A PASTMASTERS Publication

The End Of Veneration
By Bob Couttie
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Introduction
It was a time of global ferment. Images of the Vietnam War brought combat into living rooms worldwide. The Cold War pitched America and its allies against the Soviet Union and China, with Asia, including the Philippines, as a significant battlefront. An everpresent threat of nuclear annihilation leveraged skepticism towards traditional authority, further fuelled by the increasing economic power of the youth. Student activism raged from Renato Constanino one continent to another, university campuses became war zones as the confused old world and the confident new world collided. This was the world of Renato Constantino, journalist, former WW2 guerrilla and Philippine government official. A nationalist, he used Marxist historical class-based analysis in writing several books and articles to promote the struggle of the masses although his audience was predominantly middle class and wealthy students. He was an intellectual commando in the Cold War for supremacy of the hearts, minds and resources of the Philippines. As part of his mission to overthrow the status quo, in 1969, Constantino called upon his countrymen to topple the pre-eminent Philippine National Hero, 19th century activist Jose Rizal, by posthumously identifying him with American imperialism in an article, Veneration Without Understanding. Ferdinand Marcos was president and just three years later declared Martial Law, a dictatorship which ruled until, desperately ill and losing control to his wife, Imelda Marcos, and his military righthand man, General Fabian Ver, he was overthrown in the People’s Power Revolution of February 1986 by a loose coalition of the military leadership, the Catholic Church and the people. th The Soviet Union, which most certainly pump-primed a number of radicals, has fallen at the behest of its own masses. Images of the Hammer and Sickle, Lenin and Che Guevarra have transmogrified from political statements to fashion statements. China, whose own form of Maoist Communism influenced many a university campus in the radical years, has tainted its political purity by courting Western capital, Western markets and Western goods, selling uniform baseball caps to the armies of its ideological rivals and by encouraging capitalism among its own huddled masses earning for their portion of liberty. Permanent US military bases in the Philippines have closed, partly because of US Defense Department spending limitations, partly because the technology, tactics and strategy of warfare made such forward basing unnecessary, partly because the fall of the Soviet Union led to the closure of its Cam Ranh Bay facility to which Subic Bay Naval Base was a counterweight, and partly because by a one vote majority the Philippine Senate declined to ratify a treaty for the extension of the bases. Filipino

Rizal has become an enduring victim of the Cold War of the middle of the 20 century

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nationalists and the ghost of US President Eisenhower, who consistently urged closure of American bases in the Philippines, doubtless applauded. The Cold War has gone, to be replaced by the alleged ‘War On Terrorism’ and Islamic fundamentalism, with its deeper roots in the Sunni-Shia Schism, the European Crusades, the British and French betrayal of Arab nationalists in World War 1, American foreign policy postWorld War 2 and the Russian involvement in Afghanistan. Anti-Americanism remains, protests continue over US and Allied involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan but they carry little of the romance of struggling masses that made the activism of the 1960s and 1970s so fashionable. Even though nearly 40 years have passed since Veneration Without Understanding was written, the picture painted by Constantino remains the predominant image of Jose Rizal among many Filipinos and Filipinists. Is that image accurate or has Rizal become an enduring victim of the Cold War of the 20th Century?

Constantino remains the predominant image of Jose Rizal 

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Preface
I lay no claim to originality in what follows, much of it has been said by others, although rarely in a public forum. Of the few who have dared to publicly question Constantino’s version of Rizal I would recommend, as starting points, Ambeth Ocampo’s Rizal Without The Overcoat and Meaning and History (Both from Anvil Press), and John S. Schumacher’s The Making of A Nation (Ateneo de Manila Press). Renato Constantino’s article, Veneration Without Understanding is available on the Internet at http://rizalslifewritings.tripod.com. Constantino’s self-published The Philippines A Past Revisited is still widely available in bookstores. A non-Philippinebased critique of Constantino’s A Past Revisited can be found in Glenn Anthony May’s controversial A Past Recovered (New Day). Rizal’s annotated Las Sucesos de Las Islas Filipinas by Antonio De Morga is still available in English translation as Historical Events in the Philippine Islands at the National Historical Institute on TM Kalaw, Manila. Information on pre-Hispanic Philippines, as well as the Code of Kalantiaw and the Maragtas, can be found in William Henry Scott’s fine Pre-Hispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History (New Day), Behind the Parchment Curtain (New Day) and Barangay (Ateneo De Manila University Press). Rey Ileto’s classic work on history ‘from beneath’, Pasyon and Revolution, is a valuable, though not unfaulted, exploration of how the Philippine Revolution may have been viewed by the masses themselves. Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (Anvil Press) is a very readable classic study on the creation of nation, nationality and nationalism. Those who wish to study the issue further should consult the primary sources cited in these works. These are not the only sources consulted for the preparation of this article. Those who wish to have a better grasp of my own biases, prejudices and opinions should refer to Hang The Dogs: The True Tragic History of the Balangiga Massacre (New Day), The Philippine-American War entry in Scribner’s Dictionary of American History, which I contributed, and the Philippine-American War entry in ABS-CLIO’s War Crimes: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, which I also authored. Any errors of fact or judgment are entirely my own and I apologise in advance. Any political incorrectness is mine too, but there’s no need to apologise for that: As Theodoro Agoncillo remarked, “The study of history is not a popularity contest”.

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Part 1 – A Conspiracy Of Silence
Renato Constantino' s writings remain among the most influential body of work in Philippine historiography. This has remained the case even though an increasing number of professional historians have, quietly, come to the conclusion that those works have relatively little value for modern historical studies, other than as historical artifacts themselves, that they have contributed to an undue concentration on one small part of the country's history at the expense – literally in the case of such an underfunded area of scholarship – of research along paths less traveled that may provide a firmer underpinning to national identity and nationhood. What is especially worrying is the self-censorship by the Philippine scholarly history community. Constantino's faults are discussed almost behind closed doors, much as Filipinos would hesitate to discuss Ferdinand Marcos or Spanish era Filipinos speak out about Spanish rule. Constantino has acquired the status of a secular religion with his article denouncing Jose Rizal, Veneration Without Understanding, representing one of its holy scriptures, to be questioned at risk of treatment of which the medieval Catholic Inquisition would be proud. It is fair to question whether such an environment is conducive or inimical to the Constantino has development of a nationalist history. acquired the status This, it should be said, is not the fault of Constantino but of followers who cite him and use his of a secular writings as a primary source while censoring religion Constantino' s own words regarding his methodology and purpose. That purpose is made clear in his introduction to The Philippines: A Past Revisited: Filipinos are not ready for objective data about their own history, that must be suppressed until they have reached a level of nationalism, only then would they be ready to read the truth about their own history. Precisely the same argument was used by American officials to justify the colonization of the archipelago and withholding Philippine Independence – Filipinos weren't ready for it. Herein lays a significant difference between the two men. Rizal believed in liberty and that knowledge was a path to liberty, Constantino saw knowledge as an inhibition of liberty, and that freedom would be attained by limiting access to knowledge. In Rizal’s concept of the State, people would be free to know wqhat they wanted to know, in Constantino’s State they would be free to know only that which the state felt appropriate for them to know. I would submit that while myth plays an important role in creating and maintaining national identity, deliberate falsification does not. A nation's myths reflect those values it regards as unique to itself and which separate its identity from other nations. Nazi-era Germany, the Stalinist Soviet Union, Khmer Rouge Cambodia and modern North Korea are examples of the sort of dysfunctional `nationhood' produced by such falsification. Be that as it may, it is important to bear in mind that Constantino' s self-admitted intent was not to reveal historical truth but to create an activist mindset among his middle-class readership. Constantino had a purpose that was markedly similar to that of Jose Rizal. This is hardly surprising. Both lived at a time of enormous economic and political change. Both

