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Constantino, Renato.

Dissent and Counter-Consciousness

(Quezon City: Malaya Books,Inc., 1970).
Veneration Without Understanding
In the histories of many nations, thenational
revolution represents a peak of achievement to which
the minds of man returntime and again in reverence
and for a renewal of faith in freedom. For the national
revolution isinvariably the one period in a nation's
historywhen the people were most united,
mostinvolved, and most decisively active in the
fightfor freedom. It is not to be wondered
at,therefore, that almost always the leader of
thatrevolution becomes the principal hero of
hispeople. There is Washington for the UnitedStates,
Lenin for the Soviet Union, Bolivar forLatin
America, Sun Yat Sen, then Mao Tse-Tungfor China
and Ho Chi Minh for Vietnam. The unitybetween the
venerated mass action and thehonored single
individual enhances the influenceof both.In our case,
our national hero was not theleader of our
Revolution. In fact, he repudiatedthat Revolution. In
no uncertain terms he placedhimself against
Bonifacio and those Filipinos whowere fighting for
the country's liberty. In fact,when he was arrested he
was on his way to Cubato use his med-[p. 125]ical skills
in the serviceof Spain. And in the manifesto of
December 15,1896 which he addressed to the
Filipino people,he declared:From the very beginning,
when I firsthad notice of what was being planned,
Iopposed it, fought it, and demonstrated itsabsolute
impossibility.I did even more. When later, against
myadvice, the movement materialized, of my
ownaccord I offered my good offices, but my
verylife, and even my name, to be used in
whateverway might seem best, toward stifling
therebellion; for convinced of the ills which it
wouldbring, I considered myself fortunate if, at
anysacrifice, I could prevent such
uselessmisfortune. I have written also (and
I repeatmy words) that reforms, to be
beneficial, mustcome from above, and those which
comes frombelow are irregularly gained
and uncertain.Holding these ideas, I cannot do
lessthan condemn, and I do condemn this uprisingwhich dishonors us Filipinos and discredits thosethat
could plead our cause. I abhor its criminalmethods
and disclaim all part in it, pitying fromthe bottom of
my heart the unwary that havebeen deceived into
taking part in it. [1]
Rizal and The Revolution
Rizal's refusal to align himself with therevolutionary
forces and his vehementcondemnation of the mass
movement and of itsleaders have placed Filipinos in a
dilemma. Eitherthe Revolution was wrong, yet

we cannot disownit, or Rizal was wrong, yet we

cannot disown himeither. By and large, we have
chosen to ignorethis apparent contradiction. Rizalists,
especially,have taken the easy way out, which is to
glossover the matter. They have treated
Rizal'scondemnation of the Katipunan as a skeleton
inhis closet and have been responsible for the"silent
treatment" on his unequivocal positionagainst the
Revolution.To my knowledge, there has
been noextensive analysis of the question. For
someRizalists, this aspect of Rizal has been a source
of embarrassment inasmuch as they picture him asthe
supreme symbol of our struggle for freedom.Other in
fact[p. 126]privately agree with hisstand as evidenced
by their emphasis on thegradualism of Rizal's
teachings particularly hisinsistence on the primacy of
education. Theywould probably praise Rizal's stand
against theRevolution, if they dared. Since they do
not darefor themselves, the are also prudently
silent forRizal's sake. Others, careless and superficial
intheir approach to history and perhaps afraid tostir a
hornet's nest of controversy, do not think itimportant
to dwell on this contradiction betweenour Revolution
and our national hero and elect toleave well enough
alone. Perhaps they do notperceive the adverse
consequences of our refusalto analyze and resolve
this contradiction. Yet theconsequences are manifest
in our regard for ourRevolution and in our
understanding of Rizal.The Philippine Revolution has
always beenovershadowed by the omnipresent figure
and thetowering reputation of Rizal. Because Rizal
tookno part in that Revolution and in fact
repudiatedit, the general regard for our Revolution is
not ashigh as it otherwise would be. On the other
hand,because we refuse to analyze the significance
of his repudiation, our understanding of Rizal and
of his role in our national development remains

