Antonio de Morga, lieutenant governor of the Philippines in the late sixteenth century, described the food of the indios as follows: Their daily fare is composed of: lice crushed in wooden pillars and when cooked is called morisqueta (this is the staple throughout the land); cooked fish which they have in abundance; pork, venison, mountain buffaloes which they call carabaos, beef and fish which they know is best when it has started to mt and stink (Retana 1909,174). Reading this text in the British Museum 280 years later, Rizal was so incensed that he later responded in print with: This is another preoccupation of the Spaniards who, lii any other nation, treat food to which they are not accustomed or is unknown to them with disgust. The English, for ample, feel horror to see a Spaniard eating snails. To the Speninrd roast beef is repugnant and he cannot understad how Steak Tartar or raw beef can be eaten; the Chiiese who have taltlcn' and eat shark cannot stand Roquefort cheese etc. etc. This fish that Morga mentions, that cannot be good until it begins to mt, is bagoong [salted and fermented fish or shrimp paste used as a sauce in Filipino cuisine] and those who have eaten it and tasted it know that it neither is nor should be rotten (Rizal 1890, 264): Rizal's sarcastic rebuttal appears, surprisingly, not in his satirical novels or his polemical tracts, but in a scholarly work--his annotated reedition of Morga's Sucesas de has Ishas Filipinas. Aside from the racial slurs to which he was reacting, however, RW maintained mixed feelings for the Morga, depending on its usefulness for his thesis that Spanish colonization retarded, rather than brought civilization to, the Philippines and its inhabitants. Unfortunately Rizal's Morga has been relegated in the canon, under his "minor writings" (Craig 1927), and remains largely unread due to the pre-eminence of his novels, Noli me ta'ngere and El Filibusterismo. Unlike the novels, which have been attacked and condemned regularly in the past century, the Morga remains largely ignored. It is lamentable that, despite king a classic of nationalist historical writing, Rizal's Morga is seldom read today. That Rizal's annotations are largely disregarded today stems basically from the recent advances in historical, archeological and ethnographic research. Although many of Rizal's assertions have been validated by recent research, the fact is that his work is now dated. Moreover Rizal's annotations are secondary, and today's scholars concentrate more on the primary source, Morga, than on Rizal's notes. Few Filipinos today, even the most patriotic, would find the time and energy to read the sxnall text of Rizal's footnotes, even if penned by the national hero. Another factor in the relative obscurity of Rizal's annotations to Morga was censorship during the Spanish colonial period. Like Noli me ta'ngere and El Filibusterismo, the Rizal edition of Morga was banned in the Philippines in the late nineteenth century. Therefore copies confiscated by Spanish customs in Manila and other ports of entry were destroyed. Due to the burning of one particularly large shipment of the Morga, the book attained "rare" and "out of print? status within a year of its publication. It did not have a second printing, and the few copies in circulation were left hidden and unread by frightened owners. There is also the problem of language, which restricted the impact of the Morga to a small, educated, Spanish-reading elite in Manila. Among this already minute circle, one could count with the fingers of one hand, the people who would read a historical work like Morga rather than the more entertaining Rizal novels. Rizal's Morga was not read by the masses, although people heard a great deal about this controversial work. Rizal's Morga, thus unread, is almost forgotten. This article deals with Rizal's views on Philippine history. It attempts to place Rizal's Morga within the framework of his work, as well as in the larger context of Philippine historiography. Rizal's Morga may not have been read widely, but its significance lies in the fact that with this edition, Rizal began the task of writing the first Philippine history from the viewpoint of a Filipino.
Ocampo, A. (1998). Rizal’s Morga and Views of Philippine History. Philippine Studies, 46(2), 184-214.