Was Jose Rizal Really A Pacifist?

In second year high school, when we studied El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal, my classmates had yet another proof that I was mataray when I disagreed with the notion that Rizal was against overthrowing Spanish colonial rule by force.

Today I came across an article that pigeonholes the Philippines’ national hero as one who prefers enduring oppression rather than resisting it.

I’m not sure that’s what Manuel L. Quezon III meant when he was cited, though.

Ang “pagtitiis” na mensahe ni Rizal ay kakaiba. Sinulat nya “Kailangan nating makamtan ang ating kalayaan sa pamamagitan ng pagigiging karapat-dapat dito, sa pamamagitan ng paghahasa sa isipan at pagpapataas sa dangal ng bawa’t isa, pagmamahal sa katarungan, sa kabutihan, sa kadakilaan, kahit hanggang sa kamatayan. Kapag natarok na iyan ng sambayanan, ang Diyos na mismo ang magbibigay ng sandata, at ang mga diyos-diyosan at malulupit na panginoon ay babagsak na parang bahay na gawa sa baraha.”

Leon Ma. Guerrero, from Si Rizal at ang Pilosopiya ng Pagtitiis by Manuel L. Quezon III

Rizal has a whole bunch of characters in his two novels (there’s a third one, actually, called Makamisa). Don’t assume Rizal’s convictions lived only inside of the liberal illustrado Crisostomo Ibarra. What about his alter ego, Simoun? Basilio? Padre Florentino? The mere fact that Simoun emerged from Ibarra’s grief and misfortune is a sign that Rizal considered supporting the revolution, if he hadn’t in the first place.

Rather than weighing the merits of assimilation versus bloodshed, I urge Filipinos—especially during this nationalistic season of the Independence Day and Rizal’s birth anniversary—to ask: do we really deserve the freedom we celebrate this very month?

More importantly, are we really free?

Hi! Thanks for stopping by ★

Design + code + words for a better web, made in the Philippines by Sophia Lucero.