MANY who didn’t care, or forgot, that last Friday June 19 was our national hero Jose Rizal’s birth anniversary, were reminded of him by the Torre de Manila scandal. For days, ABS-CBN’s Ted Failon in his morning talk show “Failon Ngayon” commendably devoted a lot of air time sharing his patriotic anger over it. He opened last Thursday’s discussion referring to the Times banner “Tense Torre TRO hearing.”
Opinion writers and government people who have berated DMCI and the City of Manila officials who okayed the 49-floor Torre to be built have focused on the irreverence to Rizal, the destruction of the beautiful view, the trashing of our heritage, the commercial greed of DMCI and the possible of corruption of the city officials who gave the building permit and exempted from certain ordinances or rules.
I have not read any column reminding the Filipino people of why it is important to honor our national heroes–specially Dr. Rizal. No one has reiterated why Filipinos must respect our national heritage and oppose such desecrations as DMCI’s Torre de Manila.
This leads me to wonder why condemnation of the outrage over the Torre never rose above its aesthetic devaluation of Rizal Park to the higher issue of the DMCI managers’ and their city hall collaborators’ lack of love for our country and our people, of which virtue Jose Rizal is the supreme model.
In fact, I feel it necessary to now bring up this question. Why has it been a very long time since we heard our major political leaders–from BS Aquino and his key Cabinet members, the senators and the congressmen, and the more nationally visible governors and mayors–speak about love of country, patriotism, and what this means?
Why has no one–as Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tañada, Diosdado Macapagal, Ferdinand Marcos, and even Raul Manglapus did–given a speech reminding us Filipinos of the grand vision of what kind of nation and state the Philippines should be?
The greater minds and nobler spirits in our leadership–like the admirable Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Francis Escudero, Ferdinand Marcos, Congressmen Lorenzo Erin Tañada and a few other good men, some of whom are unfortunately allied with the most unpatriotic and hypocritical president to occupy Malacañang–seem to have all been silenced by their awareness that the problem oppresses most Filipinos is economic survival and rising from grinding poverty.
And the true problem of governance is the menace to our very existence as a Republic posed by President B. S. Aquino and the Smartmatic PCOS machines.
So, they probably feel there is no use speaking about what the Philippines ought to be.
Anyway, they might be thinking, if they gave a soul-shaking speech on nationhood and patriotism that would touch on the failures of President Aquino to pursue the vision of Rizal, the conscript radio-TV and print media would not give them time and space.
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“Rizal Through a Glass Darkly”
Seven years ago, in a Rizal Day article, I wrote about the book by historian Fr. Javier de Pedro’s book, “Rizal Through a Glass Darkly.”
Did he die a saint because he was in a state of grace when martyred by the Spanish colonial government after a court martial found him guilty of crimes he did not commit?
The author of the book “Rizal Through a Glass Darkly” does not only say Rizal possibly died a saint. Fr. Javier de Pedro, a secular Catholic priest incardinated in the Opus Dei prelature, who has been a spiritual director of many, many souls since he was ordained in 1964, states unequivocally: “I am convinced that he received long ago the welcome of the Father to the house of Heaven.”
“Rizal Through a Glass Darkly” is a spiritual biography of Rizal. I have known its author since 1967. He holds a doctorate in industrial engineering from Barcelona’s Escuela de Ingenieros Industriales, which enjoys a reputation for excellence not just in Spain but in the whole of Europe. He also has a doctorate in Canon Law from the University of Navarre in Pamplona, Spain.
“Rizal Through a Glass Darkly” is a valuable addition to Philippine historical studies.
Javier de Pedro charts the state of Jose Rizal’s spiritual life, the progress and detours he made in his journey to heaven. We see in this book how the hero’s mind worked about God, religion, the virtues, the Church and the friars, at every stage of Rizal’s life.
The references Fr. de Pedro used are concrete documents and works available for all to examine and verify to test the priest-historian’s correctness, fidelity to the truth, objectivity and adherence to sound doctrine. He used Rizal’s own letters, poems, diaries, essays and the Noli and the Fili. He also used letters written to Rizal from friends, relatives (including his mother) as well as from critics. Fr. de Pedro also referred to news items and comments written about Rizal, his trial and his execution and to the testimonies of Rizal’s teachers, confessors and defenders. He consulted archival documents in Spain as well as the most popular and well-regarded books that used primary sources about Rizal.
In giving his readers a profile of Rizal’s spiritual state through the three decades of his life, Fr. de Pedro does something no other book has done for us Filipinos who have more or less studied his life from earlier available biographies and Rizal-centered histories. Fr. de Pedro’s knowledge of the pastoral care of souls makes us realize for the first time the torments our hero must have suffered and the joys his soul must have enjoyed during events that, in our previous readings and studies, were just historical happenings that triggered some other actions and events that changed our country’s fate.
One of the things I did not know until I read this book is that, among the things that made Rizal decide that the “frailocracia” was the one biggest evil in the Philippines, was his misunderstanding of a brief message from his elder brother and mentor Paciano. The message was about an evil deed a Fr. Villafranca was doing to Rizal’s father. Rizal assumed the evildoer to be a friar, when in fact Fr. Villafranca was a secular priest. This old priest was blackmailing Rizal’s father, “threatening to expose the “dark family secret” (which to us today is something to laugh about) that Antonino Lopez, the good husband of Rizal’s sister Narcisa, was in fact the son of Fr. Leoncio Lopez, the Calamba parish priest, whom Rizal knew to be a great man. Rizal modeled El Filibusterismo’s Fr. Florentino on Fr. Leoncio Lopez.
When Jose Rizal was shot by a firing squad he had gone to confession thrice and had said the rosary as he walked with his priest-confessor and friends to the execution ground.
He was a holy soul, a Christian martyr when he was killed by musketry.
And martyrs go straight to heaven!