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Political Economy in Rizal's The Indolence of the Filipino Bryan L.

Viray / 2005-70636

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Reflection on Rizals The Indolence of the Filipino Rizals essay negates the common notion that Filipinos are indolent people. He did this through a very comprehensive and detailed discussion of the events happened before this concept of indolence was associated with the Filipinos. According to Rizal , the misfortune happened because of the writers of that time, our contemporary writers, we, say, find that the native is a creature something more than a monkey but much less than a man, an anthropoid, dull-witted, stupid, timid, dirty, cringing, grinning, ill-clothed, lazy, brainless, immoral, etc.

And the question now is, who were these writers that Rizal was referring to? What kind of individuals were they? Doctor Sanciano, according to Rizal, was agitated because of the so-called facts and reports that came from the Spanish authorities that ruled the country. Hence, accounts on Filipinos as indolent people was established by the authorities themselves; individuals who were educated, who had positions in government, who had power. How could a Filipino the Tandang Basyong Macunat retaliate this statement about him given that this came from the authority the hegemony of the powerful members of the society? The case is also synonymous to the battle, whether Filipinos had Indigenous drama or not? Retana & Barrantes concluded that Filipinos had no theatre and drama without thorough investigation and substantial study. They were biased of the Western idea of the drama that they were used to. They did not consider our rituals, verbal jousts and games, and songs & dances as mimetic actions (Aristotles idea of drama); therefore, it could have dramatic action. A Filipino had no chance to defend themselves, perhaps, because, he is

Political Economy in Rizal's The Indolence of the Filipino Bryan L. Viray / 2005-70636

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convinced that to get happiness, it is necessary for him, to lay aside his dignity as a rational creature, to attend mass, to believe what is told him, to pay what is demanded of him, to pay and forever pay; to work, suffer and be silent, without aspiring to anything (Rizals essay) Consequently, Rizals broad, observant and examined essay, for me, employed a revisionist approach. This notion of indolence was only created by the forces of the prevailing class. Rizals somehow corresponds to Eric Wolfs in a sense that these writers are reminding the readers that the narrative or the story is always constructed by the wealthy and powerful; hence, there are preconceived notions. As a matter of fact, Rizal himself mentioned that no one has studied causes of indolence; and did not even recommend remedies. And so, here is Rizal attempting to end the silence of the poor and the oppressed through challenging this predisposition. This is a very revisionist approach to history that Wolf also utilized in examining societies together with neoMarxist critique.

Furthermore, the essay reverberates a neo-Marxist reading. Firstly, his discussion on how Filipinos were affected by Spanish expansion without knowing about their colonys dependency on climate & nature; without considering the local or indigenous systems. That is why to examine indolence as a cultural phenomenon is important- the idea of questioning why does indolence existed. Indolence as a result of an environment force/s, a reaction towards the events happened like the wars,

gambling, and antihuman education. Secondly, the discussions about excessive labour, Philippines as an agricultural colony, and the notion that the supreme aspiration of the bourgeois is to live are part of this critique.

Political Economy in Rizal's The Indolence of the Filipino Bryan L. Viray / 2005-70636

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Rizals analysis: Peoples and governments are correlated and complementary. This is a very neo-Marxist critique that I want to further discuss in my reflection paper. I want to borrow Eric Wolfs study on European capitalism; mercantile and capitalist expansion of Europe affected and undermined indigenous cultural systems throughout the Third World and how this process produced great wealth and great suffering.

As I scrutinize the details of Rizals work, the basic grounding of political economy is highlighted from the beginning towards the end of his discussion. The superstructure the government, or can we say the dominant class, the State or Spain itself controls the infrastructure the people, the agricultural labourers, the Filipinos and its indigenous cultural system or can we say the modes of production. Spain, through its capitalist expansion, greatly destabilized these indigenous cultural systems of the Philippines; the so-called progression of expansion perhaps optimistically affected the colonist but definitely aggravates its colony.

What were these indigenous cultural system which undermined by the colonist? Rizal compares the physician to a state (the friars and employees, or can we call it alepores), the patient to the Philippines in which should be diagnosed because of the sickness indolence. Now, what apparatus colonist employed to wreak vexation as Rizal mentioned in the essay, and as an effect, the indolence of the Filipinos?

