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Por Telefono

By Telephone
By Dimas Alang (Jos Rizal)
In this article Rizal writes as if from the future and, with satire and irony, condemns the
rule of the friars in his day. Rizal sent his manuscript to Mariano Ponce and, under his
direction; it was published in Barcelona in 1889. F. Salvador Font, who censored Rizal's
Noli Me Tngere, occasioned this ridicule.

In the year 1900 the Philippines was for the first time connected with the Motherland by
means of a Telephone Line by an English-Catalonian firm called The Trans-Oceanic Telephone
Company, well known in its time for its truly enterprising spirit.
Thanks to the perfection of the instruments, there could be heard in Madrid the mystical
sighs of the friars here as they prayed with great piety before the sacred images, likewise their
humble talk, their words of conformity and resignation, and even their thanksgiving for the
alms of rice and fish which the people gave out of compassion for their fasting and abstinence.
Such was the perfection of the telephone that even the silence which prevailed in the
refectories could be transmitted, and from the noise of mastication, it could be definitely
known that the most gluttonous of the friars did not eat over five mouthfuls a day.
How poor and virtuous these priests are! exclaimed the affected democrats in Madrid.
How poor and virtuous these priests are! repeated the telephone in the Philippines, and
this was circulated everywhere, in the convents, churches, and so forth.
Upon learning this, the friars reduced further the quantity of their morels fearing that
there might be a hungry native. They taught the youth how to read and write and forcibly also
instructed them in the Spanish language, not seldom suffering insults and fist-blows from the
parents of the youths for daring to open their eyes.
God be praised! the friars would answer, turning the other cheek saying: All for the
sake of God and Mother Spain!
Thus they continued to teach just as soon as the despotic native had gone away, if the
Government, impelled by the parents, would not institute action against them for teaching an
offense constituting a great crime by endangering the integrity of the country.
By request of the natives, the Overseas Minister, the Procurator of the Augustinian
friars one day telephoned from Madrid to Manila, is offering our Order a hacienda in order
that the friars might not die of hunger but live with a certain comfort. What shall I answer
him?

The telephone transmitted the offer to the Augustinian convent.


O Jesus, my Jesus! Holy God, might Saint, immortal Saint! May God protect us from all
temptation exclaimed all the friars, and on hearing this news, they dropped on their knees and
covered their ears.
Lord, Lord! cried the Provincial beating his breast soundly, and not as one who would
only deceive the faithful to get money from them.
I have ruined the little soul of Salvadorcito by sending him to Madrid as the Procurator!
He was so good, so humble, so simple, so ingenuous, so silent, so chaste, and so frank when he
was here! Now he is ruined! Imagine giving such proposals, such sinful ones! Alas! Alas!
Domine quare deleriquiste eum? Oh, Lord, why didst thou forsake him?
All the inmates of St. Augustine groaned, and all the friars were beating their breasts and
scourging one another to do penance and to bring the soul of little Salvadorcito Font to the
right path.
All this consternation in the convent of St. Augustine was heard in Madrid by telephone,
and Salvadorcito Font exclaimed with the simple air of a good boy:
I wonder if they have imprisoned all my brothers for failing to read all the pamphlets
which the natives published against them, insulting them with ecclesiastical approval! After all,
this has been rightly done. Who commands to answer and counter?
If they insult us in the booklets we, as imitators and ministers of Christ, should be
compelled to read them all, especially if there are indulgences, and they should prohibit us
from answering them and defending ourselves. That is why we have vows of haughtiness. . . . I
am going immediately to see the Minister and ask him to flog any priest of my religion who
through pride, will not say Amen to everything and regard the truth; he will thus see that,
although a simpleton, I do not lack love of Justice. . .
Then he looked for his shoes with holes in the soles because what he had on had no
soles. The good Augustinian had to go on foot to the Ministry, as he does not even have
carfare, notwithstanding his vow of wealth!
Salvadorcito, Salvadorcito! called the telephone.
Salvadorcito recognized the voice of the Provincial and began to tremble, as he was very
obedient.
At your orders, Father! he answered and he knelt down by the telephone in order to be
in a more respectful position, although this was forbidden by his vow of haughtiness.

