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Jose Rizal, Liberator of the Philippines
Raul J. Bonoan, President of Ateneo de Naga, and published in America magazine on 7 Dec 1996 In the early morning of December 30, 1896, 35 year old Jose' Rizal, an indio with strong oriental features but the bearing of a western intellectual, wearing a black suit and hat, stood erect and calm in an open field by Manila Bay. Ministering to him were two Jesuit priests. Wanting to be master of his own execution, he refused to kneel and be blindfolded. He asked to face the firing squad but was forced by the officer in charge to turn his back. A military doctor took his pulse. It was, strangely, normal. At 7:03 the bark of bullets rent the air. Rizal fell, and so, virtually, did Spanish colonial rule. Born on the island of Luzon on June 19, 1861, Rizal studied under the Jesuits and then at the Dominican University of Santo Tomas, also in Manila. In 1882 he left the Philippines ostensibly for further medical studies abroad, but principally in pursuit of some vague political objective. Something of a genius, Rizal was an unlikely political activist. He had been trained as an opthalmic surgeon by leading specialists in Paris, Heidelberg, and Berlin. At heart, however, he was an artist and a poet, and by concious choice a scholar, historian, researcher, and prolific writer. He wrote in Spanish, Tagalog, German, French, Englisg, and Italian and spoke a few other modern languages. In addition, he knew Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. The references in his writings to Cervantes, Schiller, Shakespeare, and Dante are evidence of his broad humanistic interests and worldwide perspectives. Through Ferdinand Blumentritt, an Austrian scholar and personal friend, Rizal came in contact with leading European intellectuals and was admitted into two learned societies in Berlin. The Enlightenment and Liberalism
In a landmark speech. Gomez. prevented the teaching of Spanish (by which the indios could have learned new ideas). This position angered the Spanish community in Manila and marked Rizal as a filibustero. They opposed the advancement of the native secular clergy. Rizal called Spain and the Philippines "dos Pueblos". two peoples. was published by a small printing press in Berlin. and Zamorra were garrotted in 1872 for alleged complicity in a mutiny at the Cavite shipyards. a subversive. Rizal became convinced that the only viable solution for the Philippines was independance form Spain. He did not forsee this happening soon. The frequent objects of Rizal's caustic attacks were the "friars". the Dominicans. These ideas were to find stark and vivid expression in his two novels. however. Enthusiastically reading Voltaire and the Enlightenment thinkers. whose leaders. and the Franciscans. and had stopped progress and the intrusion of every liberal idea. namely. the Augustinians. In 1887 his first novel. Fathers Burgos. the Recollects. Noli Me Tangere. but thought the Philippinos should loose no time in preparing for it with determination. They had. he thought. which had long been sheltered from the intellectual currents of the rest of Europe. Rizal wanted to do for the poor and oppressed of his own country. He also advocated a program liberal reforms that included two proposals for immediate implementation: freedom of the press and representation in the Spanish parlament. It diagnosed the Philippines' as a malignant cancer in so advanced a stage that the slightest touch produced . Rizal accused these religious of encouraging superstition and of turning mercantile in their ministry. His first political advocacy was for the assimilation of the Philippines as a province of Spain. of equal standing and equal rights---a radical idea in 1884. In the end. What Victor Hugo did for les miserables of France and Charles Dickens did for the wretched of London. had exercised control on government officials. Rizal took to the "Rights of Man" proclaimed by the French Revolution and to the new liberalism sweeping Spain.No sooner had Rizal arrived in Madrid for studies in medicine than he was recognized as a leader by the Philippino students at the University of Madrid who were determined to work for reforms in their country.
Founding the Filipino Nation Rizal's second European sojurn (1882-92) was the most productive period of his life. The effect was nothing short of cataclysmic. called La Solidaridad. In 1891 in Ghent. What Abraham Lincoln said to Harriet Beecher Stowe---that her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin caused the Civil War---may be applied with equal truth to Rizal's novel and it's sequel. Belgium. at the urgings of his parents fearful for his life. the sequal to his first novel." But he deplored the American predjudice against Asians and African Americans and was especially appalled by the ban against interracial marriages in some states. as an honorary president. Rizal added his own copious notes and commentary. restricted trade and industry. an eyewitness account of the 16th-century Philippines. he published "El Filibusterismo" (Subversion) . answering in incisive language racial slurs by Spanish writers and in lenghty essays bringing his historical knowledge to bear on Philippine questions.the acutest of pains. "Latin for Do Not Touch Me". To this edition. the Filipino expatriates in Spain decided to form themselves into an association. The title. They set the fires of revolution. At this time. then in London. and racially . This journy led him to speak admiringly of America as providing "a country to the poor looking for work. Six months later. In London he did historical research for eight months in the libraryof the British Museum.. they elected Rizal. Copies of the novel were smuggled into the country and read surreptitiously behind closed doors or at night by candlelight. One result of this work was the republication in Paris in 1889 of Antonio de Morga's Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (1609). Rizal was a frequent contributor. In August 1887. They also founded a journal with the same name in pusuit of their political agenda. preceded by his reputation as a subversive and a heretic. Rizal returned to the Philippines. he left for london by way of the United States. He asked his people to search their past and to think of what they had been before the Spaniards destroyed much of what was good in Philippine culture. Rizal's scholarship injected historical consciousness into the nationalist movement. echoes the words of Christ to Mary Magdalene in John 20:17.
