“We are engaged in the gigantic task of nation-building in the midst of a troubled and bewildered world. So that we may succeed in this difficult task, we must forge our people into a united, patriotic, God-fearing and contented citizenry; a people influenced by a single devotion—devotion to our native land; a people inspired by a single will—the will to make our country great and a people animated by a single hope—the hope that the Philippines may take her rightful place in the family of nations. For this, we need all the unselfish love, all the unflinching courage, all the reserve wisdom, all the clear vision, and all the patient devotion of which we are capable.
A nation, if it is to grow up strong and progressive, must be moved by the force of its own dynamic moral energy. The seeds of moral discipline must be nurtured from within, not from without. History teaches that the rise and fall of nations depend essentially upon the underlying moral strength of their citizens. And the frantic despair and the spiritual blackout now experienced by many nations of the world are due primarily to their failure to grasp this basic fact.
Character means strength and power and will. Character, however, may be true or false, right or wrong, good or evil. In any case, it is the man of character that moulds and shapes the destinies of men and of nations, for weal or for woe. Hence, the transcendental importance of giving our people the proper and correct character training.
As a man thinks, so will he act; from repeated acts, habits arise; and the accumulation of habits determines a man’s character. Real character makes a man true to God and to his country, faithful to his conscience and to his principles, and loyal to his fellowmen and to himself.
A man of good moral character makes the best citizen. He is pure in thought, moderate in action, upright in deed, just in judgment, and noble in purpose. To form a man of true character, all the infinite elements that make up the man—his intelligence, his beliefs, his feelings, his emotions, his likes, his desires, and even his fears, his hatreds, his prejudices,—all must be controlled, adjusted, integrated and developed into a harmonious and well-balanced personality.
Down through the ages from generation to generation, there has been handed down as a priceless heritage, certain traits of character and norms of conduct which have guided mankind in its never-ending search for perfection and self-improvement. The search for the better life is as old as the human race itself. It is closely intertwined with the fundamental instinct of self-preservation. And because man is essentially gregarious, the rules which he evolved naturally dealt with his relations with his fellowmen. But these rules change with the changing mores of the times which are determined in many particulars by economic and social factors which result from his physical environment. It is the peculiar problem of each generation, therefore, to see that the ruling traits or virtues are strengthened and developed, and that they do not degenerate because of the unwholesome modernisms or the undermining influence of untried philosophies. It is the bounden duty of each generation to so balance and synchronize the stimulation of social and economic forces as to avoid the over-development of some factors which result in the dwarfing or suppression of others needed for healthy growth.
The Chinese founded their way of life upon the five-fold precepts of filial love, loyalty, marital fidelity, obedience and sincerity, as regulating the relationship between parents and children; rulers and people; husbands and wives; masters and servants; and man and friend, respectively, which found sanction in Confucius’ negative postulation of the Golden Rule. BUSHIDO (the way of the warrior) implemented by Kodo (the way of the emperor) produced the type of Japanese citizen and soldier whose aggressiveness, tempered by moral qualities of Buddhism and Shintoism, found consummate expression in deeds of heroism, loyalty and patriotism. The classic design for living, though it was founded on the same concept of duty, did not fare so well. The glory that was Greece, imbued with the Spartan virtues of courage, loyalty, obedience and truthfulness, which under Athenian ascendancy witnessed the apogee of art and culture, finally decayed when the lust for personal comfort caused the loosening of old loyalties among its citizens. The grandeur that was Rome nurtured in the “homely virtues of piety, modesty, courage, fortitude, prudence, honesty and trustworthiness,” likewise degenerated when its rulers, engrossed in the problems of empire-building and the pursuit of material ease, sought to bolster their tottering influence by corrupting the populace with infamous orgies.
Humanism salvaged the classic tradition which, enriched by Gallic and Anglo-Saxon influences, crossed three oceans by different routes to the fertile soil of the Philippines which had witnessed the welding of Malayan, Sanscrit, and Mandarin culture. We do not have to look far, therefore, for the moulds upon which to cast the way of life which we wish to fashion for our people. But the mould must be the democratic life which connotes intelligence, love of work, self-discipline, moral strength, and capacity to exercise individual rights without injuring the public welfare or invading the rights of others.
The democratic government is often distinguished from the dictatorial government in its emphasis on the principle that the State exists for the individual, rather than the individual for the State. Modern democracies, however, find that they must, within certain limits, subordinate individual rights to the public welfare, if the individual is to continue to enjoy the privileges that only democracy is in a position to offer. This totalitarian principle is deemed necessary, so that the modern democracy may acquire the much needed efficiency and efficacy consistent with the modicum of personal liberty without which life would not be worth living. The true concept of democracy emphasizes not only rights but duties as well. The citizen should acquire the required balance of liberty and authority in his mind through education and personal discipline, so that there may be established the resultant equilibrium, which means peace and order and happiness for all.
A Code of Ethics designed to formulate a way of life for a free people must perforce be didactic rather than legislative. It must be based on an appeal to reason and the conscience and not on any threat of punishment, for the sense of right and the force of tradition often far outweigh the most exacting legal sanctions. It is also evident that such a code must draw on the history and culture of the people for whose benefit it is promulgated. In our quest for inspiration we must teach our people to direct their gaze upon our own heroes, our own traditions and our own history.
The genius of our past must kindle the throbbing mind of the present and inspired the future with its immortal fire.
This “Code of Ethics” is not to foster exaggerated nationalism, or to glorify narrow and blind patriotism. Its object is higher, purer, nobler. It is to strengthen the moral fiber of our youth; to keep alive in the hearts of our citizens the value of ethical principles; and to proclaim the truth that moral discipline is the only sure road to national greatness.
Endless days of unremitting toil and unceasing vigil lie ahead of our country, for national greatness never springs from the slime of ease or self-complacency, but from the crucible of grim struggle and patient industry. We should realize that national and individual progress can only be attained through work, more work, and more hard work. But we shall prove ourselves equal to the challenge flung against us, though it may mean the sacrifice of material comfort or personal convenience.
A nation erected upon the impregnable foundation of moral discipline and the industry of its citizens shall endure through the thundering ages, for it is a “house” built by loving hands, upon a “rock”, of which posterity may proudly say: “The rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.” (Matt. 7:25)
I. HAVE FAITH IN DIVINE PROVIDENCE THAT GUIDES THE DESTINIES OF MEN AND NATIONS.
Of supreme importance to the life of nations and peoples is faith in Divine Providence, Who created and upholds the universe, Whose power directs the course of the world, and Whose wisdom guides the destinies of men and nations. The Christian Bible, the Mohammedan Koran, as well as the sacred books of other religions, each have its own set of commandments for the observance of the faithful. All unite in the recognition of the existence and in fervid love of God by whatever name He is called. The Filipinos, even before the coming of the Spaniards, believed in one Supreme Being called Bathala by the Tagalogs, Laon or Abba by the Visayans, Akasi by the Zambals, Gugurang by the Bicols, and Kabunian by the Ilocanos and the Igorots.
In his enumeration of the Duties of the Sons of the People, Bonifacio ordained:
“1. Love God with all thy heart.
“2. Always bear in mind that true love of God is love of thy country, and that this love is also the true love for thy fellowmen.”
Emilio Jacinto, the brain of the Katipunan, in his Liwanag at Dilim, said: “God is the father of Humanity, and what a father requires of his children is not constant protestations of respect, fear, and love for him, but the performance of his mandates.”
Referring to the letter of Rizal to the young women of Malolos, Marcelo H. del Pilar wrote to the young Women of Bulacan: “. . . the virtue most acceptable to the Creator consists in perfecting the intelligence which He, in His infinite love, granted to His creatures to serve them as alight upon the path of life.”
As a nation, the Filipinos demonstrated unity of belief in one Supreme Ruler as much as oneness of political purpose. The Declaration of Philippine Independence at Kawit, Cavite, on June 12, 1898, called upon “the Supreme Judge of the Universe” as a witness and invoked the protection of “Divine Providence.” The preamble of the Malolos Constitution of January 21, 1899, invoked the assistance of the “Sovereign Legislator of the Universe” for the attainment of its aims. And when Mabini exhorted his compatriots to intransigence, convinced of the justice of the Philippine cause, he reminded them that “there is a Providence which punishes the crime of men and nations.” Our Constitution, in establishing a government that shall embody the ideals of the Filipino people, implores “the aid of Divine Providence.” (Preamble, Constitution.)
Our Constitution recognizes the freedom of religious profession and worship. (Article III, section 1, paragraph 7, Constitution.) Religious tolerance is necessary so that there may be peace among men and nations. And, because of the tremendous importance of religion as a moral force in the lives of private individuals, and with a view to giving impetus to the formation of a God-fearing citizenry in so far as is compatible with the freedom of conscience, our Constitution ordains that churches, buildings and improvements used exclusively for religious purposes shall be exempt from taxation (Article VI, section 14, paragraph 3) and provides for optional religious instruction in the public schools (Article XIII, section 5).
II. LOVE YOUR COUNTRY FOR IT IS THE HOME OF YOUR PEOPLE, THE SEAT OF YOUR AFFECTIONS, AND THE SOURCE OF YOUR HAPPINESS AND WELL-BEING. ITS DEFENSE IS YOUR PRIMARY DUTY. BE READY AT ALL TIMES TO SACRIFICE AND DIE FOR IT IF NECESSARY.
Love of country is demonstrated not by words but by deeds. It is not an occasional virtue to be exhibited now and then, but it is a flame that should constantly be kept aglow in our hearts. It is unflinching determination to serve and defend one’s country at all times and at all costs.
