(A room in PACIANO’s house, on the eve of Rizal’s execution. At the rear an open door at the right a closed door, the main entrance; in the center chairs arranged in a semicircle. The room is dimly lighted. As the curtain rises, PACIANO, FATHER ERNESTO, and MIGUEL, the corporal of the squad that will shoot Rizal are seen talking.)
PACIANO: You know what is happening, Father Ernesto?
FATHER ERNESTO: Yes. We must take quick measures!
MIGUEL: There is not a moment to lose!
PACIANO: You agree, Miguel, that he must be saved— my brother?
FATHER ERNESTO AND MIGUEL: Yes, yes, Paciano.
PACIANO: There are precautions to be taken.
FATHER ERNESTO: Of course. When Jose Rizal is condemned to die, the Filipinos are condemned too—
MIGUEL: (Fervently.) For his blood is our blood!
FATHER ERNESTO: If the innocent are not safe, where do we stand?
PACIANO: Now, let us make our plan. Are the doors and windows locked? (They look around.)
FATHER ERNESTO: What about that? (Pointing to the open door at the rear.)
PACIANO: That is our exit for escape.
MIGUEL: The people cry to us to save him.
PACIANO: We all understand our purpose, don’t we? Let us see. What are we striving for?
FATHER ERNESTO: The dawn of a better day?
MIGUEL: To save him so as to preserve him as our leader!
PACIANO: I will risk my life to save my brother as he has risked his to save our land.
(Enter Mrs. RIZAL from the rear.)
MRS. RIZAL: Oh, Paciano, don’t risk your life, too. I shall lose Jose and then you! I cannot think of it!
PACIANO; No, Mother, you will lose neither. We are going to save him.
MRS. RIZAL: That’s impossible. You can’t go out of the house.
PACIANO: Don’t we have a secret passage?
MRS. RIZAL: But our enemies have eyes and ears for everything.
PACIANO: Have you forgotten the tortures and suffering you and all of us have—?
MIGUEL: Besides, we are saving not only him but the country—fathers, mothers, and children!
FATHER ERNESTO: And make our land safe from white Satans—
ALL: The Spaniards!
MRS. RIZAL: But Jose does not want to be saved.
PACIANO: We can persuade him.
MRS. RIZAL: How?
PACIANO: That’s our problem.
MRS. RIZAL: Promise me that you will not expose your life to peril.
PACIANO: I’d give all to save him, Mother. Our destiny is in his hands. We may not need him, but the people do.
MRS. RIZAL: Then we would save him! (She exits by the rear door.)
PACIANO: We must act immediately. (A knock at the door.)
VOICE OUTSIDE: Katankanak!
FATHER ERNESTO: Gomburza!
VOICE OUTSIDE: Consummatum est!
PACIANO: Quick! Your masks!
(PACIANO and MIGUEL Put on red masks, the insignia of the Bayani class of the Katipunan. Father ERNESTO uses a green mask, the insignia of the Kawal class.)
PACIANO: Open the door, Miguel.
(BONIFACIO enters. He wears a black mask with a triangular figure containing the letters L. L. D.)
FATHER ERNESTO, PACIANO AND MIGUEL: El Supremo!
PACIANO: Masks off! (They all unmask.) Most honored Sir, we are surprised at your visit.
BONIFACIO: The nation is threatened.
FATHER ERNESTO: Yes, these Spaniards make everything unbearable!
BONIFACIO: It is worse than that. The Soul of the Philippines is gasping for life!
MIGUEL: You mean Rizal?
BONIFACIO: Yes. Have you not thought of saving him. Paciano?
PACIANO: Certainly, we want to rescue him.
BONIFACIO: Good. Have you a plan?
FATHER ERNESTO: Not yet.
BONIFACIO: I have come to offer help with my soldiers.
PACIANO: In spite of your misunderstanding with my brother?
BONIFACIO: That is a personal matter. I am offering help for the sake of the country.
MIGUEL: Well said!
PACIANO: Very well. How can we use your soldiers?
BONIFACIO: With them we can overpower the Spanish guards.
FATHER ERNESTO: And then?
BONIFACIO: Several of as will rush toward Rizal and run away with him during the general confusion.
PACIANO: How can we gather our soldiers near the field of execution?
BONIFACIO: That’s easily fixed. The Spaniards will pay no attention to ignorant-looking people. So we will disguise our soldiers as banqueros.
