Education and Home

Dr. Jose Rizal, the symbol of ideal leadership today

A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven - The Philippine Star

One time, Professor Jose David Lapuz, an international lecturer, a noted foreign policy expert, and Rizalista la Vanguardia, was invited to give a speech on the life of Dr. Jose Rizal for our O.B. Montessori Professional High School and college students. The professor stood tall and elegantly poised in his lavender blue linen suit with the Rizalista emblem.

We record here how Professor Lapuz captured the full attention of the young students.

Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Filipinos

From 1896, the year of the death of Dr. Jose Rizal up to now, the third millennium, we have not yet produced a Filipino who can equal the extraordinary greatness, as well as the spectacular eminence of Rizal. That is why I am so pleased as I passed by the statue of our great national hero in your quadrangle.

I also noted Benigno Aquino’s bust which had the inscription – “The Filipino is worth dying for.” Ninoy is probably one of the greatest Filipinos of his generation – a noble man, a martyr, and an eminent Filipino.

Of course, the whole life of Rizal is a monument to education. I consider Rizal one of the most highly educated heroes in Philippine History. Rizal is number one in education, number one in eminence. It is only right that he be called “Pambansang bayani ng sambayanang Pilipino” (the national hero of the Filipinos).

Jose Rizal, ‘Una Perla Del Ombre’ (Pearl of a Man)

Jose Rizal’s friend, Don Trinidad Herminigildo Pardo de Tavera, Doctor of Medicine and scholar of the 19th century said, “Rizal cultivated all his qualities in order not to perfect them, but he practiced them in order to bring about the moral betterment of the race. Rizal possessed a great mental caliber and he, therefore, demonstrated that the Filipino race was able to give birth to individuals endowed with the highest attributes, who could be considered an honor to the human race. Remember that during this time, the Filipinos were considered second-class citizens. They were widely discriminated by the oppressive friars and were called Las Indias or Los Indios!”

Rizal proved that although he was not white, he was of the brown race, did not have an aquiline nose, and his parents were not Spaniards – he excelled! He surpassed all students of Ateneo de Manila high school, where he took the course Bachelier in Artes. He graduated summa cum laude. From his first year until he finished, his grades were all flat one or 100 percent. A Filipino Indio, Rizal was not tall, was not extraordinary, nor was he physically well built. But from the shoulder up, he was extraordinary, even until he studied at Universidad de Santo Tomas.

Before, Filipinos were always considered stupid, lazy, and lacked dignity. Well, Jose Rizal proved the opposite of all these qualities. He showed the finest characteristics of the race, and was called “Una Perla del Ombre” or Pearl of a Man.

The true meaning of valor

Rafael Palma was 11 or 12 years old when he witnessed the execution of Dr. Jose Rizal. This inspired him to write “Biografia de Rizal.” Later, Rafael Palma became the president of the University of the Philippines and later founded the Partido Nationalista. Don Rafael Palma was also considered one of our great Filipinos.

Palma said, “Finding his country inert, disunited, voiceless and unconscious of its own miseries, Rizal galvanized it, united it and inspired in it sentiments of solidarity, self-respect and dignity.” Thus, Rizal did not only excel in his studies, his mental accomplishments, but he used this to inspire the Filipino nation to grow in dignity and self-respect.

Rizal lived loving the Philippines virtuously, disinterestedly and with profound religiosity. Virtuously, meaning with virtues of character. Disinterestedly or unselfishly means thinking of others before himself.

His life became his best poem, better than “Ultimo Adios,” which is climaxed by the epigrammatic dramatic act of fearlessly facing the firing squad. With very great honor and with very great dignity, he faced the firing squad. He acted with courage, in spite of his fear – this is the true meaning of valor. In spite of your fear, you do your duty because foremost in your thoughts is the honor of the country not the “self.”

Poverty is also the basis of terrorism

Rizal has been dead for a long time now, 117 years to be exact. Still, we see the injustice in our country, as well as the widespread poverty. Because of that poverty, there is injustice and oppression.