Apolinario Mabini, in his True Decalogue, said:
“Fourth—Thou shalt love thy country after thy God and thy honor and more than thyself; for she is the only Paradise which God has given thee in this life, the only patrimony of thy race, the only inheritance of thy ancestors, and the only hope of thy posterity; because of her, thou hast life, love and interests, happiness, honor and God.
“Fifth—Thou shalt strive for the happiness of thy country before thine own, making of her the kingdom of reason, of justice, and of labor: for if she be happy, thou, together with thy family, shalt likewise be happy.
“Sixth—Thou shalt strive for the independence of thy country: for only thou canst have any real interest in her advancement and exaltation, because her independence constitutes thy own liberty; her advancement, thy perfection; and her exaltation, thy own glory and immortality.
* * * * * * *
“Tenth—Thou shalt consider thy countryman more than thy neighbor; thou shalt see in him thy friend, thy brother, or at least thy comrade, with whom thou art bound by one fate, by the same joys and sorrows, and by common aspirations and interests.”
Marcelo H. del Pilar, indomitable champion of Filipino liberties, who succeeded Lopez-Jaena as editor of the La Solidaridad, was forced to flee from the country because of religious and political persecution. He suffered untold privations and died of starvation in Spain where he continued the fight for reforms. In the hour of his death, his last consuming thought was the freedom of his country. His dying message to his compatriots was: “Go ahead with the work and seek the happiness and liberty of our dear country.”
General Gregorio del Pilar’s valiant defense of Tirad Pass is another example of heroism and love of country. Barely out of his teens, he had already distinguished himself for valor and daring on the field of battle. Called upon to defend Tirad Pass with a handful of ill-equipped soldiers, he wrote in his diary on the fateful morning of December 2, 1899. “I understand that the task given me is a difficult one. And yet, I feel that this is the most glorious moment of my life. I do it all for my beloved country. No sacrifice can be greater.” Only eight of his brave band of sixty men survived, and General Del Pilar perished with the rest of his command, but the advance of the American troops was delayed. And in recognition of his bravery and heroism, he was buried with full military honors by the Americans near the spot where he had made his last stand. The following valedictory was also found in his diary: “I submit to the terrible fate that overwhelms me and my brave men; but I am glad to die fighting for my dear country.”
When Rizal returned to the Philippines in 1892, he knew that his life was in danger and his letter of farewell to his countrymen, written at Hongkong on June 20, 1892, which he asked to be published after his death, is an edifying example of self-effacement. He said: “Besides, I wish to show those who deny us patriotism that we know how to die for duty and principle. What matters death, if one dies for what one loves, for native land and those dear to one? . . . Always have I loved our unhappy land, and I am sure I shall continue loving it until my last moment, in case men should prove unjust to me. Life, career, happiness, I am ready to sacrifice for it. Whatever be my fate, I shall die blessing it and longing for the dawn of its redemption.” And on the eve of his execution, he wrote his last Farewell which begins thus:
“Farewell, dear Fatherland, clime of the sun caress’d,
Pearl of the orient seas, our Eden lost!
Gladly now I go to give thee this faded life’s best,
And were it brighter, fresher, or more blest,
Still would I give it thee, nor count the cost.”
Love of country is best exemplified by the self-sacrifice of Marcelo H. del Pilar, the undaunted courage of General Gregorio del Pilar, and the sublime self-immolation of Dr. Jose Rizal.
Service to the country is our inescapable obligation “and in the fulfillment of this duty all citizens may be required by law to render personal military or civil service.” (Section 2, Article II, Philippine Constitution.)
We are engaged in the task of nation-building. For this purpose we must be united. As Rizal said, “The isolated rib of the buri palm is easily broken, but not so the broom made of the ribs of the palm bound together.” We have one flag, one land, one heart, one purpose, one nation ever and forever.
III. RESPECT THE CONSTITUTION WHICH IS THE EXPRESSION OF YOUR SOVEREIGN WILL. THE GOVERNMENT IS YOUR GOVERNMENT. IT HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED FOR YOUR SAFETY AND WELFARE. OBEY THE LAWS AND SEE THAT THEY ARE OBSERVED BY ALL AND THAT PUBLIC OFFICIALS COMPLY WITH THEIR DUTIES.
The Constitution is the expression of the sovereignty of the people. Its primordial aim is the welfare of all. “The welfare of the people,” in the fiery language of Andres Bonifacio, “is the sole purpose of all the governments on earth. The people is all: blood and life, wealth and strength, all is the people.”
Reverence for law as the expression of the popular will is the starting point in a democracy. According to Bonifacio, “He who obeys the power conferred by the people obeys the people and identifies himself with the will of all the citizens that compose the people, which identification or accord is necessary for the very life of the people.”
The foundation stone of all governments is law and order. Without them it would be impossible to promote education, improve the condition of the masses, protect the poor and ignorant against exploitation, and otherwise insure the enjoyment of life, liberty and property. And the burden of effective law enforcement falls heavily on the citizen no less than on the government. For, unless the citizen is imbued with an intelligent concept of the supremacy of the law, no government, but the most despotic and tyrannical, can be expected to preserve and maintain even the semblance of a well-ordered society.
We should, therefore, follow the injunction of Bonifacio, in his enumeration of the Duties of the Sons of the People: “Let the acts of each, in good government and the performance of his duties, be such as to serve as an example to his neighbor.”
It is not enough that a citizen should take care that in his daily life he does not violate any of the many rules, regulations and ordinances of the State. He must also see that the laws are observed by the whole community, that the officers of the law attend to their enforcement and properly perform their duties. Passive inaction or tolerance is worse than actual and flagrant infringement of the law of the land, for in the latter case the law itself provides a remedy and administers a corrective measure to the erring individual; but the law is powerless to deal with that type of citizen who is so wanting in civic courage that he allows crime to be committed in his presence without even lifting a finger to prevent its execution, who is so lacking in civic pride that he tolerates the evils of vice and graft in the community, without even taking any step looking towards their eradication; who has such a distorted sense of civic values that so long as his selfish pursuits are not molested he does not even give a thought to whatever happens to his neighbors or to his fellow citizens for that matter, and who does not care whether there is such a thing as “government” or not.
A public office is a public trust. The beneficiaries of an established government are the people and the people only. The promotion of the common good is the guiding principle of all governmental activities. The holding of a public office is not an occasion for personal enhancement but is an opportunity for public service.
Citizens should participate not only in the privileges but also in the duties of citizenship. They should take a direct interest in public affairs, participate in the discussion of public policies, and exercise a prudent selection of the men who will carry out the measures for the attainment of the public welfare. In the language of Rizal, “Peoples and governments are correlated and complementary; a fatuous government would be an anomaly among a righteous people, just as corrupt people cannot exist under just rulers and wise laws. ‘What the people are, so is their government.'”
IV. PAY YOUR TAXES WILLINGLY AND PROMPTLY. CITIZENSHIP IMPLIES NOT ONLY RIGHTS BUT ALSO OBLIGATIONS.
Taxation is an essential power of government. Man is a social and political being. His nature demands that he live in the society of his fellowmen. Living in society, however, entails rights and duties, among the most important of which is the duty of each and every citizen to pay his just share in the expenses of the government. We enjoy rights and privileges under the protection of the established government and we must pay the price of that protection.
Taxes are needed to defray the cost of public administration, law enforcement and dispensation of justice; national defense, and the promotion of social justice; and other important public services like the promotion of education, agriculture, trade and industry, as well as the construction of needed public works and improvements.
When the early Filipinos fell under the suzerainty of the Malayan empires of Shri-Visaya and Madjapahit and the Chinese Ming Dynasty, taxation took the form of tribute and it was distasteful because it was a mark of subjection to alien domination. And when the Spanish conquistadores came, this form of tribute was renewed and imposed in the guise of “polos y servicios.” Tax revolts were frequent which were directed not only against the abuses of the tax collectors, but also against the principle itself. Where, however, the Filipinos believed that the contributions were for their benefit, they readily paid their dues.
When by proclamation of February 8, 1814 the Governor-General explained that civil taxes were essential in order to defray the expenses of the government, taxation proved nevertheless irksome to the Filipinos because they did not have representation and hence had no voice in that government. Taxation without representation in the Spanish Cortes was one of the causes of our revolution against Spain. Under the republican system of government which we have adopted, the people, through their authorized representatives, determine what taxes shall be imposed and how they shall be collected and spent.
During the period of propaganda which preceded the revolution, the nationalist movement was given impetus by the monetary contribution of public-spirited citizens. When it was reported that Rizal lacked funds to enable him to write and publish the sequel to his Noli Me Tangere, he received aid from a voluntary fund raised by his townspeople to which even women contributed their modest savings.
When the revolution was finally declared, people all over the country generously and spontaneously contributed to the support of the revolutionary government and its army. The triumph of Filipino arms brought about the establishment of the Philippine Republic which was likewise supported by popular taxation. It is recorded that in 1898, Leocadio Valera, then provincial governor of Abra, traveled by cart 400 kilometers from Bangued to Malolos to personally deliver one thousand pesos in silver coins raised by, the people of Abra as their share of the expenses of the revolutionary government. It is also recorded that in the same year General Jose Ignacio Pawa traveled from the Camarines provinces to the revolutionary capital to carry by horseback the fifty thousand pieces of silver unselfishly contributed by the people of the Bicol Peninsula.
We have established an autonomous government and by July 4, 1946 we shall be completely independent. We need, more than ever, to prove our capacity to place that government on a sound economic basis. This cannot be achieved unless we contribute our just share of the nation’s burdens freely and without hesitation.
