If there is one thing we have to be thankful for, as Filipinos, it’s the gift of the person of Rizal. The year 1800s was a time of revolutions in different parts of the world. Mexico started its revolution against Spain around 1811. In our case we started our revolution as early as 1872 (the revolt in Cavite), although, there were pocket revolutions even earlier than that.
That makes Philippine revolution one of the many – violent – revolutions around the world against their respective ruling Empire. This trend has been going on earlier; for instance, the American Revolution against the British Empire happened in 1775-1783, just roughly a hundred years ahead of us. As the saying goes, the birth of a nation is always violent.
But this must be a point of deep reflection for us Filipinos. Revolutions, or times of crises, are the crucibles of a nation’s identity. It is where the soul of a people emerges. To have produced a Rizal during the time of our nation’s crisis (or birth) speaks a lot about who we are, and how we would face the greatest challenges of our nation in the future. Rizal, was more than an intellectual. He was a Filipino, raised by a Filipino family. His values were shaped in a Filipino community. And he was a Filipino rising against injustice. His actions mirror us. His ideals mirror ours.
He loved peace. But he also loved combat sports. He was serious in his studies. But he was in company and good friends with men of fun and leisure. He hated injustice. But he would fight justly. He questioned religion. But he returned to Catholicism toward the end of his life. He loved the Filipino people. But he would marry an Irish woman. Many things could be said of him that made him our chosen hero. But let our young Filipinos keep this in mind and in their hearts, that our ancestors chose Rizal, because they loved what they saw in him. He wasn’t a man of war. But he would fight.
Rizal is telling us, that in the midst of injustice and cruelty, we must remain noble. Noble and truthful. We are not savages, and we must not act like one, even in times of crises.
Leon Ma. Guerrero, would give us the following reasons why are ancestors chose Rizal:
“The most obvious is that we Filipinos love peace, for we have chosen to magnify a man of peace above men of war.”
“The next is we love freedom and justice, for we have given our worship to a man who, for their sake, forsook the comforts and pleasures of peace. “God is justice,” wrote Rizal, “and he cannot abandon His own cause, the cause of Freedom, without which there can be no Justice.”
“A third is that we prize virtue more than victory, and sacrifice above success, for Rizal died a “failure” in the eyes of the world, at the mercy of an unmerciful enemy. “Redemption,” wrote Rizal, “presupposes virtue, virtue, sacrifice; sacrifice, love.”
If you are confused about your identity in this age where identity shaping has become commercialized and peddled like garments you can wear and throw away – know Rizal. But don’t stop there (he is not immune to some serious flaws after all), rather go back to your families. Go back to your parent’s communities. Go back to your Filipino traditions. Moor in them. Because many of our values have been tried and tested – and have been found noble.