The End Of Veneration 6• lived under regimes in which outright criticism, or support for the overthrow of the status quo, led to imprisonment, torture and, often death. Both perceived a largely fictional `Golden Age' in the past – Rizal's pre-hispanic Filipino and Constantino' s revolutionary masses of the Philippine war of independence. Both sought to exorcise cultural demons, the influence of the friars in Rizal's case and the influence of the Americans in Constantino' s. While, as will be demonstrated with particular regard to Rizal, both believed in the need for, or the option of, revolution neither writer explicitly and unequivocally called for violent revolution against the reigning oppressors in their writings. Both men were products of their time and place and express the zeistgeist of their environment. Neither man lived to see the realization of their separate visions of nationalism and liberty and their ghosts are likely themselves to be ghosts before those visions become concrete. To get back to the muttons. The power of Veneration Without Understanding owes much to the Philippine school system which often projects Rizal as a flawless, almost Christlike figure rather than the human being he was. Brought up with such hagiographic pedagogy, students are ill prepared to view Veneration critically, a piece which appears to overthrow all their preconceived notions, presented by politicized professors to whom they must acquiesce or face poor grades for dissent. It undoubtedly comes as a shock. It is now almost 30 year since the first publication of Veneration Without Understanding and almost a decade since the death of its author. Perhaps it is time to break the conspiracy of silence and ask the impertinent pertinent question: Does Veneration Without Understanding stand up to scrutiny?

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Part 2 – History and Polemics
If Constantino' s thesis that Rizal is unworthy of being the national hero of the Philippines holds water then, of necessity, the law mandating compulsory study of Rizal's books and life must be repealed. Such an act may well catapult Constantino himself into the position vacated by Rizal, supported by generations of students who have been forced to suffer some of the most turgid teaching the nation's educational system has to offer. One might suspect, with justification, that the popularity of Constantino' s Veneration Without Understanding has less to do with what he actually says than the opportunity to inflict a sort of surrogate revenge on all those teacher's who inflicted what Ambeth Ocampo says was known as Putang Ina 101. Constantino was a Marxist and his writings are inevitably based upon his political viewpoint. This does not automatically invalidate Marxist historians such as Benedict Anderson - named only because he's one of my personal favourites - have made original, challenging contributions to our understanding of historical processes and how those processes led from then to now. If we are going to treat Constantino as Consciousness of the past is a historian, which, strictly speaking consciousness of what it is to be he was not (Nor am I), we must judge him not by his political a Filipino, to validate the viewpoint but by his choice of data, national identity his methodology for examining that data, and whether or not his conclusions hold water. If we are going to treat Constantino only as a polemicist then none of these restrictions apply. We need only concern ourselves with how well he presented his case and how his views were perceived and accepted. That he was a polemicist, and a very influential one, is inarguable. I would, and will, argue that the proper place for Constantino' s writings, including Veneration Without Understanding is in the study of political science, not the study of history. Their place in history is as documents showing Constantino' s thinking in the mid late 20th century, not those of Rizal at the end of the 19th. Constantino was not the first Filipino to use, and abuse, history for political purposes in this manner. That credit almost certainly belongs to Jose Rizal. I would say that same of Jose Rizal, in particular his annotated edition of Antonio De Morga's Sucessos de las Islas Felipinas as of Constantino: They wrote history as polemic, not history so it is not surprising that one echoes the other. Says Rizal: "If this book succeeds in awakening your consciousness of your past, already effaced from your memory, and to rectify what has been falsified and slandered, then I have not worked in vain, and with this as a basis, however small it may be, we shall be able to study the future". Consciousness of the past is consciousness of what it is to be a Filipino, to validate the national identity. Re-construction of the lost Filipino past

The End Of Veneration 8• would led to the construction of a Filipino future,which is precisely Constantino' s intent the next century. Was that to be a Filipino future under a Spanish sovereignty reformed and enlightened by respect for Filipinos as an equal? Or as an independent nation? More than a hint is apparent in Rizal's response to Blumentritt' s original prologue to the book. Although that document itself is presently lost we do know that it contained a reference to fraternity between Spaniards and Filipinos which Rizal struck out, explaining "If the Spanish do not want us as brothers, neither are we eager for their affection… Fraternity, like alms from the Spaniards we do not seek… You only have the best of intentions, you want to see the whole world embraced by means of love and reason but I doubt if the Spanish wish the same". This letter is immensely revealing. Rizal rejects outright the notion of fraternity with Spain and the affection of the Spanish, a condition that would be a necessary part of continued existence under Spanish rule in a condition of parity. Independence is the implicit condition he is referring to. He rejects, too, the notion that `love and reason' as a solution to what could be termed `The Spanish problem'. If not love and reason, what then? If one cannot appeal to love and reason, then only revolution is left on the table as an option. It also shows us that while Rizal and Blumentritt were cordial, the former did not slavishly accept the counsel of the latter so when, in another letter, Blumentritt opposes violent revolution it is unwise to assume that Rizal acquiesced in his views. In his footnotes to De Morga Rizal intends to show that the Philippines not only owed nothing to the Spanish, in particular the friars, there was no `utang na loob', but that there was a flourishing culture, technology and literature which was stunted by their arrival and that the modern Filipino of the 19th century was well behind his pre-Hispanic forebears. With pride in their past as an anchor the Filipino could then carve for himself a future of his own choosing. Rizal was not above exaggeration and invention to achieve the aim of fitting his data into his pre-conceived framework and makes claims for which, often, there is not just little or no evidence but such evidence as exists runs counter to his assertions. Three examples serve to make the point: That Filipinos were capable of making large cannon before the arrival of the Spanish, a skill lost under the Spanish regime, that Filipinos had a large and flourishing trade served by vessels of up to 2,000 tons before the coming of the Spanish, and that Spanish friars destroyed a large and flourishing body of pre-Hispanic literature. None of these claims hold water.

