Amanda Tama - Urban Leadership Foundation

Leadership of Urban Movements
Amanda Tam
TUL 620: Proj4A
Dr. Viv Grigg
Fall 2014
Project 4A: Book Review of a Local Leader
Fernandez, J.P. (1980). José Rizal, Filipino doctor and patriot. (pp. 2-372). Manila,
Philippines: M.L. Morató.
I. Introduction
For centuries, Spain treated the Philippines like a child. The laws implemented in Spain were
vastly different than those in the Philippines: people in the Islands were not allowed to criticize
the government in any manner, there were no representative to speak on the behalf of the
Filipinos, trials were often denied to people, and censorship was strict. The majority of policies
that were employed in the Philippines by Spain disempowered the native people so that it could
maintain control over the nation.
Most Filipinos label Jose Rizal as the national hero of the Philippines. One can find his face on
shirts sold at the malls, there’s a province right on the outskirts of Metro Manila named after
him, and the place where he was shot and killed has been named after him and turned into a
national park. He advocated for reform when the country was under Spanish colonialism during
the late 19th century and even paid for what he believed in with his life. There are a lot of records
of the details of his life due to his strong inclination to writing regularly in his diary and to
writing letters to friends and family; he was a brilliant intellectual who excelled in a multitude of
subjects such as medicine, drawing, writing, and linguistics.
Jose Rizal is considered to be responsible for the awakening of the Filipino people, the hero who
strove to destroy the concept of inferiority of the native Filipinos and instill within them a sense
of dignity. He sought to awaken the Filipino awareness of the political injustice by the Spanish
government, bring to light the inequalities that were occurring, and help create a sense of
national identity for Filipinos.
II. Rizal’s Roots
Jose Rizal was born on June 19, 1861 in the province of Laguna in the Philippines. During this
time, Filipinos were called Españoles Filipinos (Filipino Spaniards) as the nation was still under
Spanish colonization. Rizal was born into a middle class family, which was somewhat wealthy.
He was the seventh of eleven children, being one of only two boys. He had a penchant for
education and always excelled in his studies; in his second novel, he states his belief that the
inteligentsia were to guide other Filipinos in the revolution by means of education. Even in his
youth, a young Rizal wrote of his anger at the wrongs done against Filipinos during such revolts
like the Cavite Mutiny in 1872 (Rizal was only 11 at the time) where Filipino soldiers rebelled
due to unfair taxation and many supporters, including three priests, were later executed. It is said
these earlier revolts were primarily due to the discrimination against Filipinos, while few were
for the independence of the nation.
Leadership of Urban Movements
III. Contributions
Jose Rizal’s writings were powerful and were his primary contributions to what stirred the hearts
of Filipino people. In 1887, his first book, Noli Me Tangere, was released in Spanish for more
widespread dissemination. The Latin title translates to “Touch Me Not,” and the title comes from
John 20:17, where Jesus is speaking with Mary Magdalene after his resurrection; this is symbolic
of Rizal speaking of topics that Filipinos would not dare to speak about at the time. The book
sought to reveal the political, social, and economic realities of the Philippines at the time and
also liberate his fellow countrymen from their ignorance about the discrimination by the Spanish.
The novel’s story revolves around the hero, Cristosomo Ibarra, who is a liberal seeking progress
and liberation for the Philippines. Rizal wanted readers to relate to Ibarra’s character and be
awakened from their lethargy and complacency with the nation’s current state of affairs. Overall,
it received positive reviews, while others argued that it was scandalous and anti-patriotic to the
Spanish government and Catholic Church, which was Rizal’s intentions- to contribute to an
atmosphere of protestation.
His second book, El Filibusterismo (“subversion”), was released several years later in 1891 and
is supposed to be the sequel of Noli Me Tangere, yet this novel has a much more pessimistic tone
than its predecessor. Noli Me Tangere stressed “assimilation without dissidence” (p.211) and has
a romantic and optimistic feel, while this novel greatly differs in ideology as the characters seek
reform through subversion. The main character Simoun (Ibarra in disguise) seeks revolution
through insurgent methods and is thought to be expressive of Rizal’s pessimism and frustration
with the continual unjust treatment of Filipinos. In the story, Rizal expressed his belief that there
was no other alternative but violence and criminality in order to achieve freedom for the nation;
the book’s themes appear to warn authorities that they should not prevent the Philippines from
being liberated from Spain or else Filipinos would convert to filibusteros, people who opposed
the Spanish rule (and also a label for educated Filipinos who could threaten Spanish
Rizal was also the founder of La Liga Filipina (The Philippine League), which was an
organization that led to the creation of the Katipunan, a radical secret society that was led by
another Filipino hero, Andres Bonifacio. La Liga Filipina was created by Rizal in 1892 in order
to help prepare Filipinos for the reform movement through the distribution of scholarships and
creation of cooperatives. Rizal was arrested because the creation of the organization threatened
Spanish authorities.
IV. Leadership Characteristics
Rizal was known for being a very emotional individual. His emotions played a key role in his
passions for his country and empowering his fellow Filipinos to fight for the rights that they
deserved. He was a dreamer, an idealist, who had large visions for his country’s people. He was
passionate about his ideas and was relentless in working towards equality for the people of his
country. Even in his education he displayed passion; Jose Rizal was a polyglot knew more than
twenty languages, and he believed his knowledge of many languages was important so that he
could communicate ideas to people near and far.
Spirituality was at the core of what drove Rizal to continue pursuing what he believed in. Rizal
was born and raised as a Roman Catholic, and maintained a firm belief in his faith and God
Leadership of Urban Movements
throughout his lifetime. His Christian faith motivated him to fight the injustice that he saw being
done to his fellow Filipinos, and he believed that Christ’s name was wrongly used to justify
horrible atrocities done by the Spanish Catholic church. Rizal had many theological questions in
his lifetime as evidenced by his writings, but always stated that he firmly believed in Jesus Christ
and that he was to love his neighbor just as Christ loves humanity.
V. Legacy
Rizal’s life was cut short when he was publically executed at the young age of 35 on the morning
December 30, 1896 by a firing squad in Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park). This was after a trial
determined that he was guilty of inciting revolution even though there was a lack of evidence of
his complicity. It is believed that his death was an occasion when the Philippines lost its greatest
patriot, but the Spanish also lost the Philippines. Rizal’s death is often cited as the event that
catalyzed the Philippine Revolution as his martyrdom demonstrated to the Filipino people that it
needed to be courageous in resisting the tyranny of the Spanish.
In the afterword of this biography, Teodoro M. Locsin provides a very powerful statement about
the life of Rizal: “The question that Rizal tried to answer – and paid for trying with his life –
troubles the world today: What is necessary to set a people free?” (n.p.). Rizal was fearless in his
pursuit of liberty for his nation while supporting the idea that it was not necessary to use violence
in order to attain self-government in the country, but that violence was a last resort. He desired to
see dignity restored to the Filipino people and encouraged his fellow Filipinos to pursue justice
with passion and fervor, to stand firm for what they believed in what was right and fair. His
legacy continues today as his works are studied in schools all throughout the Philippines,
monuments have been erected globally in his honor, and his sacrifice is commemorated annually
on a national holiday.