By Henry F. Funtecha, Ph.D. â€“ One of the surprising things about Dr. Jose Rizal that should be recognized by every Filipino is the relevance of his political thoughts in every step of our political development. This is particularly of great importance in the light of the many political issues and concerns that confront the nation today.
A famous author and editor of Rizal’s writings, the American Dr. Austin Craig, considered the Philippines’ national hero as a leading political scientist because Rizal had “enough concern for politics and was conservative and practical”. Dr. Friedrich Ratzel, an Austrian professor, commented alsoon Rizal being a political analyst.He said that Rizal had “acquired learning from the three continents and had a broad understanding of a social scientist that is very much needed in order to analyze the true situation of his country and to give judgment to its political development. He is the right person that is needed for a progressive humanity.” The Secretary of War of the United States, the Hon. Elihu Root,further said that the political writings of Rizal became the basis for American policies in the Philippines.
The core of Rizal’s political ideasconsisted ofthe republican system of government, the separation of the church and the state, social justice, defense of the poor and the weak, freedom and justice for every individual, equality of men, freedom of the press and of speech, rights of women, the importance of criticism, and trust in public office. His view of the relationship of the government and the people, for example,as expressed in his “La Indolencia de los Filipinos” is that “the people and the government are joined together and must help each other; a government that has no concern for the people becomes an anomaly in the midst of righteous people, just like a people with evil thoughts cannot stay under a righteous government. Tal pueblo, tal gobierno.”
The political ideas of Rizal were the results of many influences: His uncles and ancestors were not only interested in education but in politics also; his studies and travels in Asia, American and Europe; his being well-versed in four major languages – English, Spanish, French and German; his rich studies and researches in the libraries of London, Leipzig, Paris and Madrid; his famous professors and tutors, one of them the famous Dr. Ferdinand Blumentritt; his being a keen observer; and, his intense desire to help in the betterment of his countrymen and the advancement of his country’s civilization. All of these helped in molding Rizal as a conscientious political scientist.
In a humane manner — through his thoughts and words — Rizal almost achieved for his country the very difficult task of persuading his countrymen to subscribe to a new political and social evangelism based on freedom and social responsibility. Among millions of his countrymen he was the only light,among a few others, that were able to touch the malignant cancer afflicting the Philippines under the Spanish rule, while the rest saw a normal situation. But this was not what was unique about him; he triumphed over cowardice and unconcern and he exposed the illness of his country although he knew that he was making himself susceptible to danger and even certain death. Because he saw that his countrymen had no voice, were divided and fanatically tied to their religion, and not fully aware of their sacrifices, he endeavored to unite them and promoted pride in their spirit through self-respect and dignity.
Reading his novels “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo”, his article “Filipinas Dentro de Cien Anos”, his poems “A la Juventud Filipina” and “Mi Ultimo Adios”, his letters to his family and friends, and his other literary works, can attest to Rizal being a leading political scientist of his time.