Every year, people dust off my article on Rizal and Hitler, as Wish You Were Here most recently did.
Although I’m not really a Rizalist (if anything, I am a Mabinian, if there’s such a thing), today is Rizal Day, and I, for one, am all in favor of keeping the Rizal commemoration on this day and for keeping him the preeminent national hero.
My personal hero of heroes, Mabini, wrote this in La Revolucion Filipina:
Although Rizal’s banishment to Dapitan eliminated all possibility of his active participation in the movement, he was found guilty of having been its chief instigator because, had it not been for the articles he had published in La Solidaridad and for his novels, the people would never have taken to politics. This judgment was totally incorrect because political activities in the Philippines antedated Rizal, because Rizal was only a personality created by the needs of these activities: if Rizal had not existed, somebody else would have played his role. The movement was by nature slow and gentle, it had become violent because obstructed. Rizal had not started the resistance, yet he was condemned to death: were he not innocent, he would not be a martyr.
See my Why Rizal Went Bravely to His Death.
I once spoke at a program in the Lyceum where the main attraction was then-congressman Francis Escudero. It was the only time I got to see this up-and-coming politician up-close, and in action.
He began his talk by quoting fthe beginning of Rizal’s last poem in Spanish; what I found remarkable was that as he recited the lines, the students spoke along (I don’t know if this is a unique attribute of Lyceum students):
¡Adiós, Patria adorada, región del sol querida,
Perla del mar de oriente, nuestro perdido Edén!
But it is a demonstration of the motive power of Rizal, and the mastery of rhetoric by Escudero, a mastery now so rare that a demonstration of its elementary devices can inspire awe in young audiences (among these basic devices is to establish rapport with your audience, by means of reciting something they know intimately, too).
Rizal famously condemned the Revolution. As Reynaldo Ileto wrote.
The publicized trial was a farce, but it fitted the scenario perfectly. The prosecutor called Rizal “the soul of this rebellion” whose countrymen render him “liege homage and look up to him as a superior being whose sovereign commands are obeyed without question.” The Office of the Governor General submitted a document to the court that described Rizal as “the great agitator of the Philippines who is not only personally convinced that he is called to be the chosen vessel of a kind of redemption of his race, but who is considered by the masses of the native population to be a superhuman being.”
Faced with such charges, Rizal could only plead that he had nothing to do with political affairs from July 1892 to June of that year and that he was opposed to the armed conspiracy. But the Judge Advocate General refused to allow publication of Rizal’s manifesto condemning the uprising because, in effect it “said in substance: ‘Let us subject ourselves now, for later I shall lead to the Promised Land.'” At the trial’s end, news of Rizal’s impending execution quickly “spread everywhere, producing a deep impression.”
The problem we have with Bonifacio as first head of state is that he did not couch his position or even our nationhood in the terms we assume today, and which trace their origins to the leadership that supplanted Bonifacio. The Supremo would not call us Filipinos, would not view his country as the Philippines; would not even view his supreme authority as a presidency. He asserted that what Rizal and Aguinaldo called Filipinos were The Tagalogs, not in the ethnic sense of a particular tribe, but in the literal meaning of the word, “Taga-Ilog,” the people who dwell by the riverbanks. And, having denounced the Convention, he proclaimed himself not “president,” but “Hari ng Katagalugan.”
For a nation which is still mired in debate over the national language, Bonifacio’s attempt to make the term “Tagalog” have a generic and not ethnic meaning, is unacceptable; and for a nation which views itself in republican term, a self-proclaimed “king” is too much of an anachronism.
Reynaldo Ileto writes (see ),
Andres Bonifacio’s defeat at the Tejeros election was facilitated by comments of the opposition that he lacked education, could not handle Spanish, and was not truly a republican because people in the streets hailed him as “Hari ng Katagalugan” (King of the Tagalogs), not to mention his use of the controversial title “Supremo.” Some went to the extent of calling him a leader of bandits called “Katipungoles” and derided his alleged claim that the mythical Bernardo Carpio would come down from Mount Tapusi to help his struggling forces.
All of these criticisms actually point to Bonifacio’s ability to render the struggle meaningful to the common people and the disdain with which many members of the “better classes” regarded such behavior.
Mabini minced no words in his memoirs of the revolution:
Andres Bonifacio had no less schooling than any of those elected in the aforesaid assembly, and he had shown an uncommon sagacity in organizing the Katipunan. All the electors were friends of Don Emilio Aguinaldo and Don Mariano Trias, who were united, while Bonifacio, although he had established his integrity, was looked upon with distrust only because he was not a native of the province: this explains his resentment. However, he did not show it by any act of turbulent defiance, for, seeing that no one was working for reconciliation, he was content with quitting the province for San Mateo in the company of his brothers. When it is considered that Mr. Aguinaldo (the elected leader) was primarily answerable for insubordination against the head of the Katipunan of which he was a member; when it is appreciated that reconciliation was the only solution proper in the critical state of the Revolution, the motive for the assassination cannot be ascribed except to feelings and judgments which deeply dishonor the former; in any case, such a crime was the first victory of personal ambition over true patriotism.
