Wednesday, February 2, Reflections on the Veneration Without Understanding Rizal should not be the national hero of the Philippines. Rizal fits perfectly this description of passiveness and was elevated to his status of prestige and reverence. Aside from being called an American-sponsored hero, Constantino also labelled Rizal a limited hero. He treated this as another repudiation of the separatist movement that fuelled that Katipunan revolt. Historians, in their writing of history, should be scrutinized, first, for their agenda in writing and, second, on their sociological background prevalent during their time. It was written during the first term of President Marcos where political turmoil present in the country was starting to build up.

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You are on page 1of 10 Search inside document Does Rizal deserve to be our national hero? By Renato Constantino In the histories of many nations, the national revolution represents a peak of achievement to which the minds of man return time and again in reverence and for a renewal of faith in freedom. For the national revolution is invariably the one period in a nations history when the people were most united, most involved, and most decisively active in the fight for freedom.

It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that almost always the leader of that revolution becomes the principal hero of his people. The unity between the venerated mass action and the honored single individual enhances the influence of both. In our case, our national hero was not the leader of our Revolution. In fact, he repudiated that Revolution. In no uncertain terms he placed himself against Bonifacio and those Filipinos who were fighting for the countrys liberty.

In fact, when he was arrested he was on his way to Cuba to use his medical skills in the service of Spain. I did even more. When later, against my advice, the movement materialized, of my own accord I offered my good offices, but my very life, and even my name, to be used in whatever way might seem best, toward stifling the rebellion; for convinced of the ills which it would bring, I considered myself fortunate if, at any sacrifice, I could prevent such useless misfortune.

I have written also and I repeat my words that reforms, to be beneficial, must come from above, and those which comes from below are irregularly gained and uncertain. Holding these ideas, I cannot do less than condemn, and I do condemn this uprising-which dishonors us Filipinos and discredits those that could plead our cause. I abhor its criminal methods and disclaim all part in it, pitying from the bottom of my heart the unwary that have been deceived into taking part in it.

Either the Revolution was wrong, yet we cannot disown it, or Rizal was wrong, yet we cannot disown him either. By and large, we have chosen to ignore this apparent contradiction. Rizalists, especially, have taken the easy way out, which is to gloss over the matter. They have treated Rizals condemnation of the Katipunan as a skeleton in his closet and have been responsible for the silent treatment on his unequivocal position against the Revolution. To my knowledge, there has been no extensive analysis of the question.

For some Rizalists, this aspect of Rizal has been a source of embarrassment inasmuch as they picture him as the supreme symbol of our struggle for freedom. Others in fact privately agree with his stand as evidenced by their emphasis on the gradualism of Rizals teachings particularly his insistence on the primacy of education.

Since they do not dare for themselves, they are also prudently silent for Rizals sake. Others, careless and superficial in their approach to history and perhaps afraid to stir a hornets nest of controversy, do not think it important to dwell on this contradiction between our Revolution and our national hero and elect to leave well enough alone. Perhaps they do not perceive the adverse consequences of our refusal to analyze and resolve this contradiction.

Yet the consequences are manifest in our regard for our Revolution and in our understanding of Rizal. The Philippine Revolution has always been overshadowed by the omnipresent figure and the towering reputation of Rizal. Because Rizal took no part in that Revolution and in fact repudiated it, the general regard for our Revolution is not as high as it otherwise would be.

On the other hand, because we refuse to analyze the significance of his repudiation, our understanding of Rizal and of his role in our national development remains superficial. This is a disservice to the event, to the man, and to ourselves. Viewed superficially, Rizals reaction toward the Revolution is unexpected, coming as it did from a man whose life and labors were supposed to have been dedicated to the cause of his countrys freedom.

Had someone of lesser stature uttered those words of condemnation, he would have been considered a traitor to the cause. As a matter of fact, those words were treasonous in the light of the Filipinos struggle against Spain. Rizal repudiated the one act which really synthesized our nationalist aspiration, and yet we consider him a nationalist leader. Such an appraisal 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.

An American-Sponsored Hero We have magnified Rizals role to such an extent that we have lost our sense of proportion and relegated to a subordinate position our other great men and the historic events in which they took part. This sponsorship took two forms: on one hand, that of encouraging a Rizal cult, on the other, that of minimizing the importance of other heroes or even of vilifying them. There is no question that Rizal had the qualities of greatness.

History cannot deny his patriotism. He was a martyr to oppression, obscurantism and bigotry. His dramatic death captured the imagination of our people. Still, 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.

The Free Press of December 28, gives this account of a meeting of the Philippine Commission: And now, gentlemen, you must have a national hero. In these fateful words, addressed by then Civil Governor W. In the subsequent discussion in which the rival merits of the revolutionary heroes were considered, the final choice-now universally acclaimed as a wise one-was Rizal. And so was history made. Theodore Friend in his book, Between Two Empires, says that 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.

Cameron Forbes who wrote in his book, The Philippine Islands: It is eminently proper that Rizal should have become the acknowledged national hero of the Philippine people. The American administration has lent every assistance to this recognition, setting aside the anniversary of his death to be a day of observance, placing his picture on the postage stamp most commonly used in the islands, and on the currency. And throughout the islands the public schools tech the young Filipinos to revere his memory as the greatest of Filipino patriots.

