Towards Community in a Doomed World: Rediscovering Rizal’s Prophetic Vision in the Age of Peak Oil and Global Warming 1
By Floro Quibuyen
Because my talk addresses the future, I wish to dedicate it to my 10-year old daughter Ligaya and her generation. They will be inheriting the mess that their elders have created. On their shoulders rests the impossible job of atoning for the sins of their fathers and mothers. Perhaps the best tribute to Rizal has been said by Apolinario Mabini. In his lonely exile, compelled to live in Guam for refusing to submit to the conquering Americans, a militant nationalist to the core, Mabini pondered on the failure of the Revolution and remembered Rizal: In contrast to Burgos who wept because he died guiltless, Rizal went to the execution ground calm and even cheerful, to show that he was happy to sacrifice his life, which he had dedicated to the good of all Filipinos, confident that in love and gratitude they would always remember him and follow his example and teaching. In truth the merit of Rizal’s sacrifice consists precisely in that it was voluntary and conscious. … From the day Rizal understood the misfortunes of his native land and decided to work to redress them, his vivid imagination never ceased to picture to him at every moment of his life the terrors of the death that awaited him; thus he learned not to fear it, and had no fear when it came to take him away; the life of Rizal, from the time he dedicated it to the service of his native land, was therefore a continuing death, bravely endured until the end for love of his countrymen. God grant that they will know how to render to him the only tribute worthy of his memory: the imitation of his virtues (Mabini, The Philippine Revolution, trans by Leon Ma. Guerrero 1969, 45; emphasis mine). Indeed we have a lot to learn from Rizal’s example, and on this bright Sunday morning I wish to share with you some relatively unexplored facets in Rizal’s life that I think can help us navigate our way through our present predicament, both globally and Updated from author’s Annual Rizal Day Lecture on 30 December 2007, 8am, at Fort Santiago, Intramuros Manila. Sponsored by the National Historical Institute. 1
locally. These are: 1) his 1890 essay, Filipinas dentro de cien años, 2) his concept of the nation, 3) his Dapitan years, and 4) his hitherto unnoticed minor study on Oceania. I will try to relate all four to the impending global catastrophes that the Philippines and the world will be facing in the next 30 years—global warming and peak oil. The media has finally taken notice of global warming, although scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades. But peak oil is hardly mentioned in the media. I recently asked a highly educated and most articulate young congressman if peak oil is being discussed at all in congress and his reply was, What is peak oil? It is the codename for the inevitable decline of petroleum upon reaching peak production and it forebodes the end of industrial civilization. We are facing that crisis within 30 years. 90% of us will still be around when that happens. And definitely for our children and their children, our grandchildren, that is the world that they will inherit. One virtue of Rizal that’s most cogent for our time is his courage to see behind the veils of comfortable illusions and confront the future. This he demonstrated in his groundbreaking essay Filipinas Dentro de Cien Años, arguably the most important essay of the Solidaridad. Indeed, it stands alone in Filipino nationalist literature. I know of no other work by a Filipino scholar that envisions the Philippines in one hundred years. If you have not read anything on Rizal, and you have time for only one essay, I urge you to read Filipinas dentro de cien años. This essay antedates an emerging academic discipline that we now call Futuristics or Futures Studies that is being offered for the first time in
my school, the Asian Center at...
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