Tuesday, December 14, 2010


That Rizal subjects should be taught in elementary and high school only as college students should focus on their major subjects. Nationalism should start at a young age when they can be moulded into true patriots.


The last time RA 1425 came to public attention was when then-President Fidel V. Ramos ordered the Commission on Higher Education to fully implement the Rizal Law. Memos were exchanged, opinions were sought, and then the issue was forgotten. One wonders about the real state of the teaching of Rizal in Philippine schools, colleges and universities today. 

What has not been complied with are two sections of the law making the novels available and accessible: “It shall be obligatory on all schools, colleges and universities to keep in their libraries an adequate number of copies of the original and expurgated editions of the‘Noli Me Tangere’ and ‘El Filibusterismo,’ as well as Rizal’s other works and biography. The said unexpurgated editions of the ‘Noli Me Tangere’ and ‘El Filibusterismo’ or their translations in English as well as other writings of Rizal shall be included in the list of approved books for required reading in all public or private schools, colleges and universities. The Board of National Education shall determine the adequacy of the number of books, depending upon the enrolment of the school, college or university.”

Will we find enough copies of the novels on the shelves of libraries to serve entire school populations? What was the intent of the law? To make copies available for free for every student? Or just enough for reference? Section 3 makes this clear:

“The Board of National Education shall cause the translation of the ‘Noli Me Tangere’ and ‘El Filibusterismo,’ as well as other writings of Jose Rizal into English, Tagalog and the principal Philippine dialects; cause them to be printed in cheap, popular editions; and cause them to be distributed, free of charge, to persons desiring to read them, through the Purok organizations and the Barrio Councils throughout the country.”

Now, try walking into your barangay hall and ask for “Noli Me Tangere.” We have so many laws and yet we continue to craft new ones. With RA 1425 as an example, can’t we just make sure old laws are fully implemented before we resume investigation in aid of legislation?


Claro M. Recto and Jose P. Laurel sponsored and fought for the passage of Republic Act 1425, better known as the Rizal Law. This is the law that made the study of the life, works and writings of Jose Rizal compulsory in all schools in the Philippines.

In order to appreciate the importance of RA 1425, we must remember that it originally had two versions, one from Congress, the other from the Senate and thus, one has to go through the thick volumes of the Congressional Record and the Record of the Senate for the transcriptions of the heated debates that went into the crafting of the law as we have it today. There is also a lot of materials related to the law in the newspapers of the period that record the opposition of the Catholic Church to the bill, which equals its current opposition to artificial methods of birth control.

Going through the preamble of RA 1425 we see the reason for such legislation:

“Whereas, today, more than other period of our history, there is a need for a re-dedication to the ideals of freedom and nationalism for which our heroes lived and died.

“Whereas, it is meet that in honoring them, particularly the national hero and patriot, Jose Rizal, we remember with special fondness and devotion their lives and works that have shaped the national character.”...


RA 1425 was meant to honor Rizal and other heroes. As a matter of fact, Ramos in preparation for the Philippine Centennial called for a consultative meeting of historians in order to draft a law that would officially declare National Heroes. Contrary to popular belief, there is no law making Rizal our national hero. He is such by tradition and acclamation. At best, Rizal was made “official” when the Department of Education in the 1950s made a list of distinct icons of national nature: the national tree is narra, the national flower is sampaguita, the national animal is the carabao, the national hero is Jose Rizal, etc.

This law turned half-century last year, and one wonders how much of it has been
complied with, how much of it is continuously being applied. True, Jose Rizal is studied
in school, but the manner of teaching is inconsistent, the textbooks and reading materials while voluminous vary a great deal in quantity and quality.

Young people today are different from the youth half a century ago. Can we force
Generation X to read the novels when their generation is more attuned to moving pictures than hard text? Would it help if the “Noli” and “Fili” were available as graphic novels or short YouTube video clips? With the continuing decline in English and the nearly extinct reading proficiency in Spanish, how can we make Rizal’s novels better known, better read?

Monday, November 29, 2010


First of all, the speech is short yet remarkable. President Aquino was able to dissect the real essence of Filipino Heroism as manifested in the historical accounts of his speech. He mentioned Rizal, Bonifacio and Gomburza up to the bravery and courage of his assassinated Father, the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino Sr. 

                He was clear and concise in describing every details of some heroic acts that has made sterling contribution in changing the course of country’s history. It is quite clear to him that every Filipino should emulate the character and heroism of our fore bearers as we continue to face the challenges of our times. Yes, in his mind and heart, he might have considered the freedom that we are enjoying now as a true freedom, but in reality, many people, from the academe to the ruling masses, that freedom is still a relative subject.  Only selfless acts of simple and everyday heroism are the real tangible evidences of his speech. 

                We are still on the process of attaining the true freedom that we have dreamed long before our country emerged as a nation of hope and prosperity. We are a work on progress. President Ninoy’s speech may have touched our hearts but it is still a long journey.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Rizal was a reformer for an open society rather than a revolution for political independence. As a leader of the Propaganda Movement of Filipino students in Spain, he contributed newspaper articles to La Solidaridad in Barcelona with the following agenda:

·         That the Philippines be a province of Spain
·         Representation in the Cortes (Parliament)
·         Filipino priests rather than the Spanish Augustinians, Dominicans,  or Franciscans
·         Freedom of assembly and speech
·         Equal rights before the law (for both Filipino and Spanish plaintiffs)

The authorities in the Philippines could not accept these reforms, as the social reforms threatened the status quo; thus upon hid return to Manila in 1892 he was exile, being accused of subversion for forming a civic movement called La Liga Filipina. While exiled in Dapitan, Mindanao, he established a school ad a hospital.

