José Rizal (1861-1896) was a Filipino writer, activist, doctor, and political martyr. His execution at age 35 for the crime of rebellion was a turning point for the country he strove to defend with political literature and reform propaganda. Rizal's prosaic body of work echoes the social inequities and patriotic passion that would come to define the Philippines at the turn of the 19th century.
Books and Literary Works Written by José Rizal
Lifetime Literary Accomplishments
Although José Rizal died for his country at a young age, his list of literary works surpasses many writers who lived a full lifetime. These works are notable for both their place in Filipino independence and for their beautiful language.
José Rizal Novels
Rizal's most famous novel, Noli Me Tangere, drew attention to the unjust Spanish rule in the Philippines after its 1887 publication. It is still widely read all over the world today, as is the novel's sequel, El Filibusterismo (1891). Both books were originally written in Spanish, but are more frequently published in Tagalog and English.
The Social Cancer (original title: Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not))
El Filibusterismo (The Reign of Greed)
Unfinished: Makamisa (After Mass
The Plays of José Rizal
Satire was an effective rhetorical device for Rizal's political message. His plays often portray absurd situations that directly echoed Rizal's criticism of the political state of the Philippines.
El Consejo de los Dioses (The Council of the Gods)
Junta Al Pasig (Along the Pasig)
San Euistaquio, Mártyr (Saint Eustache, the martyr)
Por Telefono (By Phone)
Poems by José Rizal
"To the Child Jesus," written by Rizal at age 14, notes the writer's early interest in Christianity and social inequity. His poems often reflected the dual beauty and cruelty of his country, leading to Rizal's final poem written just before his execution, "Mi último adiós" ("My Last Farewell"). The poem was named posthumously by fellow activist Mariano Ponce after the writing was found in Rizal's cell.
"Farewell to 1883"
"Por la Educación Recibe Lustre la Patria" (Through Education Is the Nation Glorified)
"Sa Aking mga Kabata" (To My Fellow Youth)
"Mi último adiós" (My Last Farewell)
"Un Recuerdo A Mi Pueblo"
"Flower Among Flowers"
"Goodbye to Leonor"
"Himno Al Trabajo" (Dalit sa Paggawa; Hymn to Labor)
"Himno Al Talisay" (Hymn to Talisay)
"El Canto del Viajero" (The Song of the Wanderer)
"To the Child Jesus"
"To the Virgin Mary"
"Agua y Fiego" (Water and Fire)
"Me Piden Versos" (They Asked Me for Verses)
When José Rizal wasn't practicing medicine or leading a political revolution, he was composing music. He often transformed his poems into musical lyrics. Some of Rizal's compositions have been adapted into longer pieces by later generations.
Kundiman ni Rizal
Alin Mang Lahi
Speeches and Petitions
In 1880s and 1890s Philippines, art and politics went hand in hand. Rizal belonged to a group of activist artists that spoke up against tyrannical rule with their writing, music, and art. His speeches honor his friends and compatriots who fought alongside Rizal for Filipino freedom.
In honor of two Filipino painters, Rizal's toast to Luna and Hidalgo
Rizal's speech delivered at Cafe Habanero
Petition of the town of Calamba
Order of the Marquis of Malinta
Rizal was an adept historian and could read in Spanish, Italian, English, German, French, and Tagalog. His numerous commentaries on historical works provide a fascinating look at the Philippines just before the 20th century.
Tawalisi of Ibn Batuta
Filipinas Dentro de Cien Años (The Philippines A Century Hence)
Sobre La Indolencia De Los Filipinas (The Indolence of the Filipino)
Manila en el mes Diciembre, 1872 (Manila in the Month of December, 1872)
Historia de la Familia Rizal de la Calamba (The History of the Rizal Family of Calamba)
Los Pueblos del Archipelago Indico (The People of the Indian Archipelago)
La Politica Colonial on Filipinas (Colonial Policy in the Philippines)
Rizal's Annotations to Morga's 1609 Philippine History
Letters and Petitions
Rizal's correspondence was no less prolific than his literary or political writing. Many scholars believe that the best way to understand Rizal as a political figure and personality is by reading his extensive letters and petitions. He wrote back and forth with fellow activists, family members, friends Ferdinand Blumentritt and Leanor Rivera, and his love, Josephine Bracken.
