Wednesday, June 22, 2011

White hair chronicles LXIV - Jose Rizal@150

The younger kids now know who Jose Rizal is but it stops at that. My generation is replete with stories of Rizal's genius and love for country. We remember the tale of Rizal throwing his remaining slipper to the water after losing the other half in the currents. There are also the tales of the moth and the lamplight, how he made champorado from left-over rice, how he operated on his mother's eyes, how he excelled in fencing, the arts, and in writing, and how he dramatically faced the muskets when he was executed.

Many stories maybe are apocryphal. That's the stuff that makes heroes, anyway. But notwithstanding Veneration Without Understanding, Rizal is our hero. And in this age, we need heroes that transcend time, politics, and personal desires. The fact that the Americans sponsored Rizal's ascendance to the exalted throne of National Hero does does not diminish his achievements and heroism. Nor it does not make him undeserving to be called such.

Rizal's being born from society's upper class does not preclude him from being the national hero. His martyrdom alone continues to inspire. Such ability to inspire has no class prerequisite.

So to remind my family, especially my two sons, aged 14 and 8, of who Rizal is, we trooped to the Luneta last Sunday. My young sons personal heroes range from Rafael Nadal to John Lennon to Ozzy Osbourne. We were surprised that despite the inclement weather, throngs of student were also there. I told my sons, that when Rizal turns 200, a bigger celebration will be organized. Perhaps they will also be at Luneta with their grandchildren and they should tell them that here lies a man whose heroism is truly profound. He did what he did despite the grim consequences, not for revenge or personal ambition, but because it was the right thing.

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