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Apocalypse in the 21st century: Rizal’s Prophetic Vision From Junto al Pasig to Hymno a Talisay

Apocalypse in the 21st century: Rizal’s Prophetic Vision From Junto al Pasig to Hymno a Talisay

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Published by: thepocnews on Aug 11, 2011
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1
Apocalypse in the 21
st
century:
Rizal’s Prophetic Vision From
 Junto al Pasig
to
 Hymno a Talisay
 
By Floro Quibuyen*
Abstract:
If the nationalist ilustrados of the late19th century basked in the
 Age of Enlightenment 
, wenow wallow in the
 Age of Stupid 
(from the film with the same title). Would Rizal, the reputedChild of the Enlightenment, have anything relevant to say regarding our Age of Stupid?
That‟s the question I‟d like to pose today, as we commemorate his sesquicentennial. Rizal‟s
Filipinas dentro de cien años
(1890) says practically nothing about the global crises we facetoday
 — 
ecological, economic, resource depletion
 — 
which could lead to the collapse of thecapitalist world system by 2050. To confront our predicament in the Age of Stupid we wouldneed an apocalyptic vision, which seems to have been suppressed in
Cien años
. That visiondrives a play in verse that Rizal had written ten years before
Cien años
 — 
 Junto al Pasig.
The
 Junto al Pasig
poses the problem but answers it only cryptically
 — 
an answer that the
 Noli-Fili
 
(I take this to be one novel in two parts) fails to disclose. Rizal‟s exile in Dapitan was a
blessing in disguise. It was in Dapitan that Rizal finally realized and put into practice thesolution to the problem posed in
 Junto al Pasig
. The answer is heralded by
 Himno a Talisay
.
This paper critically traces Rizal‟s intellectual
-spiritual journey from
 Junto al Pasig
(1880) to
 Himno a Talisay
(1
895), and concludes by relating Rizal‟
s Talisay solution to the post-caplitalist solutions being envisioned today by progressive writers/futurists who foresee thecollapse of industrial civilization and the end of the capitalist world system by 2050.* Dedicated to my daughter Ligaya Quibuyen
 
2If the nationalist ilustrados of the late19th century basked in the
 Age of Enlightenment 
, wenow wallow in the
 Age of Stupid 
.In the recent film entitled
The Age of Stupid 
, an old man (played by Postlethewaite) living inthe devastated world of 2055 and
watching „archival‟ footage from 2008 wonders
,
why
didn‟t we stop climate change whilst we still had the chance?”
1
Recent studies indicate thatthis is no longer fiction. The convergent global crises of global warming, peak oil and theeconomic crunch, combined with exponential population growth will be acutely felt by 2015,as the world moves inexorably to ecological and economic collapse by 2050. If, by then,there is a lone survivor with access to undamaged computer and electric generator, he willmost likely be watching digital footages of 2011, and crying out loud, How could we havebeen so stupid?Would Rizal, the reputed Child of the Enlightenment, have anything relevant to say regardingour Age of Stupid? T
hat‟s the question I‟d like to
explore in this paper. pose today.
 FILIPINAS DE CIEN AÑOS
We begin with a review of a familiar essay
 —Rizal‟s
 
Filipinas dentro de cien años
 — 
the firstmodern futuristic essay ever written by a Filipino, if not by a Southeast Asian. Havingdeconstructed the colonial history of Las Filipinas, Rizal weighs the coun
try‟s historical
possibilities
 — 
given the prevailing geopolitics of his time
 — 
and then comes out with hisscenari
o for the Philippines‟ future:
2
 1.
 
The Filipinos will rise up against Spain.2.
 
The Filipinos will win the Revolution against Spain.3.
 
The rising imperial power, the USA, will invade the country4.
 
The Filipinos will resist American imperialism.As Rizal puts it,
 Muy probablemente las Filipinas defenderán con un ardor indecible la libertad comprada a costa de tanta sangre y sacrificios.
(Veryprobably the Philippines will defend with indescribable ardor the liberty she hasbought at the cost of so much blood and sacrifice).5.
 
