The enduring greatness of Rizal lies in therichness of his ideas and the nobility of his examples.The validity of his thoughts and soul-searchingteachings is his legacy to humanity. The applicabilityof his deathless examples is his heritage to his people.Rizal’s prophetic insights and matchless visions onhow the Filipinos can traverse the road to progress sothat they can enjoy the fullness of nationhood –economically, politically, educationally. Socially, andculturally under the mantle of national solidarity – areinspiring. He will continue to live because heembodies the virtues of a God-loving son, a freedom-loving citizen, and a universal man who loves hisfellowmen.
Love of God Purity and Idealism Noble Conduct Love of Fellowmen Love of Parents Charity Love of Country Courage Will-Power Honesty Devotion to Truth
“I Believe in theExistence of aCreator” Rizal’s firstadmirable virtueand example was hislove and faith inGod.
We have been born . . . in the midst of asociety whose political life is so anomalousthat we have no other hope but to submit orsuccumb: Whichever is preferable,conscience will decide. Let us then trust inGod and in the sincerity of our intention.
When his sister Olympia died afterchildbirth upon his arrival to the Philippinesfrom Europe in August 1887, Rizalremarked: “I console myself saying that itwas the will of God and what He does mustbe the best.” Before parting, Dr. FerdinandBlumentritt gave him a letters ofrecommendation so that he might not finddifficulties upon his return to thePhilippines: “I thank you and happen whatmay, I trust in God.”
I am leaving this evening (July 14, 1892)or tomorrow for Dapitan where I am beingbanished. I go gladly knowing that theGeneral grants you freedom, and because Ibelieve that wherever I might go I shouldalways be in the hands of God who holds inthem the destinies of men.
Tell everybody to have confidence in me andnot to take me always for a child who has to beguided in everything, in what he must like andin what he must not like. If my family has noconfidence in me and always treats me like achild, how will others treat me and whatconfidence will they have in my good judgment?I’m in the hands of God and until the present Ihave no reason to say that He has abandonedme.
God made man free and promised victory toone who perseveres, to one who struggles, to onewho acts justly. God has promised man his redemption afterthe sacrifice. Let man fulfill his duties and God will fulfillHis.
“Pure and SpotlessMust the Victim Be.”Another virtue ofRizal worthemulating was hisinsistence on purityof thoughts andclean behavior.
True virtue, wrote Rizal, is a modest andsimple. True Christian virtue is the only,humanitarian, universal, humbly heroic,which the Son of God bequeathed to men asa symbol of peace . . . for the ills not only ofthe community, people, or race but of allmankind.
Rizal exhorted his fellowmen to seek theirperfection because it is a duty imposed by Godas the Holy Bible tells us: Be perfect as Thy Heavenly Father is perfect.Rizal stressed this duty. It is the duty of mento seek his own perfection . . . If man is notperfect he is capable of being perfected.
Perfection in virtue is a condition of our unionGod. By building up desirable virtues we strivefor the goal set for us by God. This especiallytrue if our search for perfection aims at ourcomplete abandonment to the will of God, arequisite for holiness and happiness. The Holybible urges us: Learn where is wisdom, where is strength,where is understanding.
“Do Good Always.” Purity of thoughts and clean behavior require that religiousness be shown in “clean conscience,” and “upright thinking.”
That is why it is well to do good alwaysand follow our conscience from whichwe cannot separate ourselves, for it willbe the only one which will console us inour afflictions in all conditions of life.
During his exile in Dapitan, he impressed thevalue of good character among the pupils hetaught. The nobility of his conduct was manifestedto Governor-General Ramon Blanco when hepetitioned for a review of his arbitrary exile inDapitan. . . . despite the rage which my enemies havetreated me, wrote Rizal, despite the persecutionsthat my family and myself have suffered; despite thetraps they have spread for me in very recent dates,never has a bastard idea occurred to me, never haveI resorted to an ignoble act to defend my ideas.
I recommend to you with genuine interest Dr. JoseRizal who is departing for Peninsula at the disposal ofthe Government ever desirous of rendering his servicesas a physician to the Army in Cuba. His conduct during the four years he was an exilein Dapitan has been exemplary and he is, in myopinion, the more worthy of pardon and benevolence ashe is in no way involved either in the chimerical attemptthat we are lamenting these days or in any conspiracyor secret society that they have been plotting.
“Let Us Think Wellof Our Fellowmen”Another great virtueof Rizal inconformity withwhat God desireswas his love for hisfellowmen.
Rizal’s reminded his sister: Do not try to have the best thing for yourself. Try to do the best for others.
In judging his fellowmen, Rizal expressed sincere lovefor them. In Noli Me Tangere, a Gospel forRegeneration of the Filipinos, Rizal narrated aconversation between Crisostomo Ibarra and Elias.Ibarra: “You must admit the necessity of humanjustice, however, imperfect it may be. . . It isproper, it is necessary, it is just that sometimesman judge his fellowmen.”Elias: “Yes, to do good, but not to do ill, to correctand to better, but not to destroy, for if hisjudgments are wrong, he has no power to remedythe evil he has done.”