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Part 3 - George W. Bush and Jose Rizal
Morga writes that Governor De Vera established a foundry to make artillery "under the hands of an old indio called Pandapira, a native of Pampanga. He and his sons served in this line of work until their deaths many years later". Rizal clarifies the reference to Pandapira, or Panday Pira: "an indio who already knew how to found cannons even before the arrival of the Spanish". Neither De Morga nor anyone else refers to Pandapira as a cannon maker. Indeed, De Vera, the governor who actually hired him, proves that he was not. De Vera wrote to the Spanish Viceroy in Mexico to plead "I cannot find anyone who knows how to found cannons, because those provided are by Indios who do not know how to make large cannon. I request your excellency to send from New Spain founders and officers to manufacture cannons". So when Rizal comments upon De Morga' statement about a later governor, PerezDasmarinas, that he "established a foundry for artillery in Manila where, owing to the lack of experts or master founders, few large piece were made" that "This demonstrates that, when the indio Pandapira died, there were no Spaniards who knew how to do what he did, nor were his children as skilled as their fathers", he is, frankly, talking out of his bowler. Let's talk about boats. De Morga describes Filipino vessels big George W. Bush, Jose Rizal enough to carry 100 rowers and Renato Constantino meet outboard and 30 soldiers on an upper deck. Alcina describes such on common ground vessels in the Visayas and expends several chapters describing how to build one, a precise of which, along with an artist's rendition can be found in the works of William Henry Scott. Rizal mourns that such vessels had disappeared by his day but goes on to make the astonishing assertion that "The country that at one time, with primitive means, built ships of around 2,000 tons (Has to buy ships from Hong Kong)". For the non-nautical, 2,000 tons here refers to displacement, the weight of water displaced by the hull of the vessel, not the weight of the ship. Nowhere in the historical or archaeological record is there a trace of pre-Hispanic Filipino vessels of such size outside Rizal's commentary and imagination. As for Filipino warships carrying 100 rowers and 30 soldiers, the only reason we know how to build one today is because the technology was recorded in detail by an admiring Spanish friar. A similar situation surrounds Rizal's assumption that there was a significant written literature which was destroyed by the Spanish. Literacy was, according to De Morga and others, widespread. That pre-Hispanic Filipinos had a written language is certainly true. Even if one disregards the 900 AD Laguna Copper Plate as a probable import, because its markings are in no known Filipino script and it has never been translated, something similar was presented to the Chinese

The End Of Veneration 10• court by the ruler of Butuan in 1011 AD as did later trade missions which also presented the Emperor of All Under The Sky with a long narrow scroll written on bamboo. Spanish writers comment upon the literacy of the Filipino and Spanish friars and missionaries have preserved both the languages themselves and the scripts in which they were written while, at the same time, Spanish script replaced them. No pre-Hispanic documents have survived, not even a fragment. The documents from which, for instance, the Code of Kalantiaw are drawn are demonstrably fraudulent although they still find a place in the curricula of Philippine law schools. The Maragtas, while not actually a fraud is a collection of folklore, the author of which states that no pre-Hispanic documents were used in its preparation, which is still misrepresented again, in Philippine law schools. Notably, there is only one account, of the burning of a single book, of anything that might be taken as pre-Hispanic Filipino literature. What happened to the rest of it? Did the Spanish destroy it? Outside Iloilo and Cebu the Spanish hold generally extended little more than 15 kilometres inland or more than 300 metres elevation until the mid 19th century. Friar and missionaries extended that coverage, of course, but even so, there were only a few hundred of them, insufficient to eradicate an entire written literature in every part of the archipelago including the non-Christianized and Muslim domains. In fact, the earliest Spanish records state explicitly that the Filipinos had no literature as such. All, including those Rizal himself consulted, echo independently the observation of the late 16th century Boxer Codex: "They have neither books nor histories nor do they write anything of any length but only letters and reminders to one another." So, no literature existed for the Spanish to destroy. Obviously, then, Rizal's commentaries on the De Morga must be treated with circumspection. They must be viewed for what they actually were – committed scholarship, not revelations of historical fact. Rizal created a mythical `golden age' with the implicit message "We don't need the Spanish". The intended question in the reader's mind is `If we don't need the Spanish and cannot be their brothers, what do we do with them?" To which there is but one answer: revolution. The committed scholar first creates his framework then seeks out data to fit that framework in order to inspire the reader to take a course of action. Data which does not fit the framework is either ignored or tyre-ironed into place with exaggeration and imagination until the data says what the scholar wants it to say. It is a form of deliberate confirmation bias. Just as Rizal created a Filipino Golden Age of cannon-makers and ship-builders with a great literature, Constantino used the same methodology to promote a similar disputable `Golden Age' of a revolt of the masses and a cowardly reformist man of clay called Jose Rizal. For Rizal, to dispute his data and analysis was an unpatriotic, anti-Filipino act. When Isabelo De Los Reyes, a contemporary researcher in Philippine history questioned some of Rizal's assertions and citing the Spanish Fr. Rada, Rizal wrote: "… had we no positive proof of de los Reyes patriotism, we would believe that by giving so much credit to Fr. Rada, he had intended to denigrate his own people". To question Rizal was unpatriotic,

The End Of Veneration 11• pro-Spanish and anti-Filipino. Similarly, to question Constantino is to be regarded as anti-Filipino, anti-masses and pro-imperialism. Committed scholarship admits of no middle way, it says in effect: `If you're not with us, you are against us. If you question us, you are the enemy'. Thus George W. Bush, Jose Rizal and Renato Constantino meet on common ground.

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Part 4 - The Truth Cannot Make You Free
To understand Constantino, his intent and his methodology one must explore the framework into which he fitted his historical data. In the preface to his collection of articles, Dissent and Counter-Consciousness, he writes “…although these essays were not written as parts of a book, they nevertheless follow a consistent pattern of discussing present society from the vantage point of the past and past society in the light of present reality. Such a method of discussion could not but project ideas on the modes and dimensions of social change”. Compare this to the preface to Rizal’s annotated De Morga: “In the Noli I began to sketch the present state of our native land. The effect that my attempt produced pointed out to me, before proceeding to unfold the other successive pictures before your eyes, the necessity of first making known to you the past in order that you may be able to judge better the present and to measure the Few history teachers bring road traversed during three centuries… If the book succeeds in attention to, or discuss, the awakening your consciousness of our book’s introduction with their past, already effaced from your memory, and to rectify what has been students, possibly because to falsified and slandered… we shall be do so would bring into able to study the future”. Constantino’s philosophy for question the value of dealing with historical data is further Constantino’s writings as clarified in a second book, published in 1975, “The Philippines – A Past historical source material. Revisited”. The book is a primary reference work for Filipino students but few have their own copies, most relying on handouts of specific photocopied pages. Few history teachers bring attention to, or discuss, the book’s introduction with their students, possibly because to do so would bring into question the value of Constantino’s writings as historical source material. Significantly, Constantino admits that ‘a Past Revisited’ is not a People’s History of the Philippines and challenges Filipino historians to write one. As of this date, more than 30 years later, not a single committed scholar has taken up his challenge, even though ‘committed scholarship’, or committed ‘scholarship’, now represents the status quo. One can imagine four reasons why no-one has taken up Constantino’ challenge – intellectual cowardice, a dearth of new and original thinking, reluctance to research original sources, or fear that Constatino’s assertions, based on those of Agoncillo, will not stand up to close scrutiny. It should be noted that Blumentritt’s critique of Rizal’s De Morga, and reviews of Constantino, echo each other – neither said anything original about the effects of imperialism that hadn’t been well-covered elsewhere. In Rizal’s day there were few Filipino scholars of history, by Constantino’s there were many. Constantino dismisses those historians who sought to be balanced and objective, to do so, in his view, was a symptom of colonial mentality: “the work of these scholars was till undertaken primarily in the interests of ‘objectivity’ and for this reason did not fall

