Bernardino Owano
1901 - 2001

Jose Rizal

Webmaster's Note: My dad (Luis Owano) gave me a letter my grandfather, Bernardino Owano, had written on February 28, 1984. We would like to share this letter and accompanying poem -- in English and in Spanish -- with you.

Cocoa, Fl. Feb. 28, 1984

Dear Lou,

Today is a cool windy day here. The expected high only in the low 60s. So I am staying inside and write a few letters. I came across a Spanish poem written by one of the Filipino heroes which you may enjoy reading. Of course I have tried to translate into English which is really hard to bring out the very essence and sentiment of his thoughts. This man -- Jose Rizal was executed by the Spanish firing squad because of his protest against the malpractices and tyrany[sic] during the dark days of colonial struggle. He wrote books to point out the bad practices of the time. Two of his books were the "Reign of Greed" and "The Social Cancer." He wrote this poem in the darkness of his cell on the eve of his execution and hid it in an alcohol lamp. I am sending you both the Spanish and the Eng. as Cathy may like to read it.

Lou, Ferdinan Magellan and Miguel Lopez de Ligaspi brought the rich European blood to the Philippines which up to this day still runs in the veins of most Filipinos even though already amalgamated in gracious mixture with that of the Orient. In your veins runs some of the Europeans, the Orient and the West. I think it is fitting that you should know that from the Oriental blood that you have inherited there are some rich qualities in it. He (Rizal) spoke 8 languages besides many of the 87 dialects we have in the Philippines. He earned his degree of medicine and Phylosophy[sic] at the University of Madrid and later studied in Paris, Brussels, London and Germany where he acquired his many other degrees.

An imposing monument on the Lunita Park, Manila, today marks the place where Rizal fell before the Spanish firing squad. Many Spanish writers think that it would have taken a very cool man with a high caliber of thinking to write such beautiful thoughts on the very eve of his execution. He was only 35 years old. What a waste of talent! Tell me what you think of it.

I hope you are going through the winter without any ailment. We are all fine here. Take good care.

Love to all.

Last Farewell
By Dr. Jose Rizal; Translated by Bernardino Owano

Farewell, adored Fatherland, the sun's beloved clime,
Pearl of the Orient seas, our lost Paradise;
Gladly now I give thee this faded, languid life:
If it were brighter, fresher, or more blest
Still would I give it thee; I would give it for thy sake.

On the fields of battle, madly struggling with frenzy,
Others give thee their lives, without doubts, without regrets;
The place matters not; cypress, laurel or lily,
Scaffold or open country, combat or cruel martyrdom,
All are alike if needed by home and country.

I die as I see dawn brighten the sky,
And at last herald the day behind this dismal night.
If you needst crimson to tinge thy dawn,
Shed my blood, pour it in the hour of need,
With it I give thee a likeness of thy own light.

My dreams, even in early adolescence,
My dreams, in youth, then overflowing with vigor,
Were one day, to see thee, gem of the Orient seas,
Dry they ebony eyes, hold thy brow serene,
Without frowns, without furrows, nor stigma of shame.

The dreams of my life, my ardent, living desire,
Hail to thee! greets the soul which hurriedly departs,
Hail to thee! oh, how lovely to fall that thou mayest rise,
To die to give thee life, to die underneath thy skies,
And to sleep all eternity in thy enchanted earth!

If over my tomb, one day thou seest grow,
Amidst dense weeds, a simple, humble flower,
Draw it to thy lips, 'tis the flower of my soul
And I shall feel on my brow, beneath the cold tomb,
The flow of thy tenderness, the warmth of thy breath.

Let the moon watch me with soft tranquil light,
Let the dawn send its swiftly fleeting brightness,
Let the wind moan its solemn murmurs,
And if a bird descends and on my cross alights,
Let the bird sing its canticle of peace!

Let the burning sun evaporate the rains,
In the sky let them turn pure with my pursuing anguish;
Let a friendly soul weep over my untimely end,
And in the still evenings, when someone prays for me,
Pray too, oh Fatherland, that in God I rest!

Pray for all who died without happiness,
For all those who perished in unequaled torments,
For our unhappy mothers who moan in bitterness,
For orphans and widows, for tortured prisoners,
and pray for thee, that thou mayest see thy liberty!

And when at night the graveyard is wrapped in darkness,
And only, only the dead remain there keeping watch,
Disturb not its peace, disturb not the mystery,
Perhaps thou mayest hear a zither or a rosary:
'Tis I beloved Country, I, who sing unto thee!

And when alas! my tomb, forgotten by all,
Has neither cross nor stone to mark its place,
Let men plow it, let be scatter with spade,
And my remains, before they return to nothingness,
May they form the dust of thy earthly floor . . .

Then it matters not if I am consigned to oblivion,
In the air, through thy space, over thy vales shall I fly,
Vibrant and distinct sound shall I be to thy ears;
Fragrance, light, rainbow, murmur, song, groaning,
Constantly repeat the essence of my faith.

My idolized Country, grief of my griefs,
Beloved Philippines, hear now my last farewell!
Here I leave thee all: my parents, my loved ones,
I go whither there are no slaves, tyrants or oppressors,
Where faith never kills, where God alone Reigns.

Farewell, parents and brothers, torn from my own soul.
Friends of my childhood days in our home dispossessed,
Be grateful that I rest from the wearisome day!
Farewell to thee, sweet stranger, my friend, my happiness!
Farewell, beloved creatures all! to die is to rest!

Ultimo Adios
(Spanish version)



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