A friend of mine is intrigued as to why I said that it was Spain and not Rizal who died in Bagumbayan 117 years ago. To those who read this and are also puzzled, this is my defensa…
The meaning of Rizal’s death, especially today, deals more with historical hispanophobia than patriotism, more about hatred of another country than love for one’s own country. Why was Rizal killed? I will not discuss who exactly was behind his execution because it is not readily clear (but I don’t doubt that those behind it were Freemasons). Mahabang discusión iyán, eh.To summarize, Rizal was found guilty of treason and rebellion (this was fully expounded in Manuel Leguineche’s Yo Te Diré: La Verdadera Historia de los Últimos de Filipinas”). And so the government executed the verdict to have him killed by firing squad as a traitor to Mother Spain. And he really was; Rizal himself admitted to that when he signed the retraction.
Anyway, to my observation at least, our educators today teach us that the meaning of Rizal’s death was that he sacrificed his life for our country’s freedom. That claim is incomplete if not downright inaccurate and preposterous. At the onset, Rizal NEVER wanted to die. That is why he wrote his “Defensa” with the help of his lawyer, Luis Taviel de Andrade. Nick Joaquín had this to say:
Rizal’s trial, says (León Mª) Guerrero, presents us with a dilemma. Rizal passionately defended himself from the charge that he was involved in or even sympathized with the Revolution — hardly an attitude we would honor him for. “Was he innocent or guilty?” asks Guerrero. “If innocent, then why is he a hero? If guilty, how can he be a martyr?”
Let us all be honest with our feelings about this: the most overwhelming sentiment that we have imbibed from Rizal’s execution was a profound hatred of Spain. Love of country was just secondary, if at all. If our educators purpose of teaching us Rizal’s death is to instill patriotism in us, then they have all failed. Who today really loves his own country? Whenever you litter the streets with candy and junkfood wrappers and cigarrete butts, is that love of country? Whenever you shove your gun at somebody else’s face during a vehicular traffic altercation, is that love of country? Whenever you wear skimpy clothing in public on the pretext that “if you have it, flaunt it”, is that love of country? Whenever you prefer to travel to other countries rather than touring your own, is that love of country? Whenever you steal from the nation’s coffers, is that love of country? Whenever you speak in English and belittle or even demean the Spanish language, did Spanish-speaking Rizal and his death teach you that? Is that love of country?
So who really loves his country today because he learned it from Rizal’s so-called “sacrificial death”?
Truly, the real loser here is Mother Spain. And not just that but our own national identity. Because whether we like it or not, our national identity was forged for 333 years under the mantle of Spain. Remember that Spain is no longer in our country. So whenever we attack our Spanish past, we are shooting our own foot.