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Oct 04th
Home Sections It Takes Two to Deliver a Message: Jose Rizal and His Alter Ego
It Takes Two to Deliver a Message: Jose Rizal and His Alter Ego PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jose Sison Luzadas, KGOR   
Sunday, 27 September 2009 21:06

By Jose Sison Luzadas, KGOR

Delray Beach, FL



We look at Jose Rizal not just a medical practitioner but also a man of letters. In his NOLI dedication, Jose Rizal was not contented in removing the veil to free Filipinos of their ignorance but also wanted those “liberated” to learn to read and the ability to make a critical analysis so as to arrive to rational conclusion.


In baseball parlance, assigning a “designated hitter” or “pinch hitting” is the name of the game. Almost at the end of NOLI we see Elias fatally shot while rowing a banca that he and Crisostomo Ibarra used to elude the Civil Guards along the Pasig River. Anchored in a safer area, Ibarra carried Elias to a wooded place where Elias spent the last breath hovering between life and death. Rizal (in the mouth of Elias) said: “I die without seeing the dawn of my country. Those who will see it cherish and adore but don’t forget those who fell in the darkness of the night!”  (“Ako’ mamamatay na hindi makita ang ‘bukang liwayliway’ ng aking bayan. Kayong makakita ibigin at huwag kalimutan ang mga nabuwal sa dilim ng gabi”)


The sound bites, the imagery and metaphor like DAWN that Rizal refers to mean independence is the “BUKANG LIWAYWAY” in Tagalog while “those who fell in the darkness of the night” has its equivalent translation “MGA NABUWAL DA DILIM NG GABI”, Yes all rhetoric but don’t they carry a lasting impact?


In the FILI, Chapter 7, Simoun has pinch-hitting job for Rizal as he cautioned Basilio that “Resignation is not always a virtue; it is a crime when it encourages oppression . . . There are no tyrants where there are no slaves.”


How pathetic to see Simoun limping from the wounds he received when he was fleeing to be confronted by a stark reality of a failed revolution. Rizal designated a native priest Father Florentino to be his alter ego . . . The padre explained to the wounded revolutionario why a native uprising is doomed to fail. The revolution failed because the people are not ready for independence and because they are not ready for independence they don’t deserve it.” Simoun calmed down as he listened to the sermon of the old priest at the same bearing with him the pain of his wounds, wounded pride of his wounded revolution he planned but miserably failed.


The “extreme unction” performed as the last rites for the failed revolutionary was more of a lecture than a homily. Still with the vital signs, the dying Simoun got to listen what Father Florentino wanted him to know and understand.


“Doubtless. Freedom, first of all, must be deserved. The Filipinos are to be blamed for their misfortune. They have to be less tolerant towards tyranny, ready to fight for their rights and to suffer. They are still ashamed of their rebellious thoughts, are filled by selfishness, and by their aspiration to seize their share of the booty, whose possession in the hands of the oppressors they detest. Why should they then be given independence? ” What good is independence if the slaves of today are the tyrants of tomorrow?”


When you give ample time to read the NOLI and FILI, you will discover Rizal’s universality and versatility by reading between the lines of his novels.


Readers like you and me will be astonished to encounter familiar Latin phrases, clichés, aphorisms, dictum that we could hardly believe they have been around that long. But Rizal made them available in his novels and writings.  Here are some glaring witty examples found in Leon Ma. Guerrero’s translation:



BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: is often a quoted as a polite excuse when we almost squander an opportunity or rare chance to gain something to our advantage. Rizal’s NOLI Chapter 43 in describing the Espadanas, chose a native woman, Dona Victorina, a social climber whose facial makeup is pigmented with powdered rice so she will look ”European” and who at thirty-two has not given up her dream of becoming a Espanola one day, how much more if her husband is a full-blooded Spaniard.


Finally, fate intervened as she got her wish. To Dona Victorina, the appearance of an ugly, old and lame and a fake doctor, is BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!


ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD: Simply means anything that at first seems precious that turn out to be of no value. This is best illustrated in the NOLI while Crisostomo was having a calesa ride around Manila recalling the days before he left for Europe he passed by a hill in Bagumbayan only to remember the old priest who was Father Jose Burgos warning him that whatever he sees as “new” should not easily convince him because “ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD!


SPARE THE ROD, SPOIL THE CHILD: We often hear this advice but it has a reversed psychology in modern philosophy of education. In Chapter 19 in the NOLI dramatized the trial and tribulation of a school teacher whose conscience is in conflict with the school policy guidelines. Summoned and reprimanded by the parish priest, the schoolmaster complained: “’Soon it became known throughout the town that I was sparing the rod,’ The Parish priest sent for me”. “He said that I was spoiling the children, that I was wasting time, that I was not doing my duty, that the father who “SPARED THE ROD SPOILED THE CHILD”! 