V. SAFEGUARD THE PURITY OF SUFFRAGE AND ABIDE BY THE DECISIONS OF THE MAJORITY.
Suffrage is one of the most important political rights appertaining to citizenship. If exercised with purity and noble purpose, it is the security of popular government. On the other hand, if perverted or basely surrendered by those in whose hands the law has entrusted its safeguard and protection, it serves instead to undermine the entire edifice of democratic institutions.
Suffrage is a public and social duty which should not be neglected. The electors owe it to themselves and their government to exercise this important political right not only regularly but judiciously.
To preserve the integrity of elections, penalties for offenses against the ballot have been prescribed. No election law can be made effective without provisions defining and punishing offenses committed at the polls. To curb as much as possible attendant evils, our Election Law prescribes severe penalties for violations of its provisions. Penal laws, however, are not sufficient. The people should be conscious of their civic responsibility and should exercise “the watchful care and reverential guardianship” of their precious right.
The rule of the majority is the foundation stone of democracy, for if this principle of majority rule is not respected and honored, chaos and revolution will be the result. Rizal demonstrated sportsmanly acquiescence to the will of the majority when he separated from the La Solidaridad because of the opposition of the Madrid Committee of Filipinos. So did Mabini when he resigned from the Cabinet, during the Philippine-American War, when he found out that his policy of irreconciliation made futile further negotiations with the Americans. His resignation as well as that of the other members of his Cabinet paved the way for the formation of the Paterno Cabinet on May 9, 1889, in which predominated the elements in favor of a conciliatory attitude toward the proclamation of the American Commission offering autonomy to the Filipinos provided they laid down their arms. Mabini was only putting into practice the democratic theory which guided his first act as adviser to Emilio Aguinaldo abolishing the dictatorship and transforming the revolutionary government into a representative one. In the seventh and eight commandments of his True Decalogue, Mabini envisioned the implantation of democracy in this country based on the free suffrages of the people:
“Seventh—Thou shalt not recognize in thy country the authority of any person who has not been elected by thee and thy countrymen: for authority emanates from God, and as God speaks in the conscience of every man, the person designated and proclaimed by the conscience of a whole people is the only one who can use true authority.
“Eighth—Thou shalt strive for a republic and never for a monarchy in thy country: for the latter exalts one or several families and founds a dynasty; the former makes a people noble and worthy through reason, great through liberty, and prosperous and brilliant through labor.”
If democracies are to survive, if the free and untarnished expression of the popular will is to be insured, and if the principle of the rule of the majority is to be respected, the people must be ready at all times to act with unceasing vigilance in respect to these rights, for this is the high price demanded of a free people who directs the affairs of their government.
VI. LOVE AND RESPECT YOUR PARENTS. IT IS YOUR DUTY TO SERVE THEM GRATEFULLY AND WELL.
Nobody is more faithful and devoted to us, more sensitive of our needs, more generous to our failings, than our parents. Like a celestial message, filial love speaks more eloquently than the tongue of man can speak, more eloquently than the pen of man can write.
Rizal’s return to the Philippines in 1892 was motivated chiefly by his love for his parents and his family whom he did not wish persecuted on his account. He knew that he was courting death by placing himself at the mercy of the Spanish Government in the Islands, but he wanted to save his relatives, especially his aged mother, from humiliation and suffering. His letter to his “Beloved Parents, Brothers and Sisters, and Friends,” dated at Hongkong on June 20, 1892, is incomparable in its tender regard and solicitude for his loved ones, particularly his parents. He said:
“The affection that I have ever professed for you suggests this step, and time alone can tell whether or not it is sensible. Their outcome decides things by results, but whether that be favorable or unfavorable, it may always be said that duty urged me, so if I die in doing it, it will not matter.
“I realize how much suffering I have caused you, still I do not regret what I have done. Rather, if I had to begin over again, still I should do just the same, for it has been only duty. Gladly do I expose myself to peril, not as any expiation of misdeeds (for in this matter I believe myself guiltless of any), but to complete my work and myself offer the example of which I have always preached.
“A man ought to die for duty and his principles. I hold fast to every idea which I have advanced as to the condition and future of our country, and shall willingly die for it, and even more willingly to procure for you justice and peace.
“With pleasure, then, I risk life to save so many innocent persons—so many nieces and nephews, so many children of friends, and children, too, of ethers who are not even friends—who are suffering on my account. What am I? A single man, practically without family, and sufficiently undeceived as to life. I have had many disappointments and the future before me is gloomy, and will be gloomy if light does not illuminate it, the dawn of a better day for my native land. On the other hand, there are many individuals, filled with hope and ambition, who perhaps all might be happy were I dead, and then I hope my enemies would be satisfied and stop persecuting so many entirely innocent people. To a certain extent their hatred is justifiable as to myself, and my parents and relatives.
“Should fate go against me, you will all understand that I shall die happy in the thought that my death will end all your troubles. Return to our country and may you be happy in it.
“Till the last moment of my life I shall be thinking of you and wishing you all good fortune and happiness.”
In his letter of farewell to his countrymen of the same date, he said: “I cannot live knowing that many suffer unjust persecutions on my account. I cannot live seeing my brothers and sisters and their numerous families persecuted like criminals. I prefer to face death, and I gladly give my life to deliver so many innocent people from so unjust a persecution.” Previously he had written his parents when he was informed of their vicissitudes saying: “I deeply regret your misfortunes at Kalamba: but I admire you for not voicing any complaint. Were it possible for me to take upon myself all the pains, all the losses, and leave you all the joys and all the profits, God knows how gladly I would do it.” And in a letter dated June 21, 1892, he addressed himself to Eulogio Despujols, then Governor-General of the Philippine Islands: “It is a long time now that my aged parents, my relatives, friends and even individuals unknown to me are cruelly persecuted on my account, according to them, I now present myself to shoulder so many persecutions, to answer the charges that it may be desired to prefer against me, in order to put an end to that question so bitter to the innocent persons and sad to Your Excellency’s government, which is interested in being known for its justice.”
Mabini offered the following testimonial of the love which his mother bore for him and the affectionate regard in which he held her:
“Thereafter my poor mother began to work with true zeal in order to defray the cost of my studies. When I began the high school, it occurred to me, influenced by the example of my companions, to ask my parents for some nice clothes for Christmas. To please me, my mother sold all the coffee she had harvested in the barrio of Payapa (Lipa) and she personally brought me all the money so that I might buy what I liked best. That manifestation of abnegation and affection moved me so much that I had to desist from my desire to buy a costly suit, because I was imagining that with that money, she was giving me a part of her life and of her blood. In fact, the excessive work led her to the grave shortly afterwards.
“Due, perhaps, to my having lived apart from the family from childhood by reason of my studies, I was very much loved by my parents and by my maternal grandmother. My grandmother died a year ahead of my mother, when by coincidence I was spending my vacation with the family, and from her sickbed she used to recommend them every moment not to forget to attend to me and to take care of my food. My mother always showed a serene countenance every time I separated from her on account of my studies; but one day, when I had just gone home from Manila to spend my vacation, I knew, from an aunt of mine that my mother had wept much for my having told her inconsiderately that it was the same to me to live near the family or far from it. When shortly before she died, she saw her eight children whom she was leaving in poverty, she begun to cry; but she was reassured when I told her that I promised to watch over my brothers and sisters. She likewise wept when she saw me after I had been called from Bawan to her side during the last days of her life.
“MOTHER OF MINE: In the midst of my misfortunes, your memory is not painful to me, because I am comforted by the thought that Fate has spared you the sorrow of witnessing them. But, should lucky days come to me unexpectedly, perhaps I would complain against Fate for not having allowed you to enjoy my well-being.”
His dedication of his La Revolución Filipina to his mother touches the heart and purifies the emotions with its pathos and nobility:
“MOTHER OF MINE: When still a child I told you that I wished to study, to please you above everything else, because your golden dream was to have your son a priest; to be a minister of God was to you the greatest honor to which a man could aspire in this world.
“Seeing that you were too poor to suffer the expenses of my education, you weakened yourself in working, without giving heed to either sun or rain, until you contracted the illness which brought you to the grave.
“Fate has not wished me to be a priest; nevertheless, convinced that a true minister of God is not alone he who wears the long habiliments, but all those who proclaim His glory by means of good and useful service to the greatest possible number of His creatures, I will try to be faithful to your wishes while I do not lack strength for this end.
“Wishing to deposit above your tomb a crown devised by my own hands, I dedicate this little book to your memory; it is poor and unworthy of you, but up to this time it is the best crown that the inexpert hands of your son have been able to fashion.”
An instance of filial love was that demonstrated by little Anita, young daughter of Marcelo H. del Pilar, then just learning her alphabet. Del Pilar had written to his wife that often he had to pick up cigar stubs from the sidewalks of Madrid so that he could smoke and thus deceive his hunger; and he once stopped writing because he had no money with which to buy stamps. As his wife was also in dire financial straits, she applied to Anita who generously parted with her Easter presents to send them to her father. This sacrifice of little Anita brought tears to the eyes of Del Pilar.
That Rizal was willing to die so that his parents might find peace; that Mabini should remain faithful to the memory of his mother all his life; and that little Anita del Pilar should give up the presents so dear to her childish heart so that her father could have the necessities of life: all these show that each and everyone of them, in his or her own individual manner, loved and respected their parents. We can do no less, considering the sacrifices that our parents have made in our behalf. Many are the ways in which we could serve them and show our gratitude. By respecting our elders and by loving and helping our brothers and sisters, we reflect honor and credit to our parents. There are a thousand and one little things which we could do to gladden the hearts of our parents and brighten the remaining years of their old age.
