Summary of Our Task: to Make Rizal Obsolete

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Date Submitted: 05/15/2012 12:20 AM

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- Prof. Renato Constantino (This Week, Manila Chronicle, June 14, 1959)

The validity of Rizal's teachings today, sixty three years after his death, is both a measure of his greatness and of our lack of greatness as a nation.

Importance of Rizal’s ideas for our generation: (i) applicability to present day problems, (ii) their inspirational value

Rizal holds a mirror to our faces and we see ourselves, our vices, our defect, our meanness. One hand holds a mirror to shame us and the other points the way to our regeneration. Yet, the truth is that the mirror is not meant to reveal our image, but the image of the people and the society of Rizal's time. The fact that Rizal's aim was to depict the society in which he lived, and the fact that we nevertheless find that he is also speaking about the society in which we live, have given rise to two school of thoughts about Rizal.


(i) Because Rizal is still applicable today, he must have possessed uncanny powers of prophecy. Rizal will be valid for all time.

Rizal was transformed a demigod whose teachings will constitute the final word, the definitive Bible, on any and all aspects of Filipino life now and in the future.

(ii) This group emasculates his teachings by emphasizing only what it considers the harmless and non-controversial aspects of his life and works.

Some in this group claim that the conditions Rizal wrote about no longer exist today.

Others even go so far as to say that Rizal's characters in his two novels were pure fiction, without basis in fact.


Both groups distort the meaning of Rizal for our people, those who want to strain out of the real Rizal all that is vital and forceful, leaving a sterile, almost meaningless hero, are those who find the truths he spoke, unpalatable and dangerous even now.

In fact, there have been attempts to foist upon our people another national hero by means of propaganda and awards carrying his name.

Such moves will not...