When you go to Mindanao, you see the most poverty stricken areas in our country. It is sad since Mindanao is a “paradise.” If this is fully developed, this could feed another 60 more million Filipinos. That is how rich Mindanao is.

But what do we see in Mindanao? Poverty and deprivation. So, what Rizal said still applies. During Jose Rizal’s time, the oppression came from the political structure. Now, we have a constitutional and liberal democracy, but we still have poverty because of economic misplanning. This poverty will produce oppression, injustice and a great amount of unhappiness. Thus, Rizal’s dream has not yet materialized.

When we look at the miserable conditions of the great majority of our country, we feel self conscious. If you have so much and see the rest of your countrymen have so little, you feel guilty.

I quote from the Bible, “Those to whom much is given, much is expected.” Thus if you have a social conscience, you start asking, why is this happening to our Mother Filipinas? What have I not done that I can do? This should be asked by all Filipinos.

The youth is the hope of the Fatherland

As Filipinos, we should do a lot more. This may seem unfair to tell you since you are still young and still studying, but let me tell you, when you study very well, you do not waste your time and you live up to the dreams of your parents and your teachers – you are also doing a lot for your country. You cannot be soldiers or public officials yet, but your serious dedication to your studies is an act for the good of the country since you become the educated youth.

Rizal said, “The youth is the hope of the fatherland.” What he actually wanted to say is, “The educated youth is the hope of the fatherland.” With education, you can equip yourself with solid knowledge that will elevate you to accomplish your noble purpose. Therefore, without education, the youth is not the hope, but becomes the curse of the nation.

Sambayanang Filipino

We need the Concept of a Nation – This is where the word Nationalism comes from, “the advocacy of the interest of a nation.” Nationalism is “the advocacy, the promotion, the persevering pursuit of what is good for the nation.”

First, we should relate ourselves to a nation advancing the interests, the good, and the welfare of our nation, which we call Nationalism. Then, we relate that nation to other nations, which we call internationalism. So, step by step – the Self, the Family the Nation and then the Family of Nations under the auspices of an Almighty God.

Today, nation destroys another nation. You destroy a civilization so your country will win. If you win, you become a super power but you destroy the concept of “International Brotherhood”. We won’t be considered a “Family of Nations” since in a Family of Nations, we are EQUAL – nation-states possessing sovereignty and national jurisdiction. We may be a poor, developing country, but we are the equal of the United States as far as the International Law is concerned.

Rizal is a great Internationalist as well as a Nationalist. Being a nationalist does not mean Rizal is anti-foreigner or he won’t go to other countries. The more he traveled abroad, the more he became profoundly a Filipino by interrelating with other nations and cultures. We should not become a closed nationalist, so that we become a Fascistic nationalist. We should be open to a larger world so that we become Cosmopolitan Internationalist even as we are nationalistic. This is the life of Jose Rizal.

The desperate search for true leaders today

What is a true leader? A leader originates and does not imitate. A leader keeps his eyes on the distant horizon and sees what an ordinary person does not. This is the evidence of his leadership. He does not accept the status quo, but instead challenges it. They follow their genius not just the party line.

Jose Rizal set the pattern of an extraordinary leader. He possessed a great mental caliber that prodded him to enhance his education all over Europe. This, combined with a high sense morality and unselfishness, he found the Filipinos disunited, voiceless, and not ever aware of their miseries. Especially eloquent in Spanish, although familiar with German and French, he wrote and spoke profusely, exhorting the Filipinos to fight peacefully for justice.

He was neither fair skinned nor mestizo, like our actor politicians, yet he had a great following among the foreign and local intellectuals as well as the down trodden.

The Kingdom of God is like a merchant who searches for a precious pearl. When he found one of great value, he sells everything that he has to buy it (Matthew 13:45-16). In the same way a true leader will have to sacrifice much to bring God’s Kingdom to us.

(For feedback email at [email protected])

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