Yet Nick Joaquin, an Aguinaldista and fervent Manileno, wrote,
Since Bonifacio’s place in our pantheon is now secure, it’s time we faced up to the reasons we have not been so ready to exult over him as over Rizal — and the reasons go back to racial memory, back to the attitudes of the men who knew Bonifacio. He was not charming, he was not likeable; he had a rough temper; he was impatient, rash and domineering, he had the insecurity of the poor, the touchiness of the upstart. Pio Valenzuela is said to have described him as “algo despota” — rather despotic. There’s the story that when a brother-in-law he had appointed minister of war demurred on the ground that he knew nothing of military science, Bonifacio screamed. “Do as you’re told, because I’ll shoot you if you don’t!” Such stories may be apocryphal, but they indicate the contemporary view of him.
We return, once more, to Leon Ma. Guerrero, in a Rizal lecture he delivered titled Rizal As Liberal; Bonifacio As Democrat.
There is much of Rizal in this: the political –and I say political because there really is no valid historical evidence for it– the political, then, nostalgia for an idyllic past which could not be recovered on the eve of the 20th Century; the unfamiliarity with, not to say indifference toward, the economic and social realities; that reverse colonial mentality which blames all the ills of the country on the foreign ruler’s malevolence; the utopian conviction that a government of the Filipinos by the Filipinos would be very heaven.
In a way, Rizal and Bonifacio were romantics, very much like Rousseau with his “noble savage”, Bonifacio perhaps more than the relatively sophisticated Rizal, and indeed under the influence of Rizal. They seemed to yearn for a simpler and nobler age when men of honor mixed their blood in cups of wine, and the merchants of Cathay and Cipango could leave their silks on unknown beaches to return in their junks after a year for the recompense of jars, honey and beaten gold.
At this point, let us look at the romanticism of Rizal and Bonifacio.
In Reynaldo Ileto’s translation of Bonifacio’s “What the Tagalogs Should Know” (it appears as a footnote in the reproduction of the Agoncillo translation in The Bonifacio Papers), we see this:
In the early days, before the Spaniards set foot on our soil which was governed by our compatriots, Katagalugan enjoyed a life of great abundance (kasaganaan) and prosperity (kaginhawaan). She maintained good relations with her neighbors, especially with Japan, and maintained trade relationships with them all. That is why there was wealth and good behavior in everyone; young and old, women included, could read and write using their own alphabet. Then the Spaniards came and appeared to offer to guide us toward increased betterment and awakening of our minds; our leaders became seduced by the sweetness of such enticing words. The Spaniards, however, were required to comply with the existing customs of the Tagalogs, and to bind their agreements by means of an oath, which consisted of taking blood from each other’s veins, mixing and drinking it as a sign of genuine and wholehearted sincerity in pledging not to be traitorous to their agreement. This was called the “Blood Compact” of King Sikatuna and Legaspi, the representative of the King of Spain.
Returning to Guerrero,
But surely neither really expected to turn back the calendar to the 16th century! Surely Bonifacio did not see himself as a revived Silapulapu, slaying the cuirassed Spaniard in the bloody surf of Manila Bay, or Rizal fancy himself as a reincarnation of Sikatunaw, pledging reforms with the Spanish liberals by mixing their blood in wine!
Indeed the basic question of the Philippine revolution still awaits a fully satisfactory answer. Why exactly did it take place? Why did the Filipinos take up arms against the Spanish colonial regime?
…The contrast between Rizal and Bonifacio deepens when we observe that Bonifacio’s grievances do not include, at least specifically, the main points of Rizal’s avowed program of reforms: representation in the Spanish Cortes, extension of Spanish legislation and the Spanish Constitution to the Philippines, equality of rights and opportunities, in brief, the Hispanization of the Philippines.
These reforms might indeed have prevented or remedied the abuses which rankled in Bonifacio’s heart, but the man from Tondo was not one to be thinking of constitutions and parliaments. His grievances were those of the common people among whom he lived, of whom indeed he was truly one, grievances that, homely and petty as they might sound, they felt in their own shacks and tenements, in their own families, in their own bodies, the stick on their backs, the empty plate.
If we ask ourselves again why the Filipinos took up arms, we may be nearer the correct answer in Bonifacio’s wrongs, the wrongs inflicted upon the common people, than in Rizal’s rights, the rights which he desired for his aborning nation…
In the end, Guerrero wrote,
I have suggested that Rizal and Bonifacio both appear to be romantics, nurturing illusions of an idyllic pre-Spanish past. But their romanticism was really political tactics: Rizal’s to refute the clerical claim that Mother Church and Mother Spain had brought the natives down from the trees; Bonifacio’s to attract followers with the vision of a primitive paradise without taxes and police…
It was the perennial conflict between the intellectual, on the one hand, who is always waiting for something more, one more condition to be fulfilled, one more factor to be supplied, one last question that should be answered, and the man of instinct, on the other hand, who knows only when he has had enough.
It was also the conflict between the liberal, anxious to reconcile the old and the new in an orderly and controlled progress, and the democrat, ready and willing to leave it all to the will of the people, right or wrong.
