Why Rizal Did Not Deserve to Be the Philippines’s National Hero » PinoyPress
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Why Rizal Did Not Deserve to Be the Philippines’s National Hero

30 December 2008 17 Comments

Today, Dec. 30, is Rizal Day, the commemoration of the death anniversary of Jose Rizal, the national hero. As usual, Filipinos will be subjected to hagiographic stories about him. To be sure, Rizal was a great man. But, as Renato Constantino explains in his classic “Veneration Without Understanding,” he did not deserve to be the Philippines’s national hero.

“In the histories of many nations,” Constantino writes, “the national revolution represents a peak of achievement to which the minds of man return time and again in reverence and for a renewal of faith in freedom. For the national revolution is invariably the one period in a nation’s history when the people were most united, most involved, and most decisively active in the fight for freedom. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that almost always the leader of that revolution becomes the principal hero of his people. There is Washington for the United States, Lenin for the Soviet Union, Bolivar for Latin America, Sun Yat Sen, then Mao Tse-Tung for China and Ho Chi Minh for Vietnam. The unity between the venerated mass action and the honored single individual enhances the influence of both.

“In our case, our national hero was not the leader of our Revolution. In fact, he repudiated that Revolution.”

Read “Veneration Without Understanding


  • Dean Jorge Bocobo said:

    Hi Caloy,
    Please join the conversation on Rizal at Filipino Voices.
    As the Catholic Taliban Sing Hallelujah

  • Jose Marlo Aviñante said:

    Hi there. I used to have doubts about Jose Rizal being the hero but had a realization from Ambeth Ocampo’s book Rizal without the Undercoat. Jose Rizal may not have led the revolution himself but he inspired that revolution. In fact, Jose Rizal inspired the Katipunan. Better yet, Jose Rizal inspired Andres Bonifacio. The evidence of this is that the portrait of Dr. Jose Rizal hung at the meetings of the Katipunan and important passwords were Jose Rizal. Even after his execution, he continued to inspire the revolution.

  • pinoy said:

    rizal’s works inspired a lot people…
    this post makes them upset…

  • surfer said:

    “rizal’s works inspired a lot people…
    this post makes them upset…”

    Is it inspiration that makes one a hero or the action the resulted from it?

  • baye said:

    So what if other countries have heroes that led the revolution? Our history is different, heroes are not pronounced based on formula. Rizal inspired, but he did more than that! His action was not in the battlefield, but that does not mean he did less than those who were there. His work was not passive! If he had thought to put up a revolution another way, he did so much work that those people more MOVED to take up the sword, and that the time was prepared for them. He had his perfect role, perfect place in history–as did Bonifacio and the Katipuneros. That he inspired and he died for our country does not sum up his contributions. He contributed more, and he did it brilliantly and heroically!

  • glentomacruz said:

    agree ako sa 2nd comment.. dati akong maka bonifacio… pero pagnag mature ka, higit mong maiintindihan si rizal….

  • Jimt said:

    As an American, I really have no opinion or say in who the Philippines chooses as their national hero, however, from what I have been able to find abour Mr. Rizel, I have to say he was both couragous and possessed of a great love for his country. I have always felt that Mr. Bonafacio or the General that had him executed, were far better choices, for their tenacity and willingness to sacrifice. One cannot underestimate however the depth of feeling for his country that Rizel had, as expressed in his writings and in his willingness to die for that love. Had he lived another year or so, it is very probable he would have led in a different way, but that choice was taken away before arms were being taken up in open revolution. That is not Mr. Rizels fault. I have the greatest of admiration for all those that gave so much with so little reward. Only the politicians seem to have benefited from the ultimate independence of your wonderful country.

  • Jimt said:

    Emilio Aguinaldo certainly fought long and hard, and lived long years to see his country change and become independant. It is too bad there is little recorded regarding his feelings regarding the politicians that had taken control of your country before he died in the 1960s.

  • Jimt said:

    In short then, along with the paralytic poet on Emilio Aguinaldo’s staff, and a myriad of other Generals and fighters, the Philippines has no shortage in its history, of very very great people, men and women, who should be recognized as national hero’s.

  • kikz said:

    umm.. i have no idea about rizal

  • josé miguel said:

    We the Filipinos were already a whole nation: independent; with a vibrant developing system for nationhood when we were born as a nation in 1898. The Americans attacked our nation in 1899. Our defense system weakened when 500,000 to 900,000 of us died as we resisted fiercely that invasion. The Americans transmitted their Heredity Injuring Virus as replacements to our every system. As a result: our defense system begun to defend the foreign invaders and to turn against those among us who resist the Americans; the Chinese invasion of our economy strengthened and our hold on to it weakened. As a result, we have come to try hard to identify ourselves more with the Americans than with ourselves. These are already the symptoms of an Alienated Identity and Defense Syndrome.

