THE PHILOSOPHICAL AND POLITICAL THOUGHT OF DR. JOSE RIZAL Ramces M…. THE PHILOSOPHICAL AND POLITICAL THOUGHT OF DR. JOSE RIZALRamces M. DiliThammasat University  Prof. Ferdinand Blumentritt of Austria once said: “Not only Rizal the most prominent man of his own people but the greatest man the Malayan race has produced. His memory will never perish in his fatherland, and future generations of Spaniards will yet learn to utter his name with respect and reverence”. This quotation surmises the immortality of Rizal’s teachings and philosophy. For more than a hundred years after his death, Dr. Jose Rizal and his philosophies survive and still continue studied by the youth. The youth of today never stop exhuming the richness of his ideas as seen in his many sided-philosophies. Many of his philosophy were found in the pages of his writings. The idea of better society, refined man, moral transformation, economic transfiguration and among others were some of the content. In one of his writings, Rizal pointed out the importance of philosophy into our lives. Rizal wrote: “Our life is a perpetual toast, an eternal aspiration, an insatiable desire …It is a useless life which is not consecrated to a great idea. It is a stone wasted in the fields without becoming a part of any edifice. Man needs an objective toward which he must aim his actions, he must delineate a purpose, see beyond matter and the general hubbub; he needs something worthy of his being and of his faculty.” Because of this, Rizal left his people sumptuous philosophies to be pondered upon. Moral Teachings and Principles Rizal lived in a time where injustice, inequality, bias and prejudices were common in the context of Spanish dominion; social discrimination, suppression of the freedom of speech, violation of human rights and graft and corruption in the government. This unholy trend was so prevalent and made moral confusion among the Filipino populace. To fight these evils, Rizal “made use of the practical method of appealing to the better nature of the conquerors and of offering useful methods of solving the moral problems of the conquered”. Rizal did not hesitate to present and admit the decaying moral character of the Philippine society during those days. In the foreword of his Noli, Rizal pointed out their vices, miseries and misfortunes; “I have raised the curtain in order to show that lies behind the deceitful and brilliant words of our government; I have shown our compatriots, our defects, our vices, our culpable and cowardly complacencies with their miseries. Wherever I have seen virtue, I have proclaimed it in order to give it homage, and even though I have not cried in speaking of our misfortunes, I have laughed because nobody wishes to lament with me the misfortunes of our fatherland”. According to Rizal, one doesn’t need to be a prolific writer to elevate the moral character of his people rather he should be a good man and a good citizen. In his speech at a café in Madrid, on December 31, 1883 Rizal expressed this profound sentiment. Rizal criticizes to all Filipinos who have no concern on the moral recovery of his country. Filipinos who love to live in abundance without thinking about human dignity and progress in their character. “My country which they call uncivilized, my country were hospitality is neither sold nor bought, but is offered and served as a duty; if this country which in the midst of her poverty helps her sons in the foreign lands, her sons whom the civilized government denies the meager salary of their works; if this fatherland, rude and barbaric because it has less criminals, less revolts because brothers respect the stranger and the abandoned…” Rizal’s effort to elevate the moral virtue of his people is seen in the pages of his letters, diaries, essays and novels. In his letter to the young women of Malolos, Rizal gives emphasis on the role of the mother in developing the character of the child: “Raise your children close to the image of the true God…awaken and prepare the mind of every child for every good and desirable idea-love of honor, sincere and firm character, clear mind, clean conduct, noble action, love for one’s fellowmen, respect for God-teach this to your children, and because life is full of sorrows and perils, fortify their character against any difficulty, strengthen their hearts against any danger…Teach your children to guard and love their honor, to love their fellowmen, their native land, and to perform their duties. Tell them repeatedly to prefer death with honor to life with dishonor”. Educational Philosophy Since childhood Rizal realized the importance of education in the life of every individual.  In Noli me Tangere, Rizal emphasized the supreme role of education in the progress of a country: “The school is the basis of society, the school is the book on which is written the future of nations! Show us the schools of a people and we will show you what that people is”.  During his nurturing years in Ateneo, Rizal wrote a poem “Por la educacion reside lustre la patria” which gave tribute to the importance of education. In one of its line, it reads, “such is he who wise education directs; to wield unconquered the reins of country”. Rizal believes that the hope of this country lay in education.  