"Buong Buhay ko, wala kayaong ginawa kundi husgahan ako, basahin ako, kung anu-ano ang hiningi niyo pero hindi ninyo pa rin makita kung sino ako. " - from the Movie Rizal
I am a Filipino--that is if i would be too technical and be that simple because according to the 1987 Constitution every person born within the Philippine Territory is by birth a Filipino. Yes, it’s now that easy for anyone to be called a Filipino and perhaps on that aspect Dr. Jose Rizal among all the heroes who fought for our freedom was successful. However, more than just having the title itself is not enough; one has to prove he deserves to be called a Filipino. Jose Rizal didn’t just become our National Hero because he wrote Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo and not even because of its influence that sparked the revolution. He is the National Hero because he loved the country the most at the time when nobody was even allowed to think that a country—the Philippines even existed.
Jose Rizal was a genius, at the age of 3 he already mastered the alphabet and during his lifetime he learned about 22 different languages. He was an architect, artists, businessman, cartoonist, educator, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, naturalist, novelist, ophthalmic surgeon, poet, propagandist, psychologist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, and theologian. Rizal who was popularly known as Doctor was actually a cure himself. He knew the existing problems and he sought for a cure by fighting with his pen hoping to be heard and sure enough he made such a noise that even the mighty Spanish Empire was not able to suppress leading to what is known as the Revolution of 1896. Though Rizal himself never intended to be the cause of the bloody revolution, his words was enough to inspire actions that later lead to change and the awakening of the sleeping nation.
It was already 122 years ago when Rizal was shot dead in Luneta, it’s no wonder why one would even bother to pause for a moment and think that on that fateful day—122 years ago Pepe was executed for thinking that his country and its people deserved better. In many respect, the Philippines during the Spanish Era is different than what it is now that is why it is debatable to think that the lessons he left is no longer applicable but in a sense we are in no better condition than they were. In fact, we may be in a much more terrible fate because now, we are the ones who are inflicting all sorts of struggles to our own people. We are still prey to the government that is supposed to be the government for the people. We are still ‘Indios’ in some respect because we choose not be involved and instead of taking action to be able to call ourselves Filipino’s proudly, we choose to do what’s easy and that is to deny being a Filipino.
In a third world country like ours, it’s hard to blame someone leaving the land we once fought and died for. Like what Patricia Evangelista once said, sometimes leaving is not a matter of choice. We are Indios because we even glorify the fact that families have to be separated just to find better opportunities. We proudly call those who had to leave “Bagong Bayani”. We are not aware that in doing so, we lie to ourselves and that we easily believe in the government’s propaganda to hide the true situation of the country, that parents, sisters, and brothers had to leave to provide for their family. Indeed, their contribution to the economy is undeniable and one thing we should be thankful for but in reality that is merely an extra benefit. I don’t think any OFW left the country so that they can contribute to the economy—they did , so that they can support their family who would otherwise suffer if they stayed home. They say that if there is one thing good about being under Spain for over 300 years, then it would be the fact that they brought Catholicism to the country. We’ve always been taught to fear God by the friars which in effect made us very dependent on His grace. Having faith in God is not a bad thing, but not doing anything because you trust God so much to just wait for His grace is bad. One bad thing about us is that we just accept everything that happens to us and take them in ‘because it is God’s will’—the very mindset the friars wanted us to have so that we don’t take action and think for ourselves. Rizal was considered “anti-Christ” for his liberal thoughts of taking action, doing something to make things better which he believed was what God wanted for us. To have a choice. To practice free will.
These among other things, are just symptoms of what I believe to be a disease that not even Dr. Pepe’s death could not cure. We are now free. We are now able to practice free will. We can now think for ourselves and more importantly we can now be heard. We live in a world only Dr. Rizal could dream of, we live in a world he died for but ironically enough, now that we have a voice we still choose not to speak. Now that we can do something, we still choose to do nothing. We don’t have to be a genius nor that we have to die to be called a hero. Just love the country enough and do something. Anything would help.
Sandwiched between two of the most awaited feast in the country, Christmas and the New Year, Rizal day often only receives a fraction of the attention it deserves. Perhaps, unlike New Year and Christmas that signifies a life and a fresh new start, nobody really wants to celebrate the death of some guy who is called a “National Hero” for writing some novels you can barely understand. A guy every college student hates because his boring life is forcibly taught in schools as enacted by the infamous Rizal Law. However, for me I don’t see Rizal’s Death as an end but instead I see it as a beginning. Lucky for me, I was molded to be a geek and so unlike many, the subject Rizal is more than just a break between Calculus and Science. I learned of a man who earned for himself the title “Philippine National Hero and for everyone else—the right to be called a Filipino”