Jose Rizal, the Filipino Renaissance Man
By Francis Johann F. Verdote
Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika, daig pa ang malansang isda.
- Dr. Jose Rizal
In these times of hastened technological developments where the internet, social media, and cellphones rule the people, only one man comes to mind: Jose Protacio Mercado Alonzo y Realondo Rizal, more commonly known as Jose Rizal.
If Gat Jose Rizal were alive today, he would have been irritated, annoyed, and probably knocked some sense out of all of us because we have not utilized the new forms of media unavailable in his time.
Unlike many of us who waste time on facebook and other habit forming social media outlets, the propagandista in Jose Rizal would utilize the internet and social media to promote his cause: liberty, patriotism, and institutional reforms. Instead of waiting for the latest showbiz gossip or trolling message boards, Jose Rizal would have encouraged his friends and followers to feel, to think, and to act.
If Gat Jose Rizal were alive today, the propaganda movement he started in his time would be kicking ass, and the corrupt and incompetent institutional leaders and figureheads.
Unfortunately, Gat Jose Rizal cannot rise from the dead and save the Filipinos in dire need of social and political uplifting. However, Rizal’s stature and accomplishments have established him as a Philippine icon. Rizal’s prominence led provinces, avenues, schools, and universities being named after him. Moreover, several artists have created biographical films and tribute albums to commemorate the “first Filipino’s” contribution to Philippine society.
But the question still remains, “Why is Jose Rizal still relevant in the 21st Century?”
In today’s computer-dominated world, information has become highly accessible. Yet we have not been able to use the accessibility of information to its fullest. Rizal did not need to go on youtube or wikipedia or some scholarly website to achieve what he had achieved in a short period of time. He did not need volumes of Rosetta Stones and Google Translate to read, write, and speak another language, or in his case languages.
Jose Rizal was not only a propagandist. He was also a law-school student who opted to become a doctor to help his ailing mother. Rizal was a novelist, a poet, an artist, and ananthropologist. Yes, Rizal was in essence a renaissance man.The words multiculturalism and diversity embodied Dr. Jose Rizal even before hippies overused the words like their drugs of choice. He traveled the world way before those European cruises and college and educational tours were created. His expeditions may have trained Jose Rizal to be well versed in 22 languages.
Yes, he was an ilustrado, a konyo, or known for having a lot of women, but that is not the point. It was Jose Rizal’s will power and hunger for knowledge, and not his money and social class, that gave him the opportunity to grow into what we have known him to be because there are other people of similar stature as him who would not take advantage of the privilege the way Rizal did.
Instead of mocking and laughing at other peoples’ accents, people should follow Rizal’s footsteps: educate one’s self and learn another language and culture. And instead of teaching children today to be monolingual (read: English only), teach them our national language, as sanctioned by the 1987 Philippine Constitution: Filipino and English.
It may not guarantee tolerance, but may open doors of cultural acceptance.