superficial. This is a disservice to the event, tothe

man, and to ourselves.Viewed superficially, Rizal's
reactiontoward the Revolution is unexpected, coming
asit did from a man whose life and labors
weresupposed to have been dedicated to the cause
of his country's freedom. Had someone of
lesserstature uttered those words of condemnation,
hewould have been considered a traitor to thecause.
As a matter of fact, those words weretreasonous in
the light of the Filipinos' struggleagainst Spain. Rizal
repudiated the one act whichreally synthesized our
nationalist aspiration, andyet we consider him a
nationalist leader. Such anappraisal has dangerous
implications because itcan be used to exculpate those
who activelybetrayed the Revolution and may serve
todiminish the ardor of those who today may becalled
upon to support another great nationalistundertaking
to complete the anti-colonialmovement.
An American-Sponsored Hero
We have magnified Rizal's role to such anextent that
we have lost our sense of proportionand relegated to
a subordinate position our othergreat men and
the historic events in[p.127]which they took part.
Although Rizal was alreadya revered figure and
became more so after hismartyrdom, it cannot be
denied that his pre-eminence among our heroes was
partly the resultof American sponsorship. This
sponsorship tooktwo forms: on one hand, that
of encouraging aRizal cult, on the other, that of
minimizing theimportance of other heroes or even of
vilifyingthem. There is no question that Rizal had
thequalities of greatness. History cannot deny
hispatriotism. He was a martyr
to oppression,obscurantism and bigotry. His dramatic
deathcaptured the imagination of our people. Still,
wemust accept the fact that his formal designationas
our national hero, his elevation to his
presenteminence so far above all our other heroes
wasabetted and encouraged by the Americans. It was
Governor William Howard Taft whoin 1901
suggested that the PhilippineCommission that the
Filipinos be given a nationalhero. The
Free Press
of December 28, 1946gives this account of a meeting
of the PhilippineCommission:'And now, gentlemen,
you must have anational hero.' In these
fateful words,addressed by then Civil Governor W.
H. Taft tothe Filipino members of the civil
commission,Pardo de Tavera, Legarda, and
Luzuriaga, laythe genesis of Rizal Day..'In the
subsequent discussion in whichthe rival merits of
the revolutionary heroeswere considered, the final
choice-nowuniversally acclaimed as a wise one-was
Rizal.And so was history made.'Theodore Friend in
his book,
BetweenTwo Empires

, says that Taft "with otherAmerican colonial officials

and some conservativeFilipinos, chose him (Rizal) as
a model hero overother contestants - Aguinaldo too
militant,Bonifacio too radical, Mabini unregenerate."
[2]This decision to sponsor Rizal was
implementedwith the passage of the following Acts
of thePhilippine Commission: (1) Act No. 137
whichorganized the politico-military district of
Morongand named it the province of Rizal "in honor
of the most illustrious Filipino and the mostillustrious
Tagalog the islands had ever known, "(2) Act No.243
which authorized a publicsubscription for the
erection of a monument inhonor or Rizal at the
Luneta, and (3) Act No. 346[p.128]which set aside
the anniversary of hisdeath as a day of
observance.This early example of American "aid"
issummarized by Governor W. Cameron Forbeswho
wrote in his book,
The Philippine Islands
:It is eminently proper that Rizal shouldhave become
the acknowledged national hero of the Philippine
The Americanadministration has lent every
assistance tothis recognition,
setting aside the anniversaryof his death to be a day
of observance, placinghis picture on the postage
stamp mostcommonly used in the islands, and on
thecurrency . And throughout the islands thepublic
schools tech the young Filipinos to reverehis memory
as the greatest of Filipino patriots.(Underscoring
supplied) [3]The reason for the enthusiastic
Americanattitude becomes clear in the following
appraisalof Rizal by Forbes:
Rizal never advocatedindependence, nor did he
advocate armedresistance to the government.
He urgedreform from within by publicity, by public

education, and appeal to the public conscience.

(Underscoring supplied) [4]Taft's appreciation for
Rizal has much the samebasis, as evidenced by his
calling Rizal "thegreatest Filipino, a physician, a
novelist and apoet (who) because of his struggle for
abetterment of conditions under Spanish rulewas
unjustly convicted and shot. "The public image
that the Americandesired for a Filipino national hero
was quiteclear. They favored a hero who would
not runagainst the grain of American colonial policy.
Wemust take these acts of the Americans
infurtherance of a Rizal cult in the light of theirinitial
policies which required the passage of theSedition
Law prohibiting the display of the Filipinoflag. The
heroes who advocated independencewere therefore
ignored. For to have encouraged amovement to
revere Bonifacio or Mabini wouldnot have been
consistent with American colonialpolicy.Several
factors contributed to Rizal'sacceptability to
the[p.129]Americans as theofficial hero of the
Filipinos. In the first place, hewas safely dead by the
time the American begantheir aggression.
No embarrassing anti-Americanquotations could ever
be attributed to him.Moreover, Rizal's dramatic
martyrdom hadalready made him the symbol of
Spanishoppression. To focus attention on him
wouldserve not only to concentrate Filipino
hatredagainst the erstwhile oppressors, it would
alsoblunt their feelings of animosity toward the
newconquerors against whom there was
stillorganized resistance at that time. His choice wasa
master stroke by the Americans. The honorsbestowed
on Rizal were naturally appreciated bythe Filipinos
who were proud of him.At the same time, the
attention lavishedon Rizal relegated other heroes to
thebackground-heroes whose revolutionary
exampleand anti-American pronouncements might
havestiffened Filipino resistance to the
newconquerors. The Americans
especiallyemphasized the fact that Rizal was a
reformer,not a separatist. He could therefore not
beinvoked on the question of
Philippineindependence. He could not be a rallying
point inthe resistance against the invaders.It must
also be remembered that theFilipino members of the
Philippine Commissionwere conservative
. The Americansregarded Rizal as belonging to this
class. Thiswas, therefore, one more point in his favor.
Rizalbelonged to the right social class -- the class
thatthey were cultivating and building up
forleadership.It may be argued that, faced with
thehumiliation of a second colonization, we as
apeople felt the need for a super-hero to bolsterthe

