Starweek Magazine

Someone for the bigger picture

- Jose Vergel T. Herrera -

MANILA, Philippines - In Dr. Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, Elias was a man who was very crucial to how the plot unfolded.

Elias had a very gruesome past, his grandfather was accused of arson and was condemned, and he eventually committed suicide. His grandmother was also sought by the civil guards for not reporting the said incident. So she decided to escape. Elias’ father fell in love with a woman at Tayabas but then, they were not able to marry each other. But they had two children, and one of them was Elias.

Elias was a strong and loyal man. His loyalty was to both Crisostomo and the motherland. He devoted the last moments of his life to save the life of the person whom he believed was the only hope for the Filipinos to liberate themselves from their poor condition.

Elias was principled. Even when he discovered that an ancestor of Crisostomo Ibarra was responsible for the eradication of his ancestors, he was still able to maintain his composure and prevented himself from taking the life of Crisostomo.

Today’s world has leaders and servants, bosses and employees, lords and squires. The first can never survive without the latter. In the same sense, Don Crisostomo Ibarra would never have been able to escape and continue to live but for the vital role Elias played. Crisostomo, the main character, escaped from prison through the help of Elias.They used a small boat to reach their destination; but before they got there, they were pursued by civil guards. Elias knew that the guards were aware that Crisostomo was aboard that boat; but he also presumed that they did not know who among them was the real Crisostomo. So he jumped off the boat and swam. He was able to divert the attention of the guards to himself, thus allowing the main character to escape.

Elias may not be the one who held the most crucial role in the novel, but his role was very essential to the life of Crisostomo. Sometimes, the mission that one has to fulfill in life is not to directly make the world a better place, but to empower, inspire, or challenge someone else who has the true potential to carry on a larger task in this world of ours.

In reality, my function as a student can sometimes be compared to that of a driver of a bus. I am tasked to steer for everybody. This is quite contrary to Elias’ part in the story, but he showed me the sheer importance of those who do not have the lead roles. Elias allowed me to appreciate my peers even if they do not directly take part in my undertakings; they are still able to add value to my life in the way they treat me when we bump into each other, or when we chat for a short period of time, etc. These little things keep me sane; and sanity is very important if you want to prosper.

Elias also made me think twice about trusting people. Considering all the negative elements like thieves and kidnappers that are lurking in our city streets, I have adopted a cynical attitude towards many things. Even if he is just a fictional character, I consider that even if they are tremendously difficult to find, there are still people who are worthy of receiving trust.

In times of distress and disputes throughout the globe, people can’t help but use their brains and brawn for wrongdoing; but Elias was a perfect example of somebody who did not wish to just wreak havoc among his countrymen. He dedicated his capabilities to the betterment of the populace. He wanted to make a contribution in the improvement of society. He made me strengthen my desire to use my skills and talents for the further development of the nation. Indirectly, he made me believe that anything, be it large or small, will have an impact on the nation. So instead of becoming a part of the heavy burden of the country, I’ve been enlightened to contribute to the greater good of our people.

Another rare trait that he had which is hard to find, both in the Noli Me Tangere context and today is nationalism. Only seldom can you find people who are really willing to lose so much for the sake of their birthplace. Right now, so many people want to know what they can get from the state, whereas it should be the other way around. Our collective efforts are the factors that continue to make our nation great. Oh, what pride it would be to live in a land that is inhabited by people who are bound by their love of country! Elias showed his unwavering devotion to both the Philippines and its people by putting his life in danger for a noble purpose. He knew that the dignity of a nation lies in its people, so he worked to release the Indios from the chains that bound them to slavery, the chains which benefited only those who were from Spain.

He inspires me not just to seek fame and glory, but to look for true happiness, which can be found in hard work and contentment. With this profound motivation, I shall not attach myself to luxuries that only I can enjoy because in doing so, I would no longer partake of the dividends of happiness that are equally divided among those who have less in hand, but more in heart. Everything that can fit inside your fist will not matter if your heart is hollow.

During the silent moments in which I wrote this piece, I was able to comprehend and absorb the thought that “No man is an island.” Having said that, we must try our hardest to be able to help out in the lives of others because even if we interact with others, yet they do not value us, or worse, even detest us, then the life that we have isn’t worth living. I’ve considered that whether we like it or not, other people will always be part of our lives, so let’s make the most out of it. Why make enemies when you can create friends? But when it comes to your principles, always stick to what you believe in, because that will guide you throughout your life. Nobody has the right to force you to change the foundations upon which you have built your life.

It does not matter if we die a lonely death, what really matters is that we lived a meaningful life. If within the years of our existence, we were able to do something to preserve or improve anything that we love, like our country for example, then our lives would not have been wasted.

When we die, a gravestone shall be placed above our graves. It shall indicate the date of our birth and the date of our death, but are you aware which part of the gravestone is the most important? It is the dash carefully placed between the dates of birth and death. It is because that small line represents all the years that you’ve spent alive on earth. Make your dash meaningful and live a blissful life.

The writer is a fourth year student at Saint Columban College in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.

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