ON the birth anniversary of our foremost national hero, let’s remember that he was a highly moral person. You can see that in all his writings and in his personal actions.
He did not say yes to the offer for him to be rescued from Dapitan and act as the revolution’s Supremo. That was because he believed in these principles: Any revolution made for personal reasons is bound to fail and so would a revolution that uses immoral means. Only a revolution that has God on its side will succeed.
And how does one get God on one’s side? By “enduring, suffering and working” (is how the Leon Ma. Guerrero translation of the last chapter of El Filibusterismo puts it). By struggling always to do good and avoid doing evil no matter what the consequences may be.
In Fr. Florentino’s words of wisdom to the dying Simoun, Rizal described—the following words are from the Paul Dumol-Ernesto Grio’s book History of the Filipino People for High Schools—”a far far worse enemy of the Filipino people than the friar or the colonial government: the people of the Philippines themselves.
“ ‘What,’ he asked, ‘would be the use of independence if the slaves of today would become the tyrants of tomorrow?’ Filipinos would be a people in name only. A real people, a genuine political community, respected the rights of persons and upheld their dignity.”
But we Filipinos of today do not. Our President, our congressmen and senators do not respect our, the people’s, rights. They do not uphold our dignity–if they did they would not be so corrupt or tolerant of the corruption of their friends and allies.
(More from Dumol and Grio) “ . . . He [Rizal] made this warning because of his own observation of town life. He saw how Filipinos could be cruel and sadistic to fellow Filipinos, how they could cheat them and demand bribes, how they could treat them like animals, how they could side with . . . others (who were) attacking in order to enrich themselves or increase their power and influence.
“We would not know what Rizal meant by suffering and working in order to transform the Philippine peoples into a genuine political community did we not have his own example. A few days after he returned to the Philippines in 1892, Rizal founded an association that he called La Liga Filipina or the Philippine Association. This was an association that sought to develop civic virtues in Filipinos, the virtues necessary to have a real political community…”
What kind of God is that?
Simoun asked Fr. Florentino: “Endure, suffer–what kind of a God is that?”
“A most just God, Mr. Simoun,” replied the priest, “a God who punishes our lack of faith, our vices, the little regard we have for dignity and the civic virtues. We tolerate vice and thereby become accomplices in it, sometimes we go so far as to applaud it; it is only just, then, very just, that we should suffer the consequences and that our children should do the same. He is the God of freedom, Mr. Simoun, who makes us love it by weighting the yoke upon our shoulders; he is a God of Mercy and of Justice, who improves us with His punishment and grants happiness only to those who have merited it with their exertions. The school of suffering tempers the spirit, the fighting arena strengthens the soul…”
Rizal would have wept seeing the Philippines today–and the way our President and his allies are running it.