is mine.

And again I say, consider the possibilities.)


The Rayadillo General approached the garetta and lit from the horse with a bound, leaving my grandfather to lead the horse away. He went straight to where his aquiline nose was pointed, which he knew beforehand that it was his appointed place for the afternoon. Without losing a stride, he unbuckled his shoulder strap and threw on a bamboo-slatted ledge his sword, scabbard, holster, and hat in one swoop. He then took out one of the last American cigarettes he had, struck a match to it and sang, “Ho-ose can you see, by the Don’s early light, what so proudly we hey….”, only to be stopped by the loud eherms, and coughs and ehems of the 43-odd people stocking the garetta. Pleasantly surprised, the General was amazed to discover that this symphony of coughs could actually come together in one note and in one beat if given the chance, like this instance.

The General’s Story

by Cool_Ambo

“Rizal was a Chinese mestizo,” he blurted out, “and that was his undoing”. That stopped everybody in their tracks, and pretty soon, their disbelief turned to arguments and discussions among themselves. After all, these were inopportune times for anybody to be Chinese or to have a Chinese lineage, much less be adored as a hero like Rizal. The General took these moments to muse about his becoming a general by Aguinaldo’s choice for the reason that he had known the good Doctor Pepe Rizal, and that he was able to translate Rizal’s two books impromptu to groups of listeners at any given instant.

“Another thing that was his undoing was his manner of nodding to people, European style.” This last statement did not sink in to the people, but it made them stop to listen.

“The good doctor was an eye doctor, but he practised general medicine to the poor, most specially to the poor. That was my cue to go to him for medical consultation, not because destitution applied to me, but because he was starting to be famous as a doctor of all sorts. He conducted me to his room, a makeshift treatment room, and called me Panyero, so I called him Panyero, too. This started us to converse in Spanish and lo, he speaks the language like a Spanish Don. He looked at my complaint, the wart-like lump over my left wrist, for which, without a moment’s hesitation, he reached for soap and proceeded to wash it with warm water. After drying it, he took out a bottle wherein some very fine needles on wooden handles and soaked in brownish liquid. He proceeded to stick these needles around the lump. Everytime he does, that portion of my wrist became numb. After a while, he took out a razor and cauterized the lump. There was excessive bleeding but he had bandages ready.

All the time he was talking incessantly about his two books. I had to listen because I was still too woozy to go. And then he talked about a change in the government. He was not in favor of it. He stressed that we are not ready for a change in government. There are not enough learned people to take over the government, especially with this kind of corruption all over. The religious orders are much too influential with the throne of Spain and the Pope. It will be very bloody for our people who has not handled nor even seen weapons of war. We do not have the right leaders. Most of all, our people are still unawares of what they will be fighting for. They are still ignorant of what is happening. Our people must first understand what they will fight for, and then get the funds to sustain a fight. Till that time, let us hope the Spanish Cortes will realize that reforms are very much needed. Or else the country would just be jumping from the frying pan into the fire if there be an armed uprising.

He gave me two books wrapped in red paper. He said that the second book tells of the futility of an insurrection when undertaken before that time when the message from the first book is understood. But the people must learn fast. And I must explain to them thru these books, he cautioned as he slipped a small phial of the brown liquid in my coat pocket to kill the pain. He said that by his training as an eye doctor he is able to make people see things clearer. But he prayed that he could make people see more than these things.

On my way out I met a heavy-set woman with sensuous, tear-bound eyes. Unmistakably European, and her wide hat flicked as we nodded a greeting to each other. She was with an old man, presumably her father and patient of Doctor Pepe.

When I returned to him the next week, he dressed my wound and we talked at length about the books. It seemed that the first book caused much stir in Europe. The second book is now considered a call to arms. This will get him into trouble. He said he came back so that he will intentionally get into trouble so as to put more drama to wake the people. The nostalgia is killing him, anyway.

