If Dr. Jose Rizal were alive today
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - December 30, 2019 - 12:00am

If Dr. Jose Rizal were alive today, I wonder what would be his reactions to today's events and people. He would have been 158 years, six months, and eleven days old today. He was only 35 years six months and eleven days old when he was executed on December 30, 1898. Today is his 123rd death anniversary.

Rizal was chosen (over Gat Andres Bonifacio) as our national hero, mostly upon the urging of the Americans, because his life was colorful and he was multi-talented, highly educated, well-traveled, smart, and a multi-linguist. He could write and speak fluently in over 10 languages. He also spoke Visayan because he lived for quite a time in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte. He was a prolific writer who wrote not just the two novels “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo” but also more than 100 poems mostly in Spanish and Tagalog.

Rizal was not only a doctor who graduated with high honors from the University of Santo Tomas, he was a novelist, poet, agriculturist, community organizer, propagandist, biologist, zoologist, and many more. He was also a nationalist and reformist. He was more a Crisostomo Ibarra than an Elias, if we refer to the characters he created in Noli. He hated the Spanish colonizers personified by Capitan Tiago, with his greed, avarice, and lust. He hated the modern scribes and Pharisees as dramatized by Padre Damaso and Padre Salve, for their self-righteousness, lust, greed, and their cruelty against the Indios.

Our hero also hated the pretensions and social-climbing whims of Doña Victorina, and the profligacy and ostentatious arrogance of the guardia civiles and their underlings. He extolled the positive values of Padre Florentino and lamented the tragic miseries in the life of Sisa, Crispin, and Basilio. Rizal was acknowledged as greater than Bonifacio because he proved that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. His effective writings even inspired Bonifacio himself, and General Emilio Aguinaldo, General Antonio and his brother, the great painter, Juan Luna. Rizal was a fearless advocate for reforms, even as he caught the ire of the Spanish friars, the Spanish generals, and civilian officials.

If Rizal were alive today, certainly, he would have many things to say about the evils of drugs as the new social cancer. But he might not be pleased with the leadership style of President Duterte. In our president, Rizal might see a little Padre Damaso and a little Capitan Tiago. And, definitely, the hero may develop a dislike of such characters as Apollo Quiboloy (whom he might compare to Padre Salve), and the Tulfo brothers. But Rizal might be fascinated by the sartorial elegance and colorful language of Secretary Sal Panelo, although the hero would not like Mocha Uson. He might fall for Gretchen Barretto because Rizal was a lover of women, from Segunda Katigbak, to Leonor Rivera, to Josephine Bracken.

I am sure that if Rizal lived today, he would have written about the many cancers that afflict our social, economic and political milieu. But definitely, he would have an eye on Catriona Gray and Pia Wurtzbach, as he used to fall for Nelly Bousted and Osei-san. If Rizal were alive today, we would always be inspired to excel in many fields of human endeavors.

JOSE RIZAL
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