El Canto del Viajero

por José Rizal y Alonso

Months before the Katipunan contacted him, Rizal had offered his services as military doctor in Cuba, which was then in the throes of a revolution and a raging yellow fever epidemic.  There was a shortage of physicians to minister to the needs of the Spanish troops and Cuban people.  It was Blumentritt who told him of the deplorable health situation in war-ridden.  Cuba and advised him to volunteer as army physician there.

Act in response to Blumentritts advice, Rizal wrote to governor General Ramon Blanco, Despojul’s successor, on December 17, 1895, offering his services as military doctor in Cuba.  Months passed and he received no reply from Malacañang.  He gave up hope that his humanitarian offer would ever receive government approval.

When he least expected it, a letter from Governor Blanco dated July 1, 1896 arrived in Dapitan, notifying him of the acceptance of his offer.  This letter, which reached him on July 30th, also stated that the politico-military commander of Dapitan would give him a pass so that he could come to Manila, where he would be given a safe-conduct to Spain, and there the Minister of War will assign you to the Army of Operations in Cuba, detailed to the Medical Crops.

Once more, he was going to travel- to Europe and then to Cuba.  It was with this joyous thought of resuming his travels that he wrote his heart-warming poem El Canto del Viajero (The Song of the Traveler).  This was published in El Renacimiento on December 29, 1903.