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Why Rizal?

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Why Should Dr. Jose P. Rizal Be Our National Hero Every now and then, we are constantly searching for someone to inspire us and save us from irks of our daily lives. Profoundly, today we are in need of people who are deeply concerned on the resolution of our country’s predicament. Sometimes, we are just about dreaming of a person who will defend our rights, justice and equality, just possessing special powers to love our country unfathomably just like Dr. Jose P. Rizal. There is no doubt, that people cannot just assimilate their actions, without true leaders which are necessary. And it is a true leader that can have perspective, objective and integrity, until he becomes HERO.
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Page 1: Why Rizal?

Why Should Dr. Jose P. Rizal Be Our National Hero

Every now and then, we are constantly searching for

someone to inspire us and save us from irks of our daily lives.

Profoundly, today we are in need of people who are deeply

concerned on the resolution of our country’s predicament.

Sometimes, we are just about dreaming of a person who will

defend our rights, justice and equality, just possessing special

powers to love our country unfathomably just like Dr. Jose P.

Rizal.

There is no doubt, that people cannot just assimilate their

actions, without true leaders which are necessary. And it is a

true leader that can have perspective, objective and integrity,

until he becomes HERO.

It is correct that Dr. Jose Rizal is a true leader. But who really

is a true leader? A true leader is a person who enables people

to work together towards common goods and goals and in some

way to achieve some different objectives that will satisfy their

needs. Leadership is a way of living in which basic life strategies

and principles reinforce one another. History has established

Page 2: Why Rizal?

many leaders, and their stories are mostly concerned of taking

great risks, even their lives.

Even before the outbreak of the revolution against Spain in

1896, many instances can be cited to prove that Rizal’s

countrymen here and abroad recognized his leadership. In the

early part of 1889, he was unanimously elected by the Filipino

in Barcelona and Madrid as honorary president of the La

Solidaridad. Some months later, in Paris, he organized and

became chief of the Indios Bravos. In January, 1891, Rizal was

again unanimously chosen Responsable (chief) of the Spanish-

Filipino association. He was also the founder and moving spirit

in the founding of the La Liga Filipina in Manila on July 3, 1892.

History tells us that the revolutionary society known as the

Katipunan likewise acknowledged Rizal’s leadership and

greatness by making him its Honorary President and by using

his family name Rizal as the password for the third degree

members. We should be exultant because the “greatest man of

the Malay race” was born in our country, not just a leader but a

true hero.

Page 3: Why Rizal?

A hero, according to Everest Dictionary, is simply just a

“person admired for his achievements and qualities”. Also, “a

person of distinguished valor or enterprise in danger, or

fortitude in suffering. And finally, “a man honored after death

by public worship, because of exceptional service to mankind.”

There are so many bizarre stories regarding the different

famous men who at once become a hero. Dr. Rizal has been the

most posthumously recreated as a hero of the Philippine

Republic.

Oftentimes, he has been given a new personality and a

childhood that may bear him a little resemblance to his real

one. It should also be stressed out, that Dr. Rizal’s refusal to

align himself with the revolutionary forces and his vehement

condemnation of the said movement. Instead, he dreamt of a

peaceful reform of the government and his fellow Filipinos.

Without doubt, we can say that Rizal was a revolutionist, one

who wanted change. Not that he wanted to fight Spain, but just

to have certain reforms in government, in the church, in the

way the Filipinos were being treated by those in authority.

Page 4: Why Rizal?

He was a revolutionist at heart, but no one of the radical

type. In this sense we can say that he was a reformist. He would

appeal first to the Spaniards’ sense of wrong and right, exhaust

all means, before perhaps resorting to actual violence. But

reforms were truly, desperately needed.

There is no definite answer, either the revolution was wrong

or Dr. Rizal was wrong, and yet it cannot disown him as a great

person. Either by means of large, which has also been chosen to

ignore this apparent contradiction.

We ask the question: Why should Dr. Jose P. Rizal be our

national hero? Simply because he is a person admired for his

achievements and qualities. Moreover, no Filipino has yet been

born who could equal or surpass Rizal as a person of

distinguished valor or enterprise in danger, or fortitude in

suffering.

But what are the achievements and qualities of Dr. Rizal to

articulate him as our national hero? In my own analysis, Dr.

Rizal’s greatest achievement is the conception of his two

novels, the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. These two

Page 5: Why Rizal?

novels deeply cultivated the mind and heart of the Filipinos in

its mere form and intent. The Noli is a book of feeling and deep

emotion; the Fili is a book of thought. The Noli exposed the evils

of society; hence the title was translated to the English as The

Social Cancer. The Fili exposed the evils of people in

government and church; thus, the translation is The Reign of

the Greed. In the Noli, the ridiculous actions of the unworthy

government officials and unholy priests made us laugh in

derision. In the Fili, the misfortunes of the Filipinos in the hands

of the cruel and abusive Spanish made us cry. The Noli,

therefore is a novel of society wile the Fili is a novel of politics.

