Its Rizal’s birthday!

I was really impressed when my wife texted me on the 19th to remind me of Jose Rizal’s birthday. She was listening to my Rizal stories after all! I almost wept! How I wish I could also interest all those people who stopped caring about Rizal.

For many, Rizal is a street or a monument, a plaza somewhere, a holiday, the one peso coin (a peso of decreasing value), a school subject, sometimes a research paper, a relative (in my office there is one), a university, his everywhere, but nowhere – his been victimized by his own reputation.

I appreciate the works of Ambeth Ocampo for he made Rizal human again, because that’s what he is. His not Christ! his not perfect but he never stopped improving himself – and his motivation for this is his desire to improve his country.

He sacrificed his life (most of it even in his early years)a prosperous life waited for him, free from all the worries, closer to the luxuries of life, but he loved his nation so much that he gave away everything he could have possess. Today, we try to gain knowledge so we can progress in our professional lives, dreams of good finances, a better life for our family. For Rizal it was a better life, for his country men.

We’re lucky to have him, i see no point in the arguments raised by some people questioning his status as a national hero (rest in peace Sir Constantino). Sometimes this unending debates (this exchanges can be entertaining!) seem to confuse the our nation’s children more. How can I answer a child who has been taught that Rizal is a coward, while Bonifacio is a better (braver) hero? (a question asked by a niece once). Now we ask how we could get them to read Rizal?

If we teach Rizal subjects properly we could make patriots out of our youth. The hero had faith in our youth, according to him they are our future, and its true. Just imagine young Filipino’s devoting their lives for their fellow Filipino. Aspire for knowledge so they can learn and share it. Isn’t that what Rizal wanted?

Theres just so much to improve in our educational system in terms of how we teach Rizal to our students. At this time our schools have different ways of teaching Rizal subjects( I heard some schools even making Rizal an optional subject). We can’t afford ill prepared educators handing out their own versions of his life and works.

I remember when I was in college I had an exchange of verbal toss with my professor who insisted that Rizal is gay, he was basing this in his interpretation of Rizal relations with women and friends, I wonder how many student bought in to his argument (an argument that I never understood!). It’s one thing to act like him another to interpret him. I think its better to try to emulate his success in the fields that he pursued. We all should stick to that.

The hero is a complex individual, that we know. His writtings has somehow added to what already is a difficult subject. There’s a lot to cover when you read Rizal. There’s so much printed materials out there, that I admit standardizing our education of him would not be easy. The lease we could do is focus on the things that mattered.

This has been the story of our country, a history in dispute. A great heritage being wasted on books and classrooms that should carry one message to our youth, instead we chose to question our founding father’s intention, with popular academes even trying to revise history. How can we unite if we can’t even agree on Rizal’s importance to this nation’s history?

Happy birthday Señor Joe!

“A hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by.”


2 responses to “Its Rizal’s birthday!

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