Book: Rizal Without the Overcoat – Chapter 2: Facts and Possibilities


Meeting with ex-patriates (L-R, seated): Jose Rizal, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, and Juan Luna

1 de enero 1883. La Noche. Estoy muy triste yo. No sé qué vaga melancolía, indefinida soledad ahoga el alma, semejante a la profunda tristeza de las ciudades después de un tumultuoso júbilo, a una ciudad después de una felicísima unión. Soñé que imitando yo a un actor en una escena en que muere, sentí vivamente que me faltaba el aliento y perdía rápidamente las fuerzas. Después se me oscurecía la vista y densas tinieblas, como las de la nada, se apoderaban de mí: las angustias de la muerte. Quise gritar y pedir socorro a Antonio Paterno, sintiendo que iba a morir. Desperté sin fuerzas y sin aliento.

Night. Mournful am I. I do not know what vague melancholy, what indefinable loneliness stifles the soul, similar to the profound sadness of cities after a tumultuous rejoicing, to a city after an exceedingly happy union. [Two nights ago, that is, December 30], I had a frightful nightmare when I almost died. I dreamed that imitating an actor in a scene in which he dies, I felt vividly that my breath was failing and I was rapidly losing strength. Then my vision became dim and dense darkness like that of nothingness overpowered me: the anguish of death. I wanted to shout and ask for help from Antonio Paterno, feeling that I was about to die. I awoke weak and breathless. (27)

(Translated by Austin Coates and Leon Ma. Guerrero, Rizal’s biographers)

The paragraph above was from Jose Rizal’s journal entry for January 1, 1883, exactly 13 years before his execution. Did Rizal really write this entry? Did he really have that dream?

Based on this journal entry, it seems that Rizal knew that he was going to die. “Austin Coates is even surprised that many incidents Rizal wrote about in his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo eventually happened to him in real life.” (28) It’s incredible to think that Rizal had these dreams or premonitions—this is a side of Rizal that not a lot of people know.

This was not the first time Rizal mentioned this dream—in fact, when Rizal was in Brussels, Belgium, he wrote a letter to Marcelo H. del Pilar dated June 11, 1890 about his plans and the use of the pseudonym Laong Laan.

… I am sad and in the midst of mournful presentiments but I don’t believe all of them. When I was a boy I believed that I would not reach the age of 30, and I don’t know why I used to think that way. Night after night, for the last two months, I have had dreams of friends and relatives who are now dead. Once, I even dreamed of descending into the depths of the earth where I was met by many people who were seated and dressed in white. They had white faces, were quiet and encircled with a white light. It was there that I saw two of my relatives, one already dead and the other still living. Even if I don’t believe in these things and though my body is strong and I have no fear nor sickness of any kind, nevertheless, I prepare myself for death, arranging things I will leave behind and disposing myself for any eventuality. Laong Laan (Ever prepared), is my real name. (32)

If one needs more evidence of Rizal’s dreams, they should go through Epistolario Rizalino and Escritos de Rizal. Epistolario Rizalino is a six-volume collection of Rizal’s letters and correspondence to relatives and friends while Escritos de Rizal is a multi-volume of his notes and diaries. (28)

It is normal to be skeptical of Rizal’s paranormal experiences. But how does one explain the dream he had in December 30th? Was it a coincidence? Or was it because he was psychic?


Ocampo, Ambeth R. Rizal Without the Overcoat. Mandaluyong: Anvil Publishing, Inc. 2012. Print.

Image by Bayanihan News. Rare Photos of Dr. Jose Rizal.


This is Part 2 of a 9-Part Rizal series of Ambeth Ocampo’s Rizal Without the Overcoat.