Philippine History of Jose Rizal

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A Filipino Critique of Spanish Colonialism
The Spanish rule in the Philippines lasted for nearly 300 years during which time held the native population to a caste system where they had different rights than the Spanish colonist. The Spanish colonizers brought with their new government the Roman Catholic Church which was supported heavily by Spain. The conversion of the native people to Catholicism did not meet much resistance, and appealed to most of the population which lacked an organized religion. The result was a colony that did not ask questions until the Ilustrado’s (Philippine elite) traveled and studied in Europe, where they were exposed to liberal and nationalist ideals by learning of the French and American revolutions. The most famous of the Ilustrado’s was Jose Rizal. During the time of Rizal and after his death the Philippines underwent its revolution from Spain. The revolution was triggered by a number of events and people most notably Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio. Rizal with his education and wisdom from all around the world sought reform and equality among Spain, and Bonifacio wanted revolution. The extraordinary life of Jose Rizal changed the Philippines forever through his vision of equality for his people; which in turn inspired the Katipunan lead by Bonifacio to finally take it. Jose Rizal, a hero of the Philippines who was a nationalist that strove for reform for his people during Spanish rule. Rizal was born on June 19, 1861 in Calomba, Laguna to upper middle class parents Francisco Mercado Rizal and Teaodora Alonzo both of which were educated and came from respected families. Rizal had six siblings ahead of him and two that followed.

At the young age of five Rizal showed signs of his intelligence by already knowing the alphabet, and skill with artistry. By the age of sixteen Rizal received his Bachelor of Arts with an “excellent” rating. He earned his degree at Ateneo Municipal de Manila. After Ateneo he took classes at University of Santa Tomas where he learned letters and philosophy. During his time at Santa Tomas he simultaneously earned a degree of surveyor and expert assessor from Anteneo. When Jose learned that his mother was going blind he entered the field of medicine where he subsequently did not finish because of discrimination from Dominican tutors to their Philippine students.

On May 3, 1882 Rizal sailed to Spain without his parents’ consent where he picked up his medical studies at the University Central of Madrid and in June 1884 was awarded the degree of Licentiente in Medicine. He also traveled to France and Germany where he later earned another doctorate. Throughout all of his travels in the West and East he had learned 22 different languages. He mastered everything from Arabic, and Hebrew, to Russian. Rizal also had many professions that include sculptor, farmer, cartography, ophthalmologist, journalist, and historian.

With the desire for social and political reforms within the Philippines Jose Rizal wrote in a number of different aspects that included editorials, essays, and novels. Most of which were published in Spanish newspapers and journals. The two pieces in which he is most remembered for are Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Noli was published in 1887 in the city of Berlin. Rizal received much of the funds necessary to publish by friends in Europe. Noli is a satirical novel where he criticized the Spanish clergy for the actions they had committed using the power of the church. The novel also attacks the Spanish officials on all levels where he continues to explain throughout the book that most of them are not there to make the Philippines a better place, instead to just enrich themselves. Rizal does not stop with the Spanish and church but also his fellow Philippians. He writes about their problem with gambling, feelings to disassociate themselves from other countrymen, and corruption amongst native guards under the Spanish. Throughout...
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