vigorous and homogeneous body" through cultural. a charge Rizal flatly denied. he articulated in his second novela philosophy of nonviolence--admittedly not as developed as Gahndi's. editor in chief of La Solidaridad. In a striking moment of clairvoyance. Shortly after his return to the islands.S. Trial and Execution . only virtue can redeem. developing far more rapidly than that of his Filipino colleagues.that colonies eventually declare themselves independent. he said. the Liga Filipina. principally through education and moral regeneration. Increasingly Rizal warned of seperation and independence and alluded to "the great law of history"---. Del Pilar's strategy was to pressure Spanish officialdom in Madrid. brought him into conflict with Marcelo H. Del Pilar. The aim of this reform movement was to "unite the entire archipelago into a compact. commercial and industrial activities. What is the use of independence if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow?" Rizal's thought. The Filipino people. he speculated that the United States might one day think of acquiring the Philippines. However. "only love can work wonders. must be worthy of their liberties and prepare themselves for independence.. he turned the eyes of Filipinos to the future and forced them to look to the day when they should have shaken off Spanish rule. In June 1892. Rizal did hope to form his people into a new national community in defense against and independent of existing colonial structures. but added that this would be against U. In an article entitled "The Philippines a Century Hence".. Rizal believed it was time to work directly with his people and decided to go back home. At Rizal's subsequent trial the prosecution would claim that the Liga sought the violent overthrow of the Spanish government. whose statutes Rizal had drawn up in Hong Kong. he left Hong Kong for Manila. a new association was formed. While Rizal did not6 categorically rule out violent revolution. traditions. entrusting to a friend a letter for the Filipinos to be opened in case of his death. since Rizal was arrested later in 1892 and sent off into exile in the small town of Dapitan on the island of Mindanao. But the organization was stillborn.reduced the population through conscription of the men to fight Spanish wars.
on Dec 26. On July 31st. however.The exile in Dapitan ended after four long years. Many believed the story was sheer Jesuit fabrication. Andreas Bonifacio. The intermittent uprisings that had punctuated Spanish rule had been localized and ineffective. 1896. when Bonifacio sent a messenger to Rizal in exile to ask for his support. petty kingdoms and linguistic groups to which the inhabitants of the Philippines belonged. and they spent much time with him in his last hours. the nonviolent Rizal strongly repudiated the plan as ill-prepared and likely to produce useless bloodshed. which was at that time tied to the Crown by the "patronato real". he was brought back to Manila to stand trial by court martial. Meanwhile. village clans. On the following morning he was married in a religious ceremony to a young Irish woman with whom he had lived in Dapitan. According to Jesuit testimony. moreover. and expeditious. the Philippine Revolution broke out under the leadership of a warehouse worker. The trial itself. Rizal asked some Jesuits to visit him.--until the Revolution of 1896. on the evening of his death and wrote and signed a document of retraction from Masonry. When Rizal reached Barcelona. took only one day. The Spanish press in Manila reported these events. when Rizal was accepted as a volunteer physician to work with the Spanish army in Cuba. The court martial was firm. waiting to be transported to Spain. but Spanish credibility was at its lowest. he had given up the practice of the Catholic faith. Rizal received the sacraments. which as an exile and prisoner he was not physically capable of doing. Months earlier. That national revolution . the accused was notified of his conviction and of the death sentence to be carried out the following day. This cohesion was the product of Spanish force backed by the church. In the early morning of Dec 29. Disillusioned while in Spain by the church's opposition to liberal ideas and to his own politics. a view held by some historians to this day. after much resistance and intellectual struggle. which was national in character. For 300 years Spain had imposed political unity on the disparate tribes. Soon after learning of his fate. he boarded ship and was brought to Manila. He was accuse of instigating and leading the rebellion. where he remained on board under tight military guard for a month.
