Jewels of the Pauper

“As long as there remains in these islands one mother to sing Nena’s Lullaby, one boat to put out to sea with the immemorial rowing song, one priest to stand at the altar and offer God to God, this nation may be conquered, trampled upon, enslaved, but it cannot perish. Like the sun that dies every evening, it will rise again from the dead.” – Jewels of the Pauper, Fr. Horacio De La Costa, SJ.

Written after the second world war, Fr. De La Costa’s “Jewels of the Pauper” beckons us as a community that despite poverty and hopelessness, we still have our jewels; our faith, values and music, all driven by compassion—reminding to bring us together to rebuild our community, our nation.

Many years before Fr. De La Costa’s literary piece, we were first introduced to a different set of “jewels” in Jose Rizal’s “El Filibusterismo”; the jewels which Simoun used to corrupt government officials – the cause of evil in society. Upon Simoun’s death, Padre Florentino hurled these jewels into the ocean:

“May nature hide you among the corals and pearls of the eternal seas. If ever men should need you for a good and holy purpose, God will know how to retrieve you from the bottom of the ocean. Meanwhile, hidden away in its depths, you will not be used for evil, to violate human rights, to foment avarice.”

It is believed that the events surrounding the Cavite Mutiny of 1872 may have planted the seeds that would one day bear fruit to Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo”.

One hundred years since the mutiny of 1872, on 1972, Simoun’s jewels resurfaced from the sea and fell into the hands of Ferdinand Marcos, in the words of the late Primitivo Mijares, “a homegrown tyrant whose first name and initials are similar to the foreign tyrant who caused the Battle of Mactan”.

Rizal’s novels became one of the many “jewels” that cascaded into the 1896 Philippine Revolution, which ended in the expulsion of Spanish rule. And 100 years later on 1986, came the EDSA Revolution. This time, the expulsion of a homegrown tyrant.


Two revolutions, countless literary works, lives missing and lives lost; here we are once more in the face of tribulation. The cries of the past and present must awaken us to listen intently to the echoes which shouldn’t be dismissed, and remind us of our jewels as paupers.

Perhaps, we have not finished rebuilding our nation. Perhaps, we have not begun. And perhaps, we are fighting an unfinished revolution.

The jewels of Simoun wait in the sea, or have they resurfaced once more?

This is a contributed article from Leeloo Tion.

Cover photo by Marfil Graganza Aquino from Pexels

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