Moreover, in El Filibusterismo, Rizal pointed out that education is the most important duty of every Filipinos needs to fulfill. He said: “Besides the duty of everyone to seek his own perfection, there is the desire innate in man to cultivate his intellect, a desire the more powerful here in that it is repressed”. For Rizal, the mission of education is to elevate the country to the highest seat of glory and to develop the people’s intellect. Rizal claimed that education is a prerequisite for man’s progress.. Education is the process by which the men gets his experiences and make his actions efficient. Education, according to Rizal helps man to become a good member of his society. No wonder why Rizal acquires education immensely because he has an intense purpose. In his letter to his nephew Alfredo Hidalgo, Rizal exemplified its “true essence”. “Go ahead then; study, study and meditate well what you study. Life is a very serious thing and only those with intelligence and heart go through it worthily. To live is to be among men and to be among men is to struggle. But his struggle is not a brutal and material struggle with men alone. It is a struggle with them, with one’s self, with their passions and one’s own, with errors and preoccupations. It is an eternal struggle with a smile on the lips and tears in the heart. On this battlefield man has no better weapon than his intelligence, no other force but his heart. Sharpen, perfect, polish then your mind and fortify and educate your heart”.  Aims of Education – In developing our intelligence and educating our heart, Rizal stressed that good judgment, proper appreciation of the importance of self-esteem and attainment of self-control are the aims of education. This can be achieved through self-evaluation, understanding of our abilities and determining the effects of our abilities to ourselves and to other people.  In his first novel, Noli me Tangere, Rizal explained the value of good judgment, self-esteem and self-control. He pointed out: “…when God gave each one the faculty to judge what he possesses, He did what was most convenient and He did not want that he who had less think like the one who had more and vice versa. In my opinion, self-esteem is the greatest good that God has endowed man with for his perfection and purity, saving him from many unworthy and base acts when he forgets the precepts he had learned or had been inculcated in him. Precisely for me self-esteem is dignity when it is not passionate and it is moderate by judgment.”  Goals of Learning – According to Rizal, there are six goals of learning namely; knowledge, information, skills, habits, ideals and attitudes and these goals can be achieve through reading, observation, experiment, and reasoning. For him, if man acquires these goals, the world becomes his heritage, “Man comprehends that his heritage is the vast world, dominion over which is within his reach; tired of his useless and presumptuous toil, he lowers his head and examined what surrounds him”.  In his letter to a group of Filipino friends in Spain, Rizal suggested that: “you try to buy, read, but critically… Knowledge of a thing prepares one for its mastery: knowledge is power… Study so that when the hour comes it will not find you unprepared.” Rizal seeks knowledge not for its own sake but for the sake of elevating the country to its highest level. Rizal also used his knowledge to educate his fellowmen. He used the power of his pen to demonstrate how mighty an intellectual man is.  The same idea is to be found in the letter to his sister Trinidad, he said: “It is pity that there in our country the principal adornment of all women almost always consists of clothes and finery rather than of knowledge… For this reason, now that you are still young and you have time to learn, it is necessary that you study by reading, and reading attentively. It is a pity that you allow yourself to be dominated by laziness when it takes so little effort to shake it off. It is enough to form only the habit of study and later everything will go by itself”. Rizal stressed the usefulness of a firm determination in learning. In forming good habits one must have a good model and strong resolution to do what he wants to do. One must not allow excuses until a new habit is formed. A Lesson’s Learn for Teachers – Rizal is a product of educational system as posed by the Spanish friars in the Philippines. Thus, he knew very well the defects of their instructions. The educational instruction during the Spanish regime was impregnated with corporal punishment, racial prejudices, and poor methods of instruction. From the novel El Filibusterismo, Rizal gave a classic argument in education against the prevalent practice of corporal punishment, “whipping…has been the distinctive features in the schools and which heretofore has been considered as the only efficacious means of making pupils learn…thus we had been indoctrinated to believe…appeared to me that, far from contributing to the pupil’s progress, it was a great hindrance. I became convinced that it was impossible to think and reason when whipping or other punishment was in sight. Fear and terror upset the most serene and the imagination of the child, besides being very active, it is also impressionable. And since to impress upon the mind, it is necessary that there be inner and outer calm, that there be serenity of spirit, physical and moral poise, and live interest, I believe that above all, I should develop in the children confidence, assurance, and self-respect. I realized furthermore that the daily sight of corporal punishment killed kindness in their hearts and destroyed that sense of dignity, the lever of the world, at the same time of shame which is difficult to restore.”  