The first book, he admitted, was easier to write because he merely recounts what transpired in his life and some other people’s lives. This gave rise to the topic of Elias. He told me he found such a man around town, but he regretted killing Elias in the first book because now it would have been a better story if Elias saw the dawn break even for a little bit before he died. He said he tried to create another Elias in his second book but he was engrossed in the student population so he dropped the idea. All the while he insisted that his purpose was to stir up the people to ask for reforms, but he would not mind if the people broke some Frayle’s legs or so. Besides, an insurrection would have given him positive proof that the people have understood his message. Maybe a little protest will do. Still, he dreaded most the uprising of the people with some guillotine in mind. He did not want to be remembered for starting a reign of terror in the country.

The exact character, which he stereotyped as Elias, was found sitting on a pew in church one Sunday. It was at this point of his story that the Doctor got up to warm a pot for the two of us to partake. It appeared that he knew I was coming in the morning so he personally roasted and ground some cacao beans and peanuts to make tsokolate espanol. And when he started telling me about this man whom I later came to know as the firebrand of the revolution named Andres, the prospect of listening to the tale of Andres and sipping tsokolate espanol was very hard to resist. So I did not resist, and stayed for another while.

next : Andres At Bagumbayan…

Dr. Jose Rizal


Dr. Jose Rizal

Prologue by Cool_ambo


 When I last talked to Jose Rizal…….

No that is not true. He lived circa 1890 to I dunno.

But my grandfather did talk to him….or was it my great-grandfather? I don’t know. It’s got to be one of them, I suppose. This is what was told me by the father of my mother…or was it the mother of my father?

 Heck, my grandfather was the official bodyguard of one of the Rayadillo* Generals. Now I am downright sure that he was not, and did not really want to be a bodyguard of a Rayadillo General, nor of anybody for that matter, even though the General was his good friend. I know this for a fact. He is blood of my blood, and my blood tells me not to entertain heroic ideas such as taking a bullet for a Rayadillo general even though he is a good friend. Moreover, my grandfather was scared of guns. In this trait, he is no doubt blood of my blood, and after my own heart.

 At any rate and with not much fuss, he was pronounced official bodyguard by this Rayadillo General, most probably against his natural wishes, and he was pronounced so merely because the General happened to like my grandfather’s horse. You see, my grandfather had to go with the horse at wherever and whenever the General borrows the horse for special occasions. With this arrangement, he might as well be the bodyguard of the general, so there.

 My grandfather, whichever he was, pampered this horse of his, a “kabayong mola”.  She was a mare nicknamed Pira. She was the fastest horse in town and maybe a couple more towns over. I can imagine her being the fastest because most of the horses there were made to pull calesas or caretelas. Pira had to be the fastest horse in town by virtue of being the only horse around that is not made to pull a cart.

 Grandfather brushed her coat with mustard oil to accentuate the sheen after which he tied her tail in a knot before she comes out of the stable. This knot, according to my grandfather, displayed her most seductive anatomical property to the other horses, and as a result made herself strut more seductively. This was wistful thinking on his part but the General just about wished that he could die riding Grandfather’s horse, Pira, after seeing all of her gloss and prance.

 One fateful day, or that day which Pira was supposed to be borrowed by the General, Grandfather failed to find Isko, the Calesa driver, who was supposed to bring the special grass feed for Pira called “sakate”. This grass feed, for some reason, gave her strength in her gallop and stateliness in her strut. So Grandfather led Pira down to the “tumana” to feed on the family turnip patch instead.

 After a while, they went back to find Isko with his calesa but without a horse. The General borrowed the horse of Isko instead and went without a bodyguard. In that instant, Grandfather got on the horse and sped towards the General’s appointed place. He was too late. The General was shot dead in front of the church. My grandfather, whichever of my grandfathers he was, was completely filled with remorse. He blamed himself and Pira for the death of the General. So biting were the pangs of guilt that he changed the name of the horse. She was not to be called Coolaspira no more. Thereafter, she was to be called Coolasisi, a symbol of regret.

*rayadillo is the uniform of the Philippine Revolutionary Army which is white with thin gray lines

next….the General tells a portion of Dr. Jose Rizal’s life, that is, when the general was still alive.