The End Of Veneration 13• within the framework of an essentially liberating scholarship.” What Constantino tells us, then, is that objectivity cannot be liberating. To misquote the motto of a major Philippine daily newspaper, he tells us ‘The truth cannot make you free’. Of particular note is his comment: “when intellectual decolonisation shall have been accomplished, a historical account can be produced which will present a fuller, more balanced picture of reality”. For Constantino, then, Filipinos are not ready for an objective study of their own history, rather as the Americans considered Filipinos illprepared for independence. Further, this note is an implicit admission that his book does not represent reality. Constantino proposes that people’s access to information must be censored for their own good, as have dictators and tyrants down the centuries. He does not identify whom should be the censor, certainly not the masses since he accuses them, without trial, as swallowing the American perception of Rizal in toto. When Constantino Constantino proposes that accuses Rizal of not trusting the masses he is projecting upon the people’s access to information national hero his own view of the must be censored for their own masa. Enforced ignorance is a form of good, as have dictators and tyranny in itself. Ignorance is the tyrants down the centuries. means by which tyranny seeks to sustain itself. Contantino, therefore seeks to overthrow one tyrant, Ferdinand Marcos (We might include American neocolonialists, too), with another of Constantino’s choosing. He complains: “we habitually analyze Philippine society in the light of colonial myths and foreign concepts and values…” Indeed, Constantino himself does so. His analysis is based not on Filipino concepts and values but on those of a 19th century German economist, Karl Marx. Since Marx and Rizal both studied at the British Museum it may be that some mystical osmosis transferred Filipino concepts and values from Rizal to Marx but somehow that seems a dubious proposition. Moreover, Constantino depends upon an American concept of Rizal as merely a reformer. So when Constantino complains that ‘we (Filipinos) habitually analyze Philippine society in the light of … foreign values and concepts’ one cannot disagree with him since he himself invokes alien ideologies to analyze his society. One may, therefore question whether Constantino truly wrote history from a Filipino viewpoint, as Rizal undoubtedly had done, but that would be to miss the point: Like Rizal, Constantino was writing polemic, not history, and Veneration Without Understanding is polemic intended to persuade Filipinos to ‘think properly’, ie., to think like Constantino. Let us look at how Constantino constructed his arguments and assembled his data.

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Part 5 – Un-inventing A Revolutionary
Contantino presents us first with a list of national heroes: Washington, Lenin, Bolivar, Sun Yat Sen, Mao and Ho Chi Minh. All led successful revolutions. What Constantino fails to do is to present us with a list of national heroes who led failed revolutions. During the glorified tax-dodge that was the American War of Independence, Washington withdrew to Valley Forge on a losing streak but, thanks in no small part to French financial and materiel support and direct intervention, recovered to win independence from the British. The …A national hero has a Philippine revolution has no comparable tale to tell and no variety of functions, one of successful revolutionary leader to which is to be the archetype of become the national hero because that revolution failed, thus there can the people’s aspirations. Few be no Philippine revolutionary people aspire to be a failure… national hero to complete the pantheon presented by Constantino for comparison. A national hero has a variety of functions, one of which is to be the archetype of the people’s aspirations. Few people aspire to be a failure, which may be one good reason why Filipinos chose Rizal as the person they most wanted to be. Next, Constantino seeks to show that Rizal was pro-Spanish, anti-liberty, antirevolution and anti-independence using a calibrated scale from “he placed him against Bonifacio” to “vehement condemnation of the mass movement” to “…our Revolution”. Let’s explore this a little. Rizal was in Dapitan when he was approached by Pio Valenzuela to support a revolution planned by a man he did not know, Bonifacio, and whose personal qualities and integrity he could not judge. There are various accounts of this meeting but the sum of them, including those presented in Rizal’s trial, is that Rizal did not reject or repudiate revolution or his involvement in it outright. He asked about money and arms, to be told there was little of either. Rizal was clearly aware of the danger presented by the elite and the need to get their support – otherwise where would the money and arms come from? He feared, too, that their money and influence could crush the revolution and said as much. He was told that this man, whom he did not know, without arms or money, had not recruited such support. It was on those grounds that Rizal refused to back Bonifacio, not because he was proposing a revolution but because Bonifacio and the Katipunan simply hadn’t got their act together. Rizal’s refusal had no effect on subsequent events because Bonifacio ensured that it was kept a secret, although he continued to invoke Rizal’s name as the password for entrance into Katipunan lodges, which were held under the gaze of photographs of Rizal. The latter’s misgivings proved correct: learning of Bonifacio’s plans the Spanish authorities seized the initiative, which Bonifacio was not able to recover. Bonifacio was roundly beaten and went into hiding in Cavite. There, the Bonifacio revolution died and was in its death throes even before his ignominious execution at Maragondon.

The End Of Veneration 15• Bonifacio remained a largely forgotten, minor figure in Philippine history until resurrected under American tutelage. It was the American regime which renamed Calle Malecon as Calle Bonifacio, likewise in the 1920s it allowed the appropriation of 15,000 pesos, to be taken from the cedula taxes of Olongapo and Corregidor for a Bonifacio Memorial School. A memorial to Bonifacio was allowed to be built in 1917 and a brass plaque in Malacanang two decades later put his name not only alongside Rizal, but that of William McKinley. Unlike Rizal, it took an American puppet government to revive interest in Bonifacio and the Americans recognized him AS a hero of the Philippines. Be that as it may, Rizal’s hesitation to support the Bonifacio revolution was well founded and by the time he was arrested the Luneta was already a sea of courageous patriot’s blood being shed in his name in response to a leader then in hiding. It is against that background that his manifesto to the Filipino people should be read. The manifesto was not made public at the time because it repudiated neither revolution per se nor independence and the fear was that releasing it would cause an upsurge in revolutionary activity. Constantino’s condemnation of Rizal lumps his refusal to join Bonifacio with an implicit condemnation of ALL those fighting for the country’s freedom. Is this true? Rizal’s unnamed poem which we know today as Mi Ultimo Ados is not merely a love song to his country, it is a stirring call to arms to shed blood for it, which is very apparent in the second stanza where he explicitly refers to the ongoing revolution and the continuum of the struggle since at least 1876. Now let’s take a brief look at the ‘mass movement’. Constantino borrows Teodoro Agoncillo’s concept of a revolution of the masses and blames its failure on the turncoatism of the elite. It is treated as axiomatic yet the historical record suggests otherwise. Many of the much maligned elite fought it out to the end, even through the Philippine-American War, Vicente Lukban being just one …the masses were disillusioned example. Like Agoncillo, with the revolutionary Constantino avoids the very pertinent question: If it was a leadership and rather tired of movement of the masses, how being robbed, tortured, raped could the betrayal by a handful of the elite cause it to collapse? and murdered by revolutionary There is, in fact, little evidence commanders and their men… that the revolution was a revolution of the masses more than, say, a revolution of the elite, merely calling it such doesn’t make it so. Indeed, especially during the Philippine-American War period there is plentiful evidence that the masses were disillusioned with the revolutionary leadership and rather tired of being robbed, tortured, raped and murdered by revolutionary commanders and their men. Hundreds of such reports, by Filipinos, are spread throughout the largely unexplored volumes of the Philippine Revolutionary Records. Constantino was aware of these reports because he edited the 1973 publication, by the Lopez Foundation, of JRM Taylor’s The Philippine Insurrection Against The United States, which includes a selection of about 1,500 PRR documents out of a total of some 600,000.

