October 8, 1897, Emilio Jacinto Wrote “A La Patria”
On October 8, 1897, Emilio Jacinto, dubbed in Philippine history as the Brains of the Katipunan, wrote “A La Patria” (To The Fatherland), a patriotic piece inspired by “Mi Ultimo Adios” (My Last Farewell) written by Dr. Jose Rizal before his execution at the Bagumbayan field (known today as the Rizal or Luneta Park). Jacinto wrote the poem under the coconut palms of Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
Jacinto, who carried the nom de plume “Dimas Ilaw”, was an equally cerebral and influential writer whose pieces essentially exhorted the Filipino masses to join the revolution against Spain and that every Filipino aspiring for freedom should be ready to make sacrifices for the country. He became a foremost revolutionary of the Katipunan, and wrote the “Kartilla”, the primer of the Katipunan on how Katipuneros should conduct themselves in the fight for freedom against the Spanish colonizers.
He also edited the newspaper “Kalayaan” (Freedom), the secret society’s organ which tremendously boosted the membership of the Katipunan from 300 to 30,000 just before the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution in August 1896.
His other writings include: “Liwanag at Dilim” (Light and Darkness), “Pahayag” (Manifesto), “Sa Mga Kababayan Ko” (To My Countrymen) that all contain his socio-political ideas using Dr. Jose Rizal and Marcelo H. del Pilar as his role models.
Born on December 15, 1875 in Trozo, Manila, Jacinto, at the age of 18, gave up his academic pursuits to join the Katipunan founded by the Great Plebeian Andres Bonifacio on July 7, 1892 in Tondo. Jacinto was the youngest member of the Katipunan in his time.
Jacinto held various sensitive positions in the organization as secretary, fiscal, editor, and later as general of the revolutionary forces in Laguna province.
Below is the English translation of “A La Patria”
To the Fatherland (A la Patria)Hail! oh my native country! more than aught I adore thee,
Whom with so many treasures lavish Nature has blessed;
Eden where flowers more fragrant bloom than in other gardens,
Where with more beautiful colors, rising, the dawn paints the heavens,
And where the poet, enraptured, sees what he elsewhere but dreamt.
Hail! oh thou queen enchanting! Filipinas beloved,
Venus beauty-enshrouded, peerless, beloved land!
Region of light and color, poetry, fragrance, and gaiety,
Regions of fruits delicious and of sweet harmonies, gently
Lulled to sleep by the breezes and the surf of the sea.
Pearl the most precious and dazzling of our Eastern ocean,
Paradise gilt by the splendors of our brilliant sun:
Eagerly do I greet thee, and adoration ardent
Offers my soul with the burning, fervent desire to see thee
Free from thy bitter sorrow, free from the Spaniard’s yoke!
Ah, in the midst of thy splendors, sadly in chains dost thou languish,
That which to thee is most precious-Freedom, thou hast it not!
Ah, to relieve thee, my country, in thy distress, in thy suffering,
Fain would I give my life-blood, gushing forth from my bosom
To the last drop, and oblivion find, and eternal rest.
What should be thine by justice, rights unalienable
Are naught but words vain and hollow, cruelmockery to thee;
Justice is but a deception in thy sad situation,
Bondmaid art thou, though worthy of a queen’s purple instead,
Joy givest thou to thy tyrant, who gives thee gall in return.
What does it help thee, my country, sad, bowed by dire misfortune,
That thou hast skies like the turquoise, clear and diaphanous,
That of thy moon the silvery beams are of matchless beauty:
What does it help thee, who, weeping, sighing in bitter bondage,
Hast for four centuries been suffering-what is the good to thee?
Aid what avail thee the flowers covering thy smiling meadows,
What the birds’ carols that sweetly in your forests resound?
Ah, the same breete that their fragrance bears and their songs harmonious,
Bears on its wings cries and sobbing, weeping and bitter complaints,
That fill the soul with anguish and the mind with sad thoughts.
What is the good of thy splendor, pearl of virginal beauty,
What of the wealth oriental of thy alluring charms,
If all thy grace and beauty tyrants have cruelly blighted,
Bound with mortiferous irons, fetters of hardness unequalled,
Drawing enjoyment and pleasure from thy anguish and woe?
What is the good of thy fertile soil and its matchless exuberance,
That it brings forth fruit delicious, manifold, bountiful?
If all thy generous heavens smile down upon and shelter
Is claimed as his by the Spaniard, who stepping boldly forward,
Insolent in his vileness, loudly proclaims his right?
But to an end comes all silence, end must all servile patience,
Now, that the tocsin resounding calls us to fight for thee,
And without fear, without mercy, openly, crush the vile serpent
That with its venom has poisoned thy embittered existence:
Fatherland, here we are, ready, anxious, to die for thee!
All, the idolized mother, and the wife whom we worship,
Even the babe whom his father loves like a piece of his soul,
In the defence of thycause we abandon them, leaving behind us
Happiness, love, and hope: all we hold dear we give up,
All our fondest dreams, our illusions all.
And lo! throughout the country heroes spring up by enchantment,
Burning with love of their country, radiant with virtue’s light,
Fighting with ardor that only death will defeat and vanquish,
And even dying they will utter thy sacred name,
Fatherland, wishing thee happiness, still with their dying breath.
Numerous like stars in the heavens, thousands of noble heroes
Lay on thy sacred altars willingly down their lives,
And when ye hear of the combats and of the desperate charges,
Fervent prayers to heaven send up, ye children, ye aged,
And ye women, that victory may be with our hosts!
Midst the most horrible tortures cruelty can imagine,
Only because they have loved thee and desired thy good,
Countless martyrs have suffered, yet in the midst of their torments
Blessings for thee have risen from their pure souls, and even
Those who were slain met death with a last wish for thee.
What does it matter that hundreds, thousands of sons of thine perish,
In the unequal struggle, in the tremendous strife,
And that their precious life-blood flows till it seems like an ocean?
Is it not spilt in defending thee and thy sacred homes?
Little it matters if fighting bravely, they die in thy cause!
Little it matters if exile is our fate, and the prison,
Or even torture, with savage fury inflicted on us,
For at the sacred altar that in his heart each patriot
To thee has raised, have we all, one and all have we sworn
Fealty to our cause, and our honor pledged.
And if we forth from the fight come with the laurels of glory,
And our self-sacrificing labor is crowned with success,
Future ages will honor heap upon honor and crown thee
Queen of the realm of the free, pure and unblemished queen,
And all the peoples on earth mute and admiring will stand.
On the horizon slowly rises the dawn, most brilliant,
Of a new day of freedom, love and prosperity,
And of those who have fallen in the dark night of the struggle
Never let perish the memory, and in their graves, cold and humble,
Happy their slumber will be, happiness being thine.
But if the crown of the victor should be the spoil of the Spaniard,
And if the fickle fortune should turn its back on thee,
Yet we shall always be brethren-be what it may the outcome,
Liberty will always have champions while there are tyrants alive.
And our faith will not perish-while there is life, there is hope!
Silent forces are working while a false calm is reigning,
Calm that precedes the storm-soon will the hurricane rage,
And with more firmness, more prudence will our work we continue
And start the struggle again, but with more ardor and strength,
Till in the end we shall triumph, till dried your tears shall be.
Fatherland, idolized, precious, as your sorrows are growing
So our love grows amain, our affection for thee,
Do not lose hope or courage, for from the wound, the gaping,
Always the blood will flow, while there is life in us,
And we shall never forget thee in eternity’s space!
DIMAS-ILAW. Sta. Cruz, Laguna, October 8, 1897
(Translated from Spanish by Epifanio delos Santos)