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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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:
“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,
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
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
“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
quenched in our hearts? We await you, O youth! Come for we
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
“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.”
Polytechnic University of the PhilippinesSta. Mesa, Manila
Final Essay in Rizal’s Life, Works and Writing
Submitted by:Flores, Charlie S.P.
Submitted to: Prof. Buhay