This fascinating book, THE FORGERY OF THE RIZAL RETRACTION AND JOSEPHINE'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, by Ildefonso T. Runes and Mamerto M. Buenafe is worth reprinting for the 150th birthday of the national hero. First published in 1969 by the Manila-based Pro-Patria Publishers, there have been no other editions.
According to the authors, a certain Fr. Manuel Garcia claimed to have dscovered the retraction document in the archives of the Archbishopric of Manila after which reproductions were circulated to interested parties like historians Jose Hernandez and Gregorio Zaide who printed the facsimiles in their books for Phhilippine schools, obviously without first scrutinizing the original. So did editor Ricardo Bassig, Fr. Jesus Cavanna , and San Beda College.
Authors Runes and Buenafe were baffled by the discrepancies in the facisimiles themselves, considering these were supposed to be copies of the original document. In Hernandez's book, RIZAL, the date of the facsimile was--"Manila 29 de Diciembre de 1890"--which the authors believed Rizal could not have signed because he was in Madrid at that time finishing his second novel , EL FILIBUSTERISMO. Curiously, in the San Beda College pamphlet, " I Abjure Masonry", allegedly by Rizal and also printed in 1959, the " 0 " of 1890 was half erased and appeared like a new moon or a letter " C ".
In Fr. Jesus Cavanna's book, RIZAL'S UNFADING GLORY (1956), the dateline was "1896" and was so "heavily doctored" observed Runes and Buenafe that the entire text of the facsimile was traced over to match the thickness of the dubious date. Zaide's textbook, printed in 1961, had a more carefully retouched "1896". The discrepancies described above are illustrated on pages 86 and 87 of Runes and Buenafe's revealing book.
Evidently, the mastermind of the retration forgery aimed to neutralize, if not kill the ideas of Rizal. Rizal himself told his close friends that he would be slandered after death. Had he retracted, all his writings especially the two novels, would have been reduced to worthless pulp. Moreover, the retration hoax had to include his mistress, Josephine Bracken, and that romantic tale about their marriage before he was led to Bagumbayan. Rizal did want to marry her while in Dapitan, but the parish priest there refused to consecrate their union because he was a Mason and a filibustero. Clearly, a last- minute marriage was meant to reinforce the crude retraction hoax. Since he allegedly abjured Masonry and returned to the fold, Rizal could then receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Rizal remains polemical even beyond the grave. Sixty years after his execution, in 1956, the Catholic hierarchy strongly opposed a bill that required the teaching of Jose Rizal's life, labors and writings in Philippine schools. Despite the raging controvery, President Ramon Masaysay purposefully signed Republic Act 1425.