We always think about history as a chronicle of what happened in the past but what happened in the past is also a consequence of the decisions made by historical figures that resulted in outcomes our history books are written. But what about the history of "what ifs" wherein a single change of detail and circumstances that diverged the entire timeline and chain of events?

Let's talk about the speculative outcomes of what would have happened if important events in Philippine history went the other way around. Assessing a different chain of event is harder to contemplate since such an alternate historical scenario never happened and it is also open to different interpretations.

What if Jose Rizal's son survived?

What Happened
Josephine Bracken, the "common-law wife" of Jose Rizal, gave birth to a premature baby boy named Francisco (after his father Francisco Mercado) who sadly died a few hours later. It is widely believed according to some sources that Rizal played a prank on Bracken during her pregnancy, causing her to hit her stomach on an iron stand.

What Would Have Happened
Francisco would have been taken cared by her mother and may have been passed to her aunts in Calamba in order to protect him from his father's enemies - the Spanish clergy and colonial authorities. He would have been old enough to know his father's execution in Bagumbayan and with that knowledge he will grow up hating the colonial authorities (Spanish and later, the Americans).

Paciano, Jose Rizal's older brother, would have taken young Francisco under his wing during the height of the Filipino-American War. He will see his uncle killed in one of the many pitch battles against the Americans. The war would continue to ravage the countryside but the Filipino nationalists under General Emilio Jacinto (Emilio Aguinaldo was killed in the Battle of Tirad Pass by the Americans with the help of the Macabebe scouts) would continue the fight when they knew that Jose Rizal's son is alive.

Hoping to gain support in the other provinces, he was sent to Cebu to be with his mother who by now remarried to Antonio Abad. Local leaders, like Arcadio Maxilom of Cebu and Francisco Delgado of Negros, used Francisco to drum up support in the revolution and so the entire Visayas rose up in open rebellion and was soon followed by those in Mindanao. However, the Americans gained more grown as reinforcements (including Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders) had arrived after the successful Cuban campaign.

Eventually, the Americans captured Jacinto in Palanan on May 28, 1909. Succeeding leaders like Miguel Malvar and Macario Sakay were also captured or killed one by one. Francisco chose to return to Cebu to be with his ailing mother, who has contracted tuberculosis. A few months later, her mother died and he was soon captured by the Americans. In 1909, he was exiled to a penal colony in Guam.

General Artemio Ricarte, one of the generals who refused to pledge allegiance to the Americans, has sent agents to smuggle Francisco out of Guam. He managed to escape and went on to live with Ricarte in Yokohama. In October 12, 1922, he married Miya Seiko (the daughter of his father's ex-girlfriend O-sei-san).

Francisco went on to study at the Imperial Military Academy where he excelled so well that the Japanese made him a liaison officer to the Philippines. When World War 2 broke out after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in September 11, 1940, he was sent to the Philippines to drum up support for the Japanese and fight against the Americans. Unfortunately, things didn't go well as Japanese were not really interested in an independent Philippines. They just replaced the Americans as the new colonial masters.

But his close sympathies with the Japanese in the beginning of the war has made him a marked man by the guerrillas. Nowhere to go and disillusioned, he tried to escape and managed to pass as a German doctor in a passenger ship bound for Hong Kong. He survived the war and never returned to the Philippines ever again. He died a poor man in Kowloon on July 5, 1958.


We all know about Jose Rizal being the ladies' man but not everyone know's about his near brush with death with his dalliance with a beautiful French mademoiselle named Nellie Boustead. So what about it? What landed him in hot water?

Well it started in Biarritz in 1891 when Rizal stayed in the winter residence of British trader Eduardo Boustead at the Villa Eliada in the French Riviera. It was there he was introduced to the daughters Adelina and Nellie at the studio of Juan Luna.

At that time, Rizal already known the heartbreaking news that his Leonor Rivera married British engineer Henry Kipping back home so he is now back in the dating market by then. Well if you're in a foreign country and heartbroken, what do you think you'll do? There is a beautiful woman you see every day and no one seems to have noticed her. So he entertained the idea of dating someone once again.

He sets his eyes on Nellie. After all, she's not only a beautiful rose in the garden - Nellie is also highly educated, athletic, cheerful and morally upright. Rizal intimated to his friends and good old pal Ferdinand Blumentritt about his affection for Nellie and his plans of marrying her. One of his compatriots Tomas Arejola approved Rizal's plans, "if Mademoiselle Boustead suits you, court her, and marry her, and we are here to applaud such a good act."