national ego and we therefore allowedourselves to be

propagandized in favor of oneacceptable to the
colonizer. Be that as it may,certainly it is now time
for us to view Rizal withmore rationality and with
more historicity. Thisneed not alarm anyone but the
blind worshipper.Rizal will still occupy a good
position in ournational pantheon even if we discard
hagiolatryand subject him to a more mature
historicalevaluation.A proper understanding of our
history isvery important to us because it will serve
todemonstrate how our present has been distortedby a
faulty knowledge of our past. By unravelingthe past
we become confronted with the presentalready
as[p.130]future. Such a re-evaluationmay result in
a down-grading of some heroes andeven a discarding
of others. It cannot spare evenRizal. The exposure of
his weaknesses andlimitations will also mean our
liberation, for hehas, to a certain extent become part
of thesuperstructure that supports
presentconsciousness. That is why a critical
evaluation of Rizal cannot but lead to a revision of
ourunderstanding of history and of the role of
theindividual in history.Orthodox historians have
presentedhistory as a succession of exploits
of eminentpersonalities, leading many of us to
regardhistory as the product of gifted individuals.
Thistendency is strongly noticeable in those who
havetried of late to manufacture new heroes
throughpress releases, by the creation of foundations,
orby the proclamation of centennial
celebrations.Though such tactics may succeed for a
limitedperiod, they cannot insure immortality
wherethere exists no solid basis for it. In the case
of Rizal, while he was favored by colonial
supportand became good copy for propagandists,
he hadthe qualifications to assume immortality.
It mustbe admitted however, that the study of his
lifeand works has developed into a cult distortingthe
role and the place of Rizal in our history.

The uncritical attitude of his cultists hasbeen greatly

responsible for transformingbiographers into
hagiographers. His weaknessesand errors have been
subtly underplayed and hisvirtues grossly
exaggerated. In this connection,one might ask the
question, wht would havehappened if Rizal had not
been executed inDecember of 1896? Would
the course of thePhilippine Revolution have been
different? Thisposes the question of the role of the
individual inhistory. Was this historical phase of
ourlibertarian struggle due to Rizal? Did
thepropagandists of the 19
century create theperiod or were they created by the
The Role of Heroes
With or without these specific individualsthe social
relations engendered by Spanishcolonialism and the
subsequent economicdevelopment of the country
would have producedthe nationalist movement.
Without Rizal therewould have developed other
talents. Without DelPilar another propagandist would
have emerged.That Rizal possessed a particular talent
whichinfluenced the style of the period was
accidental.That[p. 131]he was executed on December
30only added more drama to the events of theperiod.
If there had been no Rizal, another typeof talent
would have appeared who might havegiven a
different style to the historic struggle;but the general
trend engendered by theparticular social relations
would have remainedthe same.Without Rizal there
may have been adelay in the maturation of our
libertarianstruggle, but the economic development of
theperiod would have insured the same result.
Rizalmaybe accelerated it. Rizal may have given
formand articulation and color to the aspirations
of the people. But even without him, the
nationaliststruggle would have ensued. This is
likewise truein the case of present-day national
liberationmovements. The fundamental cause of
massaction is not the utterances of a leader;
rather,these leaders have been impelled to action
byhistorical forces unleashed by socialdevelopment.
We must therefore not fall into theerror of projecting
the role of the individual to theextent of denying the
play of these forces as wellas the creative energies of
the people who arethe true makers of their own
history.Because Rizal had certain qualities, hewas
able to serve the pressing social needs of theperiod,
needs that arose out of general andparticular
historical forces. He is a hero in thesense that he was
able to see the problemsgenerated by historical
forces, discern the newsocial needs created by the
historicaldevelopment of new social relationships,
and takean active part in meeting these needs. But he
isnot a hero in the sense that he could havestopped