The End Of Veneration 16• The captures of Aguinaldo and Lukban and the surrenders of Trias and Macabulos were followed by the end of effective resistance to American rule. Resistance did continue but it was disorganized, disunited and sporadic. Often, Filipinos suffered more than the enemy: During the Pulahanes period in Samar, more Filipinos were killed by the Pulahanes than by the Americans during the Samar campaign, the ‘Hemp War’, of early summer 1901 to April 1902. Indeed, the very same townsmen who, in 1901, had successfully attacked and defeated an American garrison at Balangiga, the worse single disaster for American forces during the 1899-1902 war, were driven to capture not only a leading pulahane but one who was one of their own kinsman. Historical data simply does not support Constantino’s concept of a revolution of the masses. Rizal’s Golden Age of great Filipino cannon-makers, writers of great bodies of Filipino literature and Filipino builders of 2,000 tonne ships occupy the same realityspace as Constantino’s revolutionary masses.

The End Of Veneration 17•

Part 6 – Revolution? Which Revolution?
“Either the Revolution was wrong, yet we cannot disown it, or Rizal was wrong, yet we cannot disown him either.” Says Constantino. These are worrying, challenging questions for a patriotic, nationalistic Filipino, even one who is not a Marxist. But are they the right questions? Let us remind ourselves: We have the Spanish, not Bonifacio, to thank for launching the revolution. Bonifacio proved an incompetent commander, was driven out of Manila and failed again at Indang in Cavite. Aguinaldo, the bête noir of Constantino, as well as other members of the elite, took and held territory with some success. None, however, showed inspired military leadership. The revolutionaries had Manila invested in late 1896 yet did not push their advantage and throw out the Spaniards. That lack of decisiveness allowed time To simply blame the for the Spanish to receive reinforcements (Few elite may be veterans, most of them were raw, untrained recruits). While the revolution did not collapse in its convenient, but it is entirety it lost sufficient ground that, along with the an excuse and far depredations by the Filipinos forces against the common tao under the pretext of revolution, morale too simplistic. fell sufficiently for the situation to become unwinnable for either side. We cannot disown this history. We must accept it. To simply blame the elite may be convenient, but it is an excuse and far too simplistic. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the book of the British: The Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War was suicidal, courageous, magnificent, and the result of incompetent leadership. Said a French general, “It’s magnificence, but is it war?”. In the early part of World War 2 British forces in Europe were thoroughly clobbered by the Nazis and forced to withdraw across the English Channel (The French call it La Manche, unwilling to accept that the English actually had a channel) through the small French town of Dunkirk. Those forces had to be rescued by a fleet of ships and tiny private yachts, some little more than exaggerated rowboats, which set off across the channel to bring them back. Dunkirk was a failure yet the term ‘the Dunkirk spirit’, the unwillingness to give up even when the odds are against you, still survives. The Philippine Revolution, or rather Bonmfacio’s part of it, was the Filipino Charge of the Light Brigade, its Dunkirk. It is not only victories that define national character, so do defeats. Even if we accept the concept of a revolution of the masses, was it a revolution for the masses? There is nothing in Bonifacio’s or the Katipunan’s political philosophy that suggested anything other than a change of personalities, certainly there is nothing to suggest that systemic change in ownership of the economy or access to power. Indeed, the elections at Tejeros, supervised by Bonifacio, suggest that the revolution would merely extrapolate local municipal politics to a national scale. Since for most ordinary Filipinos the interface with the power structure was these same principales, they could expect little real change. Constantino’s/Agoncillo’s concept demands that we think of the revolution as a single monolithic movement. But was it? Although the Katipunan philosophy offered little to

The End Of Veneration 18• the common tao there were others who underpinned ‘their’ revolution with something more substantive. The Pensacola brothers in Zambales, for instance fought under the motto ‘It is time for the rich to be poor and the poor to be rich’, a clear and distinct demand for systemic economic and political change and equitable distribution of resources for the benefit of the masses. No such philosophy tainted the revolution in Cavite and Manila or the lips of Bonifacio or Aguinaldo. So whose revolution is ‘our’ revolution, the ‘revolution of the masses? Bonifacio’s or that of the Pensacolas? Which revolution did Rizal actually repudiate?

The End Of Veneration 19•

Part 7 – Constantino’s Equivocation On The Unequivocal
How ‘unequivocal’ was Rizal’s condemnation of the revolution in Manila? What he repudiated was very specific, a conflict in which people were dying in the belief that Bonifacio had Rizal’s support, an uprising which Rizal held, rightly as it turned out, was premature, information that had been kept secret from the revolutionaries by Bonifacio. Correctly, the Spanish advocate at his trial, deduced that Rizal was not anti-revolution or anti-separatist, ie., independent at that his opposition was a matter of time and opportunity, not substance. Rizal certainly favoured independence, as much is implicit in his published writings and speeches and explicit in his private correspondence – if somewhat cautiously – and private conversations – ‘who launches a revolution will have me at his side’ he told his fellow ‘bedspacer’ in Europe, Jose Alejandrino. Revolution was an optional route to independence, but not necessarily the only option. Rizal’s focus was on liberty, a condition in which Filipinos could achieve their full potential as individuals, as a society and as a nation. This could only be achieved the greatest threat to liberty through individual dignity and the was not the Spanish but the respect for the dignity of others. He was well aware that the greatest Filipinos themselves threat to liberty was not the Spanish but the Filipinos themselves. There was no point in independence if today’s slaves were to become tomorrow’s tyrants. Revolution and independence were therefore useless unless the endpoint was Filipino liberty – not merely removing the Spanish but preventing, too, future tyranny by Filipinos. The Manila revolution merely sought to replace Spaniards with Filipinos. No underpinning of political philosophy as such was formalized until mid-1898. It was not unequivocally a revolution for the masses. Constantino’s dichotomy between owning or disowning the revolution or owning or disowning Rizal as the National hero cannot be resolved in Constantino’s terms. It requires objective study and understanding of the objectives of Bonifacio’s revolution and of Rizal , the application of an instrument which Constantino himself confesses he denies to his Filipino readers - objectivity. To quote Constantino out of context: “This is a disservice to the event, to the man, and to ourselves.” Freedom, to Constantino, is the absence of Spanish rulers and the presence of Filipino rulers regardless of the quality of their leadership. To Rizal, freedom was the presence of a Filipino liberty which promoted the interests and potential of all Filipinos. Constantino was fully aware of this, he was a well-read man, so was Rizal the real target of Veneration Without Understanding? “(Considering Rizal as a nationalist leader) … has dangerous implications because it can be used to exculpate those who actively betrayed the Revolution and may serve to diminish the ardor of those who today may be called upon to support another great nationalist undertaking to complete the anti-colonial movement” wrote Constantino. Rizal, then, must be removed from his pedestal not because of his worth as an individual but as an atomic particle in a class which Constantino hold betrayed the 1896 revolution