VII. VALUE YOUR HONOR AS YOU VALUE YOUR LIFE. POVERTY WITH HONOR IS PREFERABLE TO WEALTH WITH DISHONOR.
Honor is what prompts a man to strive for all that is noble, true, and lofty, in word and in deed. It inspires a man to be pure in thought, faithful to his duties, magnanimous to those who offend him, and generous to his friends. It makes a man courteous, loyal and true. It never falters when duty calls.
In the words of Emilio Jacinto, “The real man is he who, of tried and trusty valor, does good, keeps his word, and is worthy and self-respecting.” This concept, as he embodied in the fifth, sixth, and thirteenth precepts of the Katipunan Primer, is expressed by him as follows:
“He whose sentiments are noble prefers honor to personal aggrandizement; he whose sentiments are perverse prefers personal desires to honor.
“To a man of honor, his word is his oath.
“. . . Great and noble is he who although born in the woods with no knowledge except that of his own native tongue, is possessed of good character, is true to his word and mindful of his dignity and honor; a man who does not oppress nor help those who oppress; a man who loves and looks after the welfare of his country.”
Rafael Palma showed a high concept of honor which transcended his honest and loyal service to his people in positions of high trust and major responsibility as the collaborator of Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña in wresting greater Filipino control and participation in the Philippine Government during the early years of the American régime. After retiring from political life as Senator and Secretary of the Interior, he engaged in private business which unfortunately failed and left him in debt. He could have evaded responsibility by having himself declared insolvent by judicial decree, but with scrupulous regard for his plighted word he undertook to pay his obligations little by little from his subsequent earnings as publicist and President of the University of the Philippines. He died a poor man, but his honor he maintained unsullied to the end of his life.
Manuel Araullo, former Chief Justice of our Supreme Court, was a paragon of integrity. This was manifested not only in the way he dispensed justice on the bench without fear or favor, but in his private life as well. He considered it a point of honor to pay not only his debts but also those of his family. When he went to Spain to get his degree of doctor of laws, he left his brother to administer the estate left by their deceased father. Inefficient management sunk the estate in debt and although upon his return he devoted his energies in helping his brother salvage what remained of the estate, a large account incurred by his brother in its administration was left pending for many years. In order to preserve the good name of his family, he did not hesitate to assume the obligation or paying the debt of the estate little by little. This involved him in extreme difficulties but he kept his promise to pay.
Honor is closely associated with virtue and finds its most sublime expression in defense of the purity of womanhood. Said Marcelo H. del Pilar: “. . . Wherever the women are virtuous, there vice is timid and dignity predominates in the customs of the people, but where the women are frivolous, there the men bear the stamp of immorality, and neglect or contempt of the most sacred duties are the current thing.”
Incensed at isolated instances of the violation of Filipino women during the Revolution, Mabini apostrophized: “How are we to succeed in making foreigners respect our women if we ourselves give them example by offending against them? Can we, Filipino men, possibly aspire to be respectable if bur women are not respected? In the traditional nobility of the ancient nations, respect for women is conspicuous as the principal virtue of the fearless and faultless knight, because the habit of protecting the honor and life of the weak and defenseless is certainly an indication of big-heartedness and nobility of soul. And let it be remembered that this virtue is not a simple necessity of the legendary era of romanticism, but one of the great necessities of the life of nations, because if the woman finds simple respect and consideration within the sphere in which she habitually moves, she soon acquires that sense of dignity that saves her from many a weakness, which dignity, transmitted to her children, inspires them with courage and vigor for great undertakings, for acts of heroism.”
Rizal knew that honor is nurtured by the virtue of womanhood and he minced no words in impressing his countrymen with this idea in his letter to the young women of Malolos. He said: “A people that respects woman, like the Filipino people, must know the truth of the situation in order to be able to do what is expected of it. It seems an established fact that when a young student falls in love, he throws everything to the dogs—knowledge, honor, and money, as if a girl could not do anything but sow misfortune. The bravest youth becomes a coward when he marries, and the born coward becomes shameless, as if he had been waiting to get married to show his cowardice. The son in order to hide his pusillanimity, remembers his mother, swallows his wrath, suffers his ears to be boxed, obeys the most foolish order and becomes an accomplice to his own dishonor. It should be remembered that where nobody flees, there is no pursuer; when there is no little fish, there cannot be a big one. Why does not a girl require of her lover a noble and honored name, a manly heart offering protection to her weakness, and a high spirit incapable of seeing her satisfied with engendering slaves? Let her discard all fear, let her behave nobly and not deliver her youth to the weak and faint-hearted. When she is married, she must aid her husband, inspire him with courage, share his perils, refrain from causing him worry and sweeten his moments of affliction, always remembering that there is no grief that a brave heart cannot bear and there is no bitterer inheritance than that of infamy and slavery. Open your children’s eyes so that they may jealously guard their honor, love their fellow-men and their native land, and do their duty. Always impress upon them that they must prefer dying with honor to living in dishonor. The women of Sparta should serve as an example in this . . .”
In the nobility and chivalry of Rizal, Jacinto, Del Pilar and Mabini, we learn that honor is as valuable, if not more so, than life itself. And in the sterling integrity of Palma and Araullo, the lesson is brought home to us with telling force that to be poor but honorable is a thousand times better than amassing all the riches in the world at the cost of one’s good name. We should strive, therefore, to keep our reputation unblemished to the end of our days, and ever bear in mind that an honored name is the most precious legacy which we can leave to our children and our children’s children. “A good name is rather to be desired than great riches, and loving favor than silver and gold.”
VIII. BE TRUTHFUL AND HONEST IN THOUGHT AND ACTION. BE JUST AND CHARITABLE, COURTEOUS BUT DIGNIFIED, IN YOUR DEALINGS WITH YOUR FELLOW-MEN.
Character is life dominated by principles. Truthfulness, honesty, charity, justice and courtesy are the qualities that round up a real man or woman. These are the virtues that give force and worth to the race.
Be truthful.—We should not only tell the truth but we should also welcome it. Only by knowing the truth are we able to correct our defects and shortcomings. Rizal realized this in his dedication of his Noli Me Tangere:
“TO MY COUNTRY: Recorded in the history of human sufferings is a cancer of so malignant a character that the least contact arouses in it the most acute pains. Now then, every time, in the midst of modern civilizations, I have wished to evoke thee, now to keep me company with thy memories, now to compare thee with other countries, so often did thy dear image appear to me with a similar social cancer.
“Desiring thy welfare, which is our own, and seeking the best treatment, I shall do with thee what the ancients did with their patients: they exposed them on the steps of the temple so that every one who should come to invoke the Deity might suggest, them a remedy.
“And to this end, I shall attempt to reproduce faithfully thy condition, without considerations; I shall lift a part of the veil that cloaks the evil, sacrificing to truth everything, nay self-esteem itself, since, as a son of thine, I likewise have thy shortcomings and weaknesses.”
In his letter to his friend, Dr. Blumentritt, enclosing one of the first copies of the book, he said:
“The novel tells of many things that until now have not been touched upon. They are so peculiar to ourselves that we have been sensitive about them. In this book I have attempted what no one else seems to have been willing to do. For one thing, I have dared to answer calumnies that for centuries have been heaped upon us and our country. I have written of the social condition of the Philippines and of the life of the Filipinos. I have told the truth about our beliefs, our hopes, our longings, our complaints, and our sorrows. I have tried to show the difference between real religion and the hypocrisy that under its cloak has impoverished and brutalized us. I have brought out the real meaning of the dazzling and deceptive words of our countrymen. I have related our mistakes, our vices, our faults. I have exposed how weakly we accept miseries as inevitable. Where there has been reason for it, I have given praise. I have not wept over our misfortunes, but rather laughed at them.
“No one would want to read a book full of tears, and then, too, laughter is the best means of concealing sorrow.
“The incidents that I have related are all true and have actually occurred.”
In his dissertation on the character of Rizal, Dr. T. H. Pardo de Tavera observed:
“If he had not been a fervent disciple and investigator of truth, he would never have had all the beautiful moral qualities which we have mentioned and which like self-control, constancy, firmness of opinion, for example, can not exist unless one has first worshipped at the shrine of truth.”
It is necessary to maintain a reputation for truth, because once it is lost or impaired it is not easily regained.
Be honest.—Honesty is always the best policy. Ignacio Villamor, in his Industrious Men, mentions Lorenzo Guerrero of Manila who “was so honest that he never wished to enter into any business which would cast the faintest shadow upon his immaculate honor. He was so active, so dutiful, that at times even if he was indisposed, he gave at his home lessons in drawing and painting. He abandoned them only five days before his death which occurred on April 8, 1904. He was so punctual in the performance of his duties that he made it a point to arrive at the house of his pupils five minutes before the lesson hour. More than with words he made use of exemplary practice to preach honesty and industry to his children.” One proof of the moral integrity and conscientiousness of Lorenzo Guerrero was his refusal to accept professional fees, unless he had earned them. Villamor also mentions Esteban Villanueva who, by the use of correct measures in his store, was able to survive in competition with Chinese merchants, which success laid the foundation of one of the largest fortunes in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
With regard to the good faith and honesty of the early Filipinos, a Chinese trader wrote in the 14th century that after the Filipinos and the traders had agreed upon the price, the former were allowed to take away the goods and to bring their native products in exchange later. The traders trusted them for they never failed to live up to their stipulated bargains.