and altered the course of events. Thetruth of this

statement is demonstrated by thefact that the
Revolution broke out despite hisrefusal to lead it and
continued despite hiscondemnation of it. Rizal served
his people byconsciously articulating the unconscious
course of events. He saw more clearly than
hiscontemporaries and felt with more intensity
theproblems of his country, though his viewpointwas
delimited by his particular status andupbringing. He
was the first Filipino but he wasonly a limited
Filipino, the
Filipino whofought for national unity but feared
theRevolution and loved his mother country, yes,but
in his own
way.Though we assert that the general courseof
history is not directed by the desires or ideasof
particular men, we must not[p. 132]fall intothe error
of thinking that because history canproceed
independently of individuals it canproceed
independently of men. The fact is thathistory is made
by men who confront theproblems of social progress
and try to solve themin accordance with the historical
conditions of their epoch. They set their tasks
in conformitywith the given conditions of their times.
Thecloser the correspondence between a
man'sperception of reality and reality itself, the
greaterthe man. The deeper his commitment to
thepeople's cause in his own time as evidence by
hislife and deeds. Hence, for a deeperunderstanding
and a more precise evaluation of Rizal as Filipino and
as hero, we must examine atsome length the period
during which Rizal lived.
Innovation and Change
Rizal lived in a period of great economicchanges.
These were inevitably accompanied bycultural and
political ferment. The country wasundergoing grave
and deep alterations whichresulted in a
national awakening. The Englishoccupation of the
country, the end of the galleontrade, and the LatinAmerican revolutions of thattime were all factors
which led to an economicre-thinking by liberal
Spanish officials. Theestablishment of non-Hispanic
commercial houses

broke the insular belt that had

circumscribedPhilippine life for almost two centuries
and a half.The middle of the 19
thcentury saw 51 shippingand commercial houses in
Manila, 12 of whichwere American and non-Hispanic
European.These non-Spanish houses
practicallymonopolized the import-export trade.
Theopening of the ports of Sual, Cebu,
Zamboanga,Legaspi and Tacloban, all during the
second half of the 19th century, enabled these nonSpanishinterests to establish branches beyond the
capitalcity, thus further increasing
cosmopolitanpenetration. [5]European and American
financing werevital agents in the emerging export
economy.Merchants gave crop advances to
indioandChinese-mestizocultivators, resulting
inincreased surpluses of agricultural exportproducts.
The Chinese received loans for thedistribution of
European goods and the collectionof Philippine
produce for shipment abroad. Abacaand sugar
became prime exports during thisperiod as a result of
these European andAmerican entrepreneurial
activities. TheTransformation of the sugar industry
due tofinancing and the in-[p.133]troduction
of steam-powered milling equipment increasedsugar
production from 3,000 piculs in mid-19
century to nearly 2,000,000 piculs in fourdecades.
[6]These economic developments inevitablyled to
improvement in communications. Theinfra-structure
program of the Spanishgovernment resulted in a
moderately functionalroad system. The third quarter
of the centurysaw the opening of railroad lines. The
steamshipeffected both internal and
external linkages,postal services improved, the
telegraph wasinaugurated in 1873, and by 1880, we
wereconnected with the world by a submarine cable
toHong Kong. Manila's water system wasmodernized
in 1870; we had street cars in 1881and telephone and
electric lights in themetropolitan region during the
same period.Material progress set the stage for
cultural andsocial changes, among them the
cultivation of cosmopolitan attitudes and heightened
oppositionto clerical control. Liberalism had
invaded thecountry as a result of the reduction of the
Spain-Manila voyage to thirty days after the opening
of the Suez canal. The
that developedbecame the crude ideological
framework of theferment among the affluent
The Ideological Framework

Economic prosperity spawned discontentwhen the

native beneficiaries saw a new world of affluence
opening for themselves and their class.They attained
a new consciousness and hence, anew goal - that of
equality with the
- not in the abstract, but in practical economicand
political terms. Hispanization became theconscious
manifestation of economic struggle, of the desire to
realize the potentialities offered bythe period of
expansion and progress.Hispanization and
assimilation constituted theideological expression of
the economicmotivations of affluent
.Equality with the Spaniard meant equality
of opportunity. But they did not realize as yet thatreal
equality must be based on national freedomand
independence. The were still in the initialphases of
nationalist consciousness - aconsciousness made
possible by the marketsituation of the time. The
lordly friar who hadbeen partly responsible for the
isolation of theislands became the target of attacks.
Anti-clericalism became the ideological style of
theperiod.[p. 134]These then were the salient
economic andideological features of Rizal's time. A
truehistorical review would prove that great
men arethose who read the time and have a
deeperunderstanding of reality. It is their insights
thatmake them conversant with their periods
andwhich enable them to articulate the needs of
thepeople. To a large extent, Rizal, the
,fulfilled this function, for in voicing the goals of his
class he had to include the aspirations of theentire
people. Though the aims of this class werelimited to
reformist measures, he expressed itsdemands in terms
of human liberty and humandignity and thus
encompassed the wideraspirations of all the people.
This is not to saythat he was conscious that these
were classgoals; rather, that typical of his class, he
equatedclass interest with people's welfare. He did
this ingood faith, unaware of any basic
contradictionsbetween the two. He was the product of
hissociety and as such could be expected to voiceonly
those aims that were within the competenceof his
class. Moreover, social contradictions hadnot ripened
sufficiently in his time to revealclearly the essential
disparateness between classand national goals.
Neither could he havetranscended his class
limitations, for his culturalupbringing was such that
affection for Spain andSpanish civilization precluded
the idea of