The End Of Veneration 20• and the Katipunan, because he represents a class which Constantino considered a threat to the anti-colonialist movement of the 1960s. Rizal must be toppled because Constantino wanted to topple his class among whom, by extrapolation, was Ferdinand Marcos, a lawyer, whose star was on the rise as Constantino wrote his famous article. It has been said that the problem with dictators isn’t that they don’t love their country but that they love it too much. Marcos, odious dictator though he became, was a nationalist and cunningly played US interests against Russian and Chinese interests. It is far too simplistic to see Marcos and merely a super-cacaique to sought to preserve power and extract wealth. He loved his country, identified himself with it and saw an attack on himself as an attack on his country and considered his own leadership as the only one that could defend and protect it. Out of that nationalism came the very tyranny that Rizal feared, a fear that led to his repudiation of Bonifacio. Bonifacio’s leadership was tested in the field of battle and found wanting. The elections at the Tejeros convention were a judgement on his competence a leader.. In that context it is worth noting that one reason for the change from a Katipunan leadership to a revolutionary government leadership at Tejeros was that many of those fighting were not katipuneros and a Katipunan government would leave their struggle unrepresented and unrecognized. Years later a monument was built to memorialize all those who fought the Spanish in 1896, The Heroes of ’96, which singles out no individual hence encompasses both the leaders and the masa, the Katipuneros and the non-Katipuneros, who participated in the revolution. Today, that monument stands in the grounds of UP and has been dubbed the Bonifacio monument, its true meaning forgotten. Those anonymous thousands, the fighting masa, once honoured by the statue have been sacrificed on the altar of Bonifacio.

The End Of Veneration 21•

Part 8 – The Filipino-Sponsored Hero
“'And now, gentlemen, you must have a national hero.' In these fateful words, addressed by then Civil Governor W. H. Taft to the Filipino members of the civil commission, Pardo de Tavera, Legarda, and Luzuriaga, lay the genesis of Rizal Day…..” writes Constantino in a section of Veneration Without Understanding subtitled An American Sponsored Hero. He is wrong. The genesis of Rizal Day was December 31, 1898 when Emilio Aguinaldo declared a national day of mourning for Rizal. It was repeated exactly a year later with commemorative broadsheets distributed in Rizal’s honour. Taft became the civil Governor of the Philippines on July 4 1901 by which time Rizal Day was already well established, in fact if not in name. A depressing number of young Filipinos today read ‘American-sponsored hero’ as ‘American-invented hero’, the latter is nonsense. Constantino concedes that Rizal was already a revered figure and more so A depressing number of after his death. “There is no question that Rizal had the qualities of young Filipinos today read greatness. History cannot deny his ‘American-sponsored hero’ patriotism. He was a martyr to oppression, obscurantism and bigotry. as ‘American-invented hero’, His dramatic death captured the the latter is nonsense. imagination of our people”, he writes. Rizal was more than that. His patriotism was a self-less life-giving love of country that few can match. A cosmopolitan man if immense nobility and dignity yet still tainted by humanity. Just 5’ 1” tall, he had overcome personal short-comings and physical weakness to become an intellectual and thinker respected in Europe, a poet and artist of talent, and a smart resourceful amateur engineer, as his contributions to Dapitan show. His educational records show he was not a natural genius, he literally created himself. Any Filipino could have been, and could still be, Jose Rizal. He was, intentionally, an archetype of what the Filipino can be. Herein lays a core fault in Constantino’s analysis. He sees Rizal solely in relation to the revolution, or revolutions, he does not consider that Rizal is a hero for all ages, revolution or not. He was perceived as a hero before the revolution and remained so afterwards. Whether or not the Americans colonized the Philippines he’d still have been just as great a hero. Constantino surrounds his thesis that Rizal was a posthumous ‘Amboy’ with significant qualifiers: “It cannot be denied that his pre-eminence among our heroes was partly the result of American sponsorship… we must accept the fact that his formal designation as our national hero, his elevation to his present eminence so far above all our other heroes was abetted and encouraged by the Americans.” If Rizal’s elevation was only partly the result of ‘American sponsorship’ then it must be conceded that it was also partly, if not mostly, the result of the will of the Filipino people themselves. The reference to the formal designation clearly does not refer to Aguinaldo’s 1898 order but to the acts promulgated by the American Philippine Commission which renamed Morong province as Rizal, opened a public subscription for a monument and set aside an annual day of observance, the latter, of course, had already been done by

The End Of Veneration 22• Aguinaldo. Why the emphasis on formal? Because it is a weasel word without which Constantino’s thesis falls apart. Rizal was already the de facto national hero, chosen by the Filipinos, the acts of the Philippine Commission merely recognition of the prevailing sentiment. To parse his argument and avoid taking responsibility, Constantino relies upon a foreigner, American historian Theodore Friend: ‘Taft "with other American colonial officials and some conservative Filipinos, chose him (Rizal) as a model hero over other contestants - Aguinaldo too militant, Bonifacio too radical, Mabini unregenerate." This, as older generation Britons might say, is just so much tosh. National heroes National heroes almost almost always have one significant thing in always have one common: they’re dead. Aguinaldo was very much alive until the 1960s, and, in fact no significant thing in longer militant. He was still under house common: they’re dead. arrest in Manila. Mabini, at that time, was also still alive. What about Bonifacio? Courageous though he was, incompetent commanders aren’t usually nominated a country’s national hero, and his willingness to split the revolutionary forces in a temper tantrum at Tejeros makes him somewhat questionable. But there are other considerations: The Americans conceded that Bonifacio wsa a hero, his first monument was erected under an American puppet government in 1917 and his name was inscribed along with others on a brass plaque mounted in Malacanang in the 1920s (A plaque he shares, by the way, with President William McKinley!), but would Bonifacio be acceptable to Cavitenos, who believe he threatened the revolution and whose provincial son, Aguinaldo, killed Bonifacio? Would Aguinaldo be acceptable to Manilenos, since he’d killed Bonifacio, or Nueva Ecijans, who blame Aguinaldo for Luna death? Rizal’s name was known to virtually every Filipino, Mabini’s wasn’t. The simple fact is that the Americans had no other choice but to accept the Filipino choice of Rizal because no-one else was such an undisputed, uncontroversial choice as national hero. Constantino himself concedes: “The honors bestowed on Rizal were naturally appreciated by the Filipinos who were proud of him.” Constantino then accepts, without question, another foreigner’s concept of Rizal, that of former Governor-General Forbes: “Rizal never advocated independence, nor did he advocate armed resistance to the government. He urged reform from within by publicity, by public education, and appeal to the public conscience”. The emphasis is supplied by Constantino, not Forbes. Had Forbes written: “Rizal never advocated independence without liberty, nor did he advocate armed resistance to the government unless liberty was the outcome..” he’d have shown far greater understanding of Rizal’s thinking. Certainly the Americans did revise Rizal into a pacifist reformer, of that there is no question, but that is not Rizal’s fault. It is this American-created myth that Constantino wishes us to judge Rizal by. What Constantino utterly fails to tell us is what the masa actually thought of Rizal. He talks about the masa, he talks at the masa, but nowhere does he listen to the masa. What did his maid, or his cook, or his driver, or the sari-sari store owner, or the tricycle driver or the truck driver, or the farm worker, or the sweat-shop labouring seamstress, or

