What Filipinos should learn from “Gomburza”

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

The movie “Gomburza”, like the film about General Antonio Luna, reminded us that we, Filipinos, belong to a race that we could all be proud of, a race of valor, dignity, and honor. We should realize that in the hierarchy of human dignity, the Filipinos in the times of Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, were far superior to the Spanish friars and governors generals who oppressed them.

Gomburza also taught us that to be a teacher is to be a revolutionary. Father Pedro Pelaez instilled in the mind of Fr. Jose Burgos that no race, no matter how superior politically and militarily, could ever conquer the minds, souls, and hearts of a nation whose people truly stand for freedom, liberty, and human rights. What Fr. Pelaez taught him was precisely the same principles and core values that Fr. Jose Burgos inculcated in the minds of his students, Felipe Buencamino and Paciano Rizal. And somehow, Paciano acted also as a mentor to his younger sibling, Jose Rizal, when he made sure that the young Pepe witnessed the execution of the three priests.

In the same way that the Spanish oppressors executed the three priests on February 17, 1872 on false accusation of treason and sedition, Dr. Jose P. Rizal was likewise executed by the Spaniards on December 30, 1896. He was the greatest threat to the oppressors and exploiters because his pen was truly mightier than the Spanish swords. Twenty-four years passed after our national hero was traumatized by the martyrdom of the three priests when he himself was executed in exactly the same field in Bagumbayan. These two historic milestones in our saga as a people should be remembered by every Filipino. Those two events, two executions, truly inspired Gat Andres Bonifacio and the Katipuneros, Apolinario Mabini, and Antonio Luna to offer their own lives to our country and people.

Dr. Jose Rizal described the social cancer that brought so much pain and suffering to our forefathers in his immortal “Noli me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo”. He denounced the arrogance, the impunity, and the callous acts of injustice and cruelty inflicted upon our people by the Spanish military and friars. And having presented the problem in his two immortal novels, he offered two alternative solutions; the reformist, pacifist, and long-range approach in the character of Crisostomo Ibarra on the one hand, and the revolutionary, aggressive, and confrontational ways of Elias on the other hand. Somehow, the person of Rizal was so much like Ibarra, while Bonifacio, Luna, and the Katipuneros, were akin to Elias.

What the young Jose Rizal saw during the horrible and gruesome murders of the three priests by guillotine ignited in his young mind so much hatred against the oppressors and so much love for our country and people. The young Filipinos today should see this movie “Gomburza”, so that they could be touched too by the heroism of Fathers Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora. They should realize that the Philippines today are facing other forms of oppression, exploitation, and injustice. They should come to their senses that this is our only country, and that we do have a noble and honorable past. We have great heroes and a beautiful country to love and die for if necessary.

It is difficult to produce another Fr. Jose Burgos and another Dr. Jose Rizal. But day to day, as we face the pressures of social, economic, and political injustices, we need to rekindle the spirit of heroism in us. And even if we do not have to be executed in Luneta, we can stand up for our country, speak up against injustice and instill in our young the need to be true, to be courageous, and to fight up for what is right and what is just.

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