Jose Rizal: When Dying Exalts Freedom
I was one of the spectators, mostly were peasant women, along with his wife. In tears. The news came like a plague at the old Bagumbayan park. A traitor will die this morning, December 30, 1896. Soon, a man of medium height, with arms bounded on his back walked serenely among the throng of people who were all focused at him. He faced the west side of the plaza reciting ‘Mi Ultimo Adios’. Then, a soldier in command gave the order to the members of the firing squad. “Preparen... Afunten…Fuego!” Then a series of gunshots were heard. The man in black slowly faced the east side of the plaza as his frail body hit the ground. Then, silence…
How many times did you see the life of Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, being played upon your very eyes, through movies or theater plays? Are you deeply moved? Have you ever wonder what if that event didn’t influenced the decisions of Filipino leaders during that time paving the way for a revolution against the Spanish government? For sure, many pages in our history will never reach the apex of our existence: FREEDOM.
So many heroes die for our country, but Rizal’s stature stood above them all.
To us Filipinos, Dr. Rizal, is our greatest hero. His life, works and heroism are still revered or respected by every Filipino; reliving the courage of the man that became the catalyst for freedom. He’s the flame that ignited the emotions of our ancestors to rebel against the Spanish government.
Because of this development, he’s the one blamed for letting the Filipino people be awakened to the harsh realities of life during those times…injustices and oppression. His valiant weapon…the pen, that became the cause of his death sentence in front of his countrymen.
Rizal, born on June 19, 1861 was the seventh sibling of the Rizal family in Calamba, Laguna. Albeit born in a middle-income and big family, it didn’t deprived him of acquiring education. He considered his mother as his greatest teacher, because at the age of three, he was able to read and write fluently. He’s basically an inquisitive person that he absorbed everything he could learn from his parents, siblings, relatives, teachers and books that he perused.
Incidents, no matter how small, were narrated in history books featuring Rizal. Details of these peculiar events proved to have some justifications why Rizal as the hero-in-the-making during his childhood.
I still can recall the “Story of the Moth and the Lamp”. The young Jose Rizal was always wondering why the moth was always attracted to the light of the lamp that often caused its death. Later on, in the final stage of his life, we will know the essence of dying for the sake of his country.
During his trip in the river via motorboat, Rizal lost one of his pair of slippers. The next thing he did was to throw the remaining half of the pair for the reason that it can be of help to the finder.
Rizal’s flair in writing started when he was eight year old. His first poem, “A La Juventud Filipina” (To The Filipino Youth) taught us to be loyal in our country. He always believed that the “ youth is the hope of the Fatherland.”
Education is very precious during Rizal’s time. Endowed with natural talent, he excelled in every subject. During his Ateneo days, he’s the “sobresiliente” or top of his class.
But there were setbacks that hindered Rizal’s concentration in his studies…the worsening situation in the political and economic aspects of the country under the Spanish rule. Many indios (that’s how Spaniards called us during those times) were accused as traitors to the Spanish government. With a hidden agenda in mind, Rizal and other Filipino students and scholars went to Spain to broaden their studies.
Rizal, being gifted in many tongues were often invited in many gatherings of Filipinos and other events in Spain. The likes of Marcelo H. del Pilar, Graciano-Lopez Jaena, Juan Luna and other young Filipinos admired the charm of Rizal . They talked about the problems of their home country, Philippines, that paved the way to publish the newsletter called “La Solidaridad” (The Solidarity). They wrote under pseudonyms or aliases to evade being caught while criticizing the rules and policies of Spanish regime. This newsletter was branded as the “propaganda of the Katipunan”, the movement created by Andres Bonifacio, the Great Plebeian.
What triggered those Katipuneros to openly revolt and led the uprising in the whole archipelago against the Spaniards are the two novels written by Rizal, the Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and the El Filibusterismo (The Filibuster). The two noveels clearly showed the situations of the Filipinos in the hands of the Spaniards. This greatly angered the government that made Spanish officials decide to put Rizal to death.
A total man. National Hero. The Pride of the Malay Race. Many accolades were given to Jose Rizal, being one of the nation’s symbols. Even, a child can proudly answer who’s the pride of our nation. Many statues honoring him were built in and outside the country…the vivid and concrete honors given to the most remembered hero of the land.
Why was the credit all given to him when our independence is in question? Critics will agree that Rizal is never a monopolizer. There were other Filipinos who are heroes in their own rights but can never equal Rizal’s magnitude. How about Datu Lapu-Lapu, who’s the first to revolt against the Spaniards and even killed the famous explorer Ferdinand Magellan? Why not Andres Bonifacio who was the “Father of the Katipunan”?
Truly, we can compare the bravery of Rizal and Bonifacio. The former, an educated, cool man while the latter, an elementary dropout due to his poor economic status but a very intelligent and aggressive man. Once, these two great men of our history met and talked about revolution. Rizal said “revolution can be realized through peaceful ways” while Bonifacio argued that “it should be through radical ways.”
That was more than a century ago, and I settled my doubts about those little incidents between the two. Revolutions create heroes at the expense of their lives. Fighting for freedom revealed a crystal-clear fact: “The pen is mightier than the sword.” We can kill thousands of enemies through arms or swords but only the pen can write the nation’s history to FREEDOM.
Jose Rizal's Life c/o 10279385
Fast Facts about Jose Rizall
Date of birth: June 19, 1861
Place of birth: Calamba, Laguna, Philippines
Date of death: December 30, 1896 (aged 35)
Place of death: Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park), Manila,Philippines
Major organizations: La Solidaridad, La Liga Filipina
Major monuments: Rizal Park Manila
Alma mater: Ateneo Municipal de Manila, University of Santo Tomas, Universidad Central de Madrid, University of Paris, Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg
Jose Rizal and his novels
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