Be just and charitable.—In Bonifacio’s enumeration of the Duties of the Sons of the People, the eighth precept enjoins: “In so far as it is within thy power, share thy means with every indigent or unfortunate person.” The Kartilla of Jacinto went farther, its sixth rule being “Defend the oppressed and fight the oppressor.” This theme Jacinto elaborated in his essay on Liwanag at Dilim (Light and Darkness), under the heading Ang Pagibig (Love), as follows:
“Of all human sentiments, none is more sublime than love—love for the fellow-man. Without it, the peoples would disappear from the earth and the communities, the associations, and life itself would resemble the dry leaves of the tree swept away by the wind. For its sake, the greatest deeds are one’s own life and well-being sacrificed. But rascality and fraud reap their harvest under the guise of love, hiding their ferocious selfishness behind an infinitesimal quantity of charity.
“The compassion for our fellow-beings who are the victims of misfortune, which impels us to share with them what little is ours; the solicitude and even boldness which we show in the defense of the rights of the oppressed, and true charity for our fellow-men, from what source do they spring but from love?”
Pedro Cui of Cebu was not content with helping the poor and contributing liberally to the cause of the Revolution during his life time. On his death, he donated one-half of his fortune valued at one million pesos to the Hospicio de San Jose of Barili, which still exists to give refuge, food and clothing to invalid natives of Barili, Dumangas, Ronda, Alcantara, Moalboal, Carcar, Aloguinsan, Pinamuñgahan, Toledo, Balamban, all of the province of Cebu; and to maintain permanently three fellowships for poor students of both sexes who are natives of Cebu: one in the Cebu High School, another in the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines, and the other in the School of Pharmacy of the same University. In the University of the Philippines, there also exist several scholarships for poor students, notable among which are the Limjap scholarships in engineering and the Bailon-De la Rama scholarships in medicine and other professions.
Charity is manifested in kind deeds by men whether endowed or not with material wealth. In the Katipunan Primer, we are told that, “To do good for some personal motive and not because of a true desire to do good is not virtue.” As Jacinto expressed it, “From love and helpfulness for our fellow-men spring sincerity and charity, that beautiful flower of the heart, that gentle and sweet balm of the unfortunate.”
Be courteous but dignified.—Ignacio Villamor said:
“Courtesy gains all and costs nothing. This is a truth especially applicable to our country where everything can be obtained through politeness; that is, where the manner counts far more than the strength. Often, good words spoken with kindness convince better than good arguments uttered with arrogant petulance.
“Courtesy, politeness, right conduct are those acts which make our relations with our fellow-beings pleasant. They are the expressions of good education, and good education is just as essential to the man of high position as it is to the ordinary man as well as to everyone else who lives in society.”
It is simple courtesy and not slavishness for the people to show respect and consideration for the men whom they themselves have elevated to high positions in the government. As Jacinto tersely puts it, “Do not let anyone believe that the equality proclaimed is contrary to the respect due all authority governing the people; no, this preëminence, which was created by the people, the people respect; but the representative of the authority, as a man, is a man just like the rest.”
IX. LEAD A CLEAN AND FRUGAL LIFE. DO NOT INDULGE IN FRIVOLITY OR PRETENSE. BE SIMPLE IN YOUR DRESS AND MODEST IN YOUR BEHAVIOR.
Cleanliness is next to godliness. Life is more than a gift,—it is a trust which we must not abuse. We owe it to our Creator to conserve life and that we can do only by observing clean habits, both of mind and body. Cleanliness is closely associated with frugality. Frugality means the simple life,—both physically and morally. In its material aspect, it means bodily health and conservation of wealth and energy. From the spiritual standpoint, it means modesty of conduct, cleanliness of thought and speech, refinement of taste and behavior.
Rizal amply demonstrated this twofold development. When he was a boy he was sickly, but his uncle Manuel developed his physique until he had a supple body of silk and steel although he did not entirely lose his somewhat delicate looks. According to Retana, “Rizal although slim in build, and with an appearance that did not show great energy, yet showed extraordinary vigor and dexterity. From the time he was a child he was given to gymnastics which he perfected during his stay in Japan. From that time on he became some sort of an acrobat and daily exercised according to Japanese methods.” He was well-to-do but he did not waste his time in frivolity, because it would undermine not only his health but also his character. In comparing him with other youths who went to Europe, Tavera said: “The young men who left the Philippines to go to Europe did so in compliance with the will of their elders when they undertook the voyage for educational purposes, or on their own initiative when their purpose was to see the world and have a good time. Rizal desired to go to Europe in order to educate himself, to become more useful to his people. He was not moved by the wish to have a good time and to enjoy life.” In a letter to Mariano Ponce dated at London, June 27, 1888, Rizal expressed a becoming modesty when he referred to the manner in which he was being idolized even by foreigners for the publication of his Noli Me Tangere: “I am not immortal nor invulnerable, and my greatest joy would be to see myself eclipsed by a group of my countrymen at the hour of my death.” He welcomed criticism. In another letter to Ponce dated at Hongkong, May 23, 1892, wherein he asked to be furnished with clippings containing attacks against him, he said: “. . . for I am interested in knowing what they write against me because sometimes there are truths that are profitable. I have always wanted to hear attacks because they improve him who wishes to improve himself.”
Mabini was thrift and modesty exemplified. Raymundo Alindada in whose college Mabini taught to partly defray the expenses of his law studies, speaks of him thus: “His extreme fondness for study, to which he devoted himself with edifying earnestness, availing with undiminished vigor, of every leisure time, by day as well as by night, afforded by his duties as aspirante de Hacienda and as assistant professor in my College, filled me with admiration . . . Never during this period of time was he seen to take part in games and indecent jokes, or to frequent places of dissipation, or to allow the shortcomings of others recounted in his presence. These are points which I do not want to omit because of the brilliant evidence afforded by them in forming an idea of him.” Rafael Palma sums up the modesty of Mabini and the simplicity of his manners as follows: “Remembering his humble origin, he always preserved a plain modesty and a delightful simplicity of manners. Even during the days of his greatest intimacy with Aguinaldo, he neither grew conceited nor felt the giddiness of the heights. He appeared to his former childhood friends with the same affability and familiarity of old and he never tried to put distance between himself and his fellow-man, however humble he may be, by reason of his high position.”
Cayetano S. Arellano, famed Filipino jurist, was likewise the embodiment of simplicity and modesty. He rose from humble beginnings to become the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines under the American régime. He entered the Colegio de San Juan de Letran at the age of five as an agraciado so that he could finish his primary and secondary courses. He never indulged in extravagance or frivolity though he could well afford the luxuries of life in later years. He continued to be simple in his dress and unassuming in his behavior. His exemplary moral rectitude was manifested in his spotless private life and official conduct.
Of such a type also was Librada Avelino, founder and directress of the Centro Escolar de Señoritas, later Centro Escolar University, largest and most successful college for young women in her time. In writing the story of her life, her biographers confessed that one of their fundamental aims was “to honor in a modest way the life of a woman who was herself the very soul of modesty, but who had accomplished so much for her people in the field of education,” “Here is a woman,” they said, “without hypocrisies and superficialities. While it was the fashion of the day for women to be timid, to be full of sighs . . . this little teacher of powerful eyes and serene countenance remained natural, quiet, and preserved a moral fortitude which influenced those with whom she came in contact. She was devoid of all affectation in her manners. Neither was she of a showy sort of disposition, nor was she a woman fond of displaying that literary erudition and vast culture that by right was hers,—a temptation hard to resist in those days when a self-educated woman was considered a phenomenon, constituting the subject of conversation in social circles.”
Frugality and modesty are also conducive to personal and material well-being. In Julian Mercado of the eastern coast of Leyte, we have an example of a simple man who built a fortune on a foundation of thrift. He was a musician when he was not busy as a fisherman. When he finally became one of the wealthiest men in his province, he never gave up his habits of simplicity and moderation. While he sat to eat his usual dish of rice and fried dried fish for breakfast, some one criticized his economy. “My dear friend,” the rich man replied, “it is better to eat that which is familiar to me and which gives me health and strength than those delicacies which shorten life and energy.” Mariano Pamintuan of Pampanga who, although he possessed only the rudiments of reading and writing, came to accumulate one of the largest fortunes in his province, was so thrifty that in spite of his ample means, now and then he would caution his student son: “Don’t spend more than you can earn.” Juan Sison of Pangasinan was, because of his thrift and business acumen, able to convert the small inheritance which he received from his parents into vast property holdings. He never boasted of his riches and with exemplary modesty he presented himself with the same simplicity and poverty to which he was accustomed before he became rich.
In common with Rizal, Mabini, Arellano, and Librada Avelino, we should lead a life of modesty and moderation; and like Julian Mercado, Mariano Pamintuan and Juan Sison, a life of frugality and simplicity.
X. LIVE UP TO THE NOBLE TRADITIONS OF OUR PEOPLE. VENERATE THE MEMORY OF OUR HEROES. THEIR LIVES POINT THE WAY TO DUTY AND HONOR.
A nation will not long endure if it is wrought in the midst of foreign and exotic ideals. Just as a tree will not grow up straight, strong and luxuriant, unless it is native to the soil and air so a nation will not assume girth and strength unless its roots are planted deep into its own past and its soul is nourished by its own traditions. This does not mean that we should reject everything that is not Filipino, but it does mean that we should discard that false concept that everything foreign must be good and, therefore, must be imitated. We must use discrimination and prudence in adopting foreign models. If we have to fellow foreign patterns, we should blend them with our own customs, traditions and ideals, purifying them first of whatever grossness or imperfection they may be afflicted with.
Paraphrasing the language of President Lopez of the Federated Government of the Bisayas, asserting the authority of the Central Government of Malolos in defiance of the forces of American occupation on January 9, 1899: Filipino nationality is founded on the sacred bonds of blood, customs, ideals and common sacrifices.
