Catching Up On Rizal and Rizalism

Scarborough Chapter, CANADA

Reading between the lines of  Dr. Jose Rizal’s NOLI and FILI will astonish many of his readers as they 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:
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD: Simply means anything that at first seems precious 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”  

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 the king”.

GREEK TO YOU:  appeared in Chapter 36 in the NOLI. An incident where Father Damaso noticed a Spanish half-breed leaving the sacristy while delivering his sermon. When confronted the student replied, “I do not understand Tagalog”. Then Father Damaso shouted and dealing him a blow, “Why did you try to be funny and say it is Greek to you?”

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 cliche’ resurfaced in the FILI in Chapter 15.

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.”

MIGHT MAKES RIGHT 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 lectured on Juanito Pelaez saying “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 aspires 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, should not seek more than the greatest happiness for himself.”

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 exceptional 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”.

In the FILI, Rizal assigned the role to a Filipino native priest, Father Florentino his position of what subservience mean. The issue is answered in FILI Chapter 7 in a dialogue as Simoun cautioned Basilio that “Resignation is not always a virtue; it is a crime when it encourages oppression. “There are no slaves where there are no tyrants,”

And at the same tome justify his concern what a successful revolution may bring which brings to the scenario on how pathetic to see a revolutionario getting confronted by a stark reality of a failed revolution. Again batting for Rizal as his alter ego, Father Florentino, while sort of giving the last rite to a dying Simoun, explained his homily 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.

“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?”

Rizal looked at the Roman Catholic Church like any organized religion being used, practiced and propagated to further evil motives anathema to the Christian tenets. He looked at religion in a different perspective. Blumentrit who was a devout Catholic was at first disturbed by Rizal’s anti-church stance. But with his explanation, Rizal finally got his friend to listen that the friars in the Philippines used religion as a shield, weapon, fort, citadel and armor.

“They misused the name of religion for some pesos.  They cry religion to carry off innocent girls, “religion” in order to secure interest, “religion” to ruin the tranquility of marriage and the family, if not perhaps the respectability of the women. How should I not oppose this religion with all my might, when it’s the first cause of our sufferings and sorrows Christ did the same with the religion of his land when the Pharises misused it”

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