On a more contemporary note, and shifting the focus back to Bonifacio again, the American historian Glenn May was basically ridden out of town on a rail, because of his questioning what he described as myth-making by Filipino historians:
The works of Artigas, de los Santos, Santos, Agoncillo, and even to some extent Ileto, in addition to being historical studies and contributions to an ongoing nationalist discourse, are, at their core, modern-day Philippine varieties of “hero myths” — stories in the tradition of Greek tales about Theseus and Herakles and Indian ones about Krishna and Karna.3 But, within that genre, they fall within a distinct, somewhat underexplored, contemporary category — the national hero myth, the national hero being a relatively modern mythical figure since the nation-state is itself of recent vintage. Not surprisingly, then, both in form as well as content, many of the stories told by the Philippine mythmakers bear a striking resemblance to those found in Weems’s biography of Washington and other early books about the heroes of the American Revolution. The hero’s humble origins and intellectual powers are emphasized, even when, as in the case of Washington, the evidence does not necessarily support the claims. Also emphasized are the hero’s virtues and strength of character. For American and Filipino mythmakers alike, the hero served as a model to be emulated.
But national heroes differ from truly legendary heroes in one important respect. As modern historical figures, their lives can be studied by historians. Furthermore, historians being what they are, the lives of the great and presumably great are much more likely to be studied and restudied, and then restudied again, than are the lives of anyone else. If modern-day hero stories are based on weak or nonexistent evidential foundations, it seems inevitable that they will eventually be exposed.
A summary of the whole brouhaha is in History and Histrionics by Patricio Abinales:
These books can (must?) therefore be seen as a clash of interpretations arising from the relative inadequacy of historical material. To appreciate them more meaningfully, and thus go past the acrimony of present debates, they must be understood as part of a continuing effort by historians and their peers to make sense of a vital period in Philippine history which — alas — remains obstinately coy in revealing to us its fullness. Any serious student of history can find value in this anarchy of interpretations, especially since the full story of how our nation came into being has yet to be written.
Visit the Jose Rizal Website and Bonifacio Papers.
Technorati Tags: history, ideas, philippines, society
46 thoughts on “Nuestro perdido Eden”
Very clearly, Dr. Jose Rizal was a liberal reformist, while the brave Andres Bonifacio was an uncompromising democrat. One fought with his pen, the other fought with his bolo. Not one of them, however, succeeded in eliciting the awe of Spain and the instant recognition of the struggling and competing superpowers of those days. A feat that only the noble and feared RAJAH LAPU-LAPU achieved in year 1521, which placed the entire Malay archipelago in the world map. An achievement very long denied of due recognition!
Why not proclaim RAJAH LAPU-LAPU (as TALIBA now believes to be the most opportune time) as the country’s NATIONAL HERO, high and above all other heroes of the past. The bravery, leadership and gallantry of Rajah Lapu-lapu certainly deserve the emulation of the present day Malays or Maharlikans (inhabitants of the country).
what matters is that we have both a bonifacio and a rizal in our pantheon of heroes. what’s pathetic is that we have neither a bonifacio or a rizal in our current crop of so-called leaders. just a lot of aguinaldos.
WHAT REAL LAWYERS ARE SAYING
Excerpt from a lawyer from UP, in active practice and in actual court battles currently.
Now that is in the spirit of Rizal…
Many self-declared intellectuals actually have the gall to criticize the Filipino as if they did not have filipino blood coursing through their veins.
In all obliviousness, when they see surveys saying a great number are experiencing involuntary hunger, they say i myself miss breakfast at times; when they hear repression and oppression (Burgos, missing media men, human rights violations) they say I don’t feel repressed or oppressed – instead of asking “WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?” or “WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?” Perhaps this is typical of the adopted culture of NONE OF MY BUSINESS.
You have the audacity to insinuate that we can tolerate diabolical insults to the scum of humanity such as you.
You who gladly offer your behinds to a big hairy American somewhere and shout THANK YOU SUR, MAY I HAVE ANUTHA?! Jose Rizal probably turned 360 degress in his grave a million times already…
AMERICANS HAVE THE BIGGEST GOSSIP INDUSTRY
The Filipinos obsessed in gossip? We are amateurs compared to Uncle Sam. Who had an actor president RONALD REAGAN? ARNOLD “Terminator” is the governor of what – Manila?
Because he was a Bisaya and the Tagalogs don’t want that.
Nick Joaquin’s descriptiuon of Bonifacio was rather laughable:
Hm, maybe in his day that is the case. Today, it’s the old rich who are touchy.
Manolo, of course Rizal and Bonifacio are both Romantics, Aguinaldo a Pragmatist and Arroyo a Realist and Trillanes an idealist. What is missing in our culture is an Absurdist.
Jose Rizal remains as the Ultimate National Hero.
He was prescient in diagnosing the ills of an independent Philippines. A physician by training, his diagnosis still ring true today.
He was probably the first science literate Pinoy having read and accepted that Darwin’s theories are scientific fact. Read my latest entry at blackshama.blogspot.com why this is so. He was also probably one of the first Pinoys to appreciate Marx and Engels.
