RIZAL 101: Remembering The Man

Veneration without Understanding

 Today’s generation could understand Rizal as an idea, a symbol, the epitome of national pride, excellence, and patriotism. But this idea could either prosper or die in vain.

As we move to a sophisticated time characterised by advanced technology – everything changes. Every teaching is ultimately tested by a criterion known as pragmatism. An idea can only survive the challenges of time if its concept can be translated into actions: result-driven and predictable.

A classic example: Marxism is failing; Heliocentrism is dead and proven false.

So, how about Rizal and his teachings?

How can it prosper? How can it last? How can it influence the fate of our nation? How can we ensure that his legacy is remembered, now and forever? How can Rizal maintain his name as the man for all seasons?

As we commemorate and celebrate his birthday every 19th of June and his martyrdom every 30th of December: have we turned into blind followers or worse, ignorant followers? Do we celebrate because we understand his writings and teachings? Do we commemorate because we emulate him? Or do we just admire the man because it feels good to be part of this national consciousness?

Is Rizal Day just a day and ritual of wreath offering?

Does Renato Constantino’s “Veneration without Understanding” reverberate a resounding unfortunate truthfulness on this?

How many of us have read his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo? How many Filipinos have dissected the meaning of his last poem Mi Ultimo Adios? Have we really understood what he fought, through his works and writings, for our country? But some will argue he never “fought” as he is not a revolutionary man like Bonifacio but a reformist.

Do we really know him? If we know him, do we follow him?

These are my questions.

Walk the Talk

 Knowing Rizal is different from “doing” Rizal. Knowledge is blossoming but wisdom is rare.

It is time to examine our national consciousness as to how we identify ourselves and nationhood to this man we fully admire.

There is no harm in admiring this hero. But the challenge is to live as Filipinos according to Rizal’s teachings.

Who really is Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal? This is the question every Filipino should seek and understand. How we see him is how we see our country!

Rizal is rational. A man of intellect and high integrity.

He is a seeker of knowledge. Rizal is prepared to question the authority and the Church.

Rizal is a reflective man. He translates his mind into words and writings.

Rizal is an action man. He is not idle. Wherever he goes, he achieves great things.

Now, we, Filipinos, who admire him and take pride as Rizalist: do we seek knowledge? Do we question authority? Even the Church. Do we love to read and write? Do we help our fellow Filipinos and contribute to our society?

Mi Ultimo Adios

 Thus, to address this Rizalian idea – will it prosper or die? Will it just remain an idea?

The children and the youth of our nation who carry this bucket determine the future of this Rizalian precept.

It is in our hands.

But we need to be truthful to this cause. It is a challenge. It is a must that we read his works. For how can we know him if we haven’t read any of his writings?

Thus, a pragmatic issue is at hand. Will his works become obsolete? Will the new generation find joy reading his novels amidst the advent of technology?

This is the ultimate “Mi Ultimo Adios.”

Rizal’s life and teachings will fade if we will fail to commit to study and follow him.

Yes, time changes but his love for our land is eternal and sublime. Let this legacy remain vibrant to each Filipino.

A challenge for all us: Before we pay respect to him and offer flowers to his statue – let us keep an indefatigable hunger to look and read his books and writings. Then, let us strive to follow his example, in words and in deeds.

May his idea become alive among all of us! Let it not die in vain!

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