breaking the chains of colonialism. He had tobecome

a Spaniard first before becoming aFilipino. [8]As a
social commentator, as the exposerof oppression, he
performed a remarkable task.His writings were part
of the tradition of protestwhich blossomed into
revolution, into a separatistmovement. His original
aim of elevating the
to the level of Hispanization of the
sothat the country could be assimilated, couldbecome
a province of Spain, was transformedinto its opposite.
Instead of making the Filipinoscloser to Spain, the
propaganda gave root toseparation. The drive for
Hispanization wastransformed into the development
of a distinctnational consciousness.Rizal contributed
much to the growth of this national consciousness. It
was a contributionnot only in terms of propaganda
but in somethingpositive that the present generation
of Filipinoswill owe to him and for which they will
honor himby completing the task which he so nobly
began.He may have had a different and limited goal
atthe time, a goal that for us is already
passe,something we take for granted. However,
for[p.135]his time this limited goal was already abig
step in the right direction. This contributionwas in the
realm of Filipino nationhood - thewinning of our
name as a race, the recognition of our people as one,
and the elevation of the
The Concept of Filipino Nationhood
This was a victory in the realm of consciousness, a
victory in a racial sense.However, it was only a
partial gain, for Rizalrepudiated real de-colonization.
Beguiled by thenew colonizer, most Filipinos
followed theexample of Rizal. As a consequence,
thedevelopment of the concept of
nationalconsciousness stopped short of real decolonization and we have not yet distinguishedthe
true Filipino from the incipient Filipino.The concept
of Filipino nationhood is animportant tool of analysis
as well as a conceptualweapon of struggle. There are
many Filipinos whodo not realize they are Fiipinos
only in the oldcultural, racial sense. They are not
aware of theterm Filipino as a developing concept.
Much lessare they aware that today social
conditionsdemand that the true Filipino be one who
isconsciously striving for de-colonization
andindependence.Perhaps it would be useful at this
point todiscuss in some detail the metamorphosis
of theterm Filipino not just as a matter of
historicalinformation but so that we may realize
theimportance of Rizal's contribution in this

regard.Even more valuable are the insights we may

gaininto the inter-dependence between
materialconditions and consciousness as manifested
inthe evolution of the word Filipino in terms of
itswidening applicability and
deeper significancethrough succeeding periods of
our history.It is important to bear in mind that theterm
Filipino originally referred to the
-the Spaniards born in the Philippines - theEspaolesFilipinos or Filipinos, for short. Thenatives were
. Spanish
whocould pass off for white claimed to be creoles
andtherefore Filipinos. Towards the last quarter of the
19th century, Hispanized and urbanizedindios along
with Spanish
[Chinese - rly]
began to call themselvesFilipinos, especially after the
abolition of thetribute lists in the 1880s and the
economic[p.136]growth of the period.We must also
correct the commonimpression that the Filipinos who
were in Spainduring the Propaganda Period were all
. Infact, the original Circulo Hispano-Filipino
wasdominated by
. TheFilipino community in Spain during
the 1880'swas a conglomerate of creoles, Spanish
and sons of urbanized
and Chinese
. [9]This community came out with an organcalled
Espaa en Filipinas
which sought to takethe place of th earlier
Revista Circulo HispanoFilipino
founded by anothercreoleJuan Atayde.Espaa en
Filipinaswas mainly an undertaking of Spanish and
SpanishmestizosThe only non-Spaniard in the staff
was Baldomero Roxas. Itsfirst issue came out in
1887. It was "moderate"in tone and failed to win the
sympathy of thenative elements. In a letter to Rizal,
Lopez-Jaenacriticized it in these words:From day to
day I am becomingconvinced that our countrymen,
the mestizos,far from working for the common

welfare,follow the policy of their predecessors,

theAzcarragas. [10]
Lopez-Jaena was referring to theAzcarraga brothers
who had held importantpositions in the Philippines
and in Spain, but who,though they had been born
here, showed moresympathy for the
. It is fortunatethat a street wich was once named for
one of them has become Claro M. Recto
today.Differences between the
and the"genuine" Filipinos as they
called themselves,soon set in. It was at this time that
Rizal andother
in Paris began to use the term
, thus "transforming an epithet into abadge of honor."
The cleavage in the Filipinocolony abroad ushered in
a new period of thePropaganda which may be said to
have had itsformal beginning with the birth of
La Solidaridad
.Its leaders were
. The editor was not acreole like Lete or a Spanish
like Llorentebut Lopez-Jaena and later Marcelo H.
del Pilar.
espoused the cause of liberalism andfought for
democratic solutions to the problemsthat beset the
Spanish colonies.From the declaration of aims and
policiesthe class basis of the Propaganda is
quiteobvious. The reformists could not[p.
137]shakeoff their Spanish orientation. They
wantedaccommodation within the ruling system.
Rizal'sown reformism is evident in this excerpt
from hisletter to Blumentritt:.under the present
circumstances, wedo not want separation from Spain.
All that weask is greater attention,
better education,better government employees, one or
tworepresentatives and greater security for
ourpersons and property. Spain could always winthe
appreciation of the Filipinos if she were
onlyreasonable! [11]The
led by Rizal gainedacceptability as Filipinos because
the proved theirequality with the Spaniards in terms
of bothculture and property. This was an
importantstage in our appropriation of the term
Filipino.Rizal's intellectual excellence paved the way
forthe winning of the name for the natives of theland.