And lastly very few non-Germans impress the Germans. The Germans were impressed by Rizal and they remain his biggest fans in the European Union today.
Unfortunately we are still debating the merits of Rizal, Bonifacio and Mabini and even Aguinaldo as national heroes. This is a ridiculous exercise, a waste of time. What we have to debate upon is how timely their ideas still are.
re: what real lawyers are saying
the common law system makes an ‘enabler’ a principal to the crime as well. ours is a civil law system. a specific legislation must make an ‘enabler’ a principal. not only that, legislation must specifically state which crimes make an ‘enabler’ a principal.
however, in some instances, the ‘enabler’ can be an accessory or an accomplice to the crime committed, depending on the facts of the case. in which case he/she can be charged, though not on the same level as the principal
my compaÃƒÂ±ero should blame the opposition why gloria is still seated
sorry to differ, but our country faces issues more pressing than the removal of the president
maybe the non-choice of Lapu-Lapu was that he was ‘pre-modern.’ he killed someone who ‘discovered’ the Philippines.
What “ideas” of Dr. Rizal was Blackshama referring to? The idea of subservience to a foreign colonizer? It is a known fact that Dr. Rizal did not advocate full independence from Spain, but merely advocated reforms. For the complete extension of the laws of Spain throughout the archipelago and the assimilation of the inhabitants of the country into the Spanish social order. So that the natives of the country could be granted and made entitled to the same rights and privileges granted to the subjects of the Spanish Crown. Are these the ideals that we would want imparted to our youth?
Rajah Lapu-lapu was able to subdue the Spaniards in the Battle of Mactan in 1521. A feat comparable to and equaling the success of the Great Hannibal in subduing the Romans. Rajah Lapu-lapu, by existing standard of his time as a King, was very well-educated, an intelligent leader, a brave warrior and military strategist, one who fought against foreign domination and prevailed, a linguist (as they were then known to have been constantly trading and engaging in commerce with the Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Arabs and other foreign traders), an economist in his own right, a magistrate, and one exuding all other traits and skills needed to properly govern a Kingdom.
The real significance of this discussion (which, to us, is certainly not a waste of precious time) is, we and our youth are searching for our ultimate national hero (of international stature) from whom to draw strength and to identify our proud race with. Certainly, this ultimate national hero is not Dr. Rizal.
i bet dr. rizal didn’t care if he was hailed “national hero” or not. i think he just did and say what he thought were right as God granted him the ability to see them as right. as any human being, he was not perfect and no one possesses any right to expect perfection from him.
i think being a hero does not depend on any one individual or group calling him a “hero”. he is what he is regardless of legislation, convention, poll surveys, or acclamation. such kind of hero could likely turn out to have feet of clay upon closer scrutiny.
“Unfortunately we are still debating the merits of Rizal, Bonifacio and Mabini and even Aguinaldo as national heroes. This is a ridiculous exercise, a waste of time. What we have to debate upon is how timely their ideas still are.” — Blackshama
Agree. Let the academia establish the facts more clearly — but I think the public basically knows what there is to know about Rizal and Bonifacio. Their ideals need to be reinforced over and over, not through arid analysis of what they were and what they did or did not do — but what they fought for. Both are great for both sacrificed their lives for this country.
For starters, maybe we should start to really learn in our own little way how to really envision what we call this thing our country, our motherland. The revolution that Rizal and Bonifacio started at full throttle continues.
I am reminded however of a what a youth earnestly penned under Inquirer’s Young Blood Section when she wrote that the revolution we long for will not happen as long as it is the government’s policy to export labor. However she asks: “But what kind of revolution is that without a plan?”
On romaticism: Have we ever had a modern-day leader in our country such as Mathathir Mohamad, who in one of his last speeches as PM of Malaysia wept unashamedly in public because he loves his country so much? Now what’s so bad about being a romantic eh?
I think Asians in particular are really romantic patriots. Look at the Japanese, Koreans, the Singaporeans even and of course Malaysia. This is in contrast I guess with the Western nations whose patriotism are more rationally inclined.
On reverse colonialism: I really don’t get this, though I do get the term reverse snobbery. Pray, I am against snobbery, the usual kind and the reverse kind. Err, how could one have a reverse colonial mentality — what is that?
I think it has to be said that Spain and the US indeed inflicted serious damage on the Filipino pysche without any apologia. That is to be stated as a fact, not as assigning blame — for as powerful countries, it cannot be denied that they inflicted abuses. However, we do thank them for their legacies: Spain for Christianity and America for democratic form of governance.
Bonifacio perhaps more than the relatively sophisticated Rizal, and indeed under the influence of RizalÃ¢â‚¬Â¦. His grievances were those of the common people among whom he lived, of whom indeed he was truly one, grievances that, homely and petty as they might sound, they felt in their own shacks and tenements, in their own families, in their own bodies, the stick on their backs, the empty plate
Homely and petty? Not at all. The were as real as Rizal’s longing were. Why must we keep a great divide between the gut and the intellect, as represented by Bonifacio and Rizal when both stem from and were drivers of patriotism?
Happy New Year to Everyone!
The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyr. – Prophet Mohammed
Rizal was both.
