To a hero who chose to inspire than to lead
Notes on the National Hero Jose Rizal
and his contribution to the development of the Filipino identity
“Rizal cultivated all his qualities in order not to perfect them, but he practiced them in order to bring about the moral betterment of the race.
Rizal possessed a great mental caliber and he, therefore, demonstrated that the Filipino race was able to give birth to individuals endowed with the highest attributes, who could be considered an honor to the human race.
Remember that during this time, the Filipinos were considered second-class citizens. They were widely discriminated by the oppressive friars and were called Las Indias or Los Indios!”
This would be a fitting description made by Don Trinidad Herminigildo Pardo de Tavera, to a man who eventually known as the “Great Malayan”, for, to he whose work somehow inspired each and every Malayan, particularly the Filipino in making effort to create an idenity, in spite of the present-day trials that surrounded them.
It may sound too ideal and praise-ish, but Rizal, as well as other heroes, made immense efforts to inspire Filipinos, to make themselves be willing to sacrifice mind and sinew in contributing the country, not just in struggling or securing its independence, but also in developing and proving it a place in the sun as any other countries aspire to.
Ever since he observed and thus made himself wrote fiction, Rizal's life, as any other enlightened individual during his period hath been contributing to the development of the Filipino identity from its insular beginnings.
From there the latter, whose works be it in Spanish or his own native tounge hath paved way to an identity wherein the Filipino isn't about the Hispanic alone, but also from its Malayan subject- whose desire for emancipation was realised not by his views, but those whose his views been taken too seriously such as the case of Andres Bonifacio and his Katipunan.
How come? For sure not all would have taught that the formation of the Filipino identity was brought about by men like Andres Novales, the Bayot brothers, Palmero, and the like whose in spite of their Hispanic blood chose to think about independence- in a way their fellow Hispanics Bolivar or San Martin did in South America; but, with their Filipino counterparts end failed and its ringleaders executed, the memories of reforming a backward country, if not emancipating from a neglectful coloniser, deemed fresh especially those of its Malayan subject.
However, for Rizal himself, his views be deemed different- for he clinged to the view that reforms if not molding ones own character be as the basis of making a nation be on its own, as if there’s another way to have one’s own nation or a country that does not even need to undergo bloodshed; but, from his works like Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo shows otherwise that freedom may still require watering it with blood. Men like Crisostomo Ibarra end becoming Simoun, that innocents like Basilio end having the feeling of revenge as Crisostomo had all because of his painful experiences including those of his mother’s death; from those examplars be like will change be limited to piecemeal reforms or mere change of character? Perhaps one would also think that even India itself during Mahatma Gandhi’s time wasn’t limited to Gandhi himself- but also includes Bose, Baghat Singh, and others who recognises Gandhi as an independence figure, but, also knows that there are other means aside from Gandhi’s.
Anyway, in this day forward, Rizal, as any other hero may still remain as an example; although frankly speaking, he is but like any other figure being exploited upon, be it his set of thoughts or his physical appearance. The system may insist that his life and labours meant there is no need for a violent outcome the way they idealise Crisostomo Ibarra who yearned for change; yet in fact the system rather idealise Isagani or Señor Pasta whose actions were contrary to his initial statements ; but in spite of romanticising those figures, an inconvenient reality rather demands Simouns, Eliases, and Taleses, if not to move beyond from Rizal’s works like what Hernandez did in his Ibong Mandaragit with Mando Plaridel as the person who has the qualities of Ibarra and Elias.
And to think that as the system continues to exploit and oppress for decades and even in the future, then no wonder why there are those who take literally the idea of making change by all if not any means necessary.