PACIANO: Will they not arouse suspicion if many of them are seen near the place?
BONIFACIO: They will be hidden in bancas.
PACIANO: That will be a wise precaution.
BONIFACIO: Our soldiers will wait there on the beach until we need them.
FATHER ERNESTO: We must wait until Rizal stands before the Spanish firing squad.
MIGUEL: It will not be Spaniards—I mean the firing squad
MIGUEL: The firing squad will be composed of Filipinos. I am the corporal of the squad selected.
PACIANO, BONIFACIO AND FATHER ERNESTO: You?
BONIFACIO: Then how did you get here?
MIGUEL: I bribed them—I mean the guards.
BONIFACIO: (After a pause.) Let me see, it seems it makes matters simpler, Miguel. You can lead the attack!
MIGUEL: That I would do gladly!
PACIANO: But we must secure Jose’s permission first.
BONIFACIO: That is not necessary.
PACIANO: Yes, it is. Should he not want to be rescued our efforts would be futile. He may not go with us. You know his willingness to die for his country.
BONIFACIO: Then who will go to apprise him of our plans?
FATHER ERNESTO: Miguel, you go.
MIGUEL: No, not I. I think Paciano should do it.
BONIFACIO: That is right. He would more likely listen to his own brother.
PACIANO: Wait, I think we should have an alternative to offer him.
FATHER ERNESTO: Why?
PACIANO: I know my brother. I have doubts now that I can persuade him to escape from his death.
BONIFACIO: What else can we do?
PACIANO: If Jose refuses to let us save him, we will let Spaniards die with him. You see, Jose thinks our cause would gain more by his own death.
MIGUEL: But you were telling your mother that we could persuade him to—
PACIANO: I had to lie. My plan is simple. If Jose declines to be rescued, we throw a bomb into the midst of the ring of Spanish soldiers, killing scores of them, the prisoner and the firing squad.
MIGUEL: The firing squad? Well if it must be that way—
BONIFACIO: Then he would be forever lost to us. You do not know how much we shall need him. It will not be long before victory on the field of battle will be ours! We do not need Rizal for a general but when peace comes we shall need him to lead the nation toward progress.
PACIANO: That is true. But what I want you to understand is my brother’s willingness to die.
BONIFACIO: I think he will want to live when he realizes how much the country will need him.
PACIANO: I want to save him. But if I fail to persuade him to be rescued, then would it not be hotter if our enemies went with him?
BONIFACIO: (After a pause.) Very well, let us approve your proposition. But I still think he can be persuaded to be rescued.
FATHER ERNESTO: Is there not someone closer to him who can persuade him to give up the idea of going to his death?
MIGUEL: There is Josephine.
BONIFACIO: Yes. She is the closest. And she can apprise him of our plans after their marriage.
PACIANO: I had not thought of that. Maybe she can do it. I’d better go to her now.
BONIFACIO: Wait. It is important that we use signs to avoid suspicion.
FATHER ERNESTO: Two signs.
PACIANO: I shall suggest one. If Jose wants the bomb— by the way, we can use rockets.
BONIFACIO: Rockets in daylight? That would arouse suspicion.
PACIANO: Maybe, but we shall be upon them in a moment.
BONIFACIO: And where shall we fire the rockets?
FATHER ERNESTO: My brother has a house in Intramuros towering above the walls. PACIANO: One rocket means the bomb.
BONIFACIO: And three rockets for the general assault. Who will fire the rockets?
FATHER ERNESTO: I volunteer to do it.
MIGUEL: That’s a great risk, Father. If the Spaniards should find out that the rockets came from your brother’s house—
FATHER ERNESTO: There may be no Spaniards left to find out.
MIGUEL: Shall Josephine notify Father Ernesto?
BONIFACIO: She will have no time to reach Father Ernesto.
FATHER ERNESTO: Why not?
BONIFACIO: She cannot bring Rizal’s answer in time, not after the marriage, which is to take place in the early hours of the morning. After the marriage she will not be able to reach Intramuros soon enough.
FATHER ERNESTO: Suppose she communicates Rizal’s answer to Paciano?
PACIANO: That would be unwise; it’s dangerous for me to be seen with her. (He pauses.) We cannot get any other messenger. I think there is enough time for her to reach Father Ernesto. Execution comes at seven-thirty.
