Image: Dr. Jose Rizal and Maria Clara (back-to-back, Rizal Park, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental)
On his trip to Hong Kong, Rizal by chance met an Englishman Mr. W.B. Pryor and his wife, who were on their way to Sabah (North Borneo) to whom Rizal had shared his idea of a Filipino settlement in Sabah. The owner of the territory, the Sultan of Jolo, had it leased to the North Borneo Company in 1878 and was duly recognized by Spain, Germany and England with the condition that Spanish sovereignty over the island of Jolo will be honored. What was in the mind of Rizal that he desired to establish Filipino community in Sabah? He said in his letter to Blumentritt on February 23, 1892: “if it is impossible for me to give my country liberty. I should like to give it at least to these noble countrymen of mine in other lands”. Based on this statement, we can conclude that Rizal was apparently considering of relocating his family in Sabah where he can organize a Filipino community who would devote themselves in agriculture, he serving as the leader. He observed in Hong Kong that Englishmen governed their colony well far from the persecutions suffered by the natives of Philippines from the Spaniards.
Text via National Historical Commission of the Philippines: Rizal’s Settlement Project in Sabah
by Quennie Ann J. Palafox