The Venerated Rizal
Despite Constantino's unfortunate downgrading of Rizal, the essay does provoke a lot of questions. For me, the most intriguing was why Constantino brought up the principle of "ilustrado struggle" when he wrote of how Rizal repudiated the 1896 Revolution. There is another one of the things I have seen. The only time it seems Rizal wanted veneration was in his conflict with Marcelo H. del Pilar over leadership of La Solidaridad. I found that out of character for the National Hero, but it was apparently true. Nice to know he had some human flaws. But there is little information about that possibly ego-rift.
“Two minor themes have been put forward by Rizal’s made-in-the Philippines critics: Rizal’s becoming the national hero was the result of American sponsorship, and Rizal’s patriotic works, including his two novels, reflected his mestizo or ilustrado background and were taken precisely to protect the interests of the ilustrado class.” What is wrong with American sponsorship of Rizal as "national hero"? Sounds like scapegoating, as usual. The Rizal cult is not a result of the American sponsorship but due to mental laziness. Instead of reading and learning more about Rizal, Filipinos put him on an altar much like the way they do with saints for example the Sto. Niño, worship him without reading or understanding what Rizal wrote and make him into an anting-anting. Constantino should not be criticizing the American sponsorship of Rizal because, at least in my opinion, they happened to be correct in their choice of a Filipino to place on that National Hero pedestal, while placing other heroes on other pedestals that we chose to keep so small that we often overlook them. It is exceptionally proper that Rizal should have become the acknowledged national hero of the Philippine people. The American administration has lent assistance to this recognition, setting aside the anniversary of his death to be a day of observance, placing his picture on the postage stamp most commonly used in the islands, and on the currency. Furthermore, throughout the islands the schools teach the young Filipinos to revere Rizal’s memory as the greatest of Filipino patriots. Rizal never advocated armed resistance to the government. He urged reform from within by publicity, by public education, and appeal to the public conscience. Our own Filipino scholars and historians could easily have pointed out that Armando Malay’s observations are taken in the proper context of Rizal’s total work. Rizal wrote to Blumentritt that "the happiness of Spain is the sadness of the Philippines" meaning that the Philippines could never be happy under Spanish rule. Rizal did not advocate a premature independence. Instead, he did advocate independence. Rizal is more than the greatest hero of the Filipino people; he is more than the greatest man, the Malayan race has produced; in truth he is one of the world's greatest personalities. Most of the Filipino people know about the story of Rizal, of his honesty and love for the Filipino people. He was a patriot, physician, and a man of letters whose life and literary works were an inspiration to the Philippines National Movement. Malay was right when he made mention of continued veneration of Rizal by the country, and even by the world, is not only deserved but also understood. Rizal was built into a hero because he had already been one to the downtrodden. When he "changed sides", there was no one else to call a hero during that moment of the revolution, and so he remained one, even though he no longer fought for the people who venerated him without understanding his true position. I admired Rizal’s intelligence. As a student who lives in today’s century, I can understand why our national hero did those things. He did not only think of the consequences of the action of the Filipinos but also their welfare after the proposed revolution. I strongly agree that we must be first educated on how to run a government properly so that we can appreciate what it really does before taking it from the colonizers. Taking over the government without really knowing how to run it will make the matter worse. Thus, every act he had done is the product of the society that nurtured and molded him as a whole individual. Moreover, a whole people can be heroes given the proper motivation and articulation of dreams. I just wanted to add an excerpt said by Mr. Armando J. Malay on the essay: “If some of us today do not accept the truths because Rizal happened to be born to a fairly well-to-do family and went to the Ateneo and Santo Tomas University and was able to pay his own fare to Spain and back- then I say, you are the ones without understanding.