That being said, i see Taliba’s point in having as a national hero, someone who kicked ass. However, it’s a stretch to call Lapu-lapu a Filipino since that nation did not exist during his time. To retroactively make him a ‘Filipino’ will be to engage in the sort of myth-making that Glenn May called attention to.
Our friend cvj,
Thank you for taking notice. Yes, indeed! Someone who “kicked ass”. Not just anybody’s ass. They were Magellan’s and the Spanish Crown’s asses. Imagine having kicked the ass of a superpower in those days. What a feat for our great Rajah Lapu-lapu.
As you aptly said, friend, Rajah Lapu-lapu could never be a “Filipino”. And, very surely, if he is alive today, he would never allow his beloved land to be called “Philippines” and its natives to be called “Filipinos” or “Pilipinos” (or “Pinoy”), or by any other name akin to it. Names supposedly taken in honor of King Philip of Spain – the the enemy/oppressor of our ancestors.
Our friend cvj, we, in TALIBA, believe that adopting Rajah Lapu-lapu as the country’s national hero will be the start of a much need national renewal for the country. We already started it from among ourselves by shedding that colonial name and any name akin to it years ago. Within the organization, we proudly call ourselves Maharlikans. Perhaps, this explains our position.
No offense meant. Notwithstanding the contrasting views that we have on the matter, we wish you well. From us in TALIBA: Happy new year, friend!
taliba, as the old nike commercial goes, “just do it”. no need to wait for special proclamation or legislation. it’s in your heart and mind. what is needed is education. how many pinoys, young and old, know about lapu-lapu (except the fish)?
Happy New Year as well, Taliba! Our nation (every nation) does need (and has undergone) some re-imagining, so elevating Lapu-lapu in the pantheon of our people is a fair enough endeavor.
That’s just like an episode on Seinfeld.
There’s also the case of the toddler who was tortured and murdered by 2 kids in Britain. There were a lot of passerbys who thought the 3 kids were related so they let the incidents go.
Can’t remember if the adult passerbys were castigated though.
I guess the truth is that we cannot prevent people from going out as well as support those who are still here for our cause.
But wait isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that what Paciano the brother of Rizal did? that while Rizal was out of the country working for the independence of the Philippines Paciano was here working with the Katipunan?
I think we can learn from that history.
cvj:”itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a stretch to call Lapu-lapu a Filipino since that nation did not exist during his time.”
This is an interesting piece. In the same fashion, Sultan Kudarat (of the Maguindanao Muslims) and other “native rebels” against Spain and other intruders could not be called Filipinos? Why should identity be fixed upon the history of a state (or nation)? Are heroes only created in relation to the birth or a state, and would not antedate such entity?
“To retroactively make him a Ã¢â‚¬ËœFilipinoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ will be to engage in the sort of myth-making that Glenn May called attention to.” I see your point here. Glenn May is against the posthumous creation of Bonifacio as a hero, due to inadequate or questionable data (“hard” facts, as empirical historians mostly believe). History fails here as a scientific endeavor, because it has consigned legends, myths and folktales to “non-data.”
Taliba: “Why not proclaim RAJAH LAPU-LAPU as national hero..” Not that he is a Sebuano-Bisaya, but certainly there is some politics involved in the creation of national heroes. It is not history per se that is responsible for it.
Down the road, there are powerful people far removed from us, ordinary folks, who make important decisions that affect us and become part of our lives. In the first place, they define what we are, and how we become. This is how we got the name “Filipino” (a colonial label).
i thought the original meaning of “Filipino” was a Spaniard born in the Philippines, a synonym for ‘insulares’
Anthony, you’re right. “Filipino” meant a Spaniard born in the Philippines. Rizal and other propagandists popularized it to apply to “Indios bravos,” who later became known as Filipinos.
hawaiianguy, i’m not against the inclusion Lapu-lapu (or Sultan Kudarat) among the pantheon of Filipino (or whatever one would like to call us) heroes. In the same way that Aguinaldo was accorded hero status because of his military victories over the Spaniards (while Bonifacio reportedly never won a battle), the same should apply to Lapu-lapu. It’s just that our consciousness of being ‘Filipino’ (as opposed to being a member of an ethic subset) leads us back to Rizal and the propagandists/revolutionaries.
On the name ‘Filipino’, i also don’t see the point in tampering with the term. For example, the Vietnamese were so named by the Chinese to designate that they were people who lived ‘south of Viet (Chinese ‘Yue’)’. The locals then took the name as their own and fought for independence under that label. We’re better of improving the existing brand, which contrary to all the breast-beating, i don’t think is that bad to begin with. Besides, the term ‘Maharlika’ has its own baggage.
All water under the bridge. First thing first. Lapu-lapu killed the leader of foreign invaders. That foreign invaders were not there to’discover the Philippines’ but landed on an island with the intention of conquer; take advantage of the resources, subdue then enslave the inhabitants, implant their own religion, then rule the whole archipelago forever. The whole archipelago was not called the Philippines then but it was not discovered by Magellan, other foreigners came before him, and the first of them was the discoverer. What’s in a name, Philippines, or, Maharlika, ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’. But are we smelling sweet presently? Aguinaldo sweeter than Bonifacio? By history we are so familiar with the aroma. It stinks. Could Bonifacio’s governement, if he was not killed by the opportunists, be any sweeter, or, stinker? Who knows. Still, there is the benefit of the doubt. Better than be stuck with the stinker forever.