Filipinos will succeed in repelling the American invaders6.
 
Filipinos will constitute themselves into an independent Federal Republic7.
 
The Filipino nation will become prosperous and progressive.Envisioning the future, Rizal waxes poetic:
With the new men [
los hombresnuevos
] that will spring from her bosom and the remembrance of the past, shewill perhaps enter openly the wide road of progress and all will work jointly tostrengthen the mother country at home as well as abroad with the sameenthusiasm with which a young man returns to cultivate his father's farmland so
1
2
 
My good friend George Aseniero has recently written a brilliant essay, “Rizal on USImperialism,” on how Rizal analysed turn
-of-the-century geopolitics and became convincedthat the US will invade
 Las Filipinas
. His paper, to be presented at the Rizal@150 conference
at the Ateneo this July, is based on Rizal‟s heretofore undiscussed and seemingly forgotten
borrador 
(draft/note) probably written, notes Aseniero, after the publication of his
Filipinasdentro de cien años.
 
3long devastated and abandoned due to the negligence of those who had alienatedit.And free once more, like the bird that leaves his cage, like the flower that returnsto the open air, they will discover their good old qualities which they are losinglittle by little and again become lovers of peace, gay, lively, smiling, hospitable,and fearless.Looking back, we can now declare that Rizal was right on the first four but wrong on the lastthree. Rizal, of course, was fully aware that nothing is absolutely certain about the future;what we consider probable may not come to pass. Mindful that history can play tricks on us
(Hegel‟s cunning of history), Rizal, at the end of 
Cien años
, cautions his reader:
Sin embargo, no es bueno fijarse en lo eventual; hay una lógica imperceptible eincomprensible a veces en las obras de la Historia. Bueno es que tanto los puebloscomo los gobiernos se ajusten a ella.
3
 
Nevertheless it is not good to stick to the probable. There is a logic at timesimperceptible and incomprehensible in the workings of History. It is well that bothpeoples and governments adjust themselves to it. (George Aseniero translation)Our loss to America was by no means inevitable. As Nick Joaquin lamented, we could havewon, and I agree with him.
4
 
But that‟s another story.
5
After defeating the Revolution, theAmerican imperialists appropriated Rizal for their own purposes
 — 
an insidious imperialpropaganda that has blinded generations of postcolonial Filipinos, including RenatoConstantino and many teachers of the compulsory Rizal course, to the radical Rizal, theTagalog Christ who struck a chord in the popular imagination, the willing martyr who was
3
 
Cited in George Aseniero, “Rizal on US Imperialism”
(unpublished manuscript)
4
 
I discuss this issue in Ch.9 “The Revolution that Never Was” in
 A Nation Aborted 
, revisedsecond edition (Ateneo de Manila University press, 2008)
5
Considering how things might have been had we won against the US is not merely wishfulthinking
 — 
the counterfactual in history, as Niall Ferguson has demonstrated, can shed lighton some critical issues. As explained in Wikipedia(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterfactual_history): the counterfactual
seeks to explorehistory and historical incidents by means of extrapolating a timeline in which certain keyhistorical events did not happen or could have had an outcome which was different from thatwhich did in fact occur. The purpose of this exercise is to ascertain the relative importance of the event, incident or person the counterfactual hypothesis is negating. For instance, to thecounterfactual, "What would have happened had Hitler died in theJuly 1944, assassinationattempt?", all sorts of possibilities become readily apparent, starting with the reasonableassumption that the German generals would have in all likelihood sued for peace, bringing anearly end toWorld War II,at least in theEuropean Theater.Thus, the counterfactual brings into sharp relief the question of how important Hitler was as an individual and how hispersonal fate shaped the course of the war and, ultimately, of world history
.”
SeeNiallFerguson(ed.):
Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals
(New York: Basic Books,1999)

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