The possession of a common imperishable tradition is the most potent of all factors in nation-moulding. The essence of nationality is sentiment. It is pride and glory in a common inheritance which strengthens the bonds of union. Our national heroes embody the character and ideals of our country. Their memory should thrill us with the spirit of emulation. The recollection of their glorious deeds should serve to rekindle in our hearts the love for freedom.
The veneration of our heroes implies our recognition that in playing their part, they did with courage and wisdom what their patriotic duty dictated them to do; it means also that in playing our part we assume the obligation to do in the light of present conditions what our heroes would do if they were alive. Each epoch has its own responsibilities. It behooves us now to discharge ours, with the same honor and dignity with which our leaders of the past discharged theirs. With virility and courage and with unswerving resolve, we must safeguard our magnificent national heritage, for our future lies not in slavish imitations of foreign ideals but in our native qualities, and in the “composite voices of our great heroes that once trod our soil.”
XI. BE INDUSTRIOUS. BE NOT AFRAID OR ASHAMED TO DO MANUAL LABOR. PRODUCTIVE TOIL IS CONDUCIVE TO ECONOMIC SECURITY AND ADDS TO THE WEALTH OF THE NATION.
Life is work. Man perfects himself by working. Man reinforces himself by industry. Great ends necessarily demand great labor. There is virtue in the spade and in the hoe. There is as much nobility in plowing the field as in writing on philosophy.
Labor leads the mind of men to serious things; it sharpens the mind of men by study; it inspires manly vigor by exercise and discipline; and, it leads to the intense cultivation of land, so essential to the life of an agricultural nation. By labor, by work, by industry, jungles are cleared, barren lands are made to yield, fair fields arise, and stately cities born.
Emilio Jacinto said:
“. . . Many are ashamed to work, principally the wealthy, the powerful, and the learned who make a vain show of that which they style the comforts of life or corporal well-being.
“And they finish in the mire, leading a miserable and abject life that tends to bring about the destruction of the human race.
“Whatever is useful, whatever tends to make life easier, that let us support because it is a result well worthy of our efforts.
“He who toils keeps away from a life of disorderly and bad habits and boredom, finds diversion in labor, and becomes strong, prosperous, and cheerful.
* * * * * * *
“God wants us to work, because if we see ourselves surrounded with all we need and swim in abundance, it is the result of our efforts, hence, without doubt, work is neither punishment nor a penalty, but a reward and blessing bestowed by God upon man through the grace of his great love.”
Bonifacio said in his Duties of the Sons of the People:
“Diligence in the effort to earn means of subsistence is the genuine love of one’s self, one’s wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, and compatriot.”
Jose Acosta after many years of continuous hard work was able to acquire large tracts of land and leave a legacy which constituted one of the biggest fortunes in the province of Ilocos Norte. “Work unceasingly,” he was wont to tell his children, “for if a man does not work, the soil will produce only weeds and thorns.”
Esteban Manalo of Rizal, who was able to eke out a competence from the humble business of duck-raising, illustrated patience, assiduity and love of work. To save what he would otherwise, have paid for wages, he did the odd jobs in his business whenever he could. Moreover, he employed his student sons during vacations to accustom them to the habits of work.
General Miguel Malvar of Batangas, famed revolutionary hero, exemplified in his private life the dignity of labor. Said Villamor of him: “Since his childhood he showed a love of work, even going as far as to mow grass which he himself carried on his shoulders to sell in town. Far from giving himself up to leisure and entertainment during the long vacation he employed his time in the purchase and sale of articles, the proceeds of which he gave to his mother. In order to make his occupation more profitable he employed himself in the care of domestic fowls.” Such was his industry that after the revolution he devote himself anew to agriculture and commerce with fervor and enthusiasm that he was able to leave his children extensive farms at the time of his death.
Dr. Pardo de Tavera offers us the following keen analysis of the Filipino soul:
“Our very concept of happiness in life is erroneous: it seems as if we base it on the ideal of tranquility, and want to conquer peace by always fleeing away from the struggle, from all work that signifies bodily or mental exertion. We want a carefree life; a livelihood that banishes away all worries of penury; a tutelar and kindly government composed of just and wise men into whose hands we can commend everything so that they may take charge of punishing malefactors, destroying locusts, extinguishing fires, maintaining roads, repairing bridges, training men, establishing hospitals, extending railroad lines, lowering taxes, improving our conditions of living, chastising our enemies, and at the same time acquitting us when the Penal Code catches us in its toils. We also want lucrative sinecures so that we may be able to earn more remuneration with less work. We cannot attain true welfare by this mode of thinking. The dignity, utility and necessity of labor; a life of activity for the maintenance of intellectual as well as muscular suppleness, for the conservation of peace and order, for the increase of our material welfare, and for the extension of mutual help for the benefit of all—these are the elements that ought to characterize our mentality.”
Not alone among the rich few, softened by luxury and devitalized by idleness, but also among the poor multitude, resigned to a life of misery and want, should the gospel of work be taught, and taught hard. We must live by the sweat of our brow. Brain and brawn must join together in productive enterprise.
The meagerness of our national wealth production and national income is due to the fact that the Filipinos do not work enough, and what is worse, many Filipinos do not work at all. We should bear in mind that only by hard and sustained work can men and nations live and survive. And in work lies our salvation as a people. Indolent people are doomed to extinction. It is, therefore, extremely important that we develop the natural resources of our land, bring forth its hidden powers and wrest from bowels of the earth the treasures that await the calloused hands of labor. We should not allow our muscles be atrophied by indolence. Men are sent to this world not to stand the whole day idle, but to go forth to work and to labor until evening, not the evening of a day only, but the evening of life.
XII. RELY ON YOUR OWN EFFORTS FOR YOUR PROGRESS AND HAPPINESS. BE NOT EASILY DISCOURAGED.PERSEVERE IN THE PURSUIT OF YOUR LEGITIMATE AMBITIONS.
Our life is what we make it. If we are to succeed, it is necessary that we possess self-reliance, courage, and perseverance, for out of these qualities, new strength is born which will enable us to overcome adversities and conquer difficulties. Even a bended tree finally succeeds in ascending the sky and resisting the winds by its own self-sufficiency. Therefore, trust yourself, be courageous, and persevere in your task.
In the life of Apolinario Mabini, we see a shining example of the triumph of self-reliance and perseverance over dire poverty and physical infirmity. Born of poor parents, his life was a constant struggle against untold hardship and suffering. His studies were repeatedly interrupted for lack of funds and yet by dint of hard work and sheer tenacity and self-denial he was able to finish his law course, which though belated, was attained with highest honors. Friends and admirers offered him financial assistance during his student days but he consistently refused their proffer generosity. He feared that if he owed favors to anybody he might be forced later on to do an act against his convictions out of gratitude to his benefactor. He was thus able to maintain an unshakeable firmness of purpose and singular independence of thought and action to the end of his life.
Stricken with paralysis in his later years which deprived him of the use of both legs, his physical handicap did not deter him from taking an active part in the revolution, first as propagandist, then as principal adviser to General Aguinaldo and later as Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Cabinet, which positions he discharged with such earnestness and brilliance that he is known to this day as the Brains of the Revolution. He was finally appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which office he was not able to assume because of the success of American arms and the consequent defeat of the ephemeral Philippine Republic.
In his biography of Mabini, Rafael Palma aptly said: “The study of the life of Mabini affords very important teachings. It shows how poverty, far from being a sign of malediction, is a strong stimulus which goads a man to improve his condition; how labor and study contribute to the formation of character, open to a man all the opportunities to rise and reach the heights, and help him maintain himself with dignity in any reverse of fortune, whether it be lucky or unlucky; how perseverance and determination win over difficulties and obstacles, and how success in all cases is the reward of consistency, perseverance and firmness of determination.”
Teodoro M. Kalaw said the following of Mabini: “Agree with me in that a great part of his life was a life of poverty, of sufferings and of abnegations. The inspiration of a poet would find (in it) a theme for an elegy. Rarely would the tragic picture of pain be found hovering above man and endeavoring to dominate the vision of his future. Rarely would privation be found intimately connected with sickness, until it ends in a horrible death. But agree with me also in that poverty of origin and life’s misfortunes were not insurmountable obstacles to the attainment of that human greatness, that extraordinary frame of mind that we admire in Mabini. Mabini triumphed over his century, and he triumphed not only as a patriot statesman, but as a man as well. Fate persecuted him from his birth and he triumphed against Fate. Through his own efforts, he made a career, by fighting against such obstacles, a thing which few in the world would have been able to do. He was a real self-made man.“
Ignacio Villamor was another youth who rose from obscure poverty to positions of honor and responsibility in three distinct epochs of Philippine history, namely: the Spanish régime, the Philippine régime, and the American occupation. Because his parents lacked the means to defray his education, he enrolled in the Seminary of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, as an agraciado. In the Colegio de San Juan de Letran at Manila he worked his way first by helping his casera in her household and religious duties in exchange for free board and lodging and later as capistain the college. Before the advent of the revolution he had already founded two schools. Then, he became a member of the Malolos Congress representing Abra and was one of the founders of the Universidad Literaria de Malolos. During the American régime he helped Enrique Mendiola found the Liceo de Manila. Afterwards he was appointed President of the University of the Philippines, and later Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. In his book on Industrious Men which he dedicated to the youth of the land, he left us a legacy in the form of biographies of illustrious Filipinos who overcame poverty and ignorance through the sheer force of self-reliance, thrift, industry and perseverance. Worthy of emulation is the example of one of these men, Mariano Pamintuan, whose advice to the youth is “Don’t ask another for what you need; get it yourself.”