    Now here comes the Americans playing doctor to a patient by prescribing a medicine to the suposed ailment. Do we really believe such a doctor can give the proper diagnosis and medicine that would benefit the patient? Or would it benefit more the doctor?

    Who prescribed Rizal as the medicine to our nation?

  • Carl Santos said:

    Look around my fellow countrymen.. are we free? Our minds are still bound in chains! Try reading again El Fili. Rizal did not support the revolution for we were and are still not yet ready! If we were ready, our country would be in this state. We blame the government for being corrupt yet the government is just a reflection of the citzens! “Tal Pueblo, Tal Gobyerno” remember?
    Renato’s work should be called “UNDERSTANDING WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING” sorry. but it is true.

  • eleven said:

    ang mga amerikano nga lang ba ang pumili kay Rizal bilang pambansang bayani ng pilipinas? hindi kaya iisa lamang ang saloobin ng mga pilipino ukol dito? kahit nga siguro si bonifacio ang tanungin, malamang si rizal din ang kanyang piliin…

    ano naman ngayon kung ang mga pambansabg bayani ng ibang bansa ay yung mga sumusugod sa laban? dun ba nasusukat ang kadakilaan at katapangan ng isang tao? bakit ba natin laging ikinukumpara ang sarili natin sa iba?
    marahil nakikita ng ibang pilipino si rizal na sulat lang ng sulat ng mga komposisyon sa isang silid na tinatanglawan lamang ng munting lampara habang si bonifacio ay nakikipag patayan kaya marahil akala nila kay rizal ay duwag….hindi pa ba sapat na ebidensya ang pag choreograph nya sa kanyang pagkamatay? na kanya pang sinalubong ang balang tatapos sa kanyang buhay??? dahil yun lang naman ang makukuha sa kanya eh, ang kanyang buhay… ngunit ang apoy ng kanyang damdamin ay hindi nasupil ng mga dayuhan….hanggang ngayon ito’y ating nadarama,..ang ginawa ni bonifacio ay EPEKTO lamang sa damdaming GINISING NI RIZAL SA BAWAT INDIYONG TUMATANGIS SA KAHIRAPAN….lahat sila ay may kanya kanyang papel sa ating kasaysayan, ako’y nagpapasalamt sa tulad nila rizal, bonifacio at ng iba pa…dahil kung hindi sa kanila, hindi siguro ako malayang nakakapag type sa aking munting computer ng pagmamahal at pagmamalaking ako’y isang PILIPINO!

  • JO said:

    I cant believe that their still people says that Rizal is not deserving as a National Hero of our country, im a student and i study the life and works of Rizal. Rizal did his best just to have our freedom right now,he has passion, love and so martry to his country.If your confuse and have a doubt? try to read the Life and Works of Rizal and after that all question are answered.

  • joear said:

    It is most ardent that Rizal really deserves to be our national hero. As a Rizalistas by nature, I really admire how Rizal’s work were indeed woke up the Filipino’s patriotic feelings. The love of his country was the greatest, believing that his pen, his works ,and the education of his country men will make them invulnerable and untouchable by the Spanish oppressor,and it strikes the heart of every legislator in the Spanish court at Madrid Spain.Bonifacio himself betrayed his country men by using the name of the most influencing man of their era. ” Now does it make sense? ” .

  • Jay said:

    Look people, it’s easy to agree to something given when the majority or the masses says it so. If all people around you say the earth is the center of the universe when you first learned to read and write it’ll be pretty hard to go against the grain.

    So people are already telling you this and that since the day that you were born. Let us not forget that history is subjective based on who wrote it and facts can be interpreted in so many different ways by educated people who know how to weave the right kind of words to sway your minds.

    We were never freed, we were sold and bought. Point blank.
    Those who fought “Did NOT accomplish” that, they just died.
    Rizal was shot in the ass without a fight. Then we lost.
    All we have is the perception and aspiration of Freedom and so far
    we’re still a 3rd world country down on its hands and knees.
    If people had a choice they wouldn’t stay stuck in this hole.
    People outside earn as much as $50+ an hour while we’re getting paid only $16-$20 dough a day while getting taxed like we don’t need the money. Most of us are always scraping by most of the time.
    Our own people looking down on our own people.
    Politicians playing us all like pawns and people thinking they can make things better by hiding in the mountains brandishing guns.
    So if people tell you Rizal is our national hero, just let be.
    For now.. For now..
    No point crying over spilled milk.

    What I observe is our real national hero(es) is yet to be.
    Education is the key, real education that can be applied to improve our ways of life.
    Reading, Writing, Science, Engineering, English and Math.
    Everything else is unnecessary fluff.
    We don’t need arguments and debates, these are luxuries.
    Look at our neighbors, most of them have left us behind.
    We need tangible results and not waste glorifying historical sentiments of what should have been and what has been for nothing.
    We have been losing again and again.
    The question is how can we win in life this time around?

  • mariel said:

    stop questioning who was deserve to be a national hero