Political Economy in Rizal's The Indolence of the Filipino Bryan L. Viray / 2005-70636

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First system that the colonist should understand is the importance of mans adaptability to its nature. Man is always grounded or depended on natural laws. As Rizal mentioned, there is difference between tropical and cold countries in terms of work load. Too much work in tropical countries might cause annihilation or death. But for Spain, their colonys objective is to produce despite of the consequences. Excessive labour was part of Spains mechanism in order for them to inherit such wealth. Rizal criticized active European who closes his office where the work is not violent after gaining strength during summer; and here is a poor clerk who comes in very early and leaves the office late after working for his chief while this chief comes in at ten, leaves before twelve, reads newspaper while smoking and with his feet up on a chair or table. How come this natural reaction of the Indios to the environment did not have a clear understanding? Is it the duty of the society and government? But this was not the case! The colonist who were in position even magnified or snowballed the issue of indolence. The superstructure controls the system.

Rizal tells us that as far as agriculture of the natives and the export/import industries are concerned, although things encountered as every step, and considering the time and the conditions in the islands..there was life, there was activity, there was movement. (emphasis mine) But how was this movement again undermine by the colonist? The government doubted the natives partners in agriculture and export industries. The Borneans, Siamese, Cambodians, Japanese, and the Chinese were the individuals who consume natives products. Because of this mistrust, natives correspondence with them, and the barter or negotiation of products were

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ended. This manipulation of the system is again part of damaging indigenous cultural system.

Furthermore, additional tools of control are discussed by Rizal to complete Spains capitalist expansion in the Philippines. And unconsciously, resulted to Spains enormous wealth and Philippines fatal suffering and destruction. Due to wars and continuous invasion of Spain through expeditions, and to maintain the honour of Spain, natives were forced to become warriors, sailors, and skilful rowers. They had to leave the island and join the Spaniards instead of toiling the soil and negotiating with Chinese friends for new products. After these wars and attacks within the island, what happened to the farm that was used to be planted by the natives? These fields were discarded by the cultivators because of different discouragement infused by the colonist. Is this part of the mechanism of European capitalism? To disrupt the so called modernization since the Philippines wealth and labor had been thoroughly drained off by Spain? As what W. W. Rostow proposed in the 1960s, poor nations had not simply failed to modernize and develop [because] they had been systematically underdeveloped by wealthy nations.

Lastly, and I think the most powerful tool that Spain utilized to attain capitalist expansion is Catholicism, or should I say false Catholicism? The superstructures the State, Church, and therefore the Academy are controlled by the colonist, and therefore brutalizing, depressive, and anti-human education were offered by the priests themselves. Creations of doubtful and incomprehensible realities were sponsored by

Political Economy in Rizal's The Indolence of the Filipino Bryan L. Viray / 2005-70636

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the church for the natives to work, suffer and be silent, without aspiring to anything, without separating himself from his carabao. Natives were instructed to not protest against injustice, against insult, and not to have heart, brain or spirit. Tandang Basyong Macunat was usually advised not aspire to be greater than the curate or You belong to an inferior race!. This is one of the adversities that the native experienced under Spains expansion and colonization.

Rizal vividly argued about the repression, suppression, and suffering caused by this Spains capitalist expansion. And another part of the critique is, how is the naturalized or essentialized notion of indolence would be ended?

Rizals recommendation is that obstacles be not put in his way, that the many his climate and the situation of the islands afford be not augmented, that instruction be not begrudged him for fear that when he becomes intelligent he may separate from the colonizing nation or ask for the rights of which he makes himself worthy.

As we celebrate the sesquicentennial of Rizal, another reflection that I want to raise is that, we must be like Rizal, an enlightened man, who do not rely on merely hearsays. We must be critical and question why and how certain phenomenon happens.

Reference: Lim, Kyung Soo. (1998). Eric Wolf. Date Accessed: August 30, 2011. McGee, Jon R. and Richard L. Warms. (2008). Anthropological History: An Introductory History, Fourth Edition. New York McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.