Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.05.9903110948430.28589-100000@uhunix4>
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 10:18:24 -1000
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@LIST.MSU.EDU>
From: Vincent K Pollard <pollard@HAWAII.EDU>
Subject: PH: Rizal, in _Asia Week_, 10.III.1999 (#1999-69) (fwd)

Rizal, in Asia Week, 10.III.1999 (#1999-69)

By Vincent K Pollard, Southeast Asia Discussion list, 11 March 1999

Thanks to Alex Bardsley for forwarding Ruel De Vera's Asia Week commentary (A New Angle on a National Hero) on the new Rizal film commemorating Jose Rizal's life and death (1865-1896).

Jose Rizal, as De Vera points out, received considerable criticism from historians. However, some of the more important criticisms were not mentioned. For example, had he not been arrested by the colonial authorities in Las Islas Filipinas, Jose Rizal, a medical doctor, was eager to offer his services to the Spanish forces then suppressing Cuban revolutionary forces.

Moreover, Rizal's writings make it clear that he would have been quite willing to settle for some form of autonomy within the shrinking Spanish Empire rather than formal constitutional independence.

Rizal, sometimes usefully contrasted with the more proletarian Andres Bonifacio, was, nonetheless, quite consistent in his protests against the abuses of the Spanish Frailocracy against Filipinos and in his emphasis on the value of education for Filipino youth. And in comparison with many wavering members of his ilustrado social class who later collaborated with the American colonial authorities, he was courageous enough to face the execution firing squad on the morning of 30 December 1896. Rizal was a brave and consistent reformist, even if reformism was out of date.

In fairness, one should acknowledge that part of the controversy over Jose Rizal lies in a development over which he had no control, viz., how American colonial educational system promoted the use of Rizal's memory. Having been executed a few years before Asia's first republic became American's first Asian colony, Rizal was convenient--safe--for the American colonial enterprise in the Philippines: 1) He had not fought against the United States; and 2) his protests were nonviolent.

That foreigners would manipulate Rizal's memory to marginalize the stories of other brave Filipino patriots and revolutionaries is not Rizal's fault.

Vincent K Pollard, PhD for teaching fields & courses taught
E-mail: Fax: 808 956-6877 Voice: 808 956-8357