A Dangerous Peace

Also published by American Chronicle in a slightly different form

rizal-by-hidalgo-1883.jpg
Oil portrait of Rizal by Hidalgo, 1883

Being About Rizal’s Racial, Intellectual Sport

1861 June 19: Frank C Laubach writes that in the town of Calamba, province of Rizal, the Philippines, today is born ‘the apostle of Filipino freedom’ (1909, rizalslifewriting.tripod.com): Jose Rizal, who became the National Hero. Laubach (born 1882 September 2) became the world’s hero in language learning, his ‘Each One Teach One’ picture-word-syllable method originated and refined in Mindanao starting in 1930.

Laubach wanted the adult Maranaos of southern Philippines to be able to read in their own language and stop being slaves of illiteracy; Rizal had wanted the adult Filipinos in the whole Philippines to be able to read the minds of the Spanish colonizers and stop being slaves of the intellect.

Laubach succeeded in his mission; Rizal failed. Laubach was applauded for his efforts; Rizal was arrested for his work, thrown in jail, given a hasty trial, and then executed on a grassy, lonely spot overlooking Manila Bay. He was glad to die for his country.

Rizal’s heart had always been for his beloved Filipinas. When he was about 8 years old, he wrote a poem in his native Tagalog, ‘Sa Aking Mga Kabata’ (Asuncion Lopez-Rizal Bantug, Indio Bravo, Makati City, Tahanan Books), that became the anthem of modern Filipino nationalists, as it is supposed to be about love of one’s native tongue. I present it here with the original Tagalog interspersed with my own English translation (2005, ‘Modern Generation Gaps,’ FiSH Magazine vol 3 no 3, pages 14-15):

Sa Aking Mga Kabata
Sinulat ni Jose P Rizal

To Kids Of My Own Time
Translated by Frank A Hilario

Kapagka ang baya’y sadyang umiibig
sa kanyang salitang kaloob ng langit,
sanlang kalayaan nasa ring masapit
katulad ng ibong nasa himpapawid.

If the people naturally love
its tongue that is a gift from Heaven,
pawned freedom too it will seek to gain
as the bird that flies the sky above.

Pagka’t ang salita’y isang kahatulan
sa bayan, sa nayo’t mga kaharian,
at ang isang tao’y katulad, kabagay
ng alin mang likha noong kalayaan.

Since language is an estimation
of kingdom, town and community,
and man is like, a match to any
creature who has been of freedom born.

Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika
mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda;
kaya ang marapat pagyamaning kusa
na tulad sa inang tunay na nagpala.

His native tongue who does not treasure
is worse than a beast or smelly fish;
’tis right that on our own we nourish
like a mother who bestows favor.

Ang wikang Tagalog tulad din sa Latin
sa Ingles, Kastila at salitang anghel,
sapagka’t ang Poong maalam tumingin
ang siyang naggawad, nagbigay sa atin.

Tagalog language is like Latin,
English, Spanish, and angelic tongue,
because God who has the wisdom
is He who gave, to us did assign.

Ang salita nati’y tulad din sa iba
na may alfabeto at sariling letra,
na kaya nawala’y dinatnan ng sigwa
ang lunday sa lawa noong dakong una.

Our own language, like any other,
had alphabet and letters, its own,
now vanished since by waves overthrown
like bancas in the lake long before.

For a quick analysis, consider just the first and last stanzas. The first speaks of language that is still there and freedom that has been lost; the last speaks of language that has vanished. Now, if the language spoken of is Tagalog as Filipino nationalists claim and proclaim, then the young Rizal was a bad poet – Tagalog had not disappeared even to this day. But if we look at ‘language’ as the poetic expression of ‘freedom,’ a metaphor, then the whole poem makes a completely different sense.

Now then, my 2005 discovery is that the young Jose Rizal was neither advocating love of language nor of country – rather, he was advocating love of freedom. This is a subversive poem, inciting the Tagalogs to rebel against the Spaniards for their lost freedom!

At 8 years of age, Rizal is the youngest subversive I have heard of. A little boy with big dreams. He had witnessed the abuses of the Spaniards in his hometown Calamba.

Having read and thought about his life and death, I say Jose Rizal is the Father of Independent Peace in Asia. An independent peace was what Rizal dreamed for his country, the Philippines. The same was what Mahatma Gandhi achieved for his country, India. A dangerous peace, as their deaths had both proven. In biblical times, the man who came in peace was crucified. In peace, the deaths are ransom for the many.

I have already written that Rizal’s martyrdom for the liberation of his country against the Spanish oppressive colonial rule happened 22 years before Gandhi’s own act against the British (‘The Messiah Phenomenon,’ americanchronicle.com). Gandhi just happened to be more popular.

When Rizal left for Europe 1882 May 5, he was escaping from the clutches of the Spanish friars who had finally understood what the boy had been doing in and out of his complementary classes at the Ateneo and the University of Santo Tomas: proselytizing the Filipino youth against their Spanish counterparts, trying to show the genius of the brown race (rizalslifewritings.tripod.com). The fight was Rizal’s racial, intellectual sport – a dangerous game even in peace.

I would not be surprised if Paciano, his elder brother, had taught his kid brother to fight using his brain, not his brawn. (That makes Paciano the 1st Pinoy Big Brother.) They knew in their hearts that the Filipinos were worthy of both men and God, not dregs of the earth as the Spanish friars treated them. So the little brother took it upon himself this mission in peace: To make men worthy (thewonker.wordpress.com). He had made this simple phrase the mantra of his whole life. It was a clever play of words; the Spanish friars were also men. In most things he did, he made the friars mad, and in their madness they executed him. Whom the gods wish to destroy, first they make mad.

Copyright 2007 June 19 by Frank A Hilario.
Researched for, organized-reorganized, formatted & hyperlinked via Microsoft Word 2003.

 

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