(Hi)Story in the Margins: Jose Rizal’s Footnotes to Antonio Morga's Chronicle

Ninel Valderrama Negron


A milestone in the Philippines has been the facsimile of Morga’s chronicle Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas annotated by José Rizal in 1890. Scholars have analyzed how Rizal’s use of footnotes told a counterhistory of the Spanish conquest. His project is semantic in nature and sought to destabilize, at least momentarily, the key concepts of the Hispanic theological-political monarchy. However, I argue that his criticism not only focused on the lexicon but went further, Rizal’s use of footnotes sought to disrupt Western academic structures by appropriating them. His innovation was to do so with a colonial text in the 19th century Philippines. The footnotes of Rizal add the Filipino version, that is, two different versions engaged in visual rivalry on the same page. This paper analyzes the Rizal edition based on the materiality of the text, namely the how it operates in the format and its medium. The body of text is marginalized, whereas the story at the margins becomes visually relevant. This effort represents an epistemological rupture of the unit of the metropolitan narrative with the conversion of the Filipino from an object of study to a subject that gain agency.


Counterhistory. Footnotes. Marginalia. José Rizal. Antonio Morga.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.24206/lh.v6i2.30599


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