It was an unconscious struggle which led toa

conscious recognition of the pejorative meaningof
. Thus, the winning of the term Filipinowas an anticolonial victory for it signified therecognition of
racial equality between Spaniardsand Filipinos.
The "Limited" Filipinos
But the appropriation of this term was notthe end of
the historic struggle for nationalidentity. While for
Rizal's time this was a signalvictory, it was in truth a
limited victory for us.For the users of the term were
themselveslimited Filipinos based on education and
property.Since this term was applied to those who
spokein the name of the people but were not really
of the people, the next stage for this growingconcept
should be the recognition of the massesas the real
nation and their transformation intoreal Filipinos.
However, the Filipino of today mustundergo a
process of de-colonization before hecan become a
true Filipino. The de-colonizedFilipino is the real
goal for our time just as theHispanized Filipino was
once the goal of thereformists.Though Rizal was able
to win for hiscountrymen the name Filipino, it was
still as
that he conceived of this term. As
he was speaking in behalf of all the
though he was separated by culture andeven by
property from the masses. His
orientation manifests itself in his novels.[p.
138]Though they are supposed to represent 19
century Philippine society in microcosm, all
theprincipal characters belonged to the
.His hero, Ibarra, was a Spanish
. TheSpaniards, the
, the
, and thewealthy Chinese - these were characters he
couldportray with mastery because they were
withinhis milieu and class. But there are only very
hazydescription of characters who belonged to
themasses. His class position, his upbringing, andhis
foreign education were profound influenceswhich
constituted a limitation on hisunderstanding of his
countrymen.Rizal, therefore, was an
herowhose life's mission corresponded in a
generalway to the wishes and aspirations of the
people.He died for his people, yet his repudiation of

theRevolution was an act against the people.

Thereseems to be a contradiction between the
twoacts; there is actually none. Both acts were
incharacter; Rizal was acting from patriotic motivesin
both instances.He condemned the Revolution because
he instinctively underestimated thepower and the
talents of the people. He believedin freedom not so
much as a national right but assomething to be
deserved, like a medal for goodbehavior. Moreover,
he did not equate libertywith independence. Since his
idea of liberty wasessentially the demand for those
rights which the
elite needed in order to prosper economically.Rizal
did not consider political independence as
aprerequisite to freedom. Fearful of the violence
of people's action, he did not want us to fight forour
independence. Rather, he wanted us to waitfor the
time when Spain, acting in her own bestinterests,
would abandon us. He expressedhimself clearly on
these points in the followingpassage from a letter
which he wrote in his cellon December 12, 1896, for
the use of his defensecounsel... many have have
interpreted myphrase
have liberties
to haveindependence
, which are two different things.A people can be free
without beingindependent, and a people can be
independentwithout being free. I have always
desiredliberties for the Philippines and I have said
so.Others who testify that I said independenceeither
have put the cart before the horse orthey lie. [12]He
had expressed much the same opinionearlier in his
El Fili[p.139]
whenFather Florentino said:I do not mean to say that
our liberty willbe secured at the sword's point, for the
swordplays but little part in modern affairs, but
thatwe must secure it by making ourselves worthyof
it, by exalting the intelligence and the dignityof the
individual, by loving justice, right andgreatness, even
to the extent of dying for them- and when a people
reaches that height Godwill provide a weapon, the
idols will beshattered, the tyranny will crumble like a
houseof cards and liberty will shine out like the
firstdawn. 13Yet the people revered
him because,though he was not with them, he died
for certainprinciples which they believed in. He