Underscoring supplied [3] The reason for the enthusiastic American attitude becomes clear in the following appraisal of Rizal by 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.

Underscoring supplied [4] Tafts appreciation for Rizal has much the same basis, as evidenced by his calling Rizal the greatest Filipino, a physician, a novelist and a poet who because of his struggle for a betterment of conditions under Spanish rule was unjustly convicted and shot. The public image that the American desired for a Filipino national hero was quite clear.

They favored a hero who would not run against the grain of American colonial policy. We must take these acts of the Americans in furtherance of a Rizal cult in the light of their initial policies which required the passage of the Sedition Law prohibiting the display of the Filipino flag. The heroes who advocated independence were therefore ignored. For to have encouraged a movement to revere Bonifacio or Mabini would not have been consistent with American colonial policy.

Several factors contributed to Rizals acceptability to the Americans as the official hero of the Filipinos. In the first place, he was safely dead by the time the American began their aggression. Moreover, Rizals dramatic martyrdom had already made him the symbol of Spanish oppression. To focus attention on him would serve not only to concentrate Filipino hatred against the erstwhile oppressors, it would also blunt their feelings of animosity toward the new conquerors against whom there was still organized resistance at that time.

His choice was a master stroke by the Americans. The honors bestowed on Rizal were naturally appreciated by the Filipinos who were proud of him. At the same time, the attention lavished on Rizal relegated other heroes to the background-heroes whose revolutionary example and anti-American pronouncements might have stiffened Filipino resistance to the new conquerors.

The Americans especially emphasized the fact that Rizal was a reformer, not a separatist. He could therefore not be invoked on the question of Philippine independence. He could not be a rallying point in the resistance against the invaders. It must also be remembered that the Filipino members of the Philippine Commission were conservative ilustrados.

The Americans regarded Rizal as belonging to this class. This was, therefore, one more point in his favor. Rizal belonged to the right social class the class that they were cultivating and building up for leadership. It may be argued that, faced with the humiliation of a second colonization, we as a people felt the need for a super-hero to bolster the national ego and we therefore allowed ourselves to be propagandized in favor of one acceptable to the colonizer.

Be that as it may, certainly it is now time for us to view Rizal with more rationality and with more historicity. This need not alarm anyone but the blind worshipper. 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. By unraveling the past we become confronted with the present already as future. It cannot spare even Rizal. The exposure of his weaknesses and limitations will also mean our liberation, for he has, to a certain extent become part of the superstructure that supports present consciousness.

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.

Orthodox historians have presented history as a succession of exploits of eminent personalities, leading many of us to regard history as the product of gifted individuals. This tendency is strongly noticeable in those who have tried of late to manufacture new heroes through press releases, by the creation of foundations, or by the proclamation of centennial celebrations.

Though such tactics may succeed for a limited period, they cannot insure immortality where there exists no solid basis for it. In the case of Rizal, while he was favored by colonial support and became good copy for propagandists, he had the qualifications to assume immortality.

It must be admitted however, that the study of his life and works has developed into a cult distorting the role and the place of Rizal in our history.

The uncritical attitude of his cultists has been greatly responsible for transforming biographers into hagiographers. His weaknesses and errors have been subtly underplayed and his virtues grossly exaggerated. In this connection, one might ask the question, what would have happened if Rizal had not been executed in December of ? Would the course of the Philippine Revolution have been different? This poses the question of the role of the individual in history.

Was this historical phase of our libertarian struggle due to Rizal? Did the propagandists of the 19th century create the period or were they created by the period? The Role of Heroes 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.

Without Rizal there would have developed other talents. Without Del Pilar another propagandist would have emerged. That Rizal possessed a particul ar talent which influenced the style of the period was accidental.

That he was executed on December 30 only added more drama to the events of the period. Without Rizal there may have been a delay in the maturation of our libertarian struggle, but the economic development of the period would have insured the same result.

Rizal maybe accelerated it.


Veneration Without Understanding: Analysis

Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonzo Realonda, our national hero who is known for his nationalism and patriotism usually come side by side with these words; the doctor, the writer, the philosopher, the clairvoyant, and most of all the hero who died for the country. More than a hundred and fifty years ago, that hero was born and history says that he was the one who revolutionized a new uprising. Stop Using Plagiarized Content. Get Essay Not through the literal bloody and violent revolutionary way but by unravelling the skeletons in the colonizers closet through his works and writings. Though he died in the hands of the colonizers, he fought the bloodless way and sparked the spirit of nationalism of the Filipino as an individual.


Veneration Without Understanding by Renato Constantino

It depicts how shallow the knowledge of the Filipinos is about Rizal and nationalism. In other countries, to be a national hero, you should be a leader of a revolution. But it was different with the Philippines; Rizal, being the national hero, repudiated the revolution and was completely against it. Rizal had other nationalistic interests such as the reform. The purpose of the reform is to be a province of Spain and have equality between the Spaniards and Filipinos.

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