When his parents worried because ofdisquieting news about him in Dapitan, Rizal re-emphasized love for fellowmen to a sister: Let usnot be hasty in our judgment, but let us think wellof our fellowmen. These thought on concern forfellowmen are relevant today because many menhave lost the spirit of helping others. We do notrealize that the world has a great need of men whoencourage their fellowmen.
Do we need advices from our fellowmen? In his letter to the women of Malolos, Rizal underlined this need. We ought not to depend on ourselves alone, wrote Rizal. We should seek advice, listen to others, and then do what we believe to be the most reasonable.
He stressed the same attitude in a letter to Father Pablo Pastells.Your Reverence, wrote Rizal, can and should give me all the advices your good heart may prompt you, for it is the duty of men to help one another and do believe that I will always listen to them with gratitude and attention, weighing each one and reflecting deeply on its meaning, for I esteem greatly all that comes from Your Reverence not only for what you have been to me but also for what you are and I would not want that someday when God should ask what I had done with your advices I would not be able to reply.
“I Beg My belovedParents to Always BlessTheir son.” Rizal’s greatlove for his parents wasvery admirable. Hisconcern over theirsacrifices and histhoughtfulness areworth imitating.
I beg my beloved parents to always bless theirson who never forgets the sacrifices that they do forhim nor the benefits he owes to them. I trust withina short time to have the pleasure of embracingthem and never separate from them again, live withthem, help them in everything, and contributetowards the common welfare.
I wish to return to that country as soon aspossible in order to take part in the work of earninga living, for I have already spent much for a longtime without my being able to pit in something.Thank God, I have already finished my medicalstudies. The doctorate is not very much useful tome now.
I, fully aware of these circumstances, wish toreturn as soon as possible to our own town to avoidmore sacrifices on the part of our modest family. If atanother time I accepted its support, it was because thefuture was smiling on us; but now that things havechanged (the family was experiencing financialstrains). I believe it is my duty to go home and try withmy work and savings to contribute as much as possibleto our livelihood.
On February 3, 1888, Rizal left the Philippinesfor the second time. In his short stay in Calamba(from August 1887 to January 1888); he discoveredthe Spanish authorities in the Philippines opposedfreedom of expression concerning the welfare ofthe Filipinos and the administration of thecountry. He wrote: I left my country to give myrelatives peace.
Now and then he advised his relatives to love andrespect their parents. In a letter to Soledad, heurged her to keep improving herself so as to bemodel of virtues. I enjoin you . . . to consider the gray hair of outparents; they are already very old and we shouldsow with glory their old days . . . thanks to ourparents you are educated and informed. I speak toyou as my sister and I repeat to you: Think of theold age of our parents, of your honor and of ours.You have many nieces; give them a good exampleand be worthy of yourselves.
Before leaving for Cuba as a volunteer doctor onSeptember 2, 1896, Rizal wrote moving words offarewell. Take very good care of yourself, wrote Rizal tohis mother, and take care of my old father so thatwe may meet again . . . With nothing more, mybeloved mother, I kiss your hand and my father’swith all the love and tenderness that my heart iscapable of; give me your blessings that I greatlyneed.
Before his unjust execution on December 30, 1896Rizal bade farewell to his family: Dear parents and brothers: Give thanks toGod that I may preserve my tranquility beforemy death. I die resigned, hoping that with mydeath you will be left in peace.
And to his brother Paciano he left a message to tell their father how much he loved him. Tell our father that I remember him, but how? I remember my whole childhood, his tenderness and his love. Ask him to forgive me for the pain I cause him unwillingly.
Charity is the greatestof all the virtuesbecause it inclines usto love God above allthings for His ownsake, and ourneighbors for the sakeof God.
The Holy Bible tells us: Without charity the outward work profited nothing; but whatever is done out of charity, be it ever so little and contemptible, all becomes fruitful. For God regards more with how much affection and love a person performs a work than how much he does.
Charity is another admirable virtue of Rizal. He had adeep understanding of his fellowmen and did whatservices he could for them. He was glad to help thembecause doing works of mercy is participating in theprovidence of God. IN a letter to FerdinandBlumentritt, Rizal expressed happiness in helpingmen. “I feel happy when I can give joy to somebody.”
When Rizal was a student in the University of Sto.Thomas (1878-1882), he taught Latin to many boys inCalamba, Laguna during summer vacations. Duringthe exile in Dapitan, he taught several subjectsincluding good manners and right of conduct to anumber of boys. Upon his return to Calamba in August1887, he made physical exercise popular, treated manypatients and performed operations on several others.These medical services were done even if the patientcould not afford to pay them. He kept busy on similarenterprises during his exile in Dapitan, constructinglittle “hospitals,” and giving away medicine free.
