What our politicians today can learn from Dr. Jose Rizal?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - June 19, 2021 - 12:00am

Today happens to be the 160th birth anniversary of the greatest Malayan who ever lived, Dr. Jose Mercado Rizal Alonso y Realonda. This genius is the Philippines' national hero, a great novelist, poet, ophthalmologist, world traveler, scholar, freedom fighter, reformist, pacifist, and visionary. He was greater than Bonifacio, Mabini, and Gomburza, and his achievements far exceeded those of the Del Pilars and the Lunas. He never waged war, much less killed a single enemy but his writings made the friars cower in shame and the Spanish rulers tremble in fear. He loved many women and proved that his pen is mightier than the sword.

Rizal loved his country so much that he offered his life to spark the Philippine revolution against Spain which oppressed, exploited, and ravished our people for 327 years. Rizal was and is the greatest Filipino. But if Rizal were alive today, and would try to join politics, he would be beaten by Bong Revilla whose only palpable achievement was to dance the “budots”. If he were with us today, and would run for the Senate, Manny Pacquiao, Lito Lapid, and Bong Go would get more votes than him. It is the most unfortunate, and even shameful destiny that bedevils the Filipinos is the fact that our people never really appreciated the greatness of our hero. When we see his monument, we do not reflect on the impact of his many outstanding deeds. We just take Rizal for granted.

Jose Rizal was born during our nation's darkest times, and died at age 35, without seeing the dawn, after thousands of long nights of pains, burdens, and sadness. Rizal is Southeast Asia's answer to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Rizal was the man whose vision was a century ahead of his time, whose many talents were a combination of Einstein, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Beethoven, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a brilliant and hardworking student and scholar, who achieved extraordinary scholastic records, which amazed his mentors and astounded his classmates and relatives. He was truly the joy of his mother, Doña Teodora Alonso and the silent pride of his father, Don Francisco Mercado, the beloved younger brother of General Paciano, and the darling brother of his nine sisters: Saturnina, Narcisa, Olympia, Lucia, Maria, Concepcion, Josefa, Trinidad, and Soledad.

He walked thousands of miles, from Calamba to UST and back, and yes, all over Paris and Germany, and even unknown places beyond the borders of all other Filipinos' minds. He traveled all over Europe, from Spain to Portugal to France, Italy, Great Britain, Belgium, Austria, and Germany, a country that he admired and loved. At those times when there were no planes and luxury liners, he rode on horses, carts, borrowed cars, and trains. Often with not enough money, he had to work odd jobs just to fund his endless peregrinations. To Rizal, there were no mountain that he could not climb, no sea that he could not cross. He was self-propelled, determined, and purposive. Once he set his mind to doing things, he would focus all his attention, skills, talents, and summon his will and intellect to produce whatever he conceived.

The politicians today, whether they are with President Digong or with the quixotic 1Sambayan, whether they are as brilliant as Frank Drilon or as “budot” as Bong Revilla, should learn eight things from Dr. Jose Rizal: 1.) Passion for excellence, 2.) Unquenchable thirst for learning, 3.) Unconditional love for the country, 4.) Noble but achievable vision for our people, 5.) Hard work and perseverance, 6.) Firmness and determination, 7.) Unflinching courage and boldness to do what has never been done, and 8.) Integrity and fidelity to one's purpose no matter what happens. There is no Filipino today who has all these, but five or even four of these will do.

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