Jose Rizal and the Revolution

Jose Rizal and the Revolution. Question: What was Rizal’s role in the Philippine Revolution? It is not surprising to see texts about the martyrdom of their most celebrated hero- Dr. Jose Rizal (b. 1861 – d. 1896) , when we open the pages history books in the Philippines. The national revolution that the Philippines had from 1896 to 1901 was one period when the Filipino people were most united, most involved and most spirited to fight for one thing that they have been deserve – freedom.

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Though all aspects of Rizal’s short but meaningful life was already explored by history writers and biographers, his involvement in the Philippine Revolutions still remains to be a sensitive and unfamiliar topic. His writings to an extent played a big part in the Philippine Revolution. Historians cannot deny that Rizal played a main part in the country’s struggle for reforms and independence. His writings had woken up the Filipino people and pushed them to take action against the Spanish. Especially ‘Noli me Tangere’ and ‘El Filibusterismo’.

Summarising ‘El Filibusterismo’ it is a story about a man, Crisostomo Ibarra, who was wrongly accused by the Spanish government and was sent away. He returns to the Philippines as Simoun a rich jeweller with a beard and blue tinted glasses. He seeks revenge against the Spanish Philippines System who was responsible for his misfortunes and plots a revolution against them. These novels were viewed as guiding force for other patriots to rally for the country’s cause. “You must shatter the vase to spread its perfume, and smite the rock to get the spark! “- (Noli me Tangere). “There are no tyrants where there are no slaves. – (El FIlibusterismo). “The glory of saving a country is not for him who has contributed to its ruin”. – (El Filibusterismo) The language that he uses in his novels are all very strong and inspiring. Although many historians believed Jose Rizal dedicated his life and labours for the cause of the revolution and respected him to a certain extent, a brave historian rose up and went against the tide, and said that Jose Rizal did not lead the revolution nor was he an actual leader. Professor Renato Constantino stated that Jose Rizal was not a leader of the Philippine Revolution but was opposed to it.

In the manifesto of 15th December 1896, Jose Rizal addressed to the Filipino people that if the plan of the revolution came to his knowledge he would oppose it because of its impossibility and his willingness to stifle the revolution. He believed that changes could be made without violence. Rizal thought that these were absurd because of its criminal methods. As the educated man he was brought up to be, he believed that reforms must come from above (social class) and that those who are below are “shaky, irregular and uncertain”. This belief led to his weakness of not understanding his people.

He did not empathise with them and as a result he unintentionally underestimated the capacity of those from below to compel changes and reforms. It would be understandable that he thought of such because he was from that class and the only reason why he opposed the revolution was because “violence should not prevail”. So in conclusion, he did not lead the revolution but his writings did lead to the revolution as it was an eye opener to the Filipino people. Without these writings, the Filipino people would not have woken up and stood up for their country.

As they say in the Philippine National Anthem “Ang mamatay lang dahil sayo” (To die for you) Websites: http://www. joserizal. ph/in01. html http://www. joserizal. ph/no01. html http://www. joserizal. ph/bg01. html http://asms. k12. ar. us/classes/humanities/worldstud/97-98/imper/philippines/spanish. HTM http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/El_filibusterismo Books: Noli me Tangere – Jose Rizal El Filibusterismo – Jose Rizal The First Filipino, A biography of Jose Rizal – Leon Ma. Guerrero (1963) Jose Rizal- Gregorio F. Zaide and Sonia M. Zaide (1997)


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