In my opinion, Dr. Rizal’s posthumously becoming a hero is

admittedly selected by the different historians. I do not

scrutinize every component of Dr. Rizal’s myth nor to discuss at

its length on ways all authors have done on some different

significant studies of the national hero or the revolutionary

period. In this way, I conclude that the two novels are his

greatest achievement because it generates the revolutionary

heart of the Filipinos.

Page 6: Why Rizal?

To be a hero requires a great foundation of character. Dr.

Rizal’s qualities form part as a criterion of becoming a national

hero. What are the qualities of Dr. Rizal that made him distinct

from others? Rafael Palma wrote:

“What is most admirable in Rizal is his complete self-denial, his

complete abandonment of his personal interests in order to think

only of those of his country. He could have been whatever he

wished to be, considering his natural endowments; he could have

earned considerable sums of money from his profession; he could

have lived relatively rich, happy, prosperous, had he not

dedicated himself to public matters. But in him the voice of the

species was stronger than the voice of personal progress or of

private fortune, and he preferred to live far from his family and to

sacrifice his personal affections for an ideal he had dreamed of.

He heeded not his brother, not even his parents, being whom he

respected and venerated so much, in order to follow the road his

conscience had traced for him…”

Dr. Frank C. Laubach, an American biographer of Rizal, spoke

of the hero’s courage in the following words:

Page 7: Why Rizal?

“His consuming life purpose was the secret of his moral courage.

Physical courage, it is true, was one of his inherited traits. But

that high courage to die loving his murderers, which he at last

achieved, - that cannot be inherited. It must be forged out in the

fires of suffering and temptation. As we read through his life, we

can see how the moral sinew and fiber grew year by year as he

faced new perils and was forced to make fearful decisions. It

required courage to write his two great novels, telling nothing

that no other man had ventured to say before, standing almost

alone against the most powerful interests in his country and in

Spain, and knowing full well that despotism would strike back. He

had reached another loftier plateau of heroism when he wrote

those letters in Hongkong, “To be opened after my death,” and

sailed into the “trap” in Manila without any illusions. Then in his

Dapitan exile, when he was tempted to escape, and said “No”,

not once but hundreds of times for tour long years, and when, on

the way to Cuba, Pedro Roxas pleaded with him to step off the

oat of Singapore upon British territory and save his life, what

inner struggle it must have caused him to answer over and over

again, “No, no, no!” When the sentence of death and the fateful

morning of his execution brought the final test, December 30,

Page 8: Why Rizal?

1896, he walked with perfect calm to the firing line as though by

his own choice, the only heroic figure in that sordid scene.”

Truly, Dr. Rizal was a man of courage, integrity and

magnanimity.

Dr. Rizal’s greatness is not bound at his times. There are so

many legacies that he left to the Filipinos nowadays, especially

to the youth. The doctrines of Jose Rizal are not for one epoch

but for all epochs. They are as valid today as they were

yesterday. In El Flibusterismo, Father Florentino said:

“Where are the young who will consecrate their golden hours,

their illusions, and their enthusiasm to the welfare of their native

land?

“Where are the young who will generously pour out their blood to

wash away so much shame, so much crime, so much

abomination? Pure and spotless must the victim be that the

sacrifice may be acceptable!

“Where are you, youth, who will embody in yourselves the vigor

of life that has left our veins, the purity of ideas that has been

contaminated in our brains, the fire of enthusiasm that has been

Page 9: Why Rizal?

quenched in our hearts? We await you, O youth! Come for we

await you!”

These last words of Father Florentino truly embody Dr.

Rizal’s real feelings. It is a crying out, a plea to the youth of the

land to do something, to act, for the sake of the country. These

last words express Dr. Rizal’s motives and nationalistic

thoughts. These legacies that Dr. Rizal left to the Filipinos,

especially to the youth are based on his acts, words and

convictions.

We have magnified Dr. Rizal’s role to such extent that we

should not lose our sense of proportion and not to relegate the

contributions of the subordinate position of other great men and

the historical events in which they took part.

Now and then we come across some Filipinos who venture

the opinion that Andres Bonifacio, and not Jose Rizal deserves

to be acknowledged and canonized as our first national hero.