Here, we find a clear picture by which his power of a teacher originated. And this cannot be blame to Rizal because he was also a victim of unkindness from his teachers. In Biñan, he always received beatings of his palm, in UST it grew much into wickedness. No wonder why Rizal opposed this kind of educational method. For him, “In order to be heeded and to maintain authority the teacher needs prestige, reputation, moral strength, and some freedom of action”. Thus, Rizal demanded the following educational developments; “healthful school buildings, regularity and punctuality in attendance, moral suasion instead of corporal punishment, physical education and attention to children’s health, subject matter useful for life, teaching through projects, adult education, and constant education of the teacher himself”[v]. In his writings, Rizal had numerous excellent views on the methods of teaching and criticism to educational system. In his letter to Soledad, Rizal offered some advice, “…improve yourself more and more in an effort to be a model of virtues and good qualities, for the one who should teach should be better than the persons who need her learning”[vi]. According to him, teachers have a great share in building the character of the children, “…cultivate in the children confidence, assurance, and personal pride… The teacher must make study a thing of love and joy… The school room must not be a place of sorrows but a scene of intellectual refreshment”. According to him, teachers cannot be tyrannical, narrow-minded, and fanatical because these qualities do not contribute in achieving the aims of education. If the student is well taught in the spirit of cooperation, by examples of deeds, moral force and certain liberty rather repression of ideas thus, all pitiful incidences will be eliminated and realizing the aim of education, “moral and physical developments, transforming the students into prosperous, intelligent and noble persons”. Religious Thoughts and Practices Jose Rizal grew up and nurtured by a closely-knit Catholic family: his letters to them attests his high regard to the supreme God. “Concerning what you say about my duties as a Christian, I have the pleasure to be able to answer you that I haven’t stopped a moment in believing in the fundamental principles of our religion…” Rizal at young age was greatly affected by the death of the three priests and inspired them to dedicate his second novel. It is even said that had it not been the event of February 1872, Rizal would have become a Jesuit[viii]. He praises his professors in Ateneo, especially Father Francisco de Paula Sanchez. Many of his writings were center to God’s exaltations such as Al Niño Jesus, A la Virgen Maria, Alianza Intima entre la Religion y la Buena Educacion and a poem written to the rector of Ateneo Fr. Pablo Ramon S.J.  It was expected therefore, that he should have been also, a devout Catholic. However, in his later life Rizal developed a religious philosophy different from the Catholic religion. It all started when he first went abroad in 1882.  In Europe he found the boisterous atmosphere of freedom: where conservatives and liberals, socialists and anarchists, protestants and Catholics, atheists and agnostics, debated and discussed at meetings without the fear of being apprehended. Rizal was amazed by this kind of freedom by which the Filipino society never experienced. His acquaintances with the great thinkers, leaders, scholars, scientists and philosophers in Europe revolutionized his religious philosophy. He made contacts with prominent people with different creed and professing various beliefs. When he stayed in the house of Karl Ullmer, a protestant pastor, he and Ullmer exchanged ideas on several topics, one of which was their respective beliefs about God, “There, in calm and slow conversation, with freedom to speak, we talked about our respective beliefs, of the morality of peoples and the influence of their respective creeds on them. A great respect for the good faiths of the adversary and for the most contrary ideas that must necessarily arise due to differences in race, education, and age, led us almost always to the conclusion that religions, whatever they might be, should not make men enemies of one another but rather brothers and real brothers”. In his letter to Blumentritt, Rizal summarizes his commentary over God and religion; the sentiment which reflects how he hated so much the religion as posed by the friars in the Philippines. “God ought not to be utilized as a shield and protector of abuses, nor should religion be used for such purpose. If the friars really had more respect for their religion, they would not use so often its sacred name and would not expose it to the most dangerous situations. What is happening in the Philippines is horrible. They abuse the name of religion for a few pesos. They hawk religion to enrich their treasuries. Religion to seduce the innocent