Friday, 30 December 2011

Reflections on "Jose Rizal"

Reflections on "Jose Rizal"

Everyone knew him much as the Philippines' very own "National Hero."

Full of idealism, youth and passion for freedom and justice for Filipinos, Jose Rizal became known as a pop icon, demi-god, even a sublimation of Christ as cultists tend to say so. But to Rizal himself, as worthless titles to be discarded. 

However, despite the icons shown in every sphere,  most people rather think of him as a man standing in the pedestal of a once-field of Bagumbayan. That, aside from the usual perception of him as writer of "Noli me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo", people doesn't mind further about him thinking that they stopped thinking whether about his life, his works, his aspirations, too bad so to speak-that nowadays thinking about his death on December 30 as his birthday. 

Weird isn't it that everyone praised a man who thinks that he doesn't deserve the praises. Basing on his last deed, he preferred burying in the North Cemetery with a simple cross, name and dates of birth and death; yet everyone made a pedestal out of him in Bagumbayan, now Luneta park in Manila, then followed by celebrating his death anniversary, of making him as icons in tshirts, matchboxes, his name in a bag of cement, this National Hero of ours somehow became sarcastic and even pessimistic upon looking at everyone making a demigod out of him. For sure he would say that "isn't enough remembering me by reading my works?"

Yes, weird indeed about people deifying him without understanding. That Students tend to read Rizal as a requirement for their respective degrees, then putting his ideas away for their individualistic tendencies, this kind of action would say that their intentional aloof in studying his works (while on the other cheek wearing a tshirt bearing his face or buying a bag of cement that bears his name, even putting a bouquet of rose in his grave) is as if reminds of becoming Senor Pastas and Tandang Basio Macunats around us. Sadly to say but true.

The writer also somehow would likely to say that Rizal tried to act gradual, that basing much from his life and works, he's quite both advancing and retreating as he himself, despite wanting major change in the society rather emphasises legal means as its top priority-yet most of his supporters felt the repressive structure were insisting a course different from his, that through his book spark something that would mean also contrary to his ideas as well. Remember how Ibarra of Noli became Simoun in El Fili? For sure in a community full of Tanos, eliases and Cabesang Taleses would think that a man like Simoun would be preferable in a real struggle than a retreatist Ibarra who preferred setting up a grammar school. Sorry to say so, but true.

But then, 

As for Ibarra, the idealist Ibarra somehow didn't paved way to the bombmaker Simoun. For sure to those people who read Amado V. Hernandez's "Ibong Mandaragit" would say that his work made Ibarra reincarnated as Mando Plaridel, who swam in searching for Ibarra's gold and jewels that made him set up a school for the disenfranchised like the farmers, fisherfolk, and workers who willing to counter against the system ruled by the landlords and the bureaucrats. Like Rizal, Hernandez's idealism somehow stresses giving people consciousness and willingness to dismantle rotten, oppressive  systems in pursuit of creating new, progressive ones in the society; and somehow it may include riskier means such as a bloody one. 

Rizal may've toyed with the idea of armed struggle, yet despite having a stance of not insisting it (especially when he opposed the Katipunan), his works somehow meant giving a message of resistance by all means-that the bomb in Simoun's hand and the exploits of Cabesang Tales mirrors the centuries-old resistance movements that, despite its failures also served as basis to create a greater one such as Bonifacio's Katipunan. Rizal may have opposed Bonifacio by simply telling not to advance through, but his work served as its counter-that its followers would think that his work meant resistance and action being the disenfranchised and of oppressed, that his brother, much radical than Pepe would made him join the Katipunan, becoming a general, taking the machete and the revolver against those who made his family, and his people in squalor. 

Anyway, as time goes by, people remained aloof in his ideals and aspirations, noticing how most of them are becoming similar to Tandang Basio Macunat, Senor Pasta or any other figures other than Damaso and Salvi. But then, there will be more Ibarras and Simouns to lead today's Tanos, Cabesang Taleses, Salomes and Eliases to a promising future-that, from the stroke of the pen and of the lamp in the table, lays something what would affect this hell of a kind society, degenerated and humiliated by those who also praise Rizal's name.