A Boholano’s View by Jose “Pepe” Abueva
The Bohol Chronicle
August 4, 2013
“Las Islas Filipinas” to honor King Felipe of España. Our country was called “Filipinas” in honor of King Felipe II when Spain reached the peak of her imperial power. “Filipinas” became “The Philippines” under American colonial rule.
Why should we keep our colonial name? Why not rename our country “Rizalia” after our most eminent national hero, Jose Rizal, to inspire us and give us international distinction? If we do, we shall be known as “Rizalianos.” Rizalia rhymes with Indonesia and Malaysia, our kindred Malay nations in Southeast Asia.
A national dialogue. We therefore propose a national dialogue on the issue of changing the name our country from “The Philippines” or “Filipinas” to RIZALIA. Let us discuss the need for and wisdom of this proposed change. Then, at the right time, our Congress may enact a law for the purpose.
We do cherish our long history as a people who inhabit our archipelago. During the Spanish colonial rule that began in 1565 our forbears finally became a nation in the late 19th century when they found themselves united by a new culture and a new religion (Roman Catholicism), and their yearning to be free from the domination and oppression of Spanish rule.
Rizal as “Father of the Nation.” In our long struggle and formation as a nation Jose Rizal had the greatest influence because of his inspiring ideals and writings. His martyrdom at Bagumbayan ignited the Filipino Revolution against Spain. Thus he is honored as “the Father of our nation.”
Our long history started with our scattered settlements in the lowlands and the highlands. From about the 14th century we had the Moro sultanates as mini-states in the South. We had our colonial era under Spain (1565-1898), the short-lived Republica de Filipinas, our colonial development under the United States (1901-1946) and occupation under Japan (1942-1945), and our nation-statehood since 1946. We should also value our multi-cultural and multi-lingual diversity even as we use and evolve our national language, official languages, and foreign lingua franca. We shall cherish our history and diversity even if we assume a new name as a people and a State.
Rizal’s role and legacy. By his life, ideas, and martyrdom, Rizal inspired Filipino nationalism. His continuing relevance reflects and projects the best that our nation may yet become in the future. His continuing, nay increasing, relevance is his unfulfilled moral vision of our nation: his idea of creating “a community in which all members were bound together by moral imperatives” of dignity, equality, justice, and human rights; “his moral critique of both the national bourgeoisie and their handiwork, the nation-state….” [A Nation Aborted: American Hegemony, and Philippine Nationalism by Floro C. Quiboyen, Ateneo de Manila University. 2008]
Neither our national development under the Americans, nor that from 1946 to 1972, and since 1986, has fulfilled Rizal’s and our other heroes’ moral vision of our nation. We still suffer under our political oligarchy and family dynasties who have a vested interest in our corrupt and unjust political system of patronage, pork barrel, and corruption. This is perpetuated by our obsolete and dysfunctional presidential government and centralized unitary State have blocked our progress toward the 1987 constitutional vision of building “a just and humane society…and a democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace.” This reflects Rizal’s own moral vision. Rizal continually reminds us of “the road to our national redemption—a robust and democratic civil society.” [Quiboyen, p. 389]
“Jose Rizal’s Legacy. [Wikipedia]. “Rizal’s advocacy of liberty through peaceful means rather than by violent revolution makes him Asia’s first modern non-violent proponent of freedom. Forerunner of Gandhi and contemporary of Tagore and Sun Yat Sen; all four created a new climate of thought throughout Asia, leading to the attrition of colonialism.
Rizal was active when the power of other European nations was growing in Asia, mostly motivated by trade, some for the purpose of bringing Western forms of government and education to Asian peoples. Coinciding with the appearance of those other leaders, Rizal from an early age had been enunciating in poems, tracts and plays, ideas all his own of modern nationhood as a practical possibility in Asia. In the Noli he stated that if European civilization had nothing better to offer, colonialism in Asia was doomed.
“Such was recognized by Gandhi who regarded him [Rizal] as a forerunner in the cause of freedom. Jawaharlal Nehru, in his prison letters to his daughter Indira, acknowledged Rizal’s significant contributions in the Asian freedom movement. These leaders regarded these contributions as keystones and acknowledged Rizal’s role in the movement as foundation layer.
