What Would Jose Rizal Say?

I dunno what hit me this morning – but whatever it was, it had me reading up on Jose Rizal. I wanted to know whether his observations on the Philippines and the Filipinos still hold true today, specially that we are approaching another election cycle. If you are familiar with the stickers that go – “What Would Jesus Do?” – I wondered,  If Jose Rizal could speak what would he say about the Philippines of 2010? 

Off I went to Google and looked up some quotations , then I came across Jose Rizal’s essay – “The Philippines: A Century Since”. It is a lengthy essay but it surely hits the spot. I admit it is my first time to read it, being more familiar with Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, and The Indolence of the Filipinos.

By the way, did you know that Jose Rizal speculated that the Philippines would be a federal republic? He also saw the possibility of America’s dreams of foreign possession. He was quite candid on the indolence, and the lack of enlightenment of Filipinos. Rizal was definitely, an OFW. And La Solidaridad was his collective blog .

He understood the strengths and weaknesses of his countrymen – the same strengths and weaknesses which are still very much prevalent today. Jose Rizal didn’t sugarcoat his words and spoke his truth – I’d say Rizal was a pragmatist, a realist.

Join me in rediscovering the articulateness, no-nonsense, straight-shooting commentary of Jose Rizal in the pages that follow. Note that I have taken the liberty of emphasizing certain sections of the essay through italics, underlining and boldface.

The Philippines a Century Hence by José Rizal  (Translated by Charles E. Derbyshire)

NOTE: This famous essay of Rizal entitled / “Filipinas de cien años” /was first published in /La Solidaridad/, Madrid, between September 30, 1889, and February 1, 1890

PART ONE:  Following our usual custom of facing squarely the most difficult and delicate questions related to the Philippines, without weighing the consequences that our frankness may bring upon us, we shall in the present article treat of their future.

In order to read the destiny of a people, it is necessary to open the book of its past, and this, for the Philippines may be reduced in general terms to what follows.

Scarcely had they been attached to the Spanish crown than they had sustained with their blood and the efforts of their sons the wars and ambitions, and conquest of the Spanish people, and in these struggles, in that terrible crisis when a people changes its form of government, its laws, usages, customs, religion and beliefs; the Philippines was depopulated, impoverished and retarded — caught in their metamorphosis without confidence in their past, without faith in their present and with no fond home of the years to come.  The former rulers who had merely endeavored to secure the fear and submission of their subjects, habituated by them to servitude, fell like leaves from a dead tree, and the people, who had no love for them nor knew what liberty was, easily changed masters, perhaps hoping to gain something by the innovation.

Then began a new era for the Filipinos.  They gradually lost their ancient traditions, their recollections, — they forgot their writings, their songs, their poetry, their laws in order to learn by heart other doctrines, which they did not understand, other ethics, other tastes, different from those inspired in their race by their climate and their way of thinking.  Then there was a falling-off, they were lowered in their own eyes, they became ashamed of what was distinctively their own, in order to admire and praise that was foreign and incomprehensible; their spirit was broken and they acquiesced.

Thus years and centuries rolled on.  Religious shows, rites that caught the eye, songs, lights, images arrayed with gold, worship in a strange language, legends, miracles and sermons, hypnotized the already naturally superstitious spirits of the country but did not succeed in destroying it altogether, in spite of the whole system afterwards developed and operated with unyielding tenacity.

When the ethical abasement of the inhabitants had reached this stage, when they had become disheartened and disgusted with themselves, an effort was made to add the final stroke for reducing so many dormant wills and intellects to nothingness, in order to make of the individual a sort of toiler, a brute, a beast of burden and to develop a race without mind or heart.  “Then the end sought was revealed, it was taken for granted, and the race was insulted, an effort was made to deny it every virtue, every human characteristic, and there were even writers and priests who pushed the movement still further by trying to deny to the natives of the country not only capacity for virtue but also even the tendency to vice.

Then this which they had thought would be death was sure salvation. Some dying persons are restored to health by a heroic remedy.

So great endurance reached its climax with the insults, and the lethargic spirit woke up to life.  His sensitiveness, the chief trait of the native, was touched, and while he had the forbearance to suffer and die under a foreign flag, he had it not when they whom he served repaid his sacrifices with insults and jests.  Then he began to study himself and to realize his misfortune.  Those who had not expected this result, like all despotic masters, regarded as a wrong every complaint, every protest, and punished it with death, endeavoring thus to stifle every cry of sorrow with blood, and they made mistake after mistake.

