Friday, June 18, 2010

A Reflection on Dr. Rizal's Traits

by Emmanuel G. Herbosa
(Speech delivered before brethren of Lodge Perla del Oriente No. 1034, S.C., under the leadership of RW Master Senon A. De Santos)

     I am humbled to be here before you this evening, to deliver a reflection in honor of our beloved national hero.  I guess it is by default that I am here, as my claim is merely that as president of our family's Jose Rizal Resource Foundation.  You see, I have many illustrious cousins who railroaded me into this position, as they did not want themselves to be trusted into the limelight.  Perhaps this desire to assume a low profile is Dr. Rizal's trait or that of our family.  So now you have me here!
     In the serendipity of my youth, my awareness of being related to our national hero was so gradual, so deliberate that I do not recall any profound nor starting event that trusted the realization that I AM a Rizal.  It seemed like a given from the very start of my consciousness and so I were the relationship comfortably on my sleeve - so to speak.  But as I progressed in school, classmate and friends eventually found out and so I was attracting more attention than I could handle.  It was actually fun when asked how it feels to be a Rizal, but also challenging when it is your teachers who start asking you to do some home research for hardly known footnote to the family's history.  As I went about treating this as a chore, unknown to at that time was how my character was being molded along certain traits that distinguish the Rizal family.
     Allow me to mention first the quest for learning, an interest in new ideas or concepts and a passion to make these work.  I remember well my high school days, when on Sunday afternoons, I would try to learn the game of chess with my father Francisco and my grandfather Estanislao.  Lolo Tan would fondly recall to us what his Tio Jose had advised him to improve his game: "To excel in chess, one must play like a book in the opening moves, a magician in the middle game, and a machine towards the end."
     Lolo was the boy Tanis in the history books, the second son of Lucia Rizal Herbosa, who, along with his elder brother Teodosio and a younger cousin, Mauricio Cruz (son of Maria Rizal and grandfather Gomma Cruz) were made to accompany their Tio Jose in his exile to that lonely and isolated town of Dapitan.  As my father recounts in his book:

The Three of them, aged a year apart from each other,
were tutored in the 3 R's, learned how to swim,
and were prepared to confront the challenges of life,
including those on the chess board.  In his letter to his 
older sister Lucia, Lolo Jose wrote of the dexterity of
 Teodosio with tools and of the interest of Tanis with books.

There was never a dull moment for them, as Lolo Jose
was always occupied at any time of the day.  Always
there was something to do and always ideas were
though about that brought out results.

     We can see these results in the structures that still stand like monuments in what is now the Talisay Park in Dapitan.  If you could only visit this hallowed place, it will dawn on you that this was where the genious of Dr. Rizal fully manifested itself.  It was the flowering of a truly renaissance man, an eye doctor who operated a very busy outpatient, charity clinic, a self-taught engineer who put together an intricate waterway and sewage system (to the admiration of the Americans during the Commonwealth period), an unlicensed architect who designed and built all the houses and structure that he needed, a horticulturist who selected the flora that would best thrive and decorate his habitat, and of course the man of letters who wrote the immortal thoughts of such masterpiece as Mi Retiro.
     Looking back at my own humble educational achievements, I think that this probably explains why my interest in history and literature (in high school) led to an engineering degree in college and further, to a MBA for my postgraduate course.
     The other trait of Dr. Rizal that is so profound to me is his Christianity.  We all know that he was at odds with Catholic teaching at that time, primarily because of the false witnessing of the friars.  Perhaps he was not even a believer but more of a moral and decent fellow.  But nonetheless, his remarkable life reproduced in his own behaviour the doctrine and life of Jesus Christ, in the way that he treated and truly cared for others, in his sympathy with other's sorrows and plight under the oppressive Spanish regime.  It was his indomitable advocacy of what is right that led to a martyrdom that liberated our people and catalyzed yearnings for nationhood.
     Our national hero's life is a testimony of the lonely position that many times over, he would take to advocate a principle, and more so, defend the rights of others.  This advocacy, however, often brought trouble as it was misconstrued as disruptive and not in accordance with the tried and tested ways of organizations.  But the traits to building organizations and nations are hardly along straight paths.  In fact, in this competitive world of ours, we are even challenged to reinvent ourselves.  And hopefully, it is for the good of others - to become the best not only in what we do, but to be the best FOR the community.
     It is opportune that we commemorate Dr. Rizal this year on Father's Day.  None among our heroes is as top of mind as Father of our Nation.  He taught us how it was to live, suffer and die for the fatherland.  May we do better these days and not anymore waver in following through the heroic initiative of Dr. Rizal in truly securing a nation for us all.

Source: The Cabletow - Nov. 2005 - Jan. 2006 / Vol. 82, No. 3.

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"Only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly." - Robert F. Kennedy

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