“Rizal, through his reading of Morga and other western historians, knew of the genial image of Spain’s early relations with his people. In his writings, he showed the disparity between the early colonialists and those of his day, with the latter’s injustices giving rise to Gomburza [the martyrdom of Filipino Fathers Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora] and the Philippine Revolution of 1896. The English biographer, Austin Coates, and writer, Benedict Anderson, believe that Rizal gave the Philippine revolution a genuinely national character; and that Rizal’s patriotism and his standing as one of Asia’s first intellectuals have inspired others of the importance of a national identity to nation-building.
“Several titles were bestowed on him: “the First Filipino”, “Greatest Man of the Brown Race,” among others. The Order of the Knights of Rizal, a civic and patriotic organization, boasts of dozens of chapters all over the globe. There are some remote-area religious sects who claim him as a sublimation of Christ.
“Historical commemoration. Although his field of action lay in politics, Rizal’s real interests lay in the arts and sciences, in literature and in his profession as an ophthalmologist. Shortly after his death, the Anthropological Society of Berlin met to honor him with a reading of a German translation of his farewell poem and Dr. Rudolf Virchow delivering the eulogy. The Rizal Monument now stands near the place where he fell at the Luneta in Bagumbayan, which is now called Rizal Park, a national park in Manila. The monument, which also contains his remains, was designed by the Swiss Richard Kissling of the William Tel sculpture in Altdorf, Uri. The monument carries the inscription ‘I want to show to those who deprive people the right to love of country, that when we know how to sacrifice ourselves for our duties and convictions, death does not matter if one dies for those one loves – for his country and for others dear to him.’”
- The Taft Commission in June 1901 approved Act 137 renaming the District of Morong into the Province of Rizal. Today, the wide acceptance of Rizal is evidenced by the countless towns, streets, and numerous parks in the Philippines named in his honor.
- Republic Act 1425 was passed in 1956 by the Philippine Legislature requiring all high school and college curricula a course in the study of his life, works and writings.
- Monuments erected in his honor can be found in Madrid; Tokyo; Wilhelmsfeld, Germany; Jinjiang,Fujian,China; Chicago; CherryHill Township, New Jersey; Honolulu; San Diego; Mexico City, Mexico; Lima, Peru; Litomerice, Czech Republic]; Toronto; and Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
- The USS Rizal (DD-174) was a Wickes-class destroyer named after Rizal by the United States Navy and launched on September 21, 1918.
- The José Rizal Bridge and Rizal Park in the city of Seattle are dedicated to Rizal.
- A two-sided marker bearing a painting of Rizal by Fabián de la Rosa on one side and a bronze bust relief of him by Filipino artist Guillermo Tolentino stands at the Asian Civilisations Museum Green marking his visits to Singapore in 1882, 1887, 1891 and 1896.
- A Rizal bronze bust was erected at La Molina district, Lima, Peru, designed by Czech sculptor Hanstroff, mounted atop a pedestal base with four inaugural plaque markers with the following inscription on one: “Dr. José P. Rizal, Héroe Nacional de Filipinas, Nacionalista, Reformador Political, Escritor, Lingüistica y Poeta, 1861–1896.”
- Throughout 2011, the National Historical Institute and other institutions organized several activities commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Rizal, which took place on June 19 of that year.
“Rizal also tried his hand at painting and sculpture. xxx
“Rizal in popular culture. xxx The cinematic depiction of Rizal’s literary works won two film industry awards more than a century after his birth. In the 10th FAMAS Awards, he was honored in the Best Story category for Gerardo de León’s adaptation of his book Noli Me Tángere. The recognition was repeated the following year with his movie version of El Filibusterismo, making him the only person to win back-to-back FAMAS Awards posthumously.
“Both novels were translated into opera by the composer-librettist Felipe Padilla de León: Noli me tangere in 1957 and El filibusterismo in 1970; and his 1939 overture, Mariang Makiling, was inspired by Rizal’s tale of the same name.
“Several films were produced narrating Rizal’s life. The most successful was José Rizal, produced by GMA Films and released in 1998. A year before it was shown another movie was made portraying his life while in exile in the island of Dapitan. Titled Rizal sa Dapitan [it was] produced by Viva Films. xxx Another film that tackled particularly on the heroism of Rizal was the 2000 film Bayaning 3rd World, directed by Mike de Leon….”
In conclusion, Jose Rizal eminently deserves the honor of renaming Filipinas and The Philippines to Rizalia. By doing so, we Rizalianos honor and commit ourselves to uplift our nation and Republic as envisioned by Rizal and our 1987 Constitution.
Mabuhay ang Rizalia at tanang Rizaliano!