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Sunday, 13 June 2010

HEROES - Part 3: Rizal


Dr. José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda (June 19, 1861 – December 30, 1896)

Most people in Western countries have never of this inspiring young Asian man. And it's such a crime. If you ever get a chance to read a biographical book on Rizal I promise you it's worth every minute you invest.

Rizal lived during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines. They stole his language, his beliefs, his culture, and when he came to an appreciation of this he channeled his love of his people and culture through writing to bring back to oppressed Filipinos their sense of dignity and self worth. Rizal never lived to see the complete realization of his dream to restore his people's dignity, which is so damn terrible in itself, but if nothing more it really should make all Filipinos so damn proud of their national hero.

Rizal was a Filipino polymath, a nationalist, and the most prominent advocate for reforms in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era. He is considered the Philippine's national hero and the anniversary of Rizal's death is commemorated as a Philippine holiday called Rizal day. His 1896 military trial and execution basically made him a martyr of the Philippine revolution.

Rizal was a polyglot conversant in at least ten languages. Like, totally awesome dude. He was a prolific poet, essayist, diarist, correspondent, and novelist whose most famous works were his two novels, "Noli me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo". These are social commentaries on the Philippines that formed the nucleus of literature that inspired dissent among peaceful reformists and spurred the militancy of armed revolutionaries against 333 years of Spanish rule.

If you ever get a chance to read these books, do it. I try not to recommend stuff to others, but both these books are full on inspiring stuff. When they came out, these writings angered both the Spanish and the Hispanic Filipinos due to their hardcore "insulting" symbolism. Both novellas are highly critical of Spanish religious leaders and the atrocities committed in the name of religion. And most importantly, both books centre on liberal and progressive ideas of individual rights and freedom, specifically, the rights for the common Filipino population.

So, why the hell do I, an urbanized white Australian male have any interest whatsoever in Rizal. Ummmm, coz he rocked!!! Dude challenged the ruling and religious authority of his time, not because he was some bad-ass rebel and hated politics and religion, but because these systems were wrong and committing atrocities to Rizal and the country he loved, and ultimately died for...

He hated the injustice, the corruption, the lies. Cool. If i see stuff going down that stinks of injustice, say, like the West Memphis 3, I can't ignore that. Hell, nobody should ignore that. To do so would be so untrue, to myself and to you. And, to top shit off, Rizal even has his head on 1 of the most widely circulated coins on earth. How cool is that?

As a political figure, Rizal was the founder of "La Liga Filipina", a civic organization that subsequently gave birth to the "Katipunan" led by Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo. Rizal was a proponent of institutional reforms by peaceful means rather than by violent revolution (keep that thought in mind kiddies, you'll need to remember that for a later piece). His martyred death was the catalyst that precipitated the Philippine revolution. Rizal's advocacy of institutional reforms by peaceful means rather than by violent revolution makes him Asia's first modern non-violent proponent of political reforms. As such, this makes Rizal really a forerunner of Gandhi and contemporary of Tagore and Sun Yat Sen. In fact, all four basically created a new climate of thought throughout Asia, leading to the attrition of colonialism and the emergence of new Asiatic nations by the end of WW2.

Rizal was totally appreciated by Gandhi who regarded him as a forerunner in the cause of freedom. Even Jawaharlal Nehru, in his prison letters, acknowledged Rizal's significant contributions to the Asian freedom movement. So yeah, all these other 'world leaders' regarded his contributions as keystones, and acknowledged Rizal's role in the freedom movement as a foundation layer.
 
Rizal as a person is nothing less than genius. Honest. He was an ophthalmologist, sculptor, painter, educator, farmer, historian, playwright and journalist. And besides poetry and creative writing, he dabbled in architecture, cartography, economics, ethnology, anthropology, sociology, dramatics, martial arts, fencing and pistol shooting. Damn, there's seriously nothing this dude touched that he didn't rock at. But the coolest thing is Rizal just did stuff. He didn't back down when he knew he was right, again at the cost of his life. At the ripe old age of 35.

And the dude had real substance. He wasn't just all talk. You should check out the time he got called out for a duel. It's on Wikipedia somewhere. Every time I read about Rizal I can't help but catch a piece of his love for truth and his love for his people. For me, Rizal isn't just an epic dead hero. Rizal is just epic. Period. There's a place called Fort Santiago in the Philippines that houses a monument which stands near the place where he was executed. It was designed by Richard Kissling, the artist who did the famed William Tell sculpture. The statue carries the inscription "I want to show to those who deprive people the right to love of country, that when we know how to sacrifice ourselves for our duties and convictions, death does not matter if one dies for those one loves – for his country and for others dear to him."

 












Sure I don't dig the whole nationalistic slant, but I am inspired by what drove Rizal to lay it all down. No matter what. That's real courage. Real heroism.

So, I suppose the best way to end this piece is in Rizal's own words....

"He waited for a few moments to see if the depths would disgorge anything, but the waves closed anew, as mysterious as before, without adding a ripple more to the smooth surface, as if into the immensity of the sea only a tiny pebble had fallen".*(1)


END OF PART 3


NEXT WEEK: HEROES - Part 4 - Jello Biafra



If you're still here... thank you.

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All the words & mindless ramblings in BORDERLINE (c) 2008 - 2010 stonerphonic unless otherwise stated.
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Quotes

* (1) Jose Rizal, "El Filibusterismo", Chapter 39, second last paragraph

REFERENCES
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jose_Rizal

4 comments:

thhjasmine said...

good read*

stonerphonic said...

thank you :)

Jinx said...

Fascinating.

stonerphonic said...

@jinx thanks for taking the time to read. and comment too!!! :)

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