was theirmartyr; they recognized his labors although

theyknew that he was already behind them in
theirforward march.In line with their avowed policy
of preparing us for eventual self-government,
theAmericans projected Rizal as the model of
aneducated citizen. His name was invokedwhenever
the incapacity of the masses for self-government was
pointed out as a justification forAmerican tutelage.
Rizal's preoccupation witheducation served to further
the impression thatthe majority of the Filipinos
were unlettered andtherefore needed tutelage before
they could beready for independence. A book,
Rizal, Educatorand Economist
, used in certain Philippineschools, supports this
thesis by quoting a portionof Rizal's manifesto of
December 15, 1896 whichstates:..I am one most
anxious for liberties inour country and I am still
desirous of them. ButI placed as a prior condition the
education of the people that by means of instruction
andindustry our country may have an individualityof
its own and make itself worthy of theseliberties.
[14]The authors of this book then make thefollowing
comment:Rizal intentionally avoided the use of
theterm independence, perhaps because hehonestly
believed that independence in its true,real, and strict
sense should not be granted usuntil we were educated
enough to appreciate itsimportance, and its blessings,
and until we wereeconomically self-reliant. [15][p.
140]This statement not only supports theAmerican
line but is also an example of how ouradmiration for
Rizal may be used to beguile usinto accepting
reactionary beliefs, the products of colonial
mentality.A people have every right to be
free.Tutelage in the art of government as an excusefor
colonialism is a discredited alibi. People learnand
educate themselves in the process of struggling for
freedom and liberty. They attaintheir highest potential
only when they aremasters of their own destiny.
Colonialism is theonly agency still trying to sell the
idea thatfreedom is a diploma to be granted by a
superiorpeople to an inferior one after years
of apprenticeship.
The Precursors of Mendicancy
In a way, Rizal's generation is no differentfrom the
generation that was engaged in ourindependence
campaigns. Neither was hisgeneration much different
from those who todaysay they stand for independence
but do not wantto hurt the feelings of the Americans.
In a way,Rizal and his generation were the precursors
of the present-day mendicants. It may be shockingto
say that Rizal was one of the practitioners of
amendicant policy, but the fact is that
thepropagandists, in working for certain reforms,

chose Spain as the arena of their struggle insteadof

working among their own people, educatingthem and
learning from them, helping them torealize their own
condition and articulating theiraspirations. This
reflects the bifurcation betweenthe educated and
the masses.The elite had a sub-conscious
disrespectfor the ability of the people to articulate
theirown demands and to move on their own.
Theyfelt that education gave them the right to
speakfor the people. They proposed an elitist form
of leadership, all the while believing that what
theelite leadership decided was what the peoplewould
and should follow. They failed to realizethat at
critical moments of history the peopledecide on their
own, what they want and whatthey want to do. Today,
areshocked by the spate of rallies anddemonstrations.
They cannot seem to accept thefact that peasants and
workers and the youthhave moved without waiting
for their word. Theyare not accustomed to the people
moving ontheir own.[p. 141]The
were the Hispanized sectorof our population, hence
they tried to prove thatthey were as Spanish as the
. Theywanted to be called Filipinos in the
sense:Filipino-Spaniards as Rizal called Ibarra. They
areno different from the modern-day mendicantswho
try to prove that they are Americanized,meaning that
they are Filipino-Americans. As amatter of fact, the
of the firstpropaganda movement utilized the
sametechniques and adopted the same generalattitude
as the modern-day mendicants andpseudonationalists, in so far as the colonizingpower was
Ilustrados And Indios
The contrast to the
approachwas the Katipunan of Bonifacio. Bonifacio,
not asHispanized as the
, saw in people'saction the only road to liberation.
The Katipunan,though of masonic and of European
inspiration,was people's movement based on
confidence inthe people's capacity to act in its own
behalf. Theearly rebellions, spontaneous and
sporadic, couldbe termed movements,
without consciousness.Rizal and the propagandists
were theembodiment of a consciousness without
amovement. It was Bonifacio and the Katipunanthat
embodied the unity of revolutionaryconsciousness
and revolutionary practice.The

as Filipino rose in arms whilethe

was still waiting for Spain todispense justice and
reforms. The
Filipino was now being surpassed by the
inrevolutionary ardor. The indio had a morelegitimate
claim to the title of Filipino because hewas truly
liberating himself. The revolutionarymasses
proclaimed their separatist goal throughthe
Katipunan. Faced with the populardetermination, the
joined theRevolution where, despite their
revolutionaryrhetoric, they revealed by their behavior
theirown limited goals.Though their fight was
reformist and maybe regarded as tame today, the
historic role of the
cannot be denied for they werepurveyors of ideas
which when seized upon bythe masses became real
weapons. Today theirideas are orthodox and
safe. However, the sameconcepts when made relevant
to present societyagain make their partisans the
objects of persecution by contemporary
reactionaries.The role and the contribution of Rizal,
likethat of the
class, must beevaluated in the context of his
particular realitywithin the general reality of his time.
Rizal was anecessary moment in our evolution. But
he wasonly a moment, and while his validity for his
timeamounted to a heroism that is valid for all
time,we cannot say that Rizal himself will be valid
forall time and that Rizal's ideas should be
theyardstick for all our aspirations. He
provided themodel of a form of heroism that
culminated inmartyrdom. He was a Filipino we can
be proud of,a monument to the race despite all
hislimitations. But we cannot make him out to bethe
infallible determinant of our national goals, ashis
blind idolators have been trying to do.We must see
Rizal historically. Rizalshould occupy his proper
place in our pantheon of great Filipinos. Though he is
secure to be in ourhearts and memories as a hero, we
must nowrealize that he has no monopoly of
patriotism; heis not the zenith of our greatness;
neither are allhis teachings of universal and
contemporaryrelevance and application. Just as a
given socialsystem inevitably yields to new and
higher formsof social organization, so the individual
hero inhistory gives way to new and higher forms
of heroism. Each hero's contribution, however, arenot
nullified thereby but assume their correctplace in a

