Rizal’s vision broadened while he was in Spain to the point of awakening in him an understanding of human nature, sparking in him the realization that his people needed him.
In March 1887, Rizal published in Berlin, Germany his daring novel written in Spanish, NOLI ME TANGERE, a satirical novel exposing the arrogance and despotism of the Spanish clergy, the ills of Philippine society, the way Filipino culture was backward, anti-progress, anti-intellectual, and not conducive to the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment.
Early English translations used titles like An Eagle Flight (1900) and The Social Cancer (1912), but more recent translations have been published using the original Latin title meaning “touch me not”
Fittingly, Rizal found it a timely and effective gesture to dedicate his novel to the country of his people whose experiences and sufferings he wrote about, sufferings which he brought to light in an effort to awaken his countrymen to the truths that had long remained unspoken, although not totally unheard of. In writing the Noli, Rizal signed his own death warrant.
After the fate of the Noli was sealed by the Spanish authorities, Rizal was prompted to write the continuation of his first novel.
Inspired by what the word filibustero connoted in relation to the circumstances during his time, and his spirits dampened by the tragic execution of the three martyred priests, Rizal aptly titled his second novel El Filibusterismo (also known in English as The Reign of Greed) published in Ghent, Belgium on September 18, 1891. His second novel and a sequel to the NOLI was more revolutionary and tragic than the latter.
The book was dedicated to the memory of the three priests; Fr. Mariano Gomez, Fr. Jose Burgos, Fr. Jacinto Zamora (Gomburza) who were accused of being seditious and were executed in Bagumbayan Field on the 28th of February, 1872.
In his dedication, Rizal audaciously expressed his conviction that their treatment at the hands of the Spanish authorities was unjust.