Tribute to Blumentritt (written on the day of Rizal's execution)
Sa Mga Kababaihang Taga Malolos (To the Young Women of Malolos)
A los Filipinos (To the Filipinos)
Rizal's Letters (composed of correspondence to Blumentritt, Father Pablo Pastells, Marcelo del Pilar, and other activists)
Articles and Essays
Most of José Rizal's body of writing can be found in his articles and essays. Published in reform newspaper La Solidaridad and as political circulars, Rizal's essays did not shirk from expressing his admiration for the Filipino people and his scorn for their Spanish oppressors. It was these works that caught the attention of the Spanish government, who ultimately imprisoned Rizal for writing rebellious works.
"El Amor Patrio" (The Love of Country)
"Come se gobiernan las Filipinas" (Governing the Philippine islands)
"Revista De Madrid" (Review of Madrid)
"Los Viajes" (Travels)
"La Verdad Para Todos" (The Truth for All)
"Pensamientos De Un Filipino" (Reflections of a Filipino)
"Note on the Maremagnum"
"Los Agricultores Filipinos" (Filipino Farmers)
"Sa Mga Kababayan" (To My Countrymen)
"Una Visita A La Victoria Gaol" (A Visit to Victoria Gaol)
"A La Defensa" (To La Defensa)
"How to Deceive the Native Land"
"To Barrantes on the Tagalog Theater"
"Una Profanacion" (A Desecration/A Profanation)
"Verdades Nuevas" (New Facts/New Truths)
"Llanto Y Risas" (Tears and Laughter)
"Cosas de Filipinas" (Things About the Philippines)
"Sobre La Nueva Ortografia De La Lengua Tagala" (On The New Orthography of The Tagalog Language)
"A La Nacion Espanola" (To the Spanish Nation)
"Defensa Del Noli" (Reply to Barrantes' Criticism of the Noli Me Tangere)
"Let Us be Just"
"More on the Negros Affair"
"A Reply to Mr. Isabelo de los Reyes' Las Luchas de Nuestros Dias"
"How the Philippines is Governed"
"On the Calamba Incidents"
"Ang Mga Karapatan Ng Tao" (The Rights Of Man)
"Executives of the town of Calamba"
"Colonisation Du British North Borneo, Par De Familles De Iles Philippines" (Colonization Of British North Borneo By Families From The Philippine Islands)
"Proyecto De Colonization Del British North Borneo Por Los Filipinos" (Project Of The Colonization Of British North Borneo By The Filipinos)
"La Instruccion" (The Town Schools in the Philippines)
"La Mano Roja" (The Red Hand)
"Pobres Frailes" (Poor Friars)
"By-laws of the Association of Dapitan Farmers"
"Date for My Defense"
"Additions to My Defense"
"Manifesto to some Filipinos"
"The Philippines as a Spanish Colony"
"Notes on Melanesia, Malaysia, and Polynesia"
"Constitution of La Liga Filipina"
"La Vision Del Fray Rodriguez" (The Vision of Fr. Rodriguez)
"Estado de religiosidad de los pueblos en Filipinas" (The Religiosity of the Filipino People)
Learn More About José Rizal
José Rizal's life and works are an inspiration for freedom fighters everywhere. His passionate writing and political execution at 35 established his enduring legacy as a national hero in the Philippines. Rizal led a tumultuous life of rebellion and sacrifice, marked by the social inequities that bolstered his people into revolution. If you'd like to learn more, check out a timeline of José Rizal's life that details important events and historical milestones.