GREEK TO YOU:  It appears in Chapter 36 in the NOLI. An incident where Father Damaso noticed a Spanish half-breed; Father Damaso shouted and dealing him a blow, “Why did you try to be funny and say it is “GREEK TO YOU?”


IN THE KINGDOM OF THE BLIND A ONE-EYED IS A KING:  In Chapter 32 in the NOLI Father Damaso used simile to impress his audience saying, ”there is no great merit in the moon shining at night. IN THE KINGDOM OF THE BLIND THE ONE-EYED MAN IS!”


CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME: This adage appeared in Chapter 36 where Don Filipo sighed bitterly after the mayor observed how the friars and the rich are united while the natives or Indios are divided and poor. “That is the way what will happen as long as that is the way we think, as long as prudence and fear mean the same. We give more importance to a possible evil than to an essential good. We meet an emergency with panic, not self-confidence. Everyone thinks of himself alone, nobody thinks of others, that is why we are all helpless” . . . “Have you never heard the saying, CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME?  The same cliché reappears in Chapter 15 in the FILI.


VOX POPULI, VOX DEI:  In a free society the epitome of the people’s choice is best illustrated in election results equating that “the voice of the people is the voice of God”. This phrase appeared in Chapter 27 in FILI. Is this not the standard measurement, an acceptance of the rule of the majority in any democratic society?


SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST AND THE ELIMINATION OF THE UNFIT: Under the heading of chapter 7 “Simoun” comes Rizal’s way of echoing Charles Darwin’s evolution theory of Origin of Species and the struggle for existence, “LET THE UNFIT PERISH AND THE STRONGEST SURVIVE!”


“RENDER THEREFORE UNTO CAESAR, THE THINGS WHICH ARE CAESAR’S: AND UNTO GOD THE THINGS THAT ARE GOD’S: As in the Bible, a look at a FILI character in Chapter 14, there was Sandoval trying to convince fellow students as he appealed to their senses and said  “BUT LET US GIVE TO CAESAR WHAT BELONGS TO CAESAR!”


“THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS” is no more no less the equivalent of a ‘bullying tactic’, a deceitful advice and trickery attributed to Nicollo Machiavelli from his treatise, The Prince. It did not escape the writings of Rizal when his FILI character Isagani as he lectured on Juanito Pelaez “THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS”.  You can find this line in the latter part of Chapter 14.


“THE GREATEST GOOD FOR THE GREATEST NUMBER”: is the penultimate goal of an ideal society to accomplish happiness. In this context, Rizal was fully aware of the socio-economic and political ideas of 18th- century thinkers John Stewart Mill, Jeremy Bentham and the Utilitarians. In Chapter15, Mr. Pasta, the old lawyer, was dispensing advice to Isagani, a medical student, “Always remember that charity begins at home; man, as Bentham says, “MAN SHOULD NOT SEEK MORE THAN THE GREATEST HAPPPINES FOR HIMSELF!”


“BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA”: When selection boils down to last few choices or options, there is a passage from Chapter 27 in the FILI, as the ensuing argument between Father Fernandez and Isagani was getting hot. ”But like yourselves, we must follow the tune WE ARE BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA!”  


Let us Rewind and Fast Forward to Chapter 26 in the NOLI, to eavesdrop to an on-going conversation between the old man, Pilosopo Tasio, and Crisostomo Ibarra where the latter received a good lecture on the issue of government inaction and insensitivity. “The government does not plan for a better future, it is only an ARM but the convent is the HEAD.” 


It will be intellectually stimulating to understand the vital issue that redefines the question of assimilation through “evolution”. Should Filipinos develop their own identity or aspire to assimilate with the Motherland (Spain)? What price revolution? As we gather from the FILI: “What will become of you? A nation without soul, a nation without freedom: everything in you will be borrowed, even the mistakes and the inadequacies. You demand Hispanization and do not blush for shame if it is denied to you. And even it were granted to you, what would you do with it, what would you gain from it? At best becoming a country of a military coup, a country thrown into confusion by civil wars, a republic of greedy people like some republics in South America


They refuse you instruction in their own language? “Then cherish your language; propagate it; keep our national culture alive Do you long to become a province; develop an independent, not a colonial mentality?  The less rights they will grant you, the more right you have to throw off the yoke.”


Not all who were sent by Spain to govern the Philippines were bad. Rizal was honest to acknowledge few exceptions like those Spaniards whose conduct and behavior as appointed colonial officials deserved praise and respect. One peninsular official about to return to Spain after his tour of duty commented to his native lackey:


“If one day you declare your independence, remember that there were many hearts in Spain which beat for you and fought for your rights!” # # #

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Last Updated on Sunday, 27 September 2009 21:17

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Quote of the Day

If a man will begin with certainties,he shall end with doubts;but if he will be content to begin with doubts,he shall end in certainties.-- Sir Francis Bacon, 1561-1626