young woman! Religion to get rid of an enemy! Religion to disturb the peace of marriage and the family, if not to dishonor the wife? Why should I not combat this religion with all my strength when it is the primary cause of all our sufferings and tears? The responsibility falls on those who abuse the name of religion!” In August 1887, a few days after he came back from Europe, Rizal visited his alma mater. There, he was welcomed by Fathers Francisco de Paula Sanchez, Federico Faura and Jose Bech. With his conversation with Father Federico Faura, Rizal exclaims the following statement, “I wished to hit the Friars, for they utilize religion not only as a shield but also as a weapon, a protection, castle, fortress, an armor. I was forced to attack their false and superstitious religion, to fight the enemy that hid behind it! God ought not to be utilized as a shield and protector of abuses, nor should religion be used for such a purpose”. But despite the sufferings brought by the friars to him and to his family, still Rizal never s the existence of God. His faith and conviction to God never ceases or at least diminished. As a proof, Rizal calls the presence of God in his consolation to all the pains that the Spanish friars caused him. “What happened to my family? When I think of my family, I am overcome by such sorrows that if my faith in God has been less, I would have committed a folly. I am not repenting for having undertaken this campaign. If I were now in the beginning of my life, I would do the same that I have done, because I am sure that I ought to do it, it was the duty of everyone; and God could ask me, why did you not combat the evil and injustice when you saw them?” “In the face of those injustices and cruelties, my youthful imagination was aroused and I swore to avenge someday those numberless persons who suffered from them. To this end, I have been studying; one can read about this in all my works and writings. God will someday give me an opportunity to put my plans into effect” In his letters to Fr. Pablo Pastells also contributes his strong belief in the existence of God, he said: “I believe firmly in the existence of God the Creator…I firmly believe in His wisdom, His infinite power… His goodness manifested in the marvelous creation of the universe; in the order that reigns in His creation; His magnificence that overwhelms my understanding; His greatness that enlightens and nourishes all. His wisdom is so great that it humiliates human reason and makes me dizzy with vertigo for my own reasoning is imperfect and confused. Many times my reasoning leads me to raise my eyes to Him. I believe Him to be in the immense system of planets, in all the aggregation of nebulae, that bewilders and stretches my imagination beyond my comprehension that I am filled with dread, awe and bewilderment and leaves me dumb with wonder. How can I doubt God when I am convince of my own existence? Who recognizes the effect recognizes the cause. To doubt God would be to doubt one’s conscience and consequently, to doubt everything; and then, what is life for?  While in Germany, Rizal visited various places and attending mass celebrations of other religious sect. In his letter to Saturnina, Rizal shared his thoughts on how high his reverence to religion is. He said: “I am here in Germany going from city to city, from town to town, visiting all educational centers, the town schools, the parishes, the churches, and many times after listening to a Catholic sermon, I go to a Protestant church to attend the services there and sometimes to the synagogue of the Jews…” From the above foregoing statements, we can say that Rizal was a sincere believer of God. However, because of the circumstances brought by the friars in his life, he learned to fight their abuses as he realized his mission to fight evil everywhere; in the government, among his people, and of course, in the church. The domineering Catholic friars in the Philippines were also observed and criticize by some Spanish officials and one of them was Manuel Scheidnagel, a military officer. In his letter Scheidnagel anxiously wrote “The Friar is greatly needed in the colony. But he should carry on his mission, religious and humanitarian, without intervening directly in matters that pertain to the executive power. His counsel is and will always be listened to and will be accorded due respect; but his will or desire which, on many occasions is unjustified, should not prevail over the laws and interests of the Nation…” The above statement was the situation during the reign of Catholic friars in the Philippines; the same situations that Rizal was campaigning. “God, who is just, cannot abandon His cause which is the cause of liberty, without which there is no justice possible”[xvii]. And as what Rizal echoed in the eyes of Elias, “radical reforms in the armed forces, in the priesthood, in the administration of justice, that is to say they want paternal solitude on the part of the government”.In the foreword of the Noli Me Tangere, the primordial purpose of Rizal as a believer of God was clearly understood. “…I have tried to show the difference between real religion and the hypocrisy that under its cloak has impoverished and brutalized us. I have brought out the real meaning of the dazzling and deceptive words of our countrymen”.  