Translator’s Introduction

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

El Filibusterismo, the second of José Rizal’s novels of Philippine life, is a story of the last days of the Spanish régime in the Philippines.  Under the name of The Reign of Greed it is for the first time translated into English.  Written some four or five years after Noli Me Tangere, the book represents Rizal’s more mature judgment on political and social conditions in the islands, and in its graver and less hopeful tone reflects the disappointments and discouragements which he had encountered in his efforts to lead the way to reform.  Rizal’s dedication to the first edition is of special interest, as the writing of it was one of the grounds of accusation against him when he was condemned to death in 1896.  It reads:

To the memory of the priests, Don Mariano Gomez (85 years old), Don José Burgos (30 years old), and Don Jacinto Zamora (35 years old). Executed in Bagumbayan Field on the 28th of February, 1872.

The Church, by refusing to degrade you, has placed in doubt the crime that has been imputed to you; the Government, by surrounding your trials with mystery and shadows, causes the belief that there was some error, committed in fatal moments; and all the Philippines, by worshiping your memory and calling you martyrs, in no  sense recognizes your culpability.  In so far, therefore, as your complicity in the Cavite mutiny is not clearly proved, as you may or may not have been patriots, and as you may or may not have cherished sentiments for justice and for liberty, I have the right to dedicate my work to you as victims of the evil which I undertake to combat.  And while we await expectantly upon Spain some day to restore your good name and cease to be answerable for your death, let these pages serve as a tardy wreath of dried leaves over your unknown tombs, and let it be understood that every one who without clear proofs attacks your memory stains his hands in your blood!

J. Rizal.

A brief recapitulation of the story in Noli Me Tangere (The Social Cancer) is essential to an understanding of such plot as there is in the present work, which the author called a continuation of the first story.

Juan Crisostomo Ibarra is a young Filipino, who, after studying for seven years in Europe, returns to his native land to find that his father, a wealthy landowner, has died in prison as the result of a quarrel with the parish curate, a Franciscan friar named Padre Damaso.  Ibarra is engaged to a beautiful and accomplished girl, Maria Clara, the supposed daughter and only child of the rich Don Santiago de los Santos, commonly known as Capitan Tiago, a typical Filipino cacique, the predominant character fostered by the friar régime.  

Ibarra resolves to forego all quarrels and to work for the betterment of his people.  To show his good intentions, he seeks to establish, at his own expense, a public school in his native town.  He meets with ostensible support from all, especially Padre Damaso’s successor, a young and gloomy Franciscan named Padre Salvi, for whom Maria Clara confesses to an instinctive dread.

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