The End Of Veneration 23• the taho vendor think of Rizal? Did their views coincide with those of the Americans or the schoolbook writers which he cites but whom a minority of Filipinos actually read? We don’t know because Constantino never asked the people whom he claimed to represent. With irony, Constantino writes: “it is now time for us to view Rizal with more rationality and with more historicity... Rizal will still occupy a good position in our national pantheon even if we discard hagiolatry and subject him to a more mature historical evaluation… A proper understanding of our history is very important to us because it will serve to demonstrate how our present has been distorted by a faulty knowledge of our past… That is why a critical evaluation of Rizal cannot but lead to a revision of our understanding of history and of the role of the individual in history.” All of which sounds fine but how can we view Rizal with ‘more rationality and with more historicity… and subject him to more mature historical evaluation’ if we are denied the tools of accuracy and objectivity, tools which Constantino says must be denied the Filipino? True, objectivity is a challenge, an ideal which can rarely be quite reached yet we find truth not in discarding it but in trying to achieve it. Note that Constantino refers to “A proper (my emphasis) understanding of our history” because “it will serve to demonstrate how our present has been distorted by a faulty knowledge of our past…” Not an accurate understanding of history, not a full understanding, but the understanding that Constantino would wish us to have by suppressing data and creating “a faulty knowledge of our past”. Where I do concur with Constantino is that Rizal is treated as some sort of superhero and should not be. It was not a superhero who inspired the revolution, whose reputation inspired others to shed blood for their nation, it was a man. Painting Rizal with a broad hagiographic brush not only creates as false an image of Rizal and his thinking as Constatino does in his article but, as far worse, creates a barrier between us and him, a barrier between what we are and what we can be.

The End Of Veneration 24•

Part 9 – Liberty Or Tyranny?
“With or without these specific individuals the social relations engendered by Spanish colonialism and the subsequent economic development of the country would have produced the nationalist movement,” says Constantino, and he is certainly correct. But is he correct when he says “But he is not a hero in the sense that he could have stopped and altered the course of events. The truth of this statement is demonstrated by the fact that the Revolution broke out despite his refusal to lead it and continued despite his condemnation of it.”? In fact, as noted earlier, Rizal’s refusal to support Bonifacio was kept secret and Rizal’s condemnation of him remained suppressed so no-one actually knew about them. What did go into public awareness was the poem we know today as Mi Ultimo Adios, a moving call to arms to shed blood for the country. It would be more accurate to say that the revolution broke out with Rizal’s assumed, but false, explicit blessing, thanks to Bonifacio, and continued with the implicit blessing given in Mi Ultimo Adios. …the revolution Constantino’s basis for dismissing the possibility that Rizal could have altered the flow broke out with Rizal’s of events, and thus cannot or should not be assumed, but false, regarded as a hero, is based on a false assumption. explicit blessing, Rizal appreciated that he was not the only game in town and yet had a place in history. In a thanks to Bonifacio, letter to be published after his death he wrote: “I and continued with know that at present, the future of my country gravitates in part around me…but my country has the implicit blessing many sons who can take it to advantange… there given in Mi Ultimo are still others who can take my place…” Yet “…he was only a limited Filipino, the Adios... ilustrado Filipino who fought for national unity but feared the Revolution” writes Contantino, but Rizal feared tyranny far more. His room-mate in Ghent, Jose Alejandrino, says: “One of the subjects he discussed frequently with us were the means by which we could make use of in order to promote a revolution” and quotes Rizal himself as saying: “I will never lead a disorderly revolution and one which has no probability of success because I do not want to burden my conscience with an imprudent and useless spilling of blood, but whoever leads a revolution in the Philippines will have me at his side.” Alejandrino read the galleyproofs of El Filibusterismo as it was being printed. Of his characters Rizal said “I regret having killed Elias instead of Cristomo Ibarra; but when I wrote the Noli Me Tangere… I never thought that I would be able to write its sequel and speak of a revolution, otherwise I would have preserved the life of Elias, who was a noble character, patriotic, self-denying and disinterested – necessary qualities in a man who leads a revolution – whereas Cristomo Ibarra was an egotist who only decided to provoke the rebellion when he was hurt in his interests… with men like him, success cannot be expected in their undertakings”. The echoes of Ibarra in Bonifacio are eery.

The End Of Veneration 25• Further, Constantino ignores Rizal’s own testimony at his trial regarding his meeting in Dapitan with Pio Valenzuela according to the court stenographer (My emphasis): “(Rizal) told him that it was hardly the time to embark on such foolhardy ventures, as there was no unity among the various classes of Filipino, nor did they have arms, nor ships, nor education, nor any requirements for a resistance movement… it was (Rizal’s) opinion that they ought to wait.” In private conversation and correspondence such as that with Blumentritt, Rizal considers revolution as an option but not as an end in itself. It was not revolution that Rizal feared, but one that went off half-cock. Rizal’s reference to Cuba raises a point almost universally overlooked. Cuba, too, had been fighting a war of independence against Spain that seemed interminable and unwinnable. Cuban revolutionaries, too, reached an agreement with the Spanish along much the same lines as Aguinaldo was to reach at the Pact of Biak-Na-Bato. Rizal advised “Let them learn from Cuba, where the people, although possessing abundant means and the backing of a great power, and being schooled in war, are powerless to achieve their objectives. Moreover, whatever may be the issue of that struggle, it will be to Spain’s advantage to grant concessions to the Philippines.” Clearly, Rizal saw the Cuban struggle as a warning and also an opportunity to take another step towards liberty. Usually ignored, too, is the fact that Spain lost its empire on the American continent in a series of revolts in the early part of the 19th century. The result was a series of unstable states from Mexico to Terra Del Fuego that were independent but, thanks to various shades of tyranny and oppression, hardly advertisements for revolution as a process that would automatically liberate the masses as Constantino assumes. Writing, as usual, ex cathedra, Constantino writes “his (Rizal’s) cultural upbringing was such that affection for Spain and Spanish civilization precluded the idea of breaking the chains of colonialism. He had to become a Spaniard first before becoming a Filipino.” This seems a little rich coming, as it does, from someone so dependent upon an imported, alien, 19th century political philosophy rather than an indigenous philosophy developed by Filipinos for Filipinos. Responding to an article by Pablo Feced published in a Manila newpaper, Rizal writes: “ (Feced aka Quioquiap) wants separation and he is right. The Filipinos have long desired Hispanization and have been wrong. Spain should desire this hispanization, not the Filipinos.” True, in a couple of his writings, Rizal talks of staying with Spain for the time being since To Rizal, the means the Filipinos and Spanish share such a long didn’t matter, the history. He does so, however, against the backdrop of potential colonization by other endpoint, liberty, did. existing and emerging powers like Britain, Germany, Japan and the US. He recognizes that the state of disunity and lack of resources available to the Filipino not only made a successful revolution unlikely, but even with a successful revolution they did not have what was necessary to protect and defend themselves as an independent state, as in fact, proved to be the case. In a realpolitik sense the Philippines was not ready for independence since it could not maintain that independence.