However, he developed a philosophy of a different nature with the use of truth and reason in regards to the teachings and practices of Catholic friars in the Philippines. “To me religion is the most sacred thing, the purest, the most ethereal, that eschews all human adulterations, and I believe that I would fail in my duty as a rational being if I prostitute my reason and accept the absurd. I believe God would not punish me if, in trying to approach Him, I should use reason and intelligence, His most precious gift. I believe that in order to honor Him more, all I can do is to present myself to Him making use of the best that He has given me, in the same way that in presenting myself before my parents I should wear the best clothes they have given me. If some time I shall come to possess that divine spark that is called knowledge, I will not hesitate to use it for the service of God.” This sudden change of belief was the result of his personal experiences, brutalities in the hands of his oppressors and the possession of an independent mind. “Ignorance is bondage…A man without a will of his own is a man without personality. The blind who follows others’ opinion is like a beast led by a halter. God, fountain of wisdom, does not expect man, created in His image, to allow himself to be fooled and blinded…Men were not created by God to be enslaved; neither were adorned with reason to be fooled by others. It is not pride to refuse to worship a fellow man, to enlighten the mind, and to reason. The arrogant one is he who wants to be worshipped, who misleads others and wants his will to prevail over reason and justice” Being a critical observer, Rizal did not agree with the prevailing Christian practices in the country. Rizal did not believe in the Catholic doctrine that salvation was only for Catholics and that outside Christianity; salvation was not possible. Nor in the sale of religious items such as the cross, medals, rosaries in order to propagate the faith and raise Church funds. In his letter to the Young Women of Malolos, “Saintliness does not consist in abjectness nor in the successor of Christ to be recognized by the fact that he gives his hand to be kissed. Christ did not give the kiss of peace to the Pharisees and never gave his hand to be kissed. He did not cater to the rich and vain; He did not mention scapularies, nor did He make rosaries, or solicit offerings for the sacrifice of the Mass or exact payments for His prayers…Why, then, do the friars refuse to stir a foot unless paid an advance? And, as if they were starving, they sell scapularies, rosaries, bits, and other things which are nothing but schemes for making money and a detriment to the soul. Because even if all the rags on earth were converted into scapularies and all the trees in the forest into rosaries…and if all the priests of the earth mumbled prayers over all this and sprinkled oceans of holy water over it, this would not purify a rogue or condone sin where there is no repentance…Let us be reasonable and open our eyes, especially you women, because you are the first to influence the consciousness of man. Remember that a good mother does not resemble the mother that the friar has created; she must bring up her child to be the image of the true God, not of a blackmailing, a grasping God, but of a God who is the father of us all, who is just; who does not suck the life-blood of the poor like a vampire, nor scoffs at the agony of the sorely beset, nor makes a crooked path of the path of justice..” All of these and a lot more are evidences of Rizal’s religious philosophy.  Socio-political Commentaries One of the surprising things about Dr. Jose Rizal that should be recognized is his countless testaments of political commentaries and its relevance to our political development. This is particularly of great importance in the light of the many political issues and concerns that we are confronting today. During his time, Rizal was so conscious about his environment, his people’s problems, plight and challenges. Rizal lived where injustices reigned. The sad condition of his people were directly observed and experienced by him. In his letter to the members of the La Solidaridad, Rizal uttered the following observation, “All these imprisonments, abuses, etc., are the necessary evil in a corrupt society. I express myself thus because I cannot accept that an evil is necessary in a good society just as medicine or surgical operation in a healthy man. If the Filipinos in this cruel and unequal struggle demonstrate fortitude and valor in spite of everybody and everything, then it will be because they are worthy of freedom and we can say: Dumating na ang tadhana.” Rizal bitterly criticized the apparent method of Spain in governing the country which resulted in:[xxiii] the bondage and slavery of the Filipinos ;the government’s requirement of forced labor and force military service upon the natives;the government’s abuse of power by means of exploitation;the government ruling that any complaint against the authorities was criminal; andmaking the people ignorant, destitute and fanatic. In one of his writings, Rizal continues to express his sentiments over the abuses of the government of Spain in the Philippines and Rizal cannot resist but added some suggestions of his own. He wrote: “These abuses that for being unutterably bad had become ridiculous, ruin the country and impair the prestige of the government. This system of prevention, of unfounded fears, of unjust suspicions, not only irritates and awakens men but exposes the weakness of the government: much fear reveals much weakness. This, added to the inability to stop banditry, makes an evil person say that the government is only hard on peaceful and respectable citizens while it fondles or lets alone the rebellious and criminal…this behavior of the government in the Philippines hurts the real interests of Spain…the government appears as the foremost filibuster. And as we believe that one cannot serve a country better than to tell the truth…” This way, Rizal pictured himself as a true crusader of change and a leading political man and proves himself worthy as a political scientist. Austin Craig considered him as a political scientist because he had “enough concern for politics and was conservative and practical”. Dr. Friedrich Ratzel, an Austrian professor, said that he had “acquired learning from the three continents and had a broad understanding of a social scientist that is very much needed in order to analyze the true situation of his country and to give judgment to its political development. He is the right person that is needed for a progressive humanity. The political ideas of Rizal were the results of many influences. Rizal was molded by the following fragments of his existence; His family especially from the Alonzo’s were politicians, truly in his veins runs a true political analyst; his extensive studies, travels in Asia and Europe advanced him to generate political ideas; his being well-versed in four languages – English, Spanish, French and German enticed him to study and critique well the politics of many nations; his rich studies and researches in the libraries of Europe forced him to study political ideals and philosophy of many countries and periods of their political history; his famous professors, instructors, tutors, and acquaintances with prominent men planted him the seed of political commentaries and reforms and, finally his desire to alleviate. All of these helped him to become a conscientious political scientist. The foundation of Rizal’s political ideas proved to be the study and application of reforms, the extension of human rights, the training for self government, the separation of the church and the state, social justice, defense of the poor and the weak, freedom and justice for every individual, equality of men, the arousing of spirit of discontent over oppression, brutality, inhumanity, sensitiveness and self love, freedom of the press and of speech, rights of women, the importance of criticism, and trust in public office. He was able to touch the malignant cancer afflicting the Philippines under the Spanish regime and triumphed over cowardice and unconcern. He exposed the country’s illness although he knew that he was making himself susceptible to danger and even certain death. In an article entitled “The Town Schools of the Philippines”, Rizal wrote about this courage: “Whether the sacrifice be big or small; whether men be ungrateful and forgetful; whether malice be opposed; or whether sterile and barren egoism mock, we ought not to be dismayed before an insignificant failure nor go backward at the least obstacle that is discerned in the horizon. In order that the work of one single individual be crowned with the most brilliant success, necessary are all the favors of fortune, all assistance of happy circumstances, a prepared ground, a propitious predisposition; otherwise the voice is lost in the void like hopes and efforts”. And when he felt that his countrymen has no voice and typically divided, Rizal consoled them and endeavored them to unite and promoted pride in their spirit: “Let us work then together and instead of useless lamentations, of disconsolate complaints, of accusations and excuses, let us apply the remedy, let us build, no matter if we begin with the simplest, for later we shall have time to erect new edifices on that foundation. Step by step one reaches the Temple of Progress whose numerous and fitful steps are not climbed without having faith and conviction in the soul, in the heart courage necessary in encountering disillusions, and the gaze fixed on the future. Let us do for the generation that must follow us, which will be either our reward or our reproach, all that we would like to have been done for us by our ancestors, perhaps placed by fatality in very dismal circumstances, though full of generous aspirations. The road is ours as the present is ours, and if is not given to us to reach the end, we may be sure that by fulfilling our duties, the future will be ours also-the future full of blessings”. Instructions:Based on the article about the ideology of Jose Rizal, discuss the effect on the process of social change, liberty, freedom, social development, and social interaction using a graphic organizer. Elaborate observable situation that is present in our current situation in the Philippines. Image transcription textEXAMPLE: Social Change Ideology on Liberty and Freedom Social Development and Social Interaction…   History Asian History HISTORY PI 100 Share (0)

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