The philosophy of a country like the Philippines is made up of the intricate and composite interrelationship of the life histories of its people; in other word, the philosophy of our nation would be strange and undefinable if we do not delve into the past tied up with the notable life experiences of the representative personalities of our nation. Being one of the prominent representatives of Filipino personalities, Jose Rizal is a fit subject whose life philosophy deserves to be recognized. Pitiful social conditions existed in the Philippines as late as three centuries after his conquest in Spain, with agriculture, commerce, communications and education languishing under its most backward state. It was because of this social malady that social evils like inferiority complex, cowardice, timidity and false pride pervaded nationally and contributed to the decay of social life. This stimulated and shaped Rizal’s life philosophy to be to contain if not eliminate these social ills.
Rizal’s concept of the importance of education is clearly enunciated in his work entitled Instruction wherein he sought improvements in the schools and in the methods of teaching. He maintained that the backwardness of his country during the Spanish ear was not due to the Filipinos’ indifference, apathy or indolence as claimed by the rulers, but to the neglect of the Spanish authorities in the islands. For Rizal, the mission of education is to elevate the country to the highest seat of glory and to develop the people’s mentality. Since education is the foundation of society and a prerequisite for social progress, Rizal claimed that only through education could the country be saved from domination. Rizal’s philosophy of education, therefore, centers on the provision of proper motivation in order to bolster the great social forces that make education a success, to create in the youth an innate desire to cultivate his intelligence and give him life eternal.
Rizal grew up nurtured by a closely-knit Catholic family, was educated in the foremost Catholic schools of the period in the elementary, secondary and college levels; logically, therefore, he should have been a propagator of strictly Catholic traditions. However, in later life, he developed a life philosophy of a different nature, a philosophy of a different Catholic practice intermingled with the use of Truth and Reason.
Why the change?
It could have been the result of contemporary contact, companionship, observation, research and the possession of an independent spirit. Being a critical observer, a profound thinker and a zealous reformer, Rizal did not agree with the prevailing Christian propagation of the Faith by fire and sword. This is shown in his Annotation of Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas. Rizal did not believe in the Catholic dogma that salvation was only for Catholics and that outside Christianity; salvation was not possible even if Catholics composed only a small minority of the world’s religious groups. Nor did he believe in the Catholic observation of fasting as a sacrifice, nor in the sale of such religious items as the cross, medals, rosaries and the like in order to propagate the Faith and raise church funds. He also lambasted the superstitious beliefs propagated by the priests in the church and in the schools. All of these and a lot more are evidences of Rizal’s religious philosophy.
In Rizal’s political view, a conquered country like the Philippines should not be taken advantage of but rather should be developed, civilized, educated and trained in the science of self-government.
He bitterly assailed and criticized...