The life of our beloved foremost national hero, Jose Rizal should be more alive in the minds and hearts of our people now more than any other time.
At the rate things are going in our land, we seem to have veered farther and farther away from what Jose Rizal had lived and died for.
Before all his efforts and sacrifices go to naught, all of us must wake up to the reality that we indeed have become undeserving of the motherland he died for.
As a Fifth Degree Rizalist, a Knight of the Grand Cross of Rizal, I am particularly bothered by what is happening around. We have become so different from what Rizal had wanted the Filipinos to be.
It is a shame in more ways than one, for a people usually try their best to reflect the image and likeness of its national hero, if we are to give him credit and honor the legacy he had left behind. But truth to tell, it is as though we neither had Jose Rizal's genes nor an iota of his nobility, honesty, and integrity to guide our lives.
What kind of race have we all become? We seem to be totally bankrupt of humanity.
Instead of fighting the enemies, we fight each other. Instead of caring for each other, we hate each other. Instead of helping one another, we only help ourselves.
For the record, Jose Rizal died at the age of 35, not 30 or 33 as some say. It is easy enough to estimate from the day he was born in 1861 to that day on Dec. 30, 1896 that he was executed in Bagumbayan or Luneta.
There are so many misconceptions about his life, short as it was. There are those who made him appear as womanizer, which he was not. Though he easily fell in love, he avoided any serious relationships with the ladies he met in his travels because he and his older brother, Paciano, had made a pact that only one of them would get married.
And we must take note that Jose Rizal was sent to Spain for a mission: to defend his country. Thus, when he met a lady in some foreign country and felt that he was falling in love, he left for another country.
We have the Spanish friars of the University of Sto. Tomas and Letran to blame for making Jose Rizal a lesser person because they could not accept his leaving the Church.
When Zaide and Agoncillo wrote their books on the "life" of Jose Rizal based on hearsay, the Spanish friars in Sto. Tomas and Letran would not accept them as textbooks unless the authors downgraded Jose Rizal by making him a philanderer.
Jose Rizal was not that at all. He was a very obedient son to his mother who had always told her only two sons never to touch a woman until they got married. Jose Rizal followed his mother's advice to the letter.
It took Dr. Jose Baron-Fernandez, a multi-awarded Spanish author and researcher, to correct the misconception about Jose Rizal's life. It took him 20 years to research in all the secret archives in Spain, other parts of Europe, Mexico, and America. Based on documents, he wrote a book, Jose Rizal - Filipino Doctor and Patriot, which was published in 1981. I bought the rights to the book from Dr. Baron in 1979 and decided to publish the book in Manila, so that our people would know the true Jose Rizal.
The Spanish friars who disliked Jose Rizal and whom Jose Rizal disliked, in turn, for their grave abuses on the Filipino people made it appear that Jose Rizal turned against the Church, which he did not. He believed in God, never truned into an atheist, and died a true Christian. Jose Rizal only fought the bad Spanish friars, which is also happening to us today with some of our local religious. Many Catholics have also turned against some of our bishops, priests, and nuns for their improper behaviour in the streets of Manila. I am one of those who cannot stand them either.
But as then and now, we have to accept that there are a greater number of good priests, bishops, and nuns who live up to their calling. Bless their souls!
According to Dr. Baron, Jose Rizal never retracted, never impregnated Josephine Bracken in Dapitan (her pregnancy remains a rumor, no document or letter was ever found to that effect), never turned against God, never gave his permission to Bonifacio through Pio Valenzuela to go on with the revolt, for the Filipinos were not prepared, and was never an important member of Masonry.
There is really nothing wrong in being a member of Masonry, for it's only a brotherhood out to do good and it is not anti-God as what other friars made it appear to be.
The Masons believe in God. Its members come from all religions - Catholics and Protestants and so forth - who join together in the fraternity of men.
The Spanish friars doubted the Masons, for the Masons precisely banded together to censure the wrongdoings of the friars against the people. Such a movement was necessary even if only to maintain some sort of balance.
I feel bad that our students are learning the wrong things about Jose Rizal through the books of Zaide and Agoncillo. There is a need to re-evaluate these textbooks if we want to project the true character of Jose Rizal.
* * * * *