Home / opinions / Ambeth Ocampo says Jose Rizal smoked marijuana and opium


jose rizal and hashish

In Opinion’s column of Philippine Daily Inquirer today, historian and journalist Ambeth Ocampo wrote something that many people, especially Duterte supporters, might not agree with it. Or at least, would not want how the essay was crafted.

In his essay, Ocampo writes that if Jose Rizal were alive today, he would have already been killed with a cardboard sign saying ‘Drug USer Ako. Wag Tularan.’ This obviously telling us that he is against the Duterte’s administration’s war on drugs and that Mr. Ocampo wants us to be impressed by his deep knowledge about Jose Rizal’s life, about Rizal’s use of illegal drugs in his early life.

To me the connection between Rizal’s use of drugs and what is happening right now is plainly vague. President Duterte said over and over again that he is against shabu. That shabu is to him most dangerous drug because it shrinks the brain.

Unlike heroine and cocaine, including marijuana, shabu is man-made and all chemicals. Heroine, cocaine and marijuana came from plants. Heroine from the poppy plant, cocaine from coca leaves, and marijuana from the hemp.

This is not to say that President Duterte is lax about drugs that came from plants. And this is not to say that he won’t catch heroine drug dealers and marijuana drug dealers, etc.. The issue of those drugs is a whole different story. This is to say that right now the PNP is catching shabu dealers and drug lords because shabu is the only drug that is widespread in the country. So where does the story of Rizal smoking hash connects to what is happening today?

To add to that, nothing in the letter Rizal says he got high or how often he smoked opium and hashish (from marijuana). Rizal only said he used it for an experiment (well, if the letter is indeed authentic).

Also, even Mr. Ocampo is one of the most respected historians in the Philippines, where the hell did he get that information that Rizal indeed smoked weed. Where on earth did he get that letter to a German anthropologist?

Mr. Ocampo could have at least given us a scanned copy of that over-a-hundred-year-old letter. Or guide us where we can find that letter for public reading.

And oh, on last note, if Jose Rizal were alive today, he wouldn’t have used drugs or he wouldn’t have written that letter because drugs nowadays are already examined and known by all parts of the world. Jose Rizal won’t have to experiment.



About the author: Nonoy


A former musician who branched out his interest in creative writing and the World Wide Web.

He writes fiction on his spare time.


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