Rediscovering Dr. Jose P. Rizal as a teacher

A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - July 11, 2019 - 12:00am

It was characteristic of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal to foresee and write of the future, such as in his series of four articles published in La Solidaridad titled, Filipinas Dentro Cien Años (The Philippines Within a Century). He sought to provide answers to the question: Given a century, which was a reasonable amount of time for matters to develop, what would become of the Philippines?

For our hero, this was not a mere political forecast. He believed that the Philippines would prosper if children and their parents were taught to help themselves by selfless leaders. Rizal yearned for the Filipinos to develop true independence and march with dignity alongside men from other free countries of the world. His solution was a social revolution through the education of the youth.

Rizal innovated a boarding school in Dapitan

Rizal believed that a teenager’s national consciousness could be excited by community service. He proved this through his “hands-on” school program while exiled in Dapitan. Sixteen high school boys who lived near his home were chosen to be his students. They earned their living by apprenticing in his medical clinic, as well as in his horticulture and stock farm, while academic lessons were done in the afternoons — free of charge. Field trips to mountains, caves, and the seashore became actual botany and zoology lessons. The dictum “sound body, sound mind” was lived out as he taught the boys boxing, swimming, wrestling, and fencing. Rizal’s high school class was a model of the ideal boarding school.

Rizal taught the Dapitan folks applied engineering

With his knowledge as a land surveyor (perito agrimensor), Rizal planned new street layouts of Dapitan and constructed them with the cooperative labor of the people. He likewise set up a lighting system of coconut oil lamps installed along dark streets. Using his limited knowledge of engineering, he provided the town with a water system completed in 1895 with the help of his pupils and the townspeople. A mountain stream several kilometers away supplied the water. The foundations of a dam and aqueduct pipes were built out of discarded roof tiles, bricks, gin bottles, and stones with mortar made out of burned seashells and corals.

Ever conscious of public welfare, Rizal drained the marshes to minimize the dangers of malaria. Recalling what he learned in Belgium and Germany, he invented a wooden machine for making bricks, manufacturing at least 6,000 bricks daily. He also introduced a hemp-stripping machine to increase the productivity of the abaca planters.

Rizal gave lessons on business entrepreneurship

Despite the abundance of marine life in the sea, the Dapitaños had no fishing industry because they knew nothing about using and making fishing nets. Rizal requested his brother-in-law Manuel Hidalgo to buy a big net for trawl fishing, and to send him two competent Calamba fishermen to teach the people better fishing methods. The nets came but not the fishermen, so Rizal trained the locals himself. This eventually established the local fishing industry.

Rizal also observed the Dapitaños did not engage in business. Setting an example of self-help to curb the Chinese control of domestic trade, he and business partner Ramon Carreon ventured into the hemp and copra trade. He promoted the establishment of a farmers’ cooperative managed by the people themselves to improve farm products, promote cooperative marketing, and extend protection to its members. He was fully convinced that community improvement was an impetus to national governance, respect, and integrity.

Rizal’s global appreciation of languages

Rizal visited many countries to study the people’s language and way of life so he could adopt ideas and programs that would benefit his countrymen. Before visiting Paris, he studied French to speak and write with the same ease he had with Spanish. While assisting at Dr. Becker’s clinic, Rizal spoke only a smattering of German but in three months of diligent study and practice, he spoke with ease. His knowledge enabled him to understand the works of German writers on the Philippines. While in Dapitan, Rizal studied the dialects of the Malaysian language. He envisioned organizing a Filipino colony in Borneo but he was recalled to Manila before the British authorities approved his plan.

The great Rizal from A to Z

Professor Jose David Lapuz’s alphabet rounds up our national hero. Dr. Jose Rizal was … A – Artist and Architect, who built houses in Dapitan. B –Businessman, who engaged in the copra business. C – Cartoonist, the first Filipino graphic artist whose drawings looked like turtles. D – Dramatist, who wrote dramas like Along the Pasig, which extolled the Virgin Mary. E – Educator, Economist, and Ethnologist. F – scientific Farmer. G – Geographer, who drew the geography of Dapitan.

H – Historian, who wrote Sucesos delas Islas Filipinas del Doctor Morga Anotada por Rizal. I – Inventor; among his inventions was a syringe made from bamboo, now displayed at the Berlin Museum of Anthropology. J – Journalist, who was an editor of La Solidaridad. K – knew 22 languages with proficiency in Spanish, French, and German. L – Lover in the good sense of the word. M –Musician, who wrote songs like Dulces Las Oras en la Propia Patria and Kayumanggi.

N – Nationalist, Naturalist, and Novelist, who authored Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. O – Ophthalmologist and Optometrist, who operated on his mother, Doña Teodora Alonzo. P – Painter, Poet, Philosopher, and Psychologist. Q – Queen of his heart was Doña Teodora, whom he wrote about in Queredisima Madre Mia (My most beloved mother).

R – understood Radiology. He was also a Romantic to Leonora Rivera, Josephine Bracken, Gertrude, and many more. But he was noble and always a gentleman, un Hidalgo.  S – Sculptor, who sculpted in wood the image of Jesus Christ and “On Death!” He was also a Scientist, who practiced Sociology as seen in his work, Sobre La Indolencia delos Filipinos (The Indolence of Filipinos). T – In a way, a Theologian. He quarreled with a Jesuit Father on Theology and impressed Padre Ulmer. U – Unitarian, who believed in the unity of the Filipino Nation.

V – Valedictorian. He was also Virtuous, who had love of country, generosity of spirit, love of justice, and love of freedom. W – Warrior of freedom. X – X-man, who used his superior ability to help others.  Rizal was a Xenophile, who appreciated foreign cultures. Y – Youth Leader, who wrote of the ideal Filipino Youth in Delia Esperanza dela Patria Mia (Fair Hope of the Fatherland). Z – Zoologist, who conscientiously collected zoological specimen. He sent a frog and lizard to Berlin for examination, which were named Rizali.  

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