particular stage of the people'sdevelopment. Every

nation is always discoveringor rediscovering heroes
in the past or its present.
Blind Adoration
Hero-worship, therefore, must be
bothhistorical and critical. We must always
beconscious of the historical conditions
andcircumstances that made an individual
a hero,and we must always be ready to
admit at whatpoint that hero's applicability
ceases to be of current value. To allow
hero-worship to beuncritical and
unhistorical is to distort themeaning of the
heroic individual's life, and toencourage a
cult bereft of historical meaning - acult of
the individual shorn of his
historicalsignificance. It is form without
content, a fad thatcan be used for almost
anything, because it isreally nothing. We
must view Rizal as an evolvingpersonality
within an evolving historical period.That
his martyrdom was tainted by his attacks
onour independist struggle is not a ground
forcondemning him entirely. We must
determine thefactors - economic and cul[p. 143]tural - thatmade Rizal what he
was. We must see in his lifeand in his
works the evolution of the Filipino
andmust realize that the period crowned
by his deathis only a moment in the
totality of our history.It is a reflection of
our lack of creativethinking that we
continue to invoke Rizal whenwe discuss
specific problems and present-daysociety.
This is also a reflection of our
intellectualtimidity, our reluctance to
espouse new causesunless we can find
sanctions, however remote, inRizal. This
tendency is fraught with dangers.
Limitations of Rizal
We are living in an age of anticolonialrevolutions different in content
from those of Rizal's period. Rizal could
not have anticipatedthe problems of
today. He was not conversantwith
economic tools of analysis
that wouldunravel the intricate techniques
that today arebeing used by outside forces
to consign us to astate of continued
poverty. The revolutions of today would be
beyond the understanding of Rizal whose

Castilian orientation necessarilylimited his

horizon even for that period. He
wascapable of unraveling the myths
that were wovenby the oppressors of his
time, but he would havebeen at a loss to
see through the moresophisticated myths
and to recognize the subtletechniques of
present-day colonialists, given thestate of
his knowledge and experience at thattime.
This is not to say that were he alive
todayand subject to modern experiences,
he would notunderstand the means of our
times. But it isuseless speculation to try to
divine what he wouldnow advocate.Unless
we have an ulterior motive, thereis really
no need to extend Rizal's meaning sothat
he may have contemporary value. Many
of his social criticisms are still valid today
becausecertain aspects of our life are still
carry-overs of the feudal and colonial
society of his time. A trueappreciation of
Rizal would require that we studythese
social criticisms and take steps
to eradicatethe evils he decried.Part and
parcel of the attempt to use Rizalas an
authority to defend the
status quo
is thedesire of some quarters to expunge
from theRizalist legacy the so-called
controversial aspectsof his writings,
particularly his views on the friarsand on
religion. We have but to recall
theresistance to the Rizal bill,[p. 144]the
use of expurgated versions of the
Noli Me Tangere
El Filibusterismo
, and objections to thereadings of his
other writings to realize that whilemany
would have us venerate Rizal, they
wouldwant us to venerate a homogenized
version.In his time, the reformist Rizal
wasundoubtedly a progressive force. In
many areasof our life today, his ideas
could still be a forcefor salutary change.
Yet the nature of the Rizalcult is such that
he is being transformed into anauthority
to sanction the
status quo
by aconfluence of blind adoration and
widespreadignorance of his most telling
ideas.We have magnified Rizal's
significance fortoo long. It is time to

examine his limitations andprofit from his

weaknesses just as we havelearned from
the strength of his character and
hisvirtues. His weaknesses were the
weaknesses of his society. His wavering
and his repudiation of mass action should
be studied as a product of thesociety that
nurtured him.
The Negation of Rizal
Today, we need new heroes who
can helpus solve our pressing problems.
We cannot relyon Rizal alone. We must
discard the belief thatwe are incapable of
producing the heroes of ourepoch, that
heroes are exceptional beings,accidents of
history who stand above the massesand
apart from them. The true hero is one
withthe masses: he does not exist above
them. Infact, a whole people can be
heroes given the

proper motivation and articulation of

theirdreams.Today we see the unfolding of
thecreative energies of a people who are
beginningto grasp the possibilities
of human developmentand who are trying
to formulate a theoreticalframework upon
which they may base theirpractice. The
inarticulate are now making historywhile
the the articulate may be headed
forhistorical anonymity, if not ignominy.
When thegoals of the people are finally
achieved, Rizal thefirst Filipino, will be
negated by the true Filipinoby whom he
will be remembered as a greatcatalyzer in
the metamorphosis of the de-colonized