The Philippines was the first colony in Asia to stage a national revolution. and "Philippines" was nothing more than a geographical term. But Rizal. Philippines and Asia Rizal's execution further srtenghtened the resolve of the revolutionaries. Declaration of Independence and established a republican form of government. has survived such iconoclastic . however. send a discomforting message to the colonial powers in that vast area. thereby. Nehru (18891964). but called by Filipino historians the "Philippine. While the new Philippine Republic was consolidating its governance of the entire country. as a model for the Filipinos. By reason of his brilliance of mind. in a document echoing phrases from the U. declare independence. weho defies Marxist molds. embarked upon its own colonial enterprise.was founded on the awareness of a people living in a vast archipelago of some 7. form a republic and. was short lived. or on a much younger man. history and destiny. courage of conviction and forcefulness of language and imagination." Though the aim of independence was frustrated by the American intervention. historians of Marxist orientation have characterized Rizal as a bourgeois thinker repudiating a proletarian revolution. The message was not lost on Rizal's contemporaries. 1898. Rizal was the Filipino who contributed most to this national consciousness. which preferred the non-violent Rizal over the revolutionary Bonifacio. Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States for $20 million. They also attribute his apothesis as a national hero to the new American government.S. in fulfillment of its "Manifest Destiny". They declared independence on June 12. In recent decades.000 islands that they were one nation bound by a common culture. The republic. Before the late 19th century there was no such general consciousness. The American military then successfully subdued the islands in a bloody conflict kinown in American records as the "Philippine Insurrection" . Gahndi (1869-1948) and Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925). the execution of Rizal ands its aftermath awakened the peoples of the rest of Asia to the essential fragility of colonial rule and to their own capacity to form themselves into modern nations.American War. because the United States of America.
when tanks on the Epiphania de los Santos Avenue.. ethnic origin. But we must win our freedom by deserving it.efforts. Rizal considered the basis of nationhood not to be race. an effort to integrate the Muslim minority into the nation. after five centuries of marginalization. While some nationalist movements in 19th-century Africa and Asia assigned primacy to the state. using his name as a password in their secret meetings and as a rallying cry in battle. what is great to the point of dying for it. God provides the weapon. provides a historical perspective within which to search for a common ground between Muslims and Christians. which was often viewed as a means to nationhood. and the idols and tyrants fall like a house of cards. The recent peace agreement with the once secessionist Moro National Liberation Front is. in fact. What is particularly distinctive in Rizal's concept of the Filipino nation is its emphasis on education. A case in point is the "little revolution" of 1986 against Ferdinand Marcos. His search for the common past."written just before his death. were stopped by prayers. their history. The fact is that Bonifacio's rebel band of common people had idolized Rizal even before his death. What Asia needs for its "renaissance. Suddenly concrete meaning was given to Rizal's words: "I do not mean to say that our freedom must be won at the point of the sword.. particularly the novels and the farewell ode to his country.. In Rizal's writings. but a commonality that derives from education." Rizal's political thought is critical to the current peace process in Mindanao. to center stage in world affairs. culture and ethos. as Filipino Muslim schloars point out. " stated Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister . The binding factor is the broadening of the mind. what is good. When a people reach these heights. Filipinos see themselves. That quest invariably links the Philippines to the rest of Asia. religion or language. flowers and people power.by loving what is just. "Ultimo adios.. which today has the world's fastest growing economies and is moving. for what Filipinos had been before Spain stopped the advance of Islam and set clear demarcation lines between Christianized inhabitants and Muslim communities. and freedom shines with the first dawn.. a thoroughfare in Quezon City that runs between the military installations Camp Auginaldo and Camp Crame.
htm Maria Z. prodigy. . the long time leader of Singapore.net/ manila_girl/ rizal/ammag. ancient and ever new----the dignity of the human person. must be guided by those universal moral principals and human values. is the humanism of Asian thinkers like Rizal. It may likewise be the unique contribution of the newly emerging Philippine economy to the growth and development of the Asia Pacific region. justice. Economic prosperity and political stability. flows from Rizal's political philosophy.Anwar Ibrahim in an international conference on Rizal held in Kuala Lampur. equality. From http://pages. Asia's twin obsessions. The pursuit of prosperity within the context of freedom and democracy. human rights---for which Rizal gave his life. and the tempting examples of some neighboring countries. against the contrary advice of such sages as Lee Kuan Yew.
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