Again, Veneration without Understanding
(Or all after seeing the same expressions during Rizal day)
It was months ago when this writer had made a writeup regarding Jose Rizal both as a hero and a victim, followed by another writeup urging everyone to become like those fo Simoun and Mando Plaridel to uprise the Filipino spirit and not to get contented in its hamlet-like slumber. Today's writeup tackles about that time and again people whom venerating certain individual like Jose Rizal had rather reducing his sugnificance as a person into a mere icon largely found into books or labels of commercialized goods.
That somehow for this writer would recall what the late Constantino hath said: "Veneration without Understanding."
And because of what other people, such as this writer had sought time and again regarding the celebration and the man whom they afford to venerate, then it makes one question that is it easy to describe today's events regarding heroes as all but veneration without understanding? People may had afford to praise someone who had achieved their aspiration, of Rizal who had made his works Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, of Bonifacio with his Amor Patria, and others whose works and deeds had contributed to the emancipation of the Filipino as a nation. But are these people greatly understood what made them compel to write, struggle, fight for the sake of freedom and independence? Or just treating them as aesthetic figures instead? A hero for the sake of having a hero? A national symbol for the sake of having a national symbol?
Constantino, in his work "Veneration without Understanding", had assessed, criticized regarding how the state and its people had reduced Rizal, a man whose reformist views back then as progressive into a mere person whose ideas are used frequently by the state to justify status quo, using his opposition to armed revolt and favoring piecemeal reforms as its justification of the idea the state had insisted.
Personally, this writer would say that is is quite lamenting though that as people had celebrated Rizal's death, had chose to distort it like one person saying "Happy Rizal day" and mistaken his demise for his birthday! Some even afford to make an image bereft of significance save for his name and his title as "national hero", another had afford to read Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo not knowing that the ending had remained a cliffanger and its up to the that person to continue the story that is left unfinished for generations. Amado V. Hernandez may had afford to write another chapters serving as a continuation of Rizal's novels, paving way from the idealistic Crisostomo Ibarra, to the passionate Simoun, and eventually to Mando Plaridel and others whose call for social emancipation is about education and agitation. Yes, having the masses educate as to organize and mobilize against a rotten state, the system ruling, and its heirlings trying to disrupt the growing revolt of the mass!
But despite all the means to understand deeper the significance of his works and as a person behind the unfinished struggle, people rather chose to content in the existing interpretation of Rizal as a just peaceful person preferring reforms alone, that the Revolution had been finished decades before, and even compared to Gandhi and today's Nelson Mandela. But again, no! He, as well as others in the Propaganda movement and La Liga Filipina had wanted emancipation of the Filipino nation, but few amongst them wanted a radical change that mirrors those of the Indpendence-yearning creoles and of the repressed and disenfrancised Indios whom afford to take arms and stage revolt against forced labor and tribute for generations. The decadence of most ilustrados, as evidenced by prefering the frivolities of life had studnted those aspirations, and even criticized by those who had seriously adhere to the so-called "Megali Idea" of the Filipino nation.
Yes, and that includes the idea of taking up the revolver, playing fencing, arnis, judo, anything what Rizal would say "Self Defence" to one's self and others; and since people had afford to compare him to Gandhi and Mandela simply because they are doing just peaceful means according to media, then how come Gandhi used civil disobedience such as marching towards the sea along with his followers for salt? Of countering British cloth with homespun cotton? How come Mandela had justified armed struggle and sung alongside others swearing to punish the ruling AmaBhulu? Rizal may had spoke about reforms as means prior to independence the people awaited for, but does not mean he had to get contented to those ideas that made other people reinterpret as peaceful means; that the idea of self defence and education for Filipinos has another meaning such as preparing for battle against the colonist oppressor- especially that his brother himself, once a student of Padre Burgos, a radical same as Jose himself, became one of the early Katipuneros, a general under the Katipunan army, who had afford to make the residence at Calamba his headquarters during the war of resistance, and giving up fighting the Americans but not surrendering.
Constantino had stated that despite Rizal's opposition to armed struggle, of trying to differentiate freedom and independence, the common man who had yearned and fight for still recognize him in providing an inspiration to advance their common interest:
"Yet the people revered him because, though he was not with them, he died for certain principles which they believed in. He was their martyr; they recognized his labors although they knew that he was already behind them in their forward march."
But on the other hand, usual Ilustrado mentalities Rizal also possessed, despite having abit sympathies in the call for national consciousness rather disregarded much of the common man who was and is greatly affected by the hardship ever imposed by the system. Civilization may had meant studying Spanish that some people may ought to understand in order to survive; yet attempts to mass educate had been opposed much by the friars so as to keep them ignorant and depending on their distorted version of their catechism emphasising the damnation of hell than redemption in heaven, worse, the slander and hypocrisy that made the repressed race the willingness to sever ties and revive the long lost forgotten spirit deeply embedded in tradition, especially those of its language and culture; again, to quote Constantino, as he said:
"He condemned the Revolution because as an ilustrado he instinctively underestimated the power and the talents of the people. He believed in freedom not so much as a national right but as something to be deserved, like a medal for good behavior. Moreover, he did not equate liberty with independence. Since his idea of liberty was essentially the demand for those rights which the elite needed in order to prosper economically. Rizal did not consider political independence as a prerequisite to freedom. Fearful of the violence of people's action, he did not want us to fight for our independence. Rather, he wanted us to wait for the time when Spain, acting in her own best interests, would abandon us."