Self-reliance was the gospel of the Revolution. In a desperate but prophetic mood, when he had given up hope of the mother country ever initiating reforms to ameliorate conditions in the Philippines, Graciano Lopez-Jaena, reformist turned revolutionist, wrote from Madrid to Rizal at Berlin on March 16, 1887: “We see, therefore, that we have nothing to expect from the powers that be; we have to rely upon ourselves alone for our own progress and regeneration.”
If self-reliance was the shibboleth of the revolution, its twin-virtue, perseverance, was the slogan of the period of propaganda which preceded the revolution. Marcelo H. del Pilar, speaking for the intrepid group of reformists which Rizal and he headed, said: “Let us not hesitate even if we meet barriers and thorns on the way. What are these little inconveniences compared to the great misfortune of our country?”
The life of Rizal was the consummate flower of the virtue of perseverance, just as the life of Mabini was the quintessence of the virtue of self-reliance. Villamor said: “Dr. Rizal, like all great men, found his way strewn with difficulties and obstacles. But such difficulties were the touchstone of his character. We might almost say that he was born thinking of a country, that he studied and labored to make a country, and that he died in order to give life to a country. His difficulties and sufferings stimulated his perseverance, and the many; obstacles which he encountered along his way stirred up his energy and fortified his character. In this way he was able to complete his two literary works which gave him universal renown. And this is because in persons of good disposition, sufferings temper their character and give rise to profound and elevated thoughts. As there are flowers which need to be distilled in order that they may give out their most delicate fragrance, there are also individuals who must undergo some grueling test in order to arouse everything good that they have in them. Some Filipinos, apparently useless and without resolution, when placed in some difficult and responsible positions, have shown strength of character, ability, courage and abnegation which were never before seen in them. And it is because trying experiences bring forth their latent virtues and reveal their hidden qualities. His fortitude and determination is shown in the following evaluation of his character by Dr. Pardo de Tavera: ‘He submitted to the inevitable, and upon thinking that all that he was doing was leading him straight towards death, he smiled according to his custom, reflecting that all roads lead to death and that nobody can say how he shall die, but that everybody must decide how and for what he shall live.’
Self-reliance is incompatible with the idea of seeking progress or triumph through protection or recommendation.
The examples of Rizal and Mabini amply show that difficulties are no obstacle to the realization of our legitimate ambitions if we persist and try hard enough. They remained hopeful and brave in the face of great difficulties. As Mabini said: “A high ideal whatever it may be, although difficult of attainment, may be realized through constant endeavor and honest effort.”
The Creator has endowed each and everyone of us with certain aptitudes and these we should develop to the limit of our abilities, seeing that upon ourselves alone depend our own progress and advancement in life. Let us seek inspiration from Mabini’s injunction in his True Decalogue:
“Third—Thou shalt cultivate the special gifts which God has granted thee, working and studying according to thy ability, never leaving the path of righteousness and justice, in order to attain thy own perfection, by means whereof thou shalt contribute to the progress of humanity; thus shalt thou fulfill the mission to which God has appointed thee in this life, and by so doing, thou shalt be honored, and being honored, thou shalt glorify, God.”
XIII. DO YOUR WORK CHEERFULLY, THOROUGHLY, AND WELL. WORK BADLY DONE IS WORSE THAN WORK UNDONE. DO NOT LEAVE FOR TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY.
A nation of energetic and busy people, a people working cheerfully and thoroughly, all shoulders to the wheel, with muscles swelling, with hearts pounding, a people finding in work the consummation of all their hopes and all their desires, a people who considers a duty well done as its own sufficient reward, is a nation destined, under God, to be great and strong.
The fourth precept of the Duties of the Sons of the People prepared by Bonifacio tells us that:
“Calmness, constancy, reason, and faith in all work and actions crown every good desire with success.”
And in the seventh rule of Katipunan Primer prepared by Jacinto, we find the following injunction:
“Do not squander time; lost riches can be recovered; but time lost can not be regained.”
Rizal exemplified these virtues to no mean degree in his passion for industry, thoroughness and determination to finish any work he had set out to accomplish. His advice to Mariano Ponce in a letter dated June 27, 1888, from London epitomizes his idealism in this respect:
“The fact that you have had little success in the newspapers does not mean that you may not be of any use as a writer. Not all of us are newspapermen, nor were born newspapermen, and not all literary men are newspapermen. I take it that the question of writing with more or less literature is a secondary thing; the principal thing is to think and feel straight, work for a goal, and the pen will take charge of transmitting it. The principal thing that should be required of a Filipino of our generation is not to be literary, but to be a good man, a good citizen who may help with his head, with his heart and, if need be, with his arms in the progress of his country. With the head and with the heart, we can and should work always; with the arms, when the moment arrives. Now the principal instrument of the heart and of the head is the pen; others prefer the painter’s brush, still others choose the chisel. I prefer the pen. Now, the instrument may not be to us the primal object. Sometimes with a bad one, say the Philippine bolo, great deeds are accomplished. Sometimes with a bad literature great truths may be stated.”
In another letter to Ponce, dated at London, October 12, 1888, he revealed that upon being offered the opportunity to direct a newspaper to carry on the Filipino propaganda in Spain, he had to prepare himself by studying day and night in order to be better able to discharge his new responsibility. He said:
“With respect to the newspaper, I am very grateful for your wish, but I am already engaged, or somewhat, to manage one. Now I am devoting myself night and day to certain studies, for I should not want to manage any paper without having certain knowledge of the country, its history, its administration, because, as I understand, we shall have to fight much, and it would be nice to fight and defeat the enemy. For this, I shall have much use for the very rich collection of the British Museum, a collection that is not found anywhere else, for which reason I shall still remain here for a long time. From here it is easy for me to go to Belgium, Sweden and Norway, by way of Holland, Germany and Denmark.”
According to a Tagalog parable which Rizal quoted in a letter written in Europe sometime in October, 1891, “Tunay at masama ang panahon, payat ang lupá, mabálang, mabagyó at inililipad ñg hañgin ang tanim, ñguni at sa kaiiñgat ay may palos na matutuklasan.” (It is true that the weather is bad, the land is barren, there are many locusts, it is stormy, and the plants are being carried by the wind; but if the field is well prepared, an eel is usually found in it.) Rizal also had occasion to quote the English adage “Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today” in a letter to Ferdinand Blumentritt dated at Brussels, July 5, 1890, by way of advertence to the Spanish government to immediately effect reforms in the administration of the Philippines before it was too late.
Marcelo H. del Pilar was also a model of indefatigable energy and industry. Forced to seek sanctuary in Spain from political and religious persecution in his native land, without means and thrown upon the generosity of his friends he rolled up his sleeves and cheerfully braced himself for the task that was to bring him to an early grave. With indomitable courage and tenacity, he faced every difficulty on his way to carry out his mission of propaganda against the abuse, tyranny and corruption of the Spanish administration in the Philippines. He never knew the meaning of procrastination and he never missed any opportunity to harass the enemies of his country with his stinging wit and lashing satire. According to a biographer, if all his articles, essays and monographs, whether published independently or scattered throughout the newspapers and reviews, were gathered together and published in one collection, “they would make at least five or six volumes in quarto, of 400 pages each, and would have no equal in the Philippine bibliography so far as wealth of local and international information and serenity and fearlessness in journalistic controversy are concerned.”
When Edilberto Evangelista arrived in the Philippines after finishing the civil engineering course in the University of Ghent, the revolution was already in progress and he lost no time in offering his services to General Aguinaldo. He plunged into the work assigned to him with such zest that he was soon promoted to the rank of General and placed in command of the Engineer Corps. In the words of a Spanish writer, “he conceived the daring enterprise of converting the defenses of Cavite into a single redoubt.” He built several trenches in different places but he was not able to carry his plans to completion because he fell heroically at the battle of Zapote Bridge on February 17, 1897. But the trench which he built at Binakayan which was three meters wide and one kilometer long attested to his military engineering skill. The Spanish Army was repulsed here with great losses on November 9, 1886, and when the fortification finally fell into the hands of the enemy after the death of Evangelista, the Spanish general after examining it exclaimed: “I am satisfied; because if I did not conquer it then (referring to the attack of November 9th last), I understand that it is one of those that would check any army.” His death was a great loss to the revolutionary army which suffered terrible reverses thereafter.
The Filipino priests who strove for the secularization of the clergy, which struggle incidentally furnished one of the impelling motivations of the revolution, were characterized by their zeal and enthusiasm in their patriotic work. Worthy of special mention was the initiator of the movement, Dr. Pedro Pablo Pelaez. His supreme obsession was the Filipinization of the local clergy and when he died in the earthquake of June 3, 1863, Dr. Jose Burgos carried on his work. As learned as his predecessor, Dr. Burgos carried the campaign through the columns of the La Discusión, a newspaper published by the Regidor brothers. He disdained half-way measures and in bringing the issue to public notice he was even accused of injecting politics into a purely ecclesiastical affair. The enemies of the cause could not rest easy under the tirade of Dr. Burgos’ brilliant logic until the Cavite Revolt of 1872 furnished the flimsy excuse for his execution together with Fathers Mariano Gomez and Jacinto Zamora.
That these classic examples of Filipino initiative, enterprise and loyalty to duty may not lapse into futility, it behooves us present-day Filipinos to cultivate these virtues not only for our personal advancement but for the progress and prosperity of our fatherland as well. Without the will to work, industry degenerates into drudgery and is no better than slavery. Only by adopting a correct attitude towards our work and giving ourselves wholeheartedly to the proper fulfillment of our duties shall we be able to give full play to whatever talent is given us and justify our existence in this world. In the words of Emilio Jacinto, “Work is a gift to humanity, because it awakens and gives vigor to intellectual power, will, and body, which are indispensable for progress in life.”