The spirit of the people was not thereby cowed, and even though it had been awakened in only a few hearts, its flame nevertheless was surely and consumingly propagated, thanks to abuses and the stupid endeavors of certain classes to stifle noble and generous sentiments.  Thus when a flame catches a garment, fear and confusion propagate it more and more, and each shake, each blow, is a blast from the bellows to fan it into life.

Undoubtedly during all this time there were not lacking generous and noble spirits among the dominant race that tried to struggle for the rights of humanity and justice, or sordid and cowardly ones among the dominated that aided the debasement of their own country.  But both were exceptions and we are speaking in general terms.

Such is an outline of their past.  We know their present.  Now what will their future be?

Will the Philippine Islands continue to be a Spanish colony, and if so, what kind of colony?  Will they become a province of Spain, with or without autonomy?  And to reach this stage, what kind of sacrifices will have to be made?

Will they be separated from the mother country to live independently, to fall into the hands of other nations, or to ally themselves with neighboring powers?

It is impossible to reply to these questions, for to all of them both yes and now may be answered, according to the time desired to be covered.  When there is in nature no fixed condition, how much less must there be in the life of a people, being endowed with mobility and movement!  So, it is that in order to deal with those questions, it is necessary to presume an unlimited period of time, and in accordance therewith try to forecast future events.

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25 comments

  1. ” andid on the indolence, and the lack of enlightenment of Filipinos ”

    Seriously, you the history of the Filipinos?

    “Then there was a falling-off, they were lowered in their own eyes, they became ashamed of what was distinctively their own, in order to admire and praise that was foreign and incomprehensible; their spirit was broken and they acquiesced.”

    It is called Colonailism.

    ” When the ethical abasement of the inhabitants had reached this stage, when they had become disheartened and disgusted with themselves, an effort was made to add the final stroke for reducing so many dormant wills and intellects to nothingness, in order to make of the individual a sort of toiler, a brute, a beast of burden and to develop a race without mind or heart.”

    Para sa mga supporters ng mga ganitong mga blogs.

    This blog is called ANTI PINOY. Jose Rizal is a PINOY, you cant use him. Your contradicting the name of your blog.

  2. Hsing Tao · ·

    You are the Anti Pinoy.
    read: http://antipinoy.com/hello-world/
    you moron.

  3. Jspice – you make a great poster boy for the ANTIPINOY 🙂

    Rizal was writing about you dude 😉

  4. I’d agree that Rizal was one of the first Get Realists. He saw that Filipinos during his time complained about the Spanish rule and abuses, but did nothing about it. They merely wished the Spaniards away… and wishing did nothing. The situation is just too chillingly similar today. The Filipinos are mostly complacent, complaining about the difficulty of life and abuses, but doing nothing that really solves the problem. They just want their leaders to do everything for them, and if the leaders don’t meet that expectation, they’ll just go to the streets and force out the leader – with the replacement being equally disappointing. Leaving the country is considered the only solution to a better life. It’s as if the Philippines has no right to improve and become a normally functioning country. Rizal had this thought too, I’m sure.

  5. But of course! Jose Rizal is the original GetRealist! His spirit lives on in all AntiPinoy bloggers! 🙂

  6. I just have this nagging feeling that in today’s world – Rizal will be blogging on AP… 🙂

    And the jologs will call Rizal “antipinoy”.. 😀

  7. OT: After taking out my comments against Noynoy and FV itself, FV decided to bring them all back after a couple of days.

    What’s happening there?

  8. People then did say all of Rizal’s efforts would amount to nothing. “Just give it up.” The “oligarchs” – larger business owners of the time – would consider him a threat to their dominance. Much like… oh well, it’s too similar to today anyway.

    And he did try to raise awareness using the media… was that La Liga Filipina or La Solidaridad he used? Oh yeah, that’s the blog of the times! 🙂

  9. They are in a quandary on whether to moderate or not to moderate. Obviously, these dorks haven’t heard about “Freedom of Expression”.

    It gets worse when you go to Barriosiete.com – doon talagang outright ban pa if you have a dissenting opinion – and you have to write like a bading.

