The Jose Rizal Legacy

José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda’s legacy is almost forgotten by Filipinos and most especially the youth these days. But what is Jose Rizal’s Legacy to us? Rizal was a different person to different people. He traveled the world, not only as a mere Official Filipino Tourist at the time but one who learned from the different places he has been and left even a mark there.

Dr. Jose P. Rizal is the Philippine’s National Hero. He was born June 18, 1861 and died by firing squad at Luneta Bagumbayan in December 30, 1896. He is academician, a linguist, writer, historian,scientist and a doctor. He studied in Ateneo de Manila , University of Santo Thomas, Universidad Central de Madrid, Paris and Germany. In a way, he was also an activist, a reformist, a non-violence rebel and an advocate of peace.

A man who changed the course of Philippine history, he influenced most of our revolutionary leaders through his writings and example. I remember taking up a “Rizal” subject in highschool’s social studies and history and also a course in college, which was a requirement in order for us to graduate in college. At that time, I was somewhat disinterested due to the same thing being talked and presented about him over and over again. I believe one semester of a subject is not enough to fully understand and grasp the life and achievements of Jose Rizal. Other nations even recognizes his achievements, there are even Jose Rizal Monuments in Madrid, Sweden, Singapore and many more aside from what we have in Luzon. There is even a research group/center in singapore dedicated to researchin Jose Rizal's life.

“Not only is Rizal the most prominent man of his own people but the greatest man the Malayan race has produced. ” -Ferdinand Blumentritt, 1897.

My interest in him was re-ignited when I attended a seminar of “The Brown Raise Movement.” Which was basically one of the tipping points in my pursuit of not only excellence but also as my identity as a Filipino. He basically became my role model again after that seminar. Hands down, as per personal excellence he got it, no need to mention his many professions. But his love for his country and people is so much more remarkable, truly he was a man ahead of his time. I would even go far as to say he is even ahead of “our” time now.

If Rizal were to live today, aside from his professions at the time, he will definitely be a blogger, a pro-blogger at that. His stand on education and values would be very much applicable even today. He valued education so much that the education of Filipinos and their achievement of a national identity were prerequisites to achieve freedom. So with that, no wonder we are still in the third world having to give no significant importance to our youth’s education and at the same time the destruction of our own culture.

As Barth Suretsky, an American expat who lived and died in the Philippines said, the fundamental thing wrong with this country is a lack of pride in being Filipino. “ All Filipinos want to be something else. The poor ones want to be American, and the rich ones all want to be Spaniards. Nobody wants to be Filipino.” No pride, no identity, no recollection of his glorious past that can project him in leading the future of his country. “A people without a sense of history is a people doomed to be unaware of their own identity.”

The Philippines is currently the world’s leading exporter of nurses, with 164,000 or 85% of the country’s trained nurses are working abroad, with doctors becoming nurses. Add to that the other OFWs who are non nurses. And in 2006, the National Career Assessment Examination showed that out of the 1.3 million examinees, only 3.7%, or 49,066 students, are fit to enter college. The Philippines is No. 41 in Science and No. 42 in Mathematics among 45 countries. We reflect and reinvent ourselves in order to even think of achieving progress for our country and our fellow citizens. We must not succumb to the situation which forces us to go the easy way and work abroad rather than developing our nation’s Human Capital and overall capability. I remember the heart-wrenching dream of Rizal in El Filibusterismo:
“Where are the youth who will CONSECRATE their budding years, their idealism and enthusiasm to the welfare of their country? Where are the youth who will generously pour out their blood to wash away so much shame, so much crime, so much abomination? Pure and spotless must the victim be, that the sacrifice may be acceptable! Where are you, youth, who will embody in yourselves the vigor of life that has lifted our veins, the purity of ideas that has been contaminated in our hearts? We await you, O youth! Come, for we await you!”

The Filipino Youth in which he describes as the Hope for the motherland should take power and create a revolution of new ideas and inspiration to do away with the corrupt and ridiculously ineffective ways that the so-called adults are doing to run this country. We should take note of the path taken by Rizal in achieving his enduring legacy. And while he was among the most educated and best qualified to lead an emerging Philippine nation, he did not fight for any leadership post.

Instead he focused on self-improvement, showing to Spain and the rest of the international community that, given the opportunity to achieve their full potential, Filipinos could stand alongside the best in the world and were eligible for self-rule. Then he set out to apply what he had learned as an ophthalmologist, providing a basic service that was badly needed by his impoverished compatriots. In his writings he emphasized the importance of education, seeing it as the path to national progress rather than armed revolt.

He also had a religious side to him, in his letter to his mother, he somehow affirms what many theologians always taught, namely, reason and faith need not be seen as contradictory: "What I believe now, I believe through reason because my conscience can admit only what is compatible with the principles of thought . . . For me, religion is most sacred, most pure, most sublime, which shuns all human adulterations; and I believe that I would fail in my duty as a rational being were I to prostitute my reason and accept an absurdity. I believe that God would not punish me if in approaching him, I were to use his most precious gift of reason and intelligence. I believe that the best way for me to honor him is to present myself before him making use of the best things that he has given me . . ."

And in conclusion:

“Alas! The whole misfortune of the present Filipinos consists in that they have become only half-way brutes. The Filipino is convinced that to get happiness it is necessary for him to lay aside his dignity as a rational creature, to attend mass, to believe what is told him…without aspiring anything…without protesting against any injustice…any insult… that is, not to have heart, brain, or spirit; a creature with arms and a purse of gold. . . there’s the ideal native!.”(The Indolence of the Filipinos by José Rizal, 1890)

Would you believe, if you reflect long enough that the quotation from Rizal more than a hundred years ago clearly defines our situation today? What we need to carry on in the years to come from the life of rizal are: 1) a life of honor and integrity; 2) a passion to excel; 3) the achievement of dreams and aspirations; 4) respect and love for parents; 5) use of God given talents; and 6) love and pride for the Filipino race.

Rizal’s short life offers many lessons in achieving national progress. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
The Jose Rizal Legacy The Jose Rizal Legacy Reviewed by Vernon Joseph Go on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. Hey man, I've been tasked to research on Rizal and this popped up. Haha! Horns up bro, Horns up for our national hero!