Historically, it is the second novel that brought about the execution of its writer, Jose Rizal. He is well renowned by his country man as a martyr for speaking against the evils of Spanish Colonialism on the Philippine Archipelago. The Title, 'El Filibusterismo' is itself a daring challenge to the Spanish colonial ruling class of that time, Filibusterismo(Subversive) or those accused of being one is automatically in serious peril.
By itself, it is an independent narrative, but actually it was an intended continuation of the 'Noli Me Tangere'(loosely translated, it means `touch me not`). As well, it is equally contemporary with the treatment of obsession among the ruling class and the question of nationalism, which makes this novel political in nature as well. The difference, however, is that the optimism seen with Crisostomo Ibarra(The protagonist of the Noli Me Tangere) is absent in El Filibusterismo's main character. In the very first scene, on the upper deck of the ferry, we are introduced to a dark character by the name of Simoun. His origin is somewhat questionable at the beginning, but as the story unfolds, those who have read the Noli will soon realize the character's true identity.
It is somewhat Victorian with it's treatment of the characters' emotions, but it shouldn't be surprising. Rizal, who was educated in Europe, actually wrote this novel when he was in England. Somewhat satirical with its portrayal of colonial society, but it is also a romantic tragedy, in which Simoun's intentions regarding the freedom of his country is questioned. Is it out of vengeance? Or is it purely for the betterment of his native land?
It is indeed rhetoric, but as most scholars in the Philippines would say, 'it is superb rhetoric`. The timeline maybe from another world and another age unknown to us. But Rizal's view regarding the issues involved is timeless and universal, especially to those people who experienced oppression. I adore his works and writings. By far, the El Filibusterismo is one of the best stories I've read.
Bravo Rizal! Your words and sentiments will never be forgotten through the accomplishment of this novel. It is now clear why the Filipinos call you their national hero.