Guerrero's Rizal

Topics: Philippines, Manila, Tagalog language Pages: 6 (2036 words) Published: February 28, 2011
For Guerrero, Rizal is "the very embodiment of the intelligentsia and the petite bourgeoisie":

"One gathers from Rizal's own account of his boyhood that he was brought up in circumstances that even in the Philippines of our day would be considered privileged. Rizal's father became one of the town's wealthiest men, the first to build a stone house and buy another, keep a carriage, own a library, and send his children to school in Manila. José himself had an aya, that is to say, a nanny or personal servant, although he had five elder sisters who, in less affluent circumstances, could have been expected to look after him. His father engaged a private tutor for him. Later, he would study in private schools, go to the university, finish his courses abroad. It was the classic method for producing a middle-class intellectual, and it does much to explain the puzzling absence of any real social consciousness in Rizal's apostolate so many years after Marx's Manifesto or, for that matter, Leo XIII's Rerum Nova- [end of page 55] rum. Rizal's nationalism was essentially rationalist, anti-racist, anti-clerical -- political rather than social or economic."

Guerrero surmises that, even if born a peasant and in penury, Rizal would still have made his mark: "His character, in a different environment, with a different experience of the world, might have made him another Bonifacio." But, reared in bourgeois ease, Rizal became a bourgeois idealist, putting his faith in reason and the liberal dogmas of the inevitability of progress, like any proper Victorian, and preferring reform to revolution, and "revolution from above" to "revolution from below." What he wanted to be -- what he might have been if the policy of the ilustrados had prevailed – was representative for the Philippines in the Spanish parliament. Reported Governor Carnicero from Dapitan in 1892: "One of Rizal's ambitions is to become Deputy for the Philippines, for, once in the Cortes, he says that he could expose whatever happens in the islands," And Guerrero's laughing comment is: "Congressman Rizal, and a congressman dedicated to making exposures, at that!" This ambition of Rizal must have been well-known among the ilustrados; one of their plans to spring him from jail in 1896 was to get him elected to the Cortes; the governor-general would then have been forced to release him so he could go to Spain and attend parliament.

As the Philippine representative in Madrid, says Guerrero, Rizal would have worked for the expulsion of the friars, the sale of their estates to the new middle class, the establishment of a certain measure of self-government in the islands and more native participation in it; and this would have resulted in an alternation in power between conservatives and liberals, this political activity being, however, limited to the educated and the propertied. In other words, the two political parties would have represented only one social class; the bourgeoisie. If this is really what Rizal envisioned, then his dream has come to pass, for the two political parties that alternate in power today are limited to the educated and the propertied and actually represent only the middle class.

Yet there was a Bonifacio latent in Rizal, according to Guerrero, who calls him "the reluctant revolutionary." El Filibusterismo in 1891 shows the hero divided.

Observes Guerrero:

"'Assimilation' has been rejected as a vain hope. 'Separatism,' or in plainer words, independence, has been advocated almost openly. Rizal in the Fili is no longer the loyal reformer; he is the 'subversive' separatist, making so little effort of concealment that he arrogantly announces his purpose in the very title of his novel, which means 'subversion.' No solution except independence! But how is it to be achieved? At this point Rizal hesitates and draws back. The last chapters of the Fili are heavily corrected, and it may not have been due only to Rizal's desperate need to cut down his novel to...
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