Historically, Antonio Luna became Nellie Boustead's fiancee and it seems Rizal is on the way of Antonio marrying Nellie. It has been known that Nellie had long been infatuated to Rizal, she reciprocated his affection and they officially became an item. That could be the reason that pushed Luna to the edge.

In a party held by Filipinos, a drunk Luna made unsavory remarks against Nellie. The gentleman that he is, Rizal challenged Luna into a duel. However, Luna apologized to Rizal, thus averting a duel between the compatriots.

We all know that the Lunas have this anger and temper issues that ultimately catch up with them later in life: Juan killed his wife and mother-in-law in a jealous rage while Antonio was bludgeoned to death by his soldiers during the Filipino-American War after he slapped a soldier accused of cowardice.

In our historical timeline, Luna apologized to Rizal and averted a duel between the compatriots. Although the marriage between the two never happened, Rizal enjoyed his stay in Biarritz and he eventually finished the last part of his second novel.

So here's the point of divergence, what if the duel between Jose Rizal and Antonio Luna really took place?


First we have to know how would they have done it. As educated gentlemen, they would have agreed on what type of duel they would choose. Most duels in Europe would have been done through fencing but there was a growing preference for a pistol duel in those times as well. Both men are accomplished at both sports. In fact, they regularly do fencing against each other!

If it were a fencing duel, Rizal might have an edge against Luna. But later in Luna's life, he had established a fencing school back in Manila, the Sala de Armas, so it goes to show that he had a preference for that. However, he will probably unleashed his A-game knowing Rizal's knowledge in other martial arts.

There is a trend in pistol duels in the Victorian era and should they have chosen it, Rizal may have been no match against his opponent. Antonio Luna had military tactics training in Spain and is known to be a sharpshooter.

We can envision a pistol duel between Jose Rizal and Antonio Luna at the tennis court of the Boustead residence. In the high noon sun, the two protagonists would have been position at the opposite corner. There may have been witnesses to this event and even with Nellie's protestations, the men's honor is at stake.

The men count down from ten to one as they walk opposite at each other. "Diez...nueve...ocho...siete,,,seis...cinco...cuatro...tres...dos...uno...,fuego!" and the pistol shot breaks the silence and innocence in the air with birds flying away from the scene. Blood was spilled and Luna struggles to walk to his side as he clutches his shoulder wounded from the pistol shot while the opposite corner show Rizal on the ground bleeding profusely with a shot straight to his heart. Nellie would have been seen crying to his side as she tries to keep him alive.

Rizal died on Nellie's arms on March 15, 1891.

What would have been the consequence of an early Rizal death?

If he died five years earlier than he should then there could have been different history for all of us. First, he would have never finish and eventually publish his novel "El Filibusterismo." Without that second novel, it would severely affect the independence movement. We all know that his novels had a profound effect on Philippine society in terms of views about national identity, the Catholic faith and its influence on Filipino's choice, and the government's issues of corruption, abuse, and discrimination, and on a larger scale, the issues related to the effect of colonization on people's lives and the cause for independence.

Although Spain is bound to lose its colonies, they would have held the Philippines a little bit longer and would have successfully quashed any revolution in the islands.

Second, the propagandist-thinking Filipino expats in Europe would lose a leading figure that stands for a greater Philippine autonomy under Spain. More militant groups would have opened up for exiled Filipinos in Hong Kong and Japan.

Third, Antonio Luna would have seen greater role for himself and would have supported an armed movement against Spain. He may have returned home and collaborate with Katipunan supremo Andres Bonifacio. He would exert his influence on the Bonifacio's group and eventually will come into conflict with his Caviteno nemesis Emilio Aguinaldo.

The rift between the two would have been bloody but Luna's military training would have prevailed. Battle after battle, Luna would have routed Aguinaldo's army and eventually prevail. With Aguinaldo hanged, Luna assumes total control and unified all rebel forces under his command.

Fourth, a Filipino-Spanish War under Luna's leadership would have been different and the United States would have never been dragged into the war.

Fifth, a weakened Spanish hold in the Philippines would mean an embattled territory wracked by rebellions and widespread lawlessness. Foreign powers in the region would likely intervene particularly Germany and Japan.

What are your thoughts of an early Rizal death scenario?


Have you ever thought about the historical implications if the outcome of every presidential elections in the United States were changed and winners were determined the other way around? What would happen if both John and Robert Kennedy were not killed by assassins' bullets? How would the Vietnam War ended if Richard Nixon did not resigned? What would the alternate-versions of historical presidents would have done in a slightly altered historical circumstances? These questions are just what-ifs in history waiting to be answered.