    Same syet in tordesillas.com – if you dissent and they cah’t handle the dissent – kunyari they will not ban you, but they make your comment go to the spam folder – for all this people shouting about honesty – they are not credible when they can’t even be honest in their own backyard.

  10. May Party Sa Dasma Wala Akong Wheels · ·

    @Jspice:

    The AntiPinoy is not what the people behind this blog call themselves. The AntiPinoy is the subject they write about.

    You’re so emo naman.

  11. Hahaha. ” Barriosiete.com – you have to write like a bading.”

  12. I take the minority view. I’m not convinced Rizal was a “hero” at all. While that point is debatable. One thing is indisputable. His selection as a “hero” by the American colonial authorities did serve to address key colonial administrative concerns.

  13. Man works for an object. Remove the object and you reduce him to
    inaction The most active man in the world will fold his arms from
    the instant he understands that it is madness to bestir himself, that
    this work will be the cause of his trouble, that for him it will be
    the cause of vexations at home and of the pirate’s greed abroad. It
    seems that these thoughts have never entered the minds of those who
    cry out against the indolence of the Filipinos…

    …The sordid return the native gets from his work has the effect of
    discouraging him.

  14. RingSight91 · ·

    Ahem: “Ano kaya ang sasabihin ni Rizal?”, does not translate into, “What will Rizal say?”

    Rizal of course, cannot say anything in the future because he’s already dead.
    The title translates into “Ano ang sasabihin ni Rizal?”

    The proper word to use here is “would”, not “will”. We are speaking in the future prepositional tense here, not simple future. I find this a most common grammatical affliction [in Pinoys]; the seeming lack of ability to employ the “should, could, and would” English modifiers properly, even when the proper modifier is present in the Tagalog form. In this case it is the “kaya” before the verb “sabi”. Strange. Pretty sure they cover that in English Class…or at least they did in my day.

    (Another common mistake is to use “would” when what’s meant is “could”, e.g. as in during parents’ mentions of threats of punishment to their kids.)

  15. Thanks for the heads up. It actually started as “would” – changed it to “will” though. Mea culpa.

  16. another common mistake is placing the closing punctuation of a quoted sentence or phrase outside the bound of the closing quotation mark, but then, maybe they covered THAT only in my day.

    oh, the humanity.

  17. alfredo buendia · ·

    If Rizal would be still alive, he would be a Pro-active Anti-Pinoy!

  18. i dont get it… the bullet points above, which candidate DOES NOT espouse any of that?

  19. that’s because you have not included – credibility – http://antipinoy.com/credibility-walking-the-talk/

  20. Ma Xianding · ·

    Welcome back GabbyD. *mwah*

  21. so, is it this:

    for you, noynoy has no credibility, hence, even if he does agree with all the bullet points, it doesnt matter?

  22. GabbyD:

    Noynoy still matters, but Gordon matters more – credibility.

  23. Ma Xianding · ·

    He can agree with the bullet points in the same way he can agree that the sky is blue. That does not make him credible because he has done nothing compared to Gordon.

  24. It’s more likely Rizal would exhaust all means to go home and fight the ills there at all cost, just like Jovy Salonga or Ninoy refusing a lucrative teaching job overseas.

    I don’t see him being content attacking on ills of country without offering a warm body as proof of his sincerity.

  25. WeShouldAllTellTheTruth · ·

    “Then began a new era for the Filipinos. They gradually lost their ancient traditions, their recollections, — they forgot their writings, their songs, their poetry, their laws in order to learn by heart other doctrines, which they did not understand, other ethics, other tastes, different from those inspired in their race by their climate and their way of thinking. Then there was a falling-off, they were lowered in their own eyes, they became ashamed of what was distinctively their own, in order to admire and praise that was foreign and incomprehensible; their spirit was broken and they acquiesced” –
    There’s a group of people who has their own blogs advocating that we should be thankful to the Spaniards for having taught us to use the forks and spoons, for being Christians (not anito worshippers), wearing pants instead of G-strings and that the Philippines was governed by Spain with the natives’ consent, i.,e., we were not forced to be dominated by Spain. This group of people referred to this consent as sinodo-referendum but I have not had luck looking for it as written in the archive. The source they have was written in 1953.They also say that without Spain there will be no Philippines and that the one language that united us is Spanish, the reason we should all speak Spanish. This group of people are zealots when it comes to Spanish; according to them, every Filipino should speak Spanish.

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