You know that Rizal is the national hero because of these families still proud to claim that their bloodline traces back to that guy from Calamba, Laguna. Is there any Filipino who swears up and down that he is of the same bloodline as the Katipunero from Caloocan? Hey… even if this is via a bastard-line, one would think having some Bonifacio blood will make a Filino proud, one would think. Or maybe not.
As for the Lapulapu bloodline…. polygamy was not only Lapulapu’s right, it was his obligation!!! The more sons, the more warriors. Are there any sons or daughters of Lapulapu crowing?!!!!
cvj: “ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just that our consciousness of being Ã¢â‚¬ËœFilipinoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (as opposed to being a member of an ethic subset) leads us back to Rizal and the propagandists/revolutionaries.” I agree with you on this point. “Filipino” is a historical construct that we owe from Rizal, and from the Spaniards. Before 1521, we could be anybody but Filipino. But after 1565, we could only be Filipino. Rizal, or any other hero of the 1896 revolution, couldn’t do anything to change that reality of our being.
The problem that I see is that, why couldn’t our identity as a people extend far back in time. I would pay less attention to the label (as “Filipino”) being a historical construction, others may use Maharlikans. But it may not be more acceptable than Filipino, because it still excludes other ethnics (this is a Tagalog term, right Taliba?).
If you notice, this identity problem is what alienates other groups from the Philippines (e.g., Muslims) from sharing the “Filipino” consciousness. They were excluded from the process of becoming.
Lest I be misunderstood, I don’t oppose the identity “Filipino” (or even “Maharlikans”) for what we are as a people. Neither do I fault Rizal and the propagandists for subscribing to it and making it stick.
Maybe someday, we will learn to shed off an unpalatable label and bring out a new one that embraces the national. But that requires some collective effort and agreement. My idea of nationhood is that, it is something that people construct themselves – in teamwork.
Quoting hawaiianguy: “Maybe someday, we will learn to shed off an unpalatable label and bring out a new one that embraces the national. But that requires some collective effort and agreement. My idea of nationhood is that, it is something that people construct themselves – in teamwork.”
Very very aptly said. We, in TALIBA, couldn’t agree more.
But, in doing so, we have to retrace back our origin as a great race.
Sa pagtahak sa daan tungo sa kinabukasan para sa bagong salinlahi ng Lahing Kayumanggi, ating lingunin ang ating pinagmulan. Sa paghahanap at pagbuo ng “Kabuohan at Nagkakaisang Diwa ng Lahi” (common national ideology), matuto tayo sa mga makabayang diwa at kaisipan ipinaglaban ng mga dakilang ninuno at bayani ng Lahi.
Mabuhay ang ating dakilang Lahi!
That ‘problem’ is something we have to live with because the truth is, there is no entity called ‘Filipino’ that extends far back in time. That’s not a unique condition since the same can be said for other entities like ‘Indonesian’, ‘Malaysian’, ‘Singaporean’ and majority of the national identities in the world. The process of becoming “Filipino” has largely been a process of coming together. To my limited knowledge, for this we have to ‘credit’ the following:
Our ancestors – from present-day Taiwan, Borneo, Malaya, mainland China, for finding and settling in these islands.
The Spaniards – for bringing together the islands under common rule.
The Propagandists and revolutionaries (Rizal et.al.)- for giving us our national consciousness.
The Americans – for integrating Mindanao.
Quezon (and Vinzons) – for designating a national language.
Ople (and Marcos) – for architecting (and making necessary) the Filipino diaspora (i.e. the OFW phenomenon) which has further made visible and consolidated our identity via our passport (and other travel documents).
Just like Taliba, I do agree with your idea of nationhood as a process of construction via teamwork.
In defining our national identity, we need to take care not to limit our identity on the basis of race or language. Any myth-making will have to contend with the facts uncovered by science (especially genetics, linguistics and anthropology).
Besides, the process of becoming continues to this day with the influx of Koreans, mainland Chinese and Indians. The identity ‘Filipino’ needs to accommodate the newcomers as well.
cvj, let me compliment you for the nice sequential outline of our “coming together” as a distinct nation. i agree with you that we need not limit ourselves on the basis of race or language in defining our national identity.
u.s.a. stands as the shining symbol of diversity where people of all races, color, national origins, languages, religions, age, sexual preference, physical or developmental disabilities, political beliefs (except where they impinge on national security) succeeded in forming and maintaining the greatest nation on earth. e pluribus unum – out of many, one. i think this experiment can be replicated anywhere in the world.
Bencard, thanks. I was in fact thinking of the USA as a model to follow in this regard. If and when we get our act together, it wouldn’t be a stretch to have our own equivalent of the Statue of Liberty in Corregidor as a beacon of freedom and prosperity.
thanks. considering the most recent threads, one question to ask is – is the Filipino as a nation still a child, or an adolescent? maybe the absence of a concrete identity is whats holding the country back
I would say the Philippines is still a nation in the make – whether it’s a baby or adolescent is immaterial. Definitely, it’s a young nation.