BONIFACIO: That’s all then. Everybody to his duty: Paciano, take charge of the bomb. Father, the rocket; Miguel to start the fight. Your squad is loyal to you!
BONIFACIO: I’ll command the soldiers. And we must disguise ourselves.
MIGUEL: Except me.
FATHER ERNESTO: Of course.
BONIFACIO: Thoughts of the country not— (Knocking at the door.)
PACIANO: Ritorzal! (Pause.)
PACIANO: We have no use of its light, but of its noise!
BONIFACIO: Katankanak! (Pause; louder knocking.)
FATHER ERNESTO: Gomburza!
ALL: (In a low voice.) A Spaniard! A Spaniard! (They prepare to escape.)
A VOICE OUTSIDE: Don’t be scared; I’m English. (The men look at one another.) It’s Josephine!
BONIFACIO: Hoods! (They put on their masks. MIGUEL opens the door. JOSEPHINE enters.)
JOSEPHINE: (Surprised.) What? Is this not Paciano’s house?
PACIANO: (Taking off his mask.) It is!
JOSEPHINE: Oh! (The others take off their masks.) I shall be quick. I’ll tell why I have come. Jose warns you not to resort to violence.
PACIANO: Is that the only message you bring? And you have braved the night for that alone
JOSEPHINE: I have come to tell you that some men are watching this house.
PACIANO: Thank you for the information, Josephine. But we have just been discussing plans to save Jose.
JOSEPHINE: I want him to be saved, but he counsels us not to attempt to rescue him.
BONIFACIO: We have decided on a plan for the rescue.
JOSEPHINE: Oh, don’t attempt it!
PACIANO: Why not?
JOSEPHINE: He says he is weary of life. He welcomes death!
BONIFACIO: No, he must wish to live!
JOSEPHINE: He has done all he can for his country!
PACIANO: For the present we do not need him, but we shall after we obtain our freedom. We must save him for the future!
FATHER ERNESTO: Spiritual and moral tasks will be waiting for him!
JOSEPHINE: He sent me to tell you to beware of getting complicated with his death.
MIGUEL: We are willing to sacrifice our lives for him.
JOSEPHINE: No, don’t try to save him! You would all perish!
PACIANO: Don’t you love him, Josephine?
JOSEPHINE: Of course, I do. Perhaps that is why I should let him find rest after so much suffering!
PACIANO: But don’t you really want him to live?
JOSEPHINE: Yes, yes, we must have him!
BONIFACIO: Oh, let us give up the project!
FATHER ERNESTO: What?
MIGUEL: No, we must not!
BONIFACIO: But he does not care to live.
PACIANO: You forget that is a personal matter to him. You yourself said the country must be served first!
BONIFACIO: (After a pause.) We need your help, Josephine.
JOSEPHINE: Tell me what to do!
PACIANO: We have selected you to persuade Jose to live.
JOSEPHINE: Shall I go to his cell?
PACIANO: Yes. Just after your marriage. You will tell him an alternative which we shall explain to you presently. Then you have to go to Father Ernesto. (Pointing to the priest.) Tell him Jose’s answer, and he will do the rest.
FATHER ERNESTO: At nine—nine, Cabildo, Intramuros (Knocking at the door.)
PACIANO: Ritorzal! (Pause.)
BONIFACIO: Katankanak! (Pause; louder knocking.)
FATHER ERNESTO: Gomburza! ALL: A Spaniard! A Spaniard! (The men except Father ERNESTO draw daggers.)
A VOICE OUTSIDE: Yes. It is Lieutenant Andrade.
PACIANO: What does he want?
THE VOICE: Surely you have not forgotten Jose’s friend. I come on an urgent business.
BONIFACIO: Don’t let him enter. He may be a spy.
PACIANO: I know him. Your hoods! Miguel, open the door. (They sheath their daggers.) (Enter a man dressed in military garb with the cape of an officer His face is like that of ANDRADE.)
THE MAN: Please take off your masks. I have come to tell you that there’s hope for Jose to escape and I am willing to help you.
BONIFACIO: Lieutenant Andrade, if you are a friend of Jose Rizal, why don’t you take off your cap before us?
THE MAN: Oh, it’s a military custom. (PACIANO peers into his face.)
PACIANO: Take it off! (MIGUEL knocks it off. They all see the man’s head.)
ALL: A father! A friar! (They overcome him.)
PACIANO: We have done well. We must act immediately for we are being spied upon. (Curtain)