In other words, he abhor revolution for being an Ilustrado whose idea meant reforms and so-called "peaceful" stuff; but the works like Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and the realities that made Rizal himself compel to write the two great books somehow provide inspiration that made the repressed willing to resist, hence he had toyed the idea he had abhor, and with his death the antiquated order under Spain, despite its attempts to silence those who oppose had felt further its pain from its angry subjects.
So is today, substituting the Ilustrado of the past for the so-called middle class petitbourgeois whom choosing to remain apathetic, if not failing to understand anything around its own society. They had venerated heroes, turning them into mere icons and had insist everyone to emulate, but they had failed to give importance of understanding why they had to made things happen-especially that they abhor the call of the people, their radicalism and the willingness to change the rotting society in favor of contenting in their self gratification, in which the status quo had still enjoyed today.
"The elite had a sub-conscious disrespect for the ability of the people to articulate their own demands and to move on their own. They felt that education gave them the right to speak for the people. They proposed an elitist form of leadership, all the while believing that what the elite leadership decided was what the people would and should follow. They failed to realize that at critical moments of history the people decide on their own, what they want and what they want to do. Today, the ilustrados are shocked by the spate of rallies and demonstrations. They cannot seem to accept the fact that peasants and workers and the youth have moved without waiting for their word. They are not accustomed to the people moving on their own."
As a writer, would say that Rizal, Bonifacio, Del Pilar, and others had spend their lives looking at realities and making soulutions out of it. Like Marx, they had to interpret the society, yet the point is how to change it. Rizal may had wanted gradualist means, so was Del Pilar who had also advocated the use of direct action the way Bonifacio had done; meanwhile, people whom used to quote Rizal and other heroes to justify their bullshit rather unveiled being desperate currying favor with the people. How come?
The military, in commemorating Rizal's death, had afford to say that his so-called "peaceful" means served as a basis for a military operation that, beneath the rhetoric of winning people's hearts and minds lies arrests, deaths, disappearances of innocents, if not those who had afford to oppose the status quo. The issue on land, just like during the Spanish, American and pre-Martial Law years, despite various reforms and programs made by the "concerned elite" had failed to appease the angry peasants whom wanting to vent rage yet restrained by the parameters of order. The issue on Hacienda Luisita and its administrators' failure to redistribute land under the law as one example.
Worse, according to latest Karapatan Monitor report on the state of human Rights Under the presidency of President Aquino, there are already 142 extrajudicial killings and 164 frustrated extrajudicial killings, 76 cases of torture, and 293 illegal arrests and detentions. Most of the victims of extrajudicial killings are indigenous people (27) and peasants (80). Jose Rizal did not die to glorify fascism and extrajudicial killings! He didn't sacrifice his life all just to see landlords and corrupt bureaucrats hinder the march of struggle, that despite its so-called independence people still know that the revolution had left unfinished!
And still these people on high had afford to take pride "carrying Rizal's legacy?" How desperate and perhaps, hypocritical then! The way they are using Nationalism paid by blood and sinew of the laborers and of the disenfranchised, as a mere fashion statement unjustly presented to the so-called modern world, distorted and bereft of significant legacy, while at the same time trying to emulate America including those that are incompatible with Filipino culture; the modern day bullshit had reduced the aspirations into figments of imagination, and having their so-called heroes like Rizal, Bonifacio, and other heroes into mere figures found in labels being sold! Veneration without understanding indeed! Yet they not knowing they're trampling the man whose testament was not to be buried in grandiose but simple, of keeping his ideas alive by educating and seeking truth from facts, of building a country where there neither exploiter nor exploited, equal in the eyes of god as what he said in his works.
"In his time, the reformist Rizal was undoubtedly a progressive force. In many areas of our life today, his ideas could still be a force for salutary change. Yet the nature of the Rizal cult is such that he is being transformed into an authority to sanction the status quo by a confluence of blind adoration and widespread ignorance of his most telling ideas."
Will the people accept this kind of truth? Venerating, praising, without understanding? Perhaps, as time goes by, in celebrating events that mold the Philippines as a nation, those who had afford to create a cult out of someone is the same who had failed to heed his will and testament. Most may had afford to be like Crisostomo Ibarra, Basilio, and Isagani, but again they had become Señor Pasta, Tandang Basio Macunat, Quiroga, Padre Damaso, and all other corrupt personages that made Simoun the jeweller having the will to destroy them with the lamp that to him meant freedom. That also continued under Mando Plaridel and others whose passion for change includes taking both the book to support the gun.
Right was Professor Gerry Lanuza to say that In honor our own Jose Rizal (and others), let’s listen to the Cuban Jose Martí:
“We are free, but not to be evil, not to be indifferent to human suffering, not to profit from the people, from the work created and sustained through their spirit of political association, while refusing to contribute to the political state that we profit from. We must say no once more. Man is not free to watch impassively the enslavement and dishonor of men, nor their struggles for liberty and honor.”
And for that both Joses died. One had to become a sacrificial lamb to the altar of the revolution, the other died in the battlefield fighting to gain its homeland independence.
Today, if one had afford to understand the words and deeds of Jose Rizal, as well as others whom had contributed to the creation of the Filipino society, then that person has the duty to continue writing the pages, of becoming Simouns, Tasios, and Mando Plaridels guiding the Taleses and Salomes of today, creating a new chapter of the Revolution being left unfinished.