As Rizal himself explains, he wrote Noli “to awaken the feelings of his countrymen”. The book is denunciation of a political system founded on the privilege of the rules, discrimination against the ruled and liberty of the Filipino people. For the presentation of his arguments, Rizal chose to depict a series of typical Filipino scenes in which he vividly and realistically describes the classical types in the country during that era, including the Spanish peninsular, with their virtues and vices. These descriptions reveal his excellent gift observation. In his criticisms of the religious orders, he direct his attack especially against the Dominicans and the Franciscans, principally in the figure of Father Damaso who he presents as an intolerable fanatic and the adulterous father of Maria Clara. The Jesuits, on the other hand, are treated with considerable respect and the consideration. The abuses of the police authorities are revealed in the dialogue. The remarks about the guardia civil may reflect the wounds left in Rizal’s and his mother’s hearts by painful experiences with the firce.

To prove his point and refute the accusations of prejudiced Spanish writres against his race, Rizal annotated the book, Sucesis de las Islas Filipinas, written by the Spaniard Antonio Morgan. The book was an unbiased presentation of 16th century Filipino culture. Rizal through his annotation showed that Filipinos had developed culture even before the coming of the Spaniards.

While annotating Morgan’s book, he began writing the sequel to the Noli, the El Filibusterismo. He completed the El Fili in July 1891 while he was in Brussels, Belgium. As in the printing of the Noli, Rizal could not publish the sequel for the lack of finances. Fortunately, Valentin Ventura gave him financial assistance and the El Fili came out of the printing press on September 1891.

The El Filibusterismo indicated Spanish colonial policies and attacked the Filipino collaborators of such system. The novel pictured a society on the brink of a revolution.


To buttress his defense of the native’s pride and dignity as people, Rizal wrote three significant essays while abroad: the Philippines a Century hence, the Indolence of the Filipino and the Letter to the Women of Malolos. These writings were his brilliant responses to the vicious attacks against the Indio and his culture.


Heroism – heroic conduct or behavior. Heroic characteristics or qualities; courage.

No law, executive order or proclamation has been enacted or issued officially proclaiming any Filipino historical figure as a national hero. However, because of their significant roles in the process of nation building and contribution to history, there were laws enacted and proclamation issued honoring these heroes.

Even José Rizal, considered as the greatest among the Filipino heroes, was not explicitly proclaimed as a national hero. The position he now holds in the Philippines history is a tribute to the continued veneration or acclamation of the people in recognition of his contribution to the significant social transformation that took place in our country.

Aside from Rizal, the only an implied recognition as a national hero is Andres Bonifacio whose day birth on November 30 has been made a national holiday.

Despite the lack of official declaration explicitly proclaiming them as national heroes, they remained admired and revered for their roles in Philippine history. Heroes, according to historians, should not be legislated. Their appreciation should be better left to academics. Acclamation for heroes, they felt, would be recognition enough.

On March 28, 1993, President Fidel V. Ramos issued an Executive Order No. 75 entitled “Creating the national Heroes Committee under the Office of the President”.

The principal duty of the committee is to study, evaluate and recommend Filipino national personages/heroes in due recognition of their sterling character and remarkable achievement for the country.

Criteria for National Heroes:

1.  Heroes are those who have concept of nation and thereafter aspire and struggle for the nation’s freedom. Our own struggle for freedom was begun by Bonifacio and finished by Aguinaldo, the latter formally declaring revolution’s success. In reality however, a revolution has no end. Revolution is the only beginning. One cannot aspire to be free only to sink back into bondage.
2.  Heroes are those who define and contribute to system or life of freedom and order of a nation. Freedom without order leads to anarchy. Therefore heroes are those who make their mation’s constitution and laws, such as Mabini and Recto.
     3.  Heroes are those who contribute to the quality of life and destiny of a nation.


Nationalism – strong feelings of pride, loyalty, and patriotism towards one’s country.

The country opened up during the 19th century. The rise of an ambitious, more nationalistic Filipino middle class, consisting of educated native Filipinos, Philippine-born Spaniards and creoles, Spanish mestizos and an economically entrenched Chinese mestizo community, signaled the end of Spanish colonialism in the islands. Enlightened by the Propaganda Movement to the injustices of the Spanish colonial government, they clamored for independence. José Rizal, the most famous propagandist, was arrested and executed in 1896 for acts of subversion. Soon after, the Philippine Revolution broke out, pioneered by the Katipunan, a secret revolutionary society founded by Andres Bonifacio and later led by Emilio Aguinaldo. The revolution nearly succeeded in ousting the Spanish by 1898.

That same year Spain and the United States of America fought the Spanish-American war, after which Spain ceded the Philippine to the United States of America for US$ 20 million. The Filipinos had by then declared independence and the subsequent assertion of American control led to the Philippine-American War that officially ended in 1901, but fighting continued well into 1913. Independence was finally grated in 1946, after the Japanese had occupied the island during the World War II. The following period was marred by post-war problems; civil unrest during the unpopular dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos ousted in 1986; and later, the continuing problem of communist insurgency and Muslim separatism.

The government of the Philippines, loosely patterned after the American system, is organized as a representative republic, with the President functioning as both head of state and government, as well as being the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a term of 6 years, during which he or she appoints and presides over the cabinet.