Rizal rendered other woks of charity: serving asinterpreter to passenger during his return tripto the Philippines in July 1887, offering hisroom to several friends who wished to visit theParis Exposition in 1889, acting as guide to theFilipinos who visited Paris Exposition,collecting insects for several German scientistsduring his Dapitan exile, and complying withdifferent requests made by friends and otherindividuals.
Forgiveness as an act of charity was also shownby Rizal in many instances. He forgiveLieutenant Porta who lashed him on the back,Archbishop Pedro Payo for doing great harm tothe cause of justice undertaken by theFilipinos, Juan Lardett, the Frenchman, whomade insulting remarks on the Filipino farmersin Dapitan, and his enemies who desired hisexecution.
“My Dreams Was MyCountry’s Prosperity.”Dedication to one’s wasan admirable virtue ofRizal. In saying that itis man’s duty to seekhis own perfection,Rizal set an ideal forman to attain.
Our life is a perpetual toast, an eternal aspiration, aninsatiable desire. . . It is a useless life which is notconsecrated to a great idea. It is a stone wasted in the fieldswithout becoming a part of any edifice. Man needs an objective to which he must aim hisactions, he must delineate a purpose, see beyond matter andthe general hubhub, he needs something worthy of his beingand of his faculties. If we have no duties, if we live for no one but ourselves,if selfishness were, even if not a virtue, a state that is notcensurable, how happily I would spend my life beside myfamily neither demanding nor wishing for anything, neitherexpecting nor hoping to be useful to anyone but myself. Butas God has not made anything useless in this world, as allbeings fulfill a role in this sublime drama of creation, I too,have a mission to fill as for example: alleviating thesuffering of my people.
Rizal dedicated his whole life in securingfreedom for his country and happiness for hispeople, a devotion unparalleled in the history ofhis country. “My mission,” he told his formermentor at the Ateneo, Father Francisco Paula deSanchez, “is to make men worthy.” “I swore toavenge cruelties and injustices,” Rizal wroteMariano Ponce. “The whole thought of my wholelife,” wrote Rizal to Governor-General EulogioDespujol, “has always been love of my country andher moral and material development.” To hispeople he addressed a manifesto: “My dream wasmy country’s prosperity.”
“If I’m to BeCondemned fordesiring the Welfareof My Country,Condemn Me.”
Rizal’s courage in loving his country is avirtue that is very relevant today. His moralcourage to do only the best for his people isworth imitating by our leaders. Rizalpossessed the essential element ofresponsive leadership that is, attending tothe needs of the people in order to keeptheir love and affection.
Because Rizal believed that man was given aconscience to distinguish between right and wrongand because he believed that only reason cancorrect his errors, he appealed to the conscience ofevery Spaniards to judge what he was doing for hispeople.
I would like Filipino people to become worthy, noble, honorable, for a people who makes itself despicable for its cowardice or vices exposes itself to abuses and vexations.Now, if I’m to be punished or condemned for having desired the unity of my fellow countrymen, the welfare of my countrymen, her material development, her equality as far as possible to the provinces in Spain in order not to be called a colony, if this is punishable, condemn me.
“Always with Our GazeFixed on Our Country.”Rizal’s decision to givehis life for his countrydemonstrated theperfection of his will todo the duty assigned tohim by God.
This was an admirable virtue considering that Spain had adopted a policy of implanting an inferiority complex on the Filipinos the better govern them. Rizal did not accept the belief that his people were irredeemable. The worst and cowardliest of man, is always, something more than a plant, because he has a soul and an intelligence, which, however, vitiated and brutalized they may be, can be redeemed.
“The greatestHonor that a Son CanPay to His Parents Isintegrity and a GoodName.”
In writing the Noli Me Tangere, Rizal expressed his frankness regarding of its consequences. I have lifted the curtain . . . in order to show is behind the deceitful and glittering words of our government. I have told our complaints, our defects, our vices, our culpable and cowardly complacency with the miseries over there (in the Philippines). Whenever I have found virtue, I have proclaimed it and rendered homage to it . . . The incidents I relate are all true they have happened.
During his exile in Dapitan, Rizal assured Blumentritt that his letters, although censored by the Politico- Commander because he was a deportee, were candid expression of the truth. I would cut off my hand first, rather than write an untrue thing.
These thoughts and acts of honesty were the outcomes of faith in this virtue. In a letter to his mother when told not to forget his Christian duties, Rizal said: The greatest legacy that parents can bequeath their children is rectitude in judgment, generosity in rights, and steadfastness in adversity; the greatest honor that a son can pay to his parents is integrity and a good name, that the acts of the son may never make his parents live with indignation or shame, and the rest God will provide.
“It is Not Good to Hidethe Truth.” Rizal’sconstant search for thetruth in serving hiscountry was inspiringvirtue that endearedhim to his people. “ AnHonest Men is theNobles Work of God.”
During his student days in Madrid, he reassured his mother of his love for truth. I think its best not to hide the truth from you, because you would hear about it anyway.