The End Of Veneration 26• One must also consider that not only had Spain already lost most of its overseas colonies to revolutions but Spain itself had undergone several revolutions since the mid19th century and was in danger of tearing itself apart in civil war. Spain’s ability to preserve its empire by force was dwindling and historical forces were limiting its options. Ultimately it would either have to surrender the Philippines, abandoning it to its own future or by passing sovereignty to another colonizer, the latter certainly through war as finally happened, or by increasing liberties to the Filipino, offering parity and, ultimately, independence. Thus independence without a revolution was already on the cards and Rizal was aware of it. Indeed his manifesto, written during his trial, says as much and one can justifiably wonder who was the intended audience, Filipinos or the Spanish administration. It can be argued that if the Filipinos had sided with Spain in Spanish-American War and held Manila until news of the cessation of hostilities reached the Philippines, the country may had won independence earlier. In microcosm that may have been Rizal’s strategy in applying to go to Cuba to provided medical services. In Dapitan he was neutralized in exile. Had he served in Cuba, the Spanish could hardly have sent him back into exile on his return or banned him from returning to the country. It would have been a powerful propaganda coup for Philippine liberty and independence. His arrest and the unauthorised use of his name by Bonifacio however sealed his fate. Constantino concedes, “Rizal contributed much to the growth of this national consciousness. It was a contribution not only in terms of propaganda but in something positive that the present generation of Filipinos will owe to him and for which they will honor him by completing the task which he so nobly began...This contribution was in the realm of Filipino nationhood - the winning of our name as a race, the recognition of our people as one, and the elevation of the indio into Filipino.” That, of course, is one of the reasons why he is the National Hero, not solely a revolutionary hero. However, in the midst of that ellipsis, Constantino describes Rizal’s goal of liberty as “already passé, something we take for granted”. So, Constantino’s generation will complete Rizal’s task (They didn’t), but it is already passé and taken for granted. Huh? No, Mr. Constantino, Rizal’s task will be passé when the Philippines is a land without slaves or tyrants and when human dignity is respected, when it is a land in which each of its people can reach their full potential. Constantino cites Rizal’s brief to his defense lawyer as evidence that Rizal was antiIndependence: ”. many have interpreted my phrase to have liberties as to have independence, which are two different things. A people can be free without being independent, and a people can be independent without being free. I have always desired liberties for the Philippines and I have said so. Others who testify that I said independence either have put the cart before the horse or they lie.” Rizal does not say that he does not desire independence. Independence and liberty are two separate states, as even a cursory glance around numerous of the world’s independent but hardly free states, and he is cautioning against such situations as is evident in his remark “(they) have put the cart before the horse”, they got it the wrong way around but both cart and horse, liberty and independence, are part of the future. Perhaps it is the zen-like simplicity of Rizal’s thought that eluded Constantino. Most of us have heard the phrase “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” and

The End Of Veneration 27• Rizal said something similar, also cited by Constantino: “I do not mean to say that our liberty will be secured at the sword's point, for the sword plays but little part in modern affairs, but that we must secure it by making ourselves worthy of it, by exalting the intelligence and the dignity of the individual, by loving justice, right and greatness, even to the extent of dying for them - and when a people reaches that height God will provide a weapon, the idols will be shattered, the tyranny will crumble like a house of cards and liberty will shine out like the first dawn.” Constantino misinterprets this to mean that Rizal intends that “freedom is a diploma to be granted by a superior people to an inferior one after years of apprenticeship”. Rizal means nothing of the sort – the judge of when people are ready is not some ‘superior people’, it is the people, the masses themselves and the interplay between them and historical dynamics that will create the means by which their liberty is attained, whether it be by revolution, by seizing independence, or through a peaceful, Gandhi-like ‘war’ of attrition. To Rizal, the means didn’t matter, the endpoint, liberty, did. It is important to note Rizal’s imagery of the dawn, “liberty will shine out like the first dawn”. In a letter to the Filipino people written in 1892, for publication after his death, he wrote “I shall die blessing my country and wishing her the dawn of redemption. This is the dawn he refers to in Mi Ultimo Adios, a dawn he clearly believed was breaking as he shed his blood on the earth of Bagumbayan and, in that same poem, urged his countrymen to shed theirs.

The End Of Veneration 28•

Conclusions
Where does all this leave us? First, Rizal was a national hero sponsored by Filipinos so forcefully that the Americans had little choice. Second, that Rizal believed that when Filipinos achieved a national consciousness thatcontinuously denied tyrants their supremacy the means for overthrowing the tyrants would self-generate out of the people themselves. Third that Rizal saw revolution and independence as options once national consciousness had been achieved. The second conclusion is that Constantino is a thoroughly unreliable source of analysis of Rizal’s philosophy since he has suppressed and distorted all data that does not fit within his pre-conceived polemical framework. Third, the value of Veneration Without Understanding is not as a source of historical analysis of Rizal’s place as national hero, but in what it tells of someone who played a key role in the political activism of the “…the value of Veneration 1960s and 1970s, Renato Constantino. It should therefore be viewed as a polemical Without Understanding is historical document of the mid-late 20th not as a source of historical century. Much has changed since Constantino’s analysis of Rizal’s place as day, yet also little. Ferdinand Marcos was national hero, but in what it overthrown in in 1986 in a revolution begun by a military coup sponsored by tells of someone who the wealthy elite that was co-opted by the played a key role in the Catholic Church that succeeded as a coup because of the power of the masses. Yet political activism of the as a revolution it failed because the 1960s and 1970s, Renato masses did not maintain and defend what they had struggled for and the status quo Constantino…” re-asserted itself, which is precisely what Rizal feared almost a century before. Without question a people have the right to liberty but implicit in that right are two duties: To respect the right of liberty of others, those who do not do so are by definition tyrants; and to fight for, defend and maintain that liberty. If these two duties are abrogated then the right to liberty necessarily falls by the wayside. Only those who have internalized those principles honour them and live by them can successfully achieve a state of liberty, of kalayaan in the sense outlined in Rey Ileto’s Pasyon and Revolution and it is that internalization which is the liwanag, the light, that will illuminate the road to kalayaan. No-one can deny the heroism and courage of the thousands of ordinary Filipinos who gathered on EDSA, any more than we can deny that of those who fought the Spanish and American regimes. Each one of them became national heroes, even though they remain largely nameless. Yet is it not time to explore why that unity and that awesome desire for change foundered? It is certainly time to ask, objectively and dispassionately why the movement of which Constantino was a part failed to deliver the goods, failed to inspire the masses, and still fails to inspire them today, the true role of activist events such a the First Quarter Storm and their contribution, or lack thereof, to the events of 1986 and whether it is relevant to

The End Of Veneration 29• today’s Philippines. Critical examination of the polemics of Veneration Without Understanding should be a part of that exploration. Liberty is not a fashion accessory to be worn once and put away in a cupboard like the Che Guevarra sweat-shirts and radical chic of the 1960s and 1970s. It is a dynamic process which must be defended anew each day. Rizal’s writings show that he understood the need to dynamically maintain and defend liberty, Constantino did not. Constantino wrote of Rizal and the masses: “He was their martyr; they recognized his labors although they knew that he was already behind them in their forward march”. If there is a forward march of the masses all one can say is that it is not Rizal that they left behind, it is Constantino.

CE