They maintain that Rizal never held a gun, a rifle, or a sword in

fighting for the liberty and independence of our country in the

battlefield. They further assert that while the foremost national

Page 10: Why Rizal?

heroes of other countries are soldier-generals, like George

Washington of the United States of the America, Napoleon I and

Joan of Arc of France, Simon Bolivar of Venezuela, Iose de San

Martin of Argentina, Bernardo O’Higgins of Chile, Jimmu tenno

of Japan, etc., our greatest hero was a pacifist and a civilian

whose weapon was his quill. However, some of our fellow

people in exercising their good sense, independent judgment,

and unusual discernment, have not followed the examples of

other nations in selecting and acknowledging a military leader

for their greatest hero.

Our greatest Rizal served his cause with the pen,

demonstrating that the pen is as mighty as the sword to

redeem people from their political slavery. It is true that in our

case the sword of Bonifacio was after all needed to shake off

the yoke of a foreign power; but the revolution prepared by

Bonifacio was only the effect, the consequence of the spiritual

redemption wrought by the pen of Rizal. Hence, not only in

chronological order but also in point of importance the previous

work of Rizal seems to us superior to that of Bonifacio, because

although that of Bonifacio was of immediate results, that of

Page 11: Why Rizal?

Rizal will have more durable and permanent effects. As

Napoleon I, a great conqueror and ruler, said: “There are only

two powers in the world, the sword and the pen; and in the end

the former is always conquered by the latter.”

Although Dr. Rizal, was already a revered figure and become

a hero just because of his bequests so after his declared

martyrdom, that it cannot just be denied that his primacy

among our heroes was partly the result of the concerned

sponsorship. This sponsorship has taken two mere forms, to

which on the other hand, that of encouraging, which is Rizal’s

faction. The other is that of minimizing the very importance of

other heroes or even vilifying them. Those are definitely

fallacious.

Also at this point, I want to express my opinion to that of

controversial extraction of Rizal. It must be understood that

what Rizal retracted were his errors in religion and attacks

against the Church, not his political convictions. Nonetheless,

Rizal’s retraction does not affect his character as a hero; neither

does it invalidate his views on political freedom and social

Page 12: Why Rizal?

welfare, as duly expressed on his writings, especially on Noli

and Fili. Catholicism and patriotism go hand in hand together.

By retracting his religious errors and returning to the fold of

Catholicism, Rizal emerged a greater man. It takes genuine

moral courage for any man to recognize his mistakes and to

correct the wrong things he has done.

There is no question that Dr. Rizal had the most

qualifications of supreme greatness, which is why he became

undoubtedly our National Hero. History and a light life of Rizal

being a hero cannot just be sufficed of his duly patriotism. Rizal

was a martyr, and to any evidence that supports and

contradicts, the solid proof lies on Dr. Rizal’s rejection to

obscurantism and bigotry.

Dr. Rizal’s part of becoming a hero was his dramatic death,

which captured the imagination of our people. Still, we must

accept the facts that his formal designation as our national hero

was also a component of his elevation in his present

preeminence so far above all other heroes were abetted and

encouraged by the concerned authority.

Page 13: Why Rizal?

Dr. Rizal became a hero not just because of the different

basis which the historians promote. A part of the confirmation

by calling Dr. Rizal “the greatest Filipino, a Physician, a Writer

and Hero” and because of his struggle adjusts for the

betterment of conditions under the Spanish rule was convicted

and then vindicated.

It was quite clear, that because of Dr. Rizal’s martyrdom,

and his struggle for the enhancement of condition under the

Spanish Regime. We must have to take the different acts of the

different concerned. Not later, not tomorrow, because there is

no more appropriate point of time than NOW.

Certainly, Dr. Rizal is already a hero in the eye of the Filipino

people even before the American came. They duly accepted Dr.

Rizal as the official hero of the honorable Filipinos.

Unfortunately, however, there are still some Filipinos who

entertain the belief that our Rizal is a “made-to-order” national

hero, and that the maker or manufacturer in this case were the

Americans.

Page 14: Why Rizal?

History tells us that Rizal symbolized not only Ideal and

Inspiration, but also something real and material – Action. His

greatest claim to being first in our political history is that he

was the real founder of Philippine nationalism. At his death, he

bequeathed to us Filipinos his yearning for liberty while also

giving us the necessary background of sacrifice.

We can say that Rizal was a model toward which Philippine

life may aspire. And in the words of scholar Trinidad H. Pardo de

Tavera,

“The appearance of Rizal announced that the Filipino race was

able to give birth to individuals endowed with the highest

attributes, who could be considered an honor to the human race.”

Page 15: Why Rizal?

Polytechnic University of the PhilippinesSta. Mesa, Manila

Final Essay in Rizal’s Life, Works and Writing

(HS101)

Submitted by:Flores, Charlie S.P.

Page 16: Why Rizal?

Submitted to: Prof. Buhay


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