How did you permit yourself to be tempted by the enemy of evil into accepting for a
moment the offer to give us a hacienda? My son, did you not perceive that this was only a trap
laid by the enemy, inspired, no doubt, by that damned soul, Rizal, so that we may thus become
rich, haughty, powerful, and licentious because that wretch from Calamba desires nothing
better than that we practice our vows of wealth, haughtiness, and licentiousness which the
sacrilegious founders have imposed upon us all? Dont you dare again listen to such offers?
Here we not only work and construct our churches with our hands, we not only sow and help
the poor, but what little they give us, we, in turn, hand over to the rich and proud in order that
they may tyrannize us more so that their greed may be increased and they may exploit and ruin
us the more, put us in prison, exile us, and so forth. . . Thus we spread the law of Christ
everywhere in the islands were we are exiled; then there will be more imitators. . . There is not
one faithless Igorot left, not even a single non-Christian in the mountains; all have been
baptized and they all exploit us as good Christians. What you should propose to the Minister in
order that our doctrine may triumph, is that he emulate the Roman praetors and send us cruel
and bloodthirsty governors to violate the laws and persecute us. Thus will the dormant one
awaken, the lukewarm be strengthened, and the attention of the indifferent who are now so
many be aroused. . . Remember that in order to make a cause triumph, it is necessary that it
be persecuted. Let them go ahead and persecute us! Thus will the dormant one awaken, the
lukewarm be strengthened and the attention of the indifferent who are now so many be
aroused. . . Remember that in order to make a cause triumph, it is necessary that it be
persecuted. Let them go ahead and persecute us! In the meantime, I impose as a penance
upon you, who are neither vain nor insincere, to have your picture taken in several positions,
but always in the attitude of meditating, or as if writing a sermon, with pen in hand, and beside
a lamp, wearing eyeglasses, even though you dont need them; do you understand? You will
exhibit these photographs in public so that everyone will say, even if it is not believed, What a
thinker he is; what a great orator Salvadorcito Font must be! He is always writing sermons and
has to time even to have his picture taken! This will make you miserable, because even if you
have the vows of wealth, haughtiness and licentiousness, you pay no attention to them. . .
Dont forget to have your picture taken in a pensive mood and as a comedian! God be with
you!
Thy will be done! sighed Salvadorcito resignedly, and his whole house resounded with
laments.
Salvadorcito was so humble that he was tortured by the idea of appearing in public, even
if only in a photograph, and that is why, whenever he had to preach, he assumed a hollow and
cavernous voice to make his hearers afraid and see if they would leave him alone.
Salvadorcito, Salvadorcito! again shouted the telephone.
At your orders, the good procurator answered, and this time he fell on his hands and
knees so that he could listen more reverently to his Provincial.

Request the Minister not to make Fr. Rodriguez a bishop. Tell him that he is very busy
researching and looking for words deriving from Calamba, such as Calamban, Calambanian,
Calamian, Calam, etc. Imagine what a task this is for him! He is sweating to beat the band! He
has no time to be a bishop, although he would make a good one, because he is condemned by
our Father, St. Augustine, to be stupid all his life. For Gods sake, dont let them make him a
bishop!
It is not the Minister who wants to make him a Bishop, but the Dominicans who wish to
avoid the office, owing to the spirit of haughtiness! answered Salvadorcito.
Then tell the Minister that there is nobody like the Dominicans for bishops. I know one
here who is so friendly to the natives and an enemy of our faith that he does not let the
Chinese take part in ceremonies, although he knows very well that as soon as they leave the
country they give up Christianity. They take to Christianity for convenience. Among Chinese,
the worst Christians they are the better persons they become. The Dominicans know this and
even if the Chinese offer to give them money, they would not accept it. No, sir! They manage
to prevent the natives from quarrelling with the mestizos and the latter from quarrelling with
the Chinese, all against the express mandate of Jesus Christ to divide in order to rule. For this
disobedience, they ought to be made bishops. They should be made to carry mitres on their
heads as symbol of pride, like the Assyrian and Persian priests who wore such ornaments.
These people follow Machiavelli, that accursed Machiavelli, who said that peace and harmony
should be preached.
Talking about harmony, do you know, Salvadorcito that Father Baldomero and another
one went to visit the college bearing the same name, which is a school for girls, if you dont
remember well. . . Of course, they did not visit the dormitories while the girls were dressing and
changing their clothes, neither did they talk with the prettiest girls, and the few words they
exchanged with them were not said in the dark or behind doors far from other people. . . Oh,
but what misery they suffered! They who were so chaste, so virtuous and so pure-minded! The
Sisters were so aloof, so unaccommodating and so intolerant! All the time they were there
they talked only of God always assuming a penitent and solemn mood!
Alas, alas!
Why, whats the matter, Salvadorcito?
Please take me away from the Office of Procurator, because here I am suffering what
Baldomero and the other fellow must have suffered in the girls College. What a lot of beautiful
girls and women. . . Oh, my! I wish to go back to Manila! Madrid is doomed!
Here the natives will imprison and exile you without trial! For simply writing a secret
report they will. . .
Never mind!

You will die of hunger and will not ride a coach!


I travel on foot here.
I warn you that you will have to salute the natives, otherwise they will file an
administrative case against you, and exile you.
I dont care! I prefer all that to living among beautiful . . . women.
Remember that if you do not accommodate the gobernadorcillo, he will accuse you of
being anti-Spanish. . .
I will protest and say that I love Spain.
They wont believe you, because the natives are very rich and they publish pamphlets
against the friars with permission of the authorities.
Then what shall I do? Oh, what shall I do?
Remain there as Procurator.
Oh, my!
Present Chinese and Japanese gifts to the Ministers, the Delegates, and the Senators in
order to promote our ends.
Yes, thats it, the Chinese! And what else?
Wait until they make you a Bishop.
Oh, my!
And later, a Cardinal!
Alas
But in the meanwhile, you must have the government award crosses, estates, and
offices to our enemies.
And suppose they will engineer a revolt and claim that it is we who are behind it because
we are bistirufels?
Silence.
What shall I say about bistriufelism?

Silence.
Bistirufelism did you say? answered a voice at last. You tell the Minister that it does
not exist, but if he wants it to exist, just let him think about it and it will. Tell him that we have
already suffered too much, that we suffer now and will suffer more. However, as nothing is
eternal in this life, our sufferings will some day come to an end, that day when we are
convinced that the Government is with our enemies.