However, some would consider it as NOT A NATION (e.g., F. Sionil Jose, who wrote a recent commentary on Adrian C., or Renato Constantino, who argues we don’t have a consciousness as a nation); others see RP as NATIONS (yes, several instead of one, like “Philippine Islands” or PI). All trends, however, indicate a homogenizing experience toward a single nationhood, amid calls for diversity and pluralism.
You’re right, “the absence of a concrete” (I would add ACEPTED) identity is what holds the country back, among other factors. Maybe what we need more today is a new kind of nationalism that binds all together, as one people.
I think Rizal missed out this fact in his writings. He was thinking of a single (assimilated) nation, attached to mother Spain, forgetting that there are many “non-Christians” out there who did not subscribe to Filipino nationhood. These non-Christians wanted nothing with Spain, they’d rather get rid of the colonists for good if left to their own devices.
Of course, the wider rift is within the majority Christians themselves if not between their elites and the masses. They couldn’t get their acts together.
cvj, on “Filipino identity/nationhood”
I totally agree with you on your point on this, that “Filipino” identity cannot move back before the colonial era. That it is also attributed to state-making, which became the basis of identities in most countries. Really, I appreciate your sense of history openness as to what constitutes a nation.
But what I like to see is a more primordial identity that goes beneath (or before) Filipino-ness, like our being “Malay.” I’m not certain, however, if this could be established. It has yet to be re-discovered, if we think of our history as stretching back before 1521.
Hawaiianguy, thanks. I agree that it would be very interesting to find out more about our primordial identity(-ies). I’m particularly interested on what exactly is meant by being ‘Malay’. From what i’ve seen, if that term is used to mean the same thing as ‘Austronesian’, then a basis for a common linguistic (as opposed to genetic) identity can be made. I’m less confident on it surviving as a racial category.
“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m less confident on it surviving as a racial category.” You’re right, it has racial overtones. Malay, Austronesian, or Maharlikan identity isn’t race-free. Whether it survives, that’s a big question.
Am not sure if Malay is a good word to use. Consider these. Like “Filipino,” which exludes peoples who lived outside the margin of colonization, “Malay” also leaves out somewhat the Chinese, Spanish and other “aliens,” who have not become part of our identity through assimilation. But unlike Filipino, which is colonial, Malay is nationalistic.
One thing is clear, it suggests a notion of nativity and origin. The Malaysian or Singaporean 3-categories of identity are examples that come to mind. (Even in predominantly Chinese Singapore, Malay-ness, as you would confirm by your own observation, is an identity separate from Indians and Chinese.)
Rizal has mentioned this word (Malay) in his writings, but it’s unfortunate that he didn’t define its meaning. He has yet to live up to the touted phrase “pride of the Malay race.”
Still tentative and open at this point, my own conception of Malay identity is a “native” inhabitant that would encompass a much broader category than the linguistic and religious lines that deeply divide Filipinos. It will include all Tagalogs, Ilokanos, Cebuanos, etc. (so-called Christians), Muslims, tribal communities, and all indigenous peoples in the Philippines.
hawaiianguy, in Malaysia (and by extension Singapore), ‘Malay-ness’ is a linguistic and religious (aka Muslim) classification. If you consider Malay-ness to be an attribute shared by ‘Tagalogs, Ilokanos, Cebuanos, etc. (so-called Christians), Muslims, tribal communities, and all indigenous peoples in the Philippines’, then it will also count as a linguistic category. In that case, it would be synonymous with the term ‘Austronesian’ language family of which Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Melayu is part of. Based on the studies i’ve come across, under this classification scheme, I don’t think the racial (i.e. genetic) basis will survive. Unfortunately, regardless of the underlying science, racial preconceptions such as those of Benign0’s in the newer thread may prove more resilient.
cvj, you’re right. “Malay” assumes another pan-linguistic handle, like Austronesian. But the racial meaning it entails is arguably problemmatic (nationalistic?), as in Malaysia and Singapore, about which you know better from personal experience.
However, the idea of “nativity” in being Malay isn’t necessarily racial. It implies indigenous and historical concepts of “arrival” or habitation. Have you heard of the latest news in Mindanao re- identity issue (tri-people)? Now, people there talk about their being “lumad” (most of the 18 or so tribal groups have agreed to use this for their indigenous identity, roughly similar to Malaysia’s bhumiputra, or “sons of the soil”), “Muslims” (another indigenous group consisting of 12 or so linguistic communities), and “Christians” (Cebuanos, Tagalogs, Ilonggos and other christianized lowlanders who have come as “settlers”).
I have followed Benigno’s (also Antony Scalia’s) sensible analysis of the tsinoys. True, the Chinese (or tsinoys) can’t be any less (or more) Filipinos than the “natives.” In a way, “Filipino-ness” (or whatever term) is in the heart. I won’t dispute anyone who claims to be a “Filipino,” regardless of creed or whatever.