XIV. CONTRIBUTE TO THE WELFARE OF YOUR COMMUNITY AND PROMOTE SOCIAL JUSTICE. YOU DO NOT LIVE FOR YOURSELVES AND YOUR FAMILIES ALONE. YOU ARE A PART OF SOCIETY TO WHICH YOU OWE DEFINITE RESPONSIBILITIES.
The individual lives not for himself and for his family alone. His life is a community life. He has, therefore, larger interests to serve. He should take interest in the affairs of his government and of the community in which he lives. Civic conscience is a feeling of responsibility, courage and pride. Rizal said: “Man’s object is not to satisfy the passions of another man; the object is to seek happiness for himself and his kind by following the road of progress and perfection.”
Our Constitution ordains the “promotion of social justice to insure the well-being and economic security of all the people.” (Sec. 5, Art. II, Constitution.) Social justice is a vital principle in human relationship. It implies square deal and fairness in our social and economic relations with our fellowmen. It means human sympathy and concern for the welfare of others. It is against exploitation, oppression, extortion or plunder.
Luis R. Yangco shared his profits with his employees in addition to giving them regular salaries. The Reverend Valeriano Malabanan, beloved teacher of Mabini, who left a legacy of cultured and useful citizens to his country, admitted poor students to his school free of charge. In the administration of the Centro Escolar, Librada Avelino established a reputation for boundless generosity by contributing out of her personal funds to the education of poor but deserving students.
It is our duty to help in the promotion of social justice so that every Filipino may have the opportunity to acquire, through toil, his necessities in food, clothing and shelter, together with reasonable comforts, and a leisure which will permit cultural self-improvement and a participation in the blessings of an enlightened civilization.
XV. CULTIVATE THE HABIT OF USING GOODS MADE IN THE PHILIPPINES. PATRONIZE THE PRODUCT’S AND TRADES OF YOUR COUNTRYMEN.
It is important that we develop our local industries with the aim in view of diminishing our imports, retaining our wealth within the confines of our country and increasing the earning capacity of our people. Enterprising men and women have heeded this call to develop domestic production, and as a result, factories have sprung up in our towns, and even in the barrios we witness the expansion of household industries. But unless we patronize their products, the efforts of these men and women are doomed to failure. We should coöperate in the building up of our national economy and where we can not actively produce we should at least, as a matter of patriotic duty, buy locally-made products in preference to imported goods.
Roman Ongpin, whose love for things Filipino was so ardent that throughout his whole lifetime he wore no other garment than the simple barong tagalog, on his deathbed asked his children to dress his body in Filipino apparel. Lorenzo Guerrero was required to wear a European coat on the occasion of the award to him by the Spanish Government of the medal of civil merit for services rendered during the cholera epidemic of 1882, but he declined to obey the order, saying: “Let them pin the medal on my pechera (Filipino dress). Why, isn’t my Filipino shirt worthy to wear a medal as any European coat?”
Rizal realized the necessity of patronizing the trades of our countrymen as a means of insuring our economic advancement. During his exile at Dapitan, in order to supplement his medical practice which, although extensive, was not remunerative enough because most of his patients were poor, he established a commercial house for the purpose of offering competition to the Chinese who monopolized the retail trade in Mindanao as elsewhere in the Philippines. His letter to Blumentritt, dated August 29, 1894, describes his venture as follows:
“Here I have become half physician, half merchant. I have founded a commercial firm here. I have taught the poor inhabitants of Mindanao to unite and engage in commerce so that they may become independent and free themselves from the Chinese and thus be less exploited. But I have to talk much to the local Governor who, in spite of being a good man, is, however, in favor of the Chinese, and he prefers the Mongols to the inhabitants of Mindanao. Fortunately, the company is prospering; we gain something, and the poor people of Dapitan become active and contented.”
The problem which confronted Rizal still confronts us today. His attempt to break foreign monopoly of local trade may be regarded as the forerunner of the producers and consumers coöperatives now being organized by the Government all over the country. The elimination of middlemen, whether supported by domestic or foreign capital, will banish profiteering and thus insure to our farmers and artisans adequate return for their products and services and give to our consumers maximum purchasing power.
This is neither unprincipled selfishness nor vain idealism. It is nothing less than an enlightened mode of self-preservation. Charity begins at home and we should first set our house in order before we think of helping strangers stand on their own feet. We should, therefore, cultivate foreign trade only insofar as our products may be exchanged for goods which we cannot produce locally.
We are already producing locally-manufactured textiles, embroidery, hats, shirts, ties, shoes, slippers, cosmetics, cigarettes, canned goods, foodstuffs, toys, paper, office and school supplies, ceramics, building materials, kitchen utensils, and various household gadgets which we used to import before in large quantities. Our extensive and continued patronage of these local products will help bolster our infant industries and lead to national economic self-sufficiency. We would thus contribute in a large measure to the economic stability of our people and thereby promote their happiness and contentment.
XVI. USE AND DEVELOP OUR NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVE THEM FOR POSTERITY. THEY ARE THE INALIENABLE HERITAGE OF OUR PEOPLE. DO NOT TRAFFIC WITH YOUR CITIZENSHIP.
Real freedom must go hand in hand with economic stability, if not economic prosperity. Our vast domain and natural resources constitute the inalienable heritage of our people. We cannot alienate them. We are at most usufructuaries thereof. They belong to the generations yet unborn. It is, therefore, our duty to conserve and develop them.
As early as February 7, 1781, a Spanish Governor-General, addressing the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País which was organized pursuant to a royal decree convoking local talent to devote themselves to the economic development of the Islands, made the following glowing inventory of our resources:
“Of what will the Society of Manila not be capable when it extends its glance over the pleasant fields of the Philippines to investigate the beauties which Nature has deposited in them; to combine upon the important branches of agriculture, industry and commerce all that may lead to the advantageous establishment, and to save them from the chaos of poverty to which they are being reduced by alien commerce on the one hand and by inaction and indolence on the other. Is the cause perchance, that the Philippines lack the raw materials to meet the necessities of life and all our supplies? Certainly not. The Philippines are rich in the three vegetable, animal and mineral kingdoms. They merely await the law of wise application in order to make delivery of the treasures they contain in kind of clove, cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg; in exquisite cotton, abaca, lanotan, tonduque for textiles; in indigo and bonga sibukaw dyes and other drugs; in rice, wheat, corn, kidney-bean and other grains; in abundant wax, cacao, sugar, tobacco, tea, coffee, edible birds’ nests, slug, coconut and sesame oils in abundant lumber for construction and other purposes; in many precious pearls, mother-of-pearl, tortoise shells, sigay or snails that serve as coins in some kingdoms of India; in amber, civet and many exquisite kinds of fishes; in domestic cattle, carabaos, cows, sheep, goats and horses, and also wild mountain game, as the wild boar and deer, from which three trades are derived from their skins, beef and tendons; in many placers and mines of gold, copper and iron; in diverse medicinal plants, resins, and gums used by us, our learning not having, up to the present, succeeded in investigating the entire riches and beauties of the Philippines, for lack of Natural History.”
Nature has richly endowed our country in the way of natural resources and wealth. Our principal natural treasure vault is our wide expanse of fertile arable land without which the abundant agricultural products enumerated in the preceding description would not be possible. Opportunity for the cultivation of numerous other plants and crops is unlimited. Later discoveries have also uncovered other underground riches with which we have been lavished; in addition to gold, copper and iron, we also have marble, coal, chromite, mineral oils, lead, zinc and manganese deposits. Our rivers and waterfalls are potential sources of power with which to furnish us electricity and turn the wheels of our industry. All these untold riches are ours to develop and exploit for ourselves and our children and our children’s children. And it is our duty both to our forefathers and our posterity, to husband these resources with that wise end in view, and prevent their unreasonable depletion either through wastage or through pilfering by aliens.
Our natural resources are primarily for the Filipinos. Corporations or associations desiring to exploit or develop them must be characterized by citizenship to the extent of sixty per centum of Filipino capital. Alien individuals are prohibited from acquiring public and private agricultural land, excepting with respect to the latter, in cases of hereditary succession. (Article XII, section 5.) This proceeds from the fact that the government which we are establishing is intended for Filipinos. It is designed to make them happy and progressive. This is sane nationalism and self-protection which every country of the world is practising today in the interest of self-preservation.
The nationalization and conservation of our natural resources are of such vital importance that the framers of our Constitution devoted the whole of its Article XII to this subject. Its first section provides that “All agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease or concession at the time of the inauguration of the Government established under this Constitution. Natural resources with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or lease for the exploitation, development, or utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years, except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power,
in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant.”
Because of the vital importance of preserving our patrimony for ourselves and our posterity, the National Assembly passed Commonwealth Act No. 108 which was later amended by Commonwealth Act No. 421, imposing severe penalties on acts of evasion of the constitutional and legal provisions on the nationalization of certain rights, franchises and privileges. It is not enough, however, that we do not infringe the law in this regard; it is likewise our civic obligation to see that other people do not violate the law with impunity.
We should subscribe to the following profession of nationalistic creed: “I would rather live in a nipa shack whose ownership I may not only boast but within whose four corners I may also enjoy the companionship of my wife and children in the realization that its weather-beaten parts may some day be replaced by my progeny, or the fragile construction entirely demolished and a stronger and grander structure raised in its stead,—repaired or demolished, as the case may be, not by those who do not and cannot love it, but by those who have inherited it, who will cherish its possession and will be determined to defend it as a priceless gift of God.”