Rizal: A phenomenal boy / Rizal’s image to foreigners
SUNDRY STROKES (The Philippine Star) - December 28, 2013 - 12:00am

The following essays commemorate Rizal Day, Dec. 30.

Picture a nine-year-old boy imposing on himself a routine so rigid, the average adult would find it extremely difficult to follow. Rizal was such a boy.

When he was in Biñan studying Latin  — yes, at nine years  — his daily program was amazingly regular and methodical for a boy of his age. He would hear mass at four in the morning — if there was mass at that unholy hour — or study in his room if mass was said later. From mass, he would come home for breakfast, go to class, come home at 10, rest, eat his lunch, study again, be off to school at 2:30 and come home at 5. He would then play for a short period, study his lessons, make sketches and then take his supper.

It was a rare day Rizal veered from this schedule, yet most boys his age would have nothing in their minds except the thought of eating or playing. But already at nine, Rizal had realized the value of time. Already, he had come to believe earnestly that time wasted was time irretrievably lost. Rizal as a child was too precocious to enjoy life.

It was as though Rizal had an uncanny awareness that he had not long to live, for in childhood and early adolescence, he tried his hand at a considerable number of things. At eight, he had composed his first poem, and had by that time a smattering of Latin and Spanish. At nine, he was taking painting and drawing lessons — and showing promise.

He entered the Ateneo when he was 11, and here again he showed he was as versatile as he was methodical; he mastered Greek and fencing with equal facility. He continued to paint and to draw. He started his first lessons in sculpture and to his poems he added a short-story (leyenda) and a dialogue.

As though being versatile and methodical were not enough, Rizal had to excel in almost anything he did.

His diligence was born of a deep dedication to study and a sense of obligation to his parents, heightened by what his education was costing them and by the disgrace and injustice they were suffering under the Spanish authorities. To illustrate: Rizal’s mother was in prison during his period of study. She was there on false charges and  kept in solitary confinement. The news of her impending release had elated Rizal so much that he began to win prize after prize in the quarterly examinations. This was in his third year at the Ateneo. Close to the end of the year, he won five medals and these, more than anything else, made him happy, saying: “With them I could repay my father somewhat for his sacrifices.”

The picture of Rizal as a student would not be complete without mention of his scientific and independent turn of mind. Though reared as a Catholic, he had a freer, less hampered mind than most of his colleagues. The why and the wherefore of things were a constant challenge to him. Although he had the imagination of a poet, he had the detachment of a scientist.

It was this rational nature, manifested even during his student days, in his interest in philosophy, physics, and the natural sciences, that caused him to ask the why and wherefore of Spanish tyranny and domination. Because of this faculty of reasoning things out logically, he concluded that the era of cruelty and injustice should end, and that he had a part to play to bring about the cessation of his countrymen’s sufferings.

Reprinted from my book “Turning Back the Pages,”available at National Book Store and the Solidaridad Bookshop.

Rizal’s image to foreigners

The following essay was written by my mother Dr. Severina Luna-Orosa (valedictorian, UP College of Medicine 1914). An avid Rizalist, she founded the Kababaihang Rizalista, the female counterpart of the Knights of Rizal. Her affinity for writing won her the Premio Zobel at 93. Herewith is a reprint from her book “Rizal’s Challenge and Appeal.”

Looking at Rizal’s picture, Lombroso, a world-famous sociologist, stated: “Initiators of great revolutions, scientific or political, who produce human progress, are either geniuses or saints, and have a marvelously harmonious expression.

Retana, author of Rizal’s first complete biography, agrees with Lombroso’s analysis thus: Rizal’s forehead reveals intelligence, his eyes are those of a thinker, his jaws mean strength of character, and the sweet totality gives an idea of a reflective man, a suffering poet and a truly superior being, sympathetic and understanding.

Rizal’s most ardent love was his love of country. He loved his country virtuously, disinterestedly, with profound religiosity to the extent that he died for her.

A Rizalist has called Rizal’s execution a hysterical, incomprehensible error.


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