What seems to work in the “tri-people” identities, most of those afftected have now learned to accept their differences – ethnic, religious or otherwise. At the same time, they acknowledge the fact that they are all “Mindanawons,” a common identity that binds them together as one. You might say, it’s a voice of experience. (I was and am still there.)
Hawaiianguy, thanks for your explanation on the historical concepts of ‘arrival’ or habitation. Until you mentioned it, i wasn’t aware of the latest news in Mindanao about the ‘re-identity’ issue. I agree that order of arrival and duration of habitation in a particular territory is a very relevant consideration in defining sub-categories within the larger category of being Filipino (or Mindanawons as the case may be). Perhaps that could be the dominant distinction over and above the more established linguistic and genetic classifications. A bonus is that it is ready made for categorizing the returning ‘Fil-Ams’ or OFW’s who can no longer be classified purely along linguistic or ethnic lines.
This is a follow up on Jose Rizal as it was December 30 and I was busy doing the things I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t usually do and that is think aloud.
But just as I was about to write about that famous hero I usually rant about.
I asked myself if its still relevant to write about him or if theresÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still any point in doing so.
You see heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dead and his works are either removed from the classrooms (if it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t for Claro M. RectoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bill) or sensationalized short of becoming a legendary myth in his own respect.
You see IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been admiring him for a long time and in doing so I also found out about his weaknesses.
One being an authentic womanizer and a rabid patron of cabarets (if you take Ambeth OcamposÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ words for it)
Another being an individual suffering from an obvious extreme inferiority complex (if you take Austin Craigs words for it)
While what really interests me more are his endings in his novels as it tells particularly of his character I still imagine how it would appeal to foreigners and their struggles. I ask myself was it ever made to be a handbook for revolution in other countries? (i think I read somewhere that yes it did but i have yet to confirm it)
With all my questioning and prodding I thought why not create my own profile of Rizal? But then I thought it would be too unfair because I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know him personally (of course) but to have a subjective profiling of a national hero would be fun I guess.
Ok so let me start off first with how he fares amongst the other heroes like Bonifacio, Mabini, Jacinto etcÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
I honestly think he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even come close to Bonifacio.
I always have this bias towards people who are poor and who paved their way up the ladder through hard work and intelligence.
You see Jose Rizal was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Bonifacio doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go near anywhere his wealth and his status in society.
Jose Rizal had a resplendent resume while Bonifacio has none.
Under different circumstances if Bonifacio were also rich he couldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been the better hero and could be the national Hero.
Another thing is the question of influence.
Paciano worked under Bonifacio, and Jose Rizal worked under Paciano. Ergo if it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t for Bonifacio there will never be a Rizal.
Jose Rizal wrote the Noli and El Fili but he never practiced what he wrote. Bonifacio wrote and was a leader even before the Noli and El Fili was written, and he was practicing them even before the novels.
The thing is Jose Rizal was popular among the rich because he could stand up among them but what would a peasant dreaming of a better country do among the upper class?
So I personally believe Jose Rizal was nowhere near Bonifacio.
But the big difference was that Jose Rizal was able to leave his legacy through his writings and Bonifacio doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have that.
That is where Jose Rizal became different.
In modern times Jose Rizal couldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been a famous blogger earning thousands of pesos (or dollars) with his biting satire and he could be a great artist at that and perhaps if he has a digicam he might put all the places heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d been too (specially the clubs) he hangs out in.
If Jose Rizal were alive today he wouldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been one of the Conrado De Quiros raving in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
He wrote prodigiously at that, his writings had become synonymous to his nature being observant and at times malevolent.
And being malevolent he cudÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been shouting against this government who cheated its way to power. Against this government who is guilty of killing hundreds of activists and journalists.
He might have been standing up with the people of sumilao begging for their land alongside his beloved jesuits or perhaps with his brother masons.
But alas this generation is not his. And if he ever lived this time he might be as dead as those whom we relegate to oblivion and brand as subversive.
Perhaps I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to look into books and read about Rizal. I just have to look at each Filipino sacrificing his/her own life for the country and his/her people.
Then and just then will I find the real Jose Rizal.
….Rizal is part of my course.. And I really hate the said subject.. magiging successful ba tayo pagpinag-aaralan ang life nia?..
I hope this gets read after so long.
Regardless of what people acclaimed him as, Bonifacio did not call himself “Hari ng Katagalugan”. It is recorded in documents that he called himself “Pangulo ng Haring Bayang Katagalugan”, “President of the Sovereign Nation of Katagalugan” well before the Tejeros convention. (Perhaps his enemies twisted the words of the crowd in their accounts?) The Spanish called him “Presidente de la Republica Tagala”. Bonifacio also used the term “Republika ng Katagalugan.”
Ileto repeats Aguinaldo’s contention that Bonifacio was called “Haring Bayan” (king of the people) by the Magdiwang, separate from the people. But “Haring Bayan” does not translate into king of the people. “Hari ng Bayan” does. Given that Bonifacio very definitely used “Haring Bayan” to mean “Sovereign Nation”, I can only conclude Aguinaldo was mistaken (or even lying, tsk tsk).
Bonifacio’s final words before the Tejeros elections began affirmed the Katipunan was republican.