"JP Rizal: A National Hero or Zero?"
Probably one of the most debatable issues until today is Jose Rizal’s legitimacy as the Philippine’s National Hero. Renato Constantino, a historian, wrote the Veneration without Understanding which constitutes the main arguments refuting Rizal as the national hero. He provided points such as Rizal being appointed by the American as the national hero, Rizal being an illustrado, Rizal being against revolution, Rizal going to other countries while his motherland is stricken by poverty and cruelty from the Spaniards and Rizal’s alleged letter of retraction. His article became controversial. On the contrary, Armando Malay wrote the Veneration with Understanding as a response to Constantino’s article. He gave an answer to every argument that Constantino had pointed out. He made a good rebuttal to disprove the Veneration without understanding.
Taking into consideration the two articles, I have managed to gain my own insights and my own understanding regarding the matter. First, I believe that it is also a good thing that Renato Constantino came out with the Veneration without Understanding. For me, it is an eye-opener and a wake-up call as well for us Filipinos to be involved with issues concerning our beloved country. If it wasn’t for his article, Filipinos would not even try to scrutinize or discover why Rizal became our national hero. The article taught us not just to accept certain concepts and ideologies, rather we should learn to dig deeper to the meaning and reason behind it. He also made a point when Rizal was appointed by the Americans as the national hero. I believe that there was really a poor representation of the Filipinos when the voting for the national hero was done. Only selected Americans and Filipino elites were given the chance to vote. On the other hand, Armando Malay gave the answer to the questions that were brought out after the article was published. His article presented the facts that are needed to understand why Rizal deserved to be the national hero of the country. He was able to made good justifications on his stand. He stated in his article that prior to the proclamation of Rizal as the national hero Filipinos were already celebrating Rizal’s heroism. The KKK also has a high regard for Rizal even though he was not a part of their revolution.
My conviction on the controversy about Rizal’s legitimacy as the national hero is still in between. I shall discuss briefly my take on each side.
Rizal somehow contradicts himself in refusing to support the revolution. Did he not understand the consequences of publishing Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo? What is his reason for publishing his novels if he did not want a revolution? It seems that Rizal did not really want independence from our colonizers. Can it be true that his dramatic death just magnified his heroism? On the other side, Rizal reminded me of this quote: “The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyrs.” ---Muhammad. One does not need shedding of blood to liberate one’s country. Take into account the case of Mahatma Gandhi of India; he managed to make the Great Britain bow down without any force. Also, Rizal showed that choices make big differences. He made a stand; he weaved words into masterpieces and shared it to the Filipinos to open the dormant nationalistic hearts of his fellowmen. His spark of ideas brought about inspiration and motivation for the Filipinos not to let themselves be abused and helped them stand up to their own feet.
Whether Rizal deserves to be the national hero or not is still a nation-wide debate that would go on for a long time but the truth that Rizal loved our country is without a doubt and is unquestionable. I believe that if Rizal is still alive up to this very moment, he would not care being a national hero or not. All he ever wanted was to give back to his homeland, and I’m quite sure that our motherland embraces Rizal’s unwavering love. National hero or not, Jose Protacio Mercado Rizal y Alonso Realondo will forever remain in the minds and hearts of the Filipinos. And that is a fact that cannot be refuted anymore.