Here are some of the plausible scenarios:

1. Benjamin Franklin is elected as the first President of the United States against his sole opponent George Washington in 1789 with John Adams becoming his Vice President. During his presidency, Franklin creates a more democratic society.

2. Aaron Burr is elected the third president in 1800 against Thomas Jefferson, establishes an alliance with Napoleon Bonaparte, and creates a family dictatorship. Aaron Burr serves as president for nine terms until his death on September 14, 1836. His grandson and final vice president Aaron Burr Alston becomes the fourth President of the United States.

3. Andrew Jackson is elected president over John Quincy Adams in 1824 with John C. Calhoun becoming his vice president, four years earlier than in reality. As a result, biological and chemical engineering are developed earlier.

4. Andrew Jackson's image is tarnished by a land-dealing scandal, resulting in Davy Crockett being elected president over him in 1828. This results in the Civil War occurring over the Compromise of 1850 and the Confederacy winning its independence in 1853.

5. David Rice Atchison becomes the 13th President in 1849 after Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore are killed in a carriage accident shortly into their terms as president and vice president. This results in the Northern states seceding from the country and forming the "New England Confederacy" with Daniel Webster as its president and John Brown as the Commander of Army. The war ends two years later in 1855 with the northern states being readmitted into the Union shortly afterwards. In 1861, President Stephen A. Douglas introduces the Civil Rights Act of 1861, which abolishes slavery throughout the entire United States.

6. Former President Millard Fillmore on the Know Nothing Party is elected the 15th President in 1856 after James Buchanan suffers a stroke in October. This results in ethnic tensions in New England over the fugitive slave laws. John C. Frémont becomes President of the New England Confederacy with William Tecumseh Sherman as his commanding general, opposed by the Army of the United States under Robert E. Lee.

7. Abraham Lincoln is defeated by Stephen A. Douglas in 1860, who becomes the 16th President. In the hope of avoiding warfare, President Douglas attempted to reach a compromise with the Southern representatives in the Congress. The Manumission Act of 1862 was intended to preserve the Union by freeing the slaves over a period of ten years, giving everyone time to adjust. While Douglas heralded the law as another great compromise analogous to the Compromise of 1850, the Southern representatives formed the Confederate States of America and began arming for war. After the outbreak of the American Civil War later on that year, Douglas was fearful of further provoking the South and did not introduce conscription as the Confederacy had done. Consequently, the professional though much smaller Union Army was overwhelmed and nearly destroyed by the Confederate States Army at Manassas Creek in Virginia in 1862. It took the United States over a year to recover from this disaster, creating a period of false peace. Although everyone in the North initially welcomed it, the false peace gave both sides time to build their armies as well as providing an opportunity for the United Kingdom to decide to support the Confederacy with the full backing of the British Empire's diplomacy and trade. Douglas continued to negotiate with the Confederacy in an attempt to reach a compromise, failing to understand that every day lost meant another victory for the South. Lincoln accepted a commission as the commanding general of the Illinois Militia in the Union Army. His own commanding officer was Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant. General Lincoln believed that he would have been able to prevent the war if he had been elected or, failing that, would have shown the kind of decisive leadership of which Douglas was seemingly incapable, built a real army and crushed the Confederacy before they were able to build a large army of their own. Shortly after leading his troops into battle for the first time in 1863, Lincoln was shot and killed by a Confederate sniper while still on horseback.

8. A constitutional amendment allows Presidents of the United States to run for only one term, which forces Ulysses S. Grant out of the race. Victoria Woodhull of the Equal Rights Party is elected the 19th President in 1872 and becomes the first woman to hold that office. Her Vice President, Frederick Douglass, becomes the first African American to hold that office. The story is a series of letters from Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom to the new President.

9. Leila Morse agrees to marry Samuel J. Tilden, giving him the impetus to secure his 1876 electoral college victory over Rutherford B. Hayes. Tilden is reelected in 1880 and eventually founds the Liberal Party. His vice president Winfield Scott Hancock goes on and gets elected the 20th president in 1884 and reelected in 1888 with Grover Cleveland as his vice president.

10. Still bruised by his defeat in the 1876 presidential election, Samuel Tilden uses underhanded tactics to win the 1880 presidential election against James Garfield. However, Garfield gets help from Charles J. Guiteau (his assassin in real history) and they assassinate Tilden before he is able to take office.

11. Belva Ann Lockwood of the National Equal Rights Party is elected in 1888 over Democratic incumbent Grover Cleveland and Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison. Lockwood becomes the first woman to hold the office of the presidency. Her presidency results in expanded democratic rights, including women's suffrage. She serves as president until she is defeated in the 1892 election by Grover Cleveland.

12. William Jennings Bryan is elected in 1896 over William McKinley. He serves one term, during which Hawaii and the former Spanish colonies become independent nations, then flatly refuses to run for a second term. Theodore Roosevelt never becomes president, female suffrage is passed in 1913, and the elderly Bryan opposes entry into World War I following the sinking of the Lusitania.

13. Former president Theodore Roosevelt on the Bull Moose Party wins the 1912 election over William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson as his health is good since John Schrank's bullet missed him. As president, he secures women's suffrage and wins the war against Germany within a year.

14. James M. Cox is elected in 1920 after Republican candidate Warren G. Harding dies from a stroke. However, five weeks after the election, he is assassinated by an anti-League of Nations activist, leaving his elected Vice President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, to become the twenty-ninth President. Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany earlier than in real life and the two of them establish an alliance to maintain the balance of power.

15. Robert M. La Follette, Sr. is elected President in 1924 over Calvin Coolidge. However, he dies the next year on June 18, 1925 (the same date as he did in real life) and is succeeded by his vice president Burton K. Wheeler.

16. Al Smith runs as a third party candidate in the 1932 election. Due to the split in the Democratic Party, Herbert Hoover is reelected against both him and Franklin D. Roosevelt. As a result, the Munich Agreement prevents World War II. Due to the continuing presence of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, totalitarianism and anti-Semitism grow stronger across the world well into the 1950s.

17. Huey Long escapes assassination in 1935 and runs for President in 1936 as in Independent. He steals away Franklin Roosevelt's Vice President John Nance Garner. Long defeats both Roosevelt and Republican candidate Alf Landon. World War II is averted when Long invites Hitler to Washington and then assassinates him via a bomb in 1938, however, this does lead to a war between the US and Germany.

18. Thomas E. Dewey is elected President in 1944 and is pressured to end World War II by dropping the atomic bomb on Tokyo. Dewey wins the 1948 election against Harry S. Truman by playing to anti-communist fears.

19. Adlai Stevenson is elected in 1952 because Dwight D. Eisenhower chooses Joseph McCarthy as his running mate instead of Richard Nixon. Stevenson is re-elected in 1956 but impeached and forced to resign in 1958. His vice president, John F. Kennedy, becomes the thirty-fifth president.

20. A feud between John F. Kennedy and Richard J. Daley leads to Richard Nixon being elected President in 1960.

21. Barry Goldwater wins the election in 1964 over Lyndon B. Johnson and uses nuclear weapons on North Vietnam to win the Vietnam War. Goldwater is re-elected president in 1968 and serves until 1973. Meanwhile, Richard Nixon had retired from politics in the late 1960s and been running a popular late-night talk show called "Tricky Dick" on NBC as the host for over 20 years.

22. Lyndon B. Johnson decides to run for a second full term in the 1968 presidential election. This leads to widespread protests in the United States and a bomb being planted at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which explodes. The explosion kills Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Senator George McGovern, and Senator Eugene McCarthy. While official policy states that Robert F. Kennedy was also killed in the explosion, he was actually killed by a Chicago policeman. The chaos at the Convention leads to an actual revolution and Ronald Reagan is elected president and turns the United States into an autocratic state.

23. George McGovern is elected in 1972, and attempts a tricky immediate withdrawal from the Vietnam War. In another scenario, McGovern is elected after G. Gordon Liddy is caught murdering Carl Bernstein to cover up the Watergate scandal.

24. Gerald Ford is reelected president in the 1976 presidential election over Jimmy Carter and threatens war with Iran over the Iran hostage crisis.

25. Walter Mondale is elected President in 1984 against Ronald Reagan. As a result, the Sandinista movement expands, causing a civil war in Mexico followed by a US invasion in 1989, and a swarm of Latin American refugees overruns the American Southwest.

26. Michael Dukakis is elected President in 1988, but is revealed to be an alien attempting to infiltrate Dulce Base. The Men in Black along with friendly aliens therefore rewrite history in order for George H. W. Bush to win the 1988 election instead.

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{picture#https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AgIZYN7u_Hg/VZvLmrA0hpI/AAAAAAAARt8/mscbLJ1All4/profile%2Bpic.jpg} JP Canonigo is a historian, professional blogger and copywriter, online content specialist, copywriter, video game junkie, sports fanatic and jack-of-all trades. {facebook#http://www.facebook.com/istoryadista} {twitter#http://www.twitter.com/jpthehistorian} {google#http://plus.google.com/+JPSakuragi}
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