Part 2: Jose Rizal
Now here comes the other great guy we’re celebrating today, Jose Rizal. I believe there is nothing much that is unwritten about him. He is everywhere this month; prints, TV, the internet and social media. He’s got this rockstar status like never before and he’s been dead for over a century ago.
Growing up as a student I considered Rizal a myth whose exploits of epic proportions in distant battlefields long time ago are handed down from one generation to the next. Every school year, especially in August, were forced to recite his immortal idioms “The youth is the hope of the fatherland,” “Those who can’t see where they came from won’t get to where they are going,” and “Those who do not have a language of their own smell worse than rotten fish.” He was nothing but a fictional character drawn to become the poster guy for elementary students to emulate. I keep having this memory of the first time that he learned to read at the age of 3 – three y.o, tatlong gulang, tres anyos – I declared to the class, as if I was absolutely sure, that it’s a lie! I thought there was no way somebody could be that brilliant at such a young age. But ‘brilliant’ I later found is an understated adjective to describe Jose Rizal. Later in high school we were a little more of who he was, but reading his biography taught me how important this guy is.
Filipinos under the colonial period were mockingly called as Indios by the Spaniards, a term so gross it could level the sarcasm of the way the word ‘idiots’ are used today. Our race for centuries were forced to believe that we are inferior, badoy, bisdak, and pakenshit to them. They’ve deprived as education because we are poor, and worse they deprived us self-respect because we are like monkeys brown, black haired, flat nosed and on average a feet smaller than them. According to Inquirer man Conrado De Quiros “there was no Philippines then, there was just the glimmer of it” There is no Filipino because there was no Philippines yet, only monkeys who are eternally owed to the Spaniards for governing them.
But Rizal singlehandedly broke that kind of mentality. He was brilliant, extraordinary brilliant, and much more brilliant than all the Spanish scholars combined. Out of nowhere he hurt these so called colonial pride – Spanish gwapo, matalino; Pilipino panget, gago. Except Rizal, he’s the painful exemption to the rule. My God Spaniards are nowhere near his academic prowess inside their Ateneo School. He won top honors in class and in contest whether it be on academics, sports, science and the arts. That was Rizal as a student.
The grown up Rizal guy was an even more terrifying and irritating to the tongues of the friars, speaking his name was a blasphemy. My God he has the talents to die for, the languages mastered, the charisma so devious, and that brain so unparalleled. He was the envy of the young men that time and the young men of today and always will be. Because it is undeniable he got the girls and the girls would kill to get him. Most importantly he started a revolution so ferocious and lethal and clever he’s got no blood on his hand. His annoying letters sent straight to the higher tiers of government caused a stir in the consciousness of the powerhouse. His other writings, the poems and especially those two novels were the spark-plugs that skyrocketed the patriotic quest for freedom. The talents, the skills, the masterpiece and the girls, they, the Spanish, the friars, the socialite, knew this guy was doomed to die. He was too much out of control and was way beyond their league, I knew they have to admit that. By the way, he was also an Indio, the monkey and the idiot.
Shot and dropped cool dead he was as a criminal, jus t like Jesus in Calvary. He should have lived had he turn his back on an imaginary nation. He would have unparalleled greatness in whatever fields he choose. Yes sir Conrado nobody could blame him if he’d just go on living, he was young and at his prime and the world is on his hands to conquer – just like what most Filipinos are doing and dreaming right now. But he traded fame, glamour and global immortality to face a death of a criminal. But he won the admiration of the Filipinos and brave and wild they revolt. Until ultimately they’ve won their cause. Now we got our Independence, raises our flag, sing our anthem because of what this guy had started whose remarkable life